Sunday, 27 December 2015

2 Videos Worth Sharing

I thought these videos from the Martial Arts historian and author for 'Tuttle', Antony Cummins, might be worth sharing.

The first video is his opinion on the belt ranking system that is so common in many communal Martial Art schools. I understand where he is coming from and largely agree with him.

Black Belt - Good or Bad



The second video was made to prove a point via his own unique use of comedy. I agree with his view here but the main reason I'm sharing this one is simply because it made me laugh. I think it's funny because MMA is the expression I dispise the most on a community level. See what you think.

MMA vs NINJUTSU - Nasty Stuff!


Friday, 18 December 2015

Star Wars!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...



Yes, yes, I know that was a tremendously clich├ęd decision to open a Star Wars post like this, but I just couldn't resist!!!

Okay, okay, okay, (I'm excited) let me tell you why I'm writing about Star Wars. Considered to be "a phenomenon like none other", Star Wars is a sci-fi/fantasy/space opera series of movies that has gone far beyond the walls of the cinemas. It is like a great big tree with many branches. These branches or extensions of the story that include television series, comic books and novels. All Star Wars media that isn't a movie 'Episode' is considered to be part of what's known as the 'Expanded Universe' or 'EU'. Star Wars has also spawned an empire of merchandise that ranges from, well, anything that you could imagine. However, if you are unacquainted with Star Wars and wish to explore this amazing world of imagination, I advise starting with the movies, the stem of the tree.

Assuming you haven't seen any form of Star Wars media and you want to investigate Star Wars, I recommend watching the movies in chronological order starting from 'Episode 1: The Phantom Menace' (1999), then to 'Episode 2: Attack of the Clones' (2002), and then to 'Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith' (2005). Once you have seen the prequel trilogy, you will need to go back to the original trilogy starting with 'Episode 4: A New Hope' (1977), then to what is often considered to be the best of all the Star Wars movies 'Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back' (1980). After that you will need to see 'Episode 6: Return of the Jedi' (1983). Alternatively, I suppose you could watch the original trilogy and then backtrack to the prequel trilogy. This should ensure that many of the twists in the original trilogy are not spoiled. If you manage to see the 6 movies relatively soon, then you might be lucky enough to see the first movie of the sequel trilogy 'Episode 7: The Force Awakens' (2015) while it's still in cinemas. I'm not much of a 'Movie Gower' but I did see 'The Force Awakens' yesterday. This movie had me on the edge of my seat and I was choking back tears throughout the film. Many people predict that Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens will overtake 'Avatar (2009)' and become the highest grossing movie to date. The Force Awakens LOOKS REAL. While computer generated imagery were used to enhance some effects, the movie heavily relies on practical effects to create the desired impact. Just see for yourself in the official trailer...



As you know by now, I love Star Wars. I love Star Wars because it has so many elements that are true to life and Martial Art. This is because Star Wars sprouted from seeds of real world phenomena including historical periods such as samurai orders and nazi imperialism, the nature of politics, culture and religion, mythology and philosophy; predominantly Eastern (as I interpret the essence of the 'Force' to mirror our own concept of Tao). The Eastern way of thinking plays a big part of defining Star Wars through the conceptual essence of the Force. The reason for this goes back long before the first movie was released. At this moment I only know the basic outline of the story. In the mid 20th century, there was a Western philosophical mythologist called Joseph Campbell (1904-1987). Campbell was at a university where he met an Indian man (don't know his name unfortunately) researching Eastern religion, mythology and philosophy. The two became very good friends and educated each other about their respective areas of knowledge. Unfortunately, the Indian man fell ill a year after their initial meeting and sadly passed away. Joseph Campbell carried on his friends research and and educating himself about Eastern religion, mythology and philosophy. Fast forward to the 1970s and there was a young film director named George Lucas. Lucas met and befriended the now old Joseph Campbell who taught Lucas much of what he had learned from his deceased friend and his studies of the East. George Lucas combined what Campbell had thought him and combined these concepts with his own inspiration from classical space opera movies. The end product was a movie released by LucasFilm (George Lucas's self made film company) in 1977 that broke all box office records called, 'Star Wars'. As a side note, I see many similarities between Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts.

So, almost 40 years on, why do people such as myself love Star Wars so much? I believe it's because there's something in Star Wars for everybody. The characters, especially in the original movies are so relatable and believable. I personally get emotionally invested with the characters, even those in the prequels. The concepts explored, whether it be political, philosophical, romance, cultural or even if it obviously takes inspiration from history or religion, all of this truly engages me. When I first got into Star Wars at the age of 9, the action alone, whether it be battles in space, inside spaceships, on fascinating and exotic planets and of cause, the epic lightsaber duels, were all enough to entertain me at that age. As I move through life Star Wars appeals to me in different ways. The continuity in Star Wars is immaculate. The movies link to each other so well. Even the comic books, novels, video games and TV programs are clearly connected to the theatrical movies. However, you don't need to explore the expanded universe to understand and enjoy the movies.

One thing I must also mention is that the the music for all the Star Wars movies is conducted by John Williams. His music for Star War feels so grand and spectacular that I get goose bumps when ever I hear tracks including 'Duel of the Fates', 'Across the Stars', 'Order 66', 'Yoda's and the Force', 'Imperial March' and especially the introduction theme at the start of every movie. When ever people hear this theme, most often, they automatically this of Star Wars.

