Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Finally Quit Smoking (22 Years)... Thanks Sifu, For All The Motivation And Inspiration That FMK Provides!

This has been a big year of transformation for me. It started off January 1st with what I was calling my ‘Resolute Salute’ project. New agers and other Californicated types had been talking about the year 2012 being the world’s end. And while I judged their prophecy as grossly confused, I did (and do) agree that, in many respects, our way of life needs to be brought to its conclusion, that our ‘world’ should end, that we’re overdue to evolve… economically, eco-socially, spiritually.

The way I see it, evolution is not always a gradual process. It can and often does happen very fast, with the arrival of something new and different, something obviously more favorably adapted than the old. I also think, with what we’re facing in the destructive aspects of our global culture, we need to try to establish conditions that will favor the emergence of something evolutionary. For me, this part of the work has involved rescinding my consumer support from many of the more problematic industries, and directing my energies instead toward feeding various relationships with nature.

Around the time I was turning forty, last May, I began including fitness-oriented resolutions into this broader project. Soon I was back into martial arts practice, and my involvement in FMK is part of this. But there has been one habit that I feel has always held me back in the martial arts progress I’ve made as an adult, one aspect of my life that has always made me feel like a fraud or hypocrite, while at the same time limiting my capacity to develop further strength, speed, stamina, and flexibility. That obstacle is tobacco. With exception of just a couple very brief reprieves, I’ve been a cigarette smoker since I was eighteen. I picked up the habit while in the military, when I was depressed, and thought the smokes were rebellious and cool. And they’ve been a part of my reality ever since. Though I’ve kept myself in reasonably good physical shape, in spite of all the smoking, I wonder what might have been if I’d never indulged, or at least put them away at some point.

Well, nothing’s ever going to come from wishing differently of the past. Best to focus on the present, on what can be done right now. So three days ago, this is exactly what I chose to do. I woke up that morning feeling empowered, ready to make a change. I sat down with my video recorder and announced it. I was done smoking. I wasn’t “quitting”… I had already quit… in my mind. And it turns out, that attitude is exactly what I needed to make it real, to live it. As I write this post, it is the end of my third day with no cigarettes, and the urges are rapidly vanishing. I’ve beat it. In hopes that I might inspire someone else who has an addiction he needs to let go of, I’ve been recording a video journal of the experience. Here’s the first 48 hours:

I’m planning to continue the video journal, making a report at Day 7 or so, and maybe two weeks out, or a month. I don’t think the message is going to change at all. The heart of the matter is, the only way to quit something as addictive as nicotine is to absolutely settle it in your mind first, that it’s over. But I do want to confirm that this approach works, and to post it on YouTube in case anyone needs to hear it.

One of the early benefits from this smoking cessation has been a rush of extreme energy. I’ve been sleeping less, and waking up in the dark hours before dawn just excited to get the next day going. I’ve also been eating a lot more. And so, the way I figure it, these two things go together. Eat more, and direct that rush of energy toward some vigorous activity that will guide the nutritive chemicals through my body in healthful ways. What I’ve chosen (thus far) is pre-dawn cardio exercise in semi- free-running fashion. Yep… I’ve been tearing up the neighborhood and nearby coulees looking for obstacles to leap and balance upon. Here’s my video montage from the first two mornings:

As you can see, the river by my house is absolutely gorgeous at dawn. I’ll be running down that way a lot in the mornings to come.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Father - My Mother - My Awakening

To achieve a certain goal is not too difficult.  But to maintain the drive to excel is difficult, that is true Kung Fu.  I am still very amazed by my father’s Kung Fu.  Year after year for over 15 years he has been participating in and completing Marathons & Triathlons.  He consistently exercises and trains on his own.  It is his meditation.  He does not train in groups, he does not train with friends, he trains by himself.  He bikes15 miles to work and 15 miles back, sometimes even in the rain, and thinks nothing of it.  He swims at the Chicago Lake for leisure.  He runs 15 miles home from work every so often.  He trains at “LA Fitness” formally known as “Bally’s” consistently every week. 

He does not claim any titles, he does not claim himself to be a Sifu, Sigung, Master, Grandmaster, Sensei, or whatever.  He just simply exercises in meditation.  He is 61 now and looks like he is only 40.  He does not teach like a professor would teach, but rather he just leads by example, quietly, with little notice.  He does not boast about what he does, you would only know about his training if you really paid attention and asked.  He is a man of Tao.  The “World” does not know about him.  He does not use a cell phone, he does not use the Internet, he has no iPhone, he has no email address, he has no Facebook, he has no YouTube.  He lives a simple life, away from a lot of this excess technology that is making us all lazy and robotic. 

