Roland Barthes and the DNA of Martial Arts Studies

Kung Fu Tea

Robert Downey Jr. and Eric Orem working on the wooden dummy. Robert Downey Jr. and Eric Orem working on the wooden dummy.

Paul Bowman. 2016. Mythologies of Martial Arts. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield. 184 pages.

Professor Paul Bowman’s latest book sets a new standard for exploring the cultural, sociological and ideological criticism of the martial arts within modern society.   It also suggests two questions that any reader will be forced to consider quite carefully.  First, what is ‘Martial Arts Studies’? Secondly, what does it have to do with Roland Barthes?  Indeed, the memory of Barthes’ widely-read Mythologies (1957) is directly invoked by the title of the present work.[1]

While such questions may, at first, sound trivial, they are at the heart of Bowman’s current project.  Martial Arts Studies can be described as a new interdisciplinary research area that engages with cultural, historical, sociological and media studies arguments (among others) examining the origins, function and social significance…

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Taiji Boxing According to Wu Tunan

– 科學化的國術太極拳 A MORE SCIENTIFIC MARTIAL ART: TAIJI BOXING 吳圖南 by Wu Tunan [published by 商務印書館 The Commercial Press, LTD, Oct, 1931] [translation by Paul Brennan, Feb, 2017] – 科學化的國術太極拳 A More Scientific Martial Art: Taiji Boxing 褚民誼題 – calligraphy by Chu Minyi – 吳啚南著 by Wu Tunan: 科學化的國術太極拳 A More Scientific Martial Art: Taiji […]

via TAIJI BOXING ACCORDING TO WU TUNAN — Brennan Translation

Villains, Guns and Humor: Giving Texture to the Early 19th Century Chinese Martial Arts

Kung Fu Tea

"Muslim Bandits," Xinjiang, China [c1915] Marc Aurel Stein [RESTORED] “Muslim Bandits,” Xinjiang, China [c1915] Marc Aurel Stein [restored]

Any traveler can attest that detours come in two forms.  They all take a little longer, and most offer nothing but delay.  Others can lead to fascinating discoveries.  These often come in the form of local sandwich shops frequented by hipsters or a scenic overlook. This same principle applies regardless of whether one is on a purely geographical journey, or if you are traveling through time.

And it goes without saying that there is no better portal for time travel than the rare book collections at Cornell University.

That is where I found myself earlier this week.  I was about to embark on a lengthy exploration of how Chinese martial artists were discussed in the Western press between the months of May and August in 1900.  Historically informed readers will immediately recognize this as one of the most fluid periods in…

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Infinite Dao – The Way Opens

Extracts from Patrick Kelly’s book ‘Infinite Dao’ Chapter 1. (Part 1)

第一章启路1 The Way Opens

初遇大师Meeting the Master

30度的高温下,满怀期望的我在吉隆坡墓园见到了黄性贤大师。选择在这样的地方建立大型培训学校,着实令大师门下的诸多弟子哑然,虽然学校的楼下还开有一间传统的马来中式咖啡屋。黄大师年约67岁,有着普通亚洲人的身高。他胸膛宽阔,犀利的眼神似乎能洞穿一切。一个外国人的突然到访虽令其有些诧异,但他并不动声色。他若一直如此,我也许还有胜算的机会。但此前大师与外国人的接触仅限于几个上了他几堂课的旅行过客的经历,给我的机会蒙上了阴影。出于尊敬,大师还是将我这个访客请进了屋并询问了我的意图。得知我拜师的想法后,一直不动声色的大师这时说:“我不喜欢你的模样,我不会教你。”这一言就道出了大师对我的真实感受,也令在场惶恐的翻译煞是为难。I greeted Master Huang Xingxian with high expectations in the 30 degree heat of the Kuala Lumpur graveyard. That was where, to the consternation of many of his students, he had chosen to establish the large training studio above a typical Malaysian-Chinese coffee house. He was average height for an Asian, barrel chested, around 67 years old with his piercing look giving nothing away. The unexpected appearance of a Westerner on his doorstep almost certainly surprised him, but he did not show it. If he had remained impassive it would perhaps have been more fortunate, but the fact that his previous experience of Westerners was limited to a few transient travellers who had passed casually through his classes before me, precluded that. Ever polite to a guest he invited me inside and inquired what I wished of him, the first indication of his real feelings not appearing until he understood that I hoped to become his student. The nervous translator struggled with Master Huang’s response, “I don’t like the look of you. I don’t intend to teach you.”

The Journey

来此之前,我仔细考虑过此次拜师之行的各种不确定性,比如自己能否在吉隆坡找到住所,资金是否足够,自己是否能找到黄大师,即便找到了,凭那点基础的汉语,自己是否又能听懂并理解大师的所授等等,但我终究还是来了。可我偏偏就没想到,在我卖了房、安顿好生活然后千里迢迢跑到东南亚找到大师时,大师就这么一句话就将我拒于门外。There had been many uncertainties in the planning of this journey, such as whether I could find accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, whether my funds would be sufficient, whether I could even find Master Huang and whether I could understand and appreciate his teaching if I did find him – especially given my rather basic knowledge of the Chinese language. All these practical difficulties had been carefully considered before the journey and I had decided to take my chances with them. However, that he would simply refuse to teach me had not even been vaguely considered when I sold my house, put my outer life in order and set out to South-east Asia to find him.

