Blogs:

The Immortal Iron Fist
by Meowaffles

I just read my friend's copy of the 27 issue Iron Fist comic written by Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction and I'll have to say I was pretty impressed. Now I can't say it was the best comic I've ever read, or that the kung fu involved even really resembled kung fu, but the comic was pretty good nonetheless.

Somehow, those two managed to turn one of the more absurd superhero stories I know into an epic tale of heroism (all manner of heroism) despite impossible odds and human folly. I'm also glad someone decided to get rid of his gigantic collar when they have him his new costume. Before reading it, I could not have imagined giving much credit to writers of a tale of a blonde crimefighting billionaire in a yellow and green costume who gained mystic kung fu power by fighting a dragon in a magic city and who now goes around stopping crime, poverty, terrorism, other mystic kung fu guys, and the denizens of "heaven" and "hell".

I do kinda wish they had put a bit more detail on how the more esoteric martial arts of the marvel universe functioned and that they paid a tad more attention to distinct fighting styles, especially with regards to special moves and martial stances. The idea of named moves would've been better that way. I also wanted to see a bit more characterization of characters like Misty or the corrupt August Personage in Jade but I suppose they did what they could with the space and time they had.

Still, the whole thing was definitely worth the read. I used to know Iron Fist as that pseudo kung fu guy who'd make interesting appearances in other comic books but that's all changed. Pretty good move Marvel. You have a lot of heroes you can actually do this sort of thing with. I give due praise to Brubaker and Fraction for making it work.  Please don't make a bad movie about this.

Hung Gar Chicken
by Meowaffles

Sorry for the delay. I had a tough time getting the comic uploaded between work and internet connection issues. I hope you all like it.

On other matters, I've come up with this fun (or maybe dumb) idea to exercise my research skills, my cooking skills, and my Kung Fu knowledge while learning a bit more about Chinese culture along the way. It's Called "Hung Gar Chicken"!

Hung Gar is a Southern Chinese Kung Fu Style known for its very strong low and wide stances, powerful hand techniques (like the tiger claw), and extremely demanding training regimen. It is also known as "Tiger and Crane Boxing" and was popularized by popular Chinese figures such as Chiu Chi Ling (Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Duel of the Seven Tigers, Kung Fu Hustle), Wong Fei Hong, and Jet Li (in the role of Wong Fei Hong). Fighting a master of Hung Gar with his extreme physical conditioning and overwhelming onslaught of powerful blows would be very much like resisting the relentless progress of a moving bus.

The style relies on building a strong foundation and then further building on that foundation using thorough endurance training and "external" techniques to build on "internal" power without neglecting softer "crane" aspects of the martial arts. It gets far more complicated than that but that's beside the point.

So what's this all about?

Well, the gist of the exercise is that I'm supposed to invent the recipe for "Hung Gar Chicken" (a recipe that does not, to my knowledge, exist). The final goal would be to make a chicken recipe that "builds on a strong foundation" using the "external" to improve the "internal" that is seemingly "hard" while incorporating "soft" aspects. The recipe should also be possible to make while in a low stance and a whole chicken for the recipe would be divided using a variant of Hung Gar tiger claw grabbing twisting and pulling movements. My friend, who is Filipino-Chinese, also suggested that it be a clay pot dish. Well, before any of the fancy stuff I have to find a proper basis for my recipe and will be starting by researching food from Fukien Province, the generally accepted birthplace of Hung Gar.

This will be a work in progress and I'll update you guys if this actually goes anywhere. Yes this is silly; but if I'm going to be silly I might as well go all out :)

Matters of Perspective
by Meowaffles

Call me obsessive compulsive but it bugged me to no end when I saw my webcomic on a friend's computer and the colors were too light. I couldn't help but check his monitor just to see if the brightness or contrast settings were all the way up (They weren't). My monitor is kinda old and it still bugs me now that the art I am making might not be seen by people around the world as quite the same thing. A similar thing happened when I saw that my comic looked warped on someone else's computer. I ended up searching for a picture of a square online just to assure myself that it was due to his computer settings and not mine (He has a widescreen and seems to like things stretched that way when playing MMORPGs).

Bottom line, I should learn to let such little things go. The medium that a work of art is in will have quite a bit of bearing on the way it is seen and this should not bother me. Maybe I should recite a mantra "I-am-not-botherrrred, I-am-not-botherrrred, I-am-not-botherrrred, I-am-not-botherrrred, I-am-not-botherrrred".

