My reasons for learning kung fu


I’ve always been fascinated by martial arts movies. From the moment I first saw Bruce Lee’s fighting skills in his movies, I’ve wanted to be like him. So much so that, I even created my email id as gyanlee and used to call myself gyanlee!

As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I’ve found this to be very true in all walks of my life. Whenever I needed guidance in any matter, a suitable teacher always magically appeared before me. And so it was when I was doing M.Sc physics in IIT madras. Master S.Vedagiri decided to start kung fu classes in IIT Madras just when I joined there! I of course joined his classes, and I found him to be a very good teacher. So I learned kung fu from him for one year (2002), after which I fractured my tailbone and had to discontinue my training.

Gyan Lee of 2002

Gyan Lee of 2002

Then, I started my career and never found time for kung fu or exercise until now (Aug 2012).

Now, I’ve joined a school as a physics teacher, and I have much more free time to practice kung fu. I recently saw Ip Man (parts 1 & 2) starring Donnie Yen, and that acted as the catalyst to galvanise me into action and start my kung fu practice once again. I’ve set my ‘Ambitious Target’ once again as ‘Become like Bruce Lee’. Let’s see how much progress I make in achieving this ambitious target. Like they say, aim for the stars, and you’ll at least land on the roof! Wanting to become like Bruce Lee is of course like aiming for the stars. I hope to at least land on the ‘roof’ in a couple of years from now!

I’ll keep you posted about my progress, by updating this article with my photos and videos once I develop a proficiency and skill worth photographing and videotaping.

Coming back to my reasons for learning kung fu, the main reason is that practicing kung fu will keep me busy, so busy that I can keep my mind from wasting its energies in frivolous pursuits. I want to be able to control my mind. My biggest enemy is my very self! I am the main culprit who limits my success. If only I have complete mastery over my self, I can achieve ANYTHING! I don’t even have enough control over my mind to keep wanting the same thing with the same intensity continuously! It’s a law of nature that one will definitely get what one TRULY wants. So the only reason we don’t get something is because we do not TRULY want it. By wanting something TRULY, I mean wanting it with all your heart.

Sri Ramakrishna gave an excellent example for wanting something TRULY. If I pushed your face under water and refused to let go even after a few minutes when you’re desperately gasping for air, just think about how how single-mindedly you would want to breathe air. THAT is wanting something TRULY. If I had wanted to become like Bruce Lee with that intensity of feeling, I’m sure I would have definitely become like Bruce Lee by now. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to want anything with that intensity, except of course air when somebody tries to forcibly drown me under water.

This is the reason why my fickle mind drifts from one wish to another, and I don’t seem to put enough effort in any one pursuit to achieve any one goal. By practicing kung fu, I want to change all that. When you practice kung fu, you are training your body to achieve great heights of efficiency, which require you to concentrate your mind. Concentration is another name for controlling the mind. In other words, practicing kung fu develops my concentration, and that in turn develops my mastery over my mind. You may ask, why don’t I just do meditation?

The answer is simple. You need to be able to concentrate in order to meditate in the first place! I’ve tried meditating and failed miserably. In fact this is how kung fu originated in the first place! Legend has it that Bodhidharma, the founder of kung fu found the Buddhist monks in China dozing off while trying to meditate. So he devised a method of dynamic meditation – a set of exercises or movements which require a high degree of concentration to be able to execute perfectly. But anybody can attempt these exercises. As you keep practising these exercises, your skill will improve in proportion to your improvement in concentration. Moreover, a healthy mind can reside only in a healthy body (more often than not). Practising kung fu invariably leads to good health which in turn makes it easy to develop a healthy mind.

To summarise, I’m learning kung fu to gain a mastery over my mind, and not to beat up somebody. However, I must admit that some part of me also wants to show off some kung fu moves like Bruce Lee! 😛



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