Bo Practice © 2005 New Moon
Yin tien. Cool.
Kobudo. Me and Bruce cleaning up my bo katas. Shima ijiribo ichi and Chounokun... Stances are difficult to achieve and maintain on the mats and on the rug where we were practicing for me, anyway. My feet still stick to the mats, and hang up on the rug. I wish I could wear shoes.
We cleaned up a lot of things... The last block in Chounokun, for instance. I never did have the trick of that one. You have to go from a vertical side block in forward stance, then circle the bo to the outside, up and around, and bring it across to block anything coming low from the front. The mechanics of it are that you bring your upper hand down the bo when you begin the circle so it "shortens up" the bo for the floor sweep.
Karate. Bunkai for pinan shodan and Ananku. Much better. Eric showed me that the last move in Ananku where you hook your hand under your opponent's kick and strike the outstretched leg isn't a fist strike as I thought, but a downwards elbow strike. That makes much more sense.
Taiji at John's tonight. In the Garage Dojo.
I have a nice set of bruises. The exercise was a variation on the push hands routine: in this exercise it's a constant round of blocking and punching to a three count...
Opponent punches to your face. You intercept on the inside with your same-side hand. (Right punch, left intercept.) Then "catch" the opponent's fist with your opposite hand by coming up and across your hands now have his fist "caught" in the "v" your hands make. The intercept hand now slips over to control your opponent's elbow while your other hand punches at his face...
He intercepts the punch, "catches," controls, and punches
All the punching is done with the same hand.
Stay very relaxed in this exercise and you'll get to hear a satisfying slap-slap-slap... slap-slap-slap...
Now, when you sense an opening your choice of application. Shan beng di lie! Neat.
A very little Chen...
One set of 24 Form...
No time to practice after work, either, as Ma needs to go shopping.
Warm and breezy in the late afternoon. I left work a half-hour early take the time when you can!
Five nice, slow sets of 24 Form. Lots of qi. I think someday the Chen will be as relaxing, but that day is a way off.
Time to go. Karate tonight...
Kicking and bunkai. Bunkai for Ananku. One of these days I've got to figure out how to manage the throw...
Pushing practice not push hands. One person in kibadachi being pushed by the other from a good stance...
This is one of those odd exercises where you're not quite sure what you should be doing. In kibadachi, you resist being moved, but you must allow yourself to be moved is this so? Or should you be finding ways not to be moved? I've no idea.
As the pusher, of course, you get to practice pushing through the target, and letting the qi "connect" in the middle, from fingers and feet to tantien.
Warm, but there's a breeze from the south and east. Perhaps we'll have showers this afternoon... Cicadas are making a racket; squirrels are quiet for a change.
Some Chen. Slowly, lightly, feeling for the qi... better... better...
Stepping with my tea... backwards...
Slide your foot back and touch the toe tip to the boards, then slowly roll the rest of your foot down on the boards as if you were applying an adhesive label and trying not to get air bubbles in it...
Feel you toes splay out then begin to grip as the ball of your foot comes down...
Feel each of the "nail" point on the outside edge of your foot connect....
Feel the "bubbling well" open...
Feel your foot adhere to the boards...
Makes me wonder about forward stepping, though, where I'm touching the heel down first... interesting.
I've been thinking about those cross-wrist blocks we discussed at taiji last week, too. (Cross your wrists and block at the "v" they make.) They make some sense to me as a block to an overhead strike. Some. But you really wouldn't want to submit your forearm bones to that if you could help it, would you? Hmmmmm....
It's a beautiful day. Cooler, less humid. The sky's a bit hazy...
I'm going out to South Windsor, CT, for the Wushu tryouts. I won't get to see much, but there will be Master demonstrations tonight if I stay. (I probably will.) Don't know who else will be there. Jonas probably, and Joe. Bob maybe.
I think I'll take my bo.
Yesterday... I saw a lot of bad taiji. Some good, too. And some very good. But, mostly, very, very bad but this was the Wushu trials, after all.
Wushu. I don't understand what it is or what it's for, but I can tell you that some of the performers were boring to watch, and some were fascinating. Each routine I watched was different, but they all incorporated the same elements, so I'm thinking it's like gymnastics free floor exercises...
Actually, I got a book from the library: "Elements of Kung Fu: Wushu Training and Martial Arts Application Manual" by Liang and Wu. I haven't had a chance to read it yet. Lots of pictures. Applications. Looks like a good book.
Later. Warm and humid and very dark...
I practiced a little a very little earlier. A little Chen... a little Yang... pretending I was in the competition, trying to do better than the others trying to get inside the heads of the masters and out do them, too...
