Monday, December 31, 2012

Solstice Week Update

Despite the holidays, there was no lull in training for me this week. I managed to get in at least a twenty minute ZMA calisthenics session every morning at the park, followed most days by lengthy stretching back at the house, and later in the evening with attempts to learn to perform the TKD-inspired form in our basement…

My weird wrist injury, while still not completely healed, is improved considerably, enough that I can bench press, but not so much that I can curl (seems to me it was working with the curl bar that tweeked it in the first place). Once the wrist started feeling semi-normal, I began having some extra fun. One afternoon, I decided to see how many times I could bench 160 lbs, which is close to my body weight, and after several sets I managed to pump out 72 total. Same for L-raises later that evening. I did pull ups one day, breaking 100 before I quit. Today, it was sit ups and crunches, and my goal (achieved) was 1000. Nothing serious in any of it, too much rest time by most standards, just play. But all the same, my muscles do feel like they’re being worked. I’m sore all over…

Part of that sore feeling, though, is from my bag-work this morning. We’ve been having some serious cold up here, averaging about twenty below. I keep my heavy bag in the garage, where it’s easy to load up and haul to the park. Little did I know, the bag must have some moisture in it, because it froze solid (literally) as a rock. I stupidly thought I could just rough it up and loosen things. One good elbow shot early on told me differently.  It was like elbowing a swinging boulder. My arms are fairly tough, but there’s definitely some deep tissue bruising going on. It was dumb of me to have struck the bag as I did, knowing how frozen solid it was. Oh well though… no tendon or bone damage, so no big set-back…

On the online work side, I’m pleased to report that every video on the FMK channel has now been organized into playlists. There’s still a lot of fine-tuning to be done, and cleansing of hateful comments, but that initial once-through was a significant project. The stuff coming out of Chicago this week is making some awesome additions to the online curriculum too. I’m especially loving the cardio sessions, but it’s all good stuff. Hope you guys keep it coming

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Of Art and Literature

Of Art and Literature

What is literature?

Literature is commonly defined as “the art of written work” and literally means “things made from letters”.  A very general and meaningless definition in which Art does not come into play. Can we consider a flyer or an electricity bill to be Literature? Still, we can consider literature as a global and very ancient phenomenon. Mostly found in its historic form than enhanced battles and virtuous fighters, it gradually became divided into literary genres, claiming a lineage to dead authors, times and places.
If I tried to analyze what literature is, purely and simply, I would say that it all sums up to “telling stories”. Of course those who enjoy it will have different definitions, and would be glad to hear and discuss about it. I like to divide literature into two distinct parts, with their corresponding goal and methods. On the one hand enhancements of historical fights will promote extra ordinary values and leave traces from the past (ancient literature).
On the other hand entirely made up stories that are drawn from pure imagination and brings creativity to its paroxysm: “modern” literature.
The latest seems put all the efforts in the world to create a world that is not, with characters that do not exist simply to point out the similarities that may have existed with reality.

Poetry and Literature: from Art to business

In my point of view, literature and poetry are diametrically opposed in many aspects: Poetry comes from a highly meditative feeling, where the author tries to translate the spiritual into something “of this world”, something that the mind can understand such as words. While the reader is trying to recreate the way the goes from words to feelings, the writer is doing the exact opposite of this process, and I believe it takes a highly sensitive spirit as well as a purely altruistic feeling to be a poet. In this definition, 2pac was a poet. He had understood many things and had felt it from within, and was trying to translate it for those who did not have the education to understand. His approach was the one of “an activist poet”.
Another problem, as it is often the case, is that poetry is turned into ridicule in popular culture. When we think about poetry, many people think of it as a stupid and immature expression of love. I say that poetry is not the expression of the shy. It is the expression of the sensitive. A highly-misunderstood sense of the divine wrongly reduced to the platonic expression of a teenage love.

Gradually, with the book business, many people began to try to look intelligent reading the last success. Modern literature took the sensitive aspect of poetry without delivering its soul. Using beautiful words to depict the lives of useless imaginary characters, to which we are supposed to identify. I would say that modern literature has become the false expression of intelligence and poetry, aimed at those who are not able to experience the here and now. Using art in a mercantile way always results in the loss of its soul. This principle also applies to martial arts.

Literature and the meditative state

I have to agree that I find very little pleasure in reading modern literary texts because I feel as if it took me from my connection with the now rather than enhances it. To me, reading about imaginary things I have never experienced seems to be a waste of time. I’d rather spending time learning about the world that surrounds me, searching for new standpoints and ways to experience it. Also,my low ability to focus on a story has always kept me from entering into the world of literature and to some teacher, felt like a lack of sensitivity. Unmoved by art? Why would I practice martial arts, play several instruments and write then?

Literature and intellectuals

I do not deny that literature belongs to the “mind” sphere. And to a certain extent, it might show a certain level of refinement or analysis. To become an English (second language) teacher, people must be able to draw the meaning from a text, both what was visible and invisible. Reading literature trains your mind to understand what is not said. It may also train you to anticipate, such as in Agatha Christie’s extremely popular novels. What I highly regret though, is that people who want to use literature see themselves as very cultivated and superior to others. I have to say here, that this point is more common in Europe, and I terribly regret that people who pretend to know more about music, cinema or literature are actually the ones that I would qualify as blind. Those “critics” to me they are blind because they are not capable of feeling the spirit of something. All they can do is to accumulate knowledge, compare and criticize. But they cannot feel. They cannot create. They are not artists. Yet you can see these very “cultivated” people on every channel in Europe. They are here to criticize, be as harsh as possible towards an artist who may or may not be sincere. If a book is to be read, then it has to be while putting the ego aside and with a true desire to learn. The more critics seem to know about literature, the less they seem to actually like it.