Genuine Displays

此前我曾跟一位太极导师学了四年。期间,我常听他谈起他和他父亲的师傅黄性贤大师强大的力量及大师对力量的非凡运用。其中令我记忆犹新的,是几年前黄大师与国际著名摔跤手较量的事迹。那名摔跤手比黄大师年轻20岁,体重也重过大师15公斤,他曾多次公开指责太极和黄大师的能力。作为回应,黄大师接受了他的挑战。结果在公开赛上,黄大师将他连摔在地26次,而大师自己一直都站得稳稳当当。如此轻描淡写的胜利,既让人们亲眼目睹了大师的非凡能力,却也让一些后来目睹者心生疑窦,而这样两极分化式的影响在大师今后的生活中还在不断出现。对此,大师的看法是:“太极越是本真和玄妙,理解和相信它的人就会越少。光太极向外界展示出的速度及其戏剧化的动作,都会令人心动。”而我自己后来也有了类似的经历。凭着自身练习与教学的深入,我发现有些人一开始就会努力去了解并最终体验到了太极的价值所在,可也有些人从一开始就对太极抱有一定的抵触态度,之后却在自己的偏差练习和错误理解下,想当然地对太极进行指责。My previous Taiji instructor, in the four years I had known him, had often talked of the remarkable powers and exploits of his and his father’s teacher, Master Huang Xingxian. One memorable example was the story of the Master’s fight with an internationally famous wrestler a few years earlier. The wrestler was 20 years younger and 15 kg heavier. Master Huang – accepting the challenge in response to repeated public denunciations by the wrestler of both Taiji and Master Huang’s abilities – threw the wrestler 26 times over the course of the public bout, never once going down himself. The ease with which Master Huang won, both convinced everybody present of his remarkable abilities, and ironically, aroused doubt within those who only later saw the incredible result. This polarising effect on those around him was to be a recurring story in his life. As he explained later, “The more genuine and subtle the Taiji, the less people understand and believe, but on seeing external, fast, dramatic moves, they are naively impressed.” Later I was to experience this same effect for myself. As my practice and teaching became deeper, people either made an effort to understand, consequently experiencing its value, or from the earliest contact they set part of their mind against the system, then self-righteously criticised it on the basis of their own deviant practice and incorrect understanding.

The Initial Meeting

带着对大师名誉的笃定,面对跟前的大师,我努力“消化”着这突如其来的拒绝,也没想就自己的模样去辩驳。几年后我才明白到,所谓的首访闭门羹,其实是传统上对学员决心的一种测试。对那些还没有对‘铁杵磨成针’做好充分准备之人,导师就不必浪费时间和精力。或许我当时的茫然和长时间的沉默让黄大师认定了我不是那种轻言放弃之人,又或许当时他心底下认为应该再给我一次机会吧,总之好一阵后,大师说道:“先来一个星期吧,每晚5309点上课,观摩一下。” 他还说可以考虑拜师的事。看来这第一步还有收获!带着些许安慰,我谢过大师后离开。初访的经历夹杂有意外,但我与黄大师间的一生深厚关系却由此展开。199212月,大师仙逝于中国福州。 Now, standing before him at this initial meeting with his reputation firmly in mind, there was no thought of arguing over my appearance as I struggled to process his unexpected refusal. Years later I understood that this first refusal is a traditional test of the student’s determination to learn. It prevents the teacher wasting time and energy on those unprepared to make the substantial effort necessary to make a success of the training. Perhaps it was my blank stare and what seemed like ages of nothing said as he awaited my response, that convinced him it would not be so easy to send me away, or was it that he experienced some inner-prompting that convinced him to give me a second chance? Either way, after a time he spoke again, “Attend the classes every evening for a week. Watch the practice from 17:30 to 21:00.” Meanwhile, I was told, my request to be taught would be considered. With some relief I expressed my gratitude for the chance and satisfied with this first step, took my leave. That was the unexpected beginning of an intense and close relationship that lasted until Master Huang Xingxian’s death in Fuzhou, China, in December 1992.

Becoming a Disciple

两年后的1979年,在大师位于婆罗洲孤岛的古晋小镇家里,我与师傅的深厚关系经传统的敬茶仪式得到了正式确立。敬过茶,我即视师为父,师傅则视我为子,师傅的个人太极传承自此开启。被收为内校弟子看似荣耀,背后却是大量的勤学苦练。假如师傅在我初访时就告知这背后的艰辛和之后多年我可能会有的经历,我那时未必就能坚持下去。如今几十年过去,那最初的两年恍如一梦。那时的我懵懵懂懂,既没真正意识到自身内在的变化,也没留心那些复杂却又只可意会不可言传的中式礼仪,还有那些让我感觉那样陌生和遥远的中华文化,但我还是将自己的一生交付给了这位在中式文化教育下长大、谜一般却又充满魅力的人。That relationship was formally cemented two years later in 1979 at his home in Kuching, a small town on the isolated island of Borneo, when – after the traditional ceremony in which I presented him with a bowl of tea and accepted the obligation towards him of a son, while he took the responsibility of a father – his personal transmission of the art really began. But that acceptance into his Inner School was an honour which had to be earned. If it had been known at that first meeting, what it would be necessary to go through in those succeeding years, I would have been reluctant to proceed. Now, decades later, those two initial years seem like a dream and that is how I went through them, more or less unconscious of the internal processes being initiated within myself during this time and oblivious to the complicated unspoken Chinese etiquette, placing my life in the hands of this charismatic and enigmatic person, from, what was to me at that time, a strange and distant culture.

