Friday, May 2, 2008

Lessons of the Day

Last night, I took away three thoughts:

(1) I really love it when very senior students who don't usually come to Level 1 like Khalid or Randy, or Hwalan/Yuen last night, show up and train with us. It's like a subtle form of raising the chi level. Their mere presence provide excellent examples of what levels we can strive for in our training, as well as inspiration for contemplating training for the long term. So, hint-hint, hope to see you more! Amituofo!

(2) After class, instead of the usual walk to Thai Son, Sucheela and I decided to hop on the train home. And instead of making our way down the platform to the next to last car for our exit, we decided to park our butts on a bench in the subway while waiting for the train. When the train finally pulled in, I got up to move and couldn't walk without pain! Something like a ligament connected to my calf in my bad leg had tightened up while we were sitting (and plus the night was cool and damp outside). So, I limped onto the train and limped home. I was worried that it would be less than temporary and would get worse if I slept like that so I stayed up and massaged that mutha-effa till it finally relaxed. Today when I got up, it appeared to be gone, thank goodness.

So, if I decide to bolt straight for the train again after class, I will not just park myself on a bench...I will exhibit utmost dorkiness and continue to stretch and do kung fu on the platform to keep from tightening up.

(3) Never never ever eat a whole burrito for lunch on a training day. NEVER! That shit be sittin' in my stomach like a friggin' brick house!

I hate you, burrito...HATE YOU!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Gentle Reminder

Class tonight felt pretty good. A lot of the usual dorks weren't around, but we had good chi overall. I managed to get through basics without feeling like dying, which was nice.

During forms practice, I started off by doing my usual cycle of chujiquantao followed by yiluquan followed by erluquan. And I'll admit it -- I've become kinda robotic/thoughtless about the second part of class. In recent times I've viewed it more as endurance training as opposed to refining and polishing.

Today, though, lucky for me, quiet Khalid showed up for Level 1. Now, I don't know him very well having not trained in Level 2, but we're Facebook buds and all. In his thoughtful, understated kind of way, he approached me in line after watching me do erluquan in its entirety. He recommended that instead of pounding through erluquan over and over again, as I've been doing, that I ought to break it up into segments and work on strengthening by practicing smaller parts. Details versus big picture kind of stuff. Like straightening my leg during the sweep kick, or dropping down into a deeper pubu.

And so I did -- for the rest of class, I took his advice and didn't feel a need to do erluquan in its entirety again. I did five kicks times five.
I practiced sweeps (which I had avoided overdoing since injuring my knee doing a sweep).

Of course, this process is what we do when we are learning the form. Do you remember going over bits again and again? I needed a reminder that it is just as important to break things down and finesse it as it is to finish things.

Studying Shaolin kung fu is a lifelong process. It is not an urgent race with a foreseeable ending. I shouldn't be so focused all the time on getting from point A to point B. The actual path of the journey is crucial as well.

So now that I won't be testing erluquan for another six months from now :P, I'll have plenty of time to work on the details again. And that's really beautiful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Significant Growth

So, it's taken about seven months, but I've finally gotten back to where I was in September: my hair that is. Friday and last night I finally gotten to experiment with pulling my hair back and out out of my face for pretty much the first time since I originally hacked it off a year ago. It was just getting to this length in September when I shaved it all away and I have to say, as totally comical as it may look, it feels 100% better to have it out of my eyes. I don't know how guys manage with these medium-short haircuts.

Getting my hair and the dripping sweat out of my face made for a much better training situation. However, I was still whipping sweat around during the hour of xuanzis we did last night. Is it really the Shaolin Shower time of year again already? Soon having the hair pulled back won't be enough. What to do? I have toyed with the idea of a sweatband but I think it will look kinda silly. Elaine rocks a bandanna, but I would probably end up spending more time fidgeting with it than using it to keep my face dry. Now, if we had Shaolin temple sweatbands that said "More chi!" I would wear them. Because that wouldn't look silly at all...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Beautiful Boxing

Some of you may not personally know our Temple brother Steven K. aka Heng Hao for he has not trained with us for some time now, but he has been busy training Muay Thai and embarking on a most exciting venture! Together with Nong Thoom, a transgendered Muay Thai champion whose life was depicted in the movie "Beautiful Boxer," they have worked to set up a boxing camp called Parinya Muay Thai in Hua Hin, Thailand, to promote equality for women and be a safe haven for children and the LGBT community. Check out the video below, which features a trailer for the movie followed by a promo clip for the camp (at around 1:41).