So you may have noticed that I’ve been a little out of commission lately. Nothing to fear, I’m not dead yet! Just been quite busy learning the ropes of my new job.I also have a few projects in mind that I want to start working on. Once I manage to track down a good tripod and maybe a few lamps for lighting, I want to start doing a “Kung fu of the week” video for my Youtube channel (which is also rather inactive). My plan is not to make instructional videos, but rather a series of videos for those who are curious about the sort of things included in traditional kung fu training. Given my background, most of what I’ll be filming comes from the repertoire of Shaolin Wahnam, though I do have some material from my other masters that might get some airing. Were it not for the snow, I’d love to film in one of the outdoor gardens on Purdue campus. Until that matter gets resolved, viewers will just have to deal with my boring apartment!
So nowadays I’m working at the Laboratory of Immunology and Hematopoeisis here at Purdue as a full-time laboratory technician. I’m still surprised that I managed to grab this position; looking back on it, the seeds of this were planted almost two years ago when I took Dr. Jim Walker’s gross anatomy course. An off-hand comment from him about the embalming laboratory’s technician graduating and leaving led me to inquire about potential positions, which resulted in getting a part-time embalming laboratory technician/student job. With my impending graduation, I asked my supervisor if she knew of any full-time positions available and just two weeks later I received a message from Dr. Kim who said he was looking for a technician. Ta-da!
The Chinese have a phrase for this sort of thing. Well, two of them come to mind, actually. The first is well known in the business word, guanxi. It refers to the complex network of connections and favors between various people. The second phrase, which might be a little less well-known, is hao yun qi, literally, “good circulation of energy.” In the Chinese medical paradigm, qi (also, chi) is your vital energy. When you are said to have hao yun qi, you not only have good health, but good luck as well.
Guanxi can be as direct and informal as your friend giving you a ride in his car and you paying him back later with a car ride or something else. It can also be pretty far-reaching. One line of connections I involved me -> my then girlfriend -> my then girlfriend’s Chinese friend, who my then girlfriend was tutoring in English -> the university from which my then girlfriend’s friend graduated in China. Through this line, in addition to being overall friendly and not-a-jerk resulted in receiving my then girlfriend and I receiving a recommendation to teach English in China. Fun times!
In China, I met Mr. Zhou, a spry fifty year old fellow and a manager of the English department, who knew that I had an interest in martial arts. He introduced me to his own Taiji instructor, who taught me a few good leg strengthening and footwork exercises, which have been quite useful for my own martial arts practice. One of my greatest regrets was not carving out more time to learn from Mr. Zhou and his teacher, but I do treasure the short time I spent with them.
Many of my memories and experiences in China encouraged me to continue practicing kung fu, even when I felt like giving up in despair from lack of ever being able to find a good master. A few years after returning to the United States, with my drive dwindling, I remembered some of the friendly faces at the Taiji meet-up’s in China and realized that my soon-to-be master, Sifu Antonius Korahais, was holding an introductory seminar, and he kindly offered to critique my kung fu afterwards. A year later, I learnt some of the best kung fu force-training exercises from his master, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, and a year after that, I learnt Baguazhang from my grandmaster as well.
I’ve had some pretty great luck.
So all in all, don’t be a jerk, be friendly to folks, and smile often. You might be surprised at just how long ago or recently the seeds of your current situation were planted.