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.

30 comments:

  1. Autobiographical Stuff

    In order to really contextualize what I'm trying to do within FMK, I would like to share a few things about my personal history. I’ll start by saying that I had an extremely transformational experience at the age of twelve, which instantaneously allowed me to perceive the matrix, so to speak. I won't go into detail about this experience, because I've found that it's impossible to adequately share it in any way that would be helpful to others. It's better that people experience something similar themselves, rather than read or hear about it, and I have developed teaching methods that have successfully led others in doing so, but that's a different story. I will say, however, that my experience occurred at the site pictured in the photograph I've attached to this post, that it was prompted by a bird (who became my first non-human teacher), and that I was forever changed by it. What I won’t say, because I don't believe it's true, is that I became totally enlightened by what I experienced. Several more gestalts, revealing further levels of clarity of perception and awareness, have been accessed since, and I’m certain that such revelations will continue into the future.

    In a similar manner to the experience Sifu recently shared about how Eastern philosophy shaped his time at Purdue, after I had my first big transformation of consciousness, I had no further interest in formal schooling. There was nothing going on there that I thought I could learn from. I really wanted to quit. But my parents compelled me to continue, so that I would at least have a high-school diploma to help me function in society. I reluctantly did as they advised, but I think what helped me get through it was martial arts training, which I was very interested in, and which I began the same year that I had my revelation. For those six remaining years of school, I practiced a JKD-inspired, street-fighting style of kung fu, with incredible physical conditioning expectations, and this kept me stimulated and feeling like I still had some control over my life. Eventually, I graduated from high-school, and four days later left home permanently to pursue my personal interests.

    When I say that I was not enlightened, it is with good reason. I was young and still hypnotized by a lot of popular cultural influences. A big deception for me was the juxtaposition of martial arts and American military propaganda, which was a huge market when I was growing up. Pretty much all the real martial artists who were in the movies at the time - Chuck Norris, Van Damme, Seagal, Dacascos, Etc - participated in this. When I left home, it was with the intent of becoming a hero, like they portrayed. And so I enlisted in the U.S. Army, with my sights set on eventually qualifying for the Special Forces, who claimed through their motto to be in the business of freeing the oppressed. The oppressed, in my mind, were mainly indigenous people who were trying to continue living in sustainable, realistic ways, closely engaged with their ecosystems. Such people, I was sure, shared the kind of knowledge that had been revealed to me during my initial transformation, and their lives were being violently impinged upon by parties who sought to industrialize their territories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm enjoying this read on your life experiences, thank you for taking the time to share this. Now I will continue onto the next!

      Delete
  2. Autobiographical Stuff Continued

    I did my research and learned that the quickest route to Special Forces was through military intelligence. So that's what I went into, working top secret live missions, often in tandem with the elite groups who I hoped to join eventually. It didn't take me long though to figure out that I had been completely deceived by recruitment propaganda and the popular media, as well as the martial arts actors who participated in it. I saw first-hand that the work of the Special Forces, and the American military in general, was not at all about freeing oppressed peoples. Quite the opposite, it was about colonizing them, stealing from them, and eliminating whatever obstacles stood in the way. We were the industrial invaders. With this realization came massive depression, and a feeling of imprisonment. I dealt with it (or tried to avoid it) by drinking and smoking heavily, and through as many acts of protest as I could reasonably engage in without landing myself in military prison.

    Through this resistance, I was able to get out of my Army contract a year early. Yet by that point, I was completely disillusioned with my identity as an American, and decided that I wanted to learn about the perspectives of other cultures instead. In particular, I wanted to learn what ‘Being Blackfoot’ might be about, because I have some ancestry, and I wouldn't have to relocate overseas to pursue it. So, with the goal of researching this potential new identity, I dropped my unhealthy activities, registered as an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts, and selected anthropology as my major. Over the next four years, I totally immersed myself in my studies, completing everything the university required, and a great deal more in order to personalize the learning endeavor for my needs. Earning a degree for any potential it might carry of granting me social or financial mobility was never an interest, but I did view the degree as something of a fringe benefit. While engaged in this intellectual work, I trained in martial arts again to develop myself physically. I did two years each in Tai Kwon Do and Aikido. Eventually, I graduated with a 3.83 GPA and a fairly unmarketable credential.

