Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Yesterday's Level 2 class was thoroughly satisfying for me. Only eight people showed up last night so I knew we were gonna work har-dah. And, it was my first Khalid-led class. At first, I was a little anxious because I have heard that he loves jumping (which my cranky knees don't always love) and I've seen the explosive level of chi he exhibits usually. But, to my delight, he slowed it down to a calm pace and went over a smaller group of basics with greater attention to details. Sort of a less can be more approach. Not that we had less chi, but that it was not as frenetic and more exacting.

We did some stuff I hadn't tried before, including the so-called jumping lihetui, which is gonna take me some time to wrap my mind around. In particular, we spent a good chunk of time on punches, which can be overlooked sometimes. Khalid reminded us to be graceful with our punches, again not lacking with the explosive chi, and maintaining our balance and fluidity. He told us to envision some of the best fighters like Muhammad Ali, who move swiftly and quietly, but stun with their punches.

For the last part of class, he decided to teach me, Mike J. and Carlos what I consider to be one of the truly awesome basics of Level 2 -- xuanzi aka butterfly kick. Up until this Level 2 class, I had been learning some new Level 2 basics, but all of them seemed to be a slight variation of things we already kinda knew, whether it be a combination of Level 1 basics (e.g., gongbu shuang tuizhang housatui gongbu liang zhiang) or a new kick or punch. But xuanzi has always seemed distinctly Level 2 to me. If done correctly, xuanzi makes you look like you're floating in the air as your legs fly up above the rest of your body. It had always excited me to see the more senior students practice them before Level 1 class started, but I wasn't sure of the possibility of myself ever executing one. Then, my friends who got to Level 2 before me started learning it and only then did I think, hey, maybe that'll be me in a little while. And finally, last night, I reached that point.

At first, after Khalid broke down the move for us, I found myself thinking way too much about each step individually. But then he went off to check on the others working on their respective forms and left us newbies alone to practice. The three of us kept taking turns over and over again, trying to take the thinking process out of it and beginning the building of our muscle memories. It became clear to me that my mind was weighing down my ability to fly and whip my legs around, so I just went for it, with encouragement from the guys. And finally, by the time Khalid came by at the end of class to check on our progress, he said to me in his quiet way, "You got it."

Not that I've perfected it, and that's it. But that I was off to a good start. And that's all I needed to hear last night.


  1. Yeah! Butterfly~! Fly like a butterfly.

  2. The infamous XuanXi!!!! I'm so excited to see you guys fly next class!!