While I'm on this topic, I'd like to state that I like ALL Star Wars movies. I'm well aware that the prequel trilogy has been received very negatively by the majority of the Star Wars fandom and even the general public because it's "not as good at the originals" and "they're just special effect reals" and so on and so forth as Bruce Lee would say. I see it very differently. I believe While the original movies focused on a smaller group of people, the prequels tell their part of the story from more of a societal point of view. I believe that all media, whether it be comics, novels, TV programs or movies in this franchise has something brilliant to contribute to the one, ongoing story millions know and love, Star Wars. I don't want to get into a debate with myself so I'll move on. Although, I might revisit this topic one day because I feel passionate about it and it is really mentally stimulating.

Back on track now. As I have mentioned, Star Wars is so true to all realms of life, including Martial Art. Yoda's teachings are a perfect example of this. I could have gone deeper into this, but I'd rather save this subject for another blog post. I predict the post to be long because this is such a diverse subject. I also don't want to spoil anything of the story of Star Wars for anyone who hasn't been introduced to it. If you haven't seen the Star Wars movies before, I highly recommend seeing them. From my perspective, you will only be enriching yourself by watching them. If you have seen the Star Wars movies or any related media, please, tell me what you like about Star Wars? Why is Star Wars so special to you?

Relevant websites...
Official Star Wars Website: http://www.starwars.com

Wookieepedia: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

As always guys keep up the good work, thank you for reading and...

May the Force be With You.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Reflecting On and Clarifying Myself

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 9th of December, 2015.

Reflecting On and Clarifying Myself

I noticed that a comment I left and information in my previous blog post may have generated some negativity. This was never my intention. Recent material that I feel was probably a response to the content I posted, has led me to reflect upon myself and where I stand in the world of Martial Art. I wish to clarify what I meant and explain how recent (probable) feedback has realigned my perspective.

Bruce Lee has become a big inspiration to me, perhaps even more than I realise. I have a friend from school who was passionate about the communal expressions of MMA and traditional Goju Ryu Karate. I couldn't understand how he liked MMA and why he was so deeply into the tradition of Goju Ryu Karate because it is another system that is crystallised like ice rather than spontaneous like water. One time, I sent him the photograph below that I found on the Internet. He seemed to be almost offended when I sent him this picture. This didn't damage our friendship or anything. When we graduated high school, I bought him a copy of Bruce Lee's book Artist of Life, because this book has such a strong emphasis on liberation. On the front page of the book, I even wrote: "Any Martial and/or physical fitness facility can be a great way to enhance your overall human experience without question. However, you will never find True/Pure Martial Art from any external source. The only place you will ever find Martial Art in it's absolute purest form is within yourself." Now that I reflect on this, I think I was reiterating Bruce Lee's teachings in my own words. Looking back, I see the extent of Bruce Lee's influence. As you will read in the below paragraphs, hopefully you will see that for me personally, training in traditional Martial Arts hasn't been the ideal experience one might hope it would be. Because of this, I can now see why Bruce Lee's philosophies were so appealing to me, because he was promoting "no way". I'll get to what I am referring to shortly. Here is the photo that I was referring to...



When I left my comment on another bloggers post, I was more so expressing the point of view popularised by Bruce Lee. I saw and of corse still do see a lot of beauty in it. However, I didn't mention and haven't been expressing the beauty of communal expressions in my publications over the past number of months. I didn't realise this at the time I left the comment in question, but I currently believe that I was representing only half of my view. I did mention that there is beauty in both sides of the topic, but I went more in depth as to why there is beauty and benefit in the individualistic approach and not the communal approach. I think this is why some people may have got the impression that I'm completely against communal expressions. I can now understand how people received this impression but it is simply not true.

I have been training at a local Taekwondo club for seven years. Classes only run for one hour each and there are only two classes a week available to me. There are also two, one hour junior classes a week. I have assisted my instructor in teaching the clubs curriculum to children of primary school age for four years now. One of these nights is volunteer work that I do out of passion for teaching and also to have more time in the Martial Art class environment, the other night I'm fortunate enough to get payed a bit for teaching. I find that training 4 hours per week just isn't enough for me to effectively progress in all areas of Martial Art. By this point I've also learnt most of what I can learn at my school. I know almost all of the forms in WTF Taekwondo. My instructor has forgotten the last few forms in the curriculum so I have to learn them from books and YouTube videos. I also asked my instructor (who I'm not naming out of respect) "Why don't we practice meditation?". His response was "People don't have time for meditation in this modern day and age so we don't bother practicing it." I spoke to him about the philosophies (Tao) associated with Martial Art but he quickly said "The problem with these old philosophies are that they are old and out of date. They are impractical for today." I don't wan't to disagree with my instructor but I feel I must because I know that Tao is eternal. The problem with my Taekwondo school is that it's availability is very limited and the approach isn't holistic enough for a student like me to become a well rounded human being. When it comes to the other students, I've tried to build a family like environment but to them, Taekwondo is just like a side hobby. They don't take it as seriously as I do. When commencing running drills, they often walk, they often don't do exercises like push ups properly. I have tried to push them but the just make excuses and disrespectful faces at me. I eventually decided to stop trying so hard in getting them to do Taekwondo properly. They are only cheating themselves. How can there be a Martial Arts family environment here? I think the idea of a Martial Art or Wushu Family is beautiful and I know they do exist out there. From my observations though, it's a rarity and although I've tried to make it a reality in my own life, it's just not my reality. This saddens me. Now there is a BJJ and a Shito-Ryu Karate club that have opened up in recent years, but rolling around with sweaty men all the time isn't what I seek in Martial Art and well, I explained all about the Shito-Ryu Karate school here: http://freddiesmodernkungfu.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/my-experiences-in-shito-ryu-karate.html.