Literature as a way to freedom

The only kind of Literature that I feel, is respectable, would be the one of criticism. Authors such as Zola or Rousseau were to me, hidden revolutionaries. They used their talent in creation to put pressure on their governments, with an ideal of justice and values. Yet it seems like the writings of the real revolutionaries (those who did not have any political supports) were suppressed and will never be known. “Story is written by the winners”. Another kind of literature appears as highly valuable, such as the work of those who have lived for their struggle and wish to pass it to the next generations. In this sense, Frederick Douglas is probably the best example. A self-taught black man, he became a prolific writer and a political activist after gaining his freedom from slavery. Autobiographies and apprenticeship novels can be a valuable source of knowledge in the building of the self, just as the books which value the here and now.

Todai ling

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Violence in video games

I'm a gamer, I’ve been a gamer since 4 or 5 years old. My grandfather use to have the first Nintendo with a special cartridge that could hold one hundred and ten games. He was good at Tetris, he liked Arkanoid and other titles. To him it was a little tool of entertainment he liked to use here and there, but to me and my cousins IT WAS THE SHIT!!! I grew up and evolved with the constant upgrades of video games, every year it's a new birthday and every year it's a new step in the industry. The industry is big as ever. And many people don't like the fact that there is so much violence in it. To me the video game violence is similar to the violence in the movies, the music and the television shows. But the main differences between a video game and a movie is that in the game, you personify the character, the violence. It’s easy to say that violent video game doesn’t do much arm to our society, but at the same time, we’re lying to ourselves if we think it has no impact.

Everybody is influenced by something, with no exception. Somebody could come up and say; ‘nah man I’m so independent that nothing influences me’, but the truth is, if we wasn’t influenced, life couldn’t exist, there would be no concept of evolution, of change. We are constantly influenced. Video games have an influence on the player, some might be ok with it and some might be more affected than they think.

The individual mind state
The person mind state will have a major play around the impact that the game has on him. Just take somebody that has violent behavior already and that's living a psychotic episode and make him play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty then yeah he might end up doing crazy things. But take somebody that's feeling good, that has a balanced mind state and make him play the titles you want, there is not much chances that he end up beating somebody to death because he just played Mortal Kombat. It's like don't give suicidal ideas to a suicidal person, don't give a gun to a Violent Maniac and etc... So the mind state I think, will have a major play in the process. The game will influence somebody but won't turn the person into a monster if the person wasn’t already going in that direction. You have to be clearly able to make the differences between the real world and the virtual world.

Violent behavior and peaceful games
Some might get very angry just by playing Mario Bros. Loosing makes a lot of gamers angry, and if you keep loosing, should you play Mortal Kombat or Mario Bros, you might feel like broking things. Getting angry when losing is popular around gamers, the term ‘Rage Quit’ has made its mark. You don’t have to quit a game necessarily to get angry though. I’ve broken many things in the past and I didn’t quit, I kept playing until I’ve beaten the game. Getting angry isn’t good; it’s not good for your body and your mind. Why getting pissed off because you failed at something that is only virtual/fake. If you tend to get pissed off by just playing video games, consider stopping or taking a break at the right moment. Listen to your mind, it will tell you when is the right time to stop or take a break. Loosing can have a worst influence on your temper than the violent content in it.

Back in 1988, you could play as much violent games as you want, you could easily tell the differences between the real world and the fake world, right now the games are getting more and more realistic but it's still not that hard to tell the differences between the real and the virtual, but what's it going to be in 2050? Realism will have much impact on the mind of an individual. If the individual really gets into the game, really feel like it's the real thing and play for hours and then weeks, months and years, he might have dreams that have connections with the games. He might have views and opinions that have been influenced by the type of games he plays. It's like right now, I’m reading 'The Rape of Nanking' by Iris Chang and I have feelings about the books, about the situations described in it, I have opinions. I just got through Need for Speed Hot Pursuit on the Ps3 yesterday and right now, I could easily start talking about my favorite cars, my favorite aspects in racing and so on. So a psycho that has played Call of Duty Black Ops 2 for 3 weeks in a row might have an opinion about putting a hole in somebody’s face, but if he played Galaga on the first Nintendo, I’m not sure the game would have impact, realism will have it's role.

The mind of a child
The mind of a child is very fragile, very curious, their minds are like sponges, they capture everything around them and they will try to imitate or do what the people around them are doing. If you let a 5 years old watch countless horror movies and let him play games like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat, I don’t think the results will be very positive. Unless you are watching them and giving them explanations after explanations on every topics they encounter in the game and even so, I don’t think these movies and games are very good for them. The fact that their judgment is not very sharp is a major factor. Even by giving them a book of explications, I’m not sure a kid needs that kind of influences around them. Just think, if a violent game can have an effect on an adult, imagine what it can do to a kid. The parents have a great responsibility, but the kids could probably even play at a friend’s house whose parents don’t care at all. Study can’t really be effective because the video games industry is evolving so fast. There should be a Pin for every violent game so that the kid playing habits could be controlled, that should come in a near future. At the same time, we can’t really make a world only for kids, and start eliminating everything that’s mature and complex, that would be ridiculous.

