Thursday, March 20, 2008

"metaphorical title here"

Yesterday while In line I noticed one of the turtles working hard to hauuuuuuuuul himself out of the water onto the sun rock. He was moving sloooowly, (he is a turtle after all) and was about to make it when I guess his legs got too tired and he fell back into the water. I really wanted him to go back and try again and make it so I could have a metaphor-tastic post about success after failure and training harder and all that. But he (or is it she? Mo?) decided the rock wasn't worth it and spent the rest of class swimming around with his buddies. So no symbolic inspiration from the turtle today. Or maybe it's not-so-subtly symbolic of my need for a metaphor in order to post.

I guess I wanted something to be representative of what a great class we had last night. After a period of pain/struggling/lost xuanzis, I really felt good and had a lot of fun. Han was teaching and set the tone by starting us off with forward rolls instead of caijiaos. The rest of class was all mixed around with different combos (one a xuanzi into zuopan into kip up) that really shook off any lingering brooding. My legs felt light again, my kicks not only didn't hurt but felt stronger than they have in ages, and even doing the dreaded mopan saotui didn't kill my spirit. At the end of class Han blazed us through some more xiaohongquan which helped me realize we are a lot closer to the end than I thought. All in all, it was a very affirming bit of training; if only the turtle could have co-operated then I could have had a nicely packaged metaphor to boot. But I guess one can't have everything.... :D

Shaolin Soccer?

This video is courtesy of John Sid. Check out the mad skillz!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kung Fu Dork Profile #8

Name: Jason
Temple Name: Shi Heng Zhan
Occupation: Martial arts instructor and College Student
Borough: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (but I live everywhere)
Chinese Sign: Fire Hare

When was the last time you trained?
March 3, 2008 at the 11 o'clock class

How is your commute to the temple?
My commute is about 2 1/2 hours by airplane, plus the trip from whatever place I'm staying to the Temple

How did you learn about the temple?
I actually began my study of Shaolin Chan Quan as a result of seeing a video of Shifu on TV. I was so inspired to become a master like the man in the orange robe that I saw on TV that I started my first martial arts class the very next morning. It wasn't until 2006 that I had the opportunity to train within the Temple walls. However, the Temple is everywhere. For this reason, the Temple has always been with me.

When did you start training?
May 1995 (outside of the Temple); May 2006 (at the Temple)

What is your favorite basic move?
My first instinct is to say 掄臂踩腳 (Lúnbì Căijiăo), however, thinking about it, I really do believe that every basic move is spurred on by what I believe to be the most important aspect of training... 走 (zǒu). Without "GO!", life would be motionless. It is Shifu's call of "走!" that tells the student so many things, without really knowing it. It is this command that lets you know that you have to move. Even training alone, you have to tell yourself to go and to make the first step. I love 掄臂踩腳 because of the soft and hard of the movement. It encapsulates the explosive ideal of life and it is all motivated by "走!"

What injuries have you had from training?
Just feeling the effects of good training (soreness).

What's the most important lesson you learn from training?
Amituofo. Everything that the word Amituofo means and represents is the most important lesson from the Temple. To quote an interview that Shifu took part in a few years ago "Amituofo means 'Buddha Bless you' and 'so good to see you!' You say Amituofo means 'continue' 'keep doing' and if you see somebody do, you know, that’s bad, you say Amituofo means 'please stop.' And if you see somebody helps others, you say Amituofo, means "Ah wow, you are living Buddha...'" Even that simple definition says everything that the Temple is. Life isn't about judging and finding fault in everyone else, but to help them and grow with them. Think about what Amituofo means to you and that is what the Temple has taught me. Life is beautiful, everyday is Christmas, More Chi!...everything. Amituofo.

Soup or no soup?
Plain beef please. The last time I was at the Temple, I had the soup for the first time. Fantastic.
Shower or no shower? I shower when I get back to the place I'm staying.
Gatorade or water? Hot tea. I've found its a great way to warm up the inside (along with some no action meditation) before I warm up the outside.
How many uniforms? So many.... 2 blue cotton, 2 NTNL, 1 orange cotton (for private training only), 2 Shaolin vests, 1 NTNL black (custom), 2 Zhong Gua (He Shang suit from China), 1 Hai Qing (He Shang butterfly-sleeve gown), 1 Changshan (He Shang regular-sleeve gown), 1 Jia Sha (He Shang outer vestment), 1 silk Wushu suit, 1 Wushu warm-up suit, and countless uniforms from the other martial arts schools I taught and studied at.
Straddle or wall stretch? I prefer working partner splits. One student lying on their back and two others stretching their legs in different directions (one into the floor and the other to the nose).

南无 本事 釋迦牟尼佛 (nánmó běnshì shìjiāmóunífó)

Amituofo! Amituofo! Amituofo!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Muscle Mechanics

I didn't post the last few times I trained because I was in a lot of pain (thank you, head-flip), and I didn't want to spend a lot of blogspace complaining about my feeble climbing up stairs. However, today I was feeling almost normal again and except for going into mabu during zuopan, (something I've never done before, yikes!) I didn't struggle too much with any moves.

What it did get me to thinking about was the subtleties of move mechanics. Firstly, the thing that hurt from the headflip was not my head or neck but my legs. (Ok and eventually my shoulders.... :P) I found it curious that headflips would result in persistent, unbearable soreness in my outer quads. Heng Mo says she got the same pain when she started kip ups, and has concluded it is a result of using the strength your thighs to pull you up out of the headflip/kip up when you don't get enough push from your arms. Whether or not we ought to be experiencing this pain at all (I'm thinking the mechanics require more from my arms than I currently and exerting) is still under debate...

What also struck me was that, with this "injury," I found many moves challenging that I would not have suspected I needed my quads for so much. I knew zuopans and gongbus were going to be killer, but so were cetituis and strangely, gouquan. I have been musing on how quickly our bodies get accustomed to a move to where we don't even recognize all the muscles we are engaging. In gouquan I focus on my hip and never think about the fact that my quads are also working for me. It's good to be reminded that you need muscles for each move beyond what is obvious. And just maybe, sometimes, we are using the wrong ones without knowing it.. :) Either way, I can't wait until they all are working together 100% so that I can land the headflip again.