I'll try to keep this on the shorter side as a blog entry, but I could write or talk about kung fu all day. There are so many places to begin, so i'll just start by saying that the art that we study is a wonderfully fascinating human experience and very personal/spiritual journey that we are really proud to be a part of. The impact that it has had on both of us in such a short amount of time as really brought out some well needed internal character developments and written a short story worth a novel.
When i first started studying, my dad (who is turning 80 this year!) asked me what kung fu is. He had heard about it like most people, but didn't really know the difference between other martial arts, and kinda grouped it in with Karate picturing the local C.S. Kim or "KARATE" mall type places. Lots of yelling and "Ki-yas"! Kung Fu is a little different. Well I guess the particular style we study is. The majority of the martial arts community might agree that kung fu styles can be categorized into Northern or Southern Chinese characteristics, internal (energy) or external (physical) styles. Than Vo Dao (our style) is a mix of Northern and Southern, with both internal and external practices. It has been passed from Master to disciple, with very little written account or structured learning process. Only the will and dedication of the disciple (along with their karma!) combined with the watchful eye and sharp mental training of the Master, has this art survived for thousands of years! When compared with other styles or searching for some sort of identity in the arts, it might be fitting to consider us the humble long-haired travelers and free-spirit buddhist/taoist practitioners of the martial arts community.
So question... what is the practice like? Do you guys carry buckets of water up flights of stairs and do flips and stuff? Short answer... No we don't. A lot of that stuff is from the movies or for entertainment or showy purposes. The art we study has very practical applications for self defense, physical and mental health, internal awareness, spiritual development, focus and peace of mind. There are so many people suffering with many types of illnesses and struggling through poverty, Kung Fu is like a physical and spiritual practice of self-determination and discipline to conquer many of life's obstacles. Its not an easy path to take, but rewards from it can be great!
We practice forms, weapons, and sparring together. Classes can be structured sometimes, but often you might find it like joining a studio arts class. Relaxed setting and families welcome, its very different from many martial arts schools out there. We like to meditate and practice chi kung (breathing exercise) too. Nothing crazy or super structured, but it really helps focus, repair or build energy, clear the mind among many other health benefits. Kung Fu can be literally translated to "the labor of man" or "hard work".. which it is! But after gaining some discipline and balance, the work becomes very fulfilling in itself; striving towards an unbreakable "walking meditation" through the modern world.
Hope you enjoy my introduction to our world and perspective on the art! My posts on Kung Fu might jump topics often, but feel free to comment or ask questions. Hope to hear from you!