YOUNG DRAGONS (WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2012):
Everyone passed. Here are the scores…
SANSHANGONG (WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2012):
Everyone passed. Here are the scores…
Saturday September 22nd – West Cowes YOUNG DRAGONS:
Everyone passed. Here are the scores…
Black Sash Level 1:
Charlie K 90%
Charlie B 98%
Sunday September 23rd Ryde.
The Measey Family.
Everyone passed. Here are the scores…
Richard 94% (Sanshangong)
Elle 92% (Young Dragons)
Tom 82% (Sanshangong)
Here are some images of my Taijiquan students…
More images to follow soon…
This Newsletter can also be read on FB – just go to “Simon Lailey”.
Well, now the Summer is over we are about to enter into a brand new academic year!
So far this year has been somewhat up and down what with THE MARSTA classes changing its venue TWICE and having to deal with all the distractions that have befallen the nation’s calendar since April and the Easter break.
But now, hopefully, we can settle down to a few weeks of uninterrupted and focused training before the next major distraction: Christmas.
DISCIPLINE NOT DISTRACTION
It is all-too-easy to be distracted. As that age-old saying goes, “If you have your health, you have everything”.
But health is taken for granted. That is partly why we train.
When one trains one address Wellness; when one does not train one’s inherent weaknesses take over.
Training at THE MARSTA is all about working hard (gongfu or kungfu) so that we become para-human rather than simply being normal. Being normal is unhealthy!
Training at THE MARSTA is all about confronting oneself.
It is about bringing discipline to an undisciplined world; it is about becoming strong in a world that is weak; it is about adopting a healthy posture in a world that is now, and for the foreseeable future, on its knees!
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
In recent weeks THE MARSTA, through its members, has shown incredible strength.
It has lost a fair few members…but that’s okay. If you have no self-respect you do not belong here – and they certain did not belong. So they ran!
Quality will always preside, at THE MARSTA, over quantity.
As one quanfa (kungfu) master once said: “If you train as a tiger you can always train with tigers. Other tigers will recognize you and you can train in peace with them.”
For the past several weeks THE MARSTA has been using “St Mary’s Centre” (SMC) in Ryde as its Wednesday evening SSG class venue.
Now everyone is back from their holidays we should be seeing a far better and regular attendance all-round which means that more classes will be held at SMC.
Starting from next Thursday (September 6th) the Thursday evening 5:30 – 6:30 SANSHANGONG class will be held at SMC.
In the meantime, all other Ryde-based classes are held at THE TEMPLE.
The Saturday and Sunday SANSHANGONG classes are now held at THE TEMPLE.
YD AND ATJQ DEMONSTRATION
On the first day of this month THE MARSTA demonstrated “Young Dragons” and “Applied Taijiquan” skills before an audience at “The Isobel Centre” on Pan Estate in Newport.
Eleven of us demonstrated – Lorraine and Ben, Carlene, Skye and Neo, Tristan (Maggie video-ed us), Drew, Ian, Lynne and myself, and it all went very well indeed.
For quite some time now I have been teaching ATJQ to a number of “mature ladies” and although the class was very small for a very long time it has, of late, grown somewhat.
Helping me each week is Drew Dale – on of my Sanshangong students who now learns ATJQ from me normally twice a week.
MARTIAL ARTS BOOT CAMP (MABC)
Three weeks ago I was asked if I could teach a Boot Camp. This I agreed to do and so there is now a weekly Boot Camp spread over four days – normally Mon-Thurs.
So far they have all been lunch-time sessions but this week(Sept 3, 5,6 and 7) they are all late afternoon and evening sessions.
Each session lasts 45 minutes and each course costs just £10 per person.
Each MABC is intensive, aerobic and cardio-vascular. Wonderful for weight-loss, strengthening and toning.
Boot Camp is proving VERY successful with two of the ladies already having lost a healthy numbers of inches and pounds! If you have been watching FB you will have seen some of the testimonies and result postings!
As you will probably know, the next grading is almost upon us.
Whilst all Gradings are very special, this month is going to be especially exciting given that one Young Dragon is actually going to attest for her BLACK SASH.
If she passes she is going to be the very first YOUNG DRAGON BLACK SASH ever!
Her name is Nicola (pictured above) and I wish her all the every best with this particularly harrowing trial.
You know, many people believe Gradings to be pointless and centred around inflating ego. For a very long time I was passionately against Gradings but… the world has changed a great deal since then and now it is a fact that Gradings are vital and for a number of reasons.
These reasons range from ‘physical’ through to ‘ancestral’ whilst also including ‘mental’, ‘spiritual’ and ‘emotional’.
Gradings also provide, for example, Student A from the Wednesday class with the opportunity to meet with and see Student B from the Sunday class.
Gradings also remind us that with each sash we earn the harder our training becomes and the more time we should put in. Not less time!
The Chinese have a saying; “Behind every mountain is a greater mountain.”
Some people ask me why there is no sparring at THE MARSTA. To quote the same master that spoke of tigers: “When two tigers really fight one will die of injuries today and the other will die of injuries tomorrow.” That is why we don’t spar.
So, instead, we have Gradings. Gradings that represent the sparring arena.
Here is the Grading schedule for this month:
ALL RYDE-BASED YOUNG DRAGONS INCLUDING YD SENIORS:
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH 5:30pm – 6:30pm AT SMC
WEST COWES YOUNG DRAGONS:
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 22ND 11am – 12noon AT LANE’S END PRIMARY SCHOOL
WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 6:30pm – 8:30pm AT SMC
PRIORY SCHOOL YOUNG DRAGONS:
WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 12:45pm – 1:45pm
As usual, Gradings cost £15 per student and, if successful, you will receive an A4-size full-colour laminated Certificate Of Achievement” and the relevant coloured sash.
In order to take a Grading one needs to have and wear the appropriate uniform!
This you are expected to purchase after a settling-in period of one month. The uniform WILL last a long time IF it is looked after UNLESS the student undergoes rapid growth.
It should be worn ONLY for Gongfu training!
