Strength and Vulnerability

GFB1GFB2GFB3GFB4(Screenshots from episode 20 of Gu Family Book)

I’ve been following the Gu Family Book for some weeks now mainly because of Lee Seung Gi. I enjoyed watching his previous dramas (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, King 2 Hearts) so I decided to check out if Gu Family Book would somehow capture my interest. Since I went back to watching Japanese dramas, I find most of the K-dramas long-drawn and tiring.

So far this K-drama hooked me primarily because of good casting. Somehow, it manages to keep my attention despite some of the rehashed, predictable, and tedious parts.

The screenshots shown above depict part of half-human/half-gumiho Choi Kang Chi’s (Lee Seung Gi) training with Master Dam Pyeong-Joon (Jo Sung-Ha). The latter finally decided to train him personally after learning that only Choi Kang Chi can defeat his gumiho father, Koo Wol-Ryung (Choi Jin-Hyuk), who became a 1000-year demon following a tragic story of betrayal 20 years ago. So Master Dam is pushing Choi Kang Chi to his limits that he may become strong enough to defeat (read: kill) his father. What could possibly be more heart-wrenching than that?

Master Dam’s words reminded me of former Sanshou coaches and trainers who keep telling us trainees the same thing. It brings to mind again why I never wanted to compete despite constant urgings by coaches and teammates.

I think that self-awareness is one of the best gifts anyone could get from practicing any form of martial arts. You discover and learn more about yourself each time you put yourself into the rigorous demands of training. It was during those years of training that I realized that I was more of a defensive fighter, both in the lei tai or platform and in life. I was better at defending myself than initiating attacks. I guess deep down inside I didn’t like the idea of hurting people even if it’s just a game. I also knew myself enough to realize that my lack of offensive skills would make me vulnerable if I step on the platform to compete.

The funny thing was almost everyone I knew then, people who were close to me or barely knew me, often told me that I’m a strong person. The label has always been there before and after sanshou. I’ve always wondered why it sticks to me when I don’t even think it to be true.

For me, being strong has always been and always will be a great balancing act. Which brings me back to what Master Dam said about drawing the line between mercy and mercilessness. Being strong requires unflinching resolve to be ruthless if the situation demands it even if it causes you pain and breaks your heart.

I think I’m not that strong person many see me to be. I still need to improve on drawing the lines. But if past experiences taught me something about strength and vulnerability, it is this: you need to be vulnerable to be strong. Getting past vulnerability gives you the courage to make choices, stand firm with your beliefs, and even fight for them if needed. But most of all I learned that what Master Dam said is mostly true. Being strong makes you lonely too.


One thought on “Strength and Vulnerability

  1. This Gu family chronicle (or Choi Kang Chi?) sounds so Darth Vaderish-like, with him having to kill his Father. I do like the paradox though about strength & vulnerability, & yes the truth about being lonely, throw in a little self-awareness in the mix. You are as strong as you see yourself to be, dear friend. Thanks for sharing this about yourself though & sharing it with friends. =)

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