Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Ok, so I know that I'm not training to be a shaolin master, or compete in Ninja Warrior or the UFC and wushu isn't even an Olympic sport, so I shouldn't feel compelled to train 7 - or even 4 - days a week. I'm not looking to make a career or compete in kung fu. This means I have the rest of my life to train and don't need to be in a hurry to master something if I would rather take the night off and do... whatever normal people do on a night off.

But what if I want to train that much? Today, there was nothing doing at work and I thought I would slip out for another double, just for fun. But in debating it with myself I came to the fairly rational conclusion that I was already sore and I had already trained S/M/T, and I didn't want to be beat for L2, or worse, injure myself over-training right before the retreat.

Talking with Richu, he once told me if you're crazy enough you can train through pain. My pain tolerance is low I guess. When something hurts I can't be a stoic and I'm paranoid about injury having thus far avoided anything serious. That makes it hard for me to determine when I actually DO need a break. Around day 4 when the muscles are throbbing and joints are aching I think I need to give them a night off to rebuild and recover, even if what I want to do is go to class. Logic and the study of human physiology say this is reasonable and wise. My embittered and stubborn ego says it is weak and complaining and I should suck it up and train harder if I want to get stronger. Everyone else trains through tiredness and soreness and I am just being a martyr... Where's the line for fanaticism?

But seriously, I am struggling with finding the balance that works for my mind, my body and my ambitions. I WANT to be able to train more without feeling like a lead weight, but the class after a night or two off feels so much better than the fourth night in a row. But if I take nights off how will I ever get stronger and be able to train those day classes on a whim without worrying about a potential over-training injury? I can't afford a full time masseuse and chiropractor like a professional athlete. and I don't want to be a professional athlete. But I don't want to be an amateur either just dabbling around. I know that if I want to excel I have to do more concerted training outside of class, but I don't want to be an all consumed workout-aholic. I do have other interests... Stop laughing. I DO. They're just not as interesting... Oh well, as we say, train harder. Just do it. More chi. And so on.

Packing for the Retreat?

Now that we are counting down to this weekend-long training away from home, I start to worry about what to bring. From Ji's post last year, she said her 3 uniforms and 10 t-shirts were not enough!

We will only be there for 2 days and 2 nights....

I thought I would just bring 2 uniforms (including the dirty one from Friday night's class), a few t-shirts/tank tops, a pair sleeping pants, a few pair of socks and a pair of running shoes.

Oh and a flashlight and sunscreen and lots of cookies for the road.

What are you going to pack? What else should I pack (other than the suggested 17 t-shirts)?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flippin' sweet!

I often play a little game with myself in my head, thinking about maybe perhaps possibly not training even when I know 99.9% that I will. I am very glad I didn't give in to that vague inclination today because tonight's class - well frankly, it rocked. N'ou has been busy of late so he has been popping in and out of L2 sporadically. I hadn't seen him in awhile, and when he came though the door tonight I started to get excited.

Ok, I was already excited because before class I finally landed my head flip again. I then landed it ten more times!! So when N'ou walked in and then twenty-five of us lined up, I was rarin' to go.

Class was so much fun. The chi was amazing and my SBS was dormant, I was able to kick so much better that N'ou even had me demonstrate lunbi caijiao. Even though that promptly made me forget how to do it right, it still didn't dampen my chi. When it came time to do liyu dating, I landed the head flip each time on my first try! At the end of the class we got to work on some DHQ and I ended class feeling even better than when I started.

It's always a lovely reawakening to find class exhilarating and fun when it has been fraught with pain or a ponderous energy. It's a great way to feel right before the retreat and a wonderful way to start the week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wait...Is that ME I'm looking at?

As I walked through the Temple's doors on Saturday, I was immediately struck by two things -- Number 1, there was a PBS television TV crew for the Program Religion and Ethics at the Temple doing a special on 師父 (Shifu). And number 2, there was nobody in class. Well, I think the final number was around 20, but only FOUR Level 2's (Heng Bao, Me, Heng Po, and Aubrey). 師父 obviously would like to have a huge class to show our chi and so I was pumped for class because I knew I would be responsible for not "losing face." (丟臉) When we have guests, 師父 seldom takes the time to introduce them before class starts. This time, they were introduced right after we lined up. You can tell from 師父's face that this was important to him.

I immediately jumped to the front of the line with Heng Bao leading the other side. We walked quite a bit. ( I lost count how many times.) 師父 wanted good technique instead of speed. I don't know how well I did in this department. I am quite comfortable being in front of a camera for my acting, but when the camera was at Temple, I got all flustered and my eyes kept darting towards the camera. And perhaps being too vain, I messed up a few moves. It just goes to show that I have a while to go before I can be comfortable doing Kung Fu in front of a camera. Hopefully, they didn't notice too much or at least can edit my stupid looks at camera out. I'd bet they thought I was some amateur. Sigh...well...luckily, we had Heng Yu pumping everyone up with his chi.

After basics, while in the changing room, one of our temple brothers said, "Nothing like Vanity to pump up your chi, eh?" Class was supposed to have been difficult. I was still sore from the Level 2 class the night before. But class felt invigorating. I had a blast. The best part was at the end when they interviewed 師父 for about 30 minutes. The topics the interviewer tossed were intriguing, and 師父's answers were enlightening. I especially remember this:

Interviewer: "Is there anything difficult that you do?"
師父: "Nothing is difficult. Nothing is easy."

師父 went on to explain that if you want to do it, difficult is easy. If you don't want to do it, even easy things become difficult. This statement really hit home for me. Too often, I rank tasks by order of difficulty, not by whether or not I want to do it. Take my obsession with the Tornado for instance. It is a difficult move, but because I really want to get it, it is almost within reach! Every time I fall, I feel I am getting closer. I look around my life and I definitely don't do that enough. It's time to break this bad habit. If I don't, sooner or later, my life will be surrounded by difficulties too challenging to overcome.