It would be very wise to buy TWO sets of uniform as “Sorry, it’s in the wash” is an excuse I hear far too often!
Also please ensure that it is well-ironed!
When I was a fourteen year-old boy learning Karate I hated ironing but…I absolutely loved ironing my dogi (uniform) just before going to my lesson.
For me it was a Zen experience!
It was part of my warm-up, part of my lesson and part of my own self-imposed discipline. By doing this I was also showing respect to my sensei, his dojo, to the Art and its ancestors.
YD tee-shirt £15 each (£25 for two)
YD bottoms – as above
Sanshangong tee-shirts – as above
Sanshangong bottoms – as above
All-Black YD Kung Fu suits (jacket and bottoms) – £35
All-Black SSG Kung FU suits (jacket and bottoms) – £35
One suit and one YD tee-shirt (effectively two uniforms) £50
One suit and one SSG tee-shirt (effectively two uniforms) £50
Tai Chi tee-shirts £15
Tai Chi bottoms £15
Dangerous Muvvars! tee-shirts £15
DM bottoms £15
If you would like to buy a Tai Chi, SSG, YD or DM voucher for a friend, a family member or a loved one these are now available from me.
Valid for two months from the date of purchase – or from a date agreed by you and me – these vouchers cost £5 if it is for participating in a group class or £25 if it is for a private one-to-one lesson.
With Christmas not too far away this would make an ideal present – or an ideal gift for any occasion and at any time of year.
Vouchers are also available for my “Martial Arts Boot Camp” class, These cost £10 each.
A BOOK OF MASTERS
My first-ever book is now nearing completion. Currently totalling 95,000 words and containing more than 150 images spanning 400 pages, this book is destined for completion by the end of this year.
At the moment I am looking to self-publish this book. If I am not teaching or marketing THE MARSTA then this is where my energy is going!
This project is a very exciting one. I first began to work on this back in 1993.
THE MARSTA SCHEDULE
1:15pm – 2:15pm DANGEROUS MUVVARS!
430pm – 530pm YOUNG DRAGONS
5:45pm – 6:45pm YOUNG DRAGONS (Seniors only)
1:30pm – 2:30pm APPLIED TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI) at “The Isobel Centre” on Pan Estate, Newport
4pm – 5pm YOUNG DRAGONS
6:30pm – 7:30pm SANSHANGONG AT SMC
7:45pm – 8:45pm SANSHANGONG (Seniors)
5:30pm – 6:30pm SANSHANGONG AT SMC
4:15pm – 5:30pm YOUNG DRAGONS
9am – 10am TAIFU (a fascinating blend of Taijiquan and Kung Fu) – FAMILY CLASS
11am – 12 noon YOUNG DRAGONS at “Lane’s End Primary School”, Love Lane, West Cowes
3pm – 4pm SANSHANGONG
4:15pm – 5:15pm YOUNG DRAGONS
10:30am – 11:30am APPLIED TAIJIQUAN
1pm – 2pm SANSHANGONG
2:15pm – 3:16pm KUNG FU (FAMILY CLASS)
That is all for this month. See you in October.
Master Simon T Lailey
YD tomorrow (13th July) as usual but at my Chinese Temple.
No YD in West Cowes this Saturday (14th). Back NEXT week.
NO SSG this Sat (14th) or Sun (15th).
TaiFu on Sat (14th) – led by Rainy and Carlene.
TaiChi on Sun (15th) led by Rainy.
Some years ago I began to write a regular monthly newsletter.
First I wrote one for my adult students and then later another one for my YOUNG DRAGONS.
First it was a hard-copy publication then later I put them on my website (www.themarsta.co.uk
). Now I have decided to present tis newsletter by way of Facebook.
This latest development will be a regular monthly newsletter that will be of interest to ALL my students be they studying SANSHANGONG, YOUNG DRAGONS, APPLIED TAIJIQUAN or DANGEROUS MUVVARS.
Welcome, then, to the first in a new wave of monthly updates…
OUR NEW LOCATION
Already half-way through the year (where has the time gone?) and for THE MARSTA it has been extremely busy six months!
Having left The Bungalow at Ryde High School and having moved most of THE MARSTA classes to “Dover Park Primary School” (DPPS) on Dover Street in Ryde, things are now getting back to normal after all the recent distractions that most individuals let get in the way of intelligent living.
At this point I would like to thank Maxine at DPPS and Paul, the caretaker at DPPS who have been amazing in terms of working with me as I use this new location as a MARSTA base. Meanwhile, my smaller classes and private classes are now being taught at what I now call THE TEMPLE.
If you follow Facebook you will have seen that my shop (now in its second year of existence) has been ‘altered’ (or perhaps I should say, “altar-ed”) so that it now looks and feels like a real Chinese Temple.
In ancient China the word “guan”, which is now often used when speaking of Kung Fu schools (wushuguan, wuguan, etc), used to refer to a Daoist (Taoist) temple. This is why I now call my shop a temple.
As everyone, it seems, is using Facebook these days (shops, small businesses, large businesses, schools, politicians…) then so is THE MARSTA. Therefore PLEASE log daily just to keep yourself updated and aare of any last-minute changes. It will save me a lot of time phoning around whilst, at the same time, keep you abreast as to what is happening at and with THE MARSTA.
If you do use FB you will, no doubt have seen images of my students – solo pictures and now, more recently, photos of what I call my Kung Fu Families. If you are not yet up there then be prepared for a request to be included in one or both of these galleries.
Why am I doing this? Simply because I feel that in a society that has become dangerously aimless, the public do need to see and read about intelligent individuals (that’s you!) that do have a healthy focus and are not simply wandering, drifting and sponging.
Over the past year, Jim Clews and I have been working on a number of DVDs. So far we have produced five! These are not for entertainment and neither are they teaching tools but, rather, reference materials.
At first intended just for MARSTA students I have since decided to make these DVDs available for non-MARSTA individuals. Recently I have received a request from a martial artist in Norway who wishes to purchase one of these DVDs.
