Thursday, November 13, 2008

Strawberries & Cream

I've been to a few Level 2 sessions now, and want to post my few early observations. It obviously is a new game with new moves to learn and the bright orange uniforms, but there are so many intangibles as well.

- The overall level of chi is elevated. Maybe it's partly due to the orange that makes the room sunnier, but it seems like all the players involved are more energized. The Level 2ers are generally people who've been training for a while and have manifested a long-term commitment to kung fu by virtue of them being there, so the chi is not necessarily greater, but of a different quality. There is a greater sense of group dynamic whereas in Level 1, a lot of newer people are still figuring out their individual energies and abilities to commit. During my short while in Level 2, I've heard a lot more laughing and seen many smiles. People are more relaxed, yet more intense at the same time, if it makes any sense. I really like this feeling of being the newbie again, and hearing every one else who knows me giving me encouragement so that I don't pass out.

- Speaking of passing out, I am finding myself struggling while doing basics in Level 2. Conditioning my body will be even more important, and I'm hoping that my attending Level 2 a few times a week will push it in ways I have yet to see. After being in Level 1 for so long, I kinda fell into a groove in terms of pushing myself due to the overfamiliarity with how class was run. Now that it's new all over again, I have to learn a different way of pacing. For example, basics generally run close to an hour in Level 2, and that also means no walking time! Awesome!

- In the three Level 2 sessions I've attended, I've had three different great teachers -- Han, De and N'ou. Back when I first started training (at the old Temple) we would occasionally have different senior students leading Level 1 class (Jie, Gu, N'ou, Zhou, Tiao, etc.), but in recent times, at the current location, Shifu and Xu teach most of the Level 1 classes. So it is wonderful to have this rotating cast of teachers. They each infuse a different style and energy which really keeps you on your toes, so to speak. This probably means very little predictability, so you really have to be AWAKE!

- And because these senior students are leading class, this gives Shifu the opportunity to really watch what we are doing. I've often felt his gaze, but am even more aware of it now. As I've been stumbling around at the back of the line, I'm partly worried that he's watching me and thinking, Did I make a mistake in promoting her to Level 2? but I gotta just ignore that thought and run with it all. And not collapse.

- I also love that with Level 2 comes a new sense of adventure. For example, I am now committed to the idea of trying straddle and side splits which I had never really done prior. Yeow! Also, before and after class, I watched my friends pull out the mats and trampoline and do all kinds of jumps and flips with varying degrees of success. In particular, after class I found it inspiring to see Leo, Richu and Han working on butterfly twists. It was great to see them keep trying over and over, despite tumbles and face plants and talk of strawberry bruises. People are learning to fly higher and want to help each other soar.

- Speaking of strawberry bruises, this morning I woke up and looked down at my ankle and saw I grew one of my own, probably from all the lunbi caijiaos N'ou had the newbies do on the side for a while. Love it!!! Evidence that I'm growing again!

- Oh, and can I say, handstand pushups?!!?!?

I know Level 2 is a whole different challenge. I am excited and honored to finally be part of the process, and I can't wait to express my chi at a whole new level!


  1. I think this song goes with your post

  2. Ooh, that should be the theme song for our blog! I found the mp3 for this song -- "Bruises" by Chairlift. You can d/l it yourself right here: