Shaolin_TimDr. Tim Mrazek and students at his Chung Wah Kung Fu Centre.
"What about what we put into our body?” asks Dr. Tim Mrazek, naturopathic physician and Shaolin warrior monk. “Water is the most important thing.”
He is stating a principle that the Kung Fu man or woman needs to apprehend: discipline begins with the body. This is something that anybody with even the slightest understanding of martial arts gets—stretching the physical abilities is the essential first step in martial arts. But discipline for the body is only the beginning of a long, slow path that takes a young person from junior high school student to 32nd generation Shaloin warrior lay monk—the path Mrazek has followed over the past three decades. It’s a path with an extraordinary arrival and portent for the future that might merit a Star Wars plot.
The Chung Wah Kung Fu Centre in Regina is where Dr. Mrazek fulfills his roles as naturopathic physician, Buddhist lay monk, and Kung Fu teacher in the Chinese Shaolin warrior tradition. The centre sits as downtown as downtown gets in the Queen City, a stone’s throw from the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission attached to the city’s Chinese Cultural Centre. He talks about his early explorations of Kung Fu as the centre fills with chatter from a youth martial arts class.
“The movies I would have been exposed to when I was young were the old school Hong Kong versions,” he says. “Legitimate martial artists doing legitimate training and showing the methods and relationships with community—showing the role martial arts played in the community: the relationship between student and teacher and some of the ethics behind it all. Even though the primary reason for those movies was entertainment and some of them were really goofy, there was still something there. And if you see enough, then you can start to compare in context. What are the commonalities of these movies? You strip away all the goofiness and see there’s something here. These are some of the things that as a Chinese culture people value. It did give me a pretty good start to at least recognize that there was more to it.”
From the movies, it was still a significant step to find a teacher (known as “sifu” in the Kung Fu world) who could offer the right training for a teenaged, aspiring musician. He found that teacher in Chi Wai Lee who was teaching in Regina during Mrazek’s high school years. For a teenager, martial arts school was a dose of discipline and physical health. Confidence also came along with it. Playing guitar took the young musician to some questionable places. “If I was playing a gig at a place where there was chicken wire across the front of the stage, I didn’t have to worry if I could defend my guitar!”
Things changed suddenly when Mrazek’s teacher announced he was moving to Toronto and his students would need to step up and run the Regina school in his absence. Mrazek studied under his teacher with more focus and took on teaching roles in the school on his own after the teacher left. The next decade was full of study and change that took Mrazek himself to Toronto to study music, chiropractic, and finally naturopathic medicine. What this meant was that he had many years to study under his Kung Fu master.
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