These days, a typical conversation between me and my Shifu revolves around my choice of Chinese Kung Fu movies. I watch something then I drag him to my room in his rest hours to show him what more I want to learn (as if I can already master what we’re learning here!)
Last time, he fell victim to the Ip Man trilogy, loosely based on the life of Bruce Lee’s famed teacher and southern Kung Fu legend Ip Man.
“See how he’s fighting Shifu, I want to learn to fight like that,” I said, pointing to Dennis To in The Legend is Born: Ip Man 3.
“That’s Wing Chun,” my Shifu said.
“I’m Shaolin,” he said, as if I’m stupid.
‘Duh,’ I thought. Well, I realize that, why else would the Shaolin Temple be in our backs, five minutes away?
“You know in China, there are many types of martial arts, Bagua, Huoquan, Wushu, Wing Chun,” he continued. “Some are practiced in temples, or schools, some in family houses and you have to sneak inside certain closed circles to be able to learn it. It’s special, invented by a family man who teaches it to his family members. Like if I become grandmaster, I can go and create my own Kung Fu, call it Yong Hui Quan.” He paused. “Also, Wing Chun comes from Shaolin, southern Shaolin.”
“Hmm,” I pondered. “But there’s not much combat in Shaolin Kung Fu. Wing Chun has a lot of combat.”
“Of course, there’s combat in Shaolin!” He said, almost affronted. I could understand where he’s coming from, since, owing to my persistent nagging, we had already started light combat training a week earlier at which I failed miserably — taking minutes to counter attack as my Shifu would shout, “what are you waiting for?!” “I’m thinking, I’m thinking,” I would shout back, almost panicking and refusing to budge, to which he would respond by launching a series of offensive attacks to floor me in order to teach me to “think faster.” Can’t we do it in slow motion, I would ask. He’d humor me and show it to me gently, but for some reason, it doesn’t register.
“Well, I mean it’s mostly forms now,” I said as we sat pinned to my computer screen — I, by choice. Him, forced.
“You begin with form, then when you understand it, you’ll be able to use it to fight.”
“But when will I be able to ‘understand’ it?” I squealed.
“When you do it 10,000 times,” he said with a wide grin.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. May be you can teach me combat first. okay?”
“May be you start watching some funny movies instead, okay?” he said getting up, apparently too happy with his cheeky come-back.
At that instant, I made a mental note to come back to Dengfeng and teach my Shifu a lesson when I’ve become so good that I’d have invented my own brand of Kung Fu: Paki Nam Quan, mixing Wing Chun, northern Shaolin, Egyptianized thuggery a la Tahrir battles heritage and some Amn Dawla and camel forms and a lot of humor. And oh, you have to be curvy — and you gotta suck at pushups and you have to breathe through your mouth— to be able to do Paki Nam Quan. I’ll build a temple in the Western desert. And the practice will be rooted in the feminine aspect of being, drawing its Chi from the dark energy of the holy PMS cycle … i.e. it’s ruthless!
Be very afraid. Amituofo.