Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Colors of the sky

This morning when I exited my house I felt a chill that dug between the fabric of my thin gloves. I took my staff and saber not certain what todays training regiment would involve. It is so early that it feels like night time as I see the light from the half moon refract off the iced and crispy blades of grass. The stars on Orion's belt are clear and I use them to roll through possible training ideas. The stars turn like a slot machine as my thoughts wander on what needs to be trained the most. I take my stance as I see the stars light up "The unlimited fist."

The sky is black as I slowly begin my journey through 28 movements. My mind hasn't woken up enough to think passed the first technique. I dive into the first technique both deeply and completely. I finish dozens of repetitions before I relax and my arms become one with the darkness. The heat from the Qi trapped within my gloves creates a milky mist that traces my movements.

The sky changes to dark purple and my stance lowers bringing me closer to the chilled road. There is no life about except for my movements. Even the animals remain asleep as I move silently and unnoticed. I'm so alone that it is almost terrifying if I think about it. Especially when my thoughts wander to the funeral home nearby. I attack through my random thoughts of fear as I reach the street light and turn around for another lap.

When the sky becomes dark blue I notice a change in the rhythm in my technique. A question about the arts that I had asked my master many years ago had been revealed to me. I had finally broken into a new level of understanding with my movements. I am thrilled to see that at the beginning of my workout, I have already touched upon a new level.

A bright white line splits the sky in half as I come to the end of unlimited fist practice. I am lost within the new perks of my level up when one of my movements opens a new chamber of possibilities. The chamber is filled with answers that I have wondered about for many years. New ideas that I have been touching on in my Nine Palace training. I vacate my original training in order to run through the halls of the Nine Palaces just long enough to find a missing jewel. I search between the lines of every movement looking for a key to another level. After a half hour passes I realize that it is not something I can find today. I return to the last movements of the unlimited fist. Just as I bow out the street light turns off. It seemed to be cuing me to the next section of my training.

Pink stretches across the sky as I look at my two weapons on the floor. I know that there is no way that I can practice my staff techniques while wearing gloves. I remove them reluctantly and find myself being electrocuted as I grab the blistering cold staff. The staff slides back and forth through my hands like razors, completely overpowering the warmth of my Qi. The numbness in my fingers begins to affect my thoughts as I am determined to finish all 8 sections of the spear and staff 3 times. The pale blue sky seems to mock me as I use every effort in my body to ignore the pain.

The color of the frosty grass and naked trees comes with the sun. I grit my teeth through the remainder of my techniques just long enough to drop the staff. The sound shatters the quiet and startles all of the animals that have not yet awoken. I immediately practice the Eight Silk Brocades that I learned from the Southern Shaolin monks. It isn't related to my Bagua training, but it acts like a heater in the center of my palm. After only two movements the feeling returns to my finger tips.
My shadow seems to turn red as the energy circulates through out my body.

I look to see the sun and the moon now both in the sky at once. It makes sense that at this time of day there is more power to be gained. I inhale all of the power of yin and exhale the power of yang. When I finish the remainder of my techniques it is met with the applaud from the nearby animals. The energy of the atmosphere invigorates me like 1000 cups of coffee. There is nothing better than getting the hardest part of the day over before the day has begun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

End of Fall

Fallen Staff  -The perfect training for the end of fall has been with the staff. As the cold makes the leaves crisp they are easy to fall with the lightest touch. By using staff attacks I remove one leaf from the tree at a time making sure not to touch the other branches. The slightest in accuracy will cause the leaves to fall and I have to begin my count again. I must remove 100 leaves at great speed without hitting an undesired leaf in the process. This workout is internal with movement, but you are sure to gain a lot of muscle in the end.

Brisk Blades- Saber and sword training are also great for fall conditions. However the two types of blade training are very different. The saber can be used to first bang the tree and then slice the leaves as the fall. The back of the blade acts as a hammer or shield when defending an attack. After the forces shoots through the tree the leaves will fall giving you a chance to attack multiple targets before stopping. It is most important to make sure every slice is channelled through the ground. Keep a  low stance is priority as you step along the rooted forest ground.

Solem Sword-The sword is much more of a patience and reactions game. Wait for a day that the wind gust are strong enough to pull the leaves off of the tree. You using footwork from the nine palaces will allow you to flow continually while letting the sword strike through the breeze. It is best to practice piercing attacks instead of slices. See how many leaves you can stack at the end of your blade before having to start over.

