Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Regarding My Donations, The No-Rank Experiment, Video Lessons, Attire, Benefits To The Kwoon, And The Bodhisattva Path

Oki Sifu and fellow Todai... This is my response to the video posted on the FMK YouTube channel a couple days ago, pertaining to my monetary donations, training interests, and how my participation might best assist in strengthening and developing the kwoon. Sifu, your video covered a lot of ground in a relatively short time, and you've presented me with a number of good questions. What I really appreciate about your video is that it shows the amount of thought and effort that you are investing in trying to accommodate different students, rather than imposing a strict single path, and for me it's a confirmation that my non-physical efforts are succeeding in prompting dialog that can potentially lead to important learning and growth. Certainly I am being enriched by this experience, and I hope it is helping others as well. My only concern is that I dont want any dialog I prompt to become a nuisance or energy drain, but rather a potential source of enrichment for all.

With that said, unfortunately, as I sat down to write this response, I realized that I couldn't do justice to the process in just a few words. I feel like it's important for me to communicate in-depth what I'm about, in order that everyone better understands the kind of approaches I've been taking and/or proposing within FMK, and this quality of explanation takes a little more time. So... my response is a bit lengthy. I have pasted it below, separated into twelve comments, so as not to take up too much space on the main page of this blog and detract from its aesthetics. The first part (Comments 1-5) is autobiographical, to help contextualize the second part (Comments 6-12), which gets directly to my responses to the questions posed. Sifu, if you only have time to read part of this, read from Comment 6 through 12. I would be happy, though, if my recent donation was utilized to reimburse you for taking the time to read all of my response, because I think it will help us work together for the benefit of this kwoon long-term if you know more about me.

Power Twister Attempt & B-Day Pictures

Hello Everyone!

If you've been keeping with YouTube lately, Sifu's been having all the guys do videos on their reps of the power twister. I must say...not as easy as it looks! Todai Ling and I were bored the other day and decided to visit the family; while playing with the kids as you can see in the background, we attempted the challenge our selves. I knew it was hard, but was still surprised at the ability I had to bend the power twister, even if was for a second. haha Weeks before then I remember not being able to bend it all!, but that being my weakness is my upper body strength. Regardless, it's still progress and and we're excited to one day finally do it!

Thanks for watching!

Also, thought I'd share a few pictures from last weekend. Sifu's older son Brandon and I have the same birthday August 24, and Shi Lao was so kind as to surprise us with a mango cake from her restaurant after training! Enjoy!

Sidai Wei, Todai Ai, Todai Ling (who recently just joined 'yay!,' and one of my closest friends since the 3rd grade!)

 Mango cake from "Jenny's Gourmet Restaurant"

 Blowing out the candles with all the kids (From Left to Right: Jet, Angelina, Todai Ai, Brandon, Keo)

-Todai Ai

Re: Dragon Tattoo Video


"Can I ask you where you got your tattoo done? Was it done by a traditional tattoo artist that used ancient techniques to create it or was it done at a regular tattoo shop? Also, why did you decide to have 4 kids? Also, are you children names significant? How did you decide what to name them?

What type of business was your business the coon?"


I got my tattoo done at "George Papas Tattoo"
Visit the website to find out more information about George Papas, the owner of the shop who did my tattoo. 

I wanted 4 kids so that each child would know how it felt to have one brother & one sister, I wanted 2 girls & 2 boys, but we ended up getting 3 boys & one girl, & now another boy!

The names are:
Brandon Zen Lee
Jet Zen Lee
Angelina Tao Lee
Keo Zen Lee

The middle names hold tremendous significance in meaning.  The first names were chosen b/c we liked them. Brandon, was chosen as a connection to Bruce, Jet was chosen as a connection to "Jet Li".  Angelina was chosen b/c I liked the way it sounded, with "Angelina Jolie" in mind.  Keo was chosen b/c Jenny had a friend with that name & she liked it, I like it b/c it is unique & different.  The 5th child will be "Ken Zen Lee". 

The Kwoon is the "Martial Arts school."  The business is in Personal Training & Self-Defense.  The family aspect of the kwoon is "Zen Martial Arts." 

RE:Movie Review: "Ted" - Philosia

I haven't seen Ted, but I could tell right off that it was going to be stupid. There are some movies that after you watch it you come away inspired. Have you ever seen the Shawshank Redemption? It was probably one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.

