MLK Day

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“We are not the makers of history, we are made by history.”

Hey everyone! Happy Monday! Actually, Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Today, we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., a chief spokesman for the nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement. He’s most well known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, but instead of writing about that speech (which I’m pretty sure your English teacher or History professors have made you do it at one point), I want to write about a less common quote by him.

“We are not the makers of history, we are made by history.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

What does this quote mean? Well, history is simply the past, but it’s a framework. It shows a societies mistakes and the progressions to lead to a new innovation for our society. Yes, we do make history in a sense, but our mistakes are what shape us in the present. Let me put it in terms of the theme of my blog. When you lose a fight, Oh well. Shake it off, and learn from your mistakes! Maybe you didn’t block quick enough, maybe you accidentally let your guard down, or you should’ve kicked instead of going in for a punch.

Another example: You’re not the same person that you are as you were in middle school vs high school, and switching from high school to college. You probably had some drama happen, like you’re gf/bf broke up with you, friends hated what you did at soccer practice, or you ruined a chance to get a date to prom. We learn from those experiences. Yes, technically we made that happen, but history all together shaped us to become who we are.

 

Appreciation

Hey everyone! Well, currently, I’ve moved everything in to my new apartment in Athens. Refrigerator is stocked, books are bought, school supplies check, and everything that I need is in place. It is great! It feels great to finally start living on your own like cooking for yourself, cleaning the house, and well just taking care of everything by yourself with the people that you love. At the same time, I’m feeling a little sentimental. Do you guys remember my post from 2 days ago? Here’s the link if you haven’t (click here). Well, I can’t help but to think about my adventures in China not only this past year, but the years before. I miss it.

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I miss the friends that I made, and I miss the cheap food. (Like for real…In the picture above, the all you can eat barbecue and hot pot was only like 50 yuan (Not even $8!)

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All this food here was no more than 200 yuan (About $31!)

Sorry if I made you hungry, but the point is that I’m beyond appreciative for what I have now! It didn’t really hit me on how much my parents put in to the house and me until I started to grocery shop and cook for myself until I saw how much I spent for myself! Like $830 for 5 books?! Man, college textbooks are way overpriced! I mean, I got it all right now! I have a TV, laptop, books, coffee pots, music instruments, clothing, and machines that do things for you.

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For example, you had to wash clothes by hand. I washed clothes like every 2 days. It was tiring, but at the same time I felt accomplished after I finished.

Anyway, the main point is appreciation. Be appreciative for what you have because I promise that there are people in this world who wish they had what you have. You have internet right? Of course, because you’re reading this post, but do you think the people at the school I went to had internet or computers or even a smartphone? No, they lived a hard knock life. I’m so appreciative for what I have, and I guess that is all for today. I just wanted to be sentimental and show my appreciation for my life.

A Tribute to Bruce Lee

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On this day in 1973, one of the greatest martial artist died. Bruce Lee was a man who accomplished unbelievable things in the field of martial arts. He made many movies to showcase his talents, and he also created his own style of Jeet Kune Do. To me, this man was a legend and a hero. I’ve always and always will strive to be at his level. Today, I want to share a few of my favorite quotes by Bruce Lee. These quotes aren’t just words by a famous man, but they are a way of life to me.

  • “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
  • “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
  • “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
  • “If you always put a limit on everything you do, physically or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

I’ll just leave it short and simple today. Lately, I’ve been crazy busy with my last week of training here. Instead of the normal 8 hours, I’m doing 10 hours! Yes…I know, I’m pretty crazy, but since I’m leaving Shaolin in 3 days to go see family, I might as well try to get as much as I can, right?

My Favorite Art?

Hey everyone! For all those who have been keeping up with me, you guys know that I’m fairly well rounded in martial arts. I have Tae-Kwon-Do, Gong Fu, Wu Shu, Shitoryu, Karate, and whatever else in my background. Well, I was talking to a few people about that, and the question was what is my favorite art. Well, to be honest, I don’t have one. I am a firm believer in that every style has its weaknesses and strengths. There isn’t one martial art that is better than another, but if I were to describe what I like to do in martial arts, well my favorite thing is probably learning the traditional ways of each style.

Karate has taught me that martial arts is infinite. Meaning, there is an endless amount of techniques that you can do. My favorite thing to do is learning traditional forms, then trying to figure them out and dissect the forms movements. Stances are cool and are important during competitions and performances, but my interest lies solely in the hand movements. Of course, sometimes stances can play a role in the technique, but generally stances are used as a base for forms. I’ll demonstrate a few of these techniques in later post, but for now, to all my fellow martial artist, think about what you do in your forms! A punch isn’t just a punch, and a kick doesn’t have to be a kick.

We Resent in Others the Flaws We Ourselves Possess

“We most resent in others the very flaws that we ourselves possess.” 