Each DVD lasts approximately 30 minutes (for ease of repetitive viewing) whilst each new title more ambitious that the previous title.
Each DVD costs £10 to MARSTA students and £15 for non-members.
From July 1st payment for classes should be by way of Standing Order.
This unique class was first launched one, maybe even two, years ago. But died a death when most of my students just got lazy! But now it is back! It began again very recently and is now well attended.
This class is now also doing well. Sometimes the attendance is not so good, but then we do live within a culture of laze and lethargy! But by and large I am very pleased with the overall attitude for I do have some very loyal students.
STANDING ORDER PAYMENT
With regard to the SANSHANGONG classes and the YOUNG DRAGONS classes…
I have been trying to get everyone to comply with this request for quite some time but some of you are reluctant. I don’t understand why for it is easy, straightforward, safe and fair. It also addresses commitment, discipline and sincerity –all of which you should no problem with!
If you have not yet got this sorted then please do so and have this organized starting from July 2012. Forms are available from me. Thank you.
Most of you are regular and reliable but if you are one of those that are not (and you will know who you are!) then please address this. Thank you.
If you cannot – or if your youngster cannot make class – then PLEASE let me know in advance. Some of you are very bad at this and I am starting to feel somewhat insulted. Please don’t text me – CALL me! Please give me as much notice as you can. This is common courtesy that also demonstrates consideration, respect and organization. Thank you.
THE MARSTA CLASS TIME-TABLE.
All Classes held at Dover Park Primary School unless otherwise stated although for this week (June 6th – June 8th inclusive) all DPPS classes are being held at THE TEMPLE. If in doubt, call me or email me.
WEDNESDAYS 6:30pm – 730pm
WEDNESDAYS 7:30pm – 8:30pm SENIORS ONLY
THURSDAYS 5:30pm – 6:30pm
SATURDAYS 3pm – 4pm
SUNDAYS 1pm – 2pm
MONDAYS 5:45pm – 6:45pm SENIORS ONLY
WEDNESDAYS 4pm – 5pm
FRIDAYS 415pm – 5:15pm
SATURDAYS 11am – 12 noon (LANE’S END PRIMARY SCHOOL, WEST COWES)
SATURDAY 4pm – 5pm
MONDAYS 11:30am – 12:30am (BINSTEAD COMMUNITY CENTRE)
THURSDAYS 10am – 11am (THE TEMPLE)
SUNDAYS 10:30am – 11:30am
MONDAYS 1:15pm – 2:15pm (THE TEMPLE)
SEE YOU NEXT MONTH – Monday July 2nd.
Master/Sijo Simon Lailey
The following 1,000-word document is a guide to the Chinese words, terms and concepts used within THE MARSTA.
Irrespective as to which art you practice within THE MARSTA, all of these you will find useful as the length, breadth and scope of your chosen discipline within THE MARSTA grows.
Unless otherwise stated, all terms are in Mandarin (China’s official national dialect).
In Mandarin, “singular” and “plural” is the same thus, for example, “Shan” can mean one mountain, two mountains or a range of mountains.
For the correct pronunciation of these terms…please ask me!
PLEASE REFER BACK TO THIS DOCUMENT FROM TIME TO TIME.
IT IS A LIVNG, BREATHING AND GROWING DOCUMENT AND SO WILL BE ADDED TO AS NEW TERMS BECOME RELEVANT.
Now read on…
San Shan Gong – literally: “There Mountains Training”.
Sanshan – Literally, “Three Mountains” – an old poetic name for Fuzhou City. Within Fuzhou City are three “mountains”: White Mountain (Bai Shan), Black Mountain (Hei Shan) and Level Mountain (Ping Shan).
Bai – white.
Hei – black.
Ping – level, flat, even.
Fu Zhou – the city and provincial capital of Fujian.
Fujian – the south-east province of China within which lies Fuzhou City.
Taijiquan – the true name for what is now often called “Tai Chi”.
Qi Gong – literally, Breath (qi) Work (gong). This is a discipline whereby fuel is created an order to “drive” the Taijiquan exercise. Commonly called Chi Kung.
Wu Gong – breath work used for martial applications.
Zhan Zhuan – Commonly called “Tree Hugging” within Taijiquan circles.
Shang Shu – Literally, “Upper Tree”. This term is unique to SSG and is used to describe “Tree Hugging”.
Zhong Shu – Literally, “Middle Tree”. This term refers to a mid-level “Tree Hugging” posture. This term is unique to SSG.
Xia Shu – Within SSG, this term refers to what is often called “Bear Posture”. It is a lower-attitude version of “Tree Hugging”. This term is unique to SSG.
Quan Li – salutation.
Bao Quan Li – an alternative term for “salutation”.
Chan – a Chinese interpretation of Indian “Prana” meditation mixed with Daoist concepts.
Guan – building, house or hall. In Ancient China “guan” could also refer to a Daoist temple.
Wu Guan – a sacred place reserved for the practice, study and preservation of Classical Chinese Martial Arts.
Dao Guan – Literally, “Way House” – a sacred place where one studies The Way (Daoism). In Japanese: Dojo.
“Shao Long” – “Young Dragons”. This is the name I have given to my junior SSG programme for youngsters aged between four and fourteen.
Shao Lin – literally: “Young Forest”.
Shao Lin Si – Shaolin Temple.
Si – temple, monastery.
Song Shan Shaolin Si – the most famous Shaolin Temple located at the foot of Mt. Song (Song Mountain or Song Shan) in Henan Province (China).
Nan Shao Lin Si – Southern Shaolin Temple (now being promoted and marketed as the “Shaolin Chan Si” – a temple within Quanzhou City in south Fujian).
“Nan Shao Lin Chan Quan Dao Mun” – the unique name I have given to my unique Chinese Kung Fu/Taijiquan Temple which translates literally to: “South Young Forest Meditation Martial Arts Way Door”. This refers to an “open” and spiritual Doorway/Gateway/Entrance whereby through entering one may study South Shao Lin Chinese Meditation and Chinese Martial Arts as a means to pursuing “The Way” as a lifelong discipline.