The Title Master

谈及各位导师时,本书均以“大师”称之。这些人都是我跟从过的老师,“大师”这一称呼无论从年龄还是传统而言,都是比较恰当的文化表述。此外,我也用它来称呼我的师公及任何极富经验的知名人士。大师这一称谓是弟子对导师的一种尊重,但它非导师所独有,真正的大师也不会这么做,而那些要求他人称己为大师者与真正的大师之间,必有相当大的差距。就个人而言,我不会尊重任何一个拿个称谓就指望他人用其称呼自己,或仅凭那一称谓就指望得到他人尊重的人,无论他是医生、教师、小贵族还是一国之王。称呼黄性贤为大师,还因为他是掌握太极精要之人。黄大师与学员间的关系并非英文词义中的主仆关系,我自己也从不称其为“主人”,而总是叫“老师”。在东方,人们尊称郑曼青为老师,但他为了避免可能的英文“主人”歧义,选择了英文的“教授”称谓。当然,世间确有有视己为主人的伪老师,还有很多学生容易上当受骗,会屈服于那些“主人”的淫威之下。The title “Master” is used quite lucidly in this book when speaking of various teachers. It is used for those teachers under whom I studied and who were at an age and in a tradition where that title was culturally appropriate. It is also used for my teachers’ teachers and any other well experienced and well recognised teachers. It is a term of respect from a student to a teacher. It is not a possession of the teacher. No real teacher can appropriate the title to themselves and any teacher who demands to be addressed as master has gone well off the Way. I personally have no respect for anybody in life – whether doctors, teachers, minor aristocrats or kings – who take on a title and expect or hope other people to address them with it or respect them because of it. When we called Huang Xingxian “Master”, the implication was also that he was someone who had mastered the art of Taiji as in the term “master-craftsman” – not of course the simplistic implication that he was our master and we his slaves. Never actually in my life did I address him as “Master” – it was always Laoshi (Old Teacher). Zheng Manqing, also known as Laoshi in the East, chose the English rendering “professor” thereby avoiding the possibility of the “master-slave” misunderstanding which many false teachers assume and to which many gullible students submit.

pk2web克利 Patrick A Kelly

began Taiji with an experienced student of Master Huang Xingxian in 1973. In 1977 he moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he studied full time in Master Huang’s school. In 1979, following tradition, Master Huang accepted Patrick as his personal disciple – the only non-Chinese to ever enter Huang’s inner-school. From that time Patrick Kelly travelled and taught between Asia, Australasia and Europe while continuing to learn personally with Master Huang until his death late 1992. Simultaneously Patrick worked closely both with the Naqshibandi Gnostic Sage Abdullah Dougan for 14 years until Abdullah’s death in 1987 and for 30 years with the Raja Yogi Mounimaharaj of Rajasthan who died in 2007 at more than 105 years old.

1973年,派瑞克利开始向黄性贤大师的一位资深学生学习太极。1977年,他来到马来西亚吉隆坡,在黄性贤大师的学校全日制学习太极。1979年,遵循传统惯例,黄性贤大师收派瑞克利为徒,他成为了黄性贤大师唯一的非华人入室弟子。自那时起,派瑞克利往来于亚洲、澳洲及欧洲教拳,同时继续私下向黄性贤大师学习,直至大师于1992年末去世。同一时期,派瑞克利还跟随纳什般迪派和诺斯替派哲人阿卜杜拉多安学习十四年,直到1987年阿卜杜拉去世,跟随拉贾斯坦的胜王瑜伽大师穆尼玛哈拉吉学习三十余年,直至穆尼大师在2007年以105岁高龄去世。

Infinite Dao

Earlier this week I contacted a friend of mine living in Shanghai. I connected with him with the intention of reconnecting and finding out if he had any marital arts articles to share. At present he’s training at 9 Clouds Taiji in Shanghai under Patrick Kelly. Immediately, he connected with Patrick Kelly who give me permission to publish the preface and first chapter of his book Infinite Dao. So here is your first instalment.

《无极·道》作者:INFINITE DAO

前言 PREFACE

虽然,人们对各种灵修的历史发掘的越远,对其发展的认知就愈发扑朔迷离,但这一研究却能让我们清楚地意识到以下两点:首先,经过德才兼备的师父对虔诚弟子的精心传授,这些灵修的思想精髓得以绵延不断地传承至今;其次, 要表述和传授这些精髓的玄妙所在,每位师父就必须创作出自身独特的教学方法。教学传授,要么向外蜕变,要么向内衰亡。The further back in time we look, the more obscure becomes the history of all spiritual traditions, yet from the study of this past, two things become clear – first, that the inner-essence of these traditions flows down through genuine teachers to sincere pupils in unbroken chains, and second, that each teacher must devise his or her own training system to express and pass on this impersonal inner-essence. The teaching is bound to evolve outwardly or die inwardly.