The message I think behind the movie is you can never give up on your dreams, and in a way I think that in a way it is synonymous with the story of America, back in 1776 the world was ruled by the whim of Kings and Queens. Great Britain was the most powerful country on the planet and we chose to defy the king and say "we are free, you have no power over us anymore." And there was a point during the American revolution where it looked like we might lose the war, but we didn't and because of that we are one of the most powerful country's in the world. I think that movie speaks to the American spirit, that's what America is about and I think that was a great message. 

 Another movie that follows that theme is the lord of the ring, I liked this also because of the detail that the director put in to creating a world that seemed so real. You almost got the sense that this was a world that actually existed ten's of thousands of years ago.

Most movies I think that are being put out are garbage right now. I actually prefer watching documentaries, the latest one I have watched is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire:

I never heard about it before I saw this documentary, and I found out from watching this show that because of what happened here it led to the formations of unions to stand up for workers rights which led to the creation of the New Deal by Franklin D. Roosevelt which led to social security which made many peoples lives better then before the fire happened.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just Warming Up

Whether warming up or cooling down, working the trees is always enjoyable. Over the past four or five days, I’ve been hitting them for the first twenty minutes or so of my dawn workout, before stretching and moving on to more serious stuff, just to get the muscles loose and the blood flowing. When starting off this way, I like to dance a bit more than usual, and throw a couple rounds of push-ups and sit-ups etc. in there. So here’s what that all looked like this morning

Our days are getting shorter all the time, and night temperatures dropping. Won’t be more than a month or two here in Alberta before we start seeing snow and ice, and soon after that, the rivers and ponds will be completely frozen over. I’m actually looking forward to the challenges of working out in our winter weather again. I want to play with hitting panels of ice for power generation and further strengthening of the hands, arms, possibly shins (ouch). Ice is something I can easily access or produce here all winter, and it’s not a waste to smash it. I’ve also got a few different kinds of training dummies I’d like to build before the cold comes, for practicing drills when the nights are long

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rank Information Update

Rank Information Update

I have thought long & hard on developing different paths within FMK to accommodate for a larger majority of the public.  There is a delicate balance between informal & formal training & between structure & creativity.  After much reflection, I have discovered a practical way for the kwoon towards this balance. 

Todai’s of FMK are those who choose to participate in practicing Zen Martial Arts.  As a Todai, you have the option of striving towards rank within FMK (meeting my expectations) or creating your own path in the Martial Arts (setting your own goals).  No uniform purchase is required, all uniforms are optional.  Todai’s with unique talents & skills may be asked to participate in FMK promotional videos. 

FMK rank tank tops & badges are designed to identify Todai’s who have reached certain basic rank standards within the kwoon.  The investment towards FMK rank tank tops & badges signify a greater commitment from the Todai towards the kwoon than the Todai who fulfills the rank standards but does not invest towards any FMK apparel or accessories. 

Todai’s who fulfill the basic rank standards within the kwoon may be asked to participate in FMK promotional videos.  Todai’s who invest towards rank badges will have a FMK ranked Todai informational page developed on the FMK website & a YouTube page signifying that they are official & currently ranked within FMK.  Todai’s who invest towards rank badges will be required to retest in the basic fitness standards for their rank every year in order to keep their badges. 

Online Todai’s & Todai’s who relocate to other States & countries can still remain connected to the kwoon via internet & stay current with their rank via video submission.  All badges & FMK rank apparel are expected to be returned if Todai’s decide to discontinue their training with the kwoon.  Monies collected from the badges & rank apparel are not refundable as the monies paid only cover the cost of the items & any excess monies goes towards the time required to create & maintain public rank notifications via the FMK website & FMK YouTube.

Getting Stronger

It was another full day visiting and touring with my parents. Before we headed out this morning, I practiced as usual in our local park, and toward the end stopped by the playground to run through some of the exercises I've been working on there. Definitely making some progress. Today I was able to do three clean pull-overs as compared to just one last week. I can now do twenty dips, rather than the fourteen of a month ago. Same thing with inverted sit-ups, sixteen up from ten. With regular pull-ups, I'm doing about fourteen to sixteen on average. Wish I could still knock out the thirty-two straight I used to do, but I'll get there again. Meantime, I've started doing some of my pull-ups with simultaneous L-raised legs, which I find to be much more difficult, cutting my abilities exactly in half. Still, I bet if I'd tried to do these a month ago, I'd have maybe only been able to get two or three accomplished before my legs fell. Moral of this story... the playground is an excellent place to build strength. It seems to be working for me, anyway

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blue rider

Hey it's me Alex, just changed the profile name though... I had an interesting discovery few days ago, not so much concerning the martial arts directly but I wanted to share this with you...