Quan – “fist” or Classical Chinese Martial Arts. Commonly defined as “Chinese Boxing”.
Xing – Literally, “shape”. This is the title I give to all of the solo exercises (routines) within the SSG framework. This is what the Japanese call “kata” – a term used within karate and judo.
Taolu – a modern-day Chinese term for what I call “xing”.
Duilian – this term normally refers to a paired practice of pre-arranged movements although is also used when more than two practitioners engage in a pre-arranged sequence.
Fo Jiao – Buddhism.
Dao Jiao – Taoism.
Kongzi – Confucius.
Luohan – Buddha.
Xiang – fragrance.
Xiang Gang – Literally, fragrant harbor (In the Cantonese dialect, Hong Kong).
Xiang Dian Quan – “Incense Shop Fist” (a style of Chinese martial arts from Fujian of which the Sanzhan exercise is practiced within SSG.
Shifu – teacher.
Sijo – founder.
Nan – south, southern.
Bei – north, northern.
Dong – east, eastern.
Xi – west, wstern.
Tui – leg.
Nan Quan, Bei Tui – a Chinese idiom referring to two essential kinds of Classical Chinese Martial Arts: the northern styles that favour leg techniques and the southern styles that favour hand (fist) techniques.
Ni Hao – Hello.
Zhao Shan Hao – Good Morning.
Xia Wu Hao – Good Afternoon.
Wan Zhan Hao – Good Evening.
Zai Jian – Good Bye.
Man Zhou – when someone walks away from you (as in, leaving) then after saying “Zaijian”you can say “manzhou” meaning: Take care (literally, walk slowly).
Ni Hao Ma? – How are you?
Wo Hao – I’m fine.
Wo Hen Hao – I am very well
Ni Ne? – And you?
Hao De – very good
Xie Xie! – Thank you.
Xie Xie Ni – Thank you very much!
Wu De – the code of behaviour and respect upheld within the Classical Chinese Martial Arts.
Ling – zero
Yi – one
Er – two
San – three
Si – four
Wu – five
Liu – six
Qi – seven
Ba – eight
Liu – nine
Shi – ten
Er Shi – twenty
San Shi – thirty
Yi Bai – one hundred
Gong Fu – hard ongoing work over a lifetime (wrongfully called Kung Fu).
Wu Shu – literally “martial (wu) arts (shu)” but nowadays this concept has wrongfully come to reflect a modern-day post 1949 attitude to martial arts “moves” plagued with gymnastics and show-off skills! Very clever…but shallow.
San Zhan – literally, Three (san) Battles (zhan). This refers to a ancient sequence of movements (xing) that is fathomless in its interpretation. “Sanzhan” is the very foundation to Sanshangong as it is to many of the martial arts styles of Fujian Province.
Zhan – battle, fight, war, struggle
Qiai – the shout we make that accompanies many of our techniques. In Japanese this equates to “kiai” whilst both translate to energy (qi/ki) and harmony (ai).
Liu – school, system.
Pai – sect.
Ma Bu – horse stance.
Bu Fa – foot techniques.
Ping Ma – level (even, parallel) horse stance.
Zuo Ma – left horse.
You Ma – right horse.
Hu Quan– Tiger Fist.
Hu Xing Quan – Tiger Shape Fist.
He Quan – Crane Fist.
Bai He Quan– White Crane Fist.
Gou Quan – Dog Fist.
Long Quan – Dragon Fist.
Luohan Quan – Monk Fist.
Ji Fa Quan– Chicken Method Fist.
Hu Kou – Tiger Mouth.
Long Zhuo – Dragon Claw.
Ming He Quan – Crying Crane Fist. The first Crane Form of SSG.
Wu Zu Quan – Five Ancestor Fist (in Hokkien dialect, Ngo Cho Kun). The second Crane Form of SSG.
Qi Kun – Starting Fist (the first quarter of the 5AF Sanzhan form).
Hu Quan Sanzhan – the first Tiger Form of SSG.
Xia Sha Hu – Tiger Descending The Mountain (Xia – down, Shan – mountain, Hu – tiger). The second Tiger Form of SSG.
Long Quan Qi Bu Shou Fa – Dragon Fist (Long Quan) Seven Steps (Qi Bu) Hand Methods (Shou Fa). The first Dragon Form of SSG.
Fa – method, technique. This term acknowledges a strong Buddhist connection/influence.
Zhuan Zhang – literally, “Rotating” (Zhuan) and “Palm” (Zhang). Another form unique to SSG.
Ngo Ki Lat – Five Part Power (a 5AF term).
Ba Bu Lian – Literally, eight (ba) steps (bu) consecutive or eight (lian).
Si He – Four (si) Combinations (he). An animal form (lion, tiger, dragon, crane) unique outside of Fuzhou, to SSG.
Ting Shou (ting show) – listening hands.
Zai Lai! – repeat (again).
Chi Ku – to eat bitter. To endure suffering.
Dan Tian – according to the dictionary this term literally means ‘red field’ although the usual translation used within the context of traditional Chinese martial arts is field of elixir. Reflecting the centre of one’s focus when it comes to Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Thai meditation, this is also the focal point used within karate when it comes to the point of qiai or kiai. Referred to within Japan as tanden, itten or hara, this is also the focal point within aikido and kendo.
Fu – pictured above and upon the front cover, this character means blessing, blessed,. good luck, good fortune. It is the first of the two characters that forms Fujian and Fuzhou.
Kong Shou Dao- literally: empty (kong), hand (shou) way (dao). This is the Chinese rendering of karate-do.
Ming – the concept of ‘understanding’ developed through the application of ‘xing’ and ‘tingshou’ as a paired practice (practicing with a partner) as one continually explores and experiments.
Ming Bai – means to understand (wo ming bai le – I understand; wo bu ming bai – I do not understand). The character Ming means clear, bright, to know.
Wen Wu – literature (wen) and martial (wu) studies which, together, establish, provideand maintain Balance in Life.