本书记录了19722006年的35年间,我与道家、苏菲派和瑜伽派等派内一系列“杰出人物”的会面与修学。写作伊始,我本想就自身所获进行细述。但随着落笔的深入,我意识到自己想要传达的信息与其所处各种诱因状况以及那些帮助过我的人们的生活之间,具备着不可分割的联系;再往下写,就需要将更多的学习经验纳入到写作中。如此,我愈发认识到,相较于通过学习获得的简单事实,现实生活中的交互影响以及自身对这些影响的感受其实更为重要。而那些影响和经历,锤炼并锻造了我的认知基础。This book records my meetings and studies with a series of “remarkable people” within the Daoist, Sufi and Yogic traditions, during the 35 years from 1972 to 2006. When beginning to write, my intention was to describe in detail just what I had learnt, but during the initial writing I realised that this information was neither independent from the situations that gave rise to it, nor from the lives of the people who had helped me. Continuing to write, while including more of those learning experiences, I gradually realised moreover that those real-life interactions and resulting experiences that formed the anvil on which was forged my understanding, were even more important than the plain facts of what had been learnt. 

在学习与传授中,对己对人我都一贯力求扶持个体的心灵进步,做到日积跬步的进步,并促进内心的升华。在形式上,我倾向于道家的开明哲学和细化的培训方法;但内心里,我知道正确的道路只有一条,而那是一条超越你的思维、引导你穿越层层自我带你回到内心最深处的道路。My direction in learning and teaching has always been to support the spiritual process in myself and in others, both in the sense of gradual evolution in daily life and accelerated inner refinement. Outwardly my inclination was towards the open philosophy and refined training methods of the Daoists, but inwardly I knew there has only ever been one true Way. That is the Path that leads back through the layers of yourself to the deepest regions within – beyond the mind.

太极可以说是道教原则中最玄妙的一项。意识到这点后,我便义无反顾地投身于其中,以期发掘出太极深处的奥妙所在。命运让我与本书提及的最重要杰出人物 — 我的导师黄性贤大师相遇,也正是黄大师的太极成就了我35年来的心灵之路。而期间出现的另一位重要人物,苏菲派的谢赫·阿普杜拉·杜根大师,也同样成就了我这一心灵之路的无相精要。 除了为我构建心灵根基的这两位大师,我还遇见了其他许多拓宽并深化了我的视野的卓越人物,这其中对我影响时间最长、最终对我影响同样巨大的,就是沙漠瑜伽大师摩尼·马哈拉吉。Recognising Taiji as potentially a most subtle practice of Daoist Principles, I jumped in with the intention of diving to its depths – fate placing me for guidance in the care of Master Huang Xingxian, the principal “remarkable person” of this account. While his Taiji methods gave form to my inner journey throughout those 35 years, the formless essence of the Way was equally influenced by another remarkable person, Sufi Shaikh Abdullah Dougan. With these two as the base, further remarkable people helped my own vision to broaden and deepen, the most enduring and finally equally strong and influential, being the Desert Raja Yogi, Mouni Maharaj.

上述三位大师及诸多杰出人物的理念形成并酿就了我35年来的心灵成长体系(见《道家原则之践行》),如今我将之浓缩于本书之中。在他们的指导下,我的实践与教学随着自身内在认知的发展而不断演进。引导他人从最初对导师的依赖走向最终对内心真实自我的依靠,这一心灵的演变进程,就是我的授业目标。My system of inner-development (Daoist Principles in Practice) that has emerged and matured over that 35 year period, within the vision of these 3 remarkable people and more, is condensed and contained within this book. Under the direction of these teachers my practice and teaching has evolved with the growth of my own inner understanding. Leading others through this same gradual process of inner evolution, from external dependence on a teacher to internal dependence on their Real Self, is the aim of my teaching.   

时至今日,我的太极拳教学都表现为以精神、情感和体质系统等为基础的教学,但它的精髓却是独立的,并远超太极拳道的表象之外。学习者会在适合自己所需级别的太极拳学习中获益,其学习的动机也因个体的不同而千差万别。太极拳在予人健康方面,具备很高的价值。通过不断的练习,太极拳践行者能拥有行云流水般的行动力,宁静致远的内在平和力,以及清晰镇静的思考力。太极拳对力道与能量的运用艺术不仅令人着迷,其实用性也非常之强。Externally, until now, I have based my teaching on the mental, emotional and physical system of Taijiquan – but the essence of my teaching is independent of and goes far beyond the obvious methods of Taijiquan. People benefit from it on the level that suits their needs. The motivations to practise are almost as many and as individual as there are Taiji practitioners. The health aspect of Taiji is of value. The increasing ability to move freely and naturally, feel calmly and deeply, and think clearly and quietly is appreciated by all. The art of dealing with forces and energies is profoundly interesting and practically useful.

对初学者而言,我的太极拳教学法能让他们免受各种生硬规则的束缚。其实,除了规则,世上还有各种经改良后会随着学习者的进步也不断演进的教授方法。太极典籍虽制定了各种原则, 但我们每名学习者还须亲身再次体验这些原则的真谛所在。对这些基本原则的领悟并不是一成不变的,因为随着太极的发展,那些领悟也会出现更加微妙的变化。而一旦寻得某种真谛,你就一定要将其融入到实践中。如此以往,你终将做到自我依靠下的独立学习。My presentation of Taiji has been designed to free people from the restrictions of the various rigid rules commonly taught to beginners. Rather than rules there exist various training methods that are programmed to evolve as people develop. The principles are laid out in the Taiji Classics but each person must re-experience their truth for themselves. The understanding of those principles is not static – it necessarily becomes more subtle as our Taiji progresses. However once you find something true for yourself then you must incorporate it into your practice. This way you gradually take responsibility for your own learning.

