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” Išmeskite kas netikra, tik tiesa lieka” Taoist Maxim. Aš tik papasakosiu apie treniruotes vienas prieš vieną Hongkonge su žinomu meistru Sifu Sergio Pascal  Iadarola. Aš parašiau tai prieš grįždamas į didžiąją Britaniją. Pamaniau gal mano patirtis bus naudinga tiems, kurie tobulina Wing Chun  arba Tai Chi. Ir galbūt tiems, kurie pradeda savo kelionę ir nežino kur ją pradėti.  Vienas iš mano svarbių mokytojų nuo 1990 m. gerai žinomas ir gerbiamas Taoist meistras Bruce Frantzis mano, kad buvo ant Chi revoliucijos slenkčio.

Tai gali skambėti lyg beprasmybė, tačiau tai tiesa dabartinis keičiasi pokyčiai vyksta žmogaus sveikatos srityje, psichologijoje, fiziniame kūne, aplinkosaugoje, revoliucija vyksta kaip mes treniruojamės, elgiamės būdami individualybės, elgiamies kolektyve ir kaip kovojame su fizinėmis ir psichologinėmis ligomis, visi  šie pokyčiai  yra dalis vidinių kovos menų, kurie yra mano aistra pastaruosius 30 metų, jau ketvirta dekada. Vidiniai kovos menai nėra nauji, o yra bandyti ir išbandyti šimtus ar net tūkstančius metų.

Kaip Sifu Frantzis ir Sifu Sergio yra retas pavyzdys bei genealus  vidinių kovos menų meistras, jų specialybė yra vidinis Wing Chun ir Tai Chi Chuan. Aš abu šiuos kovos menus praktikuoju nuo 1980 m.
Norint gauti daug informacijos apie Bruce Frantzis , google yra puiki pradžia, trumpai tariant, mano vienintelis mokytojas prieš Sifu Sergio išskyrus trumpą dalyvavimą vietinėje Wing Chun mokykloje šalia manęs 2011 metais.
Meistras Derek Jones buvo miręs, tai yra Viktoro Khan ir Williamo Cheung mokinys. Derek mirė 1990 m. avarijoje būdamas trisdešimties meistras, William Cheung pasakė , kad tai buvo didžiulė netektis Wing Chun pasaulyje, tą dieną aš vis dar prisimenu.

Aš tris dešimtmečius nesutikau tokio meistro, kaip jis, kol atsitiktinai pamačiau Sifu Sergio Tai Chi demonstraciją internete. Pradėjau ieškoti būdų kaip susitikti asmeniškai. 2016 m. nuvykau į Mančesterį į Sifu Sergio renginį, kad su juo susitikčiau. Po valandos stebint ir dalyvaujant jo mini seminare aš supratau, kad sutikau savo naująjį mokytoją. Jis galėjo įrodyti savo gebėjimus ir tai nebuvo tik tuščios kalbos jo profesionalumas buvo akivaizdus visiems. Nuo 1980 m. aš sutikau daug žmonių kurie sakėsi turintys vidinių galių,bet tik keletas jų turėjo iš tikrųjų.
Daugybė sukčių yra internete ir tik seminare ar varžybose atsiskleidžia šarlatanai.
Kinai yra dėl to kalti nuo ankstyvojo budizmo ir taoizmo laikų. Mes gyvename eroje, kurioje visi esame pavargę nuo melo ir melagių, tačiau tai kas yra tikra mums labai reikalinga. Žinoma kiekvienam amatui reikia pastangų ir laiko ir nėra jokių sėkmės garantijų. Elvis nusipirko savo abejotiną juodąjį karate diržą, šokėjas David Carradine vaizdavosi ramiu kung fu meistru su Dereko mirtimi aš pasitraukiau iš viso to ir paprasčiausiai rūpinausi savo Wing Chun kūnu, protu ir dvasine sistema, kurią Derekas sukūrė. Net tik iš pagarbos jam ir jo menui, bet dėl savęs, ir buvo didesnis Wing Chun jausmas nei tai, ką aš išmokau. Visa tai pakeitė mano gyvenimą ne į kažką tobulo, bet pakankamai, kad pasakyčiau, kad esu už sienos.

Remove the false, only the truth remains’ -Taoist Maxim.

I’m just reflecting on my time training, one to one, in Hong Kong, with the renowned Master, Sifu Sergio Pascal Iadarola

I wrote this before returning to the UK.

