Showing posts from May, 2012

"Kitchen training"

Many years ago I was at the house of my friend (and student) Damon. We were studying for our final law school exams. During a break I was absentmindedly going through some kata movements (I recall that it was seipai kata from goju ryu) when one of Damon's other law school buddies, a fellow named Ian, came around for a visit. Seeing me performing the kata in Damon's small kitchen Ian furrowed his brow and shook his head in mild irritation. "Why do you guys keep doing that stuff?" "What 'stuff' do you mean?" "You know - that 'Ha so karrrateee!' business. I kind of get why you might do it in classes, but what the hell makes you want to do it standing around in... someone's kitchen for God's sake!" I was a bit taken aback by Ian's critical response to my impromptu practice. Among traditional martial artists this sort of "training" is really quite common. The next time you're with a karate friend, notice h

Deconstructing form: the bridge between "learning" and "applying"

In just over a week's time three of my students will be departing for Taiwan to train directly with my teacher, Chen Yun Ching. Two of them will become third generation bai shi . I am deeply honoured to have my students recognised in this manner and proud of all three of them. I know that they are going to have an amazing , if not life-altering , experience. I am saddened that I won't be able to be there with them to see it happen, but life does not always deal us the cards we would like to have and I am grateful for those that I have previously been dealt! So in the last few trainings I have been placed in a bit of a quandary: how can I best prepare my students for their trip? After all, I know only too well what sort of thing they can expect. They can expect to be thrust into an intensive learning environment, with new forms, techniques and concepts being thrown at them like grapeshot from a cannon. In order to absorb as much useful material as they can, and hence

My article in Blitz Magazine

At the start of this year (I'm not sure when) an article I wrote about my last trip to Taiwan was published in Australasia's leading martial arts magazine, Blitz. I'm really terrible at these sorts of things and somehow didn't even remember to buy a copy! In any event, it is now available on-line, so you can read it there. The article is edited down from the one I wrote (I can, as one fellow told me recently, get a bit verbose!) but it is more or less intact. In it I tried to layout the essential flavour of the trip, the nature of the training and the experience. It became apparent that, as always, words really are inadequate for describing such a life-changing event. So I'm afraid that I have ended up with rather more of a "itinerary description" than anything else. Still, I hope my readers will find it of some interest. I'd like to thank my senior, James Sumarac, for inviting me to write the article and for giving me the chance to come to