Illusions and weak confidence
The majority of our actions, goods or bads will greatly be influenced by the amount of confidence that we have. What is the source of your confidence, do you get it from your working accomplishments, your workouts, or do you get it from the respect that you get from your family and peers? The source of our confidence will determine if it will last for long. Now, you won’t get good at fighting because you play Street Fighter and you won’t turn into a soldier because you play Battlefield. It sounds ridiculous, but some players will experience an upgrade of confidence out of playing video games. That’s weak confidence/fake confidence, it is confidence accumulated out of having many successes in a virtual world. And don’t get it twisted; it is a virtual world far from being the real one. Playing video games might help you develop virtual intelligence, virtual skills. But in what cases these virtual skills did really help you in the real world, with people out of the gaming realm? You might say it did help you, but just think about all the time you had to play to gain that confidence versus how much more confidence you could get in less time by countering real people and working hard at a craft of your choice. If you work in the video game industry or make a living out of playing video games, now that’s another thing. But consider that there is way more people that’s consuming video games than creating it. It’s a normal thing to be happy when you beat a game, but don’t start building confidence around that. That kind of confidence don’t last for long, it has a weak foundation; a foundation based on a virtual world, a fake world.

Violence in video games, is there any good in it?
I think that video games could be use as therapy for certain cases. It makes you express yourself in a virtual world through an avatar and even in some violent games, it ain't necessarily all that bad. A person who wants to shoot the place up is better shooting virtual people than real people, a person who wants to take somebody’s heart out is better to play Mortal Kombat and input a Fatality and so on. Violence in video game could be a stage in therapy for individuals, who have violent behaviors. I play violent games sometimes and there’s a good feeling to it for somebody like me who grew up in a culture full of violence, I can’t for now just throw all my violent video games away and play only Little Big Planet and Mario Bros, I like Mario Bros, but I like Mortal Kombat too. I believe that it can have some positive effect by letting you spend all your inner violence and bad energy through the game.

You got to have balance in your video games habits like in everything. If you’re very unstable, don’t put too much time consuming violent stuff. But for people in general, I think it’s ok to play a violent video game here and there, just have balance in the kinds of game you play and in the hours you put into them.

Violent video games definitely have an influence on people, more on some, less on others, but it sure does. It’s up to you to put balance in your everyday consumption, if you really feel all messed up after playing violent games, just don’t play them. As for the kids, I think the video games industry could input Pins into their games or create an effective system that can recognize the age of the player, if they can make such great video games, they can at least do more than only put an M for Mature on the box.

Games are made to have fun, to entertain (and for the industry to make lottsssss of cash!!)On that last note, whatever the style of game you play, I wish you a great gaming experience!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Protests As Ritual Energy Sinks

I don’t know if any of you have heard about what’s going on up here in Canada, because the international press isn’t giving it much coverage, but there has been a massive protest launched across the country this week. This movement, called “Idle No More,” is primarily coming from First Nations people, and is an outcry against not being consulted on an important omnibus bill that passed through our federal parliament just before all the politicians went on their holiday break. Among other things, this bill drastically reduces environmental protections for water quality, and allows for the privatization and sale of lands on Indian reserves. It’s basically a very devious, short-term strategy for the expansion of fracking development in Canada, at First Nations’ expense.  Many of my friends, students, and family members travelled to Ottawa to join the main protest on the solstice. My brother-in-law, who is not psychologically well right now, trekked out early on foot to set an example, traveling in sub-zero temperatures the whole way (this is basically like walking from Montana to New York, and he’s lucky that people picked him up and gave him rides along the way). The same day he started walking, an Attawapiskat Chief named Theresa Spence began a hunger strike, vowing that she wouldn’t eat again until she was able to meet with Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister. She’s currently on the thirteenth day of her fast, and may very well become a true martyr if Harper continues to ignore her request

I wanted to make you all aware of this situation, because it has been foremost in my thoughts all week. My training has of course continued, though I’ve been a bit limited by a sore wrist, which is not allowing me to really set to work intensely developing myself with the free-weights I recently purchased. I was, however, able to demonstrate enough CLF proficiency to get green-lighted for learning the TKD-inspired form, which is something I’ve definitely been looking forward to. Here are a few video highlights from my week…

But outside of the physical training, as I said, my mind has been on the events unfolding up here. I’m troubled by them, because I personally do not feel that protests have any real power at all. In fact, I see them as ritual safety-valves, intended to protect the system that the people are trying to undermine. Protests capture and absorb resistance energy that could be far better spent in other kinds of actions that would have more direct effects. When I look at the function of flocks, herds, and schools in nature, they are practical for evading an attacker, or rather offer individuals the greatest odds of safety when an attacker approaches. They are not, however, used as mere displays in protest of the fact that an assailant happens to exist. To have an effective offence, a different approach is needed. I’ve been trying to communicate this position to friends and family all week, and have not been well received. As an end note, I’d like to share something I wrote last night, a sad insight that I think relates also to our recent discussions about Jokers:

Here's what I observe: There are several very important causes worthy of our attention. They are not really new, they have been here all along. Some of us are perpetually engaged with them. But for the most part, they have been ignored by both the masses and minorities alike. In fact, the most important of them are cited as real issues only when serving human-centric political or financial ends

