MJ Bridger is a fantasy author preparing to unleash his work on the world. Currently residing in his home country of Wales with his wife, daughter and highly trained attack cats. Having already written two books, he thought it would be fun to emulate Hollywood and reboot his own fantasy franchise, except to do it better. For a laugh, also wrote some short-stories for his fantasy world, because apparently one idea was not enough. Has a troubling fascintion with martial arts and taking on guys much bigger and better than he is.
Martial arts appears to be a path to power. Be it internal, external or just plain personnal, power all the same. Those of us who've never had it desire it. And naturally because you desire it you want it and fast. But what the Kung-Fu movies don't tell you would be that the power comes from a very unexpected place; patience. Patience can be difficult, especially with yourself. But, so Sifu says, that's what you have to do, you have to be patient. On the grand map of the path to power I'm still taking my first steps on a very long road. So my key to mastering all this and getting to the point where I can successfully beat someone lies not with some strategy of attack, some unbeatable move, but to be patient with myself. Also it occurs to me that I have to trust. Trust that all things, eventually, will come to pass. So patience and of course practice.
There appear to be two "rules" for being a writer according to a good many of one's "peers." One would be "Write. Lots." The other would be "Read. Lots." I've also seen it written that the piece of advice regularly given for anyone trying to write into a genre would be to read what one's peers in that genre are writing. Now, in case it hasn't been mentioned already, I'm trying for fantasy. One could go further and label it "oriental epic fantasy," but whatever. And so, according to Stephen King and others I should be reading other peoples' fantasy. There only appears to be one problem with this. I don' wanna.
Won't be going to the 20th Anniversary event for Mousavi Kung Fu, which appears a shame, but things have a way of working out against you some times. There's always next time. Coming back to training after a week away was good, and interesting in its own way. Sifu himself noted how everyone now appears a lot more relaxed when sparring. I myself try to do that, since I tend to get scrappy when I get all tense. This week I tried something a little different - during sparring, using only stuff from the Lau Gar 1 form. After all, the concept appears to be that everything we need to know appears to be there in the form. All you need to do appears to be study the form and its possible applications. Did it work? Sometimes. Shooting in for grappling was attempted too this week. Can't say I'm a big fan, since I'm so thin and long of limb, therefore am easy to grab and like to therefore keep to striking distance. People grab me and I start wailing on them. But... getting out of one's comfort zone does appear to be a worthwhile excercise. So that might be something to try next time. Also, taking things from other places can not only remind you of things you learn in Kung-fu, but also introduce new ideas that you recognise from other styles. This week I learned of a martial style I hadn't come across before - Jailhouse Rock or 52 Blocks. Reminds me of Keysi Fighting Method. Nothing I'd care to try in Kung-fu, but KFM's teaching method of setting time aside at the end of the lesson to do "shadow" training of the techniques learned as well as sitting down, closing your eyes and mentally going over the lessons learned in that session appear to be good ones. And, unsurprisingly, just like Dr Yang mentions when teaching Yang style Tai Chi for beginners, the initial drive can be to learn the moves, but then once those are learned you go back and start to apply what you learned. And then, once there, you apply the mental and spiritual part of it. All good stuff.
It can often be difficult for those who don't suffer with chronic depression to fully comprehend what it is the afflicted go through on a regular basis. Even worse can be the way said afflicted feel when confronted by those who don't get what we're doing through. Prone to thinking too much on how we appear to the outside world, the feeling of isolation can only get worse when faced with such misunderstanding. However, I was watching the episode of Sherlock, The Hounds of Baskerville (2012) and it suddenly struck me how well that shows an allegory of what we chronic sufferers go through. Hell, there's even a Black Dog in it that only poor Henry Knight can see. In a similar vein, the notion of the human's in-built capacity for self-destruction came up again this week (and last while I was away). We all seem to have this weird capacity for hurting ourselves that we consciously choose to ignore, or don't. And it doesn't always manifest as self-harm or even suicide. Drink, drugs, abuse (giving or taking), smoking. Slow-burning ways of destroying ourselves without us having to actually run a blade across our skin. And for those of us who suffer with poor self-image, the battle to not take up these self-destructive acts can be a constant one.
I've been neglecting my Tai Chi since things started getting more involved with Kung-Fu. However I recently got back into it. This proved both a help and a hindrance to my performance this week. However there was also something else that unexpectedly offered help and a little insight into the journey. Watching some of my Kung-Fu movies, I moved on from Tsui Hark's Seven Swords and progressed to Zhang Yimou's Hero. I also watched The Mindscape of Alan Moore. Interestingly enough, both of these offered insight into the link between Kung-Fu and art, and thus magick. After all, they call it a martial art. So why wouldn't these help in some form?
Kids are known for their boundless imagination. For someone who has never lost that, I naturally wanted my daughter to be able to experience the delights of being able to create your own worlds and characters. Role-playing games have always been an interest of mine, but how young can you introduce your kids to this hobby, especially one that potentially deals with lots of complex rules and systems? As it turns out, some bright sparks have already been working on things like this. So I decided to try BB with Hero Kids, a role-playing game designed for 4 to 8 year-olds. How did we get on? Quite well actually.
So why does a socially awkward, submissive, empathetic individual like me go and do something like Kung-Fu? And why do I get so much enjoyment out of it? The atmosphere of camaraderie might very well have a large part to play. I have guys there - my Kung-fu brothers - who are learning right alongside me. So I'm not alone there. Learning new things appears to be a gratifying experience. Being praised on how well such a learning experience appears to be going feels rewarding also. So, why does someone like me, who when confronted with hostility cannot possibly believe I could ever "win" do this? Why would someone like me who feels bad about accidentally clocking someone in the face take up a martial art (emphasis on the martial)?
"Just give them a ring." Would that be all I have to do? Simple as that eh? So how come I've just spent the last twenty minutes sat staring at the phone as if willing it to do the job for me? I even know the people I'm supposed to call. But I still can't do it. Phone anxiety appears to be a very real problem for many, yours truly included. Some days we can actually do it, with some coaxing or a sudden flash of bravery. Most times we can't. We. Because those of us who have this aren't alone, much as we may think we are. Recent studies even put the average user of a mobile phone makes a total of six calls a day. That'd be six calls more than I do. So what can we do when there's no alternative - email or text? We just have to "face it and make the call." So that'd be why I'm writing this post rather than making that simple call eh?
Time away can be tricky, especially when you're prone to negative thinking like me. I knew I'd be going back to Kung-Fu, but that self-effacing voice in my head wondered why I was bothering with learning to strike when I was entirely incapable of believing I could best anyone in a fight. So I resolved to just become a passive, defensive fighter. I wouldn't even throw a punch unless I was sure it would land.
Yeah... that didn't happen. The atmosphere of mutually-supportive learning does the Cardiff Kung-Fu Academy much credit. Sure I didn't win every fight, but it was immense fun. And that's what's important. That and apparently myself and my Kung-Fu brothers are "on the right track." There are fewer, more encouraging words to hear from your Sifu in my opinion.