If you haven't started your fall training yet then it's time to jump into winter season. I could smell the winter in the air today and it's time to change the tires of my training for snow. My biggest goal is to focus on my ice spear training. I intend to learn all about the winter season through the eyes of my spear for the first time. I will take lots of notes and bring you the update when it comes into spring time. Train baby train!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gifts and Opportunities

After finishing my book I had a good friend of mine ask me what I planned to do next. Of course I have developed dozens of plans on how to get to where I wanted to go. I've made plans regarding film, writing, translating, training, business, teaching, researching and on and on. I have laid out blueprints on how to more efficiently train everything from new weapon ideas to memorizing Chinese characters. It is my determination and diligence that has prepared me for great things to come. Yet no opportunity I've had in my life has arrived due to my own plans.

In fact all of the greatest things that have happened in my life were given to me at the proper time. Though I had made countless plans on how to utilize my skills, none of them actually worked out. I ended up going to Taiwan because China didn't accept me for work. I met my Bagua master because I was chasing a girl. I made my first movie because of an opportunity brought to my friend. Every amazing step that I have taken has not been because I was chasing my dream, but because my dream had found me.

The truth is that none of us are able to control what opportunities may come. In a world that nothing is for certain it is only vanity to imagine that we could pull our own strings. Still I continue to make plans about what I am going to do next because making plans for one opportunity can prepare you for another. I don't know what the next opportunity is going to be that comes my way, but by continually polishing the skills that I have, I can be sure to do well when the chance arises. The only thing I can control is that I will be better the next time you see me.

In very recent days I have come to learn chasing dreams will only drain you of your energy. It is not in chasing the dreams that we attain them, but by continually cherishing them that they are received. Therefore the only thing that we can do is what we are called to do today. The fastest way to get to your goal is to help others with their own. Our dream is a piece of the grand design that can be easily lost when we are trying to do things our way. When we are patient in our diligence the dust settles and we can see what we want more clearly.

My plans are to enjoy myself with the betterment of my skills. I have dozens of Chinese novels in my closet that need reading. I want to write Chinese more beautifully than my calligraphy teacher. I have new training equipment that needs to be design as well as possible modern Bagua weapons. I have new fight scenes that will show martial arts to the world with out compromising its true internal beauty. I am busy everyday with a project to finish every hour. Who has time for a plan?

I'm so blessed to be in the moment that I am in now. This chilling morning was the best workout of my life. We miss out on our life while were making plans. Accept what comes and always improve.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lucky number 13

About three months ago I started a new movement training designed to enhance my "Shen Fa" (Way of the body training). It is one of the key components to harnessing power in every step. With good Shen Fa you are able to better blast, entangle, misdirect or off balance your attacker. This training can only be done after first spending crucial training time on footwork or Zou Fa.

The training I developed was to do one movement for one mile. The movement can be an attack or a defense with many different variations. More importantly it is the movement we use to engage the opponent allowing us to launch our attack more effectively. It closes the gap with the advantage in your favor. This spear hand can also be found in another article on my blog that I translated for my master, Wu Guo Zheng. I made a plan to practice this movement one time a week for the the next 25 weeks, giving me twenty five miles with the technique all together.

Unfortunately I didn't account for the change in weather conditions which hinder me from finishing this particular training. When I finished my 13th mile last week, I was forced to put an end to this training temporarily.

This actually is great news because it allows me to investigate other ideas that I have been researching and developing. The grueling cold winter is upon us and the snow will fall soon. It is this type of climate that most people fear to do any exercise in, yet I know it is the best opportunity for warriors. I want to spend the winter adding frost to my saber and staff.

Training weapons in winter add for many new pains to be revealed. The slippery surface and burning cold handles make it easy to feel uncomfortable. As my wife said, "You have to use real kung fu to deal with the blistering cold."

This forces us to keep Qi in our hands with every movement and a lowered center of balance and connection to the earth. The process is agonizing at times, but when I'm finished I really enjoy the comfort of my home. Not only am I enhancing the power within in my technique, I am also magnifying the treasures with in my own life. These are treasures that we neglect every day as we chase after things with lesser value. Only when I tire myself do I enjoy my time to rest.

This morning the sun rose as I tucked away my sword and I felt an energy I never get from my coffee mug before going to work. We must embrace our discomfort at times in order to remember why we live. We would never know who David was if he didn't deal with Goliath.

I will continue my Shen Fa training when the spring returns. For now I look forward to being baptized in the blizzard.