It was Michael Tyson's second day at our Kung-Fu school and I took a hard look at him. He was built like King Kong, was as hairy as King Kong, sported Mr. T's hairstyle, but he had Oprah Winfrey's puckered lips and Michael Jackson's kohl-lined eyes. This made me a wee bit suspicious of his intentions, but I was in full concentration mode as I began teaching him some basic Shaolin Kung Fu tips.
"Tyson, in Shaolin Kung Fu, the Chi (breath) must unite with the Li (force). Do not lose focus, because the brain must coordinate with the heart, the heart must coordinate with the mind and the mind must dictate the way you breathe. Persevere and you will be rewarded." I began educating Tyson.
"Man, you just sound like my Grandma when she's chanting hymns at the church! Ha, ha!" Tyson guffawed, his lips vibrating, his eyes filled with merriment. Hmm, Tyson was a casual customer.
I smiled back, "Thanks for that, Tyson. In Shaolin Kung Fu, it is necessary for the body to be agile, swift and packed with energy. The movement of all parts of the body must be coordinated and you must focus on your body movements. If you move forward one step, your hand should move, too, in rhythm. Even when you strike, do not focus on your fist or the force you put behind it – just concentrate on your body rhythm. Understood?"
"Dude, is this a ballet school or what? Ha, ha!" Tyson laughed, his lips puckering even more. A little bird flew inside my brain and told me Tyson was an irreverent type.
"Thanks again, Tyson. Now, pay attention: In Shaolin King Fu, the five elements of nature – wood, fire, earth, metal and water form a unique fusion during a fight. You must observe them and the arrangement of the universe around us. When you practice Shaolin Kung Fu, you will one day understand that your Chi (breath) can influence these five elements. When you reach that level of realization, you will be able to move very heavy objects with one movement of your hand or foot. Shaolin Kung Fu is that powerful, Tyson.
"Hey, buddy, I came here to be a fighter – I don't wanna be no weight-lugging porter, my friend!" Tyson continued his rocking and rolling.
Well, it was my Shaolin Kung Fu training that helped me maintain my cool. Otherwise, Michael Tyson would have been toast by now with a lot of jam on him, "Tyson, please pay attention – So far, you have learned that in Shaolin Kung Fu, you have to focus on your breath and your body movements while observing and connecting with the five elements of nature. Now here's the fourth tip: Shaolin Kung Fu requires you to be an expert in fist work. You must move your arms in such a way that the enemy cannot get sight of your fist. Your arms and fists must move at the speed of light and for that to happen, you will have to train your sinews in such a way that when you punch, your arm must glide like a bird landing on a lake."
"Sure, leg movements are important too: In fact, there are seven kinds of leg movements in Shaolin Kung Fu, but we'll come to them later on." I continued.
"Got any cool underarm movements, eh, Balboa boy?" Tyson sniggered, looking at me with come-hither eyes. I wished he'd get pregnant and go away.
"Okay, Tyson, this is your last tip for the day: In Shaolin Kung Fu, your eyes, ears and heart must be in perfect rhythm. Your eyes must follow the enemy's movements and your ears should be sharp enough to detect the slightest of sounds – this, while your heart is steady, cool and calm. If you are able to achieve this state, you will not make mistakes. That's enough for today Tyson, class over. Now join me for a round of Shaolin Kung Fu sparring."
"Hey Balboa, whatever you say! Hee, hee" Tyson said grinning ear to ear, not knowing what was coming at him.
That was the last time Tyson ever fooled around in Kung Fu class. And in case you are wondering, no, I didn't kill him – but that's another story.