由于师从郑曼青大师,师公又是杨澄甫大师,黄师父门下弟子众多,但这并不是说,成为其弟子多年就一定能习得其太极艺术的精妙所在。“我没料到你会学到那么多”,这是师父给我的临终遗言,它一语道出了这一不确定性。As with his teacher Grandmaster Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ching) and his teacher’s teacher The Great Yang Chengfu, Master Huang had many pupils, but just the fact of being his student for a long time did not ensure success in learning the subtlety of his art. There were no guarantees. Even the last significant words Master Huang spoke to me before his death, “I never expected that you would learn so much”, clearly expressed this uncertainty.

无论是在实践中还是在生活中,即便是在写作本书时,我都重视、牢记并尽可能地,在以自然规律为中心下,让自己对平衡、勇气、品德,以及外柔内刚等的运用,都达到最理想的境界,虽然这一切都还有待臻善。In writing this book, as in my own practice and in my own life, I valued, remembered and made my best, though imperfect, attempt to apply, the ideals of balance, courage, integrity, external gentleness and internal strength, all within the embracing principle of naturalness.

作为指南,在阅读本书时,请谨记道家这句名谚:忘心忘境,忘我忘人,不著一物;住于虚无,方可入道。As guidance to reading this book, remember the Daoist saying, ”Behind the words is a picture and behind the picture is the intention. When you get the picture forget the words and when you get the intention forget the picture – then you will be close to the reality.” 

Continued………

pk2web克利 Patrick A Kelly

began Taiji with an experienced student of Master Huang Xingxian in 1973. In 1977 he moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he studied full time in Master Huang’s school. In 1979, following tradition, Master Huang accepted Patrick as his personal disciple – the only non-Chinese to ever enter Huang’s inner-school. From that time Patrick Kelly travelled and taught beween Asia, Australasia and Europe while continuing to learn personally with Master Huang untill his death late 1992. Simultaneously Patrick worked closely both with the Naqshibandi Gnostic Sage Abdullah Dougan for 14 years until Abdullah’s death in 1987 and for 30 years with the Raja Yogi Mounimaharaj of Rajasthan who died in 2007 at more than 105 years old.

1973年,派瑞克利开始向黄性贤大师的一位资深学生学习太极。1977年,他来到马来西亚吉隆坡,在黄性贤大师的学校全日制学习太极。1979年,遵循传统惯例,黄性贤大师收派瑞克利为徒,他成为了黄性贤大师唯一的非华人入室弟子。自那时起,派瑞克利往来于亚洲、澳洲及欧洲教拳,同时继续私下向黄性贤大师学习,直至大师于1992年末去世。同一时期,派瑞克利还跟随纳什般迪派和诺斯替派哲人阿卜杜拉多安学习十四年,直到1987年阿卜杜拉去世,跟随拉贾斯坦的胜王瑜伽大师穆尼玛哈拉吉学习三十余年,直至穆尼大师在2007年以105岁高龄去世。

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: Feb. 27th 2017: Shaolin, Feiyue Sneakers and Bruce Lee Gets Political

Kung Fu Tea

Spring is the season for sharpening your Kung Fu. Source: Shanghai Daily. Spring is the season for sharpening your Kung Fu. Source: Shanghai Daily.

Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News.”  This is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we review media stories that mention or affect the traditional fighting arts.  In addition to discussing important events, this column also considers how the Asian hand combat systems are portrayed in the mainstream media.

While we try to summarize the major stories over the last month, there is always a chance that we may have missed something.  If you are aware of an important news event relating to the TCMA, drop a link in the comments section below.  If you know of a developing story that should be covered in the future feel free to send me an email.

Its been way too long since our last update so there is a lot to be covered in today’s…

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Chapter 2 – Eat right, be tight

by Bryan Balandowich

It seemed fitting that with the first chapter being about starting the New Year right, and hint: this writing is full of many metaphors, a New year is not just Dec.31st, but can be any day, only you can tell yourself what day it is so to speak. Time in the grand universe is relative.

Body Back Guarantees

One of the biggest topics during this time of year is getting in or back into shape. Gym memberships sell hard and customers go for broke to get that beach body. Problem is that unless you’re living in the tropics, summer isn’t coming around the corner for a few months and therein lays our first predicament. Just as smokers keep on smoking even though the stats couldn’t be more clear, put a chimney in your body and you become the chimney and drinkers keep on drinking, drink too much vodka and you’ll become the vodka. Not that it’s a fact that all smokers get lung cancer and all drinkers experience liver failure, game set match, but if you don’t play with fire you won’t get burned in the first place, right?

Shaken Not Stirred

conneryThe reason? Psychologist’s attribute it to time. Like Pavlov’s experiments, the dog is only trained if the conditioned stimuli and response sets are timed in close proximity to one another. Smoking a cigarette and sipping a martini feels good today, but could have dire consequences down the line. So yes, doctors cannot say smoking or drinking definitely gave you your unfortunate situation, but by logical conclusions, it must have been a contributing factor.