Wen Wu Shuang Dao – an idiom used within China reflecting the correct path in Life. Literally: literature studies and martial studies together point The Way. (The ‘Way’ here refers to the Way as practiced within Daoism (Tao-ism) – one of China’s three great and mainline doctrines.
There is, of course, much more to come so please do check back from time to time.
If there is a word, term or expression you would like to see here then please do let me know.
To be continued..
This essay speaks of many varied aspects of the grading concept. Bringing to the fore a number of different topics, you will, no doubt, find some of these easy to grasp whilst others perhaps, not so easy!
During the 1970s and 80s I was a member of a local karate school where, every three months just as long as you had attended a minimum of thirty-six two-hour lessons, you were put in for a grading. You were not asked but “invited” and would never ever think to refuse!
I never questioned the grading concept. I joined the school, trained hard and when I was “invited” I did as I was “asked”. I saw this “invitation” as an acknowledgment of my efforts – not that I was looking for or expecting one!
Many years later I saw the whole grading concept being used and abused. Not within the school I attended because my sensei was a decent and upright man – but by other schools where it was being used as an ego-boosting, money-spinning, student-keeping, parent-pleasing and oftentimes political affair.
So, for twenty years plus I was vehemently and passionately opposed to gradings!
Then, one day I was invited to grade under a group of Beijing-based Chinese kungfu masters and as I was assured that this would not be a negative experience I agreed to be attested by them. But I did need convincing! It all looked good in theory but the reality, the politics and the ego…
I was sadly and grossly disappointed!
I will not go into that experience here but you can, if you like, read of this on this website in my essay entitled “Duanwei – No way!” Suffice to say that now I was well and truly convinced that I would never ever go the grading route again.
But that was then (2004) and this is now.
Now I see that the world has change and not for the better and so now I do see a very real need for gradings – just so long as they are effected in the correct way. My way is, I maintain, correct.
Within my Academy one may grade twice a year – every six months or so. Once at the Chinese New Year and then again six months later.
When you grade under me it may be before me by myself or it may be before me and my two senior students. Each of us hold the Black Sash and the Gold Sash in what we practice.
When you are graded you will be given a score reflected as a percentage. If you achieve 69 per cent or less then you have failed.
During your grading you will have to demonstrate between twenty and thirty separate exercises at least. Some of these will be a solo practice whilst others may be “against” one, two or three others. You will grade as part of a group.
In your grading you be assessed upon your physical skill, attitude, spirit, stamina, focus, control, concentration, balance, body language, confidence, assertion, ability, knowledge and understanding. I (we) also take note of your punctuality, your uniform, your obedience and your listen-ing/compliance skills.
As your teacher and your assessor I will know you as an individual for I watch everyone very closely at all times – even during your regular lessons under me and should I meet you outside and away from the “daoguan” (my martial arts training temple).
As a teenager back in the 70s my training took place in a dojo where everyone in the dojo trained. Very rarely did anyone watch and if they did it was not as a spectator or part of an audience to be entertained but as an individual seriously considering joining.
Casting my mind back with a memory that is still vivid I recall one of my friends asking me if, one evening, he could visit me at the dojo watch me train. I told him that it was not up to me but up to my sensei.
“But if you are allowed to watch”, I told my friend, “on no account can you talk or laugh or mess around.” (My friend was bit of a joker!) “And you should only watch”, I added, “if you are seriously thinking about joining us.”
He understood so I asked my sensei. My friend was permitted to watch. He never did join (as I had suspected) but he did honour my terms and sit in silence for the entire two hours and spoke not one single word.
I assume that this was, at that time, “standard” within all dojo around the country.
But these days I believe things are very different. Indeed, within my Academy I do allow visitors to watch. I do prefer them to be silent and if they are watching my adult class then this is generally how they behave.
As I have said, we live in a different world now compared to four decades ago and so when it comes to my “Young Dragons” and “Tiny Tigers” classes then I do allow parents to watch. In fact I actually invite and welcome parents to watch for in this way I help them out whilst they also help me out.
But in addition to this they can also learn something of value whilst be in a position to enforce what I say to their youngster(s) when they are away from the daoguan. (I call my training area a “daoguan” which is Mandarin Chinese, effectively, for dojo.)
If there is a downside to parents watching then it has to be in the form of background noise and parents seeing the youngsters from the outside and not from the inside which is where I am looking. This being the case, if one boy or girl is given a higher or lower percentage in their grading then I do sometimes receive some very mild criticism. This is the main reason for this article.
I have even had this problem from some adult students of mine complaining about their receiving a lower mark than another daoguan student in the same grading!
In my day you would either be thrown out of the dojo for passing such a comment or, if the sensei was a little more compassionate, be told, “Just shut up and train!”
I recall my sensei telling us that for the first ten years of one’s training one was not actually entitled to an opinion. ‘If you didn’t know what you are talking about’, he would say, ‘then don’t say anything at all. Just train, observe and learn.’
Look at today’s world. It is shallow, weak, cosmetic and fake.
So how do we get away from that? The answer is simple: Train! Join THE MARSTA and train. Don’t look at the world – look at yourself. Don’t worry about others, worry about yourself. And eventually you will learn not to worry. Not about anything. For will worrying change anything? Of course not!
The Japanese live by the code, “Fate is Fate and Life is all an Illusion.” This was not just the Samurai code but the code of the everyday person. They understood (understand). They knew (know).
Don’t look out, look in. Look at yourself from the inside. Don’t try to compete with others, compete with yourself. The world is very competitive and this is not healthy for it promotes an inflated ego.
A great many world class athletes retire (or are “retired”) young and can’t handle not being “front-page news”. So they crack! Become mentally unstable. Why? Imbalance. We don’t see that. We just don’t see them or hear of them anymore. Yet they continue to live if you can call it that.
Competing with yourself is healthy for it does not promote an inflated ego but, on the contrary, promotes humility. We live a blameful society (what we quite rightly call our “blame culture”) where it is always someone else’s fault and never our own.