I thought maybe my experience would be useful to those looking to broaden their Wing Chun or Tai Chi experience and knowledge. And maybe for those embarking on the beginning of such a journey and unsure where best to begin.

One of my other important Teachers since the 1990’s, the highly renowned and respected Taoist Master Bruce Frantzis (with genuine lineages in Tai Chi, Ba Gua, and Hsing Yi) thinks were on the brink of a ‘Chi Revolution’. Now that may sound like yet another hyped, new age, meaningless, sound bite, (and there are far too many, as everyone seems to have something to sell nowadays regardless of worth) however in truth there is a change in what is happening. In the fields of personal health, psychology, physical accomplishment and the wider concerns of enviromentalism. A revolution in how we train, act as individuals, act collectively and deal with the multitude of different illnesses and diseases that afflict the human race physically and mentally. Such a change in approache and all the implications and possibilities this means are an integral part of the training of the traditional Internal Arts. Arts which have been my passion for over 30 years, stretching over four decades. Arts that are not new health fads or inventions but tried and tested methods with hundreds if not thousands of years of research and accumalated experience.

Like Sifu Frantzis, Sifu Sergio is a rare example of a genuine Master of Internal Arts, if not genius. His speciality is Internal Wing Chun and Tai Chi Chuan, both Arts I’ve been pursuing since the early 1980’s. For more information on Bruce Frantzis, Google is perfect starting point. Briefly, my only Wing Chun Teacher before Sifu Sergio apart from a brief attendance at a local Ving Tsun school near me in 2011 (the less said about that the better, but they were scathing of my softness but polite when I hit easily and powerfully through their seniors defences), was the late Master Derek Jones, student of Masters Viktor Khan and William Cheung. Derek died sadly in the early 1990’s in a road traffic accident while only in his 30’s. As Master Chung stated, it was a great loss to the Wing Chun world. That day I found out is a blur of grief that still resonates decades later.

I’ve personally found no one else of his calibre for three decades until by chance I came upon Sifu Sergio online demonstrating Tai Chi. Research into his background and private conversations ensued and wanting to meet him personally. Eventually I travelled to Manchester in 2016 to meet him at the charity event, the Wing Chun Gathering.

Within an hour I was convinced I’d met my new teacher, watching and being involved in his mini-seminar. That he could prove his abilities, that they weren’t mere empty talk, bravado or pretence was plainly obvious to everyone there. Since the 80’s I’ve met many who professed to have internal skill but few upon testing, actually did. Let’s just say as a younger man I didn’t suffer fools very lightly. From those convinced their relaxed slow kung fu was actually real Tai Chi or those whose stiff and fixated ‘traditional’ Tai Chi was a product of real ‘inner strength’ (mostly based on their perceived lineage associations). Before our hyper connected, internet selfie obsessed world, the present prolifiation of fraudulent claims of so many Youtube wannabes was limited. Then at least a hands on seminar experience or competition or challenge, limited the claims and the multitude of charlatans. Fakery, fraud, and the martial equivalent of snake oil salesmen, is nothing new though. The Chinese have been guilty of this and more since the earliest days of Buddhism and Taoism. We live in an era where we’re all tired of the lies and the liars. Where the ‘real’ is a commodity hard to come by but desperately needed.

Of course any craft takes effort and time, with no guarantee of success. Many therefore resort to easier ways. Elvis ‘bought’ his dubious blackbelts in Karate, David Carradine, a dancer, as Caine smoked weed on and off set to appear a calm and other worldly kung fu master.

With the death of Derek, I retreated from all this (figuratively and later literally) and simply carried on my Wing Chun from Derek and his development into the Body, Mind, Spirit system he formulated. Not only in respect to him and his Art but to my investement of years of training (I left on good terms just before he died and before my Instructors Certification) and the feeling there was more to Wing Chun than what I’d learnt. Like Tai Chi and my other forays into the exotic, external and often just plain strange, it had transformed my life. Not into anything perfect but it’s enough to say I would be most likely behind bars or worse now as my teenage years took me into the dark, seedy, underbelly of 80’s London. Dabbling with drugs, violence and illegality. Those juvenile stories entertain and occasionally inspire my students. I realish little about them.

