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October 2004

October Sword by Lizzie © 2004 New Moon.

October Sword by Lizzie
Copyright © 2004 New Moon

This is the sword I use for practice. Ma commandeered my "official" taiji sword. I had forgot I had this one, but I came across it when cleaning the upstairs a couple of weeks ago. I made this for the touring production of Macbeth. I was propmaster as well as assistant director, as well as procducer, as well as Lady Macbeth. It's made of laminated luan, nice and light, and I like the feel of the jute cord I whipped the handle with. It's a good taiji sword.

01: Friday

02: Saturday

I was up betimes to take Ma to class (her car is on the fritz again.). Autumn fog. I walked up to the dam. There were cobwebs everywhere, dripping with dew. I was amazed at how many webs there were. Along the wrought iron fence at Cookie's, some long sections had a web between every two uprights. And the footbridge was festooned with webs and cobwebs everywhere, shimmering in the breeze.


Three good sets of 24 Form. Snake improves; I go for the stretch now.


I have the first eight moves of 32 Sword. Ma says her class will finish this section next week.


Chen practice. I'm improving— I think. But I have a question as to whether my body position is correct— my "dragon body." I'm not sure what the alignment is supposed to feel like...

03: Sunday

Bo and sword practice between fits of cleaning and laundry. Chen jumping— it's easy if you really commit to the jump and pull that left leg up and off the ground.

It's a beautiful day...

I've been reading: "Okinawan Karate: Teacher, Styles, and Secret Techniques," by Mark Bishop... Interesting. Bruce loaned it to me.


Bo katas at Jo's. Much better. Much.

04: Monday

Three sets of 24 Form. I believe I am understanding this better.

Some Chen. I worked on figuring out the arm movements in Sleeves. I wanted to be sure I wasn't flailing.

I've been thinking about structure, especially in the moves between Sleeves and Punch the Crotch. It's the low stance that puzzles me. When you're down low, it seems to me your body structure is collapsed. I mean, there's no easy way to transfer incoming pressure from above to below— unless, I'm just too inexperienced to know how. Could well be... But, if this is a legitimate question, what are you supposed to do?

05: Tuesday

I'm so tired I want to cry.

Taiji. We got to Step Up to the Seven Stars. I'm not entirely clear on Six Sealing and Four Closing, but I think I've got all the moves... This is the one sequence that Jonas didn't teach me. It occurs multiple times in the set, so everyone else knows it and they taught it to me one night before class while we were practicing. I probably should've asked Jonas to go through it with me, but... I feel reluctant to ask— but that's not Jonas's fault.

I was feeling really daunted by the whole thing tonight. I found out that the rest of the class has been working on Xinjia Yilu for nearly two years— two years in December. Two years. *sigh* Tonight was my eighth lesson.

One of the moves we learned tonight is analogous to Snake Creeps Down. Instead of coming up into Golden Rooster, though, this one comes up into Seven Stars, and then it goes into... I haven't a clue as to what it was called. It's an upward two-hand block that turns into a double forward strike. Jonas says the names of the moves, but the Chinese words don't always stick with me.

Fog and mist rising from the water as I drove home tonight... A welcoming aura, that's what Jonas has. I was remembering how I felt when I first met him, and then later when we met again, and again when I joined the class. Jonas seems to invite people into his circle without saying a word. I guess it's because he's interested in other people and happy to have their company, happy to share taiji... The others have some of it, too, I guess. That's why I feel so at home with them all.

06: Wednesday

Chilly today. Frost last night.

Chen practice, trying to be sure I'm not breaking the rules... Do I know the rules?

Tiger body, dragon body... structural integrity... Am I doing this right?

Everyone else in the class has been together for two years working on this form. But for me, it's all new. And it's a bit frightening being on this new path— yilu. Route 1. I've been traveling taiji back roads up until now, alone for the most part. Now "Route 1" seems like a super highway to me, crowded with traffic going faster than I'm used to. I can keep up, me in my old klunker, but...

The road is unfamiliar, and I don't know where it goes. That's what disturbs me today, I think. Not knowing where I'm headed. And yet, I like adventures, exploring. I like this adventure at lot. Since the first night I set out for my new class, I've felt more free and more alive, eager to meet the unknown.

