Wednesday, June 6, 2007

While stretching, how close do you sit to Shifu? Why?

(Another guest entry from Quantou aka Branden. Enjoy!)

I realized the other day that I was always doing my stretching on the opposite end of the floor from Shifu. We are always supposed to "stretch our bodies, stretch our minds" but sometimes I want to recuperate from the line drills. By being farther away from Shifu I feel like I am not being watched so closely. I still stretch but probably not as hard as I would if he were sitting right in front of me.

Lately, in order to get into the front of the line quickly for waibaitui, I have been doing the second half of my stretches right near Shifu. It has helped to continue the chi thoughout the stretch time. I believe stretching is one of most important aspects of our training, but also one of the most difficult. I just keep thinking...Come here beautiful toes -- I WANT TO KISS YOU!


  1. I actually don't mind sitting near him within eyeshot because it is one of the few opportunities we have to see him do his stuff, as I am usually more focused on myself when he's doing mad kicks beside us in line drills.

    I love watching him do his stretching routine because it reminds me that even someone like him who has been training for decades can use a proper stretch on a daily basis, and we should take him as an example.

    I generally only stretch when I'm at Temple which is probably not the best strategy. I should be like you and Niederwelt and try to stretch at home!

  2. I like being by the windows for some breeze when the space is not too crowded.

    How close I am to Shifu during the stretch doesn't concern me that much. He's got a million eyes anyway. There's no escape.

  3. I'm back..... yes, I believe you guys should stretch on a daily basis if you want to improve flexibility. Also I've noticed many of you just do the same stretches over and over again. This isn't going to get you very far. Life is not just all straddle stretches.... actually, the straddle stretch isn't even very useful in Shaolin. You don't do a straddle stretch in any forms... unless you want to be Jean Claude Van Damme, you are better of working on front splits and head to toe stretches. Those are the ones you use most often.

    I know you are wondering, how can sifu kiss his toes... well for one thing his legs are pretty short but thats not it.. its because he stretches with his hip tucked inwards allowing his leg to fold in and become shorter so his torso can stretch longer down the leg.... this is contradictory to what you are often told how to kick in class... with your hip out.. and its also the reason why you will never be able to kiss your toes...

    It's not all about more chi train harder or knowing yourself... its about thinking through the movements and how they are accomplished... its unfortunate that Sifu Yan Ming does not stress on these details....

    Hope that helps... perhaps one day I will see you kiss your those "beautiful" toes....

  4. i usually end up near sifu on the carpet because i find myself doing 3man stretches by the mirrors. it is great fun to see him stretch himself out (like a cat) & watch him watch everyone. once in a while he has that look like he wants to come over & step on someone to bring them to the floor! i worry he wants to do that with me! more chi! stretch further!

  5. given what mysterious kung fu commentor says & what quan tuo & i are doing semi-consistently, we should come up with a stretching routine that varies. let's talk about it tonight. i am sure between all of us we can come up with something more comprehensive to get further along. ah the stretch posse!

  6. Where I stretch depends on the stretch I'm doing. Usually I run to whomever is calling for a partner. I do feel Sifu watching me when I stretch, which is good because otherwise I would probably lie in a heap on the floor guzzling water and then be too tight and full of sloshing to do the second half of class. I have to disagree with Kung Fu because straddle has helped my mabu a LOT. Who knows, maybe I'm doing one or the other incorrectly.

    Some people do get in a routine of doing the same stretch always, which isn't bad in and of itself except that they are neglecting their other muscles. (I'm guilty as well, for awhile I was glued to wall stretch). We should stretch everything all the time. Even a stretch that isn't directly applicable to a particular kung fu move is benifical because it increases your overall flexibility and extension. Kissing your toes to stretch your hamstrings is cool but won't improve your cetitui as much as stretching your hamstrings AND your quads AND your calves AND your feet AND your shoulders etc. And I think Sifu stresses that. That you must use your whole body. Whether everyone listens to him is another question.

    And a quick(ish) note on toe kissing: You are supposed to bend your knees slightly when you stretch that way, as per every yoga instructor I've ever had. Hip popping and extension are important for explosive moves, but for sedentary stretching are not the objective. And I don't care how one does it, if I am ever able to kiss my toes I'll have a party.

