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Singapore Journal












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"The Center," is a small paper that I wrote in high school on March 21st, 1990. It mentions the times in my youth that I began my kung fu training. I hope you enjoy it and maybe find some inspiration.

I wake up, splash water on my face, go to the bathroom, and put on some sweatpants.
My hands are still hurting, but it's O.K. because I'll be getting a pitching gloce today, so my hands will have a little bit of protection.
After putting on the Chinese flute tape, I look at the clock and wonder how I get up at 5:30 every morning and do all I do and still have a social life!

I then walk over, pick up my wooden practice-broadsword, and begin practicing the beginning of the traditional Northern Shaolin broadsword form.
After about 45 minutes of blood, sweat, and tears, I begin practicing the open-hand forms.
Then I go out on the porch and drink some herbal tea as I watch the sunrise over the Chatahoochee River.
Now I take a shower and the day begins...

As far as I can remember, I've always had an interest in Oriental culture, but never had a chance to fully experience it.
That is, until the time that I moved into those apartments in historic Roswell, Georgia.
I, and three other families were the only Americans there, and I learned alot from all of my Oriental neighbors.
I slowly learned bits and pieces of the languages of Cambodia, Vietnam, and China.
Year by year, all of my Oriental friends moved away and the Americans moved in.
That was a strange time, because I felt as though the Americans were a different race then myself, as all of my major influences previously were Oriental.

Although I have always been interested in the Martial Arts, none but the traditional Chinese have sparked a special feeling in me.
In 1984, I first learned of the Shaolin Temple in China and their `mysterious fighting monks.'
I became so interested in them that I researched all I could on it.
Searching for a traditional teacher that would teach me the secrets that I so desperately desired to learn; my efforts came to no avail.
My father kept trying to get me to shut up and just take `American Karate,' but I said No Way.
Finally, I gave in and said O.K., but when I attended the class, it was just as I had expected.
Your basic let's do some aerobics, and then some rape prevention techniques type of thing.

One day my friend, Chip, told me about an intersting newspaper here in the local Atlanta area, called The Creative Loafing.
I began picking it up each week to glance through there listings of classes and clubs.
I found an ad for Tai Chi and decided that taking that would not exactly be what I was looking for, but it would definitely be much better than nothing.
So, I called up and began to talk with Cindy Gibson, who said that she was the wife of the instructor, Frank Gibson.
I found out that they were teaching classes out of their home in Sandy Springs, and they called their orgainization The Center of Intergral Truth.
I also learned that they were offering a variety of classes, including Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Nutrition, self-healing techniques, and quite a number of other subjects...including Shaolin Kung Fu!

As I drove up the torch-lit driveway, at 6:15 in the morning, I saw this big twenty-something young man coming out of the front door.
I assumed too much and thought that this guy was the teacher, Frank Gibson.
Once inside, I met the senior student, David Womack, and the man who had brought me inside introduced himself as Larry Litratkis, and an older man as Frank Gibson.

After a 45 minute routine of various stretches, strength building exercises and stamina builders, we began to focus on our breathing.
This might seem silly to some, but it is really far from it!
One would never guess how different ways of breathing would affect you in different aspects, but it does.
After that, I was left standing in the room by myself after everyone took off like lightning out of the door.
I decided to attepmt to find everyone.
Was this kung fu hide-and-seek?
I ran out of the woods and noticed a path going into the woods.
I followed it and it lead me to a very large tennis court, where they were standing there laughing and said that it was just a joke that they play on all newcomers.
I found that statement rather odd, because there were only three people in the class but then they told me that I was the first one to make it through the workout as a beginner with out `tossing my cookies,' and I even did the correctly.
Sifu, the mandarin Chinese word for teacher, taught me the basic stances, which I was to practice during the next three months.
After a while of coming to The Center, I began taking the Eight Treasures (a form of chi gung, or breathing and movement drills) and it started to help and hone my kung fu skills handsomely.

I met most of the 100 members of the various classes there and became good friends with many.

Now, after three years of training, my studies still continue, and will continue, wherever I may be, for all of my years to come.
As a student of Shaolin and Taoist practices, I believe that I would never be the person I am today without the aid of Frank Gibson.
I am sure that in the future, I will have many compostions similar to this one, and I will definitely choose the same subject many times over.