Ancient Wayz - Traditional Southern Kung Fu
Ancient Wayz of Wisdom
Ancient Wayz of Wisdom
Thoughts on martial arts, philosophy, and life.
Thoughts on martial arts, philosophy, and life.
Self-Awareness First then Strength…
What is strength? Most people think strength is strong muscles, bulging biceps and a “jacked” physique or perhaps strength is a stoic disposition, a willingness to endure suffering or maybe perhaps an excellent martial artist and fighter. These are forms of strength; however, they are not the most important.
Strength is developed through small acts of courage and discipline. Seemingly insignificant battles that are won within first, before their external manifestations.
The individual stricken with social anxiety, forces himself to join a social club. The individual who wronged somebody else close to them, confessed to it and admitted their mistake and sought to make amends. The individual who showed mercy when he could have shown judgement, the individual who stood up for what they believed was right, even at the scorn of all those around them. These are examples of true strength, that require courage and conviction, and the facing of fears.
With all that being said, in order to take those first steps of courage, one must first be self-aware.
If someone doesn’t believe they are capable of doing wrong and hurting others, how will they ever apologize? If someone is distracted outside of themselves through drugs, or bogged down through constant stress, how can they ever be self-aware?
If someone’s ego is so inflated, that they are always looking down on others, how can they show mercy?
The truth is, we are all human, and we all have a “shadow.” We must clear our minds to accept that fact and be honest with ourselves. Only then can we take the necessary steps to face the dragon, slay our demons, and develop true strength. Self-awareness first then strength…
Listen to what the silence has to say…
A few weeks ago, while walking out of a complex where I work, I watched a grown man staring down at his cell phone slam his head into a glass wall, just missing the door. He glanced up not knowing anyone seen him, no one did, except me, and I couldn’t help but start to laugh.
It bares reflection that this seems to be the current level of awareness we have been insidiously falling into as a society.
We cannot stand in an elevator for one minute without someone pulling out their phone. We cannot sit at a table with our loved ones without checking our phone. Even young toddlers and children are spending time on “smart phones.” Text messages, social media notifications, “breaking news” and the list goes on.
For tens of thousands of years, humanity existed without “smart phones,” or even television or electricity for that matter. Yet most of us, myself included, cannot imagine a world without these devices. What would we do with our time if we replaced some of the time we spent scrolling through our phones or binging on Netflix?
Maybe we would read a book, write a novel, start a business, paint a masterpiece, practice a martial art, or maybe just work through our own issues we have been running away from for so long.
We have become afraid of silence, afraid of boredom. However, silence and boredom are great catalysts for creativity and profound insight; distracting ourselves is not always the answer.
It is impossible for most of us to isolate ourselves from modern technology. However, we all should take time to shut it off and hear what the silence has to say.
In ancient times a man fell asleep one day, an angel visited him in his dreams and warned him saying, “calamity is coming to this land, now is the time to get your house in order and prepare for the safeguarding of your family and honor of your name.”
This man had the same dream three times for three consecutive nights. He brushed these dreams off as coincidence and said, “The world owes me what I am due…everything will be fine, the king will keep us safe.”
The second man in a nearby village was visited by the same angel for three consecutive nights saying, “calamity is coming to this land, now is the time to get your house in order and prepare for the safeguarding of your family and honor of your name.”
This man heeded the warning, he worked hard, lived frugally, paid off his debts by the sweat of his brow, saved his silver and gold and put away necessary provisions of grain, oil and wine. He bought extra swords, bows and arrows, and prepared his family for what was to come.
A year went by, and calamity struck, the kingdom was decimated, and there was famine across the land.
The first man was desperate looking for help, he knocked on the second man’s door saying, “I am destitute please help me, I have no provisions for me and my family.” The second man said, “I only have enough for me and my family, I am sorry I cannot help you, and closed the door.”
In martial arts we spend countless hours training for a survival scenario that may or may not ever occur, however we over prepare ourselves and reap the benefits.
The same level of preparedness we apply to our martial arts we should apply to every area of our lives; prepare mentally, physically, spiritually, financially and in our relationships.
When calamity strikes, don’t be the second man. Heed the angel’s warning and prepare.
