Trivia; and being put in my place!

My class this morning with Master Sun Ru Xian went pretty well; we reviewed the 5th, 6th and 8th palms of the Ba Da Zhang, he gave a demo of the Shanxi whipstaff, and then we all had lunch. “We” here meaning Sun Lao Shi, his wife, Rene, Rene’s girlfriend, and myself. All but me speak Mandarin, so on these occasions I just nod and smile a lot, and Rene translates when he can.

A bit of trivia came up – Wan Lai Sheng, the famous Ziranmen master, and one of the “Five Tigers who went to the south”, was a graduate of China Agricultural University, where I’m teaching. Heh.

Speaking of the university, we lecturers are still waiting to hear about our contracts – if we will have our contracts renewed (probably), and which subjects we’ll be teaching if we do get a contract. Some of next semester’s courses begin in September, others in October. If I start in October, I’m very tempted to spend most of September in Korea. I have an invitation to visit the Kwan Um centre in Daejon, and I’m really tempted to spend a week or so in the Golgulsa temple, where they teach Sunmudo. This latter would be a bonus – my reason for going to stay in the temples would be to get some intensive meditation done, which I really need at the moment.

I mentioned this to Sun Lao Shi, and he wasn’t happy. He said that I must practice bagua a lot beforehand if I go – since people in Golgulsa (well, one person) know that I study martial arts, I would be a representative of the Chinese martial arts community in general, and of his students in particular. In his opinion, I’m not good enough. He’s quite right, but I hadn’t the least intention of giving demonstrations… Still, as I mentioned, he’s the most traditional of my teachers, and here’s the proof. Yikes. Well, ok: there’s a challenge to me to practice more during July and August.

Can do.


  1. Well, join the club (of suckage, I mean)! 😀 In a way, the strictness is a good thing, as that means (among other things): 1. Sun Laoshi’s school (branch) is respected (he wouldn’t care if it wasn’t, right?) 2. You have some nice pressure to get better!

    But anyway, any idea what Sonmudo is like? It does sound interesting (well, from a historical point of view) – but it also seems weird that they use the “-do” suffix in its name (as the “-do” suffix is a telltale mark of Japanese influence (and thus post-Japanese colonialization of Korea)). (Note that originally, neither the Koreans nor the Chinese used the “-do” suffix for martial arts, or almost anything else…)


  2. “Sunmudo” is a recent name for it, it seems – according to WIkipedia the actual name is “Bulgyo Geumgang Yeong Gwon”. It seems to have been very rare for a long time, and it’s only in the last couple of decades that there’s been an effort to revive and publicise it. “Sunmudo” is thus, I guess, just a marketing name 🙂

    This YouTube clip gives a taste.

    Now you know as much as I do!


  3. Very cool! Glad to know that it seems to be authentic – I am a bit sad that the art was “renamed” to fit post-war conventions, but… what can one do? :p I do like the actual name much better (it also is similar to Chinese naming conventions, which makes sense!).

    Thanks for the videos/article – will have to watch them when I get home (blocked at work! 😉 )


  4. Finally watched the video – interesting stuff! Looks much more Chinese-like and authentic than most of the other “Korean” martial arts out there – if I was going to learn Korean martial arts, it would be this or else Taekkyon, I think! (I do think I may be a bit old for those leg moves, though 😀 )


  5. Seriously, I believe few of us foreigners would be considered good enough to represent one of these traditional teachers. They are likely used to very dedicated long-term students who started training when they were really young – and we know today that children under the age of 7 have an incredible learning ability.

    Hey, that Sunmudo stuff’s really cool!


  6. Actually, we (well, me at least) are probably just not training hard enough… Although it is true that many in China start when young, that is not always the case – I think they just train damn hard! After 5 years or so, they’ve got the goods, so to speak… me? I’m still working on it (slow and steady… ha ha).


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