    Before my graduation, I had already been engaging in volunteer services for the tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy. I was using my Army college fund to travel around with a delegation of elders to various museums in North America (including the Field Museum in Chicago), and helping them convince these museums, against all business sense, to give pricelessly valuable sacred items in their collections back to their communities of origin. I became so successful at these negotiations that other tribes began to request my help in similar pursuits. By that time, I was married, with a daughter, and needed to start making some kind of a living. So for a minimal fee, my wife and I teamed up on some contract work of this sort for the Hupa tribe of California, and then later for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon. For several years, our little family lived off less than $1000 per month, because I didn't want to charge these communities any more than that, and the experiences we were gaining were priceless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm very glad to have you a part of FMK in which to share with us your experiences. Now I will continue to the next post.

      Delete
  3. Autobiographical Stuff Continued

    Unfortunately, during this period, my wife developed a soon-to-be crippling rheumatoid condition. This eventually forced us to move back to her home on the Blood Reserve, where she could receive adequate medical attention. Here in Alberta, I immediately took up martial arts training again, this time in Gohakukai Karate, which is a composite of Goju Ryu and Tomarite. I soon learned that the sensei of this dojo had a gift for using Gohakukai postures and movements as a form of physical therapy for healing. He has helped my wife considerably over the years since, in ways that Western medical doctors never could. This really opened my eyes to some of the hidden purposes of martial arts. Growing up, I had been primarily interested in the fighting applications alone. Now I was seeing that it might not be another human being who the true martial artist is trained to fight. It can also (and much more applicably) be disease, debilitation, and all kinds of mental obstacles. For the first time ever, I began appreciating the utility of the forms and katas that so many people today view as useless complexity.

    During this period, I continued to do volunteer services for our community, and to make money I went to work in a furniture factory, employing cabinet-making skills I’d gained in high-school. A few years into this employment, I found myself cultivating a renewed intellectual interest. I’d been learning to speak the Blackfoot language, and it was revealing a new way of thinking to me that had strong correlations to the insight I’d had at twelve years old. I felt like I needed time out of my busy work life to pursue this language study further, so I approached the University of Lethbridge with a proposal to do a research-based master’s thesis in cultural anthropology and cognitive linguistics. They accepted the proposal, and gave me a scholarship to live off while I completed my studies. Like with my undergraduate training, I totally immersed myself in the learning experience, but this time went at it so intensely that I set even the martial arts aside, along with everything else. Again, the degree itself did not matter to me. It was a fringe benefit, and I had no intentions of becoming a professional academic. I just wanted the time set aside to learn, and I did. In the end, I produced an almost 400-page thesis of very high-caliber scholarship. I never attended my graduation, and at this moment don't even know where my master's degree is. I suspect it's buried among other miscellaneous paper records in the file boxes of my closet.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Autobiographical Stuff Continued

    The smart thing to do, economically and socially, after completing the M.A., would have been to keep going, to pursue a Ph.D. But I didn’t have any further inquiries or interests that I thought the universities could help me with, so I’ve never bothered. Instead, I was recruited to work for a new post-secondary program being developed out of Red Crow College, on the Blood Reserve, which was promising to offer traditional Blackfoot learning opportunities as an alternative form of undergraduate training. This is the program I am currently director of. Here, as in my previous volunteer work negotiating with museums, I have been trained to ignore the limitations set by others, their perceptions of what is realistic or too idealistic. Since the curriculum in this program is so different than what’s available in the mainstream academy, as well as subversive toward it, we do not get base-funding from the Province of Alberta, nor are the degrees we offer accredited through any external governing agency. We simply self-validate, and have to rely on tuition dollars, special research grants, and the commitment of our students. Nothing about this program is dictated by whether or not it makes good business sense. It's entirely driven by the passion and belief that I and my fellow faculty members have in the potential for Blackfoot knowledge to help society. And though there was a long struggle with extreme resistance from both inside and outside our community when the program was inaugurated, things have turned around as our students began to graduate and demonstrate the value of what we were delivering, by utilizing it successfully in a variety of professions and business endeavors. Now the program is growing through very little recruitment effort on our part, but rather by demand of people from many walks of life wanting to access the training that our graduates have had. We even have several university professors and the Executive Director of Alberta Public Health who have come to the college to take our courses as part of their professional development. And this year we are starting our first four graduate students.

