Strong as Silk

By the way: I have a new article, entitled “Strong as Silk,” in the current issue of Inside Kung Fu magazine. Check it out on newsstands if you’re so inclined, although it’s more technical that anything else. Otherwise, I’ll add to Kung-Fu Writing when I get a chance. The articles aren’t available on the IKF Web site to my knowledge.

The Tao of Piglet and the Te of Poo

A couple years back, I shared with some of the you the story of when Jodi shared with Brendan a book she’d purchased for me. It was called, The Tao of Pooh, and used the classic A. A. Milne characters to illustrate principles of Taoist philosophy in an easy-to-read and -understand way.

I loved the book. Brendan’s comment, however, was, “Is that about Winnie-the-Pooh, or just poo?”

Our tai chi instructor recently gave me his extra copy of the companion follow-up to The Tao of Pooh, a somewhat thicker volume called The Te of Piglet. I couldn’t wait to dig in.

A lot of people love both of these books. For me, Te tries way too hard to make Big Points, forgetting the point of the book is the Virtue of Smallness, manifested in Piglet. Much of the content centers on the author’s politics, which is fine, but none of his points require the pages he takes to make them, and what the book gains in weight it loses in charm.

Read The Tao …, and enjoy how Benjamin Hoff captures the spirit and voice of Milne and his beloved animals. If you like it, by all means pick up The Te … and read just one chapter: “The Upright Heart.” The tao of Piglet is contained there. The rest is kind of just poo.

Summer Vacation, Day 4: Kung Fu & Old Books

Took the older boys to taiji (or tai chi) classes this morning at Dark Raven Studios in St. Paul. Jodi and I and the little kids ran a few errands, then picked the boys up and grabbed lunch. We picked up some landscaping supplies, then stopped by Midway Used & Rare Books,* before returning to Dark Raven for … get this! … a kung-fu photo shoot!

I’ve been working with Dark Raven shih-fu José Figueroa for a few years now on various articles and publicity pieces pertaining to his school; his particular art, the relatively rare and explosive Chen style taiji; and Chinese martial arts in general. The latest article, and the one I’m most proud of, is a piece on José’s unique Chen curriculum for children. This article, and photos shot professionally today, will appear in Inside Kung Fu magazine this summer or fall. Bren and Gabe will be instant kung-fu legends, no doubt!

Of course, in Chen village, lots of kids learn this stuff. Search YouTube using the words “taiji Chen Pengfei” to see the young son of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang tearing it up. He’s cute as a three- or four-year-old, but the video of him as a “tween” (date-stamped August 2000) shows the slow grace of taiji, and later, the explosiveness of Chen style. Beautiful.

*Midway’s site only appears to show the rare books. They have three floors of used books and comics. I picked up Ulysses, East of Eden and Pride and Prejudice for Coach’s Remedial English Lit Summer Project.