Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Breaking it down

So folks, testing is around the corner -- some speculate it might be the weekend of October 6th-7th, which means just about a month away. Eeek!

There are a good clump of us in erluquan purgatory right now -- I myself just finished the dreaded five kicks very recently, and have been trudging forth, trying to make training whenever I can, sneaking a peak at Hannah and Sucheela and the others ahead of me for a preview of what's to come.

Some days, I wonder if I will indeed be able to finish erluquan in time for testing and therefore test for the third form, thereby giving myself an opportunity to move to Level 2.

I know historically, there is usually a mad rush in the weeks leading up to testing to cram as much learning as possible into those on the cusp. Luckily, for the past two testings, I didn't feel rushed. I had learned chujiquantao and then yiluquan respectively well in advance of testing, so by the time the actual testing date came around, I was still nervous, but could still rely on muscle memory to carry me through to victory!

This time, though, should I manage to finish the remaining moves in erluquan in time, I won't be testing for it in a totally rehearsed fashion. Erluquan is such a long form -- so much to remember! But, according to Richu, I only have about 21 moves left. If you break it down, that's less than a move a day -- so it should be totally do-able, and I'll still have a week or so to brush it up. I hope.

The concept of breaking it down is so important! If you had said to me over 20 months ago, Hey 'Playa, you gon' be sweatin' up a storm and doin' all kinds of mad shit 3-4 times a week, and jumpin' and kickin' and stuff, and enjoying it, I would said you must have gone and lost yo mind. But from the start, from the day we learn our first caijiao, from when Heng Li says, okay, stick your foot out light as a feather, you realize you don't focus on kicking the ceiling lights. You break it down and do it bit by bit. And you crawl through the basics little by little, like Shaolin babies striving for more. And then some. Bottom line, you learn that just about nothing is insurmountable if you break it down into baby steps and don't let the whole shebang overwhelm you and defeat you even before trying.

So, in the meanwhile, I will train as hard as I can. I will push myself to go both Saturdays and Sundays. I will try to be more efficient at work to avoid being stuck at the office (although writing this post right now is probably counter-productive). I will not overthink it. And even if I end up sticking it out in Level 1 another six months, so be it cos I will use that time and make myself tougher than I ever dreamed before. 'Cos I got all the time in the world!


  1. Erluquan cram was for myself crammed in a 1-2 week period before testing!! More Qi!! Train your brain and body harder!!

  2. All we can do is train harder. I just hope that when testing comes I'll get to test the same time as Qbbertplaya and the rest of the dorks. I'll be a lot less nervous with your chi in the room!

  3. I'm inspired!

    This is very true. Whenever I have too many things to do, I end up not doing anything - feeling hopeless.

    But if I start doing one thing at a time, I usually surprise myself how much I can get done!

    The problem is getting started!

  4. Great post! I can definitely related to the breaking it down approach!!!

    Divide and conquer worked in my recent obsession with the 540 kick/XFJ/Tornado. Niou taught me the technique about 2 months ago but for some reason I couldn't get it. Ever since I learned the move I just tried to muscle it.

    It wasn't into this Friday when Nai came over to me and gave 3 exercises to do which basically broke the movement down into pieces that my brain finally understood what Niou was trying to tell me. Sunday I did Nai's exercises over and over again. Monday night I landed the kick for the first time.

  5. Wow! Testing is one month away?! How exciting! I have never tested so it would be interesting to see what it's all about! I am not sure if I'll finish erluquan before testing, but if there is a cram, then no problemo!! I am in erluquan right before the sweep. Ah... yes... the dreaded/wonderful sweep.

    I feel breaking it down is very important too! I always break down every move physically, mentally, and then application wise. Like an athlete picturing in their head the jumps/ strides in their mind before they actually do it. Cool stuff!

    Congrats on getting the Tornado down Richu!


  6. ah! more chi! the scramble to learn the remainder of the form can be daunting but i agree that breaking it up into sections, notably for erluquan, will really help. it's gonna be a fun month!

  7. You are so right about testing, muscle memory is everything. In testing everyone tends to be a bit nervous. You are on stage, in front of shifu and all eyes are upon you. This situation is probably the closest most of us want to come to a real fight. So, when doing your forms let go of all thought and let your muscle memory do all of the work. If you can learn to let go then you will be more loose and flow better. Also don't forget to bring your best chi! If you don't train with full chi everytime you do the form... well just imagine trying to do it when you test. Great post