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Posts Tagged ‘Beijing’

Chinese List-Arguments

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

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By Antonio Graceffo

One of my frustrations in listening to my lectures at the university, and especially when listening to lectures by my martial arts teachers, is that in Chineseculture, it is considered educated and refined to speak in lists. For example, a teacher will say, “Ideal fighting includes coordination of the internal and the external.” Then he will ask, “Does anyone know what that means?” And I can assure you, it is a rhetorical question, no answer is expected. He will wait a second or two, then give a sly smile, to show how stupid everyone else in the roomis, and he will explain. “Coordination of the external and internal means shou, yan, shen, fa, bu, qi, li, and gong.” He gives that a moment to sink in and then he asks a second rhetorical question. “Does anyone know what that means?” Obviously, we are not expected to answer, only to stare blankly. He will then shake his head, as if to say, “How can people be so dumb?” and he will explain, “ shou is shou fa de shou (hand techniques), yan is yan jing de yan (eyes), shen is she ti de shen (body), fa is zwo fa de fa (method) and gong is gong fu de gong (kung fu).” He will then go on to explain each element separately. And in the course of explaining that element, there will be more lists of stuff.

“Shou fa includes da, la, na and hu. Does anyone know what those are?” At which point I write in my notebook, “No, but I bet you’re about to tell us.” By the time he gets done explaining the elements of shou fa, I have forgotten the larger context of the original list, and how that related to whatever the lecture was that it interrupted.

In Chinese society, it is considered educated and refined to always know the right list, and to recite it at exactly the right moment during a discussion. In fact, if you are arguing, the minute you recite a list to support your opinion, you have won, unless the opponent recites a contrary list. This style of argument is what I believe early Christians did in Europe, quoting from the Bible. Because the Bible was written in Latin, it was inaccessible to anyone who couldn’t read or speak Latin. So, it was impossible for common people to ever win an argument against the upper class. I think other societies, even early Jews, had a similar style of argument. In Fiddler on the Roof, for example, when people would go to the Rabi for advice. His answers were always direct quotes from the Torah. Tevia, of course, would make up his own Bible quotes, “As the Good Book tells us, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.” When his friends try to protest that he just invented that, he comes back with, “Well, somewhere in the Bible, there is something about a poor man and something about a chicken.”

So, although this style of argument existed in other cultures, it is extremely antiquated. As a language learner, it is extremely frustrating. When they say the list, it is always a list of one syllable characters, which represent two syllable words. For example “shen”. Then I have to wait for the first set of explanation when he tells me “shen ti de shen” which I know means “body.” Then I have to wait for the second round of explanation to know how this relates. My doctoral lectures are 3 hours long, and extremely tedious.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

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Brooklyn Monk in 3D

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Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

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Chinese,china,wrestling,Beijing,shanghai,university,sport,Shuai,jiao,wrestling,wrestle,wrestler,Antonio,graceffo,Brooklyn,monk,training,speaking,language,learning,coach,trainer

Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm

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It had long been a dream of Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo to study Shuai Jiao, traditional Chinese wrestling. In the summer of 2013, Antonio finally got his wish and began a three-year long study of Chinese traditional and ethnic grappling systems. This first video, shot in Beijing, comes at the end of his first month of Shuai Jiao training at the Wang Wen Yong wrestling school, under Meng Sifu,.

Prior to this month of training, Antonio only had experience with MMA grappling and had never officially studied western or freestyle wrestling.

Watch: Traditional Chinese Wrestling (Shuai Jiao) Sparring, Beijing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JKhNhvw7-U

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

Email Antonio

Antonio@speakingadventure.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

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Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

 

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Chinese Traditional Wrestling Week 4

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

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By Antonio Graceffo

This week in Beijing, I was able to train twice every day. Today was the best day of wrestling sparring I have had. I probably wrestled about 17 or 18 rounds (But the wrestling rounds are short. They end when someone gets thrown.) With the younger guys, I am winning most of the time now. Today, my training brother Lee Yuan, the biggest, strongest and best wrestler on the team was there to wrestle me. Not only have I never beaten him, but usually he wins the standard 5 quick rounds, with little resistance.

This time, I determined, to dig my heels in and not make it easy for him. I need to check the time code on my camera, but I believe it was the longest match I have ever had and that I have ever seen in this club. First of all, today was the first time I was ever able to grab his jacket. Not only did I manage to grab it, but in two places, with both hands. Next, I stuffed take down after take down, with him winning only two throws. Finally, the Sifus told us to stop because we were both exhausted. I really felt like it was a victory. Although I still hadn’t got him down, I held out against him and he couldn’t complete the customary five takedowns. It’s my 46th birthday tomorrow, and I really felt like this was my birthday present, to do so well against the best guy. After a rest, I wrestled one of the younger guys for a couple of rounds, then they threw Lee Yuan back in with me. Unfortunately, I didn’t film this second set of rounds, but I finally managed to drive in, through his defense, and grab a leg.