Now, a little more Chen. Yesterday, two of the masters performed excerpts from Xinjia Yilu. Their interpretations were pretty close. Two things they did differently from the way we do at the School of Indiscriminate Grappling: they strike opponent on both ears to the open side, and they have an interesting combination of hand movements that end in pounding...
I think I see now how they were working the hand movements... but I'll stick to my simple way...
I haven't got the knack of the kicks...
If I remember, I'll ask Jonas about these differences.
My section five needs a lot of work but I've got liu feng si bi worked out!
A set of 24 Form...
Warm, with a breeze...
Some Chen... yan shou hong quan (there will never be an end to yan shou hong quan)...
As I go through the moves, each time I prepare to pound the mortar I remember the demonstrations and my hands hesitate... perhaps I should satisfy curiosity? Later.
Section five... so many questions...
Dang tong bao going into jin gang dao zhui: after the double punch, "break" your wrists to the front, then roll back to center? or right leg? Press forward, left wrist leading, right fist pushing behind does the weight shift to the left here? or stay centered? Fajing! both hands forward, then bring them up and around to lu and an and then forwards to center now your weight is centered fajing! outward with both hands, then shun chan the right, ni chan the left and come up on your left leg preparing to pound.
I spent a lot of time between sections letting the breeze cool me down.
Going from que di long to shang bu qi xin I let myself sink very low and tried to remember the flying lessons, how it felt to shudder my opponent and toss him over my shoulders.
I've taken this week off from karate. I need the mental rest.
No taiji tonight. Jonas has to go to a premiere for his music video. Class is rescheduled for Thursday.
Jo's birthday. I stopped on my way home. Near sunset, Denis called to say there was a big hawk in the tree by the end of the drive. We went to look, but the hawk flew off towards the upper fields as soon as it saw us. We followed, heading up towards the barn, and as we got high enough to see into the paddock we caught sight of two young coyotes gobbling up mulberries. We edged close the coyotes were very hungry and watched them until it was getting too dark to see and the mosquitoes became a nuisance.
Sunny and warm, but not too humid... Too bad I didn't get up in time to do more than some stepping with my tea. *sigh* Some days are like this.
This afternoon, after my meeting, as I came back across the campus I stopped in the shade by the Dance Studio and did a set of 24 Form. It was cool and breezy there and I wished I could've stayed for more.
Taiji. We met at John's again. Just four of us, me and John, and Bob and Jonas, tonight in the Garage Dojo, in the heat. We were all sweating soaked even Jonas who hardly ever breaks a sweat when he's teaching. But we were all grappling tonight, grappling hard, and having a great time...
We're learning to move our feet, learning to stay light on them, and nimble. It's very interesting... I should explain the exercise we did, but I'm very tired and the words are already asleep...
I took the book "Elements of Kung Fu" with me. Jonas took a look at it and said the exercises in it seemed very good.
I mentioned the differences in the form I saw at the Master's demonstrations. Jonas just laughed. Eveidently doing the "boxing" to the "open" side isn't unusual. As to the "funky squid," we were all puzzled by that one.
Cooler today and less humid. But the haze is building...
Section five and lotus kicks... better... my lotus kicks are better... que di long... I don't have this quite right... yes, the weight shifts going into the last pounding...
Grappling last night: stand side by side, knees intertwined, each of you holding your partner's near arm stretched across your chest
Got interrupted there. Okay. You're intertwined like you're doing some kind of tandem figure skating routine. Now you've got to move your feet, gain an advantage, create an opening for an application or defend against one!
You have to listen to your partner... you have to respond quickly...
It's a goofy exercise to watch swapping feet around, knee presses, trying to "capture" a leg between ankle and shin and an interesting one to experience. Sometimes I "knew" what to do; sometimes (most times!) not.
Y'know, those "competitions" last Saturday bug me. Not the real ones, the ones that were put on as a sop to the amateurs. The divisions by age and sex and length of experience make it impossible to determine any sense of ranking one might lay claim to within the taiji community as a whole. Who cares how you rank among the men / women, over / under the age of 46 [why 46?] who've been practicing for less than / more than five years? I'd much rather know where I rank within the group of competitors as a whole. Who wants to "win" a gold medal by virtue of being the only one in the "division?" Nuts to that, I say.
A thought: I've been studying with Jonas for a year now. Every lesson has taken me forward. How can I ever be sufficiently grateful for this gift?
Hot and humid, but with a breeze.
Some 24 Form...
Hot and humid. I am soaked. They sky is overcast and we had a small thundershower a while ago, but it didn't change anything.