At THE MARSTA you will learn to develop the strength to take whatever blame is your own doing full in the face. You will take it full in the face and get through it and be stronger for it. You will become so strong that sometimes you may even take the blame when you are not the one to be blamed.
Why? Because you can take it – or perhaps because the one that should be taking take it simply cannot.
If someone does better than in the grading, don’t be deflated but, rather, be inspired. Aspire to be like them and if you think you were as good as or better than them then think again – or just accept that it seems that you were not. Don’t think so shallow!
Feel good for yourself and for the others regardless of how well or how badly you think you did, for they are a part of you and you are a part of them – part of the same school (Academy). Fight yourself and you fight them. Fight them and you are fight yourself.
Or would you rather take the class???
If you pass your grading, be proud. If you fail your grading be humble. If you pass your grading be humble. If you fail your grading be proud. Think about this!
During one of my gradings I was double-graded. I don’t know why and I never did ask. But I was going for one belt and got the next one up. I was surprised, proud and humbled. When I went for my black belt some months later I was failed. Notice that I did not say that “I failed” – I said that “I was failed”. There is a difference!
I do not know why I was failed – to test me, perhaps? To see my reaction? Or perhaps I just wasn’t good enough. I never did ask. It was not important to me. My fellow students were sincerely shocked and gutted whilst my attitude was “Never mind. I had double-graded before and now I hadn’t made it. I’ll try again next time.” I took my black belt grading again six months later and passed.
I could have become upset, angry, confused and so I could have left the school and discontinued my practice. But I did not.
Kongzi (Confucius) once said – or perhaps he said it more than once! – that “Failure is the mother of success.” He also said, “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”
Do not be too young or narrow-minded to understand the value, purpose and power of philosophy!
To quote Laozi (the founder of Daoism): “Anything great is long in the making.” So do not be in a hurry! Life passes by all-too-quickly and the daily routine is all-too-often saturated in the belief that one has to move fast, keep to deadlines and keep pace with everyone.
Training is your time. Your time to find yourself whilst getting to know yourself and understand yourself so…savour every moment – good and bad – and eventually you will eliminate good and bad for they, too, are simply illusion.
It is true, that one can gauge one’s effectiveness – one’s level of skill – by putting your skills to use when under some degree of pressure. Some achieve this by free-fighting but then nine times out of ten one’s skill goes out the nearest window and the fight is reduced to luck or techniques that are not a part of the actual discipline but, instead, are apart from the actual discipline. What a waste of time! Entertaining for the audience but more and mere illusion for the fighter.
Within my Academy there is no sparring. Why? Because sparring suggests an exchange and trade of blows (fighting) and there is no fighting in my discipline. Only winning. Efficient, assertive and controlled winning. At my academy we practice CONstructively not DEstructively.
(As an aside, if I thought for one moment that our national health system was equipped knowledge-wise and ability-wise to deal with injuries sustained from martial arts practice then perhaps I would think differently, but personal experience tells me otherwise!)
Within my Academy the testing ground for your skill, technique and level of ability is the grading. This. if nowhere else, is where we introduce and utilize the pressure concept.
But look a little deeper and you will see that the grading concept is also and actually within each and every lesson you attend – and each and every day of your life…until your lessons and your life inevitably merge.
This is then the meaning of Martial Arts as a Way of life. Of life, to life, in life and for life.
So one may look upon each training session and each day as being a conceptual grading. In this way you may wish to call it one’s very own CPD – to use a modern-day abbreviation. (CPD stands for “Continuous Professional Development” and this is becoming standard procedure within many big companies, the NHS being one example.)
When I was at High School a concept entitled “Continuous Assessment” (CA) was introduced whereby a strict monitoring of one’s three-year coursework would be a part of your final exam result.
This made perfect sense to me – what I could not understand was why it had taken “the system” so long to think of it! I had already been shouting “Continuous Assessment” for a number of years!
In some martial arts clubs an assessor is brought in to conduct the grading. This is often if not always someone senior to the teacher, instructor or coach – someone that does not actually know the students being graded.
I do understand this up to a point but choose not to go this way with my gradings. This, then, means that one has to trust me not to fall into one or more of several potential traps namely incompetence, favouritism and bullying.
More recently I have been informed of another China-based grading system which is laughable in its childish attitude. Based upon a point-accumulation system (rather like the one whereby Australian Immigration decide whether or not you are worthy of living in their country) it is clearly designed for sheep and not for individuals. (It is not cheap either!) At THE MARSTA I am only concerned with teaching and promoting individuals and individualism.
When you grade at THE MARSTA you may well be grading along with others that are going for a higher and a lower grade than yourself. If this is the case then you will be able to see just what it is that seniors have to demonstrate, achieve and become whilst, at the same time, be reminded as to what is was that you once had to do and how it felt to have do it as a lower grade. You will also begin to see just how far you have to go whilst realizing just how far (little!) you have so far travelled.
As I am teaching a number of private students, gradings provide you with an opportunity to “see a strange face” whilst making new friends. This helps in creating unity within the Academy as one’s circle of friends increases and expands.
To quote Kongzi once again: “Have no friends not equal to yourself.” Like attracts like. Understand this well! This dos not mean only talk to those of your own sash level. Rather, it means appreciate that you and the other students are a part of one big extended Kung Fu family.
Do not be fooled by this lengthy essay. It may be long but is in no way complete.
This essay simply serves to highlight a few main points whilst providing food for thought. I trust that it has been of use to you.
Philosophy plays a key-role in teachings at THE MARSTA. You can find more on this upon this website by clicking on “THE MARSTA PHILOSOPHY”.
From Sunday January 22nd 2012 until Monday January 23rd 2012 (11pm – 1am) myself and ten of my SANSHANGONG Kungfu students celebrated the lunar new year by way of the Okinawan tradition of “Toshi Goshi Geiko”. This unique celebration the Okinawans call “Nikanen Undo” (thank you for that, John!).
