"Here is a text from one of my student and friend Arne. it's always motivating to read about other people story. Enjoy, Serge"
Yesterday I stood in a forest close to my home training Tai Chi when it HIT me…
I`m doing IT.
I am finally training an internal art for REAL!! I had to pinch my forearm.
Mind you, this was not a new discovery. I guess one can understand something in theory, and then there is a different understanding when you understand it physically. And put together it makes another level of understanding.. and so on.
But understanding is one thing and appreciating it for what it really is ..is another. I guess the more you understand it, the more you will appreciate it.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND HISTORY
I was born as far north in Norway as you can possibly travel. The winters are harsh with no light whatsoever. Between December and February there is no sign of the sun. But then again you have the sun 24hrs in summertime. The midnight sun.
My mother said I was very kind as a child, but was very hot tempered. So I guess I hit my head a bit too much during those early childhood years. University was out of the question. They used to tie me with a dog leash to the house, so I wouldn't run too far and hurt myself.
I was very physical and had a lot of energy like most kids do. I guess I was a bit extreme as a kid, and still are (although we will try to balance that now). I loved cross country skiing, and in the winter time my father would have to run after me and force me back into the house after dark. I was 6yrs and went ballistic if anyone tried to stop me from becoming a famous skier.
When I was 9 yrs old, we moved to a small town near Oslo. Having a funny northern dialect, other kids would tease me. Being very hot tempered, I got into a lot of fights. But soon the older and bigger boys respected me and I didn`t have to fight that much. I lacked the understanding of the phrase “to give up”, and they simply gave up fighting me. Not because I was any good at it, but I guess they were afraid that they had to kill me to make me yield. And I guess they would have to kill me to make me surrender.
We never heard of martial arts back then. We had only heard of western boxing and greek roman wrestling, and if you didn`t train soccer, some of us, including myself, did cross country skiing. I remember running for up to 2 hrs straight with some adults in my club when I was only 10 yrs old. We didn`t have X-box back then (we had to do something).
My parents got divorced when I was 13, and I stayed with my father together with my younger brother Trond and my two year older sister Anne. My father was never home, so we had to manage on our own. This was not too unusual for me, since I had been working in the farm fields since I was 9 every summer and fall to be able to buy my own skies and running shoes etc.
But my sister became addicted to drugs, and every now and then I would have to throw people twice my age out of our “house” that I found in our living-room smoking hashish and other drugs. It was not easy for any of us. I guess my running helped me to stay away from trouble.
When I was 14 yrs old I was at this party with some classmates. It was in this lonely house in “nowhereland” with just one lonely graveled road leading up to it. In the end of the evening I walked home together with a girl from my school. It was really dark and no streetlights.
A car came towards us and stopped. 4 “big” guys in their early/mid twenties jumped out and started to threaten us with baseball bats and iron chains. I wanted to run, cause I knew none of them would be able to catch me. But I couldn't since I would then leave the young girl alone. So I took her hand and tried to negotiate with the gang. This was useless and they were really aggressive towards us. I was skinny and was no match for any of them, but we were saved by the bell when some adults came up the road, and the gang jumped back in their car and sped off.
It was just good old fashion luck that saved that evening. And it was so humiliating to not be able to do anything. I did not want this ever to happen again. I think that for the first time in my life I felt really scared.
If there was any martial art clubs in my area at that time, I would probably have started early the next morning. But since we didn't have any, I just continued running. I stopped skiing because I couldn't afford it.
When I was around 18 yrs old, I read a little book on different martial arts. There was very little written stuff on internal arts, just a small chapter on around 3 pages. But this sounded too cool to be true. To be able to work on energies called qi sounded magical ( and still do ). When I talked about it to others, most of them would shake their heads and called it superstitious. I believed in it and thought it sounded quite logical, and a hell lot easier to believe in than the bible (that for some odd reason half the world think is a fact).