As for Tai Chi, my first Tai Chi teacher was the Yang Family Disciple Master Chu King Hong, two years before I started with Derek in 1984. I could not do in any way, anything Tai Chi required of me at the most basic level for nearly 5 years. I coudn’t believe how hard it was yet I was hooked. Such evident ease at throwing men twice his size around (though now I know there was a degree of cooperation) transfixed my flawed teenage desire for power and ability. Subsequent wonderful teachers that helped my ‘Imperfect Path’ (the title of a book I’ve been writing for many years which will probably take as many more to complete, if at all, as I prefer to train than talk and I find that my teachers’ journeys are far more interesting than mine) included Master Ken Homan, a lovely ex-British Army man who qualified in China (Chen, Yang and Wu Tai Chi) and later two of Master Chus’ senior and respected students, the late Master Erle Montaigue (Master Certificate from China) and Master Rupert Shonaike (Master degree from Master Professor Chee Soo). Both of these gave me their personal blessings to teach and I ran Master Shonaikes UK school. Master Mantak Chia is another whose system I followed since the 80’s (who along with some more exotic qualifications, I certified in Tai Chi with him in Thailand in 2011). There are more, some I’ve probably forgotten, all with certain parts to play in my limited understanding, from the good to the terrible, but lets get to some relevant points.

So you may ask, if I have had such talented teachers and I’ve been doing it so long, why would I need another?

Firstly, the Internal Arts has no end to its depth or investigation. It’s a life long quest and training. There’s no end to ‘how far the rabbit hole goes if you are committed, tenacious and I’d say brave enough. It’s not for the faint hearted, nor the lazy or simply curious. Many things have to be learnt, unlearnt, and even sacrificed along the way. Mental constructs, images, such as walking barefoot through the snow to train (I foolishly did do this) or being beaten by thugs (but later dispatching them with beautiful deft moves) or even sitting outside the Temple/school waiting for your charismatic suitably Oriental teacher, soaked to the bone in the rain, are all very nice Kung Fu story/film plot lines. However much of the training is just plain boring, lonely, uncomfortable (if not painful) tedious hard work. Family and friends and even work colleagues will rarely understand or support you. Most likely they will openly mock you. Huge amounts of personal and financial investment, without any guarantee of return, will be made. The sacrifices of Masters are often even greater and Sifu Sergio has made many in his pursuit of the truth.

As the saying goes:

‘Learn to Eat Bitter’ – Chuei Kwei (Chinese Martial Maxim)

However the rewards when they come are more the sweeter. I can attest to that. But it’s a continum, from bitter to sweet, and back to bitter again. Of course those who just want the sweet will come and go and like Elvis, they’re fancy belts will be nothing more than illusions, nothing more than a way of keeping their pants from falling down.

I’m in Thailand right now on retreat, which I’ve boiled down to basically train, eat, sleep. To aid the process though I get a daily Thai massage as it’s cheap here, which is great, but occasionally it’s like being assaulted by an elephant with the dexterity of a monkey. Thai women are very powerful! I swim afterwards and relax too but only so I can train again. As a break I cycle to local hill top buddhist temples and soak in the peacefulness. RefIecting on how much I still have to do. I was here before Hong Kong, deepening my practice in preparation, returning here to integrate anything, if at all, I was lucky Sifu taught me.

As I write I’m looking at the tropical rain pour down on the paddy fields and jungle outside. Not an ideal, being trapped inside, but it means I can go deeper. Big glass doors allow a great panoramic view. Sitting for a moment on a chair I usually use for my sitting meditation and Chi Kung practices, I rest after a morning training session of internal practices, including those kindly taught to me by Sifu Sergio. Sweat drips down my legs and arms in the humid air. My muscles ache and old injuries feel like barbed wire slowly unravelling, but not without a fight. They are transforming, so this I know is not a stagnant practice.

I think of a popular saying:

Invest in Loss – (Tai Chi maxim). Based on the larger Taoist theory, ‘to fill something up, first you must empty it.’

It’s a small rented modern bungalow with comfortable basics, but with less distractions, like work or worse like television.

Distractions are crippling most human minds now and preventing many would be practitioners from advancing let alone from even beginning. Watching a film of the sunset is not a real sunset felt on your skin and through all your senses. Internet porn is nothing compared to being with a real woman. Watching Kung Fu stars fight (and remember a 5 minute fight scene is an illusion that takes months to shoot) is not Martial Arts training. Others look to the visceral bloodied, tattooed, gladiatorial show down of MMA and cage fighting. This is not the same as being punched in the face at a bar and knowing what to do next, unaffected by fear. No referee, no padded floor. Or as a woman being dragged into a alley to be raped without going into frozen denial. As I was taught, feel, react, don’t freeze, but if possible leave, fight if no other choice. Gladiator sports have their place but do they elevate or lessen the potential that is to be human and not a rabid animal.