Due to all these reasons I started Tai Chi. I say with confidence that my Tai Chi instructor is inline with the Tao. His ambitions are to keep the club of a relatively small size to ensure the highest quality in his students. At the moment, a full class is about three students including myself. My Tai Chi instructor is open minded, has a great sense of humour and teachers completely out of passion; a few months ago he mentioned that his Tai Chi business is nearly paying for itself. For him, business is a very low priority because it tends to corrupt the traditional teachings. There's also no point in trying to make the business bigger because the local population of this country town isn't big enough for large amounts of people to be interested. My instructor and I have spoken about this topic and we both agree that the small percentage of Martial Art instructors who can make a living off teaching the Martial Arts have that right. They are humans who need to eat just like everyone else on earth. If they can generate enough money to live off, then they are blessed. From a practical point of view, I currently don't see this ever becoming my circumstances unless I relocate to a city. At the moment, Tai Chi is just brilliant and I doubt I'll ever stop it because every time I do a form, and infinite amount of things are happening. I won't live long enough to observe them all. Every time you do a form, it is different to the last time and that's what keeps it interesting.

This is my current reality with traditional Martial Art systems. It works out to 5 hours of training per week. I believe a Martial Artist should train something like 29 hours per week. So, because I'm not making much progress at Taekwondo and Tai Chi only goes one hour (which for something slow like Tai Chi is extremely unrealistic), I am forced to venture beyond what these local part time Martial Art businesses provide. For example, I obtained the knowledge of how to do the splits at Taekwondo and I obtained this physical achievement by putting in my own work at home. My Taekwondo school has given me a foundation to work from but now I must research my own experiences. A funny thing is that sometimes I discover a new technique, people at Taekwondo see me use it and then they start using it themselves. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a Martial Art family where members of the group all have similar views and are on the same page, but I have to be accepting of people's competitive natures at Taekwondo in order to get along. I also need to accept that they display no interest in the spiritual development of Martial Art. The only person I can talk to about Tao and Zen in the context of Martial Art is my Tai Chi instructor. We get along so well at this time and I feel truly blessd to have met him. The Internet provides me with another means of communicating with people who see Martial Art as I do. During this year I have developed a strong friendship with Lxeon through our correspondence over Skype. I feel that this friendship is truly great and I hope it endures in decades to come. Also, when I train at home, my motivation is intrinsic. There's no one there that motivates me. My immediate family members have no interest in Martial Art or any desires to physically exercise. They are very sedentary. This is a contagious behaviour that I have to resist. I don't make much money at the moment, but whatever money I do get that I can spend goes towards this...



I am not showing you this training space to show off in any way. I'm only showing you this picture so you can see the environment I train in. I am grateful for the space that I have. One day, I wish to teach what I have learned from Martial Art directly. Yet, I have no desire to create any type of world wide phenomenon. Also, I wish to mention that my Taekwondo instructor is in no way a 'bad' instructor. What he does teach he teaches very well with lots of detail. Although I feel dissatisfied from time to time, I have a lot of respect for him.

I hope this post has helped my readers gain a better understanding of my stance on Martial Art. I am NOT a rebel to Martial Art systems. Even though my written expression hasn't been focused in it of late, I believe Martial Art systems are beautiful even though they haven't worked as well as I would have liked them to recently. Although, I do understand that the way I was writing may have given people a certain perception of me. For this reason, I am going to be much more careful about how I express myself through writing. I am going to do my best to be as clear and very importantly, as balanced as possible. If you ever misunderstand any thing I write, please leave a question in the comment section or just email me. I hope that my rapport with everyone in the future will remain balanced. Now that I think about it, I and almost everyone I know that practices Martial Art get caught up with theorising and sometimes even debating how we should conduct our practice. Sometimes how we get there, distracts us from actually getting there. When this is the case with me, I need to consciously recognise this, take 2 steps back and do some deep breathing to centre myself. I can't let fine details of the journey totally distract me from the ultimate outcome... peace.

I sincerely thank you for reading this post.

Monday, 7 December 2015

School is Over, Life is Moving on!

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 6th of December, 2015.

Hello FMK!

Firstly, congratulations Freddie! I think it's great you were able to reclaim your YouTube channel. I think you're balancing your online expression very well. I'm viewing and 'liking' as many videos as I can because I'd like to see your channel grow even more. I also simply like your content because it's interesting watching your ideas develop as you pioneer your expression of Martial Art.

I'm very happy to announce my return after a two month hiatus. I needed time away to complete high school once and for all. I don't mind whatever entry score I get for university. Never before had I worked so hard for something so deeply engrained in this Matrix or world of perceived reality as I like to call it. Considering I strive to live by the Tao (ultimate reality) this seems kind of ironic when I think about it. Anyway, It's all in the past. I know I did the best I possibly could with the opportunity I had, thus I have no regrets.

After completing exams, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a holiday in the warm and sunny city of Sydney. It was nice to get away for a bit. One big reason as to why I drove 857 kilometres (532 miles) up and back with my father and younger brother, was so that we could meet members of the production crew of my favourite show at the Doctor Who festival. The festival was a fantastic experience. There were props and costumes from the TV show that were on display, writers and directors and special effects people were giving talks about their contributions to this 52 year old science fiction/drama program. The most exciting part was being able to meet some of the actors, notably Peter Capaldi (at a panel) who plays the current incarnation of the Doctor, and Sylvester McCoy who played the 7th incarnation of the Doctor between 1987-1989. I got to meet Sylvester McCoy in person and he seems like such a lovely man. He has a naturally comedic personality. Notably, he played a wizard known as Radagast the Brown in the recent Hobbit movies.


