Day 2-3: America so Beautiful

The second day of driving gets me exactly 1,000 miles from home in mile high Denver. Population- definitely a lot more than all the parts of Utah I drove through.

I must admit, even though Utah is breathtaking in its own right. I would not lay my eggs there if I were a hen. But Colorado in comparison, just might be the most beautiful state I’ve ever drove through. It’s so beautiful, I decided to stay 2 days here. I mean I don’t kid around with my time.

No wonder this is one of the fittest states and cities in the USA. I woke up at 7 :00 AM to check out the Red Rock Amphitheater and there were already hundreds of people jumping up and down the stairs and biking around as if strenuous activities that breaks down their knees and ankles will help prolong their life. I am sure it does, why else would so many people be out there this early in the morning.

Mt. Evans in nearby Idaho Springs was even better. Supposedly the highest peak in the nearby Rockies, though I have my reservations. It was so cold up in the thin air of 14,900 ft, I had to burst out my old monk robes cause it was the only heavy clothing I got in the trunk. But the view was wow, just wow. If I could marrying into this state, I definitely would.

This section of the road really made me realize just how beautiful America is, how vast the land, how different the Eco-systems it contains, and more importantly how well this wonderful nature is kept (at least the parts I saw in colorado). We are very fortunate to live in a nation whose economy is not solely based on the exploitation of our natural resources, though we do a good job of exploiting our own citizens and other nation’s resources in the name of more nobel pursuits. But man, God sure did bless America.

Driving through the twists and turns of the mountains reminded me of the tough circumstances that the early settlers faced as they wagoned their ways from the east coast through the Rockies and into Utah, then Nevada and California and so on. Even with the amenities of the 21st century, it’s still a tough stretch of land. Much respect to those who travelled the roads before me.

Funny thing though, since I left my home in SoCal, I have yet to see any other Asian homies this entire trip. Not at the gas station, not at the attractions, and not at the restaurants I ate at. Maybe I just took the wrong turns or maybe not. I don’t know.

Next stop Kansas City, i am not even sure if that’s in Kansas or Missouri but I bet I will see lots of great things there.

Martial Arts is kinda like Writing

Two of my favorite pastimes, other than to sleep and eat, would be martial arts and writing. I might not be that great at either, but I really do enjoy both and in return they provide me with a chance for growth.

Though apparently unrelated, they are actually quite similar. There are hundreds of different forms of martial arts (JKD, TKD, Wushu, Muay-Thai, K-boxing, etc.) just like how there are many ways to write, some more flashy than others, some more narrative based, some more report-like, and others more journal-esque. But no matter which form you chose, they can all get the job done. Whether it is avoiding conflict with technique or communicating your ideas with writing.

Just like how there isn’t a “best form of writing”, there also isn’t a “best form of martial arts”. It depends very much on the practitioner/writer himself. It is the person that makes the form, not the form that makes the person. Depending on the situation and the parties involved, some forms can be more effective than others. If you are writing to an individual of humor and culture, a more flowery form of writing with satire and content would serve much better than a simple, bland, straight to the business one. If you are fighting a very long individual whose reach is greater than your own, than a form that involves close contact (which eliminate  long-range attacks) such as judo, grappling, and wrestling would be better served than per-say TKD.

Even the actual process of learning are very similar. In martial arts, you start with basic skills of flexibility, stances, and punches just like how one starts with vocabulary, grammar,  and intellectual thought in writing. Then one moves on to  “structural forms”  such as long fist with combines the kicks and stances together,  like how we first learned the Jane Shaffer format and “1CD and 2CM” or the later “Thesis-3  body paragraphs-Conclusion” format of Eng Comp. This second stage of structural writing and practicing of martial arts can be quite long depending on individual understanding and talent. Most students in college or even working college grads still use very “formulated” or “structured” ways to write (not that there is anything wrong with that), just like how numerous excellent martial arts practitioner are still stuck on doing techniques in predetermined order and style.

