feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
This is the camp in China I posted about yesterday.

Seminar

25 Aug 2012 07:45 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
So, my taijiquan school hosted a pair of masters from China (one is Chinese, the other is English, but she lives in Shanghai and translates for him). One of my kung fu brothers studied with them while he was in China, so he organized the thing. (Master Wang and Master Rose were traveling in the UK, then Canada, then here.)

It was cool. There was a lot of lecture and some practice, but I learned a couple new ways of looking at things for push hands.

They had a little flyer for a camp they're doing the end of next November in Shanghai. Tuition is $2400 (for 9 days of training and some sightseeing, including room and board). Airfare will probably be around $1200, then there's the matter of a visa (fees, idk, $150?) So, like, close to $4000 all told. I don't have that sort of money.

Of course, I also have health issues, and I don't know how much sleep I'd be able to get. Breakfast is at 7, and there's classes until 9:30 (with multiple rest periods, so I could nap then maybe). Then there's the thing where I don't eat meat and I can't have caffeine. In Japan, I got by with telling people "Buddhist vegetarian," since to them no meat means there may be fish or pork or chicken in it :/ (The term is shokudou ryouri.) I don't know if they can accommodate that.

I do have contact information, and I can ask Master Rose these questions. The low sleep triggers migraines thing kind of sucks. I also like being able to eat.

So anyway. If they can accommodate my food restrictions and health issues, I'd probably try to find a way to get four grand. A friend of mine had success with indiegogo for tuition for a prestigious Shakespeare school; I don't know if I know enough people who'd do that to help (or what goodies I could award). I could probably ask Dr Jay if he could spread the word throughout the school or help me fundraise somehow.

But Ben was like "I wanna go too," not that he'd train; there's an option for going as a partner for $1600 (plus airfare). :P So then it's more like $7000. Gah.

I dunno, what do y'all think?

Tai chi

8 May 2011 08:17 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I haven't written about tai chi in quite some time. Probably because it doesn't really interest people, but I like it, so I'm gonna write about it.

I dropped weapons class in the end of March and went back to the Chen class at Ninth Street Dance. I want to get my yellow sash this year, so I figured reacquainting myself with the principles of Chen style and combining them with what I learned in weapons class would be good.

I also started going to Nina's Tuesday night class in Efland, since I quit COUP, and Tuesday nights are free now. That only goes a few more weeks until it hiates for summer.

There's a push hands seminar at Lao Ma's the 21st, and I'm attending that. It's only $40 for almost 4 hours. It's down in Pittsboro, about 40 minutes from my house. It should be interesting, fun, and hopefully give me some further insight into my form.

I should really spend time on writing up the forms I know as notes: stance, direction, application(s), transitions. I did that with the san shou the last time I took that (2 years ago), and, if pressed, I could probably recreate it from my notes.

I'm an intuitive learner (not in the MBTI sense, though). I either understand something, or I don't, and I don't think further about it. I learn the postures and forms, and I do them. I can incorporate things like whole body movement and focus on that, but I don't generally go into, OK, this is a strike to the torso, this is a dodge. Sometimes it's kind of obvious.

I just take everything and put it in my head, and it sorts it out. I don't know how it works. If I'm going to get the yellow sash, I'm going to need to be able to explicate things. I think you can see the problem here.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
1. Saturday, a few friends and I went on the Big Boss Brewery's tour for my birthday. It was extremely popular, but the weather was nice - 70 degrees or so - so after it was over, there was a big open-air festival almost in their parking lot. There were two food trucks (OnlyBurger (the veggie burger was pretty good, but the fries were meh) and KoKyuBBQ (Ben enjoyed the duck bratwurst sandwich and tater tots fried in duck fat)).

I tried their new Dunkelweizen, D'Icer, and it was pretty good. It wasn't Weihenstephaner or anything, but it was drinkable. (Speaking of Dunkelweizen, I tried New Belgium's in their Lips of Faith series; it was black as Coke and about half as sweet.)

After digesting the beers and food, Ben and I went out to Sage for dinner, where I boringly got the fesen joon. The jokey waiter must have cut his hair since New Year's, because I didn't recognize him until he started talking.

2. I haven't gotten anything productive done on my writing in a while. I fixed the plot issue I think; I still need to propagate some of the changes, but I can do that while I'm doing the hardest part of the revision process: getting into the characters' heads and adding descriptions. What do they see/hear/smell/feel/etc? What can I say other than "he narrowed his eyes" (eg)?