I felt humbled that these talented people had come all the way from the United Kingdom to give people like me the opportunity to get up close and personal with the program that I have loved and been inspired by for many years now. If your at all interested in learning about the 52 year old television phenomenon 'Doctor Who', you can take a look at the official website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006q2x0

Personally though, I think this site is much better: http://www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk

Anyway, keeping on track I noticed that living in the nations biggest city for a few days gave me a valuable contrast to the environment I'm used to at home. For a city, I think Sydney is very nice. It's a lot more colourful than Melbourne in my opinion. One thing that Sydney doesn't have is a phobia of trees like Melbourne, where trees are commonly cut down for no apparent reason apart from the usual 'oh we wouldn't want to risk the one in a million chance of a tree branch falling on someone and being sued as a consequence', laugh out loud! The only negative I can think of about the city lifestyle I experienced is that there was the constant noise of traffic coming from a main road just out side the apartment building which made it difficult to sleep sometimes. Another thing I noticed was that no one ever really spoke to each other on the buses or in the fast paced streets. People were always using their iPhones. I understand that nowadays there's nothing strange about seeing people use iPhones and Androids, but when 98% of the population (seemingly) seem to be using these electronic devices at every moment, it just seems a bit strange to me. In my town, I rarely go out without seeing someone I know and engaging in short conversations. I suppose it's just what your used to really. If you were ever thinking of taking a holiday in a city, Sydney is one I recommend from experience. Sydney is also very multicultural. There were lots of tourists from places all over the world including North America, Europe and Asia. Actually I might mention the amount of tourists from Asia, particularly from China and Japan was truly astonishing. From a national perspective, I think it's good to see Australia maintaining strong relations with our neighbours from Asia. You can figure out that I was a tourist when these were the types of photos I was taking.




Sydney is quite pleasant compared to Melbourne in my current opinion. Please don't think I'm trying to make Melbourne out to be a terrible place though. I shouldn't be so harsh on Melbourne. It's not a rough place, otherwise it wouldn't have been ranked as the "worlds most livable city" according to the Monocle's Quality of Life Survey. (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-named-worlds-most-liveable-city-for-fifth-year-running-20150818-gj1he8.html)

Lastly, I'd like to say that you can expect many more blogs in future from me. I have many ideas drafted from earlier in the year and now that my schooling responsibilities are over and that I've had a rest, I feel a lot of creative energy returning to me. I expect I'll have new posts up here fairly consistently for the remainder of this month and in January. Soon I will need to find employment but right now, the present moment is mine to train, learn more about Martial Art, philosophy and life. For my next tally of publications, I intend to upload 5 expository essays about language that I did in my English Language class. Two of these essays were assessment pieces and the other 3 were created as a means of exam preparation. I wrote the essays in question at a time when I would have rather been blogging. I want to give you what my creative energies were told to produce at the time. I worked really hard and put a lot of resurch into them. For these reasons I think it would be silly if my teacher be the only person to read them. I also think you guys might get something out of them. Until then, maintain the brilliance you are contributing to the world in your respective endevers my friends. It's good to be back.

Post Script: My above commentaries about Sydney and Melbourne are completely over exaggerated. Please take them like a grain of salt!

Thanks for Reading

Spiritual Teaching of the Banana Peel

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 22nd of August, 2015.

Hello FMK

Firstly, I wish Sifu Freddie Lee the smoothest transition from Vimeo to Daily Motion. You were my original philosophical inspiration and I look forward to this next stage in the evolution of your online expression with much enthusiasm! Rest with the knowledge you will have my support every step of the way.

Secondly, I'd like to detail why I have not posted anything in almost two months. Some of you may already know why. To sum it up in one word, it's school. I'm now devoting nearly all of my time and energy to 'doing well' at school. It hasn't been easy for me to stop writing about my philosophies. I feel as if I had to peel myself off this blog. However, the extra time I'm putting in to my studies at school is paying off. The way I look at this situation is that this blog will be here after November 2015, but school won't. Since I've got limited time in school, I might as well make the most of it.

Thirdly, a shout out to Steve Caissy. Steve, the video about your Kickboxing club is impressive. Your Kickboxing club looks like it's the real deal. I also really liked your remix of Justice. Thank you for sharing it. If anyone hasn't seen the video, I encourage them to check it out via the following link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a09vPXmrzPE

Now I shall explain why I gave this post its rather peculiar title. I, along with about 99.9% of people at my school get to and from school via bus. Each bus has about two senior students who have been given the role of 'bus captain'. It's a leadership role that I occupy. Being the bus captain involves making sure all the younger kids are behaving themselves, settling any arguments they might have, making sure they are seated properly and ticking their names off the list to keep a record of who's been traveling at what days and times. It was the ticking of this list that led me to a an opportunity for spiritual growth.