    In the midst of my work for this program, I again was hit with some questions that I wanted to pursue learning through. This time, rather than going for a conventional Ph.D., I nested my inquiries in the Blackfoot world, where there was relevant expertise, and took on responsibility for the caretaking of an important piece of community property, the most ancient of Blackfoot medicine bundles, which is the embodiment of a treaty that was made between human beings and the other animals of our local ecosystem. Through the training involved in this caretaking responsibility, I’ve been able to pursue the next stage in my studies, which has been to learn about how to become a more complete human being within the wider field of ecological relationships. Taking on this duty has also involved, in similar manner to attaining a higher degree in the mainstream, a rise in my social status within the Blackfoot world. But again, that’s not what I came into it for. Last year, the elders of our community even presented me with their own Doctorate in Blackfoot Philosophy, because they (like my parents) see the pieces of paper as potentially useful, and wanted to recognize me for what I’ve learned and can teach. It’s an honor to have the parchment they gave me, just as it’s an honor for me to receive any such award. But it’s never been, and will never be, my motivation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Autobiographical Stuff Concluded

    In May of this year, I turned 40 years old. Not too long ago, this would have been considered old age. My response to this milestone has been to rapidly re-evaluate how I’m living. I’ve been lucky to have maintained fairly good health, but I’m aware that from here on out it’s important that I not neglect my physical needs. As my birthday approached, I quit eating all fast food, junk food and candy, and drinking pop or any other syrupy beverages. I also returned to the Gohakukai dojo and, because I recognize how much ability has been lost in the eight years or so since I last practiced, I have made a vow never to take another break from the martial arts. While the rationale behind this commitment may simply be to regain and maintain exceptional (rather than fairly-good) health, there is something to the martial arts in particular that has always attracted me. I think it is the opportunity to continuously develop an ever-greater mastery of the body. Every system I have studied, every technique, every form, has presented me with new challenges for movement, strength, flexibility, power, etc. I love meeting and, when I can, exceeding these challenges.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Getting To The Point

    So… now we come to FMK. If I am capable of self-directed martial arts practice, and if I am continuing training in Gohakukai as well, why do I want to be involved in FMK? What am I doing here?

    Well, I’ll tell you… I came across FMK one day while surveying YouTube for different strategies to successfully increase my flexibility for the splits. After watching your very popular video, Sifu, I began reviewing the other FMK material and listening to the philosia recordings during my drives to and from work at the college. Many of the perspectives and concerns detailed in these videos were both familiar and inspiring to me. I soon began to recognize you as an incredible idealist, someone who was willing to withstand public ridicule in order to advocate the truth. Foremost, you clearly (and justifiably) argued that real martial arts were not about fostering violence, aggression and competition. Nor, for this reason, were they appropriate for just anyone to learn. To me, this was a very important point, because after my military experience I had absolutely no further illusions about violence. What we are witnessing today with cage fighting and the UFC is indeed a terrible commodification of violence, falsely claiming the martial arts label, and you are right in asserting that it is extremely dangerous for society. You also declared that true martial arts, promoted and practiced carefully, could improve the whole health of individuals and society - body, mind, and spirit. This, again, I completely agreed with. And you were utilizing the latest technologies as a tool for both conveying your own art, and for bringing together like-minded people who might otherwise never have an opportunity to train with others who carry similar values. The more of the philosia videos I listened to, the more I began thinking, “This is a very good thing that Sifu Freddie is trying to do. I would like to be part of this, a contributor. I would like to be involved with FMK, and with the kind of people that his perspectives are going to attract.”

    What cinched the deal, for me, was the day you considered eliminating rank within FMK. At that point, you were totally speaking my language. As detailed above, I have spent the greater part of my life in learning pursuits that were never once motivated by awards and credentials, and yet almost always involved them as a fringe benefit. I have never come across an opportunity to go all out with an organized training effort that didn't involve symbols of achievement, gold stars, rites of passage and the like. For me, your proposed shift was an irresistible experiment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are very fortunate to have you here being involved with FMK, you add very much to the growth of all those involved. I see that the period that I went through of the total elimination of rank, happened for a reason, to bring us together in direct contact in order to communicate & develop together, the best approach to share "Real Martial Arts" to the world on a larger scale.

