Woo hoo! We're halfway there!
02.02.2009 - 17.02.2009 7 °C
I don't quite know what to say, um, I'd like to thank my sister for being so supportive, my parents for their help making this possible, I'd like to thank Tasha for giving me the idea and Anna for having a birthday and introducing us, I'd like to thank China for thinking up Kungfu, Bruce Lee for popularising it in the West, Hollywood for continuing to produce such mind-blowing advertisements for it, but most of all I'd like to thank the gangsters, without whom learning kungfu would not be necessary. Is there anyone i missed? (Shutup Hilary)
Kungfu training is still going well here, it's pretty tough since the bar is continually being raised, you think you've finally got a movement down and then an extra layer of complexity is added. Sometimes it can be a little disheartening, never quite reaching your goal before it is whisked away from you but I try to focus on the bigger picture and think about how good I'll be after another six months of being pushed like this.
Mantis is a very tricky martial art to get a handle on. The Shaolin stuff I learned was fairly simple and direct but Mantis requires some relatively complex footwork and great flexibility and agility of the upper-body. Some of the things I have been taught are not natural or intuitive and it takes a lot of effort to drill them into myself and try to make them fluid and relaxed.
Applying these techniques is a whole new challenge, it's one thing learning a movement and coordinating your body, it's another thing entirely trying to do it when there's someone stood in front of you, let alone someone who moves around and throws punches. Obviously Mantis has been practiced and refined for many centuries; the techniques a distillation of many lifetimes' work and fighting experience, so it's unquestionably effective but it's still a big jump between knowing that and kicking someone's ass. The good news is that Mantis has a lot of built in redundancy, the movements in the form often string together in combinations, each allowing for the possible failure or neutralization of the previous attack. This means that hopefully, should your first strike miss its mark, instinct should lead you to the next opening without pause.
Of course, it's not just Mantis I'm studying here, I continue with my Taichi in the mornings, getting up painfully early every day for the honour. I have nearly finished learning Yang 42 form and will hopefully start learning Taichi sword in the very near future. Not only has the class improved my Taichi greatly over the last six months but I find it has been invaluable in helping me with the other martial arts too. My leg strength, balance and stability is at a much higher level after months (and probably miles) of Taichi step, the basic exercise we do before each Taichi class.
And then we have Qigong, I have to say, after six months of standing still for an hour a day I am undecided about the benefits of cultivating Chi. A great part of my reservation is based on my observation of the masters here. They are undeniably fit, healthy and powerful however not one of them could be described as calm, enlightened or even just balanced, despite spending a significant chunk of their lives in quiet meditation. On a personal level, despite having spent over 100 hours now, stood stock still, legs bent, arms out in front of me, I see little benefit. I've had three colds since Xmas and if this health keeping meditation can't protect against a simple cold, how is it going to fare against more serious illnesses? I'll let you know if there's any improvement after another 125 hours :P
Whilst I've certainly made progress in studying kungfu these last six months I still feel like I have a long way to go. Some of my form work is still sloppy and I continue to have problems "showing the power". Qu Sifu has faith in me however and is hoping to enter me in the Yantai International Martial Arts Competition/Festival this August. To be honest, I think this has less to do with faith in my abilities than it has to do with his faith in his own teaching but I'm not too bothered so long as I get the kungfu skills
So that's about it really, six months down, six to go and still going strong. Here's to another six successful months, wish me luck
All the best,