The Praying Mantis

I had always been amazed by the Praying Mantis.  For an insect it seemed to be very graceful and had human like movements at times.  I am a discovery Channel fan and used to watch Nova as a kid.  I always loved nature shows.

I had also seen the Mantis as a pet, and always wondered how cool it would be to have one some day.  I had not see one up close until I moved to the US.  Since moving here I have seen 3 or 4 up close.  They are beautiful insects.

There are plenty of Kung Fu styles to choose from, and even though I did not seek the Mantis style, I was lucky enough to find it.  The Mantis style is both graceful and powerful.  It controls the energy in a way that you are not wasting any of it.  I am not even close to beginning to think that I am learning the style.  I am barely scratching the surface.  Every class I attend I am more and more in love with the Mantis.

Going back to being amazed at the insect, do you think that a Mantis can actually take down a bird?  We are used to seeing birds eat insects and not the other way around.  I just wanted to share this link, mind you the pictures can be graphic, but it is amazing what this insect can do.

Ultraviolet (*)

It is a good thing that I was not a fan of the comic before I went to watch this movie or this review would have been a lot more bitter. Ultraviolet makes you wonder why there is not someone reviewing projects so that the money is saved for the future instead of making a mediocre movie about the future. Director Kurt Wimmer is not to blame for the whole movie, even though I did expect a lot more from the guy that directed Equilibrium, one of my favorite movies in the genre.

Mike Smith was the stunt coordinator for both movies and I was very disappointed by his work here. There was nothing innovative about the martial arts at all. The sword fighting was mediocre at best. My biggest complaint in this department was the implied fighting. When they used this technique the first time, I went “ok, that’s cool.” after that I was almost ready to yell at the screen, “where is the action? How did the killing happen?” While I get that maybe it was supposed to give you a comic book sense, it kind of failed.

The special effects were another mess. I think they ran out of budget during the movie, some of the effects looked very well done and blended with the movie, others gave me a sense of Saturday morning cartoon, Power Ranger kind of feel. Don’t get me wrong, some of it was done very well, the guns and other technology looked good, but then having the last scene being picked apart by my 9 year old as crappy tells you how bad it was. I hate comparing it to Equilibrium, but since both of them have a similar futuristic theme I have to. Equilibrium did not have the best effect either, but they help they story along instead of making you stop and think how crappy they are.

The story was the only thing that you can save here. However they had a comic book to borrow it from. I would love to hear from a fan of the series to see how true to the comic they were. I loved the fact that they did not let you know from the very beginning that this was a movie that had vampires. I felt that was done well.

I would not even recommend you rent this movie. I think that after paying Jovovich to star in the movie they did not have enough money to finish the film effects. If you want to be entertained rent Equilibrium.

*Update*

From The WikiPedia

Screen Gems edited the film from its original length of 120 minutes to 88 minutes, against the wishes of director Kurt Wimmer. He was quite angry with this, and many fans agree that this decision lowered the quality of the film significantly.

It might be worth the wait to see the director’s cut, because to me the film just seemed like a mess.

buy at Amazon.com

Ultraviolet.

, , , , , , , ,

I know Kung Fu

That is my favorite line from the Matrix. While learning Kung Fu seems to be just a little bit harder in real life than just plugging into a computer, it is a nice dream to be able to inject knowledge into your brain. The real world is a little different, your muscles tend to burn after a good work out… sometimes during. It has been 2 days since my first Kung Fu lesson and I am still having some trouble moving.

I am out of shape. Even when I have been in better shape I have always been on the heavy side. While I don’t use the “I am big boned” excuse, saying that or even hearing it always makes me think of Dennis Leary’s joke “Dinosaurs were big boned,” I do think that my genetic make up predisposes me to be on the heavy side. Heck, I drink water and get fat. Even if I was in better shape I think this first work out would have still kicked my butt.

Since I moved to Midland I have been looking for a Martial Arts school. I have even written about my strategy and quest. Staying true to what I said, I did not just find the right school, I found the right teacher. I do admit that the prospect of starting all over at other Tae Kwon Do schools was not very appealing either. Out of the Martial Arts I have practiced, Tae Kwon Do was the one I practiced the longest. While my goal was to become a good martial artist and not to get a black belt, the prospect of having to pay for all of the belts I had “earned” all over was not really all that appealing to my budget.

Sifu (Master) already taught me something very important. It is not about how many forms you know, it is not about what belts you have, it is not about how flashy your martial arts are. All of those things are trying to impress other people. The true quest is to impress you. If your Kung Fu is great, you are a duck and not a chicken. Sorry, inside joke.

Since my first conversation with Sifu Chung, I knew I was talking with someone I would greatly respect. One of the most important things for me is to feel like the Sifu is accepting me as a student rather than my money. He told me in our first conversation that he was not a car salesman, he told me the price for the classes and what I would get from them. He was so wise in that comparison, because it is a perfect description of the feeling I had gotten when I had been “shopping around” at others schools.