The most difficult step would be to “Make it your own”, to make your writing style “yours”, or to make your martial arts form “second nature”. It takes decades of practice and daily repetition with thought, even then most aren’t able to achieve this level. Which is why not everyone who writes for 30 yrs is a published author and not every Wing-Chun practitioner of 30 yrs should open gyms and teach class (though most of them do, sadly) . But if you don’t practice day after day, then I am sure you won’t make any form “your own”, whether it is in regards to writing or martial arts.

A World Without Boarder: Mission Impossible or Optimism?

As I learn more about human beings and our beginnings, I began to observe  undeniable similarities between different ethnicity  countries and people. There seems to be a common bond that keeps us together, much like the attraction of different charges within an atom; though different, they all function together to keep the world intact as a whole in a very systematic yet complex cycle.  Humans have an inextinguishable tendency to be attracted to other humans, studies have shown that when put in a completely dark room, a human will search immediately for first sign of warmth. When two humans are put in the dark room, they will inevitably look for another. The same does not occur with animals, minus a few intelligent species similar to humans (such as Chimpanzees, Orangutans, and apes).

I foresee a world in the future, maybe a hundred years from now, or maybe thousands, where all ethnicity and races are living together in harmony under the the flagship of one world, because we are too similar to be divided by the boundaries of cultures and nations. In that world, we will seek to achieve commonality, while saving individuality, for one of the greatest threats to unity will be each group’s fear of losing their own culture and identity. One of the “car-pools” to get to this world is the education with responsibility, we all know that the expansion of education can help increase awareness and all that, but what kind of education? There is not enough responsibility placed upon the contents of education, and more importantly the directional compass behind the contents, in western education today. We learn so much about individuality and seeking to become the “best you can be”, that we sometimes become too shrouded in our own “confidence induced narcissism” that we forget about the commonalities we share with everyone else on this planet and the moral responsibility we have as living organisms and citizens of this world to sustain and improve its systems as we co-evolve with it.

But to get to this “future’ I am referring to will be hard and long…….very long.  The few giants standing in its way will not move easily. One of them is economic profits, profits generated by third-world low-labor and first-world high prices, profits from exploiting and destroying natural resources in developing nations, and profits from the government fed war-industry that still stands as the number 1 industry in the world, miles ahead of the drug one that we never seem to forget (as we should not). Behind the profits, are some undeniably human characteristics  such as greed. On top of that, we have the unreasonably wasteful lifestyles of the first-world, which has now become socially acceptable and wrongly deem as an “example” that the developing nations are now all striving to be. And I haven’t even began to mention the cultural differences so often exaggerated by our own false sense of “pride” and the religious conflicts so often set ablaze by the blood of ignorant extremists, whose puppeteer is to blame. The world I described above is far, far away from the one we live in today. But that doesn’t mean we should not strive for it, because I think it is worth striving for.

You all know MLK’s dream, well I guess this is my dream.

I Am Still Alive…

I would just like to make it known that I am still alive despite being absent online for the past 3 wks or so. (which I guess is a big thing nowadays, to be off-line for such a “prolonged” period of time) And I would also like to thank everyone who thought “thankful” thoughts about me around Thanksgiving but weren’t able to get them to me, don’t worry it’s the thought that counts, which is why I had thankful thoughts for you guys too.

Quick news update as of late. I am no longer at the Shaolin Temple, I left about a week ago for an early Chinese New Years Break, it’s basically like the only-est Holiday and the biggest holiday here, so they were quick to give me an early leave for break. There was also a big snow storm at the temple a bit before that, which destroyed the little electricity we had (thus causing me to disappeared from the internet) and the temperature dropped to around 0-10F  with us still having no heating of any sort. But the real reason I left early for break was because the homies I trained with all left for 3-month long performance tours at Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, and etc. , and I really dislike training alone.

