Just a quick note while I have this on my mind.
My master Li Quan (who has a new site btw, Kung Fu Family) told me many stories about his kung fu brothers in Hanyuan, where their master Dai Kang lives and teaches. Many of the stories revolved around the ideas of “well water” and “river water”, “black and white”, good and evil …
It’s common, in many media, to see martial artists struggle to remain “in the Light” – every kung fu movie has variations of the master who went bad, the student who went bad, the school that becomes corrupt … Star Wars, for those of you who take info in easier when it is relatable to daily life, has Sith and Jedi, which are nothing more than sci-fi depictions of Shifu’s well water and river water …
Anyway. For men and women who study wushu, attain a certain physical capability, and require funds to eat and pay rent, there are often only a few options that can keep them training and within the “Light side” of the martial arts world: Cop, guard, bodyguard, wushu teacher …
Almost all of these can quickly lead to corruption, violence, gangsterism, and intimidation of some kind or another.
Li Quan has been all of these at one time or another Including truck driver and coal miner. As a bodyguard in HK, he often had to deal with gangster ass situations and gangster ass Asians. One night, Dai Kang’s wife had a dream and woke up in the middle of the night and demanded that Li Quan return to Hanyuan, and leave the lucrative bodyguard-for-businessman business behind. Or die. Li Quan obeyed and we will never know if it was the fear of a surrogate mother, or the premonition of a woman in touch. The masters, of course, believe the latter completely and see no reason to dissect what is real.
Last time I sat with Ren Gang, he was having a meeting with two men who wanted to start a bodyguard business. They talked in depth about what these bodyguards need to know, how to train them and so on … but i realized mid way thru that the conversation was turning to professionalism because I was there, and Ren Gang was eager to give me a certain image of how things are done. He was honest to a fault, on one hand speaking directly to me bout how business and especially martial arts business is often rife with corruption, gangsterism and violence, and then switching up immediately, telling me that within this environment, the only thing to do is remain professional, and do things the right way.
Train your men, stay away from gangsters, meet international standards, fighting is a small percentage of bodyguard duty … professionalism professionalism professionalism ….
Then, as the baijiu kept flowing and I proved myself up to that task, the table warmed up and the two businessmen started talking about Mu Ge, a notorious gangster in the middle of a Godfather III transformation into respectability, and how he is an example of how to move from the river to the well, so to speak. To shed the Sith darkness and step into the light.
How to rehabilitate young thugs with a modicum of martial arts skills, and put them to use doing good business, protecting semi-respectable businessmen who will pay top dollar for a good team.
Interesting stuff, seeing as I was involved with a lot of this during the 2008 Olympics. My master Li Quan has done a lot of this, both on his own and during the Olympics. Many of Dai Kang’s students have died moving through these circles, and some of made it through. Kung Fu, although declining in terms of enrollment and reach, is still hugely respected amongst non-fighters. The only people I have ever heard disrespect kung fu as a combat skill are the MMA guys, but that is of course a different story.
Here is a story that came out recently, talking about this whole bodyguard thing: “Bodyguards, Chinese Style”
Just putting thoughts down here, not really going after that cohesive article, so forgive me if I went astray, or left stuff out, or whatever.