Jan 09 - China Seminar
Where could you possibly start with being invited to teach gung fu in China. I could have never have imagined going to teach martial arts to a country that has such a massive history in the arts, but funnily enough this isn’t my first time teaching in China, even though this is my most memorable visit as of yet.
So the adventure began as usual in Glasgow, Scotland, usually these trips all begin early in the morning getting up for a flight. Most flights to London are early and getting up at 5.30am is the norm but I am never that great for that time at the best of times. Yvonne always tells me the night before to pack my gear but I usually wait till the last minute and throw the stuff in a bag, well as long as you got the basics then your okay. However for this trip I took more stuff than usual because from past experience I know China’s cold at this time of year. The morning was here and I thought that I would miss the flight to London because I had booked a cab from the night before but they forgot to put it in the book for the following day, so I was waiting and nothing was happening. I called and they told me it hadn’t been booked, they said they would get one to me as quick as possible, well they weren’t wrong he came right away but I only had roughly 45 minutes to get there and check in. Early is not the best time to go to the airport because the traffic is truly murder with folk going to there work, so in the cab I was sweating in case we didn't get there but the cab driver took some amount of detours and well yes we got there with time to spare thank god.
You know the thing that really gets me mad is airport security, because of a few individuals who wish to cause bother we have to be subjected to this taking our jackets, shoes, belts and anything else off that is called for and then being searched, scanned and photos of you took. I am always biting my tongue with this, anyway flying to London and going through the whole thing again is another pain but to top that off I had to wait in London for roughly 6 hrs before my flight to Beijing. I walked that much that my legs were sore and looking at the same shops a hundred times I was total bored. Luckily I found a place to sleep, by pure chance its away at the back of terminal 3 and is a room with computers for internet surfing with a few couches, well I sat down and fell asleep for about three hours, only to awake from sleep and think oh my god hope I haven’t missed my flight. That was a panic, I dashed out to check the board and my luck they were calling the flight, so I went to the gate and boarded. When we were on the plane I asked the hostess how long the flight is? she said sir roughly 11 and a half hours, well man that's a trip, lucky I had stuff to read and I watched a few movies, well I watched the same few twice, King Kong was the best, now I don’t need to go to the movies to see it and if anybody asks me about it well man I know the script, I can even play all the parts, even Kong himself. As we approached Beijing we were told we only had 15 minutes to land, I was lucky to be able to look out and roughly see where I was. The first impressions of the country was well I saw frost and it looked damn cold, later I found out just how right I was, cold well that's an understatement. So landing, well it’s the same old thing who are you? Where you going? Where you come from? When you going back? How old are you? and anything else they like to throw into the deal. After that your on a train to another terminal to get your gear, this is the bit I panic with because I seem to get my stuff lost so many times and end up living in the same clothes for a week, but I said well this time no chance I got a spare pair of drawers, socks, vest, shirt and trouser so if all fails I got a change. Well the god of getting your luggage was with me to my surprise as it appeared on the turntable, I felt a certain amount of relief that I would have all my gear with me for the week. So I guess that guy in London who always looks out for me when I go to spread the word was not working that day, I bet he will be mad when he reads this and thinks well trust that to happen! I am off work and that Carruthers dude is away again teaching jkd.
Coming out of the airport is always a bit daunting, trying to find somebody you have never met, but that part was easy as Neil, a few of his guys and an interpreter were there holding a card with my name on it, so it was no problem. Neil is the guy who arranged the whole thing but I will get back to him later. Driving through Beijing, well i don’t really know how to explain this but I can only say that in the west here we seem to have stopped and in China they seem to be growing at an alarming rate, it’s truly an amazing place and the buildings and how its being developed, well its amazing totally modern. When we got to the hotel I was truly feeling tired, I hit the sack for a few hours and after that the guys came to meet me and take me to dinner with one of Beijing’s very well known gung fu master. We went to a place that's well known for duck, I am not a big fan of pei king duck but to my surprise it was very tasty, but you know every time I travel and there is a big time difference from the UK I am always off my food and my appetite is pretty bad. So from previous exp I take stuff with me that I can drink just to keep me going, I take a carb protein drink which is truly a life saver and if in the middle of the night your hungry just make a drink up and your fixed.
Lets get to the seminar, well it was a two day seminar, I have no plan when I do these things, only a start but I never know the end because that's down to the folk and how well they can absorb and pick it up. I like to ask the seminar attendees WHAT IS JEET KUNE DO? it takes a bit of time to get them on the right road and establish what jkd really is, then I ask them so what IS JEET KUNE DO NOT? after that its really easy. Once we know what it is and no what it isn’t we can get on with constructing jkd as it should be, so from the feet up I start with the feet. I don’t tell folk, I ask questions, they tell me then I can’t ever be accused to dictating what I think it is, it is they who tell me through my guidance and the application of science whether it be physics, geometry, leverage or a number of other lesser things that are universal to us. Now it was time to move, now more questions, how many ways to move? and why? Once we had established this we went to the job of applying this stuff and got the guys to stand as they have discovered through my questions and getting them to move using the appliance of leverage and gravity. This was going very well and I was teaching at a very fast pace because these guys were very keen and hungry for the knowledge which I was here to help them find. So up to now we know what jkd is, we know what it isn’t, we understand through applied physics how the body moves and how to get the most from leverage, now we can take either route, we can punch or kick makes no difference, but we must get the foundation and moving the feet before we can do anything else.
We started with punching, the first punch is always the straight lead, looking at how the body moves, how to get power, where does it come from and how should we line our body up. All these things we covered and the guys started to throw the most difficult punch in Bruce Lees jkd, remember this isn’t a jab and its not a wing chun punch, this punch resembles a fencing thrust. We looked at hand before foot, the non telegraphic movement, the three point landing, the compression, the lead hip alignment, also the left, placement and the position of the head and how to make sure more muscles are relaxed for quick fire explosive movement. This did take a bit of time because there’s so much to this simple single punch but remember simple doesn't mean easy as Ted told me, well he’s so right, simple to look at for sure, simple to do? Well after a few years it might feel better but I haven’t met anybody yet that has picked this up fast, it takes absolutely years to get the feel of it, certainly you can do it anyway you wish but to do it right well that's another thing and I only want my guys to do it right. The folk I teach are different because I don’t settle for anything thrown together and call it jkd, we must do it as it was meant to be done and if it is difficult then all the better because we will stand above the rest who don’t take the time, effort or commitment.
Moving onto the next thing, we covered the kick and the possibilities of distance and different angles you can employ to get the kick in. I did emphasise that the best targets for a total one shot kill would be the groin and knee, but sometimes you have to go to other targets just because of time or circumstance i.e. the shin and ankle, these are also very sore places to be hit but not as good as a crack on the knee. Coming to the end of the first day was fun because it’s very satisfying to see it all coming together and the attendees getting to grips with this thing we call jkd. On another note jkd well it’s not the easiest art to teach and not the easiest to understand but that's my job to make this as clear as I can so that there’s no mistake in what jkd really is. The first day went well, guys picked it up fast and were hungry for the info, most took notes and asked questions, that's always a very good sign. After the day was done some of the young guys wanted photos taken with me, well its okay, I don’t mind but I hate looking at my own photos, I have yet to see myself in any photo that I thought was okay but I don’t mind people taking them for there collection or for the memory of the day. When I turned up at the university to teach they had this massive banner that says welcome Tommy Carruthers to China, I cant remember the rest of it but you can see it on one of the photos.