A blog and website by Peter Bengtsson
My good friend Richard Wagstaff has started a kung fu club in Clapham (south London). At the club they do Fujian White Crane Kung Fu which is a soft hard style (not a hard soft style). This is Richard's first setup in the area and I can assure you he's good at it. If you're in the area, do go down to Soho Gyms and give it a try. The club is affiliated with my club in Islington. Richard is, like me, a student of David Courtney Jones
Classes are held on Monday and Thursday evenings. Visit his club website for more info on exactly when and where.
For those computer people out there who don't know who Eric S Raymond is you've got a long way to go on what I'm about to write about. If you're not even into computers I can say that ESR is an old time computer hacker (not cracker which is something different) who is known for his views, publications, books and the fact that few people know as many programming languages as he does. He's simply pretty damn good with serious computer usage.
Anyway, in his How To Become A Hacker I read some interesting things today. The most striking one is this:
"Points For Style
Again, to be a hacker, you have to enter the hacker mindset. There are some things you can do when you're not at a computer that seem to help. They're not substitutes for hacking (nothing is) but many hackers do them, and feel that they connect in some basic way with the essence of hacking. [...]
Train in a martial-arts form. The kind of mental discipline required for martial arts seems to be similar in important ways to what hackers do. The most popular forms among hackers are definitely Asian empty-hand arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wing Chun, Aikido, or Jiu Jitsu;..."
I do martial arts!! Great, because it means I'm approaching hacker status which is something I've been striving for for a long time.
Let me explain.
I really like my job and it's not uncommon that I do nearly the same stuff at home as I do during "office hours". This consequently means that I want to be good at it and not just ok and to get good at it I need to take the plunge of being a normal person into being a geeky hacker. Because I naively think that by being a hacker (or honestly getting the hacker status) means that I will write better code, produce better computer systems and be smarter.
When you're young you worry too much about what other people think but I'm not young anymore so I don't have to care. Times have changed as well. It's now more socially acceptable to be good with computers, because people who aren't have often tried and failed, thus they look up to people who are good with computers. Sure enough, being a top footballer or rich celebrity is "cooler" but I'm not interested in people who looks down on computer geeks like myself anyway. Generally, what the whole "How To Become A Hacker" article describes is that you should take in the whole package to get good at what you want to be good at.
Some time ago my kung fu master, Dennis Ngo went on about how we have to emerge ourselves into Chinese culture, food and language to be able to develop our kung fu. To be honest, when I first heard it I thought it was nonsense but I didn't say anything; thank God! Now I know differently. Both Master Ngo and Master Eric S Raymond have a wealth of knowledge and experience I can only dream of so I should listen to their advice.
Yesterday, Saturday, we had a money raising charity event at the City & Islington Fujian White Crane kung fu club.
The money we raised was for the Claremont Day Centre (aka Claremont Project) which is a day centre here in Islington for old people. Sadly the council has cut their fundings dramatically this year and that's almost where we come in. The thing is that we train kung fu in their building on Monday nights, Wednesday nights and saturday mornings. By having a charity event we could raise money to go towards this charity.
What we did was that we held a competition amongst ourselfs. We're all Dave's students and to enter the competition you had to pay £10 which went towards the charity 100%.
There was also a 1000-punches-sponsorship event. We said to our colleges and friends that we'd throw 1000 punches if they sponsor us with some money. I raised £40 with my collegues at Fry-IT
Below are some pictures from the event:
I hope to be able to report shortly how much we managed to raise but it needs to be summed properly first.
I came back from Sweden the day before yesterday late after having spent a long weekend on the west coast of Sweden for the FWC Competition. We arrived in Varberg on Friday and all the competition events were on Saturday. I won two gold medals; one in heavy weight semi contact sparring and one for suan yang (t'ai chi).
After the events we all went down on the town to have a wonderful dinner. A few of us actually went for a quick swim in the sea as we came back to the youth hostel.
Anyway, here are some photos that I have uploaded:
Here you can download the latest little video summary of the FWC competition. If you're quick you can actually spot me once or twice, but only once without a black hood over my head.
In Kung Fu there is often talk about Yin and Yang, and with time I've started to appreciate the notation more and more. First I thought it was "humbug" just like I think about many other medicine disciplines, but now I understand more about it.
It's not rocket science, it's actually a very simple concept. All things are in harmony of two opposite sides. No side is more "important" than the other and one side can't exist without the presence of the other. For example, there can't be a front if there isn't a back.
This site explains it very well. I read all of it. What shocked me though was the on the "Supreme Ultimate" symbol, Yang is the white part and Yin is the black part. I've always imagined that it was the other way around. Damn!
"Yin and Yang may be the most important theory in Chinese Medicine"
I also found this nice page about Qi Gong which I will read now.