Some 24 Form...
I'm not pleased with my coordination in Grasp Peacock's Tail. The press doesn't feel right...
Snake Creeps Down... I've finally arrived at a point where I can work on this constructively! Now I can choose how I sink, how my foot slides out, how I turn my foot, and how I come up I have options!
It makes me wonder what other options are waiting for me up ahead.
I've been thinking seriously about quitting the dojo. I'm tired of feeling as if I'm fighting to be understood. I like the exercise I get, and I want to learn kobudo, but...
I saw at the Wushu trials that there are taiji weapons of the same sort to be learned. They're not all flash and foolishness as I had been given to believe...
I don't know. The new kobudo schedule will make Thursdays difficult...
I don't know.
Nasty storm. Lightning all around. The power's out now. I've got the candles lit. I checked with Ma and she's okay for the moment. It's pouring rain...
So much grief today. Taiji dreams this morning, but not comforting. And I awoke afraid...
I know it's stupid to let everything get to me, but I feel so hopeless. I'm convinced I'm too old...
Today it's 30º cooler than yesterday. 66º, but the humidity remains in spite of all the rain: it's a gray, uncomfortable day.
Stepping with my tea... my left leg still wobbles from time to time...
Some Chen... staying light on my feet...
Karate tonight was non-stop. People were still on the floor doing their 40 situps when Sensei called for niahanshi shodan. Luckily for me I'd finished and was on my feet. (Who says I'm too old?)
It was a big class they're combined now because of the new schedule so we had more than twenty, blue through black.
Kata and bunkai...
Meditation. Sensei has made the classes longer to accommodate a few minutes of serious meditation at the end every class. We did 10 minutes of zazen. I was hard put to unbend my knees afterward, but it was nice to rest my mind. I should do it more often during the day.
Beautiful day a nice change.
Only a bit of practice this morning. A little Chen...
Well. I've lost my sense of being connected to the source not that I'm entirely sure I ever had it at this point. *sigh* It all has to do with... expectations, I guess. I want more than I'm getting, and people who do that are never satisfied.
Dangerous tonight at the School of Grappling. Jonas was demonstrating an application on Lorna and she went flying backwards. Her form was good: she landed on her butt just fine, hands down breaking the impact. She'd've been okay if she hadn't slid and fetched up against the generator and had her head snap back onto it. Ouch! She didn't make a big deal out of it, but Jonas felt terrible.
A little later Joe tried the same application on Jonas and sent him flying in exactly the same way. But he had a clear field and when he landed on his ass he just slid a few feet and came to a halt whence he just flipped himself back up onto his feet neat as you please. (That's the next thing I'm going to learn to do.)
San huan zhang, zhou di chui... tomorrow.
San huan zhong... zhou di chui...
Change palms three times. You're on your right foot, left foot empty behind at the left forty-five, hands pressing (tui) to your right forty-five, the space between your hands centered over your knee...
Now you "close." Your hands shun chan until they're palm up, left hand forward and right middle finger pointing at left writs. (Don't let your elbows drop!) As you turn your hands, feel your body "closing" in, as if loading a spring but don't collapse your chest. At the same time, "close" your left leg towards the right to trap an opponent's leg between your knees...
From this closed position you open up. Your left hand pulls downwards forming a squid while the right ni chans over to turn palm down; then the squid begins swimming to the left, tentacles driving the hand so it looks like the wrist is leading, circling around the elbow, while the right hand begins to arc forwards and downwards in shun chan to trap a grab from the front...
The squid swimming left signals the opening of your body. Your elbows and pinned in palce of course! so your hands "squid" and "flat" are circling around those points. The squid goes left, then circles upwards; the right shun chans out over and downwards. When they are at high and low points, your body will be "open" to the left forty-five...
Now the squid hand opens as it strikes towards the right forty-five and the right hand comes back bringing the dragon's mouth to the left elbow, as the body "closes" again.
Later: Me and the moon in the cool night...
Some Chen... sometimes you wonder why you bother practicing at all...
Sai and tonfa. I feel as if my memory is playing tricks tonight...
No mater what I practice, I feel as if I can't get it together.
I pulled a muscle in my lower back/hip trying to figure out Matayoshi no Sai... something isn't right...
Why is my hip bothering me from this? There aren't any stretches or extensions.
Before class, I asked Kevin about Matayoshi no Sai. I had dropped out the third side swipe! Honestly, I wonder about my brain sometimes. I would've sworn there were only two swipes. *sigh*
But I learned something else, too. Kevin pointed out that I do the turn differently. I charge in and he pulls back. We talked about it for a minute and decided both are probably correct depending on the circumstances. (At last I'm developing some "martial brains"!)
