In the midst of my search of better ways to fight, think and react to life, something stumbles upon me. I get sick. Something about the viruses in America being different than the ones of my home in Taiwan. It could also be related to the stress of not knowing which country I will be settled in. Always continually searching for the place that the seeds of Bagua will be most fertile, I find myself awake at night with possibilities and ideas. I am usually able to keep sickness at bay through my Qi training, but some days you're just destined to get sick.
As my body shuts down my mind turns on and casts lights at shadowed questions in the room. The loudest question being the one all martial artists continually ask, "How do I get better?" Next to a cup of used tissues I scan across videos of the masters I met in Taiwan. While watching the videos I felt I was with them again as we exchanged different ideas on what it meant to "Get better."
We spoke of different theories and concepts about power development, focus and life. The discussions were important, but not nearly as important as the conversation that took place without words. Every gesture and facial expression said far more than the polite words that were spoken about the tea. I payed attention to every detail and movement that was made amongst the masters. After a person has practiced thousands of movements, millions of times, they even breath differently.
With this sickness in my system, I was certainly breathing differently. Coughing through out the night, filling my system with medicines of all kinds, I managed to keep a good mood. I may not have learned the kung fu that prevents you from getting sick (like many masters), but I have learned that a bad attitude weakens your spirit. The last thing you want when your body is all ready breaking down, is a side order of emotional issues. So when you feel the sickest, it's most important to smile!
After all, the flesh battle pales in comparison to what is really going on. I know that all forms of sickness have demonic roots. And when the mind ponders on self pity the roots strengthen the trees of aggravation. Dark thoughts only bear poisonous fruit.
So while I lie in my bed filled with Qi and Nyquil, I keep my thoughts on the blessings of all the new training I will begin when the virus leaves. If this sickness was permitted by God, then I know there is something good within the extra mucus. Besides it was so close to Thanksgiving and I had much to be thankful for.
When the headache receded I began to practice my Chinese characters. I've learned that calligraphy is directly connected to the sword, and I was getting sick of not knowing the secrets within my sheath. The point of either the pen or sword, is it must be guided with the hand, but the energy is from elsewhere.
"Elsewhere" is the place of many martial arts secrets. A land with a language so secretive that it can't be uttered. It may only be hinted in a hidden, unspoken conversation that appeared to be about tea, wine or whatever.
As I wrote characters I recollected on how I saw one master who appeared to be old and frail, grasp a heavy jug of water and pour the massive weight as if it was filled with helium. I smiled as I took my cup of tea and pretended not to notice just as the other masters. I felt at many times I was a martial arts detective searching for clues of each master's power. The only thing I was able to find was that each master had a connection to another skill that appeared to be unrelated to his martial art, but they somehow strengthened each other.
The sword master's handwriting was startling. I peeped over as he wrote a personal note to his kid, it looked like it should be posted in a museum somewhere. The master historian spoke of details and developments of each style that had only been written in books that had been burned. The heavy master's eyes scanned the room with a flush red face and genuine smile. He looked over weight, but he was the only one they classified as a kung fu genius. He had the ability to master any technique after just seeing it one time. I raised my glass showing my appreciation to my own master who had become a second father over the years.
"Tailong your master's fortune is in your hands. How will you pass it to the next generation?" The Taichi master asked.
This was the question that I didn't answer because I knew no words would be appropriate. It was this question that lead to me over training and getting sick in the first place.
When Thanksgiving arrived I was almost fully recovered aside from the occasional sniffle and cough. My wife read movements at random choosing from thousands within the text that my master has given.
"Pressing Palm Counter, Intercepting Kick, Reverse Palm Break" She reads as I move from technique to technique. Though I am fluent with every technique, I am searching for something that lies between the movements. Another epiphany that can help me further highlight my style. My wife had been around all the masters and had been a key factor in my journey. She seems to always know what I'm looking for without having to explain it. I'm blessed to be able to talk with her for hours about martial arts without her ever tiring.
"Come on man we gotta eat sometime Mr. Kung Fu." My brother Eddie said as he finished his own training in the other room. I admire both of my brothers who were on the same path as myself. Yet the power I feel when we exchange is from a completely different source.
Aaron has become like an immovable stone connected to the Earth. Only my most practiced techniques were able to move his solid energy. Eddie had become burning fire, the slightest touch would burn the tendons within my wrists and forearms. They referred to me as the wind, as I used the art of changes to manipulate and control the outcome. My brothers have always been the key to discovery within my training. I enjoy the miracle that we have all trained nonstop since we were four. We have our own hidden conversations amongst the table, but we have seen enough to know that we are still very young masters with much to learn.
When the holiday passes I begin my sword training anew. I leave my sword at home because I feel it is distracting me from my understanding. I find time before, after and between work to squeeze as many hours as possible out of the QIng Ping Sword. After a week of diligence I feel that something has changed. An energy suddenly flowed through me that disorients me. I bring my training to an end for the day thinking I'm light headed because I'm still not completely recovered.
A week later it is my wife's birthday and my sickness still tries to hide behind my lungs. I buy a dozen roses and place them on my dresser to surprise my wife. She sleeps soundly as I begin to practice techniques in the mirror. As I move I can feel a connection between me and the roses. They whisper to me a secret that energizes my technique. The beauty and power in their design blends within my style. My practice with the sword had opened a new gate way that was as delicate as the pedals reflected in my mirror. As I our energies combine my soul heats the entire room allowing me to unleash a new found power.
"You found it." My wife said while rubbing her eyes, excited for me.
"I guess it's a birthday for both of us." I said to her while giving her a hug.
I felt the phlegm in my system emerge as I spit the virus out of my body entirely. I knew I was fully recovered and now ready to begin a new level of training. I think I will call it, "The sword of roses."