Regardless of how serious these causes may be, they also happen to function as convenient stages for a very small number of disturbed individuals, people who are in some manner seriously failing themselves and find, in the issues at hand, opportunities for redemption, for heroism. In their compromised state, these people frame their identities in opposition to a singular Other, a celebrity figure who cares nothing of them, but who can serve as a powerful and familiar symbol for all they wish they themselves were not. But alas, perhaps the target is not so unlike themselves, in scale of selfish motive supposedly pursued for the benefit of all, or in scale of stubborn aggrandizement. The disturbed place themselves at serious risk for fulfilment of their heroic fantasy. And in that act, some may get lucky and find at least temporary redemption in going as far as they claimed they would. Others, who set the bar too high from the start, place themselves in mortal danger. And when the cowardly masses witness the truly disturbed, they may very well greet them as heroes, reinforcing the fantasies

In the end, someone dies, whether physically or ideationally, whether celebrity or mad-(wo)man. And the serious issues go on, more deeply entrenched than ever

Discipline over motivation

Motivation won't be there everyday, so when it's time to workout, it's discipline that's taking over. I just get my ass up and go workout, i do my warmup and hit my program. I push myself as hard as i can in each and everyone of my workout. And after i'm done, I feel good, happy and i'm proud of myself and the motivation comes back.

Point is don't wait for motivation, it won't be there everyday, but you can bet it will come back one day or another if you push yourself into discipline.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Life has it's own will

Me and my father are really close, like i'm very close with my mother and my friends. My father once told me that life has a life, and he explained to me his point, which i think makes a lot of sense. Here's some of his and some of my thoughts;

When you get sick, wounded or weak, or when you suffer torture or when you get bullied intensely, there's a deep point where you wants to just quit. You might be very strong, very powerful, but when the extreme pain comes in, for long periods of times, you might just want to fell asleep and never come back, shoot yourself in the head or do whatever it takes to make the pain stop. At this point, it's like life does'nt care about your own will, it becomes independant, it wants to live no matter what you go through. That's why the human body can take unmeasurable amounts of pain and not die, just like the animals and all life forms. Life care but does'nt care about ourselves, it wants to grow, it wants to expand, it wants to multiply itself.

In times of war, or just when you really are caught in the struggles of impredictable situations, you might end up being the victims of one or many psycopath. Simply a human without compassion who finds pleasure in inflicting pain into others. This psychopath in question can keep you alive in hidden places for days, weeks and even years, inflicting pain into your body and mind ruthlessly. Once you go through that, there is no coming back, if you study 'The Rape of Nanking' situation, the victims of the agressors who survived could never forget what happened, they lived their life with horrible flashbacks and nightmares for the rest of their lives until the end. Many of them commited suicide because the pain was too strong to endure, but to be able to commit suicide, you have to overcome the own will of life which is very strong, that is why it is so hard to do. How can you get up day after day and rebuild your confidence when you have been raped hundreds of times, when you've been beaten almost everyday at school for years. You might go through intense therapy, but it will surely take more than a deceny to regain peace in your heart, at this point, only hope can keep you alive, or is it? Hope can be the disguise of that will that life has.

Understanding the suicide
I do not encourage suicide, i'm a optimist person who tend to encourage people, but when suffering reach the unthinkable, i can only forgive and understand the person who did it. To be able to overcome the will of life means you have to suffer a very great deal of internal pain may it be physically or mentally. At the same time, some people who commit suicide may seems to be coward, but are they coward? Really? I think suicide can be a coward move, but who am i to judge the pain of another being? But even through suicide, torture, war and depression, life goes on for the simple reason that it has it's own will.

At some point you gotta let go, you got to make peace within yourself and just let go. It is not necessarily heroic to suffer for fifty years. But if you managed to go through that fifty years and become happy again, you can be sure that you will have great wisdom and a very deep side which you can share with others.

It is not a competition of who suffered the most, suffering has no beauty in it, the beauty comes out of the heart, and the will to overcome, the will of life can be an ennemy but it can be your best friend.

Life on earth and chaos
The life like to be spread all around the place, and so it does'nt only live on earth. This planet might go to sleep one day, but life will find it's way into this chaotic universe. Chaos and life are like everything, they need each other, the will of life would'nt be as strong if chaos would'nt be so destructive.

A wise woman once told me
I met a sage one day, i asked her; I might never see you again, what i need to do, what is the thing that you want me to remember and she told me; Light in the shadows makes much difference.

It is what it is, life is no game, it ain't there just to be there and act stupid. There is purposes in this world for each and everyone of us. May you find yours and grow beautifully from within.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Ancient Joker

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the most famous philosophers as far as the western society is concerned.
As I mentioned in my previous posts, the joker is something different. The joker is rarely mainstream...
Diogenes of Sinope was someone that epitomized the joker ideal. I'll try to give you some insights on his life and teachings.

Diogenes lived in Greece sometime around 4th century BCE. Like I said in all my joker posts, I am not going to write about his biography, but I do encourage you to learn more about him. This is my take on him...

He was one of the founder of the Cynic philosophy. Modern usage of the word has a negative connotation, but in the past it had a very different meaning. Cynic is a greek word for dog, and the Cynics used dogs as an ideal example of their philosophy. They emphasized the life in agreement with nature, In that way, they rejected all desires for power, wealth, money and promoted living a simple life of virtue. Diogenes himself was often referred to as a ''Dog''.