I like these people I've met. And I want to get to know them better. Oh, how I wish I hadn't been so alone for so long! Then maybe I'd be better at making friends, more comfortable talking with others. Then I could ask questions:

Jonas, why were they shooting off a 50mm gun on the soundstage in front of a blue-screen where you work? Bob, did I hear you say you had written a script? Scott, did I hear you say you hoped to sell something soon? Are you a writer, too? And how did you all meet, by the way? And, Joe, whatever in the world were you searching for that you ended up at my web site and decided to write to me? You never did say. (Whatever agency moved you to do so has my eternal gratitude.)


Kobudo class. Tonfa and sai. I made mice feet of Matayoshi no Sai and Matayoshi no Tonfa Ni. But I did okay on the rest. Not that "okay" is okay in my book, but, I've had to let some thing go over the past couple of months, and those two kata were among them. I'm glad I have the chance now to get them back.

I was very tired when I got to Ma's after kobudo. She asked me to go through Sword Form with her, and I did , but I was not very patient. Ma worked hard, though, and she is getting it down.

07: Thursday

Nín zhǎo. Ni hao ma?

I can smell warmth in the air today...

Praise and blame, those two impostors, plague me. Mentally paralyzed, I resort to practice.

Chen. I begin to feel it. My short sequence of shi zhi bai lian, zhi dang chui, bai yuan xian guo, liu feng si bi, dan bian, que di long, shang bu qi xin, #72 - #78, begins to feel like something. There's power there to be developed... Practice!

I'm not sure I have six sealing four closing, but, oddly, it makes sense to me— of a sort.

In this form, some moves are easier in low stance. But low stance has to be right and that will take practice. By the way, if you still have any of that old underwear, throw it our so you don't put it on by accident—

One of the hawks is back... There's a very nervous, puffed-up robin hiding deep in the dogwood...

The hairs on my neck still prickle when I think that the others have been working on this form for nearly two years. Well, let's see what effect my short weeks of practice have on my 24 Form...

Very nice. You should see that snake creep now! Excellent!

I've been thinking. Footnote: Jonas said something about the moves after Step Up to Seven Stars being part of some Bear form, I think. I was wondering if that was a coincidence, of if the moves that come after Step Up were deliberately chosen because the Seven Stars is the big Dipper, which is the Great Bear.

Kobudo practice. Matayoshi no Sai. I've got it back, though I may be missing a move in the closing sequence. I did remember to keep the two low blocks in Nakamura no Sai close so as not to leave an opening... I can taste the iron of the sai.

Can't remember more than the beginning three directions of Matayoshi no Tonfa Ni. Rats.


Class was fun. Sensei went home and Tim and Bruce took the class.

My kicks weren't particularly good tonight, but I did finally realize that when stepping back to block I should "leave my hand" so I'm in position when the punch comes.

At Ma's, after class, we practiced Sword Form. Ma is getting it. Each day she picks up a little more detail.

I was thinking today about portraits. I'd really like to do a picture of Jonas in a "creep," apple held on high. Hmmm...

08: Friday

Some Chen, slowly and gently, while waiting for breakfast to congeal. It was a beautiful day today; I didn't intend not to practice, but... things intervened...

Slow and gentle doesn't cut it in this form. You gotta commit, work up a sweat— while staying relaxed when appropriate.

Sauntered over to Ma's a little after 23:00. She asked to go over Sword Form, so we did. I notice Ma tends to either look down or look within when practicing. When she looks down, she loses her balance; when she looks within, she loses the form. I nagged her about it. Stay in the moment, Ma. Pay attention!

At work, Jennifer and Allison have taken to kidding me about the taiji. When they see me, they mimic the opening hand motion of shi zi bai lian and say, "Kiss my squid!" Got to admit it looks funny; and I'm the one who told 'em about the "squid."

09: Saturday

It's a very Fall day. Mild and pale; muted. There's a breeze kicking up; gold pine needles are falling like rain.

Three sets of 24 Form. I can't tell whether I'm pleased or not. It seems my old, bad habits are still in muscle memory, especially when it comes to creeping. But I'll weed them out.

Ma felt exhausted this morning so she excused herself from attending class. It was the last lesson of this series, so I doubt Ma will miss anything. Surely David will wait until the next series to go on to the next section.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

I've been trying to think of that quote for ages, and Tim came out with it at the dojo the other night when I remarked that I couldn't get my body to cooperate in doing one of his twisting exercises. In taiji, I used to blame my socks or my shoes. And today, losing my balance in Sleeves, I kept thinking, "I've got to get better practice shoes."