Since a wk ago, I have been living in Xinjiang with my family, where it is even colder than the Temple (from -10-0F) but thank god the heating here bring it back up to the 70s. I have been practicing with the University Martial Arts team here, and also training with the  State Sanda & K-Boxing team on the odd days to sharpen up my reflexes. I just got back from the State Championship Wushu Competition a couple days ago, where my university practically dominated all events even though we only had 13 athletes (plus me), even though I didn’t even attend their university I was able to go and compete for fun in my specialty “The Mantis Fist”. Yeah, FYI, anything is possible in China today, depends on whether you have what it takes or not.

My daily schedule now consists of training in warm gym and get sick cause the outside is so cold when I leave, watching NBA games online in the morning cause of time difference, and going to see retired, or “lazy” NBA players playing for CBA teams live at night. T-mac is in town next Monday, so if you want autographs, let me know. Though you won’t get them till I get back in 6 months.

Parkour is like Cat Style Kung-Fu

Some days when it gets just too cold to move, I tend to stare directly in-front  for a prolonged period of time. Yesterday while I was “freezing” outside, I observed a stray cat moving with lightning fast speed through the rocks and plants in the ravine, it was something like D-wade in the 05-06 season before the hurt shoulder, back, arm, knee. etc. But further observation of the way the cat accelerated every time it got past an obstacle  reminded me more of Parkour, the modern urban-sport built upon the idea of getting from point A to point B in the shortest time with the utmost athletic skills and “balls of steel”.

So for all the parkour-loving folks out there, it won’t do you too much harm to watch some action-packed cat videos once in awhile or just observe those living around you. But  do NOT emulate the way them fall, because unlike cats, when humans fall we don’t always land on our feet.

Transcending Limits: 1st Time Sneaking Meat

Today my friend, who is also the leader of our group, went down to the town to get some heavy cloth for the winter cause it’s really cold here in the winter (like NYC cold with more wind) and we have no heating. Luckily for me, on his way back, he was able to get some delicious roasted chicken and sneak it up here to the temple for me. I consider this to be a transcending moment, because according to my master and his master before him, a very high level of Buddhist behavior is “To have meat and alcohol pass through your intestines, while always having Buddha in your heart”. (it sounds much better in Chinese than translated though) I humbly believe after today, I am a bit closer to that level hahaha. But then it might not be so transcending, because my actions really didn’t break any rules, because we just don’t “have” any meat here, there is no strict prohibition saying we can’t eat meat. It was my first time eating meat in month, and I am again reminded of why there are so few vegetarians in this world (excluding my Indian friends).

Doesn’t that chicken just look so attractive though?


Life’s Two Tragedies

A really old dude told me yesterday that there are two tragedies in life, one is not getting what you want, and the other is getting it. I didn’t understand it, but here is what I think. If we are constantly stuck in these two states (the state of wanting, and the state of getting), then logically we are constantly living in a tragedy. But if our whole life is a tragedy, that means our whole life is not a tragedy. Because it is the happy moments that make the sad ones seem sad, without contrast to present relativity that is no distinct happiness or sadness. So try to think more on the positive end the next time you think “life sucks”, cause if it really is a tragedy, at least you get to choose the ending cause you are your life’s own screenwriter, right? unless you are living a life already written for you by someone else.

Someone Tried to Steal my Wallet

Someone tried to steal my wallet, and succeed.

People’s Republic of China just had it’s birthday on 10/1, so there is an eight day holiday from 10/1-10/8, and as a result there are literally hundreds of thousands of tourists at my “new home”. Because we haven’t seen any people other than ourselves in awhile, I took my fellow trainees down to the temple to people watch. We saw man, woman, children, elders, and I was like “people, wow! haven’t seen you guys in awhile”.

But with people comes trouble, and when I was squeezing through the masses, I felt someone grab my upper thigh (where I kept my wallet) and quickly ran away. I don’t know if it’s cause I watched too many parkour videos, but I was like “you are not getting away with it” and quickly sprinted away in pursuit into a cluster of people with my homies behind. Sadly, I could only keep up with the thief but never over take him. But honestly, I was thinking “if you are so fast, why not go run track, why steal from me.”