First of all, I would like to point out that I have no idea who said this quote, but I got this quote from an SAT essay prompt. This quote actually popped in my head after class today, and of all the topics given in SAT test prep books or the actual SAT itself, this quote means the most to me. So, I was put into a little predicament where I was coaching a guy in kickboxing earlier, and my coach called me out on being a little hard on him because I do the same thing. Here’s what happened:

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“So, we were just doing a few punching and kicking drills, and well I kept trying to correct the student’s form. We will call the student Jason. I told him to relax, punch straighter, and turn your hips more when you kick. I got a little frustrated after a few times because he kept making the same mistake over and over again even though it was a fairly easy fix. I started to raise my voice a little bit. When I did, my coach came over to see what was going on. He then told me how Jason is doing fine, and told us to switch places. So it was my turn to perform the drill, while Jason held the pads. Well, after perform the drill a few times, my coach got on to me for the same flaw! I wasn’t punching straight and I wasn’t relaxed when I’m punching. I was relying on force verses technique.”

So, as you can probably see, I wasn’t being fair. I was embarrassed, and I apologized to Jason. Anyways, this is a quote that all teachers, coaches, and other students should remember. Don’t be hard on another student if you do the same thing. It is hard for a person to accept his/her own flaw unless seen in another person.

Patience…

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#ChineseThinkingPosition

Though physical training is hard, being mentally fit is harder. In martial arts, you have to train your mind to motivate, push through barriers, but most importantly…patience. Yes, patience is key and here’s why:

  •  You will always be waiting for something, but do you have the patience to wait? What I mean is, are you going to be smart enough to get through the wait instead of torturing yourself by thinking about it the entire time. For example: In the last couple of weeks, I thought I was going to explode because I was so freakishly excited to see one of my favorite bands to play live! I talked non-stop about it, I would listen to nothing but their music, and I wouldn’t sleep at night because of all the excitement!! Well, it was torturing to me because the excitement was giving me insomnia, but in the end I took my mind off of the concert by going out with a few friends then letting my excitement all out at the concert Saturday night! (BTW…..All Time Low is amazing!!! 🙂
  • That was just a general definition like waiting on an event, but another definition is like in martial arts, getting your black belt. It seems so tedious to have to go through all those ranks to get the black belt, but it is up to you not to quit. It is up to you to make your mind strong enough to have patience to go through the most boring and the hardest days of training.
  • During scolding. Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes to be called out on it or chewed out about it. It is up to you to have the strong mind and patience to take in what your instructor says or someone else who is scolding at you.
  • Coaching is probably where you will need the most patience. You will always have a bad students or a class clown, but honestly I look at them as a challenge. They will test my patience, but it will only make me stronger by being able to push through it.

The Spirit of First Beginning

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Never forget the spirit of first beginning” -Kenwa Mabuni (Founder of Shito-Ryu)

One of my biggest pet peeves is arrogance. Yes, I am guilty of being arrogant to, but that was easily shut down (you can read about it in “Buckling Up“). Anyway, recently someone came up to me and asked about where I currently do my training and what I do. Well, I kindly answered and explained what my style was, what my dojo does, and I ended the conversation with an invitation to come try out our dojo. He kindly accepted the invitation and came to showed up to class the next day. We started off with our basic warm-ups and stretches in the first half, and later we were going to move into the second half for forms and techniques. Well, during the break, I introduced the new guy to my instructor and asking about his martial arts experience. To my surprise, he was really diverse prior to coming to our dojo! He received a black belt in Jujitsu, Tae-Kwon-Do, and Hapkido! I thought that was really cool because I’ve personally have never taken Hapkido and I wanted to improve my ground fighting in Jujitsu. I was really excited to have him to share techniques and everything!

(Since there will be two other beginners, we will call this guy George for confidential reasons 🙂 ) 

The second half of class was a review of forms then techniques so we pulled George to the side with my instructor, two other beginners, and I. I was basically used as a test dummy for my instructor to teach a few techniques we use in Shito-Ryu.  So starting off, we allowed George to show us a few techniques of his. I learned the flying arm bar, hip throws, and a whole bunch of other throws that I didn’t even think existed! Well, it was my instructors turn to tell him about our style. While the other two beginners were all eager, I realized George began to space out and look around instead of paying attention to my instructor after three techniques. When my instructor gave the group a technique to practice, George gave a sigh.

Well at that moment, I was a little annoyed, but I let it go and worked on the technique with him. After maybe twice, he gave up and said, “This is kind of boring. Can we spar or use those weapons or something?” My response was, “Dude, you did the technique like twice and you’re bored?” He claims that he already knew the technique and can do it in his sleeps. Wow, ok. I called my instructor over after that response, and he asked George to perform the technique on him. Obviously, it was bad. It was a simple break-away technique.

George obviously had no interest in learning anything new from our bag of tricks, but he had a big interest in the weapons. Of course, with our dojo being traditional and all, we have certain rules for the weapons. The main one was that you needed to be a certain belt rank to use one of the weapons. Since he was new to us, he was considered a newbie and a white belt until the instructor said so otherwise. So, we told him about the process that you had to go through to earn the rights to do certain things. Of course, he argues that since he has a black belt in three different styles, shouldn’t he get privilege? HA! Please…a true black belt doesn’t act like a kid when his mother takes his toy away. A true black belt’s journey has just begun with much to learn.

In the end, George never came back. Sorry dude, if you’re not willing to learn basics prior to weaponry, then we’re not going to teach you and have our butts get in trouble if you hurt yourself. So, the lesson that you should take out of this is that you should “Never forget the spirit of first beginning.” Remember when you first started martial arts and you were so eager to learn everything? Don’t forget that feeling. You can learn something every day no matter what your rank is or what your age is. That determination will take you far!