3. SCHEISST EUCH IN DIE HOSEN, WIR STEHEN GANZ AM OBEN, UND WIR STEIGEN WIEDER AUF. HIER KOMMT HERTHA! Yesterday's match pitted the best offense (us) against the best defense (F├╝rth), and we got a 2:0 win out of it, extending our lead over our next competitor to 4 points. Unless we lose the rest of our matches (which is, of course, technically possible, but not terribly likely), we'll get promoted back to the first league. HA HO HE!

4. I got the results from my bloodwork last week. I'm currently overmedicated for my thyroid, so I get to take half the Cytomel for a while and see what happens. (My TSH was undetectable, and my T3 was above normal limits, but T4 was fine.) Hopefully this won't lead to a return of The Nausea. Inability to concentrate is one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, so that helps explain #2.

5. Reading one of the free books I got, Darkship Thieves. I'm not very far into it yet, but so far, our heroine has ripped her nightshirt in half to stop the men attempting to abduct her in their tracks and commented on how she knows the man whose spaceship she ends up in is a "real man" (I paraphrase) because he responds to the sight of her breasts. Said real man (who's got cat's eyes, which is actually kind of nifty tech) is from an anarcho-individualist culture (barf), and on p 87, there's this bit about "those wacky 21st century folks, thinking there aren't really gender differences in brains" which made me want to hurl the book across the room.

Frustratingly, Persecution of the Other (and the people the cat-guy is descended from are basically bioengineered to be smarter/faster/stronger/fit better in X situation and were, of course, persecuted and wiped out on Earth, except those who fled) is very frequently a liberal/progressive motif, where The Other stands in for queers or racial/ethnic minorities or other real-life disprivileged groups. I don't get the impression Ms Hoyt has any truck with that librul pansy nonsense.

At least I didn't pay money for it. (I did buy Mark Van Name's omnibus Jump Gate Twist, and I feel OK about that, because Mark admits to being Baen's token liberal. Also, it features a beefcake/emo shot of Jon on the cover.)

6. Still taking tai chi. I'm taking a break from weapons to go back to Dr Jay's 9th Street Dance Chen class for the current session. I can't take both, because they meet at the same time. I may go back to weapons over summer, because it doesn't look like he's teaching Chen over summer. (I could be wrong; it happens on occasion.) I'm also taking Nina's Tuesday evening class, which may ALSO be going on hiatus over summer.

So I'm going to have to self-motivate if I want to get my yellow sash this year. I'm awful at that.

7. Cats are evil.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
The annual <a href="http://magictortoise.com</a>Magic Tortoise Taijiquan</a> School's Lunar New Year party is Saturday, Feb 5, from 5:30-7:30 pm. If you're local and want to join us, it'll be a fun time, with potluck food, prize drawings, and demonstrations of taiji. I'll be up there doing at least several somethings, but I don't know what. Let me know if you're interested!
feuervogel: (heart's desire)
In order to reach the goals I've made (see yesterday's post), I'm going to get all organized and shit.

Step 1: Acquire planner. I had a planner once, back when I was in pharmacy school, but I have no idea where it ended up. I searched the most obvious places, but I couldn't find it. I may have gotten rid of it. So I'll run down to the last independent office supply store in the area (possibly even the state) and browse his wares. I remember when Office Supplies & More lived in downtown Chapel Hill, but I'm sure the rent at Timberlyne is less ridiculous.

Step 2: DIY Planner (.com). I assume a planner I'd buy would include the inserts, but I like some of the optional ones at this website. They have a creativity pack, which has things like story ideas and submission trackers, and I like some of the pages included in the core pack. I'd like to print them double-sided to a) save paper and b) make it easier to turn pages without double-sided tape.

You're probably asking why I need a planner; if I have dates and lists and deadlines, I have a framework. I've tried digital organizing, and it doesn't work. Not for me. I don't check my GCal every day. Though I'm not sure I'd check a planner every day either; but if I have physical things on my desk (another thing what needs decluttering again) and lists I can manually tickybox, it can help. I know GCal has a to-do list function; see above re not looking at it. And if I do, it's on my phone, which doesn't support Tasks.

Step 3: Use planner. Set deadlines for revisions, outlines, learning taiji things, etc.




I've come up with one even remotely feasible idea for moving to Berlin eventually, and I'm going to have to be really fucking organized to do it: Become a taiji instructor. That's far more portable than pharmacy, if far less lucrative.

I've tried looking into what I'd have to do to become an Apothekerin, and it seems that I'd have to do something like 1500 hours (1 year) of internship/apprenticeship (Ausbildung) and sit the license exams. I ... have zero desire to go through that shit again. And it strikes me that getting a work visa as a pharmacist, when surely there are pharmacy grads in Germany, would be rather difficult.

