I know Kung Fu.
Or rather, I’m beginning to get to know Kung Fu at Valois Kung Fu and from what I’ve seen so far, it can be summed up as the science of making your opponent wish they had never been your opponent.
So while Tae Kwon Do and boxing have their roots in fighting, most modern interpretations skew closer to sport, i.e. the aim is to win, whether your opponent gets hurt or not is really beside the point. Kung Fu, though, is learning a discipline that skews more closely to its martial roots, i.e. beating your opponent until they cry for mercy.
The funny thing is that while Tae Kwon Do and boxing look very fight-y and harsh, with punches and kicks the main focus, a lot of Kung Fu practice resembles a dance with it’s flowing forms and looping hand movements. Of course, if you use those forms at the right time, what they spell out is broken bones and pain.
A similar duality is apparent at the school, which is located in the same building as the Gymnastics club, at 950 Mountain Ash Rd., at the old Maple Dr School.
The old classroom where the club holds practice still has a classroom feel, with bright coloured, interlocking mats covering the floor. But the more serious aspect of the art is apparent from the rack of weapons on the wall and a variety of training machines in the classroom corners.
The room and school is welcoming and not intimidating at all, which is probably good, as a daycare also makes its home there. Because the classes are spread out between the young kids and adults, beginner and advanced, the class sizes are also smaller with the adult beginner class, which I am taking, below 10 students.
When you enter the class, the first thing to be learned is how to bow. Now that may seem simple to you, just bend at the waist. But such simple things are not for Kung Fu – even the bow utilizes ways of defending your self – starting in the cat stance, first is a block, followed by another block paired with a punch, then a sweep downward (another block, this time for a kick) while stepping back the hands follow through into a two hand thrust to an imaginary neck, after which you pull your fists back and bow, keeping your eyes on your opponent, lest they punch you while you’re not looking.
And all that, in a way, sums up my experience with Kung Fu: intricate, showy and capable of bringing much pain.
And behind and through and in all of that (trying to hide behind the serious face you put on so people won’t think you’re a geek), comes pop culture. Because in your mind, when learning Kung Fu, you’re Neo or Bruce Lee or Jim Kelly and all is right with the world, as your childhood dreams are (if you squint your eyes and tilt your head) coming to reality.
And really, what more could you want than a childhood dream fulfilled?
Gi is not required to join in, but the teachers do encourage you to wear one.
For more information about the club, they can be reached by phone at 250 747-3292, on the web at valoiskungfu.ca or on facebook.
–Jonas Gagnon is the sports writer for the Cariboo Observer.