Sunday, 16 March 2008
Welcome friends of Wu Tan!
Hi there! I would like to welcome you to this blog, dedicated to the spirit of real Kung Fu. We are students of teacher Mike Martello (who is too humble to use the word Master, even though he fits the bill plenty). I have been around teacher Mike for about 2 years now, and though I am an absolute beginner in Kungfu, the culture of this ancient fighting art isn't unfamiliar to me. My parents are Chinese, which means I have been fed with kung Fu soaps and movies (yes, with the funny dubbing, in Chinese as well) from early age. I have 2 uncles who are kung Fu fighters (Hung Gar Choy Lee Fut style), one has a teacher level, whose title he earned from his master (unlike the booming of many self declared masters in the West). He is very known for his superb spear form. The second uncle used to be a vicious streetfighter in the UK. Like in the spirit of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, he would use the techniques which suit him most and apply it on the street as a mean of survival. He is the first fighter I have met who can effectively apply traditional Kung Fu techniques in a real fighting situation (most Western Kung Fu fighters I have seen would turn back to kick boxing in a fight).
I have tried many different martial arts from when I was little; As a teenager I got interested in Karate, shotokan style. I did that for about 5 years, then when one day I realised that the Western people are much bigger and stronger than me, I lost my interest in it, as hard muscle force against hard muscle force will always put me into disadvantage.
It was then I have learned Pak Mei Pai Kung Fu in Antwerp, Belgium. The teacher was a great and funny man, who had a great deal of experience and who would let beginners train horsestand for a year before they are allowed to practise anything else. When I entered his school, he changed his teachings by letting beginners punch on boxingbags. Unfortunatly, the horsestand became less important because most of the beginners couldn't cope with the hardship and just left. Although Pak Mei Pai school used chi (breathing) instead of karate's muscles, it was still a hard type of chi. So I quit after a year training (and was better than those 5 years karate!). By 2003, while I was travelling in Japan, the great Pak Mei teacher passed away.
In Japan I was lucky to meet Hirohito Saito sensei, whose late father Morihiro Saito sensei, was the eldest disciple of O-sensei Ueshiba. I have trained at the original dojo of O-sensei Ueshiba under Hirohito Saito sensei, who is a true master in aikido. His style is brutal and efficient. Back in Belgium I was lucky again to meet Wim Van Gils sensei, a very skilled aikido teacher. His aikido style is from the Tissier lineage and though the opposite of Hirohito's approach (hard, whereas Tissier is more gentle and fluent), Wim Van Gils is very possibly one of the best Aikidoka in Belgium.
Finally, one day, I decided to join a gym for 2 or 3 times a week, but instead I came across teacher Mike Martello's school in Antwerp. I thought I would give it a try and see it as a replacement of the gym.
Then 2 things happened: At first I was pleasantly surprised that, in comparison to all the styles I have learned, teacher Mike is the only one, who would give warming-up excercises so thorough and connected to the forms and the applications, that you wonder why no one else are doing that. The second eye-opener happened after about 2 months, I got hit gently by teacher Mike and from a visual point of view it was just a slap, a swing. Yet the pain it caused on my handpalm was like if I was hit by a sledge hammer wrapped with a cotton cloth. The pain went straight through and felt like a thousand needle going through my hand. This power doesn't come from the muscles, it is an internal "soft" power.
What I am trying to say here, is that with my Chinese background, I have heard rumours about soft Chi and the myth of how it feels like when getting hit by a master with internal chi. But I have never met one who could do this effectively.
Even though I have met all these great, vicious, efficient and powerful masters, I have never encountered one who actually is combat effective with soft internal power. Even my uncle believes in the existence of soft chi, but told me that there aren't many master with this type of skill. It is regarded as much more superior than muscle strengh and more powerful than external or hard Chi. It was then I realised that there is much more to teacher Mike Martello than just an ordinary Western Kung Fu teacher.
Yet watching youtube and other websites, I have noticed the increase of many self declared "masters", who have great skills in marketing but has nothing in the true martial arts. Knowing teacher Mike as too humble to speak out (instead, he is too busy with his art and teaching), I feel the need to put up this blog and let people know that there is true Kung Fu. If it happens by chance or because I wasn't thinking properly and something wrong is written in this blog; forgive this young and naive grasshopper for being blunt and unskilled. There is a long way to go and I hope we will do it together.
Apart from that, Kung Fu is also about making friends, have a laugh, train together, eat together and have a good time. This is the blog from the students from Wu Tan and having a good time is exactly what we are doing. Kung Fu is about finding your way of life.
I hope you all will enjoy.
Superbouncykid (aka just another young grasshopper)
Posted by Mike Martello's students at 11:22