by Daniela Rendon Montoya
Joining Loong Fu Martial arts 9 years ago was an impromptu decision. For an exceedingly active 10 year old, it was just another sport to partake in; albeit one that would provide an impressive arsenal of party tricks. Though the class consisted of basics; training flexibility, practicing a variety of kicks and punches and becoming familiar with your first form, it presented a difficulty and challenge the others could not. I longed for the day where the class would become easy as, reaching this point, I thought, would mean I was good at kung fu. This was not the case.
Kung fu as a term refers to ‘any discipline or skill achieved through hard work and practice’. Hung Kuen exemplifies this well, as both the above are required in abundance. My opinion was wrong because, when things become easier,you are to push yourself harder. As our Sifu Leon Dogan expresses it, to ‘constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone’. A perpetual bettering of your person.
After having worked on a certain set for many years, a coin will drop and you realise you have been training something wrong. Coming to terms with the fact you must now go back and tweak years of formed habits develops a determination and strong will I failed to encounter in other sports. You are continuously opening doors to a room full of an entirely different aspect of your training to work on. One of the many nuggets of wisdom our sifu imparts on each student from the very beginning, knowing full well it may take months and/or years for us to fully grasp.
These values of patience, perseverance and a humble approach to hard work are difficult to instil in such a young person. However, Loong Fu Martial Arts shows it to be achievable with the right guidance, the latter found in abundance among the staff and alumni. There are countless nationalities, languages spoken, cultures and personalities present at the school. Yet stepping into the hall, all in attendance have the same goal. I believe this is what provides a sense of unity I have yet to encounter in any other circumstance. It is to me and to many others a second family and home, regardless of your life outside the establishment.
This cultural diversity presented itself on a trip to Hong Kong and China. A recurring joke was that though our group represented England, very few of us were truly that; British. During this trip, we were fortunate enough to train with members of the Lam family and at the late Grand Master Lam Cho’s school in Hong Kong. Participating in the World Hung Kuen competition of 2014, eyes were opened not only to a different culture, but also to different forms of the same style.
Here can be portrayed another of many values practicing Hung Kuen has allowed me to grasp; staying humble, particularly in the presence of others. This is encompassed by one of our school rules, where it is stated you must ‘empty your cup and leave your ego outside’. Though the others were our competitors, to have looked upon them with eyes of envy or contempt would achieve nothing. The cup, full of ego would prevent from filling it with more knowledge. By emptying your cup however, the vacant space can be filled with ways in which to further your training. In this case, to watch the other students with appreciation, having the ability to pick the good aspects, the humility to accept you may not express this yet and the determination to now want to. We all returned to England not only with plentiful new expoeriences and memories but also the devices with which to better my best. Something we are taught to always strive for.
All the above was only achievable due to the expert guidance of Sifu Leon Dogan, whom Loong Fu Martial Arts school is extremely lucky to have. A true personification of all the values described above, he portrays Hung Kuen to not only be a kung fu style but, a way of life.
In Hung Kuen, horse stance provides you with a sturdy and lasting foundation for your training having you train muscles that will carry you through to old age, but also virtues that will do the same. These and the family I have gained with Loong Fu, will always be with me.