China: Kung Fu Dream

When I was still living in America a little over a month ago, I had the privilege of coming into contact with a very special person to me. During my sophomore year at Towson I had become very interested in China and Chinese philosophy—namely Daoism. Since I was eager to learn all that I could about Daoism, I found myself searching on the internet for any scrap of information that I could grasp about the philosophy. Through my searching, I came across the e-mail address of a man named Li Quan. As it turned out, Master Li Quan had been training in traditional Chinese kung fu for longer than I have been alive, and operates a traditional school only a short distance from my place on Sichuan University’s campus. So, I reached out to Master Li Quan and asked if he would be able to teach me while I was staying for a semester in Chengdu, China; there was an astounding “yes”.

With my busy school schedule and other responsibilities, I cannot spend as much time at his school as I would like (considering it is about a 40 minute bus ride away from the campus), but I try my best to go at least two times every week. Master Li Quan is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and he always greets me happily. He speaks English fairly well, but requires that I speak in Chinese to him whenever I am able—this is great because I am trying to learn as much of the language as possible. On top of the strenuous exercises that he puts me through at his traditional school, he also teaches me about Chinese culture and Daoist philosophy. He feels that the only way to learn Chinese kung fu correctly is if it is coupled with lessons in the culture and language, too.

It is safe to say that I leave his training place very sore every time I come and go, but it is a feeling I look forward to. When I leave China in December to return home, I plan to continue practicing what I am being taught right now. There is an old Chinese saying that goes: “师父领进门,修行靠个人” (shifu ling jin men, xiu xing kao ge ren), it means that the master will show the way, but it is up to the individual (student) to discover and learn for himself.

Scott Knowles
Chengdu, China
Fall 2013