Friday, May 16, 2008

Teach me to learn

I have never felt like an awesome teacher; mostly because I feel so green and unskilled myself. I am more self-conscious having people see me teach than watching me do forms in line. When Sifu is watching...forget it. I get flustered, so the person I'm teaching then gets flustered, and suddenly neither of us knows what we're doing.

But part of training is mastering yourself mentally and building confidence, so as time has gone on I have gotten somewhat more confident when called upon to impart some grain of wisdom to a newer student.

However, the last few classes, Sifu has had to come and stop me from teaching things straight-up wrong. Last night it was chuji quantuao. I was steadfastly correcting this poor girl's movement when Sifu came over and said "No," and had us revert back to doing it the way she had been originally. This has happened a few times before with other moves, and I am never certain if I was taught something that way or I changed it myself without realizing it.

At first I was pretty upset at myself, and embarrassed for forgetting the most basic form. But I figured, what with different people teaching the same move slightly differently, watching more advanced students and gleaning the details of their forms, unconsciously developing shortcuts, and just plain misunderstanding a movement, it's not surprising that one can end up doing things a little differently. I just have to train harder at always being in the moment and mindful of every move I make, incorporating corrections, and being happy when I get feedback and not embarrassed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Women and Sports

Not too long after I hurt my knee back in September of last year, I got into an argument with my father, who had said to me, "I don't think women should do kung fu." I know he probably was reacting to seeing his daughter hurt herself while he came and watched a class and had found an awkward way to show his concern, and, well, he also is kinda old school, but his statement infuriated me. How could he say that to me, especially after watching me and several of my female friends train so hard for nearly two hours? Hmph!

It is interesting, however, taking into account how many of us women do suffer from various joint (especially knee) injuries. I've heard that women are more susceptible to such injuries for a number of reasons such as our general greater flexibility leads to overextension, or that wider hips lead to a different sense of balance, or that higher tolerance for pain results in us ignoring warning signs, or we feel like we have to prove something while performing against males by pushing even harder.

In fact, this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine featured an article discussing sports and women (in the context of soccer). Check it out. It suggests that perhaps because we are built differently, we should be aware of such differences, and not necessarily view them as limitations, but train with them in mind. The article also mentioned the importance of "sufficient core muscle strength, balance or overall coordination to play safely."

I remember reading recently in one of those free magazines you find while riding an airplane about building core strength, a concept with which I was only vaguely familiar. There is belief that emphasis in building "core" areas such as the abs, pelvis, shoulders and general torso area will result in a safer overall development of one's physicality.

Perhaps it would be prudent to be smarter about training kung fu rather than just slashing through everything? What do you think?

(Also, here is a follow-up discussion to the Times article.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Congrats Heng Ji and Chadie on your new arrival! She started her entry into this world on a terrifically blustery day, and now that she's finally here, what a gloriously sunny one it is!

We cannot wait to welcome her! Amituofo! <3<3<3

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A bounce in my step, a spring in my heart!

In the changing room on Friday, while my gaze was fixed on the ground (changing room etiquette), I noticed that Richu has inserts in his feiyues. I asked what they were and Eric answered for Richu that they were for support. Then he said, "You gotta have 'em when you're a high-flier. Leo, you're a high-flier too, you gotta get them. Your knees and back need support."

After thinking about it quickly, it makes perfect sense. Maybe that's how I hurt my lower back during testing. So Saturday, I went out and got the Dr. Sholl's Tri-Comfort Orthopedic insert.

On Sunday, I got a chance to try them out for the first time. I have to say, Temple training is a whole new experience. I don't know why I didn't get them a year ago! They felt really good! They made my every step have a bounciness instead of the ground jarring sensation each time after a kick, move, or jump. The Feiyues don't offer much in the arch support area. Actually, they barely offer any support. They are flat and unforgiving. The best running shoes have amazing support because the foot is constantly pounding the pavement/ground. Even though we are on carpet, our repeated kicks and foot hitting the ground will take its toll. It's one reason on the first step of my gongbu, I never seem to feel right. The heel hitting the ground too hard always sends a vibration up my spine that I don't particular like. Today, that first step felt kinda nice! I was genuinely surprised!

There is a drawback though. It threw off my balance quite a bit, especially in forms. I wasn't used to having an extra layer in my shoes. And the bouncy support also changed how my stances were executed. But, by the end of class, my balance adjusted and I feel that with a little more getting used to, my forms will be even better than before.

There are different type of sole inserts. Some are for arch support; Some for knee support; Some for lower back pain. Maybe I'll mix it up and see which one I like best. Or maybe I should get something like this? Do you think 師父 (Shifu) would approve? My 騰空翻腰 (Tengkong fanyao) would really soar!! :D