What I like the most about Diogenes is that he lived his philosophy. He led by an example. You might say it is a bit too extreme, and I agree but there is something about Diogenes that is at the same time both shocking and inspiring. He lived in a jar, and doing so, he tried to show his disdain for material possessions. He used his eccentric behavior to point out the hypocrisy in the greek society. Usually when we talk about the problems in our society, we refer to that ''good old days''. But there were no''good old days'', every society in history had the problems that we are facing now, we just have cell phones and the internet, everything else is pretty much the same.

There are very few writings about Diogenes, and most information about him comes from various anecdotes.
He had a very strange sense of humor and was prone to extreme behavior.
Often he would urinate on the people who would insult him and pointed out to them with his middle finger.
There are so many funny and insightful anecdotes about him so I will copy some of them for you to read...

When he was asked where he came from, he replied, "I am a citizen of the world (cosmopolites)". This was a radical claim in a world where a man's identity was intimately tied to his citizenship in a particular city state.

He destroyed the single wooden bowl he possessed on seeing a peasant boy drink from the hollow of his hands.

Diogenes used to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp; when asked what he was doing, he would answer, "I am just looking for an honest man''.Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels.

He criticized Plato's abstract philosophy and Plato named him ''Socrates gone mad''.

When Plato gave Socrates' definition of man as "featherless bipeds" and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato's Academy, saying, "Behold! I've brought you a man." After this incident, "with broad flat nails" was added to Plato's definition.

Diogenes was captured by pirates while on voyage to Aegina and sold as a slave in Crete to a Corinthian named Xeniades. Being asked his trade, he replied that he knew no trade but that of governing men, and that he wished to be sold to a man who needed a master.

It was in Corinth that a meeting between Alexander the Great and Diogenes is supposed to have taken place.The accounts of Plutarch and recount that they exchanged only a few words: while Diogenes was relaxing in the sunlight in the morning, Alexander, thrilled to meet the famous philosopher, asked if there was any favor he might do for him. Diogenes replied, "Yes, stand out of my sunlight". Alexander then declared, "If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes." In another account of the conversation, Alexander found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, "I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave."

When asked how he wished to be buried, he left instructions to be thrown outside the city wall so wild animals could feast on his body. When asked if he minded this, he said, "Not at all, as long as you provide me with a stick to chase the creatures away!" When asked how he could use the stick since he would lack awareness, he replied "If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?"

My favorite ancient philosopher for sure, radical and funny. Sadly he is rarely mentioned and not a lot of people have heard of him. I tried to change it with this post.

Diogenes... The joker or sage? Who could tell... 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Emptyness of the mind

Emptyness of the mind

I'm happy to be able to express myself with the FMK Family and it's entire Kwoon as a supporter. When i received the link for the Tao of Freddie's Modern Kung Fu blog, i started to focus on subjects. And as i focused, i felt a lack of creativity. As a creative person, it felt kinda strange. But i misunderstood what was happening. What was happening is that my mind was getting empty. Not in a bad way, neither in a good way, just kinda empty, calm and relax. And i decided to write a little something on emptyness.

Sometime i'm very agitated, sometime i'm in between. But theres a specific time when my mind gets very empty and the time stop. At this particular moment, all i know is nothing, all i feel is the oxygen coming in and out of my lungs, it's almost as if i could see in slow motion for a short moment. It happens sometimes when i push myself very hard on my workouts, and i can't really predict those moments, they just happen.

So is it a bad thing that my expression comes kinda short for my first blog? I think and feel that it ain't since i'm feeling good and relax.

While i'm typing this, there is no noise around me but the sound of the keyboard, it's almost completly silent. And i'm thankful for that, because i'm counscious that i'm living a moment that is opposite to war; a moment of peace.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peaceful Warrior

A little sidestep from the joker series, cause I can't find the time right now... I just wanted to join the others with my movie recommendation...
It is based on a book by Dan Millman called  ''Way of the Peaceful Warrior''. The book is great too, by all means take the time to read it.
The movie is not so much about the acting and plot twists. It's the message of the movie that is inspiring.

Be sure to watch it and let  me know what you think of it...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Broke 100!

My training suffered a bit this week, owing to a battle with the seasonal flu and a couple days’ business travel north to Edmonton. Physically, I still don’t feel a hundred percent again, but it’s getting closer. I used the natural herbal medicines I’d gathered over the summer to combat my flu symptoms. They worked very well, and I never did become overly feverish and miserable. But the flu did slow me down quite a bit, all the same

Even with this challenge, there were some personal highlights to announce for this period. First of all, I was able to break 100 reps on my power twister. That happened just last night, almost a week exactly from my baseline reading of half that many. I did notice that the power twister gets broken-in with repeated use, so it’s much tighter right out of the box than it is now. Still, it was not at all easy to do 102 reps, and I want to keep climbing. Shi zu sent me a link to purchase the exact model everyone else is using in Chicago, so I’m going to do that, and aim eventually to push toward at least attempting to boost the Kwoon record. We’ll see

Another big deal for me was acquiring a weight bench and adequately heavy plates, so that I can participate more in the strength training regime Shi zu is recommending for all Todai. I’m definitely stronger in my bicep curls than in the standard bench press, probably because I’ve always owned a curl bar and enjoyed this exercise (although I haven’t worked seriously on developing it for well over a decade). I weigh about 175 or thereabouts, so I tested my baseline on the bench with 180 and could only do 4 reps without a spotter. In contrast, when I tried bicep curls with half my weight, or 90 lbs, I was easily able to do 10 fairly clean reps. So these will be my baseline readings to build from

I'm also coming closer to being able to perform the full 1-minute Jump Robe Double Under exercise...

