Friday, May 31, 2013

Ten Thousand Ripples Project

If you checked out YouTube this week you’ll see that Sifu discovered the Buddha statue on Howard Street. Ironic, right? Well the statue looked familiar, so I was curious to do some reading…

The placement of these Buddha head statues is actually a movement called the “Ten Thousand Ripples Project,” in which public art's placed in high violence neighborhoods within Chicago to spark conversations of peace & violence. There should be about 10 more coming to Rogers Park, one closer to us that I’ve seen is our good ol’ after work out spot at Sol CafĂ©! (inside the entrance)

I was actually quite surprised to hear they've placed statues at my home neighborhood Albany Park. I never considered my neighborhood to be one of high crime, but when I think back to high school I remember the few friends I knew in gangs, and being exposed to their life. Thankfully I grew out of those people , and getting older I realize how blind I can be to feeling like it no longer exists in my neighborhood. It may no longer be part of my life now, but I can only imagine the many teens who haven't.

The next time you see another statue...Stop and be aware. There's a reason why the placement was made. Not all are placed on public streets as the one on Howard, but many are quite discrete. I have yet to encounter any in my neighborhood, so it looks like I’m keeping my eyes peeled so I can start my scavenger hunt! haha

Thanks to Sifu looks like word about the ripple is passing on. Now, thousands more to go?! :-)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Online Martial Arts

I think I had missed making a post last week. I'd better make one now, so I don't skip another week.

I've been doing the live training about twice a week now. I would do it more, but it is difficult with my kids. I think I'm able to pick up on more this way. I think it is a great idea to train this way. Some people probably would think I'm crazy training online like this, but I think I've developed quite a bit since I have started. I'm really glad to finally be studying the Martial Arts. I've been wanting to for many, many years.

I was wondering what Sifu wants, as far as videos from the online Todai. I don't know if he would want a weekly video or if it doesn't matter much since we are training live now. I like to make some videos to record what I've been doing during training and to track my progress. I also have been trying to use my videos to find more balance for myself. At first I hated my videos and couldn't watch them without cringing. I figured, because of my reaction, I could possibly use the videos to improve myself more. I sometimes like to do things that are difficult or uncomfortable just to become a more well-balanced person. I just try to allow myself to grow comfortably and not worry much about whether I am terrible or great, as long as I am making progress. If I weren't making any progress, I shouldn't be doing it. But I feel like I am learning, so I'm not going to give up.

I think I just accidently deleted my "Training With Children" post on here. At least I still have my daughter's videos on my You Tube page. I guess I'd better be more careful what I'm clicking on.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Todai Update: Ben is visiting

Update to all Todai’s of FMK.  Ben Nicholls, the editor of Reflections Volume 1 will be visiting Chicago from May 31st to June 3rd.  He will be joining us in our training & there is a possibility that we will bike to Chinatown that weekend as well.  Just wanted to give everybody a heads up. 

Todai Update - Jun's Separation from FMK - May 26 2013

This is an update to all Todai’s of FMK.  As of May 25 2013, Todai Jun formally notified me that he will no longer be training at FMK.  He stated that he could not completely agree to the overall philosophy of the kwoon that stands against combat sport.  He plans on returning the badge when he has the time.  He stated we can continue to use his music if we so choose.  I told him that I appreciate him giving me this formal notice and that I wish him the best. 

One of the biggest struggles in teaching publicly is establishing close relations with Todai’s and then having to separate due to whatever reason.  It is all a part of life and a learning experience.  We have a new Todai who is young and full of potential.  I told him immediately the kwoons stance against combat sport and that this is not the kwoon to breed sport fighters.  On his first day of training he was wearing TapOut pants and I didn’t like it.  I told him that is unacceptable in this kwoon and I have updated the policies to reflect this as well. 