Maybe the problem is me, but the slippery, too-big moccasins don't help any, and my taiji shoes feel too tight. Rats.

I have to laugh out loud. I've been practicing the double upward block that comes out of Step Up to Seven Stars. I've known of this block for all of four days, and just now I was chiding myself out of complete frustration at not being able to do that block as good as Jonas does it! After four whole days! Where do I get these crazy ideas?

Okay, Lizzie, you've still got a way to go before you've done this one a thousand times. Let's get cracking!

This time, I'll try taiji shoes without socks...

Yup. It's me, not the shoes. Rats.

A little Sword Form. Interesting stuff. I wonder if there are some different principles governing qi focus in Sword Form.


10: Sunday

No practice. Plenty of nightmares to deal with on waking, though! And I did work on the journal.

11: Monday

Beautiful day. The nightmares that woke me today weren't quite as bad.

Three sets of 24 Form...

Why do I practice? Why is taiji important to me? What is it for? Kobudo? Why?

Put my gis in the wash and set the timer for 40 minutes...

Chen practice... Today I can't feel it. I'm just going through the motions, worrying. I'm beating myself up something terrible. Why? am I afraid of being on my own again? Yes. In the nightmares there's no one to teach me, no one to practice with. I'm alone again, trying to figure it out.

Transfer the gis to the dryer; put in another load of wash. Practice...

Fold gis, ready for classes.

A shower for me. A set of 24 Form.

Why taiji? Why do I even care?

I'm going to Jo's...

Hmmm... Lots of "J"s in my taiji life now, lots of "Jo"s: Jo[-Anne]; Jo[seph]; Jo[nas]; Jo[hn]; then J[eff]...? What's the pattern... Ah! Repeated letters: Jeff, Scott... that leaves Bob and Lorna. Repeated "b" for Bob, second letter "o" for Bob and Lorna. And Lizzie has two repeated letters, but no "o." But Jeffrey has two repeated letters, too... What does it all mean? (It means I have a strange mind.)

... I'll take my kobudo gear.

12: Tuesday

Please Note

On this date, Jonas Sanchez declared at the beginning of class that he would complete instruction in all the remaining movements of the form by the end of the session, and he did so!

We finished the form. Yay!

I don't think I remember the whole sequence of moves correctly, but I've got most of it. The parts that elude me have to do with hand moves, mostly; Chen stuff I'm not used to. I went through it all when I got to Ma's, but... I think I left something out.

After class, Joe, Jonas, Scott and I found ourselves standing around in Lorna's driveway, in the dark, talking, and looking at the stars. Out where Lorna lives, the sky is dark and the stars are bright. As we talked, Jonas mentioned that if he ever opened a school— and he said he never would— he'd call it "The Jonas Sanchez School of Indiscriminate Grappling." Jonas didn't say so, but I know that's from "Ranma 1/2," a strange Japanese animation series. Whatever, it's a good name. He'd be turning away students.

It occurs to me that Jonas's school's motto must be, "The nastiness just never ends."

We talked about the stars and the planets and the form. Jonas says it's self-correcting because if you're doing it wrong, you'll know it. I believe it. In my practice, I find the errors are extremely obvious, but if you've an idea where to go, the right moves seem to emerge. Anyway, Jonas says we'll do one more lesson on the last section, and then we'll begin again. Excellent! Yí lù píng ān, everyone. (I learned that meant 'safe and peaceful journey;' Jonas said it was something about the road being flat and harmonious. Chinese is very interesting.)

13: Wednesday

A bad night at kobudo.

After the third or fourth run-through of Nakamura no Sai, I asked Sensei for the correct sequence of the last two closing moves. He told me there were a lot more things to worry about than the ending. "Yes," I replied, a bit non-plussed by his comment, "but those don't confuse me." And so it is.

Setting aside the feeling of having been insulted by Sensei (for I don't think he meant any insult), how is it that Sensei can admonish us for not paying attention to all the little details for two years, and then suddenly say that the sequence of the last two moves doesn't matter?

I know I have a lot to work on, but I find it much easier to work on kata when I have the sequence of the move correct, if not the moves themselves. How can I find and follow the energy line if I have the moves out of order?