I have occupied the role of bus captain since February this year. Now days when ticking their names off the list, I normally don't need to get up out of my seat at the back of the bus. I can tell who all of the kids are by looking at the back of their heads. Sometimes however, I do have to get up and see specifically who is present in the primary area. The primaries sit at the front of the bus and are all 11 to 12 years of age. The other day I had to go up there and make sure a particular student was present. I did this and retired to my seat at the back of the bus. About 2 or 3 minutes later, they were calling me back. I thought they had a problem and jokingly said "Okay, who's just been killed". They responded by saying something that I didn't expect to hear. "Ben", some of the less mischievous ones said; "You've got a banana peel in your hoody!". The primaries were all giggling away. I laughed and put the banana peel in the bin. I went and sat back with my fellow senior students. They told me that I am far too soft and that by doing nothing to punish those who did it, I was breeding little monsters. When it comes to punishment, the power I have is to inform the students teacher, who will send a note to the students parents detailing the undesirable behaviour. It is not in my nature to do this though. For me, respect has always come from a place of love and passion, not fear and punishment. I questioned the seriousness of that kids actions. I thought, "did anyone get physically hurt?", the answer to that was "no". I did however feel a little bit embarrassed. I then thought "Is causing humiliation worthy of punishment?". This was tricky for me because it was a new situation that I had not encountered previously. I then thought of Osho. I thought of how people used to try to humiliate and deface him. I then thought of how Osho would say that he can't be hurt, for he has no self, no ego. If a person has no ego, what is there to be hurt? I then applied this teaching to my situation. I questioned why I might retaliate. It would be because I had been hurt, because my ego had been damaged. I then considered the fact that if I am to ever obtain mastery of my self, there must be no self. This situation also reminded me that there is no right or wrong. That kid putting the banana peel in my hood was movement that occurred in this Universe. What makes universal movement right or wrong? I believe it's the way we as humans view such scenarios. Like Buddha said, "With our minds, we make the world." Actions in essence are not right or wrong, they are just neutral occurrences. I consider a True Martial Art practitioner to be someone who strives to represent the never ending path that leads towards perfection. By "leads towards perfection" I mean leading the practitioner to becoming one with universal reality. It reminds me of that line from the FMK song, "Perfected Perfection". These are the ideals I try to live by in my day to day life; to be the best version of myself attainable.

I now feel like I want to thank the 11 year old who put the banana peel in my hood. His actions were a catalyst to a spiritual growth that occurred inside me. I then asked myself what I would do if a similar situation were to occur. Would I or wouldn't I punish him? I have decided that I would need to punish him if he did something similar. If respect doesn't come naturally to that 11 year old, then respect will have to be a learnt behaviour. I wouldn't punish him out of anger and revenge, I would punish him for his own good. I doubt many people in this world would be quite as open minded and lenient as I have been. People don't tend to get very far in this man made structure we call society without respect for others and themselves.

It fascinates me that something seemingly insignificant such as a banana peel could be the centre of such a valuable lesson to me. As I interpret this aspect of this lesson, I should not take any stimuli (object or event) as insignificant. Everything in our lives plays a role in shaping who we are as people, even something like a banana peel.

I wrote this blog because I wanted to share with you the details about my recent spiritually enhancing experience before they fade from my memory too much. I doubt I will produce any posts between now and the middle of November because by then I would have finished all of my final high school examinations. I already have many ideas about what I'd like to write about in future posts. Until then, keep striving towards perfection FMK! Let me say once more that to me, this new phase in the evolution of FMKs online expression is very exciting!

Thanks for Reading

Martial Art or Craft?

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 27th of July, 2015.

Good Day All
I've been thinking of late about the correlation between Arts and Crafts. I was originally led to question the essential differences and similarities between these to closely related groups of practices when some people on this blog (of whom I've forgot) wrote about the Tao or Do and the Jitsu or Jutsu. As I currently interpret it, Tao/Do signifies Artfulness and Jitsu/Jutsu signify Craftsmanship. I am more familiar with the concept and practice of Martial Art and the teachings of Tao than I am with Jitsu or Craft. At first I didn't think Martial Crafts were very prominent until I looked a bit deeper into it. Then I realised that what I consider to be Martial Craft might be more commonly found in our societies than I initially realised. The purpose of this post is to hopefully help people understand the relationship between Martial Art and, the informally recognised Martial Craft. Before I go deeper into the topic, I feel it would be best to transcribe the lexical definitions to better understand the semantics of these two practices.
                                                                                                                                                                                            

"1   Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting and sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power: the art of the Renaissance  |  great art is concerned with moral imperfections  |  she studied art in Paris.

Works produced by human creative skill and imagination: his collection of modern art  |  an exhibition of Mexican Art  |  as modifier  :  an art critic.

Creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings or sculpture:  She's good at art.

2 (the arts) the various branches of creative activity such as painting, music, literature and dance: the visual arts:  in sing  |  the art of photography.

3 (arts) subjects of study primarily concerned with the process and products of creativity and social life such as languages, literature and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects): the belief that sciences and arts are incompatible  |  the Faculty of arts.

a skill at doing a specific thing, typically one acquired through practice: the art of conversation."
                                                                                                                                 

"1   Craft: an activity involving skill in making things by hand: the craft of bookbinding  |  pewter craft.

* (crafts) work or objects made by hand: the shop sells local crafts.  |  (as modifier craft)  :  a craft fair.

skill in carrying out ones work: a player with plenty of craft.

skill used in deceiving others: her cousin was not equal in guile and evasive craft.

* the members of a skilled profession.

* (the craft)  the brotherhood of Freemasons."

Definitions sourced from the New American Oxford Dictionary (on iPad).                                                                         

According to the definitions in this dictionary, art and craft are similar phenomena. If I were to summarise the relationship between art and craft, I would say that art is more about being self expressive, whereas craft is more so about practicality. To better illustrate this relationship, I've come up with a fictional scenario that I'll share. This requires a bit of imagination so try to visualise it in your head.

Case Study

Bob and Phil earn their incomes by doing city maintenance work. Recently, they were both asked to construct new footpaths on both sides of a street. They agreed to work on one side of the road each. Bob uses large concrete slabs to create his footpath section by section. His footpath is smooth and easy to walk on. Bob prides himself on creating elegant, smooth and practical footpaths. Phil decides to take a different approach. Phil uses smaller slabs of various materials. He wanted to create a footpath that is aesthetically pleasing unique in contrast to other, common, plainer footpaths (such as Bobs). Phil's footpath is designed in such a way, that the combination of how the slabs are shaped and the colour and tone of each section of the footpath for example, reflects how he feels about the cities physical environment and culture. Phil's footpath is just as easy and safe to walk on as Bobs one.