On the ZMA side, I’m still making adjustments and corrections to the basic CLF-inspired form. I think (hope) it’s getting close to adequate enough that I might begin learning the TKD-inspired form. Watching myself though, I can see that even in my best performances there’s still a bit of disharmony between upper and lower body movement, and that I routinely muck-up the strike to the rear during one of the combinations later in the form…

 So I’ve still got fine-tuning to do. But all the same, I’m going to begin working on kick development. It’s one of the areas where I know well I have a variety of weaknesses, including issues with flexibility and core balance. It’s easy to dismiss these shortcomings, because they’re not very noticeable in general practice. But the dynamic expectations of the TKD-inspired form will reveal them all too clearly, to where they can’t be ignored, and that’s a good thing  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Updated Fitness Requirements for Rank

I have updated the fitness requirements for rank to have it more comprehensive.  I will explain in a later video why I decided to make these changes.  These changes will require the use of equipment.  All ranked Todai's have 1 year from today's date to reach these rank requirements, which should not be a problem, b/c 1 year is a long time!

Tao of Freddie’s Modern Kung Fu
Fitness requirements for rank
Sidai/Simui (Red), Sihing/Shigu (Blue), Sifu (Black)
Last updated: 12/15/12
Gender Male
Ages 10 to 19 20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59
1 min. Sit-up 35, 40, 45 40, 45, 50 35, 40, 45 30, 35, 40 25, 30, 35
1 min. Push-up 35, 45, 55 40, 50, 60 35, 45, 55 30, 40, 50 25, 35, 45
1 min. Squat 35, 40, 45 40, 45, 50 35, 40, 45 30, 35, 40 25, 30, 35
Jump rope (min.) 5, 7, 9 6, 8, 10 5, 7, 9 4, 6, 8 3, 5, 7
Side kick hold (sec) 5, 15, 25 10, 20, 30 5, 15, 25 0, 10, 20 0, 5, 15
Side kick 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
Front kick hold (sec) 5, 15, 25 10, 20, 30 5, 15, 25 0, 10, 20 0, 5, 15
Front kick 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
L-hold (sec) 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
1 arm Push-up 7, 12, 17 10, 15, 20 7, 12, 17 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12
Pull-ups or Chin ups 7, 12, 17 10, 15, 20 7, 12, 17 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12
Dips 7, 12, 17 10, 15, 20 7, 12, 17 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12
Handstand Push-ups 2, 6, 10 5, 9, 13 2, 6, 10 1, 4, 7 0, 2, 4
Vertical Jump (in.) 10, 11, 12 11, 12, 13 10, 11, 12 9, 10, 11 8, 9, 10
Middle Split (in.) 12, 8, 4 13, 9, 5 14, 10, 6 15, 11, 7 16, 12, 8
Bent over reach 2, 5, head 2, 3, 5 2, 2, 4 2, 2, 3 2, 2, 2
Arm stretch 7, 8, 9 6, 7, 8 6, 6, 7 6, 6, 6 6, 6, 6
Squat your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Bench Press your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Power Twister #2 35, 40, 45 40, 45, 50 35, 40, 45 30, 35, 40 25, 30, 35
Leg Raises 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
Military Press 50% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Bicep Curl 50% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Horse Stance Hold (sec.) 40, 60, 80 50, 70, 90 40, 60, 80 30, 50, 60 20, 40, 50
Gender Female
Ages 10 to 19 20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59
1 min. Sit-up 25, 30, 35 30, 35, 40 25, 30, 35 20, 25, 30 15, 20, 25
1 min. Push-up 17, 22, 27 20 25, 30 17, 22, 27 15, 20, 25 12, 17, 22
1 min. Squat 35, 40, 45 40, 45, 50 35, 40, 45 30, 35, 40 25, 30, 35
Jump rope (min.) 5, 7, 9 6, 8, 10 5, 7, 9 4, 6, 8 3, 5, 7
Side kick hold (sec) 15, 20, 25 20, 25, 30 15, 20, 25 10, 15, 20 5, 10, 15
Side kick 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
Front kick hold (sec) 15, 20, 25 20, 25, 30 15, 20, 25 10, 15, 20 5, 10, 15
Front kick 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
L-Raises 3, 5, 7 5, 7, 9 3, 5, 7 2, 4, 6 1, 3, 5
1 arm Push-up on Knees 3, 5, 7 5, 7, 9 3, 5, 7 2, 4, 6 1, 3, 5
Pull-ups or Chin ups 3, 5, 7 4, 6, 8 3, 5, 7 2, 3, 4 1, 2, 3
Modified Dips 8, 12, 16 10, 15, 20 8, 12, 16 6, 10, 14 4, 8, 12
Shoulder Push-ups 3, 5, 7 5, 7, 9 3, 5, 7 2, 4, 6 1, 3, 5
Vertical Jump (in.) 4, 5, 6 5, 6, 7 4, 5, 6 3, 4, 5 2, 3, 4
Middle Split (in.) 10, 6, 2 11, 7, 3 12, 8, 4 13, 9, 5 14, 10, 6
Bent over reach 2, 5, head 2, 3, 5 2, 2, 4 2, 2, 3 2, 2, 2
Arm stretch 7, 8, 9 6, 7, 8 6, 6, 7 6, 6, 6 6, 6, 6
Squat 50% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Bench Press 50% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Power Twister #2 10, 15, 20 15, 20, 25 10, 15, 20 5, 10, 15 1, 5, 10
Knee Raises 4, 8, 12 5, 10, 15 4, 8, 12 3, 6, 9 2, 4, 6
Military Press 25% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Bicep Curl 25% your weight 3, 8, 13 5, 10, 15 3, 8, 13 2, 6, 11 1, 4, 9
Horse Stance Hold (sec.) 40, 60, 80 50, 70, 90 40, 60, 80 30, 50, 60 20, 40, 50

