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March 19th - Relaxing Kung Fu Wisdom

Morning Thoughts

The weather seems to be getting better and better each day. Waking up to a sunny day with the birds chirping is a nice feeling that the day will be a good one. Even though I still feel yesterday's training sitting heavy on my mind, I am willing to push that aside for today's thoughts and challenges.

Yesterday

I learned quite a lot from the every class. In Basics we did more drills of the Long Fist Form (初级长拳三路) where Master Peng corrected us on various details. Then during Forms Class I learned the "Reverse Flower" for the broadsword from Master Yan. So far, it is the toughest broadsword move yet as I don't have the relaxed feeling that I should have when doing it. During lunch I did my usual review of the new things that I have been learning which means focusing on the broadsword and reviewing Shaolin Group Form a few times.

Then Sanda Class arrived... boy it was another mentally draining one today. We worked on our spinning back kicks again but for some reason I wasn't able to do it. I had to take it real slow and do it step by step, I was also the slowest when we would stand in a line and do it as a group. Two classes this week, the same kick on the same leg, and I don't feel any progress. But, that is why Master Yan said at the end of class:

"You need to keep practicing this move on your own as none of you have grasped this kick. Next week we will move on to the next kick."

Evening Thoughts

Relaxing. That is what today was. Relaxing. Our morning was filled with sitting meditation led by Master Ning and then Qi Gong Class taught by Master Yan. Master Ning led us in meditation with a little "lecture" about what Qi (气) is and how it helps our body. Then he told us that while we meditated we should think about:

"A great bright fireball at our Dan Tian (Stomach/Abs), and think of water coming from the other parts of your body pouring onto the fireball quenching it. Then, atop the water should sit a lotus petal. Opening and closing with your breath."

It was an interesting visual to think about but my thoughts always drift away into how my body is feeling, my family, my friends, and why I'm here in China at this school. Normally, Thursday's mediation goes on for 10 minutes and every week we alternate between standing and sitting mediation. It is calming and really does help you clear your mind of problems or too many thoughts.

After our short meditation Master Yan took over and taught us Yi Jin Jing (易筋经) and specifically focused on breathing and thoughts. We first followed along at his speed and breathing which made me realize that I was doing Yi Jin Jing way too fast. We all had to focus on, what I could translate as "turtle breathing". A slow kind of breathing that using your nose to breathe in and mouth to breathe out but instead of using your chest to breathe you use your Dan Tian (丹田), or stomach, to breathe. It was a lot of translating for me to do but it really helped my listening and comprehension.


After a good lunch I used my spare time to stretch, do pull ups, and read some more of "Research of the Martial Arts" by Jonathan Bluestein (A book I started reading a couple days ago). The time flew by real fast and before I knew it we were doing Power Training taught by Master Yan. Today's power training was interesting because we did two really unique workouts: Tree Hugging and 搬砖.

We broke up the Tree Hugging into a "Jacob's Ladder" type workout of 2, 3, 4, 3, and 2 minutes with push ups in between. Tree Hugging is pretty self explanatory; you wrap your arms and legs around a tree and hug it for the time. You cannot use branches to help you, just the tree trunk. After that exhausting exercise we moved on to 搬砖 which literally means "moving bricks/stones". It was some manual labor to help the school clear loose rocks in the yard but it proved to be very good training for our forearms and grip strength but I think the best thing that the other students and I got was the wisdom from Master Yan on what Kung Fu is:

"Some of you might wonder why we do these kinds of activities during power training. This is because in ancient times most had various kinds of manual labor jobs; those that would then go to practice fighting/martial arts had their movements affected by their jobs. Many of the Kung Fu stances and movements we do today are from normal everyday movements of these ancient people. In fact the character, "功" in Kung Fu (功夫) actually comes from 工 meaning to work/worker and 力 meaning power/energy. So Kung Fu really is just the time, sweat and energy that you put into your work."

He also talked about "ancient workouts" like carrying buckets of water, moving stones, and more about being effective ways to build strength and we might do these kinds of workouts later on in the summer. It was a cool conversation to have with him and I hope the others appreciate the effort that he puts into teaching and explaining the cultural parts of our training. For me, I really enjoy listening to the masters talk about this part of Kung Fu.

Then, my day ended with a great dinner of the normal Chinese food, some milk tea, and a fast food chicken burger and some late night conversations with other students.

Another good day finished of this simple "Kung Fu Journey".

How is your week going? Are you ready for the weekend?

Your mind is a powerful tool, use it well.

Comments

  1. Thank you for mentioning my book, Research of Martial Arts :-) Much appreciated! I hope you are enjoying the contents. If so, please leave a review on Amazon. You are more than welcome to reach out: jonathan.bluestein@gmail.com

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