I don't understand.

Sensei knows I have been having problems lately. I know he has tried to help by sending me off from time to time with senior students to work on katas. But, through it all, not once has he uttered a word of encouragement to me. Not lately. Not once has he told me I'd gotten something, however miniscule, right. Not once. No matter how hard I've worked, in karate or kobudo, it's been a long time since he's told me directly that I got something right. Even when I kicked that bag over three times, he didn't say anything to me.

Yeah, my sai and tonfa katas aren't very good, but has anyone noticed that my sai and tonfa punches are all spot on? That's one thing I can and do get right. And the tonfa punches revolve nicely around the center, too, just as they're supposed to.

I wish I wasn't so tired now. I missed Chen practice today.

14: Thursday

Cloudy and cool. Good for practice.

Three sets of 24 Form to warm up. I think these may have been the best sets I've ever done. My creeping is not perfect, yet, of course, but it's pretty darned good.

With that to bolster me, I set about Chen practice. It took three or four laborious runs through to pull all the pieces together, but I believe I have most of it. Unless I don't. A new Single Whip into Step Up to Seven Stars seems right... Step Back and Ride the Tiger is okay, but... Sparrow Dragon on the Ground? Ah, no, that's before Step Up...

Then there's the hand split that goes into the sweep, that goes into the two low "throws" that comes up into the double lotus kick, which goes into Trip the Teacher (Cannon Overhead; I managed to accidentally trip Jonas with my backwards leg sweep; no damage done; he didn't even hit the ground), thence pull back and press forward...

At which point there are hand moves I am not familiar enough with to remember, but which lead into the attendant pounding a mortar, and closing form, which I do remember.

I think if I can practice everything 50 times a day I may be able to wring some technique out of all this.

I don't much want to go to karate tonight. I'm tired and psyched by it. But I'll work it out eventually. Nobody has "the shanks" forever. (Do they?) Too bad I can't wear my lucky socks to karate class.

It's raining now... a crackling sound... the yellow tree next door and it's scion growing in my back yard are oh! so bright this gray rainy day.

When I came out to practice today, I noticed that the upper storm window of the corner kitchen window was smashed. There were small bits of glass to be seen if you looked closely. It looked as if the window had been struck hard with a pointed object, as the break radiated from a small center. At first I thought someone must have hit it with a rake handle or something, but, looking closer, I noted very small feathers still in the glass at the center of the break. I wondered if some small bird had been spooked by the hawk. I didn't find a body. I hope the bird recovered.


I had an email from John from taiji today. He had sent a taiji cartoon to everyone, and when I sent back my thanks for the laugh, he sent back another note saying he had looked at my site. He says that the rules on the wall that include the admonition to "Make a little progress every day" are from Grandmaster Jou, Twsung-Hwa (spelling uncertain), who was David Shaver's teacher. Thanks, John.

I allowed myself a break tonight and didn't press myself to go to karate. I called late in the afternoon to excuse myself; called back to wish Sensei a happy birthday this weekend. I left work late, without the usual hurry, enjoyed dinner with Ma. and then I sat and read a book.

15: Friday

Rain. 3 sets of 24 Form. Nothing special. My left ankle is stiff.

16: Saturday

Sensei's birthday. Happy birthday, Sensei!

Guāfēng [windy] today. But sunny and nice. Nín zhǎo. [Good morning.]

...*thwack* Rats!... *thwack* Dammit! It's supposed to be thwack-thwack!... *thwack*... *thwack*...

That's me practicing double lotus kicks. *sigh* But I'll get 'em.

There's a lot of detail I can't remember from the lesson. (All very well that we completed the form, Jonas, but haste has its price!) I think I'm leaving something out in the set up to the double lotus kick... ah, well. I think I've got Trip the Teacher and the following pull-press, but after that I don't remember how to get to closing form.

I also don't know exactly how the two low "throws" work, either, but I've been working on them, trying to figure 'em out. It's good exercise for my legs if nothing else.

Kicking practice. Chin high with the right leg is easy now, for both front and side kicks. The left is good, but my right seisan dachi is still difficult to relax into. I also had trouble getting the kicks to come back in fast on both sides. I don't know why. Tried a few spinning side kicks at the post. Those need a lot of work.