End of Case Study

To summarise this simply, they both produced practical, safe footpaths for the people of the city to enjoy. For Bob and Phill to get this far, a certain degree of skill and dedication was required. This is craft. Bob stopped there, but Phil took it further. In addition to being safe and practical, Phill saw opportunity to express himself. He designed the footpath so that it would be an illustration of his spiritual relationship with the city. This is art. Art most often builds on craft. A craftsman may have constructed a functional vase, and an artist may have painted it. Art and craft are a similar phenomenon and the line that differentiates the two is often blurry, partially due to it often being in different contexts. The martial practices are not an exception to this. Now we must apply this concept to our favourite practices of discussion - combative physical activities.

Martial Art today is marketed to us as stylistic products. The practice if it is commonly laid out in systematic formats. Someone might join a Aikido school for example. He/she will be told to follow a curriculum. Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969) gathered and fine tuned the content of Aikido would have been very creative to formulate the expression. Therefore, Aikido was his created expression, his art. Generations later what is Aikido to the practitioner? Art or Craft? Allegedly the student will be learning practical skills for self defence. The practical application is the fundamental element of craft. The Aikido student will also be practicing the self defence in a very unique, stylistic way. This is because it is Morihei Ueshiba's expression. The practitioner is expressing an art, but is it true to his/her inner self? In most cases that I can think of, the answer is no. The practitioner is not expressing something from his/her inner self, he/she is expressing a style, someone else's expression. But he/she is still expressing, which is half of what produces pure art. The other half is the self, which is largely absent. So in a sense it is art, but not completely. Does this mean the Aikido practitioner is simply a craftsman? This is where the line between Martial Art and Craft becomes incredibly blurry. It is not entirely art, nor is it entirely craft. Because the practice of a system such as Aikido goes beyond being a practical skill set (craft), I believe that, although it isn't true art when being practiced by the student because it's not coming from the student intrinsically, it is closer to art than craft because it's still an expression with a degree of creativity.

Based on this way of viewing the phenomenon in question, it would be plausible to categorise common, communal, systematic expressions including Taekwondo, Hapkido, Tang Soo do, Taekkyeon, Hwa Rang Do, Karate, Judo, Ninjutsu, Kendo and all systems of Kung Fu just to name a few, as art. They were true art to the people who invented of formulated the system, but to everyone else in the world, I do not see how it can be categorised as art that is true to their inner self. It can be an art of which they practice, nothing more. The practitioner can only become a true Martial Artist when he/she chooses to express his or herself in addition too or instead of a system. If true Martial Art were to be practiced by everyone on this planet, there would be approximately seven billion styles/unique expressions.

What of Martial Crafts in our Western societies? Let's look at Boxing as an example. Boxing is a comprehensive system of punching. It is commonly practiced for competitive purposes around the world. However, the punches of boxing are very applicable to self defence. Self defence is another reason as to why people might take up Boxing. However, is there the element of artistic creativity? Most often the answer would be 'no'. For the wide spread communal practice of Boxing, the aim is to be proficient in self defence and/or competition, not to be self expressive in an artistic way. That's not to say that an individual can't learn the martial techniques of Boxing and incorporate them into his/her own expression. A Martial Craft such as Boxing can be a great form of supplementation towards one's individual expression of Martial Art. Another System that I would consider to be a Martial Craft is Krav Mega, a system that emphasises practicality and efficiency. On a communal level, it isn't a practice of creative self expression. It is a skill set developed purely for the purpose of survival. Krav Mega is a prime example of what I consider to be a Martial Craft.

I myself find this to be a very confusing topic. It has been sitting in the back of my mind for the past 11 months of so. I will now state it all as simply as I currently can. Now, think of a spectrum. A Martial Craft is a skill set of techniques accumulated for the soul purpose of having practical application in a life threatening situation. A Martial Craft such as Boxing and Krav Mega are located on the left end of the spectrum. In the middle of the spectrum is Martial Art. Martial Arts are skill sets of combative techniques that have the added elements of creativity end expressiveness. Common examples of this are Taekwondo, Karate and Kung Fu systems such as Wing Chun and Hung Garr. On the right end of the spectrum is true Martial Art. True Martial Art is not normally community based. It is practiced on an individual level. It is not just expressive, it is self expressive, which means the practitioner is transcribing his emotions into martial techniques, peacefully. By "peacefully" I mean that no physical, mental or emotional harm comes to the practitioner and/or anyone else as a result of the practice. True art is an honest expression coming from within ones soul. True Martial Art is an honest expression coming from within ones soul, physically expressed with combative techniques. Bruce Lee was an example of someone who practiced true Martial Art. Some people who I consider to be practitioners of True Martial Art today include Freddie Lee and No Limit Technique.

In my opinion, Martial Crafts, Martial Arts and True Martial Art are all fantastic. If you are looking for something to practice, weather you decide to take up what I consider to be a Martial Craft or a Martial Art, it doesn't really matter. Both have their benefits. I do encourage you to use what you learn from studying an art or craft system, and integrate the useful content into your own creative expression. Just as Bruce Lee famously stated; "Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own". I encourage you to walk the path of a true Martial Artist. This should empower you to be the best possible version of yourself that can be discovered.

Relevant webpage:
http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-art-and-craft/


Thank You for Reading

Maintaining a Perspective

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 7th of July, 2015.

I found these two videos to be intriguing and rather eye opening. What about you?






Notable Individuals - Lawrence Tan

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 27th of June, 2015.


