I was the only foreigner who had ever been to the village of Bu She, a small fishing community on the tropical coast of Taiwan. My job was teaching English, but I had slowly become an important member of the community. I was asked to arbitrate in the case of disputes between the fishermen, and I was the honored guest at festivals and feasts, where whole pigs were slaughtered and slow roasted in my honor. An ancient bearded man, wearing a traditional Chinese suit, walked slowly around the village, leaning on his gnarled walking stick. He was Master Mei Yo Le who was the keeper of the lost Taiwanese Kung Fu style of Jia De. After my first contract, he had accepted me as his student, and during my years in the village we had grown very close. Good masters know when they will die. And in preparation of the master making his way to the golden palace of heaven, he had asked me to become the new master, passing on the art to the Taiwanese children. He had also asked me to marry his beautiful niece.
And then I woke up.
There are a thousand reasons to learn martial arts, and it is up to you decide which best fit you. Here are just a few purposes to get you started… For me, martial arts are a way to keep in great shape without running on a treadmill. Martial arts train almost all of your muscle groups, but does so in a safer, more effective way than using free weights. Perhaps most importantly, martial arts will actually make you truly healthy, both inside and out. If you go to regular fitness gyms, you will see a lot for mirror athletes: people whose muscles and bodies look great but who aren’t actually fit, and cannot do very many functional movements other than picking up and setting down weights.
Robert Jay Arnold (aka Warren Fox), is a U.S. martial arts expert, recorded rap artist, and one of the best non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese you will ever meet. Robert has been learning martial arts for over 25 years, including extensive training in Taekwondo, Hapkido, Jeet Kun Do, Western Boxing, and Ninjutsu. As an exchange student in college, he fell in love with Baguazhang (八卦掌 Bā Guà Zhǎng), and has been diligently learning the art ever since. He trains under Master WÚ GuóZhèng (吳國正師父) in XīnDiàn (新店), and placed third at the Asian World Martial Arts Competition (華人武術亞洲初賽), becoming the first foreigner ever be invited to, let alone place, in the event!