Three sets of 24 Form. Gawd! Some of it was awful!

Han bo. Gabrielle was practicing it the other night, and I saw a couple of nice blocking moves I want to incorporate...

It's nice to feel my kicks getting better. In fact, it's nice to feel better in everything I do. Feeling fit is a seductive feeling, too. You feel good, and you want to keep on feeling better and better, so you keep working... neat.

Time for a shower. Later I'll take my kobudo gear down to Jo's.

P.S. I was really bad at "jumping out of Sleeves" today. *thump-thump* *sigh*


My left knee is bothering me a bit— and my left elbow. The knee, I've figured out, is working hard to compensate for that atrophied calf muscle, and all the low stretches are messing with the alignment. The elbow is still recovering from being bo torqued, and now it's being asked to wield sai and tonfa and han bo, too, poor thing. But I'm paying attention, going slowly where I must. I'm imapient, but I know I'll get the strength I need if I go slowly.

A good day for outside practice. Cool and breezy and cloudy. My hair under my hat was wet with sweat when I was done, but no more than that. What a relief not to feel rivulets running down my body during practice!

I did well. I had no trouble with the katas except for the endings, so I chose an ending for each and stuck with it. Sensei can sort them out (or not) as he chooses. I did ask for clarification, and he chose not to give it.

Practice was interesting. I discovered I'm not as bad at any of the weapons as I have been allowed to believe. I actually do some things very right. And when I have an unrestricted place to move in, my katas end almost exactly where they begin, just as Sensei said they should. In the dojo, hemmed all around, I hardly ever come out in the same spot.

There's still a lot of turkey and dog poop in the meadow at Jo's. If I wanted, I could make the opening of shima ijiri bo ni very nasty for my imaginary opponent. But I'd rather not have poop on my bo.

17: Sunday

Standing post in the sun where it's warm.

Two sets of 24 Form.

Sword Form, first section.

18: Monday

Guāfēng [windy] again, sunny and cool. Nín zhǎo.

*thwack*... *thwack-th*... *thwack-thwack*... Rats!... *th-thwack*... *thwack-thwack*... *thwack-thwack*... *thwack- *... *thwack-thwack*... *thwack-thwack*

Much better double lotus kicks.

A mixed and hurried bag today. Sword to warm up— I don't understand sword yet.

Chen. It bugs me not knowing all the moves, but I have the sequence and a vague notion. I explore...

Truly it's like putting together an animation. The few moves that took hours to learn are accomplished in moments. I could do the sequence I know dozens of times in one short hour— if I had the strength! (Someday!)


Very rudimentary kumite practice tonight.

I can't seem to get out of my own way... not surprising, really. For two years I've blocked and punched to the front in drill after drill after drill. Now I'm supposed to know how to get over to the side, out of the way. How do I get my feet to do that?

Sensei did come over and tell me not to get frustrated or discouraged. He said it's very difficult at first, but I shoud be patient. He was very nice.

I don't know. None of it makes sense to me. I can't see how it's supposed to work, this getting out of the way.

On the other hand, I had a really nice email from Joe today chiding me for driving myself too hard. "Fajing"-ing myself, as he put it. He was very kind about it though. A good friend. And he's right, I do drive myself too hard.

Joe says I need to go at this.... gently. Feel it, not worry about achieving low stances, but learning to get the basic principles right first.

I'm glad Joe wrote. It did make me stop and think, and I needed to do that. I've got to be patient with myself. But that will take a lot of practice.

19: Tuesday

Took the morning off. No practice.

20: Wednesday

Twice through my short routine. Breakfast. A few more runs— stance high, not too intense.

Trip the Teacher has changed from last week. No one asked why. Jonas showed us the new way and that's what we did.

I asked Jonas what the rules are. The rules are few: Shun chan, ni chan; keep the shoulders down, even, and relaxed; for the most part, keep the elbows pinned in place; fansong ("Soong"). Easy.

Renewed my subscription to T'ai Chi Magazine.

21: Thursday

Cloudy and cool. Nín zhǎo.

Some 24 Form to wram up; a little Sword Form— and I have to watch the tape again. I think my hand positions aren't right.

Chen. I promised Joe I wouldn't "fajing" myself, but if I don't push a bit, I won't be able to develop the physical stamina I need. So, a little "fajing."

