Soldier and the Shaolin

By Karl Hegman



Kung Fu was developed 2515 years ago in the Shaolin Temple of Northern China.  Kung Fu movements are based on the naturalistic movements of the animals.  The principles of Kung Fu are in accordance with the laws of nature.

 Kung Fu training is divided into five sections: each one being based on a characteristic of the five animals native to Northern China.  Kung Fu has always been a symbol of grace, power, speed, philosophy, and wisdom.  Private Hook acquired the first three qualities in the burning hospital; the former two were developed later on in his life as a result of his experiences that day in combat.  Hook combined these traits along with  the  mental discipline of his military training, and the end result was a very formidable fighting machine that surfaced under the pressures of an all out attack by the Zulu forces.  I saw in Hook the strength of the Bear, the grace of the Cat, the speed of the snake, and observed how effortlessly and fluidly he moved.     

The Snake represents stamina, suppleness, rhythmic motion, evasiveness, and flexibility.  It can adapt to any shape or form and it strikes with lightning speed because of the looseness of it's body.  The private demonstrated the characteristics of the snake as he leapt to the offensive in the cramped and crowded infirmary against the heavier, bulkier, yet slower Zulu spearmen.    

 The Tiger represents balance, stability, strength, and courage.  The Tiger's movements are quick and powerful because it strikes from a strong and stable base.  Hook demonstrated these components vividly by his thrusting and fencing prowess with the 3 foot bayonet at the business end of the Martini-Rossi.  From the En-Garde position with the right foot anchored and the left foot forward turned outward at a forty-five degree angle;  The soldier was balanced and stable his grip strong as he outfought the Zulu warriors armed with spears in the trenches of mayhem.  From stability comes strength, from strength comes courage, and from courage comes life's rewards: Hence, the Victoria Cross.      

The Leopard represents agility, maneuverability, and footwork.  It moves with grace, speed, and litheness.  The Leopard never hesitates and is decisive in every action.  The Leopard trusts it's movements to be correct and so it never knows fear.  It is the Leopard that I most identify Hook with when I am comparing his fighting style to that of the Shaolin's.  The Leopard possesses  all of the intangibles represented by private Hook.  Hook demonstrated decisiveness and never once hesitated as he jumped into the fray and ordered the corridor entryway blocked and the escape holes knocked into the outside wall.  The Leopard's muscles are long, smooth, and taut below the skinline.  They rise to the surface only when the sinews and ligaments push the muscle up during forceful and fluid movements, much like Hook's own musculature.  To me, Hooky looked, moved, and pounced just like a Big Cat on the attack.  The Zulu's were torn to shreds by the Big Cat in the red tunic that showed no fear in the wake of much larger numbers.     

The Dragon represents the spirt.  The spirit involves alertness, vitality, confidence, and a positive attitude.  Of all the animals represented in Kung Fu, only the Dragon is that of the imagination.  It is with the imagination that we admirers of Zulu and private Hook utilize to form the character into our own unique and distinctly individual inner realms.  This is significant, because to develop the Dragon within ourselves and to apply it to our character subject;  The mind must be conditioned to see the bright side of every situation.  We use the image of Hook in our thought processes to give ourselves confidence, to positively affirm the future, and to expect that wellness, harmony and goodwill will ultimately prevail.   In essence, one must have faith in the positive and unseen powers of the universe.  In the wake of the tragic events that have transpired within the last few days;   Each one of us will undoubtedly call upon our own inner Dragon to cope and rationalize with the spilling of our fellow  brothers' and sisters' blood on American soil.  The future will prove that once again Good will triumph over Evil- And our Motherland's vengeance will be exacted forcefully and decisively.  Our attackers will be brought down and defeated  much like the Zulu's were at Rorke's Drift in the long ago by a determined Company of brave men and one supremely courageous soldier  in particular.