I was never really interested in art... Especially in paintings. I thought it was stupid, and that ''real men'' do not do that. But by chance I got some information that made me think about it. I heard a story about a russian painter named Wassily Kandinsky and I got intrigued.
Actually the thing that got me thinking was one point in Kandinsky's life when he formed a group called the Blue rider. It was formed after one his paintings was rejected from an exhibition. He teamed up with other fellow artists who shared his views and they started expressing their spiritual beliefs through art. It wasn't a cult or anything, Blue rider group had the idea that together they can achieve much more than as individuals. As I read more about Kandinsky, he seems as a very wise and knowledgeable person, not just a simple painter.

Anyway, it think that something similar needs to be done in the martial arts a swell. In modern society martial arts became so corrupted, and only rare individuals practice the right way. But as individuals we cannot change anything, and as the time goes on many of our fellow martial artist lose faith, and some go on into exploitation called mma, k1 or whatever. But united around an idea... Now that's a different story. That's the main reason why I started posting on this blog. It is not much but it is something. It's a start. It sounds idealistic but isn't martial arts all about fighting for higher ideals? Think about it....

Ancient North American Animal Styles

Oki All… Thought I’d give an update, since I hadn’t in a few days. I’d really like to hear more from other todai, by the way, what you’re working on, progressions and such, even the seemingly minor achievements. Feels a bit awkward posting so frequently here, when few others are doing so, and I hope it’s not getting tedious. But I find reporting in the blog to be a good tool for maintaining momentum and connection, and the dialogs that sometimes come from it as inspirational in ways that aren’t always predictable. Perhaps this is especially a benefit for an online member of the kwoon. I’d probably be less motivated to post if I was working with the Chicago group physically

Anyway… My parents drove up to visit from Oregon a few days ago. Haven’t seen them in over a year, so I took a few days leave from work to spend time with them. Today, we traveled to Nanton, Alberta, which is well-known for its many antique stores. My mom, wife, and daughter went shopping. Meanwhile, I brought my dad and son-in-law out to climb sandstone cliffs in a nearby canyon, and show them some very old pictographs hidden under a couple of the more sheltered outcrops. I wanted to post an image of one of these panels here. What you are seeing in this image are very ancient depictions of Blackfoot warriors. The round bodies are what we call 'ssokowo'taan' (heavy-shields), the pre-horse style shield that went from shoulder to knee and were made from the thickest hide of the buffalo hump. What I want to point out here is that each warrior depicted has a shield design and headdress symbolizing the animal that gave them their fighting power. From right to left there is elk, grizzly, eagle, bison, and rattlesnake. This is not the extent of animal-influence fighting styles that have been known to Blackfoot people, by far. Part of what I am interested in renewing, in my lifetime, and at least with myself (though hopefully influencing others), are martial approaches and techniques learned from local animals. There is an extensive lore about this, which I don’t really have the time at the moment to write in-depth upon here. But I will say that many of the remnants remain still today, in ceremony, song, dance, and medicine. Even some of the core body training is still well-remembered, like running every morning down to the river (even in winter), dunking oneself, then running back up the coulee carrying a heavy rock. It is the martial applications themselves that have been… not really forgotten, but… too long neglected. A lot of the core stuff, I've been told by elders, consists of wrestling techniques. But at this point, I'm not confident that the martial component could be renewed in its old form. The animals are still here though, and I’m certain they could reacquaint me from scratch

Monday, August 20, 2012

19Aug12 Experimentations CLF & Stick

So today's training was all pretty much experimentation. Started the morning taking some of Sifu's CLF set, and playing with ways to mix it up, or blend other techniques into it, etc. Just basically feeling around different transitions and such, and I want to continue doing so, to make sure I don't get stuck in the routine of the set. Later, going toward afternoon, I walked around the pond for a bit to see what was new with the plants and animals. During this visit, I stopped in an area I call the Owl Wood (near a great-horned nest) to practice moving my stick... hmmm, that has a funny sound to it. Anyway, I'm going to approach the stick in the manner of letting the weapon itself teach me, and see where it leads. I've made the video short enough to demonstrate what both of the above approaches are looking like at present, but not so lengthy (hopefully) to discourage viewing. I even included some backyard punch, punch in there for The Doc! HaHa! Enjoy!

