Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kung Fu Update

I forgot to mention in my last post that I'm meeting tonight with the instructor and a student of one of the Kung Fu schools I emailed a short while back. The odd thing isn't that the meeting won't be until 8:00 tonight. It's that we're meeting at TGI Friday's! I'm not lying.

This, of course, brings all kinds of odd thoughts to my already off centered mind. Such as "Hmmm, the waiter is not wearing enough flair. Watch me use my five finger death punch on him!" Bonus points for those who know in which movie "flair" figured prominently.

I admit that I'm a bit excited to start studying kung fu again. Though I'm quick to also admit that I'm being very cautious about getting my hopes up. Several times I've visited schools with the hope of learning their system, only to find that what I thought was an authentic system actually isn't. To some, that isn't that big a deal. To me, it is. While I loved the Shaolin five animal style I studied while in Suffolk, Virginia, my joy was deeply diminished when my instructor started calling himself "Master" and his teacher "Grand Master" of their style. The other students and I also discovered that many of our forms were lifted completely from other styles and schools - and even a videotape or two. I soon had to reconcile myself to the fact that the style I was learning was not a product of ancient Chinese kung fu wisdom, but a chaotic mish mash. That was the second time that happened to me. The first time, you might recall from a previous post was when a "Shaolin Kempo" school I attended (and no, there's no such thing. Shaolin is monestary that's credited -perhaps inaccurately - with starting kung fu, Kempo is something else entirely)started saying that they were now part of the until now ultra secret "Kirin (Mythological Chinese Unicorn) Kung Fu Style." I hate falling for the same trick twice!

There's another fib that instructors sometimes tell - in addition to the "our style's the best (or the oldest, or the most "authentic")" cliche that has been tossed about since martial arts were invented. Here I'm talking about the expression of paranoia. Say there's a horrible event in the community - an assault, a murder, or a domestic dispute that makes the news. Sometimes what happens is that as the community is shocked, the local martial arts schools fall over themselves to offer free lessons (temporarily, of course!) to concerned citizens. Everyone needs to learn basic self defense, and we're just the school to teach you! Then once you get there, the instructors take every opportunity to tell you that you have no idea how dangerous the world is out there. Why, there may be 15 sociopaths waiting for you in the parking lot of this very strip mall! Never mind what's waiting for you all along the way home. Why, it's a wonder you're still alive! You better get involved with our program, because that's the only way you and your kids are going to keep breathing here!

So I'm hoping not to hear either one of those lines tonight. Hopefully, somewhere between the appetizer and dessert (depending on whether or not I eat before the meeting), I'll have a good time, get my questions answered - like why a Chinese Kung Fu system teaches Japanese weapons (a small point, perhaps, but to me it's a potential red flag), and find a place where I can work out, learn something, and lose about 20 pounds of unnecessary flab that seems to have taken up residence around my midsection. I'm too young for a receeding hairline and beer belly!

More later.

1 comment:

Chris Cottingham said...

Office Space.

I think.

Should I "get in shape" (for me, I mean - knowing what you do of my shapely pillsbury doughboyness) before starting a martial arts program?