Is The Canadian Government Being Unfair?
When it comes to weapons in society and how people should be able to use them, it’s hard to settle on an answer that suits everyone. It seems that the only thing that everyone involved agrees on is that all weapons, no matter how large or small, should only be wielded by those with the training and knowledge necessary to use them properly. Today we want to discuss some of the restrictions on martial arts weapons that you may not even know exist.
Many of the weapons that you might think of when you hear the words “martial arts”, such as nun-chuks, bo staffs, sais, and small clubs, originated as farming equipment in China. In the 1600s, the Chinese government outlawed weaponry for civilians, but also required that they were able to defend themselves and the country if needed. Due to this, they created new techniques with the objects they had on hand, and many of the modern symbols of martial arts were born.
Just like many other household items, like kitchen knives or construction tools, the danger of these weapons depends on who is wielding them. Yet, strangely, while you can own as many knives, chainsaws, nail guns, sledgehammers, baseball bats, and shovels as you want, you cannot own – or even carry! – nun-chuks, three-sectioned staffs, self-opening blades, or ninja stars in Canada. It’s illegal for you to own them, or even transport them for the sole purpose of training somewhere else!
This can be disappointing for martial artists, as it’s a double standard: we trust carpenters, arborists, and chefs with their tools, which are all equally lethal. We allow hunters to bring guns and crossbows into the wilderness, once they’ve shown that they know what they’re doing with them – and if someone gets hurt, we hold them responsible. Why is it not the same with martial arts weapons?
Now, we are not advocating that our students should be able to carry around potentially lethal objects and wave them around for fun – far from it. What we do want is for our students to be able to become familiar with, respect, and transport these traditional martial arts tools to a safe training session without fear of breaking the law, just like plenty of other people do with the tools of their trade. After all, why would a disciplined and knowledgeable martial artist be any more likely to cause trouble than anyone else, who could simply walk into any hardware store and choose from hundreds of potential weapons available? How dangerous is a chainsaw or a set of bolt cutters compared a sai or a set of nun-chuks?
There is a necessary and implicit trust present in many places of society. Just because someone wants to learn how to use a traditional martial arts weapon effectively does not mean that they will have any desire to hurt anyone, or ever use them beyond the walls of the gym. For example, we don’t assume that every gun owner is angry or maniacal – why would we treat martial artists any differently?
So what do you think? Would you like to see reform in the laws, and allow qualified martial artists to own and transport these weapons? Or do you think the risks are too high for the relatively small amount of people that would benefit from such a change?
Kung Fu Retreat
With the cold weather of the last few weeks, many people in Calgary are daydreaming about getting away in the summer and taking some time to escape the stresses of life in the city. If you’re already looking forward to long, hot days, mountain air, exercise, and the peace and quiet of meditation, then we have the perfect opportunity for you!
Kung Fu For Life is now accepting registrations for our summer seminar, which runs for your choice of 3-5 days on the shores of the beautiful and warm Christina Lake, BC. Your accommodations with the Grand Master, a simple one-minute walk from the beach, will be your home base during your stay, and the solitude and peace will allow you to practice meditating on the three levels that you will learn while you are there. However, the retreat is also aimed at building up physical skills as well, and the rugged landscape allows for in-depth training of both self-defence and endurance training.
The entire seminar is designed in such a way as to accommodate the level of fitness you are currently at, while enhancing each individual during the sessions of direct kung fu training with the Grand Master. Feel your energy return as you cleanse pollutants from your body and mind – all the smog, chemicals, distractions, light and sound interference of the city will be removed, allowing your mind to soar. Liberate your inner strength, cultivate your inner chi to a higher level, and develop a better insight into yourself and how you fit into this world. The structure of the days-long events is like a year’s worth of training all at once, since the direct lessons and knowledge from the Grand Master gives you the ability to streamline your skills and become your best “you”, and improve more quickly.
You will learn how to take energy from within in order to go beyond what you think you can do – what you believe you are limited to, based on your physical strength. Feel the pure joy of training on mountain edges, near waterfalls, and out in the beauty of nature, and appreciate the cleansing rush of vitality that comes over you as the days go on. As you meditate, you will learn how to push yourself to the limit – and learn much more about you in the process!
The price of the seminar includes training and accommodation, but please plan for your own travel arrangements and food for the duration of your stay. For more information, you can contact us by email or call us at 403-243-5433. And if you’re already hooked, simply fill out the attached form and get ready to have one of the greatest self-discovery experiences of your entire life!
How is Kung Fu different from other Martial Arts?
When you hear the words “kung fu”, your first thought might be about a series of movies featuring a fighting panda – but many people assume that kung fu is interchangeable with all the other fighting styles you hear about. While these styles are all related, the differences actually go much further than that!
Kung fu, as we think of it today, began more than 1,500 years ago in China as a method of training, in honour of the Buddha, designed to strengthen the connection between the body and the mind. To the monks who created it, this connection between the spirit and the physical body was the most important part of the entire practice, and they developed exercises over the years, decades, and centuries that enhanced this aspect – noticing the many health benefits in the process.
Focusing on meaningful actions that trained the body and the mind to work together, and to improve reactions and perception, the martial art of kung fu emerged over time, but that was only one expression of the discipline – and not even the main one, at that! The emphasis on unity and feeling “at one” with oneself was, and still is, the underlying goal, and following meditative physical techniques bridges that gap. As the fighting form developed, the organized system created many off-shoot versions as well, which you have more than likely heard of: tae kwon do, karate, jujitsu, judo, wing chun, and many others. That means that kung fu is the ancestor of all of these, which focused on and tweaked specific philosophies of movement and attacking/defending to form the new styles.
Kung fu, which can be roughly translated as “skill and art”, is a term that describes a dedication to doing something to the very best of your ability. In fact, this doesn’t even have to be fighting at all – if you engage your whole body and mind towards any art form, be it painting, writing, or anything else, you can confidently say that this, too, is kung fu. The self-defense version that most people envision with these words is, more specifically, “wushu kung fu”, or “military skills and art”. Beyond that, our training style is what’s called “Moh Pai”, a.k.a Shaolin Kempo – an ancient Eastern self-defense philosophy that has been tailored to a North American lifestyle. (One such change is the coloured belt system as you progress in skill, which in its original Chinese form is a new sash every ten years!)
So why is the fighting style still called “kung fu” if it has all these other aspects? Well, it comes down to the healthy mind/body connection and expression. You must use and practice with your body, and be well in control of it in order to have a strong spiritual connection to it. You must be able to defend it against harm, and that is where the self-defense comes in. It is hard to explain, but kung fu is even more so about being ready – physically and mentally – for every situation, than it is about actually fighting.
Our main goal at Kung Fu for Life is not to create fighters that can deal out excessive damage. It is to foster awareness of one’s self, to improve the health of each of our students, and to individually work with them one-on-one so that they get a personalized path to success as they learn more about our techniques. We give our students confidence in every situation – not simply physical confrontations – because they know and trust themselves and their instincts. Even when things escalate, our primary ideal is to defend rather than attack, to protect ourselves rather than harm others. That is the true spirit of kung fu: to highlight how everything is connected and that we should all work towards being better, together.
When it comes to martial arts, there’s no such thing as “the best”: they are, after all, art forms, and those are always subjective, like a painting or a poem. As long as they are done safely and to the very best of one’s ability, that is all that matters – and at Kung Fu for Life, that is what our tenets are based on.
If you are interested in learning more about our kung fu classes, don’t be afraid to ask! You can contact us through our site or even visit our studio, conveniently located beside the 39 Ave C-Train station. We look forward to meeting you!
Kung Fu For Life
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