Friday, September 30, 2011

day 320: spam, backtracking, and misc

  • 5-element theory
  • hsing-yi
  • kyudo
ok, i'm going to have to issue a mea culpa. i haven't posted an entry for a number of weeks, even though i have been attending class. part of it is me being busy and too tired to post anything thoughtful. part of it was an unexpected Saturday run-in with a flat tire, broken apartment, plumbing, and a computer system crash. part of it, however, is a recent spate of spam.

it seems this blog has become afflicted with spam. somehow, it's become targeted by random computer-generated messages and comments that have increased in volume over the past few months. i know they're not genuine because 1) there is bad spelling and grammar, 2) there are seemingly random strings of letters and numbers, and 3) they always contain links--to where, i'm afraid to find out (apparently, hackers use this as an opportunity to learn your IP addresses and enable downloads of nefarious viruses/spyware/etc. to your computer). it wasn't that bad at first, and i was able to delete them as they came in. recently, however, it's gotten to the point that the more i try to delete them, the more they come in. it's starting to make this blog difficult to manage.

i've been reporting them as spam to Google, but so far it doesn't seem to have made any difference. the one thing that did make a difference was inactivity on this blog--the last few weeks of missing posts corresponded with a dip in spam. as a result, i'm wondering if they'll all dissipate if i wait long enough to let this blog have the appearance of inactivity.

i'm going to think about my options, and let you know.


last Saturday was a very well-timed and very much needed review day. Cheng-chieh is back from China, and so we ended up going back over material that she'd missed. for this class, we worked on the hsing-yi 2-person form.

i was grateful for this. i don't remember having done this. Eric said i was there when we did go over it, but i can't remember at all. i do remember some discussion about 5-element theory and an initial attempt to work through the 2-person form, but i suspect this was just before i left for June, and so i probably missed all the weekends everyone spent refining the 2-person form.

the 2-person form is essentially just the first 5 basic movements of hsing-yi arranged according to the 5-element creation/destruction cycles. there are 2 partners, and 1 partner performs the 5 movements in a sequence following the creation cycle and the other counters each move with a corresponding element from the destruction cycle. the idea is that each of the 5 basic movements corresponds to each of the 5 elements, and that each movement/element has a corresponding counter.

this means that 1 partner follows metal-water-wood-fire-earth (destruction cycle). the other partner then responds with wood-fire-earth-metal-water (creation cycle). it should be noted that the both cycles follow a sequence that is shifted by 2 (i.e., while 1 cycle starts with metal, the other starts with wood).

i'm sure there's some metaphysical theory behind this (not the 5-element theory. that i already know. i'm talking about the 2-person form). and perhaps also some connection with traditional Chinese medicine. the class probably went over that while i was away.

for now, Sifu said that we should just recognize that the 2-person form is showing how each technique has a counter, and that the 2-person form is just a learning tool to help remember the counters. he also pointed out that we can see that in the 2-person form the movements are not identical to the individual forms for each of the 5 basic movements, and that this is a reminder to recognize the principles involved and understand that the 2-person form is preserving the principles of each of the 5 basics even as it causes the movements in them too look differently.

this was a little complicated, and it took us the entire class to get this down.

i should note that Sifu showed the hsing-yi sabre form today, and had me record it for my Youtube channel. i've uploaded it, and you can see it:

hsing-yi sabre:
Sifu commented that this shows how hsing-yi can still employ the slashing techniques of a weapon like the sabre.


i skipped kyudo last week, but i made the previous weeks. i've been working on what Sensei told me before about flattening my shoulder blades. of course, the adjustment in my shoulder blades has disrupted everything else, and so i've been having to re-align everything to get the yumi and arrow back under control.

i think i mentioned this before, but it's essentially analogous to a parametric calibration in engineering, where you have 2 variables that both affect each other, so that an adjustment in one causes an adjustment in the other. to calibrate them, you have to work in increments, setting one as a constant and calibrating the other, then setting the calibrated one as a constant and calibrating the other, and then repeating the process again until both arrive at a stable equilibrium--and every time you change the equilibrium you have to do the entire calibration process all over again to find a new equilibrium.

that's essentially what i feel like i'm doing. and right now, things are going all over the place. but as usual: it's just going to take some time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

day 319: miao dao review

  • line 2
  • distance 
  • speed
  • miao dao

it was a small Sunday today. i asked Sifu if we could spend more time reviewing the miao dao form, since i missed the last Sunday class, making it essentially a month since we'd worked on the miao dao. he said that it was a good idea, since we also had one of the new students trying the Sunday class out.