Another non-stop class. Lots of kata, lots of bunkai. I worked on cleaning up my high blocks.
After class, Kim came to see me. She told me that I was being invited to test for rank in kobudo...
Guess I'll have to do it. There's no refusing an invitation.
The moon is full, but not bright. There's a haze absorbing the light.
A little Chen... I can't seem to find the qi...
I'm very tired. I feel very... scattered. Maybe sleep would be best.
Hazy and warming up...
Leg exercises are getting easier... left leg needs building up... I'm nowhere near doing the Wushu exercises yet.
I feel exhausted. I haven't been sleeping well. My minds needs rest...
Six sets of 24 Form, left and right...
My gosh! Those sets felt strange! The coordination was there, but it was... different... odd.
I'm going to take a nap.
No practice. A very bad day.
Some Chen, some 24 Form...
Today I can't tell if I've made any progress. I feel stuck...
... and yet, I no longer tense up when creeping.
I didn't go to karate tonight. My hip/back muscle was bothering me and... I'm exhausted. I needed the time off.
Taiji. Zhou di chui, fist under elbow. Jonas finally did come to the end of it. We're always amazed at how long we spend on the moves, but that's because the time is filled with information and it goes quickly.
Before class we did some pushing, and then Jonas gave us a refresher on da lu. There's a lot to remember in this simple exercise...
Jonas kept mentioning bagi throughout class. Because bagi, it seems, is all about tīng, listening.
On the way home last night, I realized it's time for me to leave the dojo. Taiji is where I want to be.
This morning, the decision remains. I hope it's the right one.
I feel very physically stupid today... I'm probably thinking too much, but last night I had the impression Jonas was giving me a short shrift in the instruction... Maybe it's just easier for him to work with the guys... or maybe it's because he feels he's trying to sow unfertile ground with me, and therefore wasting his time...
And sometimes I think he is.
I should start writing in Chinese. Days and numbers and months should be easy enough: ar shi wu... ar ling ling wu. It occurs to me I don't know the days and months yet, but that's easy to remedy.
I'm at the dentist with Ma now. Before we left, I did some stepping with my tea, and three sets of 24 Form. It was the first quiet morning in weeks...
I called and left a message for Sensei that I' won't be in class and that I think I'll be leaving the dojo at the end of the month "for a while, at least," I said. I said I'd stop in Monday to talk to him about it.
Stepping. When I step backwards, I feel my toes splay out to grip, and my fingers splay out, too. They can't seem to help but do so. Interesting.
I was particularly noticing my coordination today. Tuesday's class was all about coordination heck, it there anything in taiji that isn't about coordination? Anyway, I was noticing.
Da lu. You and your partner are working the pattern: peng, lu, ji, an...
Shan beng di lie! You feel it begin: a mere touch on your elbow, a grip on your hand, and like lightning, letting your fingers lead, your hand strikes towards your opponent's groin as you step in...
He counters by trying to lu and apply shun chan to your elbow, but your stance is balanced and you "break" his hold by drawing your hand out fingers leading which bends your elbow and stops his shun chan...
But he's quick, and he ji's your hand, pressing, bending your wrist, pushing and stepping in
But you are quick, too. You move back, and before he feels he's lost control, you ji him to a halt and tui or an him on his way.
Every move must coordinate. When you first step in to strike, your hand and foot must arrive together, and your stance must be balanced.
When you withdraw, you must remain balanced again, ready to support the ji at whatever point it must be invoked. And if you can ji while your opponent is on one foot well.
The day reminded me of "Morning Song of Senlin" by Aiken, with the dew dripping and the bird calling and the knowledge that the whole universe is beneath my feet in constant motion...
"It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
What an imaginative and... inspiring poem "Senlin" is... "Is Senlin the wood we walk in, ourselves, the world?" Aiken asks in "Senlin: A Biography." Senlin is Mandarin for forest. Did Aiken know that? I didn't until I started learning Mandarin.
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
stand before a glass and tie my tie."
"Vine leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chips in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones."
"... It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more.
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight
Crash on a white sand shore.
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair:
How small and white my face!--
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air
And bathes in a flame of space.
There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea . . .
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me . . .
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, I tie my tie..."
I am home. Quiet for a change.
Some Chen... not enough. It's hard to break all the old unworkable physical connections and relearn the moves correctly. But I'm getting there.
Beautiful cool, sunny day. Quiet, too. Just a few red squirrels and some cicadas...
24 Form... I put the timer on. My sets run just short of six minutes.
I'm still working on coordination... I'm still finding ways to apply what I've learned from Jonas this past year.
