Thursday, July 31, 2008


On Tuesday night a Chinese TV station came to film class. Not the first time I’ve been in a class with cameras, but the first time Sifu asked me to let them interview me. I’m not super comfortable being on camera, and especially not 30 minutes into a very sweaty class, but it turned out ok. The interviewer asked me how long I had been training, and when I told her she said, “Two years? That’s a long time!” And I had to wonder, is it?

I don’t feel like I am a senior student, and I’m definitely not when you look at those folks who’ve been around 5, 10 and more years. At the same time, though, on Tuesday, Jing was the only one in that bracket. After him, Sucheela and I were the most “advanced” on the folks training, and consequently I ended up running KFK while Sifu talked to the TV people. While I felt totally un-qualified to do so, someone needed to go keep things running in the back (I just didn’t want the the back line to be abandoned on TV), and so in effect, I was qualified, if only by default. Thankfully Jing came and helped, and it went smoothly; and I think Sifu was glad we stepped up. Still, I still felt slightly hubristic taking that initiative, do I subconsciously have a case of Senioritis? Not in the sense of being lazy, but of thinking too much of myself?

Anyone worried that I was acting on ego can rest assured that I wasn't, and if I had, my ego was suitably demolished in L2 last night where my xuanzi seems to be getting worse again. Yet, I was still somehow leading the line. I think it all stems from the fact that I want to step forward before Sifu has to tell me to do so.

In L1 Tuesday Sucheela took the initiative to start us all on waibaitui; I went to help out KFK; some people always jump to the front of the line as soon as Sifu says “line up”. It all comes, not from a ego-driven desire to lead, but a desire to anticipate a need for action. Because that’s what we’re learning in kung fu: to train our bodies and minds to react faster and faster. To not stand around waiting until Sifu yells “GO” at you three times, but going straight into your movement or form. To do everything with chi and enthusiasm. So I guess I do have Senioritis in the sense that, the longer I train, the more I learn this lesson.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Not just hot, hot-ER!

The last week or so has been a welcome break from the heat plaguing me at home and abroad. Unfortunately, in spite of lower temperatures outside, temple had still been stifling hot and the sweat was flying off my soaked robes. Last night, however, the cooler air finally made itself felt in the Temple, and it made a wonderful difference in class.

It’s amazing how much the heat and humidity can really sap your energy, even if you are well hydrated and rested and the rest of it. Being in that oppressive haze of heat makes your breath shallow and your body unresponsive no matter how psychologically you feel the chi. A sudden break of a mere 5 or ten degrees makes you feel like a new person. You can jump higher, kick more times, and explode more in forms.

Watching the weather report this morning, they’re forecasting another heat wave beginning this weekend. I can’t help feeling that the USA Shaolin Temple L.A., or some such place where it’s always 72 degrees, would be a really good idea.