International Festival

It’s always a pleasure to perform, especially to some energizing beats :). Two of my passions are Filipino and Chinese martial arts, and I enjoyed sharing both of these.

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Tae Kwon Do Breaking Me In

My first serious art. Who was the first real inspiration? Tekken 2’s Hwoarang. After all, which 13 year old boy who was bullied in middle school did not want to be a badass like the guy who wore motorcycle leather gear, had bleached hair, and fought in underground matches for money? The high kicks in the video games and the super athletic maneuvers to achieve his objectives. Of course it would attract a kid with low self confidence and a mountain of restless energy. I could be like those guys in the Olympics! I could be like Hwoarang, fighting in the streets for money! I could be a badass biker who beat folks up and didn’t ask questions. But mostly, I just wanted to be able to walk around without fear of other human beings.

I pushed myself hard during those first two years. At least, I pushed myself hard by my teenage standards at the time. There were some other major influences, to be described in a future post, but for the most part, I had bought into the methods and approach that my teacher at the time showed me. My body was still relatively new to any intense physical activity with a goal of strengthening my body and helping my mind focus, so of course I spent the first few months in a constant state of soreness, sometimes to the point where I could barely walk with the right posture. Looking back, and utilizing what I have learned from my time toiling at the “Art of Punching and Kicking”, as my teacher at the time called it, it has been sneakily beautiful, both in application and in how it has affected my approach. Learning to be accurate, fast, and non-telegraphic have been the biggest key takeaways from application perspectives, and learning to be symmetrical in training has been the key takeaway. Now, to get off of my martial arts nerd platform, Tae Kwon Do is an excellent art to start your journey with, especially if you were a kid in need of self belief, and it’s easy to find. It could be a lifelong pursuit AND a great bridge to others :).

(One of) My Why(s)

Martial arts often carries with it a certain image, some may say stigma. Even people who have experience with it often do not know what to make of someone who trains in it regularly. A question that practitioners are often asked is “Why?” I ask this about myself and many others sometimes. There does not seem to be an obvious benefit. Most serious martial artists do not make any significant income from their passion, the training is often tedious, repetitive, and sometimes painful. Even for combat goals, there is often not an obvious, immediate benefit. These people often have full time, unrelated jobs, families to care for, and other interests competing for their time, energy, and money. So what are some of the reasons for them to stick through and continue this pursuit? My most recent why is, the camaraderie.

My camaraderie that I feel with my mentors, from Coach Helder Gomes, to my Tai Ji teacher Dr. Tim Lee, to the Balintawak Cuentada community and my instructor Jeff Soriano , my Bagua teacher Matthew Staley, to my Gong Fu brothers on both the East and West Coasts, there is a unique sense of cohesiveness, and this allows for a special way of interacting. This is probably because we motivate each other, probably because we know that there are many other forces that seek to screech our practices to a halt, or because we have all heard of the stories. These stories are of masters, villains, battles, and attainment of inhuman skills. They play on our fantasies that  we have had since being young boys and girls watching Wuxia television, Power Rangers, and Bruce Lee. Because of these reasons, and the relationships that form from it, my life is much richer than it would be without it.

Comfort in discomfort

A quote that I heard from a work mentor is that to be successful, “one must become comfortable being uncomfortable”. This is a quote that, after thinking about it and reflecting on my own experiences, I am a believer in. Every time throughout my life, whether it was going to a boarding high school for 11th and 12th grade, understanding the physical and psychological intensity of boxing, traveling to Australia as a 16 year old and meeting new people, or facing fears in human Continue reading “Comfort in discomfort”