By the way, Sifu... I listened to your philosia video on "Being Original" this evening, and I don't think that the direction you're taking FMK is going to hinder your business at all. It might feel a little risky, because it's not what most kwoons promote. But on the other hand, that is what will make it all the more unique and attractive. I don't suspect anyone starts off in martial arts with the intention of mimicking someone else's practice forever. Unfortunately, that's just the typical system they encounter once invested. For you to offer something different - the alphabets of a few existent systems, followed by strong encouragement to become liberated, to be creative, to develop their own - to me that strengthens the appeal of this kwoon immensely. That is what's going to promote modern kung fu

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's all just a dance

I've read Ryan's question concerning training, and his dilemma about setting goals. Does it help you or does it box you in? I had pretty much the same problem, as all westerners do, so this is the way I've dealt with it.

It all comes down to one word... Zen.
Stay in the moment. No yesterday, no tomorrow, just now. I don't plan to elaborate the zen doctrine, I'll just give you an example how I put it in works.
Modern society tends to make us robots in a sense that you have to mindlessly follow the instructions it gives you. Basic formula goes something like: go to school then college, get a job, then go after promotion and a bigger paycheck, get your pension and die. Just another rat in a rat race.

My epiphany of some sorts came when I realized that time actually does not exist. It was created by humans who were afraid of the infinity of the universe. If you notice all the different time zones across the globe or how almost every ancient civilization had a different calendar. So giving your training a time limit is pointless.
Like everybody else, I usually had these statements: I'll start on Monday, or on the first day of the upcoming month; by that date I'll be able to do this and that or something like that. It was wrong.
Remember the quote from the Kung fu panda movie? ''Past is history, future is a mystery and today is a gift; that's why it's called present.''

I started training alone without any goals except because I like it and my desire to better myself.
I heard also a great analogy: Imagine you want to build a brick wall. Don't be consumed by the result just concentrate on each brick at the time. Lay each brick as perfectly you can. In the end you will have a perfect wall. It is very difficult for a westerner to understand this because our society forces us to chase for fast and instant results. Every day is a New year's resolution, this moment is all we have and what we can control.

The same goes for training... Let's say you can do 10 push ups. That's it, just do 10. Next day 11 then 12 and so on... If one day you are able to do 150 push ups, does it mean you are finished with you progress? Of course not. It is all about the journey not destination. Sure you should keep track of your improvement, but do not be bound by it.

Just  like dancing, move for the sake of moving. You are not going anywhere, just enjoying yourself. You don't ''have to'' do anything.

Alan Watts is a big inspiration for me, you might name him my spiritual guide. This is a short you tube clip of  him explaining it all.
Hope it helps!

Question concerning Training for Martial Arts


my name is Marcel. I live in Germany and have recently started to learn Wing Chun in a martial art school. I wrote Sifu Lee an E-mail with the following question/request:

"I am looking for a guide line to train my body in order to get more out of my martial art training but most importantly maintain a good health and flexibility. My teacher recommended the following books to me: Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless on the following website: However these books are not available in Germany and as I am a student the costs to ship them overseas exceed my budget.

Before I started learning Martial Arts I exercised in a gym according to bodybuilding procedures (I was instru cted in the gym), but I feel that the results are not salutary, neither for a martial art nor for the body. I wanted to know if you happen to be familiar with these books or if you have other suggestions on low tech martial arts training. I just wanted to hear another teacher's recommendation in order to gain a broader perspective on this matter. I believe one can always learn from one another, no matter which style one is practicing.

It would be very kind of you if you could reply to my question."

Firstly I want to thank Sifu Lee for inviting me to this blog. I also would like to invite everyone who reads this post to recommend guide lines for a  low-tech workout for martial arts. Thank you in advance!

I would like to close my post with a quote from Aristotle which I always keep in mind when I train and during all my activites: "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Question On Goals

Sifu, I listened to your response/ dialog video entitled ‘Imitation' last night. I thought I would just write a brief note here in the blog, something that can be quickly read to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree with many of the points you've raised, including especially the importance of being rather than following, and your reluctance to push knowledge on people who have not requested it. 

