Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who Let the Chi Out?

For the past few days since Monday night Level 2 class, I've been perplexed by something. When did my chi get so strong that I could do one-handed 側手翻 (ceshoufan) repeatedly like I've been doing them all my life?!! Up until Monday night, I haven't been able to do a one-handed 側手翻. Not even a close one. I tried it only 2 times, and each time, I fell like a poorly stacked house of cards crumbling to the ground. Carpet ? Meet face. Face? Meet Carpet. Fun times. I assure you. All of that changed Monday night. While everyone did 霸王摘魁 (baiwang zhaikui), I did 側手翻. Right before the end of the carpet on my first run, I didn't feel like putting my left hand down. (I guess that's the best way to describe it) I did a nice round off with one hand and went to the back of the line. In my mind, I was like, "Did I just do a one-handed ceshoufan? Nah! How can this be? When did I learn how to do that?!" On the next run, the same thing happened, except it happened twice in a row. I did TWO one-handed ceshoufan in a row!! I heard someone say, "Nice!" So I am assuming I wasn't dreaming it. This got me thinking. What changed from Friday to Monday? The only answer I can come up with is, of course, THE RETREAT!!

But what exactly at the Retreat did I learn that enabled me to do ceshoufan one-handed? The Retreat should have tired me out. Plus, Monday was my fifth day of training. My arms should have felt like jello. Then, the answer came to me. It was the Chi Kung.

The Chi Kung we learned at the Retreat totally focused my chi, especially in the arms. Right before Monday class, I got to Temple early and did my Chi Kung exercises. You wanna hear something crazy? I could have sworn I saw mist/steam/chi rise from body while I was doing the third movement. I was like, "Oh! I'm seeing things! Great! That's all I need! Class hasn't even started yet!" I did the third movement again and I saw the chi rising again. Now I was like, "COOL!!!!!!!" I forgot all about it until the inexplicable happened. Repeated one-handed ceshoufan's down the line.

One of my reasons for going on the Retreat was to learn Chi Kung. I've been dying to learn it. Now that I have, does it live up to the hype? You betcha!! Who let the Chi out? Whoop! Whoop!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tonight: Kung Fu Haiku Times Two

Guttoral Jaka;
Mabu Pyramid Needs Work;
Seppi Took Photos.

My Vocab is Fine!
Da Hong Quan Togetherness
All Night. Right, Eric?


Awesome class! More Chi!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Believe I Can Fly!

What's even better than spending 2 full days doing kung fu on a spiritual retreat at a secluded monastery? Okay, not much, but Monday night's Level 2 class was definitely a fun way to bookend a great, and I mean FANTASTIC Memorial Day Weekend.

Heng De taught class and we had our Austrian Temple brothers Marc and Seppi join us. Halfway through class, De said, "Okay. Let's get the trampoline and the big blue mat!" My heart skipped a beat. I've been dying to jump on that trampoline since the first day I watched the kids jump on it. I always kept myself out of their fun by saying, "No, no, Leo. You're a big boy now. You don't need to pretend you're six and play with the kids on a trampoline." Well, that all changed. De wanted all of us to work on the tornado. To help us with the jumping and twisting mechanics of the tornado, we would take off from the trampoline and land on the mat. And I must say, it was the most fun I've had in Level 2 class so far! We all flew and soared through the air! Marc and Seppi were doing acrobatic tumbling. They were amazing! Seppi did a DOUBLE 騰空雙飛腳 (Tengkong Shuangfeijiao) in the air. Every time he jumped, we watched in awe. He even tried touching the ceiling! Shifu came over to watch and I could see it in his eyes that he really wanted to give it a try too. I was almost about to say, "Join us Shifu!!"

My first jump (first jump ever on a trampoline) was full of skittish excitement. I barely jumped. I sort of just stumbled and fell. But that all changed with my next few jumps. I twisted like a 720 through the air sideways. I don't know how I looked, but everyone's faces lit up laughing, "Um...Leo...What are you doing?!" With so much air time, I wanted to see how much twist I could have through the air. I have a feeling it will really help my tornado.

We had to get ready for forms so we put the mat away but I can't wait to jump off that trampoline again!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008


It would be impossible to do justice to the entire awesomeness, and all the fun shenanigans from this weekend's retreat, so I will try to sum up my top ten moments.

10. Yummy thai food. Congee for breakfast is the bomb.

9. Learning the second posture for the chi gong form, Yi jin jing. Starting the day's training with chi gong was very beautiful and remarkably invigorating. The five postures we learned were all fun and definitely challenging, but my favorite was the second: opening your chest and standing, legs apart, arms and fingers outstretched, face to the sky. It made me feel tall, strong, open, and totally connected with the day and the people around me.

8. Diving into the ocean after our final kung fu class. Freezing cold, and kinda rocky, but totally fun and refreshing. When you're near the ocean, you gotta jump in. Thanks for leading the pack, Mo!

7. Learning more DHQ. Self-explanatory.

6. Being the first person in the shower on Saturday night. After a day training in the sun, there's nothing more satisfying than beating the masses back to the monastery. Important high-point. :)

5. Spending evenings around the fire talking to my Shaolin brothers and making new friends. Whether talking to an old friend and learning more about them, or chatting with someone newly introduced to temple, it was a wonderful opportunity bonding with everyone, laughing non-stop, and trying unsuccessfully to find a song to which everyone knew the lyrics.

4. Chocolate chili cookies. Sucheela is a genius. Totally great (spicy!) cookie and a super way to make new friends.

3. Getting to see the stars at night walking through the woods. The country girl in me felt at home. It felt amazing to be out of this city, smelling the woods and seeing the stars.

2. Our Shaolin brother John Sid sleeping outside at the fire with a brick as a pillow. HARDCORE!

1. Knowing that even though this one is over, I will get to come back again.

How about everyone else?