Body and Mind
It seems today that the majority of people in modern society are disconnected from their own bodies. Centuries ago, most people experienced life under constant physical strain and hard labor. Today, for the majority of the western world we now suffer the sickness of too little physical stress not less, contributing to the incidents of cancer and the number one cause of death in the world: heart disease.
In addition to diseases caused by too little physical exertion we now have more health problems caused by “diseases” of the mind such as chronic anxiety, stress, drug addiction, etc. Our overabundance has in a sense made us all sicker. This is not to discredit the advances of technology and western medicine but to deny the fact that our own habits and choices have a major role to play in our health is simply delusional.
Chinese Martial Arts uses every part of the body to put stress on our bodies in a holistic way, in a way, that under the proper instruction will increase our health and vitality, not diminish it. After training kung fu for a period of time you will notice a difference in your balance, coordination, strength, energy levels, etc. Beyond this will be a subtler difference as well: your mind will be more equipped to cope with stress because your awareness will have shifted from being in your head all the time to being in your body.
Kung Fu balances out the relationship between the body and the mind and enables them to work more efficiently, increasing not only our ability to achieve our goals in life but also to experience life more fully.
A word that doesn’t conjure up anything pleasant. In fact, it’s a word that the majority of us, don’t like to even dwell on.
Many would acquaint the word with suffering, hardship, struggle, and even the shedding of blood.
Does sacrifice deserve such a bad connotation?
I would argue that sacrifice for the right reasons is a source of joy and helps to eliminate suffering in the long run.
Religion and mythology across the globe abound with stories of sacrifice and the fruits of it.
Jesus ascended into heaven after sacrificing himself on the cross, Odin sacrificed his eye for the attainment of wisdom, Gautama the Buddha gave up his wealth and prestige to find enlightenment, etc.
What truths do these stories point to?
Letting go of what is pleasurable and comfortable temporarily can allow us to achieve a greater state of being and a happier, more fulfilling life.
Sacrificing our craving for processed foods might help us feel and look better down the road.
Sacrificing our desire to act impulsively in an emotional state might help us make better decisions.
Sacrificing buying the purchase we know we don’t really need might help us save money.
There are countless examples, and we all know it.
What in your life can you sacrifice right now to make it more enjoyable and healthier for you and those around you?
A Glimpse of Zen
It is obvious more than ever that we live in a world of distraction.
Our minds have become like sponges absorbing constant stimuli from random information from our technological and societal attention thief’s.
“Breaking news”, text messages, Amazon deals, TV, social media scrolling, you tube, etc.
Everyone knows this but we all seem to not care. We become complacent.
To counter act these distractions, we need to become conscience of how we fall into these traps and make better decisions of what to concentrate on and to limit our exposure where possible.
We have forgotten how to let our minds be in the stillness of the moment, in the silence of being.
We have also become afraid of it and have decided to use these distraction gadgets to fill the void of these empty moments.
Martial Arts can help us to retrain our minds to not be so easily led astray by so much “noise” in modern life.
However, we must really learn to let go, and focus completely on our training. Give ourselves completely to the present moment.
Maybe then we might just have a glimpse of Zen.
Letting it all go.
Why train Kung Fu?
For me the most important benefit in training Kung Fu is letting it all go. What do I mean by this?
Whether we realize it or not, we carry with us stress, thoughts about our day, anxieties on our minds, tension in our body. These could be physical, psychological, or spiritual in nature.
A tough day at work, an argument with a spouse, the betrayal of a friend, the loss of a job…these are just some examples of situations we all face at some point or another in our lives.
They do not have to be that obvious though, maybe things in our lives aren’t going as we think they should, so we have some emotions stirring up inside us, that are keeping us down.
Where does all this junk go? We carry it with us, in our thoughts, in our bodies, and in our interactions with others.
Training Kung Fu, allows us to separate ourselves from the toxcity and inevitable stressors of life. We are stepping outside of ourselves by going deeper into ourselves through training.
By using our mind, our body and our will power all at once we are letting all that other crap go, at least for a little while.
We are taking that junk that we have been carrying with us and letting it go, to sculpt a better version of ourselves. One might say it is a form of internal alchemy, taking the heavy lead of our lives and turning it into gold.
That is the greatest benefit of training Kung Fu.