“Kung Fu” is a now widely used English term that came from the Cantonese dialect of Chinese. Here are some of the most common translations: “skill,” “hard-work,” “martial arts,” and “Wing Chun Style Kung Fu.” Right now, I would like to talk about my understanding of the first definition: “skill.” What is “skill”? When most people use the term this way, it is often understood as “self-defense abilities,” or in less formal words, “the ability to kickass,” which, I’ll admit, is one of my numerous interpretations as well. However, just how useful is this “skill” strictly in the martial aspect? Yes it is “cool” to be able to move “fast as lightning,” do crazy acrobatics, actually beat someone up, or simply being a “BAMF.” But think about this, when was the last time you actually got in a fight? Light sparring and training does not count. I mean, when was the last time you were really fighting like your life depended on it, and you felt like your opponent was going to kill you given the first opportunity? Now I mean this literally in terms of real life situations, as in you versus one or more other living being(s) in a matchup, not just the last orgo exam or a video game. Personally, I’ll admit that I’ve been lucky enough to have never experienced such a situation in my entire life, and I think a large number of people (especially those with the time to actually read this much) would have similar responses. So here is the question for your average Jay, if this “skill” is something you likely never really had to develop or use in the past and hopefully never need to use in the future (in the sense of “kicking someone’s butt” or “saving your own behind”), why train at all?? Why did I spend one month of my summer training 5hrs/day, 6days/week, and even now in the semester, I still make time to train 1-2hrs/day? And why do much more talented people than myself train even harder and longer? I believe the answer is that there is a different interpretation of what “skill” means, because “skill” is not just how many punches you can throw in a second or how many pushups you can do. That’s only part of it. Let me ask some other questions for fun here. When was the last time you cleaned your room? When was the last time you made your parents proud? When was the last time you ate something delicious? When was the last time you got really really stressed out (lol Hopkins)? How about this one, when was the last time you took a good breath? And when was the last time you smiled? Seems random? Yeah, I just picked a few things off of the top of my head, but that’s life. Random things happen all the time and you do crazy things all the time (like me writing this now instead of studying for my exam on Thursday). What did you do in these random situations? Was it an overall positive experience or did it cause something later that you really could’ve lived without? What was the last time something you did really made a significant impact on someone else’s life or the world for that matter? All of that, to me, is true “skill” –the “skill” of simplyliving life. Some people say “I train martial arts (Kung Fu) to transcend to a higher physical, mental, and spiritual level.” Cool. What does that really mean? My interpretation of a definition of “Kung Fu” is really “the ability to live.” Yes this incorporates the martial, physical, or health aspect that most people seem to focus on, which is indeed very important. But what about the mental aspect? When was the last time you kicked an exam’s butt or did a really great job on a difficult project? How do you deal with stress? And what about the spiritual aspect? When was the last time you put a tremendous amount of effort into something that did not benefit you in any way in the materialistic sense but made you get that “feel good” feeling inside? When was the last time you made someone else smile? When was the last time you did something that made yourself smile? That is what I think true “skill” is, real “Kung Fu,” and something all Kung Fu practitioners should think about in some way shape or form. Training Kung Fu is just one of the countless ways for people to reach this higher level. Others play violin, paint, run, or whatever. In Chinese, they would all be called “Kung Fu,” for that true "skill" they are trying to hone and improve through practice, the "skill" of living life…such a simple idea when you think of it…well, ok not really, life could get pretty messed up at times, but then again it’s really not that bad—I mean come on, there are people living on the streets and don’t know when is their next meal. I met a homeless man last week who is happier and healthier physically, mentally, and spiritually than the majority of my peers here at Hopkins, but that’s story for a different time...Anyway, this is why I train, and I think that if people do not agree, they should stop wasting their time on whatever they are doing, whether it be martial arts, singing or dancing, and find something more worthwhile and productive for not only them, but for this world that we share.