During this two-hour training period Jim (one of my Black Sash/Gold Sash students), Drew, Richard (who, like Jim, came to China with me two years ago), Jon, Sarah, Ellis, Caroline (one of my private students), Kyle, Olly, Harry (who learns Tai Chi from me) and myself enjoyed some good challenging training as we took our discipline from one year to the next.
At 11pm sharp I opened this two-hours training session by greeting my students “Xin Nian Kwei Le!” and then gave a brief introductory talk as to what Toshigoshigeiko is and how the classical Chinese martial arts is not a just a mere portion of the Chinese culture but the very culture, itself.
During this speech I also thanked them for making the effort in coming along. With work or school the next morning it would have been all too easy just to have stayed at home in the warm – if not in bed – but no, these students were here not only to support me and themselves but also out of respect and acknowledgment of the physical culture that they practice under me.
Before I continue I would like to thank Kyle’s mum for allowing her teenage son in participate; Olly’s mum, Cat, for very kindly giving us a number of Chinese lanterns (more of that later); Olly’s dad, Richard, who very kindly drove Olly in all the way from Yarmouth and then sat reading for two hours whilst Olly trained with us; and Mr. Matyjaszek for allowing his son – not even of teenage years yet! – to come along and join with us.
Having addressed my students our session began with three minutes of kneeling meditation before getting down to some austere physical martial arts.
First we practiced a kungfu exercise called Qikun (this we then repeated a good dozen or so times and with various seniors students taking the lead) and then some training which looks very much like Hung Gar style kungfu. Then, the same exercise but wearing twelve iron rings. For most of these students this was a new experience; they had seen these rings in our “daoguan” (training temple) but never actually used them until now.
Next on the agenda was our “Crying Crane” exercise (Minghequan Sanzhan, in Mandarin Chinese) and then an exercise I had learned at the beginning of my martial arts journey – some thirty-five years earlier – called Sanchin. This is a three-minute meditation routine (which normally us four to five minutes which we then repeated twice.
As our Sanchin practice came to a close the time was now 11:58.
Asking my students to form one line I then staggered that line before asking everyone to adopt a kneeling posture (seizan). “When I shout go”, I instructed my students, “everyone jump up, step back one step and shout – as loud as you can! – Gong Hei Fa Choi.” I continued, “I will time it so that the word “Gong” is right on the stroke of twelve…so please don’t get your timing wrong. There will be no second chance – not until this time next year, anyway.”
I then had my students practice saying “Gong Hei Fa Choi” a few times.
Then it was 11:58:58.
“GO!” I shouted.
Everyone jumped, everyone shouted and everyone achieved perfect timing! Mission accomplished! And so loud they were, too! What a buzz there was hanging in the air.
“Well done everyone”, I said with big satisfied smile on my face. “Now…lantern time.”
Two years earlier I had taken a number of my students across to China for a two-week research/training adventure. We had arrived at the tail-end of the two-week Chinese New Year celebration period – a time when the Chinese launch a countless number of paper lanterns fuelled by flame.
As I have said, Olly’s mum had very kindly donated a number of these lanterns to our Toshigoshigeiko and so now we all moved outside – into the cool and quiet New Year’s morning air -where we launched a number of these lanterns.
Lighting these lanterns, standing barefoot upon the cold tarmac floor (not that I knew it to be cold!) we all got involved with the holding, the lighting and the launching of these lovely lanterns. Watching them take to the black velvety sky of night brought back vivid memories of that night in Quanzhou two years earlier when Jim, Richard, my other students and I had seen that lantern-filled sky in southern China.
Moving back inside our daoguan we then sat down to some traditional Chinese New Year food – cold sweet tangerines. We also had some “lucky chocolate” along with some drinks – Japanese beer, Ginger Wine minus the alcohol, and some fizzy drinks.
The beer had been “left over” from last year’s Christmas party and so here I was surviving yet another celebration and to see another special occasion!
As we as there eating and drinking I opened a “Question And Answer” session whereby my students were invited to ask any question they liked. The old way of kungfu training was that asking questions was often forbidden in class – that is if, indeed, you were allowed talk at all! But ever since I have taken on the role of “Teacher” I have opposed that Way. Of course, my classes are virtually word-free classes (I am the one to talk, if anyone) but if there is real need then I do permit questions and comments. This I consider a healthy and safe communication.
Before long we were on our feet again for some more training.
From solo-practice exercises we now looked at some two-man drills include our famous “limb-knocking” exchanges. Scary and violent to look at from the outside this is a safe and stimulating exercise by those that know what they are doing. In reality, not scary nor violent at all!
In China, Richard had been invited to practice this upon a concrete pillar! Both survived and the clip is on my Facebook site.
As 1am fast-approached we then practiced some slow and soothing Qigong movements whereby “closing” our session whilst “storing” our energy. It was now 1am and so time to bring this two-hour training event to an end. Having thanked everyone again for their time, effort and spirit we bade each other good night (and Happy New Year!) before making our way back to our homes.
As he left, Jim turned to me and said, “You are going to be doing this every year now, aren’t you?” (As if he didn’t already know the answer!)