If I look back at my childhood & my upbringing, I really see that he is my Sifu.  He is a true man of Kung Fu, his Kung Fu is in my blood, and that is a big reason why I am who I am today.  Yes, Bruce Lee, the NFCMAA, Fighters United, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Osho, and many others have contributed greatly to my development as a real human being, but I cannot forget about the contributions of my father and mother.  My father & mother carry the ancient Chinese traditions & culture within them and it is expressed through their way of life.  By my upbringing, it has become a part of me, that is why I notice that I am so different than many I encounter here in the States. 

They never told me: “this is the Tao.” “this is the way of Buddha.” “this is Feng Shui.” “this is Kung Fu.”   They simply lived life the way that was natural to them.  Being around them, taught me first hand by experience what the Tao, Buddha, Feng Shui, & Kung Fu was all about.  I never understood why I was so different than many people around me until I was a sophomore in college and began studying “Eastern Philosophy,” after being inspired by Bruce Lee to educate myself on Chinese culture.  Then I began to see and understand that I was born to be unique.  I was born to be me; I was born to be different.  And there is nothing wrong with being different; there is nothing wrong with being me.  When I finally accepted myself for who I truly was, that was when I became awakened, that was my time of enlightenment. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Review And CLF On The Equinox

It’s Equinox time, and with it a new post. I have a couple interesting contributions today. First off, a book review of sorts - the second toward my 100+ review objective – regarding Osho’s “Ancient Music In The Pines.” This is a Zen-focused compilation of his teaching to disciples. I’d never read any Osho before, but decided to give him a shot, and was rewarded for having done so with a curious synchronicity, described in my video, that really got me contemplating similarities and differences between what I do in nature and Eastern Zen meditation practices…

I’ve also been working for at least an hour a day on perfecting the CLF form. I’m not there yet, but am feeling closer to having the techniques flowing properly, and I’m looking forward to starting in on the TKD form in the not too distant future. Here’s a progress video, in any case…

Finally, just for a good laugh, another round of duckwalk lawn-mowing from earlier in the week. It’s silly and stupid, but it really is hard leg-work. Makes my thighs ache sweetly for at least a couple days…

Thursday, September 20, 2012



Friday, September 14, 2012

Kettlebell At The Casino

Thought some of you might appreciate a photo I took from the air yesterday morning near Seattle. I’m calling the image Volcano Land. Presently, I’m in Spokane, Washington, flown in by the Kalispel Tribe to speak at their Tree of Healing Conference. They’ve set me up pretty posh in their Northern Quest Resort and Casino, but it’s really not my kind of scene. I don’t gamble, and these sorts of places - casino resorts, shopping malls, theme parks, cruise ships, tourist traps, etc - they’re all built to be self-contained, luxury habitats for those who, as far as I can tell, are here trying to buy happiness, if only for a brief moment. It’s sad, because to me it shows that a lot of people probably never experience deep satisfaction and sustained joy in their lives… you know, real pleasure in just being who and where they are normally, every day. They chase the little shot of hope that the products presented at these kinds of places offer. Casinos are the worst. They demonstrate that even our senior citizens, with extensive life experience, are still drawn to something as simple as blinky lights, and the slim potential of getting lucky rich. No offense to anyone with a different perspective, but I really value my energy, and I’m pretty careful how I expend it. I’m not selfish with it; I’ll volunteer my energy toward pursuits I think are beneficial. But to me, sitting half the day at a slot machine seems pretty much a complete energy sink, and I wouldn’t even do it if someone paid me for it. I’m here because it’s an opportunity to share some of my perspectives with a relatively wide audience of health care professionals, psychologists, social workers, and educators. But in order for me to do this, and not become moody or passive aggressive about what I’m witnessing, I have to find ways to draw my attention toward other aspects of the place.

My main approach has always been to immerse myself in the wider ecological happenings. In this respect, it doesn’t matter where I am, and what kinds of crazy stuff the humans are up to, there’s always nature to turn toward. Early morning is a good time for this. The birds wake up hungry, and will happily lead anyone who’s interested to all their seasonal sources of food. Following birds around in the morning like this is a surefire way to get the big picture about what’s currently important to them, in their perspective of the place. But really, any time of day, when I get a chance to direct my attention toward nature, is enjoyable. It releases me of my tensions. When I’m in places like this casino resort, I particularly like finding examples of where animals are repurposing something the humans have made – be it the jewel spiders setting their webs up next to the electric lights to catch more moths, or the house sparrows picking their meals off the grill of a car.