  7. I'm really sorry. I'm going to have to disagree here. Ok I'll admit straddle splits do help with the mabu, although I found that its more in the hip flexors than in the groin area that makes the mabu lower... But I have to HAVE TO disagree with this: And a quick(ish) note on toe kissing: You are supposed to bend your knees slightly when you stretch that way, as per every yoga instructor I've ever had. That's completely false. Your leg should be straight, and your knee should not be bend. Unless you are talking about the standing leg. Please please ask Sifu Yan Ming about that because I can't believe he would have his knee bend... you can do it, but that would be cheating. Maybe its true in yoga, but its not true in kung fu... You can even look in Yan Mings 28 Day Workout book. You can also watch that. If anything the leg is hyper-extended....

    If you want to talk about it further you can e-mail I am not Iguanadon either...

  8. Ah, I see some of the disagreement is my fault because I was confused which stretch we were talking about. So many stretches so little time! I see what you're talking about now. I still wish I could kiss my toes.

    Everyone has a certain way they like to stretch that they have found works for them. I have seen people approach wall stretch a dozen different ways, and as I'm not presuming to be an authority I can't say which is better.

    Anyway,I think Branden's original point - to make sure that you aren't using stretches to take a break and avoid pushing yourself the entire class - is a good one. I will definitely be focusing more on my stretching from now on!

  9. Did you ever consider your distance to Shifu during stretching was dependant on available space? It's not like everyone in class can sit right next to him and stretch. We would all be piled on top of each other.

    Some of these posts I don't get though. If you want to stretch hard the stretch hard. If you want to use the time to relax a bit to regain your chi for the rest of training I think thats fine too. I don't think you should always go off someone elses standards of training. We are all different and have different needs, limitations, goals, or will to do these things.

    It does not matter where you sit. After all it's not like Shifu is emitting some kind of magical etherial force that you can obsorb to gain power.

  10. Iguanadon -- thanks for posting again. I don't think anyone here is implying that Shifu is magic. We all have different approaches when it comes to training/stretching and the presence of Shifu.

    Obviously ultimately you're in control of your own training. Shifu is there to provide guidance, but whether you choose to regard him or disregard him, your choice.

    He sometimes scares the bejeezus out of me, so that is useful in motivating me.

    BTW, Iguanadon, still haven't figured out who you are! Introduce yourself sometime at Temple. :)


  11. I don't find Shifu all that scary. Maybe your just letting him get to you.

    Or maybe it's those crazy eyebrows of his. Those things are a bit freaky.

    If your afraid all the time in class your going to be tense. When your tense you won't be training properly. Being relaxed is most important to training I think. Especially when we are talking about stretching. If your afraid and tensed up during stretching you are wasting your time. When stretching you have to be relaxed.

  12. Hehe, I don't think Ellen meant Sifu actually scared her. Clearly we're all fans or we wouldn't train at USAST for very long. I think, as a good teacher should, he makes us all conscious of how well we are doing/how hard we are working, and it's a sign of respect to him and ourselves to always perform to the best standard we can. And while he doesn't have superpowers he does have inspirational chi that I feel no matter where I am in the temple. But that's just me.

    I certainly didn't mean to start a ruckus by implying anyone was lazy during stretches. You have to do what your body tells you. But stretching is training too and if you aren't trying to go farther every day then you miss out on that part of developing; since as you once pointed out, Iguanadon, our mantra is "More chi! Train harder!" so even stretches should be approached with the idea of pushing youself. Some find Sifu a good motivator for that, but as Ellen said, in the end, how you train is for you to decide.

  13. I have to agree, I also think its his eyebrows that make him scary. I think he could probably kill someone by just staring at them.

    Iguanadon, I thought your comments were kind of critical of the dorks. "If you feel the chi, thats the chi." And somtimes that chi comes from others. Sometimes you have to feed off other's chi to get more chi. I guess maybes thats where, "you feel the chi, that's the chi" comes from. Although, sometimes Sifu can suck the chi out of you to. I am not sure then who has the chi at that stage whether, Sifu brings chi or whether he sucks the chi out of you. I think that was the point of the post.

    In any regards, if you stretch everyday it can help tremendously.... how come there has not been a new post in some while....

  14. Shifu doesn't scare me all the time. Just enough to get my adrenaline going sometimes, which can be useful.

    I am a little scared to train tonight. In the last two weeks, I've only been able to train once, and that was a tough time for me, because work has been kicking my ass. That's also why I've not been writing entries as of late. If I don't go, tough to write. :(

    Hopefully I'll have something to share tonight!