Lawrence Tan has been a practitioner of Martial Art for over 50 years. He never quite felt tranquil within himself growing up in a family of Chinese immigrants in America. As a thirteen year old he lived in a neighbourhood were in his own words; "there were mainly whites, there were very few Chinese". He suffered from racial prejudice as he was constantly referred to as "Jap", "nip" and "chink". The Chinese community laughed at him for he did not speak a Chinese language. This resulted in Tan not feeling like he belonged anywhere. He saw Bruce Lee's films when they were originally released in cinemas. After seeing what Bruce Lee was doing on the big screen, he had a feeling that Gung Fu was something that he had to do. Finding a place to learn a Chinese system, however, proved to be very difficult. He then took something else on the basis of availability - Karate.

One day a friend of his came to visit him from Taiwan. During a sparring session his friend used techniques that Tan hadn't yet seen. After having his leg swept and consequently falling to the ground, he asked his friend "What was that?". His friend replied "It was Gung Fu." This further compelled Tan to find a place to learn a Chinese system. He went to his local Chinatown and looked deeper than he ever had. He felt that because that it came from China it affirmed his heritage and the fact that it had a philosophical foundation helped nurture a very philosophical and spiritual side that felt right for him.

Finding work as a fight choreographer for movies, Tan was able to fund a trip to the Shoalin Temple in China in 1984. What he found was truly enlightening, but not in the way he expected it to be. At first tan thought that by going back to the Shoalin Temple, he was going back to the very essence of Martial Art. He thought, as many do when venturing to the Shoalin Temple, that they were tracing Martial Art back to its very source, to see Martial Art exist in its most purest form. In actuality, China's government had long turned the Shoalin Temple into a tourist trap! "It was like a Chinese Disney land." said Tan. Most of the monks new little to nothing about meditation, enlightenment and spirituality in general. Tan spoke of an instance when he ascended from his slumber at 2am to see the monks meditating. On his way there, he saw one monk practicing what looked like Western Boxing. The Shoalin Temple is generally the last place one would expect to see the practice of Western Boxing for obvious reasons. Tan asked the monk why he was practicing this. The monk replied; "Chinese Gong Fu superior, but Boxing more efficient to learn and more practical in combat". I personally find this statement to be truly profound, especially considering the fact that it came from a monk in the Shoalin Temple. Tan then spent time at a training academy for boys located across the road from the temple. The level of discipline these young practitioners had was unlike anything Tan had seen in America. However, their motivations were again, not what he expected them to be. These young practitioners wanted to be China's next Bruce Lee, they wanted to make it in to Hollywood through martial practice, not physical, mental and spiritual cultivation through martial practice. Weather he found what he expected to find or not, Tan gained a lot of wisdom from his time at the Shoalin Temple.

Tan stresses the importance of understanding the differences between East and West as the ways of thinking and learning are very different. Over years gone by, Tan has observed that the traditional Chinese way of learning is much more based on mimicry. The master has a lot more knowledge and experience. The master knows what he is doing, therefore, the student follows what the master does. Over time the student will intuitively grasp it. The Western way is much more analytical. It prefers to break something down and analyse each small detail in order to gain an intellectual comprehension. When Tan was asked where he fits in between East and West, he replied; "Back and forth like a yoyo!".

Lawrence Tan now resides in the city of New York where he teaches his personal expression of Martial Art, formatted into a system he invented to make his expression more accessible for those with no experience. The etymology of Tandao is fairly obvious in being 'the Tao of Lawrence Tans expression'. It is important to note that the Tandao system is not the be all end all definition of Lawrence Tans expression of Martial Art, the Tandao system more so serves to market his expression and to provide his students with a good foundation.

In recent years Tan created an online web series on blip called Tandao Fight Lab. This is how I discovered him. Tandao fight lab episodes are aimed at who Tan refers to as "the evolving Martial Artist.". In Tandao fight lab, Tan demonstrates how techniques from the forms of classical Gung Fu systems can be applied in common street scenarios and against the 'modern techniques' of a combat sport practitioner. Each episode runs for approximately 2 to 4 minutes. A relative of mine saw some of Lawrence Tans technique and questioned if Tan was/is as legitimate as he claims to be. My opinion on the matter is that regardless of how well he may appear to execute techniques, he has great knowledge. His knowledge grants him versatility, this would be his main advantage in a combative situation. I have found his Tandao fight lab episodes to be very beneficial to my training. They have deepened my insight into the wisdom of classical Gung Fu. I believe Lawrence Tans heart is geared towards expressing the Martial Way.

Be sure to check out...

Lawrence Tans Website: http://www.tandao.com

Lawrence Tan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TanDaoKungFu

Tandao Fight Lab on Blip: http://blip.tv/tandao-fight-lab

TanDaoKungFu on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/user/TanDaoKungFu

TanDaoKungFu on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/tandaokungfu

Lawrence Tan was also interviewed in this ineresting documentary: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mxMxoE4uoMo

Here's a good video of Lawrence Tan demonstration his expression.

TanDao Fight Lab #14 - Kung Fu Within The Flow



I particularly like this video that was taken in 2005. Tan takes Martial Art to the class room, educating people about the history of Martial Art, how in the 21st century it's being represented, and what he thinks the future has in store for Martial Art. If you are to watch anything from Lawrence Tan THEN WATCH THIS!!!!

Chinese Martial Arts: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow



Thank You For Reading!

Notable Individuals - Introduction

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 24th of June, 2015.

Hello All

This post is an introduction to an upcoming series of blog posts. I am planning to create a short blog series that will shed light on people who are, in my opinion, promoting true Martial Art.

