Monday, August 25, 2008

My low-key kung-fu - I

Over the last couple of weeks, I've tried to initiate myself into the world of combat by auditing some wing chun kung-fu classes. Initially, the idea was to get in another form of physical activity, and if as a side-effect, I achieved some mystical, oriental tranquility in the process, I'd take it. The idea's begun to evolve already, and hopefully in the days to come it'll become part of my philosophy. Here are the seeds.

When someone bumps into us on the street and doesn't apologise, our senses flare up. There's anger, confusion, sadness -we were just minding our own business, being conscientous of our manners and taking care not to spill any bit of ourselves onto others on the street so why did we just get roughed up like that? By a stranger, no less...Surely we didn't deserve it?

All this emotion for a simple shoulder bump.

What then if we're actually assaulted? It's disturbing if you seriously picture it, and a lot more scarring when it actually happens to you. You don't see it coming, but you suddenly feel the shock of physical pain, inflicted purposefully, and there's little about it that's friendly. It was meant to cause some degree of trauma. The why isn't important here, just the act and its repercussions.

I know I'd be reeling from a punch long after my body had forgotten about it. This is because I wouldn't be able to distance myself emotionally from the attack. Ego, personality and injury would all tie into an indistinguishable lifeless form, dragging me down with it.

These kung-fu classes (boxing classes would've worked just as well - no oriental philosophy yet) have started to teach me how to physiologically react to assault. The differences between this class environment and the street assault scenario are (a) the surprise component is low here because we're expecting to be attacked (this is the downside) and (b) there's no underlying malintent. You start to separate personality from the action.

Of course, I'm not kung-fuing to win. I just really love my noodle soup.

More to come on how far I get with my kung fu zen.

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