I didn’t have any money in my wallet except a “2 Dollar bill” I kept cause it was cool. But I did have a post-it note that my buddy gave to me in 7th grade, a piece of paper on which someone wrote a list of my “faults and personality problems”, and a copy of my driver’s license and green card, so I had to get my wallet back. Knowing I couldn’t catch this guy, I started screaming to him “hey, I don’t have any money in it”, “give me back my wallet, you ____”. Apparently he heard me and check my wallet, and after seeing that it had no cash resorted to throwing my wallet in a ditch. Thank god the ditch wasn’t wet, but the dude got away. If I ever see that guy around here, or his blue jacket, I am going to ask him some questions.

I need to train even harder now, if I can’t even catch up to a petty thief, how I can call myself a “disciple of the Shaolin Temple”.

I Caught a Fly With My Chopstick!

When I first saw this “catching a fly with chopsticks” in those 90s kung-fu movies, I was like this is total BS and there is no way you can just whip your wrist and catch one with your chopsticks. And as a stubborn individual, I had held on to that very belief until today.

Today was just an ordinary Sunday, I was eating lunch outside next to the forest, in hopes of some shade so I don’t get too dark. I don’t know if it was the food or me that was so attractive today, but suddenly all of these bugs showed up (mosquitoes, flies, lady bugs, beetles, etc.). I mean there is A LOT of bugs here to begin with, but today was extra the abundance of insects. Being hotheaded, I was couldn’t hold it in anymore, so I swung my chopsticks around hoping they would stay away from my food, and guess what got stuck in between my chopsticks? A green pinkie sized insect, that I call a “fly” cause I feel asleep during Bio lectures.

Normally in the movies this would be when they protagonist would proceed to eat the insect, but not me. Though I am a man of few showers, I care about my dietary healthy. Though insects are rich in proteins, my subconscious would not let me be Bear Grylls, and told me to go and wash my chopsticks along with the insect on it.

I guess you never really believe some things till it happens to you, maybe trolls do exist?

500 Days of Summer, not just a movie

So my little cousin from London, who also came back to see me off to Shaolin Temple because he loves martial arts too, asked me for relationship advice today because apparently the girl who sits next to him at boarding school looks exactly like Emma Watson (when she was 13). I don’t normally give advice, but this is EMMA WATSON we are talking about here, so I said yes.

The problem is I don’t have any knowledge or experience in “this area”, so I resorted to only source of “relationship-knowledge” that I had at the time, which was 500 Days of Summer on Movies on Demand on my flight. Thank God that was a Level 8 typhoon in HK region that delayed my flight 5 hours, so I had ample time to watch the movie on the new Airbus 380, which if I may add, is BIG.

After watching the entire movie for the first time (I fell asleep the last time I watched it), I wrote down some of the things I have learned so that I may help me cousin or hurt him for life, I don’t know yet. But here they are , you kinda have to watch the movie to get them.

1.) “There are many fishes in the sea. Nooo, there is only Summer. Oh wait, jk, there are many fishes in the sea”

2.) “There are two types of people in the world… and…..woman.”

3.) “You can only “love her officially” if you love the way she makes you feel”

4.) “Being single is totally UNDERRATED”

5.) “The best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature, then burn the paperback version. ”

6.) “I have never told anyone that before” are the words to bring it to the next level in a relationship.

7.) Here is what “expectation” looks like, and here is what “reality” looks like. They don’t really look alike.

8.) People buy cards cause they don’t know how to say what they feel.

9.) Do not read “Picture of Dorian Gray” in a coffee shop alone, cause some guy will come and ask you about it and you will eventually marry him.

10.) Sometimes you can’t leave things to FATE, you have to decide.

That was about it, I wasn’t taking the whole time, I am not that weird.