According to my school's website, I just have to have been studying for five years and have the sponsorship (approval?) of one of the main teachers. Searching my old entries indicates that I started at MTT by March 26, 2007. So I've been there four years now. Or soon. Cool.

For yellow sash, I need to find the first taiji classic attributed to ZSF. It might be in Master Jou's book, which is still on my shelf, partly read. I also have to learn a whole bunch of theory stuff. As far as the actual taiji part is concerned, it'll be posture, whole body movement, and energy, as well as flow and smoothness (ie, no pausing at the end of each posture.)




So in my planner, along with the writing goals (and gardening and house cleaning), I'll be making tai chi notes. One of the DIY Planner kits included an exercise tracker, and I can easily repurpose that to keep myself honest for taiji practice.

Resolving

1 Jan 2011 07:12 pm
feuervogel: (crowley eternity)
It's that time of year when we make ourselves feel virtuous by saying we'll give up bad habits, or do a list of things. I'll break mine down by category.

Writing
- Finish revisions on Valkyrie One
- Prepare and send my VP application
- Completely revise Iron and Rust
- Outline next novel

Taiji
- Practice something every day
- Test for yellow sash (either end of 2011 or Metal Rabbit)

Fitness
- Keep going to Pilates at least once a week
- Add back the elliptical at least once a week

Life & home
- Fix the front yard
- Clean up the mess in front of my bookshelves
- Sell books & fancrap I don't need
- DECLUTTER
- Organize the sewing room (I'm scared to go in)
- Come up with a plan for moving to Berlin in 10-15 years
- Convince Ben this isn't a harebrained scheme
- Drink more Scotch

Work
- Get paid for something (there's not much on any temp/per diem/travel on any of the 3 agencies I know of that operate in NC. And I can't work outside NC, legally.)

I ought to sit down with paper and make detailed notes for how I want to accomplish some of these things (like yellow sash), because they're rather vague, and vague doesn't help me get shit done.
feuervogel: (smiling Zuzu)
So, [livejournal.com profile] skogkatt was passing through on her way back north from Florida, and Ben mentioned that the Varsity was showing the new Karate Kid movie for $3 this past week, and we went to see it.

It wasn't bad! I'd heard it was pretty good, and I wasn't disappointed. The plot wasn't 100% identical to the 80s version (thankfully), but there were obvious homages to it (the fly scene, for example). The kids could actually act. (I'm leaving aside the "kung fu is not karate" thing. It's been discussed extensively elseweb.)

Yes, of course, it's unrealistic for anyone to learn kung fu well enough to win a tournament in a month. But Dre was determined and trained a lot, and hard work paid off. My main complaint was that there wasn't enough Jackie Chan kung fu action ;)

As always, watching kung fu movies makes me want to do kung fu. I get all inspired and stuff. So now, despite being sore from yesterday's Pilates class, I'm going to go get my Chen long form on and see how much I've forgotten, since I haven't practiced in a month. I miss Wednesday night Chen class, but it meets at the same time as weapons, which I also really like. True, there's a Thursday weapons class, but it's in Pittsboro (45 minutes away) and starts later. I could do both, and if I want to test for yellow in Metal Rabbit, I'm going to have to start going back to Chen class.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
So, at the san shou workshop, there was this one guy, E, who has a lot of jobs (teaching middle school, personal trainer, kung fu instructor, chef; he was also a cook in the Air Force for a while). During one of our breaks on Sunday, he was practicing one of his other forms. I watched it and thought, "hmm, I bet he's doing praying mantis."

Kathleen asked, when he finished, "What style was that?" He answered, "Mantis style."

How did I know that? Avatar. Toph's style of earthbending is based on a praying mantis style. (Hers is special; regular earthbending is based in hung gar.)

While waterbending is based on taiji, the style I do is a little closer to shaolin (firebending). Zhang San Feng (the inventor of taiji, according to tradition) studied shaolin, see, and the Chen style is closer to the source, in a way. I can't remember what I did with my notes for red sash about the history of Master Jou's form. I hope I stuck them in the book.

I put too much Chen into my weapons forms. Though really, Chen dao ought to have more Chen in it. (By which I mean chansijin, mostly. I noticed myself putting chansi in the bow of sanshou. I need to find the chansi in Chen dao. More practice!)

Right, then. I need to buy coffee (there was a NO COFFEE EMERGENCY in the house this morning) and see if the wood-handled crochet hooks have come in at the yarn shop yet. I want to get a walk in, probably after lunch, then another couple hours of editing. I'm going out to dinner tonight. *g*

So. Dead.

