Time Travel

This is another post directed specifically with my black belts in mind but I am sharing it publicly in hopes others may benefit.

In last week's black belt class I introduced the concept of time traveling to my students. The purpose of the lesson was to expand the way they were looking at the six harmonies and how they go about perfecting them within each technique. I made a statement that a good black belt is a time traveler who can manipulate time. Upon further discussion with one of my black belts, I realized that the term time traveler is not totally accurate as it implies certain aspects that are not possible. A better term would be 'time manipulator' but I think I will cater my Doctor Who fetish and use 'Time Lord'.

I assume that we all can agree that time is affected by perception. If you're having a good time, time flies by. If you're reading this post and find it boring, time just crawls by. If we agree that perception can affect time, then we have to agree that time is not linear, perception-wise. It is this lack of linearity that creates the concepts of real speed and apparent speed and colloquial terms like 'flat footed'. It is non-linearity that opens time up to be manipulated by a skilled practitioner. To put it another way, you don't need to actually be fast, you just need to be perceived fast by your opponent. Manipulating time is a skill every black belt must master. As you age and your reflexes slow, you have to find other means to maintain your speed.

As a Time Lord you will have a deeper understanding of the six harmonies, starting with pureness of intent. The method we covered last black belt class was specifically addressing Hung and achieving harmonization of your hips and shoulders when adding the explosive beginning to the form. Rather than starting at the beginning of the technique and trying to time your body based upon the beginning, we practiced starting at the end of the technique, in this case the double block, and working our way backwards to the beginning. If intent is pure, all the points upon the line of application will support the end result. So start with the end result and use it as a trigger to how to begin. Be a Time Lord.

"There is no truth. There is only perception." - Gustavo Flaubert (1821 - 1880)

Jeff Brinker

Fields of Scruffy

You may or may not have noticed that there are always fresh flowers on the altar. Right now, there is a bouquet of scruffy white daisies. Once or twice a year when my daisies are in bloom I have the chance to provide the flowers for the altar right from my own garden. I kinda puff with pride when I see them as I know I'm contributing, even if in a small, unnoticeable way.

Ever since Sifu Brinker decided to always have fresh flowers I've been doing my best to ensure they are there. It warms my heart to do this small thing. I feel pride when I look around the kwoon and I can see where I've left my mark. Literally and figuratively. 

Taking ownership in the kwoon has helped my own training tremendously. When you take pride in something you have you tend to take better care of it; when you take pride in what you do you tend to try and do it well. As it is mentioned, we are family and the kwoon is our home. I am proud and humbled to be a part of your life and training, and I want the best for us. So, I try to take care of our home. 

I encourage all of you to find some daily part of the kwoon that you can take ownership of. The grass, the grounds, the plants, the planters. Or just round up the dust bunnies when they appear. Something tangible that helps you feel like it is a home you can be proud knowing you're a part of. The school will be only a school to you until you make it your home. When it becomes your home it becomes a part of you and I promise you the returns are a thousand fold.

Khona Rybak

Acts of Kindness

One of the proudest moments of my teaching career came from a comment one of my students overheard in a restaurant across the street from my school. A couple of senior ladies were at the till to pay for their meal when they were told by the waitress that someone had already paid their bill. One of the senior’s commented “I bet it was one of those kung fu guys across the street. They believe in acts of kindness.”

How great is that? Traditional martial arts are definitely as much about kindness as they are about kicking and punching. The fact that two senior ladies who have never trained in kung fu know this, shows that Silent River Kung Fu’s influence and efforts are being recognized by our community. My responsibility as an educator is to ensure these esoteric values are also recognized and embraced by my students.

The challenge we who train in the traditional martial arts face is not unlike the challenge facing society in general. Many of us make decisions based upon fear and while that is understandable, especially if you feel threatened, it is not always the most logical or productive approach to nullifying a threat.

A person who only trains to fight, will only have one option in a conflict. Kung fu teaches empathy and compassion and It teaches us how to physically protect ourselves. It is the strength of our character and our empathy that gives us the option of resolving conflict without violence, and the wisdom to recognize that option exists.

Don’t weaponize yourself or your children out of fear. There are so many other things that are much more likely to harm us than kick or a punch. We all are getting our butts kicked everyday more by our acceptance of mediocrity, our limiting beliefs, our diets, our poor relationship skills, and our indifference. Don’t train to fight. Train to live.

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” - Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969)

Jeff Brinker

Wage Peace

I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world. -Sadako Sasaki

Today there are countless children in this country alone who have not known a time of peace. The wars in the world may not physically reach our borders but we are all affected. Every life that is lost in result of a bomb dropped or a missile launched, distant or not, is a loss to humanity for the potential of those lives will never be fulfilled and the knowledge, progress and lessons this world may have benefitted from is lost with them. Compassion has to start with those who have the ability to be merciless, for those people also hold the power to be empathetic.

Several weeks ago the childrens classes participated in folding cranes for peace. I have a box of cranes folded by these kids waiting to be strung together and eventually shipped to Hiroshima. I am humbled every time I look at it. My hope is to instill the value of empathy and compassion into these kids, to teach them that these are the qualities that give people the ability to change the world. Making intelligent, informed and compassionate decisions will ultimately create a more compassionate world to live in. Ignorance breeds fear and resentment which leads to indifference and violence. 

I do not know how reach every individual in the world. However I intend to reach as many as I can in hope that they will someday reach others. And I know that this school is the best vessel I know of. The cranes we fold are an invaluable means, a tangible symbol of compassion and empathy. 

One little girl was able to reach across the world with her plea for peace. Imagine if a whole generation did the same.

This is our Cry. This is our Prayer. Peace in the world.

Khona Rybak