Last week was an amazing week. I had an incredibly instructive, inspiring and mind-awakening week studying with a Shaolin Gung Fu Master who has had quite an influence in my life.
I started studying Gung Fu when I was almost 15 in a small Shaolin school in my hometown run by Shi Fu Jason Parks (Xing Mu). It was amazing because I found people and ideas that challenged me, new ways to look at life, and perspectives that looked beyond the mundane (and ironically back again). I’ve always had a strong connection with Chinese culture, language and martial arts and have over a period of almost 14 years spent about 8 years studying Shaolin, Mezong and White Crane Gung Fu as well as a combination of weapons, Qi Na, Qi Gong and Chan Buddhism. The more I study the more I want to study, and the more sense it all seems to make – which leads me to a core goal in my life, clarity.
Anyway, I hadn’t seen Shi Fu Parks for 10 years and jumped at the opportunity to visit his Shan Men Shaolin Gung Fu school for an intensive week of training and study. I spent 4 1/2 days training ~8 hours a day, studying hard and spending quality time with Evie, Shi Fu and his partner Karen‘s beautiful little girl. Karen has also studied Shaolin Gung Fu and is as awesome Pilates instructor. I had a fantastic class with her which was a first for me in understanding the value of Pilates, even though I’d been to classes in Sydney.
An unexpected surprise was when I realised weapons are not nearly as regulated in Tasmania as in other states, so I got to play with a bunch of weapons that I’d need a special permit for in New South Wales (my home state). I played with Nunchucks for the first time which was awesome, scythes and my main weapon, the pole.
One of the core lessons that arose from this week was how my entire life is actually in fact one big classroom, and how the constant habitual segmentation of life into this and that is both completely unnecessary and ultimately divisive. This sense of wholeness about it all was quite a relief. I learnt a whole schwag of new Shaolin fist and weapons forms, and polished up some existing stuff I already had. It was awesome and although I got a little sore, I was actually quite surprised that I didn’t get much more sore! I guess time goes quickly when you’re having fun 🙂
I spoke to Shi Fu and Karen about getting their ideas online. They were interested and excited about the concepts of FOSS, software freedom and Creative Commons, and it felt pretty cool to explain it all. Jeff and I set up some blogs for them and will be helping explore how something like Gung Fu or Pilates might balance both the ability to engage broadly online, and the personal interaction so necessary in a teacher/student arrangement like you’d have in Pilates or Gung Fu. It’ll be an interesting challenge!
It was also fun to help two non-geeks get excited about WordPress and feel empowered to play and tinker. Karen made the comment that she didn’t expect it to be so much fun, and I’m really pleased to be sharing something back 🙂
So a big thank you Shi Fu and Karen for their lessons and time, and a huge hug to Evie who personifies gentle tenacity, and from whom I’ve a lot to learn 🙂