Now that I’ve returned to martial arts, I have a second source of retreat… that being my own body. For instance, while attending a couple of the conference sessions this morning, I made a point of maintaining good posture while sitting and listening to the speakers. I once met an Okinawan karateka in his eighties who was still really vital and fit. When asked to share his secret, of whether or not it was from his daily karate practice, he admitted that while the martial arts helped, the true source of his health was in a rule he’d set for himself many years before, never to lean on anything. In other words, core balance. That wisdom has stuck with me, though I’ve never had the discipline to completely institute it in my own life. The posture exercises are a start, and I added several sets of stomach tightening to keep things interesting. After the sessions, I went downstairs to check out the hotel’s fitness room. To my surprise, it was completely empty of people. I did a few circuits with the weight machines, and then got curious about the kettlebells. I’ve never worked with a kettlebell before, but I’ve seen others do so. What I was thinking is that they might be useful for developing the muscles used specifically in our CLF form. So I played with them for about the next half hour, and actually really enjoyed it. Think I might even buy one for at home when I get back. I’ve posted clips from some of this training below.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Todai Ling Fitness test

Dear all,
After 3 attempts to upload videos of my fitness test, I decided to only publish the result here. We will see if I can prove my results with a YouTube video (direct link For some reason, upload stops at some moment. If you ever had a similar problem, please let me know how I can solve it. I did not do the one arm push up, as it causes me a lot of pain, resulting from an elbow injury. If Shi Zu can give a replacement exercise until I fully recover, it would be great. As for the push up exercise, I could have done more, but for some reason believed that I had done 53 ^^
Here are my stats for the last test on September, 9th :
I will keep working on it !

168cm (5’5”)
 64.4 kilos (142lbs)
12.2% Body Fat
 60% water 53 Kg muscle (116 lbs) 
no bone ratio

September, 9th 2012
20 to 29
30 to 39
40 to 49
50 to 59

1 min. Sit-up
40, 45, 50
35, 40, 45
30, 35, 40
25, 30, 35
1 min. Push-up
40, 50, 60
35, 45, 55
30, 40, 50
25, 35, 45
1 min. Squat
40, 45, 50
35, 40, 45
30, 35, 40
25, 30, 35
Jump rope (min.)
6, 8, 10
5, 7, 9
4, 6, 8
3, 5, 7
Side kick hold (sec)
10, 20, 30
5, 15, 25
0, 10, 20
0, 5, 15
Front kick hold (sec)
10, 20, 30
5, 15, 25
0, 10, 20
0, 5, 15
L-hold (sec)
8 sec
5, 10, 15
4, 8, 12
3, 6, 9
2, 4, 6
1 arm Push-up
10, 15, 20
7, 12, 17
5, 10, 15
4, 8, 12
Pull-ups or Chin ups
6, 10, 14
3, 7, 11
2, 5, 8
1, 3, 5
10, 15, 20
7, 12, 17
5, 10, 15
4, 8, 12
Handstand Push-ups
5, 9, 13
2, 6, 10
1, 4, 7
0, 2, 4
Middle Split inches from ground
9 inches
13, 9, 5
14, 10, 6
15, 11, 7
16, 12, 8
Bent over reach
Arm stretch

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Fire

There was a huge prairie fire by my house yesterday. It’s the second of its kind that has happened this year, and rarely does our summer conclude without one. On each such occasion, my initial reaction is to weigh the loss my family might suffer should our home burn down, and for the most part I’m at peace with this potential material impact, though I’d never invite it. Once I’m reminded of that, the next phase of each big fire experience leaves me feeling anxious, like I should be doing something to help put it out. But because of the specialization of knowledge and authority that occurs in our culture, I and the vast majority of other able-bodied men are rendered impotent to assist. We’re told to stay back, let the professionals do their job. I see this as a problem, and it compels me to contemplate why we aren’t training our young adults, all of them, to respond collectively and cooperatively to these kinds of regular dangers, or even how to successfully acquire food and water, or maintain the material stuff we rely on, or conduct emergency medical procedures. It’s like we’re purposely keeping our public ignorant, and it bothers me. Worse still, where I live, there’s another level of this culturally-induced ignorance invested in a long-held racial divide. This too surfaces with the fire, which crossed our fictive boundaries, and rekindled an entirely different kind of flame. Over the last twenty-four hours, I’ve written a couple statements about my thoughts on these matters, and posted them to my Facebook page. I figured I’d share a video recording with all of those involved in FMK, in which I read and elaborate on these statements… again, as part of sharing experience

Two Brand New Century Wave Master Standing Bags
Their Solid One Piece Construction does not break like the first one Everlast  joint joined did.
Right Now Each Weigh 250 lbs....and room for more gonna have to fill them some more and to the max they are sliding.....that one did...unexpectedly because I haven't turned on the power hits on them yet.