Were lost in a time of the gross and narcotic, numbed into needing excess upon excess. Then what will there be left to feel?

Don’t think FEEL! said a certain famous someone.

So I write this wondering how I came to be here. As I was as lost as any can get. With the door open and insect shutter closed I can hear the assorted birds, dogs, chickens, geckos, insects and monkeys sound off in the distance. A wonderful natural sound scape. Just to remind me that it’s the 21st century Thailand (not that Hong Kong didn’t). Occasional motor bikes splutter past on the small road, riders glad in cheap plastic coverals, faces screwed up, blasted by the rain. Some wandering water buffalo roam about as usual in the small garden behind me, eating the grass and providing comical transport to magpies.

This is one of the better places I’ve had to work on myself and my training. As a young man at college then while working as an office boy, I’d sneak off to the stock room cupboard to train, or worse the toilet cubicles. This was good training for aircraft toilets, which have trained me for decades in micro movement Tai Chi and Wing Chun.

Then there have been the dingy flats, grubby halls, other toilets (the only place most find any privacy at work anymore) but also beautiful hotels and sun kissed beaches. Then home to rain soaked car parks and even cemeteries. It’s all contrasts, making the most of what life throws at you. Snow covered mountain peaks and grottos of giant redwoods last only as long as the vacation. Then it’s back to four square walls. Training is training. It has to saturate your life where ever you are remember another truth.

‘The ultimate form of cultivation is no cultivation’ – Bodhidharna

This is not the Thailand of those seeking excess. The drunk, deluded, thug or sex tourists looking for easy immoral fun. Either ogling bored and abused bikini clad Thai girls, pole dancing in a virtual coma, then falling over drunk in the street. Easy to say these men and boys should know better, but until you wake up, (for instance via the practices of the Internal Arts I suggest) life can seem just a joy ride of your pleasures. I never did that in Thailand but if l’d had the opportunity in the 80’s as my friends did, I reality would be a hypocrite. Learning that everything and everyone doesn’t simply exist for you isn’t easy.

All the crazy excesses, no different from fair ground attractions, based on illusion, that go for Martial Arts and even Yoga fill people’s imagination and many pockets.

In the Internal Arts, the excesses off the External Arts, the Gymnastics, the pantomime, that has become big business in Hong Kong cinema and Chinese kwans (kwoons, dojos). This had had no part in their training. Even though their dilution that has plagued the Internal Arts in recent decades after the terrible suppressions of the Cultural Revolution and communism has created many mis-interpretations and fakery.

The real accomplishments that can happen after much constant training and dedication are possible and are the meaning of real Kung Fu. Few manage this however today or historically and many just pretend. Their ego’s eager for everything they feel a Masters achievement will bring them. YouTube is littered with them, their posing, their claims. History remembers them as charlatans.

I’ve been fortunate to train with both the best and also some of these pretenders since the 1980’s.

Sifu a rare example of a person who has made his mission, to achieve genuine Kung Fu and then to help others to do so too.

It was a short but profound trip in Hong Kong for four days of private lessons. Sifu had no reason to teach me, I asked to train with him privately and as the only free time he had from his busy schedule was in Hong Kong in January, I agreed without hesitation.

What we did can’t be mentioned here, it wouldn’t make sense to most, only those with training. Without two decades with Bruce Frantzis training in the UK and USA, or my time with Rupert or Erle, none of it would have made sense to me either. These photos are just a fragment, the rest are not public.

We shared meals and stories. Anecdotes and more. He took me to dinner with his charming wife, I bought him a beer in a bar where I wrote notes on my training for the next six months. We found a shared love of Italian food, beautiful women and nature and the environment.

The rain has stopped, the Sun shines. I think how a dyslexic child with learning and physical disabilities, allergies and the victim of bullying came to sit here writing. The teenager poised to become a hardened criminal became a designer, a photographer and a model. Then changing again… eventually a Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Kung Fu and Meditation Instructor. Perhaps a parent with a troubled child will take inspiration and encourage their child to start training, or a teen staring in the mirror with doubts and dreams, amidst the trials and turmoil of hormones, will take heart and tread a path towards mastery and liberation.

Sifu Sergio and his organisation can be that out stretched hand for those first steps, or the push up the final run.

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