I have learned that when individuals show interest in joining this kwoon who are athletically gifted or show potential to be athletically gifted, I must notify them immediately and directly that this is not a kwoon to train for combat sport.  It is best to have it settled sooner than later.  Sharing the deeper aspects of the Martial Arts means a lot to me and I have to continually place great efforts to better determine who truly appreciates these teachings opposed to others who are not the right fit for what I have to teach.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Progression Is Slow, But Worth It

As many of you know, I have been studying the martial arts since I was about 8 years old. I have been to many different schools and seen many different styles of teaching and learning. As I have progressed, I have tried to couple what I know from who I am in Christ with the good teachings and lessons I have learned from each school I've been to and trained in. The initial reason I started in martial arts was because of doctor recommended therapy for a disease I have in my legs called Hereditary Spastic Paralysis. As a refresher for those who are new to the blog, essentially what is wrong is that while my brain communicates fine with the majority of my body, the neuro-receptors in my legs do not receive the signal from my brain properly. This causes spastic hypertension and shakiness and causes my feet to turn out in a 45 degree angle. As I have progressed in my condition (because what I have, though similar to cerebral palsy, is actually regenerative) I have gone from needed a wheelchair to get around to using a walker and then later a cane. To this day I still use the cane. That is about to change.

I feel that through all of the lessons I have picked up from the various schools, personal struggles that I have and am in the process of overcoming coupled with what Christ has done in my life, I have obtained a God-given resolve to continue to improve. I have refused to let what some would call a disability stop me from training, working and going about my daily life in any way. While there will always be some limitations, I have made great strides (no pun intended) towards full-blown healing and recovery. Today as I write this blog to you, I am beginning a new stage in my progression. Increasingly as the days go, I will attempt to use my cane less and walk unassisted more. This will be my greatest challenge yet! Over the years, my mind has learned to become dependent on something physical to support me as I walk. Something has always been there for as long as I could remember for me to lean on or go to when I felt like I was going to fall. Additionally, from age 8 until now, I have used a cane and my various canes throughout the years have become extensions of my arm and a part of my personality. In this next stage of my development, I will be eliminating something that has been a part of me for over a decade. Not to mention that by taking this next step (again no pun intended) I will essentially be reteaching myself how to walk. This will be no small feat, but I believe that with God's strength anything is possible. Trust in God friends, and He can move the mountains.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I like what is associated with calm. I can think of peace, focus, traquility or other words, but when i think of calm, well i don't think much, it's more of a way of being that i feel. Being calm helps me a lot in my life everyday. By being calm i can face most of the situation positively and at the end of the day when i recall my reactions, i realize that i make more sense when i'm calm than when i'm all neurotic and stressed out. I can train energitically while remaining calm, that way i can keep focus more easily and workout in a healthy way without hurting myself.

I'm not always calm, i'm not a robot, like everybody else i get stressed out, i get emotional, and in those time i tend to act more stupidly. To remain calm all the time is almost impossible, and i like it that way. Because at the same time, if i couldn't get all crazy with friends and laugh out loud and have a lot of fun, life would be boring. But i think it's possible to be calm and have fun at the same time, it's a state of mind that i tend to reach, i'm closer to that state of mind than i used to be, but i still got a lot of work to do before i reach a high level of calmness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sharing Lessons From My Okinawan Family

Over the past weekend, I needed to forego my Skype training in our Kwoon so that I could participate in an important local event, the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Taka Karate School here in Lethbridge, Alberta. My wife Adrienne and I have been practicing Gohakukai - a combination of Goju Ryu and Tomarite - under Sensei Taka Kinjo, off and on for about thirteen years. Although it’s a bit unusual (some might even say unethical) for a person to be engaged in training with more than one school, under multiple teachers, this is the case with me. But in my situation, or at least how I look at it, it’s like a marriage… there’s your family, and then there’s your spouse’s family. If you really want your marriage to be strong, you should cultivate intimacy, love, commitment, and compassion on both sides. The truth is, for Adrienne and myself, this two family approach really is necessary. Both of us have been involved in martial arts since childhood. In fact, one of our first dates involved me accompanying her to a TKD session. There’s no way we’ll ever feel whole or satisfied without having martial arts in our lives. Yet, at the same time, the two of us have somewhat different needs, and hence the two schools