I really wanted to learn some of this, but as time went by, I got the understanding that this would be impossible. Finding an internal arts teacher was like looking for the needle in the haystack (a haystack with the size of China). And IF you should be so lucky to find one, he would probably not teach you any big secrets if you weren't asian. Being asian alone wouldn't help you. The needle in the haystack is one thing, the next challenge would be that you had to be born “in the needle in the haystacks home as his son”.
Ok! So I gave up this idea and continued running until my knees screamed at me:” STOP running you idiot!” in a really painful manner. So I stopped. I was 23. I was among the top 7-8 long distance runners in my country as a junior, and it was depressing to have to give in because of injuries. Today I am really glad I stopped.
Then I moved to Oslo, and Oslo had some martial art clubs, so I started with karate. I didn't know much about karate, but I thought that at least I would be training something to develop good coordination and balance. It was through karate that I first met Henning and Henrik. They were in their early teens then.
I remember asking one of my karate teachers if the school had any methods for developing qi.
He scratched his head, looked a bit confused, but answered boldly:” Yes, I think so, but only the old and advanced students are allowed to train it”. I asked if it wouldn't be better if one started with this kind of training as soon as possible (stupid me, I thought it would take many years to develop qi ). He then said that these were secrets in the school and only the most advanced and trusted students were allowed to train it with the master. Ok?
Some years later I asked a 5th degree black belt the same question. He told me that his master had not yet shown him anything, but lately he had opened more up to him and started to show him a lot more..bla..bla..bla..
So a 5th degree blackbelt in his mid 40s wasn`t trusted to get the healthy training of qigong?? Come ooon !!
That was it for me. I stopped training karate. I was 29 yrs old and my hips yelled out loud to me ”STOP this for heaven`s sake” in a really painful way. So I stopped.
I had been training a Japanese traditional weapon school for around 20 yrs, when I was asked by an Tae Kwon Do teacher to teach sword to his group once a month. I asked him WHY? He said that many beginners were asking if they had some weapon training in their system, and since they hadn`t any, he thought it would be good with some Japanese sword training once a month. Mind you, they had all the rest. Everything from high to low kicks, and they did meditation too. Oh yeah! Two times a week, before training started, they all sat down on their knees and shut their eyes for as long as a whole minute. These people were hmm.. really into it.
I had by this started my career in the police force, and I was now working as a diver in the nations anti terrorist force. This was fun. I soon became involved as an instructor in hand-to-hand combat in our troop. It had to be simple, without any fancy pansy tricks.
Because of all my hip problems I had to stop this career after 6 yrs, and started to work as a bodyguard for the royal family. I was still very able, but had a lot of pain in my whole body these years. I now still work as a bodyguard, but spend most my days instructing the younger bodyguards in shooting, tactics and hand to hand combat.
I had some contact with Henning during the period when I was working on the Hostage Rescue Team. He was applying to get into the Special Forces in the military and wanted me to be his reference. I was glad to do this. During our talks around the Special Forces, he told me about his and Henrik`s trips to China. They had found a teacher in Tai Chi, and had stopped their karate career (thank heaven for that!!). It turned out that this teacher in China wasn't the real deal, but this was the start of their search for a good teacher.
I could feel Henning`s desire towards the internal arts, and I think I talked him out of doing something serious about the special forces. He got through the whole intake and was ready to start when it hit him that this wasn`t such a good idea after all. There is a huge difference to work in a hostage rescue team than joining a special force in the army. It is much more difficult to keep to your values in a war situation, than if your job is to get rid off the bad guys who threaten to kill innocent people, like in a hijacked airplane for instance. Besides, it would really take its tool on your body carrying 60kg backpacks for 10 yrs or so, and throwing yourself on your knees to the ground every day (with that same 60kg backpack AND heavy armour and weapon). Not to forget the emotional scars you get from being in wars.
I have no emotional scars from my job (or little), because we had a normal life between the fighting, and we were the good guys remember. The situations when we had to shoot someone were pretty much black and white. In war they are most of the time pretty grey.
These were gooood years, I tell you.