I still get a bit confused in some of the moves where we're... throwing, but I believe I've got the gist. It amazes me how much can be figured out just by applying the rules. For instance, say you're "here" and you know you have to get to "there," so, keeping your shoulders down and your elbows "pinned" in place, you shun chan ni chan from here to there— fansong.

But some things I still can't quite figure. Like the hand movements and coordination in the lead in to double lotus kick. It was scary to do, but I emailed Jonas to ask. I'm a little afraid of the kind of answer I'll get, my experience with asking questions being what it is. But I have to find out.

Tuesday night it occured to me that the closed stances in this Chen style are very like my toe-in karate stances. In karate and Chen, we "close the door." Only in Chen, sometimes we also open the door.


Good class. Not too intense.

Afterwards, during clean-up, Sensei returned "When Things Fall Apart" to me, and we got to talking. He asked me how I was doing, and we had a nice chat about me having "the shanks." Like Joe, Sensei says I have to give myself a break, take it a little easier, be kinder to myself. I wish that was easy to do.

We talked about my need to know the ending to Nakamura no Sai a couple of weeks ago. Sensei says that Master Odo never ended a kata the same way twice, and he wants to preserve that ambiguity. I can appreciate that. And knowing that, it gives me a different way of thinking about kata.

Sword Form with Ma. She's getting it. She's really getting it.

Here's the answer I had from Jonas:

Hi Leslie,

Glad to help. Here goes...

> I've just come around from the spin and I'm poised
> on one leg hands in position to pull somebody's arm
> to the right, correct?


> Now, my left foot goes out and I sink right. Do my
> hands continue to pull right, then around and down
> as I scootch my right foot over towards my left?

Right. Do it this way - Hands are in position (and motionless) as you sink down and step out with your left foot at a 45 degree angle to the body's positioning. Then, roll back, push down, and press as you bring your right foot to left.

> Next, I do the hop-- but before that I "re-cock"
> my hands (shun chan, ni chan) so I'm pulling right
> again, correct?


> At this point, what's the coordination? What
> happens with my hands as I hop? Hop, pull over
> and down as above, yes? Then scootch up again,
> ready for double lotus?

You want the end of the hop to conincide with the end of your roll back. Then push down and press, bringing up your right foot to your left foot again. Then you're ready for Double White Lotus kick.

> I should probably ask more questions in class, but
> I get shy. I hate it, but I do. Joe can tell you my last
> teacher pretty much cured me of asking questions, taiji
> or otherwise, and I haven't recovered yet. But I'm getting
> better-- you guys are much nicer.

Always ask questions. Everyone benefits from it.

I hope that helps!


It sure did. A clear and lucid answer— not to mention really helpful. Reading it was like having a conversation. That worked out very well. I am much relieved. And I have a very vivid picture of those moves. Easy to practice now.

22: Friday

I practiced in the dark while the moon set, and kept on afterwards. I'd be out there yet— I want to be out there, but I know I'm exhausted, not physically, but emotionally. In spite of Joe and Sensei telling me to be kinder to myself, I feel driven. Demons pursue me whispering, "No matter how hard you work, you'll never be enough!"

I gotta learn not to listen.

23: Saturday

Stepping with my tea today. Sam is working, building new porch stairs.


Chen practice at Jo's. All the students are gone, and I have the place to myself. I'm staying to keep the fire going until Jo gets back...

24: Sunday

A damp and gloomy day. No practice.

25: Monday

Gloomy, damp an chill. Happy birthday to me.

Karate. My feet get all twisted up in bunkai. Sometimes I feel I'll never figure it out.

A little Chen by the light of the moon.

26: Tuesday

Sunny, cool, but warm in the sun.

Some Chen— gently. Each day I have more questions. Not a lot of asking questions, mind you, but the kind that only practice answers.


Some 24 Form. More than three sets... five? They felt good. All the things I've learned recently are making a difference. I hope that Xinjia Yilu will feel as good someday.


Master Jou's Rules for Learning Internal Arts
  • Know yourself
  • Always do your best
  • Don't overdo
  • Make a little progress every day
Jonas answered questions for the first part of class, then we did Push Hands. Bob and Joe worked with me. This was only the second time I've done this kind of Push Hands, listening practice. They were very patient with me.