After listening carefully, it seems to me that the kwoon is currently functioning in at least two key services... First, as you conclude in your video, it is providing some todai with an introduction to martial arts, starting them on the path. Secondarily, as in your university analogy, it is drawing together people who share certain positive energies, some of whom may have been exploring the path for a while now, and who can potentially benefit in mutual ways from engaging with one another in this environment.

Although these two services are not in any drastic sense exclusive, I believe they could in some manner be synergized to greater benefit to both society and the kwoon (including of course its business aspect). This untapped potentiality, at least in my mind at the moment, seems to reside in the geographic distribution of the todai. There will be more and more todai joining from different locations around the globe, and often training (like myself) in isolation. If these people can be groomed as both artists/ creators in their own rights, and yet to a standard of body-mind-spirit development appropriate to represent this kwoon, why not take advantage of our geographic distribution to reach far more people? I offer one example of how this might be done in my video, on the last slide. But I'm sure it could be done in many other ways as well. That's my main feedback.

Now... I want to ask you a question, on a totally different topic. Yesterday, I began setting some goals for the winter to come. Today, my inner voice started asking me, "Why are you setting goals? Why do you need them? Why don't you just train every day in what you want to do that day, and quit trying to box yourself in? You know that scheduling is not the way... Stick to response"

What are your thoughts on shouldering such projects? At what point to goals define your limitations?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Congratulations to Sidai Ping!

Congratulations to Sidai Ping for being promoted to the red rank. 

Confessions of a mma fighter

Hello everyone,
                       my name is Alex and I come from Serbia, a small country in Europe. English is not my first language so I apologize for my grammar mistakes. Firstly I would like to thank sifu Lee for this opportunity to express my stance on martial arts. I've been watching his FMK videos for a while now and decided to send him an email to encourage his good work. Recently I've received an invitation from sifu Lee to contribute to this blog, so I grabbed this chance. My belief is that people who practice and encourage real martial arts should unite in some way and this blog is a great thing to do so.

I started doing martial arts in a mma gym. At first, it was unbelievable. The techniques, strength I gained, confidence... It was mind blowing. Especially because I grew up without a father and this gave me the necessary discipline and toughness that I was deprived of. As the time went on, I started noticing things.
I don't want to sound arrogant or anything but I was pretty good, so the pressure came for me to start fighting as a professional. I never really wanted that. My goal was, and still is, to train and improve just because I enjoy it. Nothing more , nothing less. Because I was young and pretty impressionable, I accepted the idea but always postponed it, I'm still at law school so the exams were my usual excuse. Guess on the subconscious level I never wanted to fight so college came as a good shield for me. I fought at amateur level and that was enough for me. As I said, then I started noticing things...

MMA is advertised throughout the world as a next step in the evolution in the martial arts. And that two blockheads that are bashing their heads in the cage are the new samurai or spartan warriors. The fact is mma is all about destruction. There is no soul, no philosophy behind it, no humanity whatsoever. If you look back, the first UFC was just a marketing ploy of the Gracie family to promote their art. Later it was bought by the Zuffa, company owned by italian-american businessmen from Las Vegas. Now they are expanding as huge corporation, promoting violence all around the world. And they are getting bigger everyday...

As far as my experience goes, I began to realize what was going on. Only the aggressive ones, the violent ones, men that have destructive intentions ''improve'', and go on to fight as circus freaks. I hated that. Being a mma fighter makes you nothing more than a gladiator, fighting and hurting another human being only to please a roaring crowd. Gladiators, if you recall, were slaves. Men forced to participate in bloody festivals, deprived of their freedom. And modern sport fighters are just that... Slaves, but they just think they're free...
Expansion of mma is a part of agenda to manipulate the masses, same as ancient Romans did. I didn't want to be part of that. I quit...
Then I started going from gym to gym trying to find a teacher that will help me on my martial way. But with no results. I thought that I was crazy, like that my way of martial arts is wrong and all the others were right with their perversion of martial arts.
One day I saw a documentary about Radomir Kovacevic, my countrymen, on youtube. It was so inspired that I planned to go to US so I could train with him.
Sadly, Radomir had died few years prior, and yet again I felt alone and depression started taking over me.
Then I saw FMK videos. At first, coming from mma background, I was a bit skeptic. But as the time went by I soon came to a conclusion that sifu Lee and I share the same views on martial arts. Now his videos serve as an inspiration for me on my martial arts journey. I train alone now. No teacher, just me going to martial art schools absorbing as much knowledge as I can.