The Rap Industry & Martial Arts

The Rap Industry & Martial Arts

In the rap industry, it is completely frowned upon to imitate.  Artists are continually promoted to be original.  Martial imitators can learn much from rap Artist’s.  A producer creates his own beats.  A rap artist creates his own lyrics or poetry.  There is no imitation, as soon as there is imitation, the audience will immediately label you as a fake.  In order to become successful in the rap industry, you must build your own name; you must build your own following.  As in any industry, it is very competitive, but one thing that should be noticed, is that they fully encourage creativity & originality. 

Rap artists create their own names, their own trademarks.  Well known rap artist’s such as 2pac, Jay-Z, Notorious Big, Eazy-E, Eminem, LL Cool J, Common, Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, Immortal Technique, etc.  You see they have all created original names that are uniquely different & expressive.  Each one of their rapping styles are different & unique to their expression, none of their raps are the same.  Their voices immediately send out a unique expression that can never be imitated. 

The beats that they choose to rap to, the lyrics that they put together, the message that they wish to express, the rhythm of their flow, their unique way of dress, their character, their inner spirit, etc.  Everything is uniquely different.  They may all use the English language to communicate, & they may all rhyme, but their individual expression is different & unique to them.  There is no system.  There is no tradition.  There is no style.  There is just artistic expression. 

2pac drew influences from Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Machiavelli; various rap artists before him, his life experiences, etc.  His poetry was his expression of life, & that is what made his music beautiful.  He was not just rapping to make money, he was rapping to spread a message.  There can be many imitators of 2pac, but there will never be another 2pac.  DMX may even look like 2pac, his voice may be deep like 2pacs, but he certainly is not 2pac.  DMX has to express his own, he cannot imitate.  Rap artists cannot be imitated, it is impossible; their voice will immediately set them apart from any other human being. 

So in the rap industry, imitation is heavily discouraged.  But why is it that in the “Martial Industry” everyone is encouraged to imitate?  These people should not even be called “Martial Artists” they should be labeled as “Martial Imitators.”  An Artist is a creator, art is creation, there is very little Art in the Martial Industry.  The Martial Arts has been taken over by Martial Sport.  Sport is a game, Art is an expression.  Art is like music, it is an expression of the inner spirit.  Sport and Art is not the same.  If you practice sport, do not call yourself an Artist.  You may be an athlete, but you are not an Artist. 

A rap artist may not be athletic, but his expression of art has nothing to do with his athleticism.  2pac & Eminem are certainly not the strongest, fastest, most flexible, & most fit people in the rap industry, but they are certainly viewed as 2 of the most talented Artists in the industry.  They are Artist’s, they are not Athlete’s. 

Martial Arts is a non-verbal body expression of your inner spirit.  Unlike rap, you are not primarily expressing yourself vocally, you are primarily expressing yourself through body movement, and secondary is the voice.  Your body movement is your artistic expression.  And because it is body movement, in order to be the absolutely most expressive Martial Artist, you must be extremely fit.  You must be able to move your body exactly the way you wish to move it.  The more flexible, the stronger, the healthier, the more athletic, the better; that way you can fully express yourself as you please via body movement, you will have less limitations on expression. 

Compared to the rap artist, if you tell the rap artist that he is not allowed to swear, that will limit his expression.  If you tell the rap artist that he cannot use any words that start with a, b, c, d, e, or f.  That will limit his expression.  It is like the Martial Artist who does not have the range and motion in his legs or arms to kick or punch the way that he wished he could; that will put a limitation on his expression. 

When you step into the realm of combat sport, you are imposing limitations on the Martial Artist.  If it is a boxing ring, you tell him you cannot kick.  If it is a kickboxing ring, you tell him he cannot elbow or knee.  If it is a Thai boxing ring, you tell him he cannot grapple.  If it is a cage, you tell him that weapons are not allowed.  The rules & limitations hinder the expression of the Martial Artist.  A true Martial Artist cannot be bound by any limitations in his expression.  The only limitation is his own limitation, the limitation that he sets upon himself; it does not come from the outside. 

A Martial Artist is guided by his inner spirit.  He is guided by wisdom & truth; he is not guided by the industry.  Those guided by the Industry are not Martial Artists.  They may be contracted Fighters, they may be actors, but they are not Martial Artists.  Within the rap industry, 2pac is an Artist who was guided by his inner spirit, but the rap Industry was overwhelming his inner spirit, he was a positive force within too much negativity.  Eventually the negativity had taken his life away.  Most rappers in the industry are not guided by their inner spirit, they are guided by the industry, they are not Artists, they are entertainers; they are puppets. 

