-By Sifu Scott Jensen
We are nearing the end of a memorable Metal Rat year in Chinese astrology. From the moment it started I said: “This Rat is covered in armor and carrying two swords, so look out!” Well, it has been an incredibly challenging year. That was also oddly filled with unique opportunities for many. 2020 was certainly a year that affected most of us deeply on personal level and all of us on a national level. I think I can safely say that all of us at one point or another experienced moments of great emotion in 2020.
However, the next two years will be quite different. We are entering a Metal Ox year. The Ox is known for being a stable hard working animal that contributes to community through its determination and loyalty. The Ox works hard to plow the field so the whole family or community can eat. Plowing the field and doing the farm work is tough, it is not pretty, it is not exciting, creativity is not helpful. But getting the farm work done determines whether the family dies or survives the following winter. So, the ox has a great responsibility to complete the arduous task of plowing. The Ox’s great virtue lies in its willingness to repeat the same task many times. Plow one line and then turn around and plow the next line. It is slow steady work that cannot stop. A horse is not well suited to this temperamentally. The Horse wants to run as fast as possible across the plains in one direction. But does not want to do that twice. Next time the Horse wants to run as fast possible in another direction. None of the other Chinese astrology animals have the determination and resolution to complete a difficult task that the Ox does.
In Chinese astrology every year has its opportunities. To seize those opportunities, you need to act in accord with the year and your nature. In practical terms this means being a bit more the like the animal of the year. Thus, in the Ox year we want to be more like the Ox to harmonize with the year. This year emphasizing the qualities of the Ox in your own decisions and conduct means focusing on steady hard work, clear decision making and planning, being responsible and dependable in taking care of others, showing determination when difficulties or sheer boredom arise combined with a humble good attitude will help.
2022 will be a Water Tiger Year. The Water Tiger is the calmest and most philosophical of the usually fierce Tigers. Nonetheless Tiger years are passionate, generous, expansive, and filled with dramatic movement. Tigers can leap far and high, but they do not always hit their mark. When they do not the Tiger can land with a crash. In general, Tiger years are good years for passionate and courageous action, but their vast opportunities are also accompanied but potential traps and cliffs. Aiming higher and targeting loftier goals suit the energy of a Tiger Year. Engaging your compassionate and thoughtful side as you leap also harmonizes with this Tigers Water nature.
In relative terms it is pretty obvious we are all stilling under lockdown awaiting progress in the fight against Covid-19. We may see substantial progress in the next six months. However, it will likely be 9 months before we start to relax and enjoy indoor classes. Stir craziness and cabin fever have been challenging many of us accustomed to more travel. I encourage everyone to put your travel dreams on pause. Plan for 2022. Travel will be potentially far more auspicious, and COVID-19 hopefully contained in 2022. We will probably resume outdoor classes in June or July. Of course, it is hard to predict. But, certainly no sooner than then. It is likely, we will wait until then to have enough certainty to resume classes and take the appropriate actions to reestablish them. As a school we will not be planning any events in 2021 at this time. Hopefully, we will all be able to hug each other at a Holiday Party in 2021!
In 2022, we will plan events. In particular, we plan on another Black Sash Graduation Event in late October or November. At this event we expect to graduate 2 – 4 Black Sashes in Northern Shaolin. We also plan on graduating Black Sash instructors in Xing Yi Quan. We expect a minimum of four graduates in Xing Yi Quan. We will also certify Tai Chi Instructors for the first time at this event. It should be a memorable day.
Leading up to this event we will hold a number of new events to help prepare our students for their graduations. Tournament competition will likely resume in 2022. However, many of the Chinese Style Tournaments, the Kung Fu tournaments, do not have that many sparring divisions. To provide more opportunities for our students and the students of our other friends in the Chinese martial arts community we plan on offering “Kung Fu Fight Clubs”. The motto of these events will be “Skills First, Glory Second”. Glory is won winning competitive tournaments. Skills are built differently. Kung Fu Fight Club events invitations will be issued only to schools known for their Wude. There will be no prizes or scores and no judges. Referees will be tasked with the safety of fighters as usual. The concept is warm up training and meeting new partners in the morning and fights in the afternoon. Fighters will be paired and gain experience sparring with people of a similar level. Everyone will earn vast amounts of experience and make many new friends in a single day. Our goal will be to host three or four of these events before our graduation day.
2022 Training Retreat. Conditions permitting, we also hope to do a great weeklong training camp in Northern Shaolin and Xing Yi Quan, and another on Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang, and Wu Dang Sword.
Last, but not least. We will have a great party for Sifu’s Birthday in August.
Stay safe and keep practicing your Kung Fu!