I was shocked to return home from an outing on a visit to my relatives in China to find four dead owls lying on the kitchen floor.Once I regained composure, I realized the honor of the specialty dish that was about to be bestowed on me. My ‘endangered species’ consciousness objected to the owls’ deaths, but I also thought that having an owl skull supported the Chinese belief that one takes on the traits of an animal eaten. Markets throughout China are filled with beautiful animals sold as food. My relatives thought well of my wanting the skeleton but my friends have reactions that range from fascination to polite aversion. How does my relatives’ kind gesture relate to kung fu?
Kung fu developed through generations of effort and war strategies.Techniques were refined as people fought and died for their communities and countries. Yet, as the logo of my teacher Adam Hsu’s school states, “The goal of kung fu is to stop the fight.” Among the scope of modernfighting technologies, is the ancient martial art of kung fu effective for defense of the self, community, country?
Kung fu is a complete workout to balance the body, mind and spirit (BMS)and to resolve one’s inner aggressions. Stress or tension from a misunderstanding, reading a newspaper or watching TV can upset the BMS equilibrium. People study kung fu for its athleticism, beauty, traditional culture, self defense and just for the allure of learning to fight.
The owl and snake are natural enemies who prey on each other and other animals. When they encounter each other and fight, we understand the protective instinct. If you observe animals as I enjoy doing, you will see their aggressive interplay. But if we are more evolved than animals, why do we fight? Why do we demonstrate aggression?
The media focuses on negative news and the entertainment industry glamorizes aggression and violence. These types of images contribute to confusion, fear and misconceptions. But the real fight is internal. It is our human challenge to maintain in balance the freedom and grace that our lives are capable of.
Ideally, we are content at home, work or school. But if not, if you find yourself driving or walking aggressively, waking up groggy or ornery, saying regrettable things, drinking and eating excessive amounts of alcohol or sweets, counter these signs of BMS imbalance. Drop your newspaper, turn off your television, stop fighting with yourself and others and try a kungfu workout.