      Delete
    2. This is good insight, because it is very unlikely our paths may have actually crossed, the different worlds we live in. But I agree there is a reason, and I don't want to lose track of that

      Delete
  8. Getting To The Point Continued

    One thing I've come to understand, through observation in the midst of my own experiences, is that the desire for status symbols becomes an obstacle for most people, and ultimately results in their underachievement. They seek and may even attain the symbol, but rarely do they come to embody it. And then they become disenchanted when the symbol proves to have no magic, when the degree doesn't assure them a good paying job. This is, in part, because they don't understand that there are two kinds of symbols. One is something that stands for something else, a metaphor, and that is what the awards (and the people who seek them) typically become. Another is metonymic, part for whole, like a baby to its mother, like a feather to a bird. Those who strive for symbols of achievement often do what is minimally required to represent something their heart is not really in, something they don't come to metonymically embody. They become weak metaphors for the real thing, and it stunts their growth. That's not my way. I would rather be among the few who give the symbol its power, than among the many who are caught up in the desire for it.

    Now, none of this necessitates that I withdraw myself from the game. I know there's a difference between training (relating) in person, versus online. Physical distance usually does equate in some respect to relational distance, despite our best efforts. I do hope to visit Chicago again in the not too distant future so we can train together in person, at least for a few days. But when you suggest that, because I'm more experienced and not interested in rank, I'm only sometimes in the game, I disagree. I'm not against rank, not at all, so long as the symbol is understood metonymically. In fact, one of the many aspects of FMK that appeals to me is that ranking requires an annual audit of sorts, a test of the physical abilities of the practitioner. Nobody can rest on the laurels of the minimal standards they demonstrated at some time in the past. I think that's important. So I'm not against it. And my request to take a no-rank path is not a rebellion. I'm not even adverse to earning rank myself, and I never have been. But I would not accept it if I didn't feel that I embodied what it represents. And either way, rank/status has never been and will never be my purpose, nor will it ever be the real game, in my eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Getting To The Point Continued

    Can I possibly help others reach their potential if I pursue a high ranking in FMK? Well... this is a very good question. And in your video, there were a few hints dropped that indicated I should perhaps consider taking the path of a Bodhisattva in this regard. It's a tantalizing suggestion, that we should consider carefully. It's true, as you've pointed out, that I'm at a different stage in my journey. I've already done the rank thing in martial arts, several times over in different systems. So is it appropriate for me to avoid it in this kwoon? On the other hand, if I go ahead and swim with the dysfunctional economically and culturally driven current, am I doing FMK any favors? Though I may presently be swimming more against this current, am I not still in the water with everyone else all the same? Is my present approach, advocating idealism and the pure joy of martial arts practice for its own sake, not the path of a Bodhisattva? What if I demonstrate that the standards for high ranking are achievable regardless? Would this discourage or encourage other todai? Would it be perceived as subversive to the kwoon, or anti-social, or disrespectful? Could I encourage others more if I sought rank? Would it foster competition? I don't really have the answers to these questions, because I've never experienced what the impact might be of someone who's very committed and engaged with a kwoon, but doesn't bother with rank. FMK does need some blue and black ranked representation beside yourself, as you've indicated. I'm ultimately interested in assisting you in whatever way I can to benefit this kwoon and the principles it's founded upon. If you think it would be helpful for me to enter the ranking system, then I'm happy to do so.

    What about the chosen symbols for this ranking? In your video, you talked about badges being more significant than the tank-tops, as far as demonstrations of commitment go, because of the investment involved. For me, to be completely honest, the tank top really wouldn't be very useful. I would love to wear some FMK apparel in the videos I'm producing. But within a few weeks, the temperature in Alberta is going to drop. It's already pretty-much too cold in the mornings, when I train, for tank-tops. We have seven months of winter here, with temperatures averaging about ten degrees below zero, and dropping on occasion to forty below. My preferred training grounds is outdoors, so at the very least I need to be wearing a decent hoodie on top of some long underwear, if not a good jacket. That's the reality. Would you consider developing some climate-appropriate apparel for those who might want to practice outside, rain or shine? Or would you consider allowing me to put the FMK logo on apparel of my choosing (rank-color coded, of course), so that I can advertise the kwoon when I'm practicing or otherwise outdoors?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any apparrel for winter can be ordered. I usually order from CustomInk.com. If you find other venders that offer better prices & quality, then I say go with them. Obtaining this apparrel can be very costly, & if you do not see any direct benefit in enhancing the kwoon by you investing in these uniforms, then it is uneeded. You taking the time to be so involved in the blog already signifies your inner drive towards the promotion of this kwoon.