I would still like to know if my work is coming through to other people right so if you notice something odd, don't hesitate to mention this with a comment under the offending page. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do much about it but I'll try. :)

Thanks everyone.

Achievement Man
by Meowaffles

Well, I guess I've still only posted one comic this week so far but I'm working on the next one already and will finish soon... maybe... I hope.

In any case, the time has come for the customary mandatory "Kung Fu" definition discussion. Kung (or Gong) means "merit", "work", or "achievement" and Fu means "man"...

So Kung Fu means "Achievement Man!!!", a superhero dedicated to work, skill, and more hard work!

Well, due to the wonders of human language, Kung Fu is actually better translated as skill gained through hard work; something like experience or capability but referring more specifically to that gained from constant training and practice or simple repetition. How it jumped from "Achievement Man" to Skill is a matter of international linguistic acrobatics. (Human Achievement = Great Skill?)

Kung fu has become synonymous throughout the world with martial arts (Special thanks to Kung Fu Movies) but is still used in mandarin to refer to any skill gained from constant practice. For example a master chef, a great soccer player, or maybe even a gangster could all have Kung Fu in their respective fields.

It's no wonder that martial arts "Kung Fu" often mixes well with "Kung Fu" of other disciplines, often with both benefitting from practice in one. For example, I once saw this lady on a cooking show who could divide a chicken neatly into around 8 separate pieces with only her bare hands... and I could see how similar twists on a larger scale might actually wreak havoc on a human being. Her cooking Kung Fu could improve her fighting Kung Fu or maybe it's the other way around.

(I'm now suddenly wondering if the Ling Nam Siu Lum Kung Fu Academy in New York has anything to do with the Ling Nam restaurant over here)

Whatever the case, when laziness and ineptitude rear their ugly heads, just call for Achievement Man to save the day!!!

My Kung Fu is Better than Yours?
by Meowaffles

Writing this comic has made me learn more about kung fu than I ever thought I would. My first idea was that I'd try and make a comic featuring bizarre fictional yet practical martial art styles that are odd enough to be ridiculous but actually useable so that the comic could teach real martial artists a thing or two, or at least make them try out some funny new moves. Naturally I turned to the esoteric appeal of kung fu. I mean where else do you get stuff called Seven Star Mantis, Supreme Ultimate Fist, Buddha Family, & White Eyebrows?

Having watched a lot of kung fu movies and martial arts documentaries as well as having some background in judo, karate, taekwondo, and even chi kung; I thought I was fairly well informed. I believed I could use my current knowledge to make up complete kung fu styles, techniques, and forms that kung fu practitioners themselves would find believable. (Well believable if not for the name, concept, and origin story of the fictional style) I soon found that I barely knew anything about kung fu, applied martial arts techniques, or the world martial arts. I still know precious little but I began to look at the martial arts from a humbler and more open minded perspective.

I suppose having no greater motivation in my early martial arts training than to look cool and be like the karate kid didn't help much. I had good teachers but I was a soft kid and had neither the drive nor the maturity to get far in the martial arts. All I learned from my karate class was that it was painful. I at least learned how to fall and how to use my weight in judo. My taekwondo class was better and I stuck around longer but I still looked at some of it as a chore and was just learning it so I could do fancy moves (I never got to the fancy moves part). I also tried chi kung but also didn't get very far. I've certainly gained confidence, strength, and practical fighting skill I wouldn't have otherwise but my understanding of martial arts was still quite shallow.

I guess it's odd but the more I studied martial arts for a silly comic book, the more I appreciated what an amazing achievement they were. In trying to make characters that personified certain fictional styles of fighting, I was forced to break down the techniques, cultural background, and philosophy of real martial arts and look at all of them objectively.

I see now though that, no matter what I put in these pages, someone can always find a way to criticize the realism of the fictional styles I'll make. I'll just do what I can with what knowledge I have and see how far that takes me. Probably the best thing that's come of this comic so far is that it's given me the opportunity to study under an actual kung fu sifu. I'm taking things a step at a time, trying to cultivate the right attitude and trying to use what I've learned in the past without letting these get in the way of what I'm being taught. I'm starting with tai chi chuan and am learning it not so much for the comic but simply to improve myself and to gain greater understanding of the full whole art with all its symbolic, historical, cultural, and martial meaning.

Now my kung fu is better than it used to be... just a bit.