Jonas says that next week we'll begin at the beginning, and that we'll do some Push Hands each week. He has recommended that Lorna and Bob teach the rest of us a particular form I can't recall the name of. And so we will all try to arrive early to learn this.

I'm glad that we'll be devoting time to Push— listening practice. I need to learn that, even if it means I won't live long enough to learn the whole of the form.

My theory about asphalt interacting with rubber to amplify and enhance verbal communications is holding true. Joe, Jonas and I were walking to our cars— a beautiful, mild night, with a brilliant moon— down Lorna's asphalt driveway to the asphalt street, and I mentioned that there will be an eclipse tomorrow night. We were all wearing rubber soled shoes. The next thing I knew, it was forty minutes later and we were having way too good a time talking about French and Indian War reenactments and Rangers and night raids on Lake George— and somebody flicked on a light and we suddenly realized we'd better call it a night before we got busted for disturbing the peace. It's really quite amazing. And one party can be sitting in a car. The rubber tires on the asphalt are just as good as rubber soled shoes on asphalt. Once a communication link is established it keeps the conversation wheel rolling regardless of the hour or the weather, until some outside agency jams a stick in the spokes.

27: Wednesday

I'm beating myself up again. It was the Push Hands. I keep remembering all the things I did wrong. Relax! You moved too soon! You moved too late! You didn't peng! You didn't liu! You didn't ji! You didn't an! You didn't— take your pick. I didn't. But then, I don't know how. *sigh*

Thank goodness they're all more patient with me than I am. (But please let me learn fast before that patience wears out!)

It's an absolutely gorgeous night. Clear and mild. The Hunter's Moon is just now emerging from earth's shadow. I wish I wasn't too tired to practice.

28: Thursday

Some Chen. It's a beautiful day. I wish the porch was deeper: when I get to the spin I have to move back and reorient...

The question is, Am I learning anything?


Gorgeous day. The director was on vacation, so I completed my work and left.

Two solid sets of 24 Form in the brilliant late afternoon sun. The yellow of my maple is blinding— could I say the tree distracted me and allowed the snake to stagger badly coming out of his creep?

Some Chen... Joe! I finally did a set without thinking! Yay! And the sets after that were much improved. When my head isn't chattering at me, I'm much more relaxed. (Duh!)

The sun is sinking below the tree line. Only the tops of the trees are blazing bright with color where the climbing shadows have yet to suck the color from them... But it will be another brilliant moonlit night.


My kicks have gone all to heck. I don't know why.

Bunkai. Bruce worked with me and Laura. I suck at bunkai. But at least Bruce always remembers to find one thing you're doing right and compliment you on it. He said my double blocks were very good. (They were.)

29: Friday

It's bright enough to write in this moonlight, even with the haze. But it's not bright enough to read or to see the lines, however.

Sword Form through move eleven. Just enough figured out from the tape to keep ahead of Ma's class. I'm glad of the discipline of learning from the tape. Otherwise, I might never've known I could.

Chen. Relaxed and not thinking. I nearly broke my leg when my toe fetched up on a protruding nail as I was coming up to double lotus sweep. My short sequence goes quickly, but things come clearer each time.

Some stretching (so I can jump up and come down in a creep). A set of 24 Form. And now to Ma's to work on her Sword Form.

30: Saturday

Gray and rainy, but mild. A light breeze is bringing down the leaves, and I have to sweep before practicing.

Chen. I just let myself go. Not too fast; low where I could go low; just enjoying the movement... I didn't falter at Sleeves— no "dabbing."

I had the yin music on. A little melancholy, but it suits the mood of the day.

Sword Form through move eleven. What would a teacher tell me about this form? Can I figure it out for myself?

The shifty wind is still blowing mist and leaves onto the porch. I'll have to sweep again.

31: Sunday

Warm and sunny with a breeze. Excellent practice day.

Chen. I can only do so much and my left leg is nearly spent by the time I get to pounding the mortar. But that's okay. One set at a time, only as much as I can...


I took all my gear to Jo's. Chen in the meadow. I don't have to readjust, but the grass is slippery and the footing uneven: I have to work a little harder here... patience.

Sword Form to let my legs recover... a little 24 Form on the uneven ground.

Bo practice. I can't remember the twist strike in Chounokun... ah, well. At least my legs are now strong enough for the opening moves of Shima Ijiri Bo Ni.

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