Some Chen... Being careful to correctly execute the elbow strike in liu feng si bi...
There will never be an end to yan shou hong quan.
Zhou di chui... the fajing! thumb strike to the philtrum is going to take some work.
Beautiful day. Quiet now, too...
Deep stepping: step forward as far as you can and sink down until your trailing knee touches the boards and the leg is stretched nicely; then use your front let to lift into the next step...
Now shorten the steps up so that when the trailing knee is on the boards, the front leg is forming a perfect right angle. Try to step without letting your body rise...
How do your legs feel now? Mine are a bit wobbly. Be sure you don't overdo this exercise; overdoing will only set you back.
Three sets of 24 Form. I am not coordinating my step with my strike in Fair Lady especially this is noticeable on the second one where there's a half step forwards...
This coordination is exactly what we were working on Tuesday when practicing da lu. Without the support of the foot, no push or strike can work properly, then all you can hope for is that you are balanced well enough to make a recovery.
There's still room for improvement in creeping...
I have a headache. I've been creating a slide show of Jo's last bow building workshop.
It's still beautiful out. Quiet.
Better. But why is it so difficult to get any height out of the jumping turn that takes you into yan shou hong quan?
I've got better coordination in liu feng si bi and I've been keeping my weight left when pounding, so that works better...
The thumb strike actually felt as if it worked as a strike. Yay!
My legs are tired now, but I'm making a little progress every day.
I need a shower and something to eat.
The hot and humid is moving in again and the day is gray and annoying.
One run through section one; I'm heavy as lead. Ugh! I give up for now.
Think I'll go practice my Chinese.
Warm, but not unbearable.
One set of 24 Form...
Why are lotus kicks so difficult? My knees and elbows can't stay out of each other's ways...
Not much practice today, but in each set I try to do better than in the last. What more can one do?
I took my leave of Sensei tonight. He was very supportive. He travels three hours one way to study zen with his master now, so we understand each other in this... dedication to learning what our hearts dictate we learn.
We talked for a while, as we did when I first started at the dojo. I like him, and I think we are much alike. I love taiji the same way he loves karate.
He wished me well in my taiji studies. And he said I would always be welcome at the dojo and he meant it. I'm glad of that.
Rain. Cool enough.
I have no idea how long I stood, but I felt as if my whole body was jiggling. Not enough for someone to see, but just enough that I could feel it.
Have I cut my own throat in leaving the dojo? Was the brief euphoria caused by blood loss? Maybe so.
Today my whole life seems a mess.
Before class, Joe was showing Scott how to achieve the low stance in blue dragon. There are a couple of exercises he does. Squat down on your heels as low as you can, and then scootch one foot out a bit at a time until you've got it all the way out, knee up and bent, and you don't fall over. The other exercise Joe does is a continuous snake creep right along the floor: left, right, left, right... unbelievable. I'm going to have to add these to my practice.
We began on dao juan heng. Joe, Lorna and Bob had all been thinking about his move all week; and tonight when they began comparing notes they found they each did it slightly differently. When Jonas showed up, they told him they had three different methods, so he lined them all up and had them demonstrate one at a time, while Scott and I observed. When they were done, Jonas asked me to try to figure out what the move ought to be, and, for a wonder, my "martial brain" kicked in and I came very close to getting the move right! Yay!
One thing though: for the first time, I was plagued by Karate Foot. When I kicked my foot back, I kept trying to keep it pointing straight ahead, and that locked up my hips. I had to laugh.
Hot and muggy, and I couldn't get it together. No practice.
Copyright © 2005 New Moon
Last night, Scott asked about the fajing! that leads into pounding, which let to other questions bout other fajing! moves, and I started enumerating them, thinking there were only five or six different ones. But then Joe chimed in and well, there are more fajing! moves than I realized:
into single whip
And that's only going as far as fist under elbow. If you add the rest... well.
after single whip
strike on both ears
monkey strike (into wading)
"drilling" into yan shou hong quan
strike with tiger fist
squid rebound from tiger fist
"taffy pull" leading to pie shen chui
pie shen chui crossed wrists
pie shen chui
tiger claw grab
push with crossed wrists
change palms three times strike
I keep thinking there must be some way to note down these moves.
Anyway, I had no idea how much fajing! was going on. It's quite amazing.
Zhou di chui (fist under elbow) into dao juan heng (step back and whirl arms on both sides)...
Trying to explain all this is making me crazy. I'm going to sleep. Maybe tomorrow it will be clearer.
By the way: Jonas is going to teach us miao dao. Yay!