There are people in this world that practice true Martial Art. They are intelligent people. For the most part, they are hidden; by which I mean that they are not known of in the eyes of the public. A few however, have decided to share Martial Art with others through many different methods and have gained various degrees of publicity such as Freddie Lee has. Some choose to do this by teaching students through using systems as tools sets to build good foundations, but not by preaching dependence on the systems they teach. Rather they, as do all good teachers, work on installing independence in their students - to no longer being reliant on the system for martialy artful expression. This can be viewed as being similar to raising children, but in Martial Art. Others choose to take more informal approaches and teach in more spontaneous ways from day one. They simply express what is within them via the execution of martial techniques, free from restriction in all stages of the teacher/student relationship that a system may impose.

Every practitioner I wright about is alive at the time of posting. That is the fundamental essance of this series. Putting it simply, they are people who are alive today and are currently putting themselves out there to promote the essence of Martial Art in their own ways.

I hope you will enjoy the series.

Martial Art - A Combative Dance!

*Originally posted on the FMK blog on the 13th of June, 2015.

Hi All

Last night (12/5/15) was one of the most enjoyable nights I have ever lived. I attended my schools year 12 formal - the second formal event I've attended to date. The event went from 7pm to 11pm. My elder sister did a great job in helping me find a suit for the event. We found it from a shop called 'yd' (http://m.yd.com.au/product/528041?CategoryId=1321). My formal attire was/is a grey skinny suit with a grey vest (black on the back), a black skinny fit shirt with little light blue poker dots and a red tie. The event was held at Ascot House in Ascot Vale - Melbourne (http://www.ascothouse.com.au). The hospitality provided at Ascot House was perhaps of the highest standard I've ever experienced. The food was brilliant. I couldn't finish all of it as it was rather heavy. When ever the jugs on our table were half empty, waiters would take it away and provide a full one.

The music the DJ played was pretty good. It was easy to dance to, and as such, something was brought out from within me that I never realised I had. I can dance!!!  I'm normally a pretty quiet and reserved person. I don't even have a personal Facebook page. When I walked into the venue I didn't even know it I would dance or not, but the music brought out a side of me that I didn't know I had. When most people were dancing, they were bobbing up and down in addition to moving their arms a bit. I started with the "bobbing up and down". My dancing turned out to consist of moves that purely existed in the moment and were inspired by traditional Gung Fu and Freddie Lee's Gung Fu dance. Then moves that I've learnt in my Tai Chi class quickly took over. These moves were executed at the speed that I felt the music was dictating I execute them. I suppose when Tai Chi forms (which largely consist of circular movements) are practiced at a fast pace, it looks rather flashy. Within about one minute, people were circled around me. Within 3 minutes almost all the 120 or so people were circled around me. I was just being self expressive. A by-product of this evidently was that people found me somewhat intriguing to watch I presume. This happened a couple of times. After the first time it happend, people were coming up to me, shaking my hand and complementing me. I was also complementing other people during the night.

After a while, another guy who does WTF Taekwondo tried to integrate what he knows into dancing. His moves were very linear and combatively clear cut. He is not yet independent of the system. I doubt he ever will be but regardless of that, I encouraged him to keep it up. I suppose what he was doing was really clear cut Martial Craft. Although practical in combat, his moves didn't seem to be harmoniously synchronised with the music. My moves, which as I mentioned were inspired by Freddie Lee and Chinese expressions were much more fluent, circular and the martial application was to the untrained eye, largely un-obvious. At one point someone was encouraging us to have a dance off. I half heartedly participated with a playful spirit but lost interest pretty quickly.

A plus one guest came up to me and said "Oh my god your dancing is so cool! It's like combative but it's like it's not!" She asked me to teach her a few of my dance moves and I was happy to oblige. I was honestly flattered that she was taking such an interest in the expression that was coming from my heart. She didn't quite grasp it technical side of the technique but it was still very fun and regardless, I was very happy with the effort and enthusiasm she displayed. Another instance was when three other guys who I danced a bit with me said "You lead and we'll follow!". We did moves I learnt in my Tai Chi class such as stroke the white horses main, rooster stands on one leg, wave hands like clouds and brush knee push hand.

At the year 12 formal I was able to share what I have to express with others. I wasn't trying to impress people but as a side effect of my self expressiveness on the dance floor I became more popular than I ever have been. The headmaster even came up to me and complemented me on my dancing. All of this attention presented a new challenge to me. That challenge was to be able to cope with newfound popularity whilst remaining humble. There were opportunities for the ego to take control; however, when those opportunities arose I consciously recognised the ugliness of the ego and said "No". The egos assertion doesn't feel good. I know the ego is not me and so on the odd occasion when it did try to assert its self, I was quick to tighten its lead.

For the most part though, the dancing was like a meditation. In meditation there is no ego. It was nice to have a platform to share my creativity with others, and just as significantly, to have my individual expression of Martial Art widely embraced by others. I think that perhaps the reason that I had so much energy at the formal was because for the number of months gone by, most of what I've done has been academic study. As this is my last year of high school I've tried to remain as focused on my studies as possible. The unfortunate result of this sedentary activity is that I have been lacking variety. It's important for me to remember that I've only got four months of classes left before exams. Year 12 is a short year.

In conclusion I had a fantastically brilliant time that will be remembered in years to come. I gained a deeper insight into the realms of creative martial expression. I also gained practice and a deeper insight into my own ability to interact with other people at social events whilst remaining true to myself. By that I mean knowing how much assertion is enough. Not being shy yet not being cocky. It reminded me of a quote from Bruce Lee's book Tao of Kung Fu located on page 30: "A Gung Fu man, then, should be soft - yet not yielding; firm - yet not hard.". Finally I'd like to thank: all my friends/classmates for just being there and making the formal the epic night it was, my elder sister for helping me select an awesome suit and I'd also like to thank my Dad for being a legend and driving me all the way down to Ascot House in Melbourne and back home - each trip took over an hour.

Thanks For Reading