Location Location Location

In real estate, it’s location, location, location, in movies its about the actors and actresses and distribution, when it comes to getting that six pack, it’s all about the diet. In fact, no matter how many sit ups you do, if you don’t count your calorie input and output ratio, then tough luck, it isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you try. A

general consensus is 10-12% body fat ratio to see your abs. Once you’re at that body fat ratio they pop naturally, the more crunches you do the more defined and sculpted they get. It’s also up to genetics; everyone’s different, so again, one person who has an eight pack does not mean that he is stronger than the one pack.

Mr Olympia

Tip, never underestimate the one pack. Like an idiot savant, weakness in one area usually implies strength in another, usually, not always, my digression is more towards yin-yang and the idea of opposites and more specifically a balance of energy. So let’s use your energy right.

“Frank Zane, three time Mr. Olympia did 1,000 abdominal reps pre competition, so once you get your body weight down, you chisel your body, with the chisel being hard work, sets and reps.”

frank-zane

Tight shorts and a fitbit

Most people when they first start to want to get in shape, run over to the local fitness store and load up on the latest fashions, trends, supplements and so on. However, when you see the big guy at your local gym, he’s usually wearing clothes that look like they desperately need a wash, however not always the case, but to make my point, they don’t care about the clothes, in fact these guys are usually more than happy to take their shirts off. They have painfully learned the truth, which is that it’s all about sets and reps and hitting the gym week in and week out. It’s about going when you don’t feel like going, getting in that extra training session, that’s what it’s all about. That’s when you see results and feel good about yourself and your achievements.

An Ongoing Quest

So in the ongoing quest of creating good habits I encourage you not to buy anything. Instead, try a new approach. Throw out all the crap, the sugars, the chips, carbonated beverages; all the stuff you know is bad for you. Now once the foundation has been set, you can start to build and stock your shelves. With minimalism comes the idea of a bottom up approach, the problem we have herein discussed is that most people want to start from the top from day one, and hence buy all the clothes to “look good and look in shape”. Spanx makes a lot of money let me tell you. So instead of wasting your time and money, drink water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and the river will run its course. And the great news is that once you look and feel good, you don’t want to go back to the old you. Habits build habits. You are what you eat, we all know that, it’s time to stop knowing and start doing.

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Do or do not, there is no try

When I first started training there was this man at the gym with crazy arms, I mean fully ripped, cut, lean and muscularly massive. I asked him how long he’s been working out for, and he said casually, as he chatted to the cute girl on the treadmill, 16 years. Hannibal the calisthenics king has been at it for about the same length of time, which draws us back to the first article regarding habits and the 10, 000 hour rule, which is approximately ten years. This is why most athletes become legendary at one point in their career, their “hey day”, a combination of being at the top of their craft, both mentally and physically in addition to little bit of luck, and opportunity.

So you say, some athletes are amazing at 16 or 18 years old. I reply to that, they probably started practicing around 2-4 years of age. The point here is this, whether it’s Martial Arts, Body Building, Calisthenics, or any kind of training, as Bruce Lee once intimated, a punch is first a punch then not a punch then a punch again. An exercise starts out easy, gets hard, then it becomes easy again.

Socratic Method

Socrates would start philosophical inquiry with inducing doubt, not knowing, accepting one’s ignorance. Socrates would for example, approach and ask a poet on the streets of ancient Athens, what is beauty? The poet would answer quickly, “beauty is a baby asleep in their mothers arms, the daily dance of the sunrise and set, a flower in bloom, and so on . . .” Then Socrates would point out that these are examples of beauty and not answering the question, begging the question fallaciously in fact.

Thus the poet realizes that they do not truly understand what beauty is. They sit in quiet meditation on the edge of a cliff overlooking the vast blue oceans of the Agean sea. Only then do they realize that no words can express beauty, because of its breathless connotation, and only then does the dentation become clear in their heart.

Relevantly speaking, you get muscles fast when you start working out, then it lags after a year, the gains are less visible, then after 10 years of day in and day out exercises like sit ups and push ups start paying off. Start with the basics, pull-ups, dips, pushups, both horizontal and vertical plane to work chest and shoulders. Add some squats for your legs and your set.

healthy-eating

Eat Right, be Tight

Back to diet. Another thing to keep in mind is portion size and not eating until one feels fully satiated. Raisins and Chia seeds are great for tricking the body to feeling full because they absorb water and expand in your stomach. This will mask the hunger, so it’s a good snack idea.

Snacking in general is a good idea. Eating 6 meals, 3 staples and 3 snacks is the best way to dance all day. It keeps your metabolism busy. Therefore, eating more often is better than eating less and less often. A lot of people like to skip meals and replace them with feasts later on. Remember, your body is a habitual routine based machine. It also has a memory, muscle memory. This has an inherent pro and con.

10,000 hour rule

The more you do an exercise, the better you get at it and the better your muscles adapt to it. You get used to it, as with anything else in life. This is why having desires and needs for material possessions having fleeting happiness, we get used to the new house, car, wife and husband. Because the muscles get used to the exercise and they don’t tear and fatigue as easily, if your goals are strength and growth, you need to trick your body and throw some curve balls, workout at different times, different lengths, conditioning vs heavy weights, and the same goes for Martial Arts. The goal is to get super conditioned automatic reflexes, but there’s a reason that there are multiple training drills, forms, and exercises to strengthen the same muscles . . . My friends and I once discovered a Martial Arts group run by a lady and all they do is kick trees. One move. That’s it. You must imagine how many kicks thrown and broken forests lay in the wake of 10 years, 10, 000 hours of shin kicking practice. Treat your body as a temple and a weapon and the forces of ying and yang and the river will steer you clear.