7 Mar 2010 06:02 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I wanna go do it again. I'm sad that I'll be unable to do the 4-day intensive in May, but not sad that I'm gonna be in Berlin instead. (There's a 4-day intensive in CT in August, though, which is tempting.)

I need to collapse a bit. I'm somewhere between totally wired (from being around people for 2 solid days, and also these people being taiji people, which is just amazingly awesome) and exhausted. My brain could keep going, but my body's like, girl, stfu. So I'll probably spend the evening crocheting (or triaging the 300+ posts in my RSS aggregator. Gah.)

Also looking for a roommate or two for the USKSF tournament in July in Baltimore. Asked Dr Jay if anyone from the school was going, and he didn't know. I'd like to go to spectate, not compete, just to see what goes on and watch some martial arts.

I have thoughts to think about my learning style and how it affects my kung fu, but I'll save those for when I can brain properly.

Sweet.

5 Mar 2010 09:17 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
So, I emailed K about my pay stubs (which were ... less than they should have been in some case, by like 15 minutes, but I got mileage, which I wasn't expecting. This is where I admit I hadn't looked at them since, uh, the end of January. Money goes into my bank account, it's all good.) and asked if she had anyone to cover next week.

I had a chance to check email on my phone (I love having internet on my phone like you wouldn't believe), and she'd written back, letting me know that she had every day covered except Thursday. I said I could do it, and here we are. She was worried that I hated it and was miserable there; far from it! I told her no, I like the work and the people, but I need time to get my novel edited and get ready for Germany, and if they need RPh vacation coverage and I'm available, let me know. (She knows I write; I explained that when I was hired.) So it's all good, huzzah.

This means I don't have to spend this weekend starting on house cleaning for the party, since I'll be home during the week (except Thursday). And that means I'm going to the 2-day san shou workshop. Unfortunately the first day, the long day, is in a crappy cement-floor building. But it's by Locopops and Phydeaux, and I guess I can get lunch at Whole Foods, though I'd rather not. It's kinda expensive. But I don't have anything to take with me, either. And going to the Mexican restaurant sounds like a bad idea. I'm sure people will figure something out. Last year I went home for dinner and took a nap, but it was much closer to home.

My life! I can have it back! Now I'm not overextended! Just sort of normally overbooked, I guess. I wouldn't be me if I weren't. That's where the J aspect comes in very handy.

Speaking of handy*, the SIM card I ordered for Europe arrived today. I can try to get AT&T to unlock my Razr tomorrow, since I'll be around the corner. And I missed delivery for a box of Turkish books and media from [personal profile] jerakeen, but I'll send Ben to pick it up tomorrow morning (though it may be out for redelivery anyway.) AND my new Fluevogs have left LA, traveling via UPS ground. I don't think I'll have them by my birthday.

*It's the German word for cell phone.

OK, now I'm gonna play with my new SIM card. It's got some fancy US/UK stuff I need to figure out.

Meh.

28 Feb 2010 05:55 pm
feuervogel: (writing)
So, I finished the first pass thingy. Have some notes and some highlighted bits, which I'll begin tackling on Tuesday. I need to Get This Shit Done by the end of March, which is already a month past the initial date I wanted to have it finished (thanks to this contract, which had better fucking end this week or Imma go postal.)

If it isn't too late to register (I just emailed Dr Jay about it) I'm probably taking the san shou intensive next weekend. I won't be able to make the 4-day intensive, because I'll be in Berlin. Seriously, tai chi intensives are NUTS and awesome. By the end of the 4-day last year, my head was so spinny I could barely think. But I learned the proper stance to knock people over with the back of my arm, which is cool.

("my head was so spinny I could barely think" hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement, eh? But it rocked!)

Which reminds me, I need to ask Britt if she's going to the Baltimore tournament and see if she wants to share a room. And see if there's any sort of gopher-age needed to cut my fees. (I haven't gotten my form to the point where it looks like taiji yet. That's on my to-do list for the upcoming year. Perhaps the first 100 days of metal rabbit I'll get intense and go for yellow sash. Ought to start doing prep work in fall, then.)

Oh, hey, it's 6:00. Ought to get some dinner.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
Last night was the Magic Tortoise Taijiquan school's annual new year potluck with demonstrations. I was in 4 of them. (If I remembered crap about san shou, I would have grabbed a partner and done that, too.)