Lee Yuan is probably as heavy or heavier than me, but much taller. In freestyle wrestling or MMA, I would simply take his legs out from under him with my arms. Being that tall might even make it easier. The problem with doing this type of technique in the Chinese wrestling, however, is the jacket. As soon as the round starts, he grabs my jacket in two positions and can either use it to pull me or to push me off. The few times I have tried to go for a leg, he was able to push me so far away as to make it impossible. Today, when I was wrestling the younger guys, I realized that most of the time when I was able to take their leg it was because they pulled me in close for a hip through. Then, I didn’t have to fight through their grip. I was already close up on them. I could take their leg easily, and take them down.

When Lee Yuan went for a throw, I did the same technique, I dropped and grabbed his leg, solidly with my whole arm and lifted it off the ground. The problem was, however, that he was still holding my jacket in two good positions and was able to push me down, like he was going to just drive my face into the floor. In freestyle or MMA, I simply would have dropped on one knee and taken him down, but in Chinese wrestling, that would mean I lost. So, seeing no other option and with his whole body weight pushing down on my neck, I used a San Da throw which is similar to a judo hip throw, except that instead of throwing the opponent by his arm, you throw him by his leg.

I flung Lee Yuan with all my might, and I went with him. In all fairness, I probably hit the ground first, so he got the point, but it was the first time I had ever taken him down. He flew over my body and landed with a thud. Luckily, his leg was unhurt. He won the next round easily and that was the end of our bout.

It was a good way to end my fourth week of traditional Chinese wrestling training and a good prelude to my birthday.

Back to Shanghai tomorrow, where I will continue to practice the wrestling basic exercises and hopefully soon start learning modern freestyle wrestling at the university. Next month, I will come back to Beijing so the Sifu can monitor my progress.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Chinese Traditional Wrestling (shuaijiao) Week 3

In Uncategorized on September 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

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By Antonio Graceffo

Wrestling became an integral part of my full time training regimen which began in June, at the Shaolin Temple. At Shaolin, I trained strength, conditioning and San Da (Chinese kick boxing which includes takedowns) for six weeks, training four times a day. After Shaolin, I trained two weeks of MMA in Shanghai then went to the wrestling school in Beijing.

After the first two weeks of training at the traditional wrestling school in Beijing I returned to Shanghai for a week, to complete my registration for Shanghai University of Sport, where I will be studying wrestling. The traditional wrestling I study in Beijing will be part of my dissertation research, writing about all forms of traditional and ethnic wrestling in China, a three year project.  During my week away from the wrestling school, the Sifu gave me a series of exercises to complete every day, a two hour workout, which would help me to improve my wrestling, by stretching and strengthening my muscles and tendons, while helping to make the wrestling techniques instinctive.

On my first morning back in the traditional wrestling school, morning training was the easiest I had had in months. Somehow we did everything I normally do, but finished a little faster and I was less tired afterwards. Then it hit me why. I had had the previous two days off. It was the first time since I started training again, back in June, that I had two consecutive days off. Wow! Talk about making a world of difference on my fatigue level. Afternoon training, we did sparring and Sifu was pleased with how well I was able to defend and get reversals. But when I threw my opponents, aggressively, I often reverted to western techniques or half and half. For example, I took a leg, Western, but then used an inside hook trip, Chinese. Once, I took his back and body slammed him. I think you could say that is 100% Southern, as in WWE.

What I decided, and maybe I am wrong, is that I will have to accept that the Chinese throwing techniques will come slowly. Maybe the first step is that I am figuring out how they attack me and how to stuff their throws and or get a reversal. In fact, most of my points today came from reversals. Then, maybe later, I will be able to attack and win, using Chinese techniques. I wrestled my largest training brother today, Lee Yuan, and he beat me every time. He is both the largest and the best in terms of technique. But I still think I held out slightly longer than I did in the first days of practice. Next time, or maybe next-next time, hopefully, I will do better against him.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on  http://www.blackbeltmag.com

website

www.speakingadventure.com

Twitter

http://twitter.com/Brooklynmonk

facebook

Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE

http://www.youtube.com/user/brooklynmonk1

Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at http://3dguy.tv/brooklyn-monk-in-3d/

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

http://brooklynmonk.podomatic.com