At Long White Cloud Kung Fu we teach a broad range of martial arts skills. We teach effective short range striking and kicking techniques, skills derived from the different animal styles, an array of traditional weapons, joint locking and throwing (Chin Na), trapping hands (Phon Sau), body conditioning, qigong (energy skills), and the list goes on. There is a lot to learn, and for most people this will take many years to accomplish, and with so much within our school it can be tempting to think that this is all there is to learn and know, but that quite simply is not the case. As rich and as varied as the knowledge contained within Long White Cloud Kung Fu is, there is vastly more to be learned outside the school than in it.
In each country all over the world, the local people have developed martial arts skills and knowledge in the context of their own cultural environment. This has led to different ways of doing things, and many interesting and varied martial arts methods and traditions. Even within a single country we find differences in styles and schools between different regions, and even differences within regions as well.
At Long White Cloud Kung Fu we embrace this diversity, we know that in order to keep our skills and our school fresh and vibrant we need to look outside as well as inside. We know that we don’t know what we don’t know, and that it is only by going and looking and learning that we become enlightened to the world of possibilities around us.
One of the ways that we do this is with our travel and training trips. On these trips we go to places with rich martial arts history and we experience the culture of the area. Where possible we also visit the martial arts schools in the area to observe and also to train.
These trips are a lot of fun, but we don’t always have to go so far to gain experiences that will help us to broaden our knowledge and skills. Sometimes we can gain this experience by training with experts who are much closer to home such as Ray Porter who came and presented a workshop on using the Katana (the Japanese Samurai sword) at our headquarters today.
When we have these experiences often we will find useful aspects of the training that we can apply to our regular practice, and even more often we come away with a greater appreciation of and insight into the skills we have already been practicing. Trying things in a different way often gives us new perspective on what we are already doing.
For this reason Long White Cloud Kung Fu students are actively encouraged to explore and learn about other styles, because we know that this will make them stronger and more well rounded martial artists. In fact one of the post-blackbelt specializations that you can be recognized for is ‘Sabbatical’. To be awarded this specialization you are required to travel extensively learning about martial arts or to train to a high degree of skill in another style of martial art so that you can come back with new insights and understanding of Long White Cloud Kung Fu. Proudly, we actually have one of our adult black belts that is due to be awarded this specialization after the upcoming gradings.
You will notice though that this is recognized as a POST-blackbelt specialization. With so many amazing things to learn in the world of martial arts, it is easy to flit from one thing to another and develop no real skill in anything. It is far better to spend the time and really focus on developing your basic skills and understanding before going and exploring too far. You will find that this solid foundation means that you get a lot more out of your martial arts exploration as you will have a more educated eye (and body) and will be able to interpret and understand far more of what you see and experience.
I would like to say a big thankyou to Ray Porter for coming out and presenting the Katana workshop for us today. We look forward to many more similar learning opportunities in the future. We also look forward to more of our students undertaking the travel or training required to broaden their horizons and achieve their Sabbatical specialization.