An Artist can only be a true Artist when he has the freedom to express.  If an Artist is starving and he is changing his Art in order to make money to pay for his next meal, his expression will be corrupted.  A truly non corrupted expression is when an Artist is self-sufficient.  When an Artist is self-sufficient, he does not need you to approve of his expression, his expression is as is, with or without your approval.  Because money is valued so much by society, you will rarely encounter a true Artist.  Most people will take the money over expression; they will not take the expression over money.  Most people will choose to fight for a million than to express humbly for free.  To encounter an Artist is rare; to encounter a Mystic is even rarer.  That is why you will rarely ever find a real Martial Artist in this world. 

Take down your ego, let your spirit grow

Being unable to post new videos on my YouTube account, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts. Nothing is fixed, and I regularly read and change a few things. Hope you can find a few interesting ideas so that we can share and learn.

Take down your ego, let your Spirit grow

1) Our condition as a human being is extremely fragile
When we look into scientific theories, we learn that we are the most advanced species on the planet. That is only according to our conception of life. We can all become sick. We will all get older and we will all die. A very small cut can become infected with microscopic microbes and end up killing us. A single mushroom can make us die. The human body, compared to the other wild animals is extremely fragile. We don’t have claws, though skin or large teeth.

2) Most people are not exceptional.
If we rarely turn on our TV’s we can easily witness an inversion of values, where stupidity is enhanced and basic human virtues are derided. Still, there is initially no reason to be so proud of us and to think we are better than others. Achievement in life is something that very few people will ever reach. Others have live before us and other will live after. One good thing about online communities or twitter is that they let us realize that we are all virtually friends and that we all do the same things. In its primary condition, man is not original. Even with sophistication, we all wear the same clothes, do the same things and we are very similar in our behavior.

3) Competing rarely makes us better.
Only genuine expression of our true inner self can make us better. What many people don’t understand is that realization is an inner process. As a matter of fact, the only way a competition can be a good thing to you is when we lose it. This loss will force us to think about our own weaknesses. The only person we can really compete with is ourselves.

4) Get in touch with nature.
How can we pretend that we are different from other creatures in nature? Our arrogance leads us to believe that we are superior to other creatures but any wild encounter like a boar or a dear will make us feel otherwise. In fact, from our infinite superiority, we are so terrified of other creatures that we even lock our houses and kill small insects which are unable to harm us!

5) Manipulation everywhere, all the time.
1% of the population has been controlling the rest for hundreds of years. Even if we believe our political or social ideas to be revolutionary, our opinion will probably never make a difference. Those who have power decide. Opposition to the empire means death. Those who try to reach out to other people, refusing to become an instrument of the oppressors will have to face social or physical death. Therefore, the only thing we can do is trying to free ourselves and lead by example to help our loved ones. It is impossible to teach truth and freedom to someone who is not ready.

6) Traditions can be useful, but everything should be put into question
When we study Geography or History, every citizen in the world is considered to be religious. There are so many beliefs and cults that we can’t deny a religious feeling, common to all human beings. One problem is, this feeling has been surrounded with dogmas and manipulators and used against humanity. Interesting thing happens when we analyze traditions. In one country, a wise man is someone with a beard, in another someone who shaves his head. Believers have dreadlocks, beards, hairstyles… If a superior spirit existed, do you think it would care about what you ate for your last dinner or the way you dress?

7) Getting in touch with our inner spirit.
Training under Shi Zu made me realize that there is a key in human being’s growth. We can be in good shape, have a nice job, be proud of our relationships with people no matter their gender or background. There might still be a sense of lacking. Mainly this feeling comes from our soul. Body and spirit may be very well trained and sharp; the only way to attain a blissful feeling will take a serious practice in the field of arts and meditation. It is our own responsibility and work to discover what our “god given” talent is, through listening what our soul says and thinking about our actions… Even though this voice has been nearly muted through centuries of manipulation, it will still speak if we try to listen.

8) Human spirits desperately needs freedom and expression.
We may all feel a sense of lacking and helplessness at times. Deep inside us we know that there must be something better, somewhere for us. Some believe in paradise or reincarnation. But this is only a promess of fate. Why should we wait to be about to day to communicate honestly with ourselves? This better way must exist in the present moment in order to be alive. The key to our inner self is consciousness. Learning more about people and their behavior is a way to find the truth and live in happiness. Once again, it starts with knowledge and compassion.

- Todai Ling