What is a good friend?

What is a good friend?

These last days, my attention has been focused on a question Shi Zu raised, and some Todais answered: What is a good friend? Being very interested in the subject, and feeling the needed to research in myself what a good friend was, I started to meditate on the subject.
As some may have remarked, I am sometimes active on the blog and sometimes not, and I publish very few videos. This though, isn’t the mark of a shrinking motivation, but rather a need that I have to concentrate for quite some time on a particular subject, and to express myself through writing. I guess each one of us have a specific way to express in which they are more efficient. Writing is mine. For the moment, I value scarcity more than being prolific, since I am only starting to study the spiritual aspects, I don’t have the experience to express that often without making mistakes.

So what is a good friend?
Having thought about it, I asked this question to some of my friends, trying to analyze their reaction. The first insinuation, which seems to me, as a misconception is “in friends that you have, tell me which one is good and why?”
I have always been reluctant to the notion of best friend, because it seems as a devaluation of your relationship and interaction with the rest of humanity. A best friend, in the common sense, seems to be referred to as the person you feel is the closest to you, who understands you better than others and who would do anything for you.

Doing anything for you, to me, is nothing valuable in itself, but more a symptom of the idea of having, possession and attachment to you.
It has always surprised me how friendship is often related to “having”. You can find numerous books on “how to have great friends, a beautiful girlfriend…”.
The fact of the matter is I don’t own my friends and they don’t own me. How could they ever own something which is changing every second?

 Friendship and responsibility
Your friends, and people with who you interact with, do have influence on you and your actions. “Influence” is an interesting word. Most of the time, it is used in its negative sense, when for example, parents come to me because their beloved son seems to be led by some friend to do things he would never do by himself. This is a terrible misconception, a Manichean vision as well as a clear lack of objectivity. How can someone else destroy your son’s own consciousness? Doesn’t he know right from wrong? On the same token, I do not vouch for my friends or their action. In any sort of relationship, I believe each person has to take the responsibility for their action. Many people have been surprised when I opposed to some friends or even members of the family who were going the wrong way. In spite of psychological and physical training in dealing with confrontations, I have never backed up someone involved in a fight if he was deliberately wrong. At first they said “my principles” were stupid. Later they apologized and told me they understood. It is also interesting to see that those with who I had the toughest confrontation with, have remained my friends ever since.

Being rather than having
What I am trying to say is that we should not strive towards “having” great friends but rather “being” a great friend. Someone who will gently lead you to better yourself, with sincerity, even though he might be wrong. Someone who has enough love in himself to share with others, and who is not waiting for anybody to help him or to take responsibility for him. Someone who is training hard every day to improve what he is and what he has to give. We, as martial artist sometimes get this question : Why do you train for?
 We train for the struggles of life.

 I believe you cannot wait for someone to come and help you when you are not even questioning yourself. And I believe those who are ready to connect and exchange will do so. There is an old saying that tells “the master appears when the disciple is ready”. Some people say “choose your friends. It seems so restrictive! Once again, friendship and love have nothing to do with possession. I want to be a friend to the whole humanity, because I believe I have something to share with everyone and more importantly, that I will grow from the contact life provides me each and every day.

Todai Ling

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


This is a sequel of the John Lennon post that I've written earlier. I wanted to share my experience that you might find interesting... You know a time when something in you just clicks? And you get some new perspective of the world, a some kind of enlightenment? That happened to me when I heard this Lennon's track... And if I had to pick which song that he wrote caused his death, this one would be my pick.
I'll share my perspective on it, maybe you'll find it insightful as I did...

The ideal that is set on humanity is something called ''working class hero'', a goal that we all should strive to accomplish. All that ''rags to riches'' propaganda is just designed to hide the true values and to impose some puppets that the masses will worship. By imitating those false idols humanity is getting dumber by a minute. Just observe all of those cage fighters posing as martial artists, that's insane. A working class hero is a fake hero!


From the moment you're born you get pulled in a machine made to deprive you of any creativity and individuality. We are blessed with a gift of greatness and imagination but our potential gets cut down right at the beginning of our lives. The system doesn't want free minded and smart people because they cannot be controlled.


Wherever you go you feel like a misfit. You try even to make yourself an idiot just to be accepted by your pears but with no avail. You cannot understand how the society works


It's a part of life when a person has gone through this ''system of education''. The pieces of your hopes and dreams are still there but you're now to afraid to go after them. Too many times you've heard NO, and your dreams seem more and more distant as the days go by.