But if I had the choice back then, and if I knew that the needle in the haystack was in Paris, I would easily have traded all those good years in to be able to start my journey earlier.
YES!! THERE ARE PANDA BEARS IN NORWAY!!
Around 7 yrs ago, I got a phone call from Henrik and Henning, telling me to come over to Henning's apartment because they had something to show me. Actually I didn't have the time that day, but I went anyway.
We were standing on the outside of Henning's place, and the guys were eagerly showing me techniques that some professor in Paris had shown them… JAAAWWN!!!???
I told them just to stop it actually. I wasn't interested. I was living in a relationship with an awful lady who tormented me everyday. And at this time I was afraid of ending this awful relationship by getting myself into another “hobby” that would make her complain even more.
And for me it had to be something more than learning some new tricks. It had to be more than a martial art for me to start all over again. This better be good.
Henrik pulled of his T-shirt and showed me all his bruises and blue marks. He was smiling so wide that you could probably see the teeth in the back of his scull. Henning did the same thing. And they stood there like two smiling runaway panda bears. How they got through customs looking like that is a mystery.
It didn't convince me, but in the end I got tired of all the “tryinghard togetmetogotoPariswhining”, so I went just to shut them up actually.
It was a real pleasure to meet Serge, and I soon found myself flying through mid air in his apartment and landing on the floor behind his sofa (my rooting wasn`t going to be the headlines in Guinness books of Records that year either). I woke up with Serge standing over me with a grin that would make Las Vegas look blunt. “You like this technique?” or something like that, he said.
He was showing me An from Tai Chi.
I was convinced enough to start my training, but it was not before a couple of years later when we participated in one of his seminars in French Countryside, that we started to understand what we had gotten ourselves into.
This was an internal school.
Henning and Henrik had found the needle in the haystack, and the name of the place was Paris. The professor was a nice young man who spoke perfectly good English and was eager to teach someone with a good intention to learn.
What more can you ask for? Really! Not even language barriers.
After some months of training every day, I went for my annual physical check up. I do this every year, since the doctors found out that I had rheumatism (ankylosing spondylitis) about 8 yrs ago. My back was getting stiffer, and they could see some change in the bone structure in my x-rays.
But when I went this time, the doctor shock her head and she said:
”Strange thing has happened Arne… hmm .. seems like your lower back is getting more flexible.. and this never happens with patience with your disease”.
I told her that I was training Tai Chi every day now, and that I felt much better, except for some really painful hips.
OH THOSE HIPS HURT!!
2 yrs ago, I changed my old hips out with some really nice new metal implants. After and between surgery, I couldn`t train standing up. This was no problem, because Serge had given me exercises to do in bed as I was healing.
I didn`t miss one day of training in this period. Although I must admit that the first time I did shen gong after surgery (yes, right after I woke up), my head was spinning so much from the morphine that we can hardly call it shen gong (I saw pink pandas everywhere). But I could do my physical training.
The doctors were amazed of how fast I recovered. I trained 4 times 1hr every day with the exercises they gave me, and still did 2-3 hrs of the wai gong, chi gong, and shen gong.
I was back to work 100% after 4 weeks after the last surgery. 6 months later I passed the physical tests for the bodyguards (we have annual tests in shooting, medical skills and a lot of physical tests including 3000m run, and 400m run were you finish with lifting a guy of around 85 kg up on your shoulders and carry/running with that load to the finish line another 30m more). And of course a lot of other tests as well.
STILL A BIT DROWSY
Time goes by, and as it does, one easily slips into a zombie state of mind. It is so easy to get back into those daily habits, and forget about what you set out to do in the first place.
But slowly I feel like I am starting to wake up again. As I stand in this wonderful forest it hits me in a different way than before. This is what everyone wants to learn.
Who DOESN'T want to learn about life, health, the mind and how everything works together?
Who doesn't want to be free?
I AM really doing it.
It IS real, and I have an opportunity to make a very important change in my life now.
It will NOT be easy, and it will take time.
But it WILL be beautiful. I pinch my arm once again..
Yes.. It is Real