Interview with Benjamin Culos

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  1. As a quick intro, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your school? When, where, how and why did you start practicing?

My name is Benjamin Culos. I am a Kung Fu master. I practice the Pak Mei from the lineage of Lao Siu Leung. I am the disciple of three masters: Sifu Chan Yau Man, Sifu Lao Wei Kei and Sifu Lao Wei San.

The last two of them are the heirs of Lao Siu Leung Pak Mei, and I am the heir of Sifu Lao Wei San. I opened my own school in Paris in 2011, where nearly 150 students practice Pak Mei by now.

We all have our childhood history. When I was a child, I always wanted to be strong and to win when things were getting to fight. I wanted to learn Chinese Kung Fu but there was no Kung Fu course in Toulouse so I first practiced judo, and then karate.

I did a lot of championships. At the age of 13/14, I started getting into fight and I realize the Karate I was practicing did not help me at all. I immediately stopped training Karate, and actually all the martial arts that are practiced as sports.

I have been training everyday, doing push up, abs, pull up and strikes. At the same time I began to learn more about Chinese culture and to look for what could make me stronger. I always knew there was something about Kung Fu.

Picture by Bastien Deschamps

 2. What are the most common mistakes, or assumptions, you’ve encountered during your years of teaching?

People think that training twice a week is enough to get a good level. If someone wants to gain level, he/she has to be dedicated to his/her practice. It is not about time, it is just about how bad you really want to have a level, and your efforts to get it.

Training does not mean just coming to the course and follow instructions. Training means doing your best every time you train. You have to really mean it. To get a level, you have to think like a child, giving your all. It is like a game and you do it because you like it.

 3. Movies such as “Yip Man”, “The Grandmaster” and such are probably one of the reasons many people start to practice at some point. Since reality is mostly not matching most of these movie scenes, what are some key aspects a beginning martial artist should focus on?

Movies are just movies, you don’t have to expect much of them besides having a good time watching them. Bunch of Kung Fu movies are just second-rate ones. I just don’t watch them.

However, I really enjoyed “The Grandmaster” by Wong Kar Wai, since it is really precise concerning many cultural points of Kung Fu, such as the transmission of the Art.

Actually, I really loved that movie. I think Wong Kar Wai understands Kung Fu.

4. How can Kung Fu be used in an educational, non martial arts setting?

Kung Fu teaches you a lot of virtues that many people have forgotten, such as courtesy, respect and friendship. You can learn these virtues as you are practicing.

I mean, all that virtues flow from training. For example honesty: when you train, it comes at some point where you are afraid; first you have to realize that you are afraid of this situation, and then you can decide to face it, to tame this fear.

You can only do it if you are honest with yourself. That is the mystery of Kung Fu: you came to learn something but you learn much more.

Picture by Bastien Deschamps

5. The internet has completely changed our lives over the past 10-15 years. We now have access to lots of information (both good & bad) and connections like never before. How do you feel about this evolution and it’s impact on Kung Fu?

 It’s nice to watch Youtube but I prefer training. We have to keep in mind that intellectually understanding something with our brain does not mean to really know it.

When your hands move fast, they really move fast. You don’t really know how, it’s a fact. Thus if you want to move fast, just train.

If you want to know how people move fast, you can prepare a PhD, or listen to a seminar. I prefer training.

6. What direction do you see Kung Fu or martial arts, as a whole, heading in?

I don’t really think about that. Kung Fu is personal. I practice it for myself. I have my level and need to work to keep it high.

I only think about that. I also teach to people who want to learn. What people will think, say or do with martial art, is just none of my concern.

7. To end this interview in style, what is the best Kung Fu or martial arts advice you have personally ever received and what is the best advice you would give to our readers?

In Foshan Pak Mei, we learn from masters. Why? Because the only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent. Choose well…

Picture by Bastien Deschamps

Contact:

Benjamin Culos

Ecole de Kung Fu – LWS Pak mei 

 

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