Category Archives: Musings of a Kung Fu Wife

Tales From the Other Side Series 4: Musings of a Kung Fu Wife on Practical Kung Fu

Geraldine R. Borromeo

Manila, PhilippinesIntention. The word conjures up extreme opposite associations like good intentions versus evil intent and honorable intentions versus lustful intent. When Sifu Vince told me to practice my horse stance with intent, I thought, “this guy is just over the top with his kung fu.”

Thinking while executing a movement has always proved too much for my mental capacity since it meant pairing the movement with intent. At the end of the day after handling complex commercial transactions for my clients, all I want to do is space out. If I had to move a muscle I wanted it to be a thoughtless movement.

That is why I am more attracted to aerobic exercises where I could stay at the back and just use my eyes to cue my body how to move. No one in any aerobic exercise class ever asked me to put more thought in the movement. All I had to do was reach a heart rate that would burn calories and make me sweat and that is about as much intent I could muster.

When Sifu Vince and I were first married he was constantly recruiting me to practice the basics of his martial art. Every time I watched him execute a form, the minute details of every hand, trunk, neck, head, waist, hip, leg and foot movement daunted me. The drill looked like a million thoughts must have been zinging through the Sifu’s head just to coordinate his mind with his body.

I had always thought of myself as awkward in the physical realm, clumsy most of the time as my family would attest. If something could spill, I would be the one to spill it. If something would drop and break into pieces, I would have to own up to it or live with the guilt. Performing a martial arts dance was definitely way beyond me and I would be better off reading or writing, my nose immersed in piles of paperwork. Tackling words is as easy as pie since all I needed to coordinate were my mind, my eyes and my fingers that would translate my thoughts.

Equating movement with intention then sounded a bit too weird for one like me until I got afflicted with a really bad case of flu. Needless to say, I stopped doing the horse stance while brushing my teeth, bathing, washing my face, etc. I was asleep most of three days and my recovery was slow as I shunned antibiotics and let my body heal with rest and plenty of liquids.

As I began moving about I started getting back on my routine and I mindlessly went on the horse stance as I was about to wash my hair. I felt my knees buckle as I bent it and I did not feel the stability I usually got. Then it hit me. I was just going through the motions of a horse stance with no intention of gaining the stability I needed.

The force of habit of bending my knee, tucking my tailbone in, leaning forward and keeping my head straight had no effect whatsoever. I was just plain tired so I let it go and got a chair to sit to finish washing my hair – an elaborate process of shampooing and conditioning to get soft, shiny cliché hair.

The next day I felt better and I realized that my horse stance gave me the stability that I needed while I went about my mundane routine of facial cleansing, moisturizing and applying make-up. I could feel my thighs strong, my tailbone tucked in, my core tight and my knees stable. It was such an amazing realization that I realized my intention or lack of it pre-determined the quality of just about anything I do.

I realize that when I take on a project with intent, the results clearly show the dedication and commitment I put into it. When I write with intent, it shows in the flow of words and ideas that shape into an engaging story. When I move with intent, the full benefit of the movement is reaped by my body in the same way.

Intention – it could spell the difference between ok and great; mediocre and stellar. Which way than shall we all take – the narrow way of Sifu Vince -to act with intent or the wider path – to act with passive lethargy?

Tales From the Other Side Series 3: Musings of a Kung Fu Wife on Practical Kung Fu

Geraldine R. Borromeo

Manila, Philippines

I broke my right kneecap while walking out the door of a mall. I did not twist my ankle or step on anything that could have caused my injury. My right kneecap just suddenly gave way and if it were not for the lady guard who was right at the door as I fell, I would fallen headlong unto the pavement.

As I tried to walk towards the nearest chair with the guard supporting me on my right side, my kneecap was excruciatingly painful with every step I took. I called my husband, Sifu Vince, and he brought me straight to the National Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

After an x-ray and a diagnostics procedure by the attending orthopedic doctor, my right leg was wrapped in a removable steel cast. I was ordered to stay home for two months in that cast, with permission to remove it only during bath time while sitting on a chair.

The tendons that cushioned my kneecap had given way and I needed to rest it from any pressure whatsoever if recovery was to begin. Two months later, I was given permission to remove the cast and begin rehabilitation.

I went through several knee exercises on my back at first then as I progressed a few weeks later, I could sit while doing the exercises. Finally, I could exercise my knees while standing up until I was declared free of the rehabilitation center. At that point, I was just ordered to continue the exercises at home.

While the rehabilitation process literally got me back on my knees, standing still for more than a few minutes at a time proved difficult for me. I would complain to my husband, Sifu Vince, that I needed a chair in the bathroom when I would shampoo and condition my hair as I could not stand for too long. Even while washing my face and brushing my teeth, standing in place was a challenge for my knees that would throb with the all so familiar ache.

Sifu Vince had an instant answer to my complaints and he got me standing up right away to teach me the horse stance. The name of the stance did not appeal to me as it conjured up images of a sore leg and buttocks after a horse ride.

Sifu Vince had me stand with my legs apart with my feet flat on the ground and aligned with each other. At first he let me stand with legs just shoulder width apart; then he told me to bend my knees at a slight angle; tuck in my tailbone; and move my upper body slightly forward as if I was leaning. All along I was told to maintain my head in an upright position as if it were a marionette being pulled by a string from the ceiling.

Sifu Vince told me to stay in that position for as long as I can, then rest for a while and get back on the horse stance longer each time. I was very reluctant, yet I was also very desperate so I followed the routine until he approved my stance.