James and Dan led an abbreviated Chen style, which I learned at the Friday morning Chen practice (which, dammit, I'm going to attend every week I can.) The Chen style repeats so much that it's fairly easy to say, "OK, after the first single whip, go into cloud hands, then switch feet and hidden hand punch, rising dragon stretches claws into death ground on one side only, then from the press into black dragon serves tea, single whip then dragon enters its lair (aka snake creeps down) to the ending."

Then it was the stick/dao demo. LaoMa learned it from TT Liang, who based it on a praying mantis weapon form. That went fairly well, though Violet led faster than I'm used to.

Fan demo was... well, Violet dropped her fan, I had trouble balancing for the one-legged lean forward part, then I dropped my fan, and Mrs Ma dropped hers. Fans are the easiest weapon to drop, since you flip them open a lot, and if you're nervous (and your hands are sweating), it can fly right out of there. But we had fun, and people were impressed *anyway*. So.

Right after fan, I had to lead Chen dao, since Chen is my main style and LaoMa wanted me to. He introduced it as something he'd learned and liked to teach to Chen stylists. It was surprisingly unstressful! I'm not used to practicing with music, and when we did it in class, it threw me off, but I managed to ignore the music, and did my pace, and it was fine. Dr Jay told me I looked good, so that's cool.

(Other demos included Wudangshan, Wu Hao, Yang, tangquan, baguajian, cane, and tassel sword. Plus san shou, as mentioned above.)

Today's to-do list:
-laundry
-Isis poking
-help Ben take the last set of lights down
-finish line edit on [personal profile] yhibiki's story (on p 5 of 22...)
-go for a walk and enjoy the weather
-take Isis for a walk
-register for ReaderCon and Anson Co writers workshop

-register for women's health symposium (and 6 hrs of CE credit)

That's probably enough, since the line edit is going to take most of the day. This nice, sunny, 60-degree day. ;_;

Taiji

8 Oct 2009 09:45 am
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I haven't posted about taiji in a while! I've been taking weapons class since the end of March or beginning of April with LaoMa. LaoMa is an ex-Marine, and he was stationed in Okinawa (2Div). He's got a tattoo of the Marine division logo with a torii gate superimposed on his left deltoid. He's a very interesting guy; he studied in China for several years at Wudang Mountain, with Ding Yeye, and he was in Taiwan (I think?) for a bit. He teaches Wudangshan style, push hands, and weapons, as well as weekend calligraphy workshops.

The first thing LaoMa has you learn is a modified stick/broadsword form that one of his teachers (the one in/from Taiwan) made up, based on ... something else. He mentioned it in class the other week, but I can't remember what he said it was based on. Yang style something. It's a good introduction to the idea of weapons, and it helps you get used to holding a 3-foot-long stick in your hand.

I learned all of that in about 6 weeks, then I moved on to Chen broadsword. He suggested it based on my history of studying Chen open hand, because they share some similar qualities. I like it because it's short and violent. It's very up close and personal: the extended postures (sword thrusts) aren't like in fencing, where you're poking your opponent who's standing at the end of your blade. You're running somebody who's within arm's length through. I like that. I learned the choreography in a month or so, then spent the next month on refinements. It's still not perfect, but it's more things I need to work on at home than things I can do in class.

Since the end of August, I've been learning fan. I can't find a YouTube video that matches the one I'm learning. There are a LOT of styles of fan! I'm 3/4 of the way through I think? It's fun, and I like it, though I broke the flange off the end of the pin holding the ribs together, so I need to order a new one and *not* drop it on cement. -__- It still works, but I have this fear that it could fall apart at any minute.

I don't know what I'm going to learn next. Maybe bagua sword? Something with a jian, I think, since that's something I haven't done yet. He also teaches bien and tassel sword, but those (especially tassel) are for more advanced students. He also teaches walking cane, which is kind of awesome, but not really my style. It's very theatrical. LaoMa performs his routine at the New Year's celebration, and he includes a little shopping bag with handles as a prop.

I need to spend some time reading the philosophy/principles stuff and working on Chen open hand, and incorporating some of the things I've learned in weapons class. I'm really lazy about intention, for example, but with a weapon, you kind of HAVE TO have intention. So I should pick a section in Chen 108 and work on intention there, and keep doing that until I get through the whole thing. That'll be a while...
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
- Valkyria Chronicles: Yes, they totally went there. It's kinda awesome.

- Liminality and Liminal beings

- Space opera is full of white dudes. Still.

- San shou is awesome, and it's making me see where I'm lazy in my practice.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
[community profile] taichi

But I don't think most folks here are interested in that. Naja.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
So. Stick form. Which is basically the dao broadsword form, but with something not-sharp to start. Less dangerous. (I whacked myself in the head last night. Not very hard, though. I've finally got the hang of not hitting myself in the leg, mostly.)