So here I am... Sharing my thoughts, views philosophy... Just expressing myself.
I hope that we will find a way for the true martial artists spread across the globe to unite. And together we could better ourselves, each other, and make our own contribution in making the world a better place.
This blog is a good place to start. Thank you sifu Lee for this chance.
Check out documentary about Radomir Kovacevic, it's a must see...

One Clean Pullover

For the last couple Thursdays, I’ve had the opportunity to go all out with my training… working in the park during the morning, moving into the coulees for the afternoon, then heading to the dojo for the evening. Not so today. I have meetings in the afternoon, so am forced to cut the coulees out of my routine, though I’ll probably make up for it on the weekend

Anyway… our nights are getting longer and colder in Alberta. Woke up to a decent chill this morning. We’re entering into the second to last lunar cycle of our summer season, and I’m very conscious of the approaching winter. There are some things I’d like to accomplish over that cold seven moons. This morning I started taking some baseline measurements to assess where I’m at with several physical abilities, so I could set some goals to achieve over the winter. So far, this is what I have in mind:

Quit Smoking Cigarettes (a no-brainer)

Be Able To Do A Set Of Ten, Clean One-Legged Squats On Alternate Legs While Holding A Front Kick

Be Able To Throw A Side Kick Slowly And Cleanly Above The Ninety-Degree Angle And Hold It There For Thirty Seconds

Make Serious Progress On The Splits

Be Able To Do A Set Of Ten, Clean Pull-Overs

Be Able To Perform The Human Flag

Create At Least One Excellent Playground Workout Routine Of Between Forty Minutes To An Hour That Includes A Harmonious Weave Of Stretching And Muscle Work, And Perhaps One Or Two Amazing Feats

Create At Least One Excellent Standing Zen Fitness Routine Of Between Forty Minutes To An Hour That Includes A Harmonious Weave Of Stretching And Muscle Work, And Perhaps One Or Two Amazing Feats

Create A Bo/Jo/Cudgel/Cane (i.e. Long Stick) Form

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Interview With Todai Ryan

Okay... So first of all, a big apology to all for being so wickedly long-winded. I'm used to lecturing for three hours at a time, so for me to spout and ramble for an hour is nothing. But this is close to two hours! Responding to the questions Sifu asked me to consider. It was a 'third time's a charm' scenario. Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to my camera for an hour, then realized it was never even recording. Last night, I experimented with a different way of presenting my ideas, but didn't like it. So this evening, I put it into what is to me a familiar kind of format, and went at it, trying to record at least a good number of the ideas I've had over the last couple days since these questions were suggested. My mind is still rolling, so maybe something else will come out in the next day or two as I continue to consider the matter, and probably for some time to come. But anyway, for those who dare part with their precious time long enough to bear this out, here is my interview, recorded in two parts...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Structure Vs Creativity

I’m posting two videos tonight. The first is a book review of a novel called ‘A Sudden Dawn’ by Goran Powell, which narrates the life of Bodhidarma, the founder of Zen meditation and Shaolin martial arts. For me, this was very much the perfect novel, depicting a lot of outdoors training and inspiration from animals. I enjoyed reading it, cover-to-cover, which I don’t often do

The second video is my initial response to some of the philosia posts that Sifu has added to the FMA/ ZMA YouTube channel and blog. I draw an analogy between learning and marketing martial arts and woodworking arts in an attempt to shed some light on the dilemma on whether to favor structure or creativity, and to further examine the exploitation that’s going on with JKD

Friday, August 10, 2012

CLF And Walking Stick In Snake Coulee

It was another full day of training for me – dawn at the park, five hours at the river, afternoon siesta and evening at the dojo. The place I went to on the river is my winter study grounds. I call it Pitsiiksiinaikawaahko (Snake Coulee), because there is an abundance of rattlesnakes along this stretch. It’s a relocation site for those snakes who wander into residential areas, and I am one of three volunteers who are called upon to capture them and bring them out there. I was hoping to show you guys one of the snakes, but unfortunately I didn’t come across any today. It was too hot, even for the rattlers! Perhaps soon I’ll have an auspicious opportunity to express more on my views regarding community/ societal service, and my work with the snakes being part of this

