A love of the different and the far away, a desire of “I want to be able to do that”, and a convenient location to the Sorcerer’s Tower — the tabletop gaming store I frequented — would find me in the “Hong Kong Action” section at the movie rental hotspot Groovy Movies A-Go-Go. Past the counter-culture magazines, past the more popular flix, and tucked in a cramped middle section were the films that caught my eye. Destructive kaiju, hopping horrors, long eyebrowed warriors, and Kung Fu masters. Ninety minute epics of fantastic human feats and bad dubbing. I wanted to do kung fu. Take my body to its highest potential. Train with my very own sifu(師傅) and eat steamed buns. Mmmmm steamed buns. My journey towards a yoga practice begins.
It is not easy though. This kung fu takes hard work and the many montages of strenuous training and discipline reinforce that this takes dedication. Push-ups on knuckles over burning incense, daily trips up the ancient stairs to the top of the mountain, group training on the stone courtyard, and hours upon hours of cleaning the monastery. Cleaning! What!? Skill is not only achieved through punches and kicks. Lessons are everywhere. Awareness may not be keen enough to pick up on it — yet — but the slap on the head by your teacher will bring forth the glimpse of enlightenment. But, a teacher can not be around forever. The evil master from the rival school may end their life or a mission my take you far away. Then what? The first battles on your own are lost. Even the dirty bum beats you. It is not the end. Learn from the experience. Remember what sifu would say. Even cleaning the floor has potential for learning. Embrace the knowledge gained. Walk back into town. Your ten swords strapped tight your belt. Remember the good that comes from hard work. The good that shines from even a warrior. Kick some ass.
Then the film ends. Time persists and experience tells us that Kung Fu does not mean martial arts(wushu). Many of the kung fu masters are buddhist monks? Kung fu is a way of learning. A way of life. A way to Yoga. Continuous discipline, study, open mindedness. Calm collective thought and breathing. Rigidity only gets you as far as the bad guy and they lose. Except in “The Karate Kid.” In that western action movie the bad guy stars. Daniel is not a good person think about that the next time you watch it.
Kung fu(Gong fu, 功夫) – a practice of hard work on the part of the practitioner to move towards mastery in a skill. Extended amounts of time put into study. Energy expended towards the skill. Patience.
Yoga – Yogas citta vrtti nirodha. Yoga smooths out the mind’s fluctuations. Balance.
So who wins? It’s all yoga if awareness is present. Trying to stay present in the moment is hard work; is kung fu. Is Yoga. Is everywhere. The link is for your enjoyment. Be well, see you at practice.