I first heard of kung fu after getting beat up on the school yard. My dad sat down with me to watch a couple of Bruce Lee movies in the hopes of getting me interested. I was so fascinated by the concept of one guy taking on an army alone and coming out on top. Within the week I had enrolled in an after school martial arts class. I showed up every day, eager to learn. But the experience left me unfulfilled. I wanted more and I knew there was more for me to learn. It was something that would not happen until many years later.
Fast forward past the growth from child to adolescent, and from adolescent to adulthood, and all of the teen angst that came and went. Thank God that nonsense is over! By this time, I had done more research into Kung Fu and Chinese Marital Arts, as it was still unfamiliar to me. I didn’t know where to begin. Consequently, I began to feel that same sense of lack-of-fulfillment I had felt before, and returned to the grind of work, school, and sleep. I bumped into a coworker (Uncle Sickness) who seemed to be seeking me out. The workplace was nothing but worthless, high school level gossip. He heard the rumors spread about me, and wanted to find out for himself. For the next several weeks, we chatted about the workplace environment and all of its flaws, philosophy, despite my youth and lack of knowledge on the subject, and all the wonders and hilarity we have stumbled across on the internet. Then we started talking about kung fu. I became known as his “disciple” by our coworkers and around the building. They weren’t wrong. He shared his experiences with me and a couple fundamental principles and concepts of the two styles he practiced.
The first, Xing Yi Quan, a style that applies the mechanics of pole arms to the human body and hand to hand combat. It emphasizes soft or internal strength rather than hard or external strength, generating it in the body before directing it in a burst of power to your foe quickly. The second style, Bagua Zhang or “Eight Trigram Palm,” emphasizes adaptation and circles within circles within circles. This style remains difficult for me to grasp and I have much more to learn before I become a proficient practitioner.