Have you eaten?

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The problem for most people starts with how they eat and what they eat. Starting the day with a coffee and bagel, salad for lunch and then a big t-bone with fries for dinner is not the way to get it done.

The first time I came to this realization that diets were a very cultural and arbitrary thing was when I went to my Korean friend’s house in Toronto for breakfast.

His mom asked me what I wanted for breakfast and I replied some cereal or the usual bacon and eggs would suffice. She said, “we don’t no this stuff”. How about some kimchi, with fried beef and rice? I was excited, authentic Asian food at 8 am, I didn’t have to wait for dinner!

For 20 years I had only eaten the usual, yogurt, cereal, bagels, croissants, bacon and eggs, the staples, sandwiches, fruits, pancakes and so on. This was the first time I was eating dinner food for breakfast and I felt normal about it because it seemed normal to them. I even put hot sauce on it to be compliant with the house culture. Now, you don’t have to have steak for breakfast everyday, because too much red meat is not the best coronary medicine, but you might want to have it before a rugby match like my Korean friend used to do.

Whose ready to tackle in the morning scrimmage, oatmeal or t-bone?

The lesson here is not forgoing pancakes and all that stuff, but to realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Food is really about calories, which is literally energy. There is thermal energy, electrical energy and so forth and all forms of energy can be measured in Jules. A calorie is X Jules. So in essence, as far as science and your body is concerned, all energy is energy, 1+1=1, if it smells like water, and tastes like water, then it must be water.

The average person needs around 2,000 calories a day to get by. The guys and girls who look like they belong on a magazine cover have figured it out. After years of not caring about math, they can count calories upside down and inside out. It’s not that hard. After all, just like we wear the same t-shirts over and over while we keep the others in the closet, we usually eat the same brand of cereal since we were 5 and as pointed out, we are habitual creatures, some much more than others. Some people eat exactly the same thing everyday. And there is nothing wrong with that.

messyfridge

A lot of people are trying to be healthy but they buy way too much

Chlorella, algae, is said to be the one food you can eat, nothing else, and be totally healthy. As one of the first simple forms of life, it contains all of life, only life can give life to life, 1+1=1. Now, nobody wants to eat algae everyday, but the point is valid. Again, a lot of people are trying to be healthy but they buy way too much at the grocery store and then throw most of it out. I need to eat this because I saw it on this show, and my friend says this is good for you, and oh, this is great for my new yoga class, etc . . . but truth is, there are no superfoods, no be it all.

First off, if you’re happy eating algae everyday, do not read on. For all others who enjoy life and live to eat, foodie or not, and you want to be in shape, first off you don’t need to eat anything special. Just like the neighbour who is always inviting you over for dinner and they use 20 spices to prove they are a chef and then it tastes like ass. A true chef, can create a dish of beauty and simplicity. The perfectly poached egg, the filet of sole fried to perfection, the spaghetti, al dente, not to hard and not to soft, just right to the taste.

You don’t have to eat concentrated foods

Goji berries, kiwi fruits, lemons, grapefruits, oranges all have vitamin C, so does spinach and broccoli. You don’t have to eat the one with the highest concentration; they all got what you need. Buy seasonal so that it’s fresh and budget friendly. So not only is it important to keep it simple in terms of ingredients, it’s also important to keep it local and fresh. If it’s about nutrients, crops begin to transpire the second they are harvested. Farm to table is what it’s all about. So if you live in New Zealand eat Kiwis, if you live in Florida, have an orange, if you’re in China, have a goji berry, and have the others when available and when you can. The superfood buying health nut is not going to have a better body or mind frame, just a smaller bank account at the end of the month.

quackeryWebMD

When you get sick, people always have suggestions for you, you should do this or eat this or eat that, my cousin or friend swears by this and so forth. Sometimes there is merit to what they are saying but other times it is folklore passed down from the stone age. Our concern here is to strictly speak in reference to studies and their link to advice. Everyone knows that the above fruits have lots of vitamin C, etc . . . First off, its because these fruits have had a lot of studies conducted, secondly they have had a lot of studies about that particular vitamin and other fruits and vegetables are not being studied, or studied less or in different ways.

This means, what’s good today may not be good tomorrow and what’s bad now may no be good later. Just look at prohibition laws and one will see the absurdity. And the funny thing is, adults are just like little children and Eve in the Garden of Eden, everyone wants to bite the forbidden fruit and everyone knows that the snake in the apple will bite them as recourse. Just like you know that the fast food option was not the best course of action, it was your choice, you’re the idiot, no one else to blame. Unless drugs or aliens are controlling your mind, you always have a choice which movie you want to watch.

Don’t give up on life to have a six-packscreen-shot-2017-02-15-at-12-00-05-am

You don’t have to give up on life to have a six-pack. Most athletes have a cheat day, and the more habitual your training, the more cheat days you can have. So the chocolate cake is not the problem. Ask Hannibal from YouTube what’s up? The man is absolutely shredded and admitted on YouTube that he eats whatever the hell he wants. He however also does his Calisthenics for 3 hours a day (morning and night), 7 days a week!

Happy Rooster!