Adrienne, as many of you now know, suffers from an auto-immune disorder, a crippling rheumatoid condition. For her, Taka Kinjo’s Dojo is perfect, because he specializes in using karate movement as a form of physio-therapy to help people with chronic diseases and neural injuries. Certainly he has helped Adrienne, and when she’s active in karate practice her mobility goes way up. While I’ve whole-heartedly adopted this Gohakukai appreciation for martial arts as therapy and medicine, I’m also very interested in exploring ‘art’ as personal expression and creativity, something that can be perceived as threatening and/or naive by adherents of traditional schools. In order to actually obtain a creative license in the martial arts, one usually has to set out alone, or recruit students and start an autonomous school. Never, prior to Freddie Lee, have I encountered a Sifu who actually encouraged self expression… who was willing to say that mimicry is not the same as artistry. For this reason, as well as for the more dynamic physical challenges involved, I feel like FMK is my family, where I belong. I’m so proud to be a part of the emergence of this Kwoon. In many ways, I view what we are doing as incredibly ancient, but yet modern, innovative, edgy and adaptative at the same time. I hope other Todai appreciate how special this opportunity is

It’s strange though, belonging to two martial arts families. There’s a weird sense of… I don’t know what to call it… it’s like I’m not supposed to talk about it. When Adrienne and I go to the Gohakukai Dojo, we both arrive and leave in our FMK hoodies, though we replace them with Japanese gi tops for training. Sensei Kinjo has not asked about FMK, and I think it’s because the whole thing is semi-taboo. Instead of looking at it as having two families merged in the context of a marriage, it seems to be framed more as though having two families is a betrayal. And that’s messed up. Part of the reason for this unease is economic, I’m sure. But another part is that it’s maybe considered threatening to the teacher-disciple relationship. Yet for Adrienne and I, from a Blackfoot cultural perspective, what we’re doing is nothing at all unusual. In our way, relationships are almost always celebrated. The more complex and encompassing the better. Except in the case of real marital fidelity, where any wavering whatsoever would definitely result in me getting my ass handed to me, lol

Anyway… where I’m going with this is that I don’t want to feel as though I’m leading a split life, so I’ve always blended my other training with what I’m doing in FMK. Anyone who’s watched my videos on the YouTube channel has no doubt observed goju ryu and tomarite techniques and katas, or maybe some JKD-influenced backfists, fingerjabs, and crossover kicks. A couple weeks back, while in class via Skype, I suggested to Sidai Shunyuan and Todai Daoming that they try moving through a lock sequence in a manner I’d learned from Aikido training. Similarly, in the Gohakukai Dojo, I’ve often participated dynamically in demonstrations of various locks and throws by Sensei Kinjo, if for no other reason than that I’m capable of properly breakfalling on a hardwood floor, an ability I owe again to Aikido. The way I see it, why not contribute what you can to the benefit of your family, even if it derives from learning acquired in other relationships? Why should there be conflict or jealousy? Personally, I want to share.  To this ends, I offer the following four videos from this past weekend…

The first is of Sensei Taka Kinjo himself, performing a kata called Pechurin from Goju Ryu. I hope you will appreciate what I do about Okinawan forms, which are the transitions between soft and hard. Each technique is guided by the hips, and completed with an abdominal (as well as other delivery muscle) tightening. Compare this video with some of the examples of myself performing Goju Ryu or Tomari Te kata, and you will see the difference between a relative novice and a master. Over the weekend, Sensei Kinjo became the second ever to receive a 10th Dan in Gohakukai…

The second video is a performance by Sensei Masahiro Miyazato, who was part of an Okinawan delegation who traveled to Lethbridge for this event. Miyazato is very well know for his demonstrations with kama blades. Really though, he’s an incredible artist, proficient in many weapons, always dressed to express his identity, and quite musically talented, as you’ll see in the fourth video. Here’s Miyazato with his kama…

The content of the third video can be traced directly back to Zen founder Bodhidharma, and his influence on the Shaolin Temple. It is an intense form of Qi Gung called (in Japanese) Tenshiyo, as performed by Gohakukai founder Kaicho Iken Tokashiki. I was very pleased to be privy to a lengthy lecture toward the conclusion of our practice in the Dojo on Saturday, during which Tokashiki detailed some of what he’d learned in more than twenty trips he’s taken into China to research the origins of these arts. Sifu Freddie Lee is very correct when he says that all of the ‘martial arts’ as we know them came from China. Gohakukai recognizes and celebrates that. Tokashiki has been to Shaolin several times, and I hope we at FMK will travel there together one day…