It's different from open hand forms. Obviously there are some similarities, such as the basic taiji principles of centered movement, but I have to remind myself that I've got this thing in my hand, and I ought to use it. I'm not used to thinking about doing something active with my hands. I'm getting better at it.

Timing issues are a pain in the ass, though. I'm loving it, so far. I just wonder how long it'll be before he lets me try with the pointy thing. ;)

When we were finished last night and I was leaving, LaoMa said I'm doing well, and that I wasn't lying when I said I learned pretty quickly, because I'm flying through. And I'd just been thinking, "god, this is slow; can't I go any faster? Sheesh." Heh. But considering that we have probably 30 minutes of instructional time in the 90 minute class, at most, and there are 3 noobs, and each of us is at a different part of the form so the time is divided between us, I've learned 90% of the first quarter (7 postures + the 3 of the salute) in 3 weeks, or about 45 minutes of instructional time. I've almost caught up to the 2 high school kids who've been learning for about 2 months. Imagine if we had more time per class!

I'd been kinda nervous about saying that I learn quickly when I talked to LaoMa on the phone before I started class; it had been a long time since I'd learned anything new, because I'd been working on Chen for 2 years and was mostly refining and correcting. But I'm pleased to see that my confidence was not misplaced.

Last week, it was just me & the high school kids with LaoMa. This week, it was me, the HS kids, Dorothy (who's learning cane form), and Gul. (I have no idea if I'm spelling his name right. -__-) So when we split into teaching groups, LaoMa put me with Gul while LaoMa worked with the HS kids. It was kinda nerve-wracking, I have to say. *shifty eyes* But he's a good teacher, and he seems to have a wry sense of humor.

Also, it's true that there's a visible difference between doing taiji and moving your body in the prescribed steps of the form. The two HS kids both come from external (hard) martial arts backgrounds (tae kwon do and karate I think), and their movements are noticeably different from those of people with the internal martial arts background (eg, taiji players.) I could try to explain it, but it's much easier with visuals. Taiji movement starts from the dantien (a chi point below the belly button, near the center of gravity), and that's where the power comes from. So when somebody is just moving their arms around to do the postures, it's noticeably different, if you know what to look for.

I haven't spent much time refining my Chen style, but I practiced the full long form the other morning, and I'm planning to go to Friday morning Chen practice tomorrow. I haven't forgotten the san shou, either. I haven't emailed Dan to see about practicing, yet. I got time off work for the 4-day san shou workshop, so I can learn the rest of it and refine what I've already learned. I wish I had more time in the day to practice. Stupid job.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I can tell this is going to be very different, and I'm going to have to seriously compartmentalize the weapons forms from the open palm forms.

The stances are similar, but there's no chansi. You move your torso as a solid block, like in dance frame. (Maybe also somewhat in san shou and the other non-Chen forms, because Chen uses chansi more than all the others.) They're also smaller, not as wide. And xiebu doesn't have knee into calf but beside it, which is problematic because my fat fucking thighs get in the way. There's an extra gao(?) xiebu, which is high xiebu. Don't have that in Chen.

It started off with reciting things facing an altar, which is kinda weird, but whatever. I can handle that (even if it means having more Chinese phrases to completely mangle pronunciation of.) Then there was a stance+breathing exercise, which would be useful if I remembered how the stick was held in any of them or which order they were done in. -___- Then we broke up into 3 pairs, each with an old student and a new student, to do the Four Flowers, which is basically a taiji walk to the 8 points and at each point performing one of the flowers. I'm not sure how to describe them in words, because it's a gong bu, weight shift, turn and weight shift and turn, the order determined by which flower you're doing. (front wt, cross body, back wt, square forward, front wt, for example.) It's one of those things you'll just have to do a zillion times before you get it and can do it at home. (where you = I)

Then it was follow the leaders in short stick, at which I floundered a lot. Then everyone (but me) did what they'd been practicing: the two teenagers did the beginning of stick, an older student did some cane, and Violet and Gul did bien. Then the individual instruction. LaoMa split us into groups, with Gul teaching the 2 teens and Violet teaching me. He worked with Dorothy on cane. I liked Violet; she's about my height. She's also really good. After that, class was over.

I hope I'm paired with Violet again next week. The 2 high school kids seem to need the vaguely more intimidating figure of Gul to stay in line (though they're not very good at it even then.) (Also, I'd be vaguely more intimidated because I think he's kinda hot. Violet is, too, but for some reason I find her less intimidating.)

