Tuesday, April 25, 2006
My Favorite Recent Kung Fu Movie
My favorite kung fu movie in recent years has to be The One Starring Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham, and Carla Gugino. I know a lot of people probably feel that the movie is a bit lackluster, and a bit rushed. And I'd say that I pretty much agree with you. I would have loved it if the pacing in the movie were more like a television series with teh same production values, but that's not very likely in the States any time soon. (Although, a quick aside, I bought Cindy a copy of the BBC Series Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and crew last week. It's as good as you'd imagine.)
The reason I'm fond of The One is the final fight scene between good Jet Li and Evil Jet Li. I get the sense that in some ways, the whole movie was just an excuse to get to this scene. Now in terms of story structure, the scene itself is what you'd expect: Bad Jet Li is winning until good Jet Li remembers what his grandfather taught him and he commences to trashing the bad guy. But there's much more going on, although it takes some understanding of kung fu.
Here I go. Kung fu isn't a single discipline, in fact the phrase when translated back from the Chinese, simply means, "hard work." Kung fu as a martial art is used to describe a vast array of schools and distinct styles. I have personally studied some of these styles, and I was left with an interest in what is known as the Three Sisters: Tai Chi Chuan, Xinyi Chuan, and Bagua Zhang.
When people think of Tai Chi, they think of old people moving slowly in the park. However, it's a martial art that is over a thousand years old, the defining principle of which is the absorbtion and redirection of kinetic energy.
Xinyi Chuan was invented around 500 years ago as a specific answer to Tai Chi. How does Xinyi defeat Tai Chi? By delivering a series of strikes so powerful that the human body cannot absorb the energy. The strikes are so powerful and fast that a Tai Chi practitioner's body is broken if they try to absorb the kinetic energy from a Xinyi punch. Xinyi does this by focusing all the force of a blow into the point of contact.
So, much more recently, (150 years by the last account I checked) Bagua Zhang was invented to overcome Xinyi. A Xinyi punch can pulverize bone when it makes contact, which is exactly how Bagua practitioners got around Xinyi. Xinyi moves down a line, and along that line, the blows delivered are irresistible. However, if the person being attacked moves to the side, sidesteps the punch/kick, then not only do they avoid getting hurt, but they are in a perfect position to strike the Xinyi practitioner. While Xinyi is the fastest of the Three Sisters, and Bagua is the slowest, bagua only has to move a few inches to the side to avoid a Xinyi attack. Then, with all their energy and focus directed at attacking on the body line, the Xinyi practitioner is completely vulnerable on the sides, which is where the Bagua practitioner attacks.
Of course, when a Tai Chi practitioner and a Bagua practitioner face off, the Tai Chi practitioner mops the floor with the Bagua guy. That's why these three are so often taught as an inter-related system. It's like rock-paper-scissors, but with kung-fu. (Note: I would feel irresponsible if I did not mention that our hypothetical practitioners are all masters of their respective arts. With two masters of comparable level, fighting each using one of the aforementioned styles, the results will shake out as described. A beginning Xinyi practitioner attacking a Tai Chi master gets what he/she deserves.)
So, back to The One. The big final fight between Evil Jet Li and Good Jet Li features Xinyi versus Bagua. After Good Jet Li is almost trounced, he gets back up and begins to walk the circle. (Another phrase describing Bagua. It is practiced by following an imaginary circle on the ground.) From there on out, Bad Jet Li cannot touch our Good Guy. I totally geeked out when I saw this. Totally.
I had never seen the two styles in action against each other before. It was and is beautiful. Tasty, tasty accuracy. Mm.
PS: The time spans I've listed here in relation to each style are from memory, and are not guaranteed to be accurate. But you can easily research them online if you are interested in more information.
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Silliness on my Behalf
So, my first post in this "reboot" was intended to let people know how I felt about certain broad concepts, but it was pointed out to me that I probably achieved nothing except providing zero incentive for people to comment on my posts. Hm.
The dude's right.
But I posted what I did feeling the likelihood of people actually bothering to read my blog was pretty low. What actually surprised me more than anything else about the comment was that someone not only read the blog, but was thoughtful enough to leave a comment that gently pointed out the flaw in my thinking.
So I kind of feel like an ass. No, not in any sort of glowing, look the spotlight's on me sort of way. More in the quiet, it will go away in a while but I won't forget it sort of way.
So onto updates. I am now teaching at Oklahoma City Community College again, this time as a Photoshop instructor as well as an introductory Cartooning instructor. It sounds like fun, even though Lyn McDonald is retiring at the end of this semester. Lyn was the head of the department and ran the Graphic Communications department for 22 years. She has a reputation as being really harsh and really tough, which she totally earned. See, Lyn has a big heart, which she needed to do what she did (does, till May): she had to honestly appraise students so that they could compete in the job market. She was harsh, but it was always constructive. She wouldn't rip into someone just to make them cry, although she seems to have made plenty of people wail. She will be missed.
I recently hooked up with two new organizations in OKC that are alleviating some of the gross frustration I was feeling. I attended the Oklahoma County Green Party meeting last week where I met about 7 other people who jokingly refer to themselves as "The Green Party Club." since they are too small to be a recognized political party in this state. There's a lot of interesting stuff they do each year, and the members seem genuinely open and inviting. ( I was invited to a potluck dinner on the spot.)
The other organization I hooked up with is called Oklahoma Atheists, (watch out for the animated .gif file... not for those without a sense of humor) which I doubted could exist until I went looking for them. I have to say, I haven't found anything else in the last several years that elicited as much relief on my part as finding these guys did. I attended their last meeting and had a fun time with them yacking about different topics of interest. I was afraid such an event could easily become "why I hate religion," but it was really just a group that seemed intent on allowing everyone to openly express their beliefs. It was comforting. Too often around here I can't open my mouth to disagree or register my discomfort with attending a group prayer or the like.
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Monday, April 24, 2006
I'm trying a new blogging tool, thought I'd see if it works. If so, this makes posting ridiculously easy now. Mwahahaha.
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