I did have a lot of fun today in the coulee though, gathering food and medicine plants, rucking my usual seventy pounds the whole while, and training both in CLF and with a walking-stick. The video is long, just over an hour. I completely understand that most won’t bother watching, given this length. I have posted it anyway. The first half is completely about the plants of the day, including a couple that you should have available just about anywhere in the northern hemisphere. The second half of the video (starting at about 34 minutes in) is entirely martial arts. You will see that, by the time I get to the CLF stuff, three hours into my hike, and after swimming against the river current for a bit, my legs are pretty shaky. I try to put a low side kick out to hold, and almost completely crumble. This unbalance irritates me, so I move to the forest and find a fallen tree, about five feet off the ground, to practice on so that I have to stay balanced, whether my legs want me to or not. The tree turned out to be a very good idea, and I will definitely be returning there. Enjoy your training!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

KSW Cutting Form 1

So my good friend recently learned this cutting form and wanted to share it with me. we played with it for a bit. I have also learned his Bong (Staff/Bo) form to help him with the 2 person form.

Sidai Wei CLF Progress

Here is Sidai Wei's CLF progress, he was training at the kwoon once a week for quite some time but then recently started training 2 times a week at the kwoon which enabled him to progress much quicker in the CLF form.  His fitness level has improved greatly since he began training.  The form is satisfactory & he is ready to move onto the next form, which will be the TKD jumping kicks.  Of course there is room for improvement but right now it looks good enough to move on.  While you train through the ZMA online private videos, watch this progression video in order to further understand what is expected in order to move onto the next lessons.

Safe Sparring 1

Ok guys here it is. This is just an attempt at sparring, playing around.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How I Breakfall

Promised Jia the other day that I would make a how-to video going over the breakfalls I was practicing in one of my earlier training sessions. So after this morning's workout, I put one together. It was fairly windy, so the sound has to be turned up a bit to hear me well. But in any case, I go over the basic forward and backward breakfalls as I know them. There are also more elaborate variations of these falls that I can perform, and that come into play when you're training locks and throws with a partner. This is especially the case with the forward roll, where you need to learn how to go without your lead hand (which may be locked), or sometimes also to go with no hands at all if both are locked. I recently demonstrated a no-hands forward breakfall at our karate dojo on hardwood floors to no painful effect, and that comes from repeated practice of the falls I'm showing in this video presently. If I can get my wife trained in delivering some of the classic throws, I'll put another video up showing those other falls in the future. Anyway, hope it helps...

Todai Kang CLF Progress

Form looks great, very precise with every movement & graceful.  I can tell you have been working hard, You are ready for the next lessons.  You can always work on getting the stances lower & holding them longer.  Once you get the horse, arrow, & cross stances to the lowest position, keep trying to get that cat stance lower, this can take many years to perfect. 

Great job, you were hitting that pole pretty hard, I saw it shaking, & that pole is pretty thick, keep up the good work, you got good body movement.  Just be careful not to push yourself too much, gradually develop yourself in exercises such as this.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Inspiration From A Bird

This video is for our blog... it wouldn't make much sense decontextualized on YouTube. This is my pet crow, Keira. I found her on the side of the road fourteen months ago. She had been hit by a car while scavenging for food at a drive-thru. Her left wing was wide open, with compound fractures and tendons hanging out. I brought her to several vets, but they wouldn't treat her, because she is a 'wild' animal. I inquired at various avian rehabilitation facilities, and they said that by Alberta law they would have to put her down, because she'll never fly again. They were right about the last part. She won't fly again. But I'm certain that, like any of us, she values her life all the same, and wants to continue experiencing it

Taking Keira home, my wife and I put raw honey on the wound and bandaged her injured wing. We kept it bandaged for seven weeks. Six months later, she still wasn't able to move more on that side than a shrug of the shoulder. But every day, she works at it. Lately, her workouts are about two hours long. During that stretch, she performs the hops and wing-lifts you see in this video. About every fifteen or twenty minutes, she walks off and has a drink of water, then comes back for more. Over the last few days, she has developed a new technique, a 180 degree mid-air turn around, using her good wing as propulsion. You will see her perform that move a few times in this video. Knowing her expressions well, I can see the pride in her eyes when she pulls it off successfully

