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  In days when I was with my free and warm youthful heart,

My spirit was as boundless ocean,

And I didn’t know the taste of sorrow.

I often embarked on my journey alone, Climbing Thousands of feet high towers the Heavenly Mountains,

With its magnificent peaks, blooming like golden lotus flowers.

To write the latest odes I forced myself to tell of sorrow.

Now that I comprehend the taste of sorrow.

I would like to tell, but is too much for speaking of sorrow,

I would like to tell, but bring to a standstill;

Instead I rather sigh, “What a cool day! Such lovely autumn weather!”

Martial Arts-The Other Side of the Mountain

Fighting or self-defence is one of the essences of martial arts training. In fact fighting has much more in depth meaning, which is not just physical fighting to protect you against attacker. The main theme is to knock out of your own destructive inflated ego and your fear. As many martial artists, they are educated to cross the threshold of our opponent’s safeguard to deliver blow, and to withdraw modestly to avoid retaliation. This is the most ideal circumstance to every martial artist who believes in “good techniques.” But fighting reality disregard on our perfect world to deliver an unexpected blow. (Life is so uncertain, things happen sometimes without warnings, and at time could deliver a blow that knocks us on the ground. We thus have to learn to get back up and move on in our life and learn from the harsh lesson and better prepare for possible blow.) What do we do when the opponent in the street is so ruthless that we are force to go in the direction of head-to-head and toe-to-toe”?

 In closed full-contact sparring training, it is so intense for a fighter who meets up his opponent’s greater physical attack and confrontation. Technique is important, but without the real experience and mental confidence in full-contact sparring, you will be placed in an unknown territory that you will be lost. In order to shun this disaster, martial artists must involve in full-contact sparring and experience the real self-defence situation. For those who only practice tournament point sparring, and believe you possess the real practical self-defence in combative situation, think again and ask your heart and it will give you a straight answer that those trophies cannot answer you, and the phony black belt you wear around your waist only deceiving you.

Combat reality is your opponent who just put you in a crisis situation that no tournament referee calls to stop and announce who gets one point. In this situation, either you let your opponent beat you up or fight back. If you choose to fight back, you will have no experience what to do once you get hit because you are not trained in this territory before. I know this rude awakening hurt you because I open up your wound, and to convey something that you have known deep in your heart. But you do have the choice to train differently. The captivated animals, birds have no choice of their freedom, Why are you so afraid to make the choice? The reason is simple, you have become so attached to the prison, and you don't want to get out of it. Even if the door is left open, you don't want to escape and try in vain to find great reasons for justification. You go on deceiving yourselves; you don't even look at the door. You go on deceiving yourselves that the door is closed and the guard is there. And in fact, there is nobody there! The door is open and the guard is not there. But you want to remain in the prison because you have become too attached to it, and you have invested too much in the prison. In reality you have started looking at the prison as your home. The outside world looks strange and wild, and you feel afraid. You repudiate the idea that life is an adventure, nothing is certain and permanent.  

You are afraid of freedom of choices, and you are afraid of knowing life too deeply. You are afraid to risk, we are afraid to BE. You have lived long in the dark; now you are afraid of light -- afraid you will not be able to open your eyes, afraid you will be dazzled, your eyes may be destroyed, afraid because your life in the darkness have become a settled routine. It is secure. Why take any chance? Why go into the unknown and the uncharted?  

 And remember, nobody else can free you AGAINST you. If you have decided to remain the way your sparring by punching and kicking nothing but air at your school or tournament, then you will realize the “tag game playing” has just left you in despair when the real situation occur. I know some of your instructors will never tell you the truth; they don’t want to see you in pain and struggle to learn the combative side of martial arts. They afraid you may quit and that will hurt their pocket. They keep on promoting you to Black Belt (Black Belt means Instructor, teacher. They even design a guarantee program to see you or your children to get black belt with discounted promotion.) Regardless of your age. Take a good look around of those supermarket type schools, they bend together and claimed themselves as International what and what organization. If you attend any of their school or moneymaking seminar, you will be given a black belt and a certificate to fill your insecurity in certain martial arts, or a couple more stripes on your black belt. No question being asks and just hand over the money. Thus everybody is happy and no body rocks the boat. That is so too bad and so sad….

  I know these talks are bound to be disheartened. Why? Because these talks will touch some wounds in your and the sore will start oozing out. And remember always: sometimes it is good to keep the wound open, because that is the condition for its cure. But courage is needed, certainly; without courage nothing can be done. To keep the wound open needs great courage - but that is the condition for its cure! Again, you would like to hide it; you would like to forget about the wound. You would like to move into some consolation: “Maybe my Black belt may do magic and ward off my opponent when needed."

 Please don’t misunderstand me as promoting fighting. I love peace, tranquility, compassion, harmony, and uphold them as the highest level of martial arts. I just want the practitioners in martial arts, after years of training, do not feel that you can at least defend yourselves when being attacked.

 Martial artist in Tai-chi and older students in my school at least don’t delude themselves, their aims are to practice martial arts for good health and enjoy the aesthetic spiritual path. It is a noble achievement and I acknowledge it, and in fact I recommend it. Remember, while training in free sparring, your partner is your honest soul who tries to make your life miserable. If you two just practice non-contact and the techniques is lacked of intent and power, when the unexpected crisis strike, all your screaming, posturing, tumbling and acrobatic movement that goes on the training hall and tournaments will account for nothing when someone wants to rip you apart. So if you are a member of point fighting school, get a few partners and work on more realistic sparring matches.

Practice to the best you can and don’t delude yourselves. You don’t need to be the champion of the world, but the champion of yourselves.  

Until then, meet you here again...

Straight from my heart

Master Chau

Year of the Tiger

3:30 A.M.