The baddest verse in the song... Funny enough, even though you're being made a slave, you still feel like you're so smart and free.. There so many tools of mass control but also people have some weird sense of security and belief in the system. Idiots...


The fact is that in this world crime does pay. You can make it, but only by backstabbing, lying and deception. Not only that you must tolerate the violence, but you must also learn how to embrace it and love it in order to succeed in this world.


I don't think that John was saying that we should imitate him in any way. On the contrary, we need to follow his example and express our uniqueness, to find our own way. Be yourself, don't try to be a working class hero.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hello Again!

Its been far too long since I've posted to the blog!! I am sorry for not being as diligent with this, as I have come to think of you all as a second family. Work has been quite hectic lately due to the holiday season, but now that things are slowly starting to even out, I have set aside officially a day once a week to post regularly so that I might make myself known in the physical kwoon as well as the digital one as much as possible!

So! to start this habit off right, I'll post an update of my progress and goals within training with Sifu as well as my personal goals for the close of this year and the years to come. The first goal I have is to become more open to the application of all that I learn within the martial arts. Often times I have a tendency to assume an application of a technique or misjudge its value based on what I can do physically with it. Sometimes I even fail to see the potential in any one technique because I have not personally trained in the use of it. All martial arts is connected. As I read and study, I am learning that in a true practice, no move is waisted and every action serves purpose. This is a very humbling lesson which further proves its value in my opinion. The second goal which I hope to achieve by the close of this year at the earliest or by midsummer next year is to increase my physical fitness to a point where not only will my upper body compensate for my limited capability with my legs, but to a point where my capability of my legs increases and my legs grow stronger. I know this will be a painful goal that will take far more than my normal effort in my training to reach, but I am firm in my resolve. I will accept nothing less than the parameters of this goal to be met exactly. that entails a loss of a minimum of 20 lbs. An increase in muscle mass by at least 3% and a BMI to total under 15%. The third and I would argue equally important goal is to make myself more available for training and assistance with the kwoon, both online and physically. I am known by my closest friends as someone who is always there when advice is needed or something is needed to be discussed. It is only fair that I am there even more so for the people that I would consider a second family.

I hope you all have a great holiday season and I look forward to getting to know you all even more!

Todai Changming
Charlie Bressler

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Yaaaa... I've Got The Power Twister!

I’m overdue to post a report, though to anyone paying attention to the YouTube channel and other discussions on the blog, it’s probably obvious what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. I missed writing last weekend, mostly because of low spirits, owing to the double whammy of losing both animals I was trying to help… Wilson the Redhead Duck disappeared and, after a thorough search, appeared to have fallen victim to a predator, probably a coyote. As for the Mountain Cottontail, a friend of mine (who’s a retired veterinarian) and I took him to a clinic to have his critically-injured leg amputated at the femur. The rabbit survived the operation just fine, and appeared to be in good health, eating right and all. But then he suddenly died two nights later. We figure it was all just too much stress for the little guy. This is the downside wildlife rescue. Probably only a quarter of the injured animals I work with survive long-term. On the upside though, I’m usually able to give an animal at least a couple days longer than it would otherwise have, and every bit of life is precious

A big part of why I’m training in FMK, in addition to pursuing greater fulfillment of my human potential, is this fundamental recognition of the value of life. Yes, the explicit benefit of martial art is always going to be its potential to help you survive a violent personal attack. But every one of us is going to have recurrent run-ins with age, disease, and other dangerous circumstances. These types of encounters are far more inevitable, and our training can easily determine whether we’ll pass through without incurring extensive injury or immobility. Kung Fu is my preventative medicine

To this effect, since my last post, I’ve continued making corrections to my performance of the CLF-inspired form, and breaking the techniques out for application in formless flow training. I didn’t do any heavy bag practice in this period, because I’m waiting for a split knuckle to close from one too many inaccurate strikes last time. I have, however, been doing lots of cardio and strength training. I’m particularly excited about having received a PowerTwister in the mail, so I can participate in that challenge with everyone at the Chicago kwoon. So far, I’m up to 70 reps. But this number will grow, just as I’ve been progressing with many of the other fitness feats I’m focusing on. Highlights for this past week or so has been extending my personal records in L-hold Pull-Ups (12 up from 10), One-Legged Squats (9 up from 6 with the right leg), and Horse Stance Hold (2 min 12 sec up from 2 min 3 sec)

Finally, as you’ve probably heard, Shi zu has asked me to manage the online ZMA training, which includes an improved organization of the YouTube channel. If you go on there this week, check out some of the new playlists (including separate lists that feature you all personally, so you can look back at the progress you’ve been making).  Out of the 3000+ videos, I still have maybe 800 left to organize. So if something seems missing from a playlist, I probably just haven’t got to it yet, but it’ll be there soon enough. Shi zu also gave me the Kwoon contact list, because I need to send out a few emails to everyone. A couple of these will be invitations to private playlists on the YouTube channel that deal with specific aspects of the ZMA training. I’m also going to be asking favors from some of you, small video and/or blog contributions that may significantly enhance the training experience for online Todai who are just starting. It looks like we may be seeing at least one new face by January. So anyway, be on the lookout for my emails. I’ll get them out this early this week