I need to get a stick so I can practice the spinning parts (which I can already tell is going to take for freaking ever to get right.) Gul said he saw a lu te (I think that's what LaoMa called it) at Surplus Sid's in the stick bucket, so I'll swing by there tomorrow afternoon after I get my hair cut. And while I'm at Sid's, I'll fondle the old uniforms and sigh wistfully that the awesome vintage ones are way expensive.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
So, the session of the class I was taking Wednesday nights ended, and I thought it would be a good time to change it up a bit. I asked Dr Jay about moving to weapons, and he thought it was a good idea, so I called LaoMa, and he said I can come to his Wednesday evening weapons class. Cool.

So tonight I start learning short stick, which is similar choreography to the dao broadsword,* with some differences in holding the weapon (as the sword has a handle and sharp edges, while the stick is just a stick.) LaoMa said there were some "young people" in the class (about 15 yrs old), and he hopes that my showing up will make them a little more serious about it. I'm vaguely apprehensive about that. I want to learn the straight sword, but I'm not sure where that is in the scheme of things.

Most of what I need to work on in Chen style is really stuff I have to do on my own, repeating sections and postures until I have the right flow and movement from the dantien and breathing, and can put it all together in a fluid form. In classes, mostly, we focus on the postures, with some explanations of breathing etc, but to get it together, you need to spend time at home. So I'll have to break it down into small sections and work on the chansi and breathing for each movement.

I also need to practice the san shou I've learned. I'm getting better at it - I don't move like I'm in frozen molasses anymore, spending time thinking "OK, what's next?" - but in theory 21 days make a habit, so I've got another week and a half of doing it every day before I can go to, say, every other day. Learning another new form at the same time I'm trying to cement this one is probably inadvisable, but I'm doing it anyway. And besides, there's another san shou workshop in May, so I can review it then (and work out the "oh, I've been doing it wrong" parts) and add the final 15 steps. I need to email Dan and see if there's a good time for him to get together and practice, since he learned the opposite part.

I'm probably going to need to clear more of my schedule to get more than 20 minutes of practice a day. But what can I take out? Probably some evening random websurfing. Not writing, since I hardly spend enough time doing that as it is. Not sleep, because I need that. I could limit my reading time, I suppose. I don't watch that much TV, so cutting that out won't give me too much time. (Just 2 hours Monday evening, plus whatever fansubs we download, which right now is Gundam and Tytania, though we're super behind on the latter.) I could skip COUP, but I like the interaction. What I should do is block off some time on the weekend.

And, naturally, since I'm starting a new class tonight, I slept wrong last night and I can hardly lift my left arm and can't turn my head left. I hope the 2 ibuprofen I took kick in soon.

*If you play Soul Calibur, it's Yunsung's weapon. Straight sword is Xianghua's.

San shou

8 Mar 2009 08:45 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I definitely want to take the 4-day intensive. I need to talk with Lee about scheduling in May.

Jay & Kathleen talked about how we'd probably hit a wall during the weekend, when it stopped being possible to absorb any more information. I didn't hit that wall.* (I may have gone brain-dead at several points, when something I'd just learned 10 minutes before wasn't there when I wanted it, but a reminder like "step forward" was usually enough to recover.) Which makes me wonder a) whether there is a wall for me to hit and b) where that wall is. I learn very quickly, and I have a good kinesthetic sense. This likely makes me overconfident in my abilities, and arrogant, and more likely to have a rude wall-hitting experience when it happens.

The most fun part, I think, was doing postures 0-7 with our eyes closed. That was fun. I wish I had someone really close by to practice with, because the hardest freaking part is matching to someone else.

This video is sort of like what we did, only faster and with a few differences in postures & transitions.

*My dinnertime nap may have helped, because my brain was buzzing before dinner.

So. Tired.

7 Mar 2009 09:10 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
I spent all day today learning 15 movements of a 2-person taiji set. Tomorrow I learn 12 more. Matching them to your partner is the hard part. Solo form is easy! That's what we do all the time in taiji! No problem! But doing a sparring thing and having to get the timing and spacing with your partner is much trickier, especially if you're like me and do things slowly (because you forget what comes next.) Yes, taiji is supposed to be slow, but I'm a little extra slow when I'm learning something new.

And I'm considering doing the 4-day version in May to learn the whole thing. I must be out of my mind. (I need to examine my vacation balance before making decisions. Also, it's the weekend before AZ, and I'd hoped to take at least half a day Friday. I'll ask Lee on Monday what his opinion on that is.)