 

Through a Lens Darkly (43): Chinese Amazons and the “Weapons of the Forefathers”

Wonder Woman with a Dadao. In China the realm of social violence, and the martial arts in particular, has been male dominated.  That does not mean that women never became a part of success….

Source: Through a Lens Darkly (43): Chinese Amazons and the “Weapons of the Forefathers”

Training Principles of Cheng’s Tai Chi

by Nigel Sutton Shifu Tan Ching Ngee was born in the small town of Muar in Johor state Malaysia. His father, an immigrant from Chaozhou, China was poor and the young Ching Ngee had to leave school to go out to work to help support the family. Then the family moved to Singapore where Ching…

via Training Principles of Cheng’s Tai Chi — Tambuli Media

Remembering Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵?) (c. 1584–June 13 (Japanese calendar: May 19), 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke, or by his Buddhist name Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and samurai famed for his duels and distinctive style. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin No Sho?), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.

First duel

“I have trained in the way of strategy since my youth, and at the age of thirteen I fought a duel for the first time. My opponent was called Arima Kihei, a sword adept of the Shinto ryū, and I defeated him. At the age of sixteen I defeated a powerful adept by the name of Akiyama, who came from Tajima Province. At the age of twenty-one I went up to Kyōtō and fought duels with several adepts of the sword from famous schools, but I never lost”.
—Miyamoto Musashi, Go Rin No Sho

miyamoto-musashiAccording to the introduction of The Book of Five Rings, Musashi states that his first successful duel was at the age of thirteen, against a samurai named Arima Kihei who fought using the Kashima Shintō-ryū style, founded by Tsukahara Bokuden (b. 1489, d. 1571). The main source of the duel is the Hyoho senshi denki (“Anecdotes about the Deceased Master”). Summarized, its account goes as follows:

In 1596, Musashi was 13, and Arima Kihei, who was traveling to hone his art, posted a public challenge in Hirafuku-mura. Musashi wrote his name on the challenge. A messenger came to Dorin’s temple, where Musashi was staying, to inform Musashi that his duel had been accepted by Kihei. Dorin, Musashi’s uncle, was shocked by this, and tried to beg off the duel in Musashi’s name, based on his nephew’s age. Kihei was adamant that the only way his honor could be cleared was if Musashi apologized to him when the duel was scheduled. So when the time set for the duel arrived, Dorin began apologizing for Musashi, who merely charged at Kihei with a six-foot quarterstaff, shouting a challenge to Kihei. Kihei attacked with a wakizashi, but Musashi threw Kihei on the floor, and while Kihei tried to get up, Musashi struck Arima between the eyes and then beat him to death. Arima was said to have been arrogant, overly eager to fight, and not a terribly talented swordsman.
—William Scott Wilson

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His Most Famous Duel

On April 13, 1612, Musashi (about age 30) fought his most famous duel, with Sasaki Kojirō, who was known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces” and who wielded a nodachi. Musashi came late and unkempt to the appointed place — the island of Funajima, in the Kanmon Straits separating Honshū and Kyūshū. The duel was short. Musashi killed his opponent with a bokken that Legend says he had carved from an oar used on the boat that carried him to the island. Musashi’s late arrival is controversial. Sasaki’s outraged supporters thought it was dishonorable and disrespectful, while Musashi’s supporters thought it was a fair way to unnerve his opponent. Another theory is that Musashi timed the hour of his arrival to match the turning of the tide. The tide carried him to the island. After his victory, Musashi immediately jumped back in his boat and his flight from Sasaki’s vengeful allies was helped by the turning of the tide. Another theory states he waited for the sun to get in the right position. After he dodged a blow, Sasaki was blinded by the sun.

Musashi briefly established a fencing school that same year.

Teaching

Musashi created and perfected a two-sword kenjutsu technique called niten’ichi (二天一, “two heavens as one”) or nitōichi (二刀一, “two swords as one”) or “Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu” (A Kongen Buddhist Sutra refers to the two heavens as the two guardians of Buddha). In this technique, the swordsman uses both a large sword, and a “companion sword” at the same time, such as a katana with a wakizashi.

The two-handed movements of temple drummers may have inspired him, although it could be that the technique was forged by a means of natural selection through Musashi’s combat experience. Jutte techniques were taught to him by his father — the jutte was often used in battle paired with a sword; the jutte would parry and neutralize the weapon of the enemy while the sword struck or the practitioner grappled with the enemy. In his time a long sword in the left hand was referred to as gyaku nito. Today Musashi’s style of swordsmanship is known as Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū.

Musashi was also an expert in throwing weapons. He frequently threw his short sword, and Kenji Tokitsu believes that shuriken methods for the wakizashi were the Niten Ichi Ryu’s secret techniques (see Hayakutake-Watkin).

Musashi spent many years studying Buddhism and swordsmanship. He was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and calligrapher. Records also show that he had architectural skills. Also, he seems to have had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience; although in his later life, Musashi followed the more artistic side of bushidō. He made various Zen brush paintings, calligraphy, and sculpted wood and metal. Even in The Book of Five Rings he emphasizes that samurai should understand other professions as well. It should be understood that Musashi’s writings were very ambiguous, and translating them into English makes them even more so; that is why so many different translations of the Go Rin No Sho can be found. To gain further insight into Musashi’s principles and personality, one could read his other works, such as Dokkodo and Hyoho Shiji ni Kajo.

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