Car shopping had always been a super stressful experience and it is still something I do not enjoy. There had always been that sales aspect of the transaction where things were a little murky and numbers flew around like daggers. Just like buying the car from our friend Dave, talking to Sifu was not stressful at all. Everything was very clear and on the table. There was no, here is all we offer and then… are you willing to pay this much for it. While you can consider both of them as different sales approaches, I like the up front one a lot better.

I got to try a class for free, no commitment beyond signing the waiver that is required for insurance purposes. From the first moment I stepped into the school I knew I was in a special place. I met Sifu’s son first, he invited me to look around and told me to wait there. He was going to teach class at another school, so he pretty much opened up the school and went on. One by one the other students started showing up and none of them made me feel like I was being judged. Going to a new school can be difficult if the other students are dismissive of you, or if they are arrogant about their level of training. I thankfully felt none of that. Everyone greeted me at different times during my stay at the school and made me feel like I was an old friend. It never felt like people trying to make small talk.

The class was relaxed, friendly and very focused. It was surprising to me because I was not given a series of rules when I walked into the training area like I had in the past with most other arts. Most rules in other schools had been followed but they did not help the class understand the respect they were trying to convey or the focus they were supposed to encourage. Sifu has a wealth of knowledge and he is very willing to share it. He had no problem involving the whole class in an explanation of a single movement in a form. He explained why it was done, its application and purpose to great detail. He was also very humble about his knowledge and explained everything with humor.

I was not able to even finish the warm up. The movements in Kung Fu are completely different than those in Tae Kwon Do. While Hapkido does have some similarity in movement, the stances seem to be a lot wider and my legs do not have the strength to support my upper body for extended periods of time just yet. Also my hips are not doing what they are supposed to, but I think with time and practice they will. I learned the first part of the very first form, it will take me some time to master it but I want to do it really bad. The other excellent part about the school is that you are taught the application of the form along with the form. It really introduces the self-defense aspect of kung fu without breaking the flow. While the art centers on the form, it is like sun and other aspect of martial arts are the planets in a very cohesive solar system.

I miss my old teacher, he is my friend and I have decided that if I ever want to get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do I want to get it from him. In the mean time, I am excited to say that Chung’s School of Praying Mantis is going to be my new Martial arts school. I am also very excited to say that I have found a new teacher, Sifu Henry Chung, son of Grandmaster Chung Ho Yin, which in the end is the most important thing. Neo might be able to learn Kung Fu in seconds, but you know, I truly believe that success is not about the goal; it’s all about the journey.

Persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
-Calvin Coolidge

I have met a lot of talented people in my life. I remember two friends that were so intelligent and athletically superior that they constantly amazed me. Both of them however lacked persistence. Persistence does not come easy to some people, and so situations in life can kill it. In the case of both of my friends I put some of the blame in drugs. A lot of people think that smoking a little weed is not a bad thing, but I have seen it kill persistence. I say it kills persistence rather than motivation, because the motivation might be there but the persistence is gone.

I learned a lot about persistence practicing martial arts. It is one of the best lessons I think martial arts can teach. Almost everyone can accomplish perfect form through persistence. Some of the most complicated movements became second nature after you kept going. I had always heard the term getting your second wind. Even though I did sports while I was younger I had never reached that level until I practiced martial arts. I pushed and pushed past not being able to do it anymore and it was a wonderful feeling to get that extra boost of energy.

I think we can apply that same second wind mentality to life. When we feel like we have exhausted every possible option in a situation, try to push on and perhaps the second wind is right there waiting for you. So what does the quote say to you?

Martial Arts School

Ever since I stopped training TaeKwonDo, there has been a huge void in my life that has been difficult to fill. Martial Arts are so much more than what most people might think. The saying for the people that have practiced a martial art is that it is a way of life or “Do”. Well, I am going to start the difficult journey once again (Finding another martial art school that is) some day. In the mean time I want to give my thoughts in the subject and hopefully help others.

Finding a Martial Arts school is not so much about finding the best facilities, or the most popular art at the moment. You can always count on an ancient martial art becoming the latest fad, which is kind of ironic in a sense. To me finding the best Martial Arts school requires finding the best Master. I found the best teacher in the world, he is now a very good friend of mine, but I have moved out of the area and I still need to get back to training. It is not a requirement but hopefully finding the right school for you will also mean finding a good master.

I want to start with defining what this little article is not. You are not going to find a “What is the best martial art” information here. That is a whole other topic that is extremely subjective. I am going to try and look at the subject of finding a martial art school in an objective way. Even though in this guide I will touch on different arts a little bit, it is not meant to be a “how to choose a martial art guide”. To me that is the wrong approach to martial arts. Also this guide is for the beginner that wants to start looking for a local school. If you have your heart set on a style, then find the best teacher regardless of location.
Read more…

Go to top