Keira inspires me in a few different ways. First of all, she doesn't give up. She's going to continue to try to fly, and she's happy about each little bit of development she achieves. Secondly, I observe that she enjoys this practice. It's not a burden to her. It's something she looks forward to, and she's joyous as she engages in it. Finally, I find analogy between our species and Keira. It seems to me like, somewhere along the line, our species experienced some developmental accident, where we lost most of our strength, speed, flexibility, timing, awareness, etc. Our ancestors traded it for something else. But every once in a while, there'll be some member of our species, like Bruce Lee for instance, who demonstrates how far we can still go in retrieving our original potentiality. However, most of us who try are more like Keira. We may never fly, but that doesn't mean we quit imagining it's possible, or quit trying to meet our potential as human beings. To me, this is part of what it means to be really alive

Friday, August 3, 2012

Todai Ling FMK Week 2

So here it is !
I have made a few videos of today's workout, and I will probably make a new post every week (meaning 6-7 days of real training) to track my progress in training FMK.
I hope that I can present Shi Zu the CLF form in one week for him to consider if I can continue my progress or if important things must be corrected. For now, this is primarily meant for me to see how I progress through the program.

The first video is a new attempt with the CLF form :

I have included some weights that I have attached to my wrists. They weight 3 pounds.
I use it to work on my forms in order to balance lower/upper body workout. When you try to do your form with it, it mostly makes you look like a beginner, which is interesting.

The second video is my first attempt with the Kung Fu dance, popularized by Shi Zu

As I work on techniques after the cardio and strength workout (and a good party, you can tell by the way the eyes look ^^) the techniques don't really flow and you can hear a lot of breathing!

Then I made a TKD video :

It is very short, but I have tried to always look at my target and keep my hands up in a defense position (something I have to improve on)

The last video represents what I usually do to finish with techniques, which means going crazy and improvise with techniques. I try to visualize an opponent, or situation and let the technique flow.

Hope you will enjoy it. Please feel free to make any remark regarding technique, schedule ... I realize that I started a few weeks ago so there's a lot of things to improve.
For the next weeks I might had some variety, filming the stretches I go through, or jump rope, fitness, trampoline, sparring... lots of fun in perspective ;)
For now I will go to sleep (jet lag France/ USA) after finishing Osho's Freedom book.
I wish all of you a very pleasant day,

Todai Ling

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Missing Video

Okay, here’s the second video that was missing from my post yesterday. Finally sorted out what the problem was. I tried to get fancy and close in tight on the clip toward the end, with all the minnows swimming upstream, and that was throwing my crappy video-editing software off.  So I guess you’ll just have to imagine what they would look like close up. Although I didn’t talk about it at the time, what these minnows are doing is a fairly significant phenological event. There’s an endless stream of them moving upriver right now. I’ve often considered netting them for a half-hour or so in this season, drying them out, grinding them up, and making fish-balls with them, for soups and such. I think the only reason I haven’t done so is because I’m a little concerned about the parasites they might carry in their guts, and it’s not like they can be cleaned. But I don’t know… this kind of concern doesn’t affect me with a lot of other foods, and I often drink untreated water straight from puddles and streams. I think it’s good to build up a diverse microbial community inside my body. I mean, isn’t it odd that all the other animals can get by drinking this water, but our constitution is somehow too weak to do so?

Anyway… here it is. Again, there are no ‘martial arts’ per say in this video, but it is very much about MY kung fu. At some point, I will try to articulate my thoughts on this matter a bit more clearly than I do here, though I’m sure you’ll get the gist. A huge part of my life is wrapped up in the active (i.e. not literature-based) study of local ecology, and how to be a part of that as a real human being. My challenge at present is to find a comfortable merge between this engagement with the total reality, and my affection for unarmed (or spontaneously armed) combat arts. Both passions hit me at age twelve, and I have yet to learn how to balance or weave them. There’s an obvious confluence in the area of diet and nutrition. But I think it can be more than that. In fact, I find it very interesting that the weapons of traditional martial arts are often also the tools of hunting and harvest. I’m also interested in styles of fighting that are explicitly influenced by observations of animals. This is very much aligned with my general perspective, which is that one’s way of life should be learned-from and fit-in-with the other species we co-exist with. Perhaps my ultimate response to Sifu’s challenge, to be an artist rather than a collector, will be to develop my own practices inspired by the animals of my immediate region. We shall see. But in any case, urban or rural, I highly recommend getting interested in the foods that naturally occur near your home. The plants and animals are waiting for us to behave like humans again.

Some photographs I took along the way...

Viceroy Butterfly On Golden Currant

Mama Oriole

Fledgling Oriole

Pale Snakeskin Dragonfly On Alfalfa