I'll have more thoughts tomorrow after we're done. And possibly know more whether I feel up to four whole days of this, or if two is liable to kill me. One day hasn't, but I came home and napped on my couch for half an hour during dinner break. That may have helped.

Getting up at 7 am tomorrow, again. But it'll feel like 6 with the damn time change. Cruel, they. For now, I'm going to sleep. I can't brain right now. I'm not ignoring discussions in various comment threads; I'm just braindead.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
Dr Jay, my teacher, likes to include philosophy in his instruction, and I never remember the important things, so I'm going to write what I can recall down. (And not use consistent transliterations, either.)

- Tai ji is often translated as "grand ultimate" and chuan as "fist," leading to the concept of taiji as the ultimate martial art. This is misleading, however. Tai ji is the great extremes of yin and yang, and taijiquan is the embodiment of the great extremes of yin and yang.

- This means that when practicing the form, we should take care to practice chansi, and let our torso and dantien drive the motion. Arms have no independent movement. In chansi, the body twists to allow chi to build up and flow properly. (I'm not a fan of mystical stuff. I'm not yet sure how to reconcile this.) Note to Gurren fans: it's spiral energy.

- Master Jou, Dr Jay's teacher, had a lot of sayings, and one of them was this: The taiji diagram is our teacher. Most people probably know it as the yin-yang symbol (or ying-yang, but that's just wrong). One of the signature steps in Master Jou's form is to sculpt the diagram at the beginning of the 9th passage (that is, after the sequence of wild horse tosses its mane, 1000-lb rock, white crane stands on one leg, and single whip. Then it leads into jade maiden weaves at the shuttle.) It's there to a) allow chansi in the form and b) remind us to let the diagram be our teacher.

- Master Jou's form is not identical to the current Chen family form, as he modified it somewhat over time to emphasize chansijin. I think he studied Chen Fake's style, which branched from the main family in the 50s, though I need to read his book.

- Chansigong or chansijin is something I need to practice more often, so that I can incorporate it into the form more easily.

- I asked Dr Jay if he would be teaching a sword class again soon, and he said "maybe," because there are some people ready to do two person sword so he needs to expand the pool again. And I said I wanted to learn sword form, so he said "Well, then, soon." I mostly really want to learn to swing a sword around. Unfortunately, I'll have to practice that outside, because a) furniture, b) lights, c) ceiling. And it's getting cold and dark early. Bleh. I could try the sword-free version inside, I guess.

- I forgot this initially, but reading about Chen Man-ching on wikipedia reminded me: the Four Treasures stem from calligraphy. First, you must wet the stone. The stone has two properties: It is hard, and it is not soluble. This corresponds to the dantien. Second, you grind the ink. The ink has two properties: it is black, and it is water soluble. This corresponds to the kidneys. Third, you prepare the paper. The paper has two properties: it is white, and it is absorbent. This corresponds to the lungs and heart. Fourth, you dip the brush. The brush has two properties: (which we didn't cover in class, so I'm guessing) it is straight, and it is flexible. This corresponds to the nervous system.

- Four Treasures is a preparatory exercise we do in class.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
After surprise sword form in the morning, I was ready for evening class. Decent class, and we're back to where I started last year (5th passage). Yay. So after class, I caught Dr Jay briefly, and I said I'd like to catch up with him over email and discuss my course of study. He thought that was a good idea, so I get to figure out what I want to say. Whee.

I asked about when he's teaching sword next, and he said not for a while, but he'll start a class when I'm ready, to be determined by one of us. (And I get the feeling that if I said "Hey, can I?" next week, the answer would be no. He's picky about that. Maybe next summer?)

So. Collecting of thoughts. I plan to test for the red sash this fall. Probably not before October, though, with cons and travel. The choreography doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to be good. (Perfect is for yellow. Also including "arms have no movement" and "all movement starts from dantian.") I need to get Master Jou's book and read it, or the parts of it that are on the test.

I don't know whether I should start another class before then, or if I should start in a fall class. I don't have time to take 2 evening classes a week; I'd never get anything done. And I can't take any classes during the day, which rather limits me. I think I'll take the next san shou workshop, assuming it doesn't conflict with plans I already have.

The other evening option is push hands. Also Wudang, but I'm not very fond of that style, so I'm not counting it. I think push hands would be good, and keeping the (every other) weekly Chen practice would help me not forget that, but not so much with the improving thing unless I work at home. Or taking a private lesson or two.

The Yang classes are all in Cary, which is too far, especially at current gas prices. None of the daytime classes are particularly close to work, either. Bleh.

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