Monday, August 4, 2008

The Savage Lotus

It's been awhile since my last blog post. I've been really busy with film making this summer. Writing, directing, and shooting. One of the reasons I joined the Shaolin Temple 15 months ago was that I would get some martial arts experience under my belt for acting. Little did I know, I would also love being behind the camera directing and choreographing my fellow kung fu actors as well. Here's the 72 hour project I've told so many of you about. You basically write, direct, and put together a 5 minute short in the span of 3 days. You don't sleep the whole time and you get a film out of it. I still haven't recovered from it. And that was in June!

Our film was disqualified from the competition because a random person not on our team looked towards the camera at the end of the film. It was a huge blow to the whole team's psyche at first, but after realizing how much fun we had while shooting, we realized this is only the beginning. I will make plenty more. And I can't wait!

So without further ado, here it is! Please enjoy! Oh and our very own Heng Ying (Hwalan) plays a character in it. :D

Times are Changin'

Training on Sunday was weird and wild. We started class 10 minutes late. (I can't remember the last time we started class that late) There were only 14 of us and I was the most senior person on the roster. In fact, I was the only person that was there from Level 2. I remember starting my training at the temple not so long ago and looking up to the Level 2's for technique and chi. And one of the newer people (I'm so embarrassed. I don't even know his name) pointed out to me that I am that person now. Not only was class small, there were also a group of Chinese people observing class. I don't know about you, but for me, any chance to perform in front of a group pumps up my chi. :P

I have to say, I was flying down the line. The newer level ones were definitely not used to being so near the front of the line. They weren't even quite sure what move was next. Should I have slowed down more and given them more of a chance to catch up? I am not sure. The person leading needs to set the pace and tone. It's also up to them to set the chi. Every time I went down the line, I could hear the Chinese group point and whisper, "Oh, that is this move, and this is that move."

Maybe Shifu heard it too because he was really paying very close attention to everyone's form and technique. Most people didn't make it out of the first half of the class before being sent to KFK (Kung Fu Kindergarten). Shifu had us do the first form at least 10 times. That's including all the times he told us to start over from the beginning. By the end of the first half, only me, Livia, and Julian were left.

Second half of class? Well, let's just say we got our own little piece of carpet and stayed on it for the rest of the class. It was really fun to push myself. But, in my unsettled heart, I wanted to start teaching. I wanted Shifu to call me over and say, "Leo, teach them Caijiao!" Now, I know Shifu picks people to teach for a reason and he hasn't picked me yet. It's probably because he feels I need to work on my forms and technique much more before I'm ready. Every time I'm in Level 2, I feel like my technique is one of the worst. I would say to myself, "How is it possible that I can't do this one kick that I've been doing for over a year?! What's wrong with me? Am I just not cut out for Shaolin material?" Then I realize that as with everything, caijiao is a kick we could work on forever because we could keep on polishing ourselves forever. It never ends. We could always use more pop and extension in our lives. I know Shifu wants to teach me this. And I feel that I still haven't learned it yet...but times are definitely changin'...


Saturday was my first weekend class in what felt like a million years. The last day class I did was on a Monday and that was three weeks ago. I forgot how it feels to have training be the first thing you do after getting up, and not being preoccupied with what you have to do afterward.

It was a small class, 15 of us, and I remembered the first time I ever led line: it was also a weekend class, a class of 12, and I thought my head would explode.

This time I was leading line as well, but I felt much more prepared to do so. Leo was on the other line and for the first few rounds of caijiao we were kicking in perfect synchronization. It was lots of fun, and in spite of the small class I felt we would be able to keep the chi going. I thought so anyways. But all that chi meant we were pushing ourselves really fast, and by ceshoufan I was, irritatingly, barely holding myself up. And when we finished the first half of class it was only 11:25!!

The second half of class it started getting darker and darker, and finally, a thunderstorm broke. I felt rejuvenated. Maybe because it broke the heat and humidity, or it eased up the air pressure, but it really lifted my flagging chi, and made the intimidating 1hr and 20 minute second half of class much more attack-able. And when class was over, it felt wonderful to not have to go home and get ready for work the next day or actually run off TO work itself. I think Saturday might be my favorite day to train. I mean, every day, is my favorite day to train... But Saturday is my most favorite.