      Delete
  10. Getting To The Point Continued

    As for the badges, I have mixed feelings about the shield symbol itself. If American media and propaganda have presented us with images of martial artists engaged in soldiering, to push the freedom fighter myth into our minds, they have gone at least twice as far in depicting martial artists as cops, to sell us the notion that police are heroic defenders of the public. But most of us know that this is not always the reality. Yes, the cops are out there dealing with criminals, and I'm grateful for that. Yet, they also function as a kind of domestic military, to defend the state against the public itself. How many times have we seen the cops roughing up, bullying, and wrongfully detaining unarmed, peaceful citizens who are just trying to communicate an important message? I know the cops don't get to pick and chose which assignments they will accept, they aren't allowed to employ their personal ethics. I also know that plenty of cops are racist, or drunks, or abusers of the people in their lives. And for me, that's a problem... because when real disaster strikes, and things get chaotic, I suspect we will be forced to defend ourselves and our families against the police. And they do have shields, armor, guns, etc. And many of them are just as stupid and potentially violent as cage fighters. Do I want to wear a police-like badge and thereby participate in further using the martial arts in ways that deceptively represent the police as heroic? Not really, I don't. Is it possible to steal their well-entrenched symbol and turn it into something else in the public eye? Can we make it stand for a higher level of ethics, commitment to the betterment of society, and self-actualization? Can our use of this symbol, for instance, impact or influence the standards that the police themselves might be expected to uphold in the future? Now THAT is idealism, and I'm not adverse to exploring it with you.

    On the other hand, if the push for the badge in ranking is really about demonstrating commitment, I'm happy to do that in other ways instead. For instance, I could test for red rank, and then pay $100 a year for the right to wear the FMK logo on red clothing, for as long as I maintain the physical standards of the red. When I pass the test for blue, same thing, except maybe then I would be paying $200 a year, and it would give me the right to wear the logo on both blue and red clothing. And so on with the black, to where the annual fee is $300. What do you think about that idea?

    Finally, what to do with my donations? Are they donations, or are they intended for purchasing services? As far as I'm concerned, they're donations, or kind of like paying my dues to be part of the FMK family. I will put some more thought into how they might be used to benefit the kwoon, and also develop some suggestions for how to use donations if there happened to be a good amount of money coming in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely understand your views on the whole cop thing. The bullies have stolen all the symbols, what symbols are we now left with? Cage fighting has stolen the Martial Arts symbol, etc. I see your point. The Logo idea sounds fine, but really it is up to you. If you go for rank or if you don't, either way, having you involved with FMK is a benefit to all those apart of this kwoon.

      Delete
  11. Getting To The Point Continued

    As far as using my donations as payment for reviewing the videos I post... I don't think you need to watch all those videos. A lot of them I just post to share what I'm doing, to keep the blog growing, and because the videos are a good tool for me to review myself, to make adjustments. But I would like it if you could review any philosia videos I post, because usually those are in dialog with something you've said. And when I get pieces of my physical work to where I'd like you to take a look, I'll shoot you an email, or make the video really short. In those cases, I could shoot you a little cash for your time if you'd like. But for the vast majority of my videos, no need to feel like you're neglecting anything if you don't have time to watch them. Just look at what you think might be of interest to you.

    I attached a note with my last donation regarding using part of it to purchase the white tank-top, if you thought it might help the kwoon. And I did that because you expressed, in your ranking update post, that you considered purchase of the apparel to be a demonstration of greater commitment. If I had FMK apparel, I would wear it when I could. Problem is, again... the climate where I live is not tank-top friendly. So maybe don't worry about sending me the tank-top. Let's figure out something different. Could be testing for a rank badge, and experimenting with trying to change the significance of that symbol. Could be testing for rank and allowing me to put the FMK logo on climate-appropriate clothing. Could be something else. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We can always put the logo on climate appropriate clothing, that will not be a problem, we just have to find the right vender that works best for you.

      When there are videos that you post that you want me to watch b/c it contains info. in response, advise me via email & I will mark that video down & watch it when I can.