For the past five years I have used this stance whenever I put on make-up, brush my teeth, shampoo and condition, wash my face, wash the dishes, prep ingredients for cooking, line-up in the bank and just about any activity that requires standing still for more than a few minutes.

My knees don’t ache anymore when I stand for a long time for as long as I am on the horse stance. I no longer feel weakness in my knees as I no longer stress it with prolonged pressure while standing.

The wonders of kung fu has helped me cope with my knee injury and no wonder it has. Sifu Vince explains that the horse stance is known for stability during a fight as it provides balance even if the body is in motion.

Bending the knees is an automatic reflex when the body’s balance is threatened. Thus, the horse stance, in kung-fu, in the kitchen and the vanity room has proved a lifeline for me after a knee injury.

In addition, my thigh muscles have strengthened from the countless horse stances daily; the core muscles in my tummy automatically clenche when I am on the horse stance, trimming my belly; and, my buttocks have firmed from endlessly tucking my tailbone.

Today, the horse stance is part of my everyday life. Even when I am on the train waiting to get to my stop,or waiting for a cashier to tally my tab, I am on the horse stance, with legs only slightly apart and tailbone tucked only so slightly, conspicuously doing kung-fu undercover.

Tales From the Other Side Series 2: Musings of a Kung Fu Wife on Practical Kung Fu

Geraldine R. Borromeo

Manila, Philippines

Watching my husband, Vince, practice Choy Li Fut kung fu daily impacted my life little except for the time it took him away from chores I would ask him to do from time to time. I would literally have to wait two hours until he finishes his practice before I could ask him to repair this or that.

While taking a walk with him one late afternoon right before dusk, I witnessed how his kung fu was practically applied in one of the most common situations one can get into in the residential streets of Metro Manila, Philippines.

We were taking a nice walk and the air was chillier than usual as it was nearing the Christmas season. As we made a turn, we passed by a rundown house with a dilapidated gate. Just as we passed the gate, a swarm of wild dogs came at me and fear immediately seized me. I froze in place. Vince was beside me, in front of me, and at my back in a flash in a never ending cycle of movement.

Every time a dog came nearer me there was Vince fending one dog after another and I couldn’t clearly make out his movements. What I saw was a flurry of arms, feet, and knees flung at every side and Vince striking the heads of the dogs as they came at me.

The dogs would not tire though and for what seemed like forever, I was in the middle of a skirmish between growling fierce street dogs and my husband who so valiantly defended me every moment.

Finally, the owner of the pack of dogs approached us and started commanding them away. What was startling was that I saw him in the corner of the street watching the spectacle the whole time without lending a hand.

He was probably fascinated with how Vince fended of all his dogs and that none of them got near enough to hurt me. Moreover, he was probably got scared that his dogs were getting hurt in the process so he finally decided to stop the skirmish.

As we were walking away I had a new respect for the martial arts. Having seen it applied in a practical situation that literally saved me from a pack of dogs gave me a new appreciation for the hours Vince put into his kung fu.

When I asked Vince what he did exactly, he told me that he would raise his hands to get the dogs attention, attracting it to go nearer him instead of me. As the dog’s head approaches nearer, he comes within striking distance of Vince kick.

I was so grateful that Vince had these skill set but understanding how he fended off a pack of dogs that were all coming at me at once is beyond me. The speed at which he swung from all sides was so cinematic that had I not come out of the situation in one piece, I would not have believed it myself.

To this day, I feel safe when I walk anywhere with Vince. Vince humble and wise as he is, always tells me that taking safety precautions is being a step ahead and it is more reliable than just depending on kung fu alone in a dangerous situation.

Tales From the Other Side Series 1: Musings of a Kung Fu Wife on Practical Kung Fu

Geraldine R. Borromeo

Manila, Philippines

When I first met Vince, his lean and muscular physique immediately impressed me. Before I found out that he was an avid practitioner of Choy Li Fut Kung Fu and that he was at it since high school, I had thought it was weightlifting and push ups that gave him that physique.

As I got to know him, I realized how deep he was in the martial arts. I was fascinated when he told me how he used to be a thin weak boy before he began martial arts training. Looking at him then, I would have never thought that he could hardly fight his own battles in grade school.

It was a bit strange though as he would often practice kung fu moves wherever we were, no matter who was in sight. As we were lining up for movie tickets, once the lines would not move, he would begin moving his hands into some kung fu form.

At first, it made me conscious of the people who would stare at him (and me!). After a while I got used to it and understood that he did not like being idle and he was just putting good use to idle time.

When Vince did some kung fu hand movements while we were sitting in a hall waiting for a program to begin, my oldest brother, Gerry Rullan, was alarmed. I almost fell off my seat with the look on my Kuya Gerry’s face and his inevitable question: “What is he doing?”

This reminds me of another friend who is also deep into kung fu. When they were visiting his wife’s friend in the hospital, my friend was a few paces away from the sickbed doing kung fu moves as his wife conversed with the patient!

This just goes to show that kung fu practitioners truly have kung fu in mind at every waking moment. Kung fu is second nature to them that they take every opportunity to practice their moves at any given time.

It is noteworthy to add that due to this relentless and constant practice, 14 years later since we were married, Vince still has a muscular body sans weightlifting. The defined muscles are the product of kung fu moves that have obviously built the fibers to contour his physique.

As a wife, I am glad I have grown older with a well built husband. In fact, when my friends see me with Vince, they are likewise impressed with Vince’s physique. And when they ask me if he goes to the gym regularly, I always quote Vince.

“Kung fu is a gem of a martial art as I can practice its forms no matter where I am, in a gym, a garden or any open space I can find,” quips Vince.