Friday, June 13, 2008

Moving Forward One Caijiao at a Time

I think I’ve mentioned before that sometimes during class, when the going gets tough, I remind myself that this is as hard as it can get. Every class will be a little easier, because every time I am making myself a little stronger. I think I’ve also mentioned how I know that this is a completely inaccurate and illogical rationale.

Last night though, when Sifu was saying “challenge yourself, move forward not back” I realized just how very inaccurate and illogical my rationale really was. Before, I was thinking it was off because some days you have more sleep, better nutrition and so on and so on. But last night I realized (or re-realized) something else. That if you are always pushing yourself, training will always be hard, no matter if it's L1 or L2. If you're training with the same intensity then you'll always be pushing yourself to that next level. Sure if I kicked as low as I did when I first started, training would be a breeze, but because I’m pushing forward, kicking higher, stances lower, popping harder, it's still just as tough as that very first day. I’m moving forward.

This made me think of one of Sifu’s other axioms, “nothing is difficult, nothing is easy.” I usually focus on the “nothing is difficult” part because telling yourself that nothing is easy isn't really an inspiring though. But in light of my other musings, it’s GOOD that nothing is easy. The day a class becomes easy is the day I'm not pushing myself, not training hard. The pain and difficulty are marks that I’m keeping my resolution to train harder. This all feels familiar, maybe I’ve blogged it before, but it’s a point worth reiterating. At least, I have to reiterate it for myself for when I feel lame still being tired during tengkong fanyao even after doing it for 2 years... But then, enjoying the never-ending ass-kicking is part of what we love about training, right? :D

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is there a muscle-milk-melon?

Last night's class was infinitely less tragic than Monday's heat-fest. There was a big group, lots of chi, and 5 people on line doing staff during forms. After class we had watermelon again thanks to Heng Mo, and I must say, it's my new favorite post-training snack. I never used to be much of a fan but after sweating through a hot class it's the only think I want to put in my body except 3 gallons of water. As much fun as I have going to dinner, the inevitable noodles, meat and tea don't really sit well with me after class, especially late at night. The sugar and water of the watermelon are just right. But I also feel like I should be putting protein back into my body for my muscles to rebuild. I know we've covered this before, but what is your ideal post-training meal - specifically for a night class? Extra-specifically in the dog days of summer. I'm curious if other people feel woozy whenever they walk out of Thai Son...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unexpected Results

For those you who trained Monday night, you know how unbearably hot it was. I wasn't even sure if I was lifting my leg up in caijiao or if I was in a psychedelic dream about to be awoken by an alarm clock. It was my first HOT L2 class. And wooo-boy, the welcome committee sure rolled out the red carpet of steamy hotness. But something unexpected happened. With lack of oxygen and a weakness in my legs, I was able able to land almost all of my tornado kicks. It was as if, the heat stifled my brain over-thinking the move while also giving me extra flexibility by suppressing the stretch reflex. Everyone, myself included, was surprised. Over and over, I twisted, kicked, and landed on one leg. Angular momentum was set. The speed was optimal. My greatest surprise, however, was that I landed it with ease, like a graceful danseur with complete aplomb.

Even though it was a really tough class and everyone was drenched by the end of it, I long for another hot day of psychedelic tornadoes! To be continued...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Heat Wave Level 2

Congratulations to everybody that made it through the class last night! It was tough - not necessarily tiring - but tough even with the fan working, and a few extra walks and water breaks. During the second half of the class, 6 or 7 of us rotated through forms for almost an hour. That was probably the longest hour I've ever had training.

It was so hot and muggy last night, I tried the one-arm-exposed uniform for the first time. I noticed an extraordinary lightness on my right arm doing Erluquan - which contains a lot of right arm movements. Thinking about it, I realized that I got used to training with the sleeves. Without one of them, my arm felt much lighter. Imagine if I'm used to training with other weight. How much more awesome I would be?

Maybe Richu walking around with 2 tons backpack and ankle weights is on to something.

Great Expectations

In spite of Al Roker's predictions to the contrary, I did not think yesterday's weather was as stuffily, scorchingly hot as Sunday. That, combined with taking class in the evening, I thought must lead me to predict a training session less fraught with sweat and heatstroke than the day before. And since Sunday I had a pretty good time in spite of all that, I anticipated a Monday class that was hot, but not unbearable.

After the first half hour I was looking for a place to be privately and violently ill. My final jumping spinning lihetui almost left me on the floor I was so dizzy. If Han had told us to do liyu dating I would have gladly jumped out the window rather than the inevitable throwing-up on the carpet that would have occurred. By the time we hit forms, which we did for an hour - unheard of lately in L2, I was so totally drenched in sweat I was Shaolin Showering everyone in the most unpardonable fashion. There wasn't a single dry spot left on my uniform, my hands were all pruned from being so sweaty. As a result I was uncontrollably chugging water even though I knew it would add to the gurgly feeling in my stomach. I was totally disgusted with myself, literally and figuratively.

Was everyone else feeling this pain? Clearly everyone was hot, but the 12 other people in class were trucking admirably along whilst I wallowed in self-pity. Probably I was suffering under the shattering of my built-up expectations that class wouldn't be so awfully hard. It's summer, best get used to it. Just goes to show you shouldn't ever expect anything; just go train. And if you need to throw up, well, we have two bathrooms for that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tropical Heat Wave

I have been blogging rather sporadically of late. Writing posts when I don't have much to say and not posting when something of interest actually happens. I decided this is probably partly a result of getting out of my training rhythm since testing. For some reason after testing my schedule got thrown off a little and it's been hard to fall back in to my 5 days a week routine, which, has seemed to throw off all my other living rhythms and thus my blogging. I've been training about 4 times a week, but never the same days, and me, I like routine. But what with a butt sword, or a messed up neck, or too much work, I end up doing doubles on Fridays just to make up for missing a Wednesday and a Thursday. It feels a little forced.

So in an effort to recapture consistency, I decided to just train as much as my body would let me, until a pattern re-establishes itself. Yesterday, I woke up right at 10 (which is as late as I can wake up and still make class) so I decided to go, even though I hadn't eaten, and even though the weathermen had been telling us all week how it was going to be 96 degrees. Putting on my uniform before class I was already sweating, but I saw that I was probably going to have to lead at least one of the lines so I pushed thoughts of heatstroke out of my mind. Sure enough I was in the front, and too soon, I was in front of the single line Sifu created.

It was HOT. And contrary to recent form, Sifu didn't let us walk until after ceshoufan. I was drenched, but reminded myself that the summer I first began walking breaks didn't exist, and I was way weaker in those days, so by God there's no reason to wimp out now. Still, even after stretching, a change of uniform, and spending the second half of class teaching I was dripping wet all over. I drank three bottles of water, versus my usual 1/2. I was proud of all of us who trained through that hazy day. It was great chi having some other Austrian friends visiting as well and keeping us all inspired. I was really glad I got out of my hot apartment and trained; the last time I was that dripping I was still working on five kicks. It was a good catalyst for evaluation of my progress, and helped recapture the way it felt to train when I first started. Plus, the watermelon after class was the most delicious thing I ever tasted.