(Thank you, Sarah, for the wonderful photographs)
SOME OF MY “YOUNG DRAGONS SENIORS”
PICTURED WITH THEIR NEWLY-EARNT SASHES AND CERTIFICATES
IN FRONT OF THE MARSTA SHRINE
YOUNG DRAGONS Oakfield Junior Football Team Friday January 13th at THE MARSTA:
Patrick O’Meara White Sash 96% pass
Lewis Pengelly White Sash 85% pass
Sam Higgin White Ssah 92% pass
Jonathan Attrill White Sash 85% pass
Michael Archer White Sash 96% pass
Elias Ahmed White Sash 98%pass
Taylor Bates White Sash 97% pass
Kaylen Warrington White Sash 93% pass
YOUNG DRAGONS (Newport group) Monday January 16th at THE MARSTA:
Jacob Morley White Sash 90% pass
Shay Dixon White Sash 92%% pass
Scott Purdue White Sash 94% pass
Sam Lee White Sash 94% pass
Sophia Gordon White Sash 98% pass
Rebecca Hodges White Sash 95% pass
Daniel Hodges White Sash 94% pass
Chris Turner White Sash 95% pass
YOUNG DRAGONS West Cowes Group Saturday January 14th at “Lane’s End Primary School”:
George Kermode Blue Sash 92% pass
Charlie Kermode Blue Sass 80% pass
Nikki Reilly Brown Sash 98% pass
Lillie Mmildenhall Yellow Sash 84% pass
Hollie Mildenhall Yellow Sash 82% pass
Maddi Knowles Orange Sash 100% pass
Molly Knowles Orange Sash 98% pass
Lee Webb Red Sash 98% pass
Harrison Knights Yellow Sash 94% pass
Laura Huish White Sash 96% pass
Katie Taylor White Sash 100% pass
Holly Creighton White Sash 80% pass
Savannah Fowler White Sash 88% pass
Thomas Flynn White Sash 78% pass
Danny Arnold White Sash 74% pass
Zack Domoney White Sash 76% pass
Seanna Howland White Sash 90% pass
Kayleigh Reilly White Sash 86% pass
Harry Domoney White Sash 78% pass
YOUNG DRAGONS Sunday January 15th at THE MARSTA:
Amelia Raman White Sash 80% pass
Ciaren Warrington White Sash 88% pass
Amber Newman White Sash 90% pass
Rachel Edwards White Sash 92% pass
Harry Barber White Sash 86% pass
Jack Barber White ash 88% pass
Dylan Johnson Coyle White Sash 80% pas
Archie Barber White Sash 84% pass
Ben Thompson White Sash 90% pass
Faye Newman White Sash 92% pass
Emily Skipper White Sash 82% pass
Leila Lynch White Sash 84% pass
Ryan Skipper White Sash 92% pass
Felix Laitt White Sash 90% pass
Caragh McLaughlin White Sash 94% pas
Taylor Mitchell White Sash 80% pass
William Howlett Red Sash 88% pass
Imran Raman Red Sash 82% pass
Tristan Downer Red Sash 90% pass
Stephanie Doyle Red ash 94% pass
Rhea Thakrar Red Sash 82% pass
Xavier Varhaugvik-Rhind Red Sash 84% pass
Callum Marshall Red Sash 86% pass
Samuel Palin Red Sash 88% pas
Luke Bailey Red Sash 80% pass
Ben Redstone Yellow Sash 94% pass
Merlin Cross Red Sash 86% pass
Phoenix Cross Red Sash 88% pass
YOUNG DRAGONS Seniors Sunday January 15th at THE MARSTA:
Ben Brotherhood Orange Sash 84% pass
Neo Fryer Orange Sash 88% pass
Jacob Redstone Yellow Sash 96% pass
Skye Fryer Yellow Sash 90% pass
Jack Elsom Blue Sash 98% pass
Lyle Winfield Yellow Sash 94% pass
Isobel Russell Green Sash 90% pass
Amelia Clews Green Sash 94% pass
Jasmine Warren Orange Sash 90% pass
Maisie Beere Orange Sash 84% pass
Ella Measey Green Gash 98% pass
Young Dragons (Priory inependent schokl) Thursday January 26th:
Shanelle Gauntlett Green Sash 100% pass
Daniel Thornton Orange Sash 80% Pass
Charlotte Selby-Pike White Sash 88% pass
Dino Goodley Orange Sash 80% pass
Erin Horrix Yellow Sash 82% pass
Athena Smith White Sash 86% pass
Dominic Weston White Sash 90% pass
Jack Ridett Yellow Sash 74% pass
Mikee Flannery White Sash 90% pass
Jackson Peace Yellow Sash 84% pass
Tomas Hayward Red Sash 88% pass
Rafferty Boyd-Kerr White Sash 90% pass
Sanshangong Wednesday January 18th at THE MARSTA:
Jack Redfern Green Sash 98% pass
Tom Measey Green Sash 96% pass
Aaron Danvers-Jukes Green Sash 90% pass
Dave Briggs Brown Sash 82% pass
Dave Russell Yellow Sash 90% pass
Ellis Russell Yellow Sash 92% pass
Sara Searle Orange Sash 100% pass
Scott Mckenzie Red Sash 88% pass
Ariane Cherry Red Sash 89% pass
Kyle Murchison White Sash 86% pass
Katie Sandercock White Sash 86% pass
Rachel Roberts White Sash 88% pass
Andy Higgin Red Sash 92% pass
Jody Warrington White Sash 84% pass
Carla Fisher Green Sash 82% pass
Beverley Clews White Sash 92% pass
Carlene Fryer White Sash 94% pass
Nick Holden Blue Sash 86% pass
Mateusz Grzerorzewski Yellow Sash 94% pass
Drew Dale Orange Sash 96% pass
VERY WELL DONE TO ALL OF YOU !!!
Happy New Year to all my students!
Here is an update as to when classes resume…
YOUNG DRAGONS – first session is Wed 4th Jan 4pm – 5pm
SANSHANGONG – first session is Wed 4th Jan 7pm – 9pm
TAIJIQUAN – first session is Sunday Jan 8th 10:30am – 11:30am
TINY TIGERS – first session is Monday 9th Jan 4:15pm – 4:45pm
UP-AND-COMING KUNG FU GRADINGS AT THE MARSTA…
Saturday Sunday 15th Jan 2:30pm – 3:30pm for all Ryde-base YD students
Sunday 15th Jan 4pm – 5pm for all Ryde-based YD seniors
Saturday 14th Jan 11am – 12 noon for all West Cowes YD
Parents are welcome to watch
Priory School YD Thursday Jan 19th 12:45pm
Sanshangong Wednesday Jan 18th 7pm – 9pm
UNIFORM AN CURRENT SASH (if you have one) IS TO BE WORN AT ALL GRADINGS
UNIFORM AN CURRENT SASH (if you have one) IS TO BE WORN AT ALL GRADINGS