Finally, my absolute favorite video of the weekend: A decade ago, an anonymous elderly karateka told me that the key to his health was that he would never lean on anything. When standing, he’d balance between both legs, and never support his weight otherwise. When sitting, he never allowed his back to touch a chair. Core balance, plain and simple. More than karate or anything else, it was this attention to posture and balance that enabled him to be so vital in his senior years. I was very pleased Sunday night when, after so many years, I found myself seated next to this man for dinner. Despite a significant language barrier, we joked around. He even leaned on me, lol. And when the plates had been taken away, Masahiro Miyazato stood up to the microphone with something like a Japanese banjo, while the now eighty-five year-old Sensei Shimabukuro Katsuyuki performed an impromptu martial arts dance. To me, such ego-free movement is what makes Katsuyuki a true master…

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Author of over 40 books including, 'Healing Energy of Shared Consciousness: A Taoist Approach To Entering the Universal Mind' and 'Taoist Shaman: Practices from the Wheel of Life.' In this interview Mantak Chia talks about his life and how he was taught to access CHI energy by his Chinese teacher. He explains how this CHI energy can clear emotions and strengthen the body and the mind, and how it is connected to Universal energy and life force. Mantak Chia also shows how to start accessing CHI energy.

Fist of Fury: Why I wear a Tungsten Carbide Ring...

Wei here - Shout out to the FMK community! I know I don't post as often as I should, but I'm trying to get more involved on the blog lately.

So most people wonder why I wear a ring on my left index finger. It's a random story - I was in Amman, Jordan three years ago. There was a street vendor selling stainless steel rings for 1 Jordanian Dollar. I decided I wanted one and found one that fit comfortably in my index finger. I began to wear it habitually. If I lost the ring, I felt like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, "I lost my precious!" Haha. Eventually one day, the ring actually split in half and I wanted to find a replacement.

I decided I wanted something that would last me a long time. In high school I had a Physics teacher that told us about Tungsten Carbide wedding bands. The rings are very dense and I figured that would be something cool that wouldn't break on me. I looked on  amazon and was surprised to find some that were pretty darn cheap. I found one I liked and have been wearing it ever since. (My inner Gollum is happy....Precious.)

Why I recommend this for other people who wear rings?

- This ring is really dense. Since Tungsten Carbide is the 2nd hardest substance next to diamonds it's nearly indestructable and scratch proof (Note: Don't get one with any paint on it. The paint will scratch, but the ring won't.)

- It can easily help you in a fighting situation. This ring is like having brass knuckles on a finger. If you punch leading with it you'll do heavy damage. I've had to take it off sparring because even when safe sparring people say it really hurts.

So yeah a fashion accessory that's not expensive, can double as a wedding band, and if you're in a fight it can give you an edge (while still being legal) - Like Sifu says we need to use things that aren't labelled weapons, but can indeed help us in an emergency situation.

 Here if anyone was interested. Really make sure to get the right size. These things can't be resized. Got to like a dollar store or something and try on different rings. Also, note some rings are American sizes and some are Chinese so Google the conversion.

Todai Update: Red Rank Changes

I have decided upon a new system of ranking that accommodates for those who have extra money and those that don't.  The one year of training will no longer be expected.  Red ranks do not have to be approved by other Todai's.  In order to gain certification, the minimum required fees are #1 & #2. Numbers 3, 4, & 5 are all optional.  So Todai Kang, if you still want to be certified this year, it can be done, b/c the fees are much more reasonable now. 

Red Rank Promotion

  1. Fitness Testing Certification Fee: $20
  2. Rank Webpage Certification Fee (1 time fee): $20
  3. Fitness Testing Certification Video Fee (Optional): $20
  4. FMK Rank Apparel (Optional): Purchase on your own from recommended vender - or buy from kwoon at 6 tank tops for $200
  5. FMK Rank Badge (Optional):  Purchase on your own or buy from kwoon at $300

You are expected to train at least once per week in order to maintain your certification.  Your fitness can be re-tested at anytime based on the discretion of Shi zu.  If you fail the testing, you will lose certification and regain your certification when you are able to successfully fulfill the expected fitness standards.