      Delete
  12. Getting To The Point Continued

    As far as the training videos go, I've never asked for them or expected them, but I have appreciated them. I enjoy the challenge of learning to move my body in new ways. The dynamic style of the power techniques that are part of your CLF-inspired form were new to me, so I have been practicing them. Even when it comes to techniques and stances I'm very familiar with, you have shared a few little tweaks here and there that I've found interesting and useful. As I said from the beginning, I'm sure that there will be much I can learn from you, as well as from my fellow todai. And I'm sure there's some useful things I could introduce as well. For instance, when I saw how you were transitioning between the cat-stance forearm blocks and the haymaker punch, I noticed that the parry being employed just before the punch did not have a strong arm. I prefer to bend my wrist upward a bit, in the classical manner, so that my fingers begin pointing back toward my face, and this creates a tension in the arm just at the point when you have deflected the attack off centerline, which makes the parrying arm stronger, more stable. It's just a little tweak, and maybe you're aware of it, and purposely chose to do it the other way for some good reason. I don't know. But anyway, I do enjoy learning, and I'm currently experimenting with some changes and additions to the CLF form, making it more of my own expression.

    What also interested me when watching the training videos was the artistry of the CLF form itself, what you were trying to do with it as a Sifu, and how you chose to put it together, knowing that it would be the introductory form for todai who might not have any history of martial arts experience. At my stage in the journey, that was probably the most useful aspect of what you've shared. It goes back to the woodworking art analogy I introduced in an earlier video. If I walk into a cabinetry class, first semester the instructor will probably have a design for a project that he'll walk me through. After that, the next semester, I'll be challenged to design my own project. And to me, that's how to effectively train someone to be a real artist, to create, rather than always just buying someone else's patterns.

    With that said, maybe it's better you don't send me any more training videos right now. Maybe it's time for me to try making something beautiful and effective of my own from scratch, so I can learn to be an actual artist, rather than just a practitioner. Though I've considered myself to be a martial artist most of my life, you have opened my eyes to show me that's not really true yet. I might have my own expression of the arts other people have developed. Everyone has their own expression, because every person is unique. But I'm not really an artist if I don't create. So I want to create now. That would be an enriching experience for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are definately at the stage of creating, most experienced Martial Artist's will be. Think it over, the ranking may not be needed at all. B/c from red to blue, it will take an enormous amount of time & energy to learn all the basic forms I have to share & it may not be suitable for you if you are to simply create & express your own way.

      Delete
  13. Getting To The Point Concluded

    And is brings up one last stream of questions... If I do go ahead and get involved with the ranking, but I'm not focused on learning your standard curriculum, how will that work? Do your tests for higher rank involve demonstrations of techniques or the forms you've developed? I've only seen the fitness and literature review standards. If the tests do include techniques and forms, should I go ahead and keep working with your training videos? Or can we adjust this aspect of the rank testing so that it's more about demonstrating the development of my own art? Let me know. I'll be looking forward to your feedback.


    Whew! (Wiped Brow And Cracks Knuckles After All That Typing)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From red to blue, it involes a lot of forms demonstratoin of what I have to teach. You are at the point of creation & self-development, the ranking path may not be the path for you. Getting to the red will be easy, but from red to blue, it will take much time & that time may be better utilized in the development of your own way based on all your past experiences up to this point. Because there is so much involved, that is why there is nobody at the Blue at this point.

      Delete
  14. Great post. It was very interesting and insightful. I enjoyed reading it

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks Alex... glad you got an opportunity to check it out

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've also enjoyed reading it. The parts about PH.D and military propaganda also strikes me because i have experienced it. Common experience is a strong bound. There are also feelings that I had but couldn't express, especially about the shield. The more I read and learn from you, the more I feel a connection with this kwoon.
    As always, good to hear from you ;)
    Todai Ling

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you, Michael. I’ve been taking the risk of letting down my shield down a bit, to allow Shi Zu and other Todai to know more about me personally, and raising these kinds of questions, concerns, and interests, because I feel like we really do need to explore how those of us who are maybe a little further along in our journeys, in terms of our histories of marital arts practice, might maximally benefit ourselves and the kwoon through our involvement. If it were any other kwoon, chances are I would not go so far in presenting my personal perspectives. I’m well aware of how traditional relationships in the martial arts are supposed to be carried out. And even outside of the martial arts, in the Blackfoot world for instance, it doesn’t matter how much prior experience I may have, if I get involved in one of the traditional spiritual/knowledge disciplines that I haven’t previously trained in, I am essentially a child again. I should not be confusing what I’ve learned in the past with what I’m learning now. I need to empty my cup, so to speak. Otherwise, if I think I already know it all, then why bother?

    What makes the present situation in FMK a little different is that there is really more going on here than might be typically encountered in the majority of kwoons out there. Yes, at the heart of FMK there is both a physical and online kwoon, which is traditional and yet modernized, for people who want to learn martial arts. But there is also more than this. For one thing, Shi Zu has put a call out around the globe saying, “Hey, this commercialized violence that’s being presented to our society as ‘martial arts’ is messed up. It’s hurting a lot of people – physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’m doing something different, something real. I want to try to show society what true martial arts are about. Who’s with me?” So with that kind of call, this kwoon is going to attract people like you and I, and Alex, and Xiolang, and others who know what Shi Zu is talking about, and we want to help demonstrate something different. And beyond that, there’s another important aspect of FMK where Shi Zu has essentially said, “Look, Freddie’s Modern Kung Fu is MY kung fu. This is not a system. It’s my artistic expression, and my life. If you want to be a real martial artist, and not just a martial practitioner, then you’ve got to express yourself. Don’t steal someone else’s art and try to present it as your own. Learn from others, get inspiration from others, but then it’s time to make your own art.” Now… this understanding is very rare, in my experience. I mean, you teach Viet Vo Dao, and I am assuming your curriculum is much the same as that which was presented to you when you were initially a student. I myself am currently a Gohakukai student, and if I ever wanted to teach it, I would be very much frowned upon for me to change the curriculum in any significant way. In other words, in my experience, most martial arts schools, and most martial arts systems, are pretty much static, and are not really advocating an individual’s artistic development, per say. As I see it, because Shi Zu is promoting the notion of developing individual artistry, and because he’s attracting experienced people who are against competitive fighting, this kwoon has tremendous potential actually succeed at shifting the way that martial arts are currently understood and practiced in our society, and to do so for the better, for healthy growth.

    I want to be a part of that. But how to do it? That’s the question. For those, like you and I, who are coming in experienced, and potentially ready to start being truly artistic for perhaps the first time, how do we integrate ourselves and what we are working on into the social and symbolic structure of the kwoon? I would like to hear your thoughts on this, as well as what others who are similarly situated are thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear Ryan,
    I joined FMK for a very simple reason. It seemed to be the way to go, it seemed to be the right thing to do. It might seem strange or mystical to some, but I do believe that I am dedicating my life to the martial arts. More specifically to my Tao, my evolution. I think we are both wondering about the way to go because it is the nature of the Tao : simple yet extremely complex and extremely personal.
    On the one hand, we are always conditioned by many things and we need to realize that the video footage of training, the voice recording philosophies, the Bob workout and many things even to this blog, were born from Shi Zu's creation. Before FMK, and as you have underlined, I have been conditioned by the Shotokan system, Jiu Jitsu system, Vovinam system... which were initially the expression of a person and yes, I do teach exactly the same techniques that I was once wondering about, and that I don’t find that efficient.
    But on the other hand, every move we make, and every word we express is our own personal expression. Something that doesn’t work for me might work for you. When you Shi Zu does the CLF form, when I do, when others do, we won't feel the same. And this is my point : the things we feel (in our artistic expression) are worth teaching but it is terribly difficult to teach them with words (I was writing a mail to Shi Zu an hour ago, trying to express the way I feel, mentally and physically, when I practice and everything becomes natural). It has to be felt by the person, with his/her own body, mind and spirit. To reach their best potential, lessons must be taken at the right time, with the right person, in the right atmosphere.
    With the FMK curriculum (yang then yin, then psychological aspects) Shi Zu created and expressed his vision and his way, but at the same time, tried to make it so that everyone can follow it. But at the same time, he realized in meditation that this curriculum would not fit all and that he could let some of us express themselves freely. This is basically what I feel when I’m reading his responses to you “express yourself and do your thing, you are already in the way, you don’t owe me and I don’t owe you, we are both in the same struggle” (excuse me if I misinterpreted) And here are the things we can do to help youngers or less experienced people: show them your own way and artistic expression, share life and let them experience things and draw conclusions by themselves, through their own way of expression (writing, painting, dancing...). We can be an inspiration to each other and trully, you have inspired me greatly by telling about the way you live, how you take care of those you love (animals or human). I think it is something anyone can relate to. So if you ask me what our expression should be, this is what I would answer: personal and intimate, yet universal and inspiring so that anyone who is sincere about evolving would feel there is something to take.
    Take care,
    Ling

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nothing to add... Ling summed it pretty well :)

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.