we reviewed the lines, and then Sifu had us go a little farther on the applications in line 2. there was a bit of a discussion re the proper application of some movements between Sifu and Phunsak, and so while they were engrossed in that i ended up returning to the basics with the new student.

this was actually pretty useful, since it helped me work out some body mechanics issues within the applications. it turned out i think i was making mistakes on some movements, and i felt the changes were an improvement in terms of mobility and control.

i have to say the miao dao is a challenge. while the spear is much more intensive in terms of the effort it requires on the body core, the miao dao is more demanding in terms of speed. while it's ostensibly a long-range weapon, it's not the same distance as a spear, and so you don't have the luxury of having engagement ranges that are relatively farther away. it disrupts the comfort level, and it makes a difference in terms of shortening the reaction time--the closer you are to the opponent, the better your reaction times have to be. Sifu said this is why it's imperative to be able to read what the opponent is doing, since that helps speed up your reflexes. the combination of a weighted bladed weapon with speed makes for a solid workout on the body. 

day 318: review day

  • hawk
  • chicken
  • alignment
  • hsing-yi
  • kyudo
last Saturday was a much-needed review day. i think a lot of people are coming back from various vacations, trips, or absences, and so the timing worked out well.


Sifu has us review the Shanxi 12 animals, and that helped everyone get back to speed. it turned out that there were apparently some differences in how people remembered the animals, particularly with hawk and chicken. it took a little while to sort things out.

we also spent time going further into the applications in chicken, particularly w respect to the piqua-style movements in it. Sifu commented that the movements can vary in terms of which direction we're emphasizing force (e.g., either down or up) and that the direction can also change in mid-swing (i.e., so you don't have to constantly engage in a wind-up before you swing). he had us practice using it, since it is very different type of movement relative to what many of us have learned.

i found it takes a little getting used to, since there's a spacing and timing issue in terms of knowing when and where to be to control gates and engage the opponent. swinging the arms acts to open the torso, and so there's a bit of discretion that has to be exercised in doing so. however, it does serve to increase your space, and does intrude on the opponent's volume. based on the practice i had w Eric and Phunsak, i could see how piqua works if it's done correctly.


kyudo, as always, is a project. Sensei helped me out quite a bit today in terms of structural alignment. i've been working on getting my back and shoulders to align properly so that the bones make a stable structure once they extend through zanshin. it's possible for this to happen, and requires that the shoulder blades flatten out in line with the spine and the plane of the bow and arms. getting to know when this occurs, however, is a little tricky. Sensei worked w me on identifying when the alignment occurs.

he complemented me on my improvement, which is a positive. i can feel things have been getting better. but it's like he said in the past--there's always a period in time when you feel things are getting better, and then other times when it feels like there's a mistake, and then suddenly that mistake starts to generate a whole cascade of issues that causes everything to fall apart. i'm hoping i can keep things going in a positive direction.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

days 315, 316, 317: (sort of) catching back up to the present

  • applications
  • point, line, curve
  • hsing-yi
  • miao dao
  • kyudo
yes, i know, it's been a few weeks since i've posted anything. things sort of went to hell recently in terms of workload, and i've been so preoccupied with work that i haven't had time to write anything, nor time to even reflect on what we've been learning.
if it's any consolation, the gap is somewhat mitigated by the fact that 2 weekends were preoccupied with the Las Vegas tournament, w 1 weekend devoted to helping people prepare for the tournament and the next weekend for the tournament itself.
as for the remaining weekends, i was sick 1 weekend and decided to stay home and recover, and last weekend was the first time i was able to attend classes--although, i still wasn't at 100%, and so could only last through the kung fu class before having to get back home and rest.
to try and get everything back up to the current, i'm going to agglomerate everything into a single post, and hope that it'll allow me to return to the regular posting schedule next week.

i was worried that i'd missed a lot in the hsing-yi classes. but from what everyone else told me, i only missed 1 day of material, since 2 of the weekends had been diverted to the tournament. essentially we're still going through the applications in the hsing-yi Shanxi 12 animals. Sifu said that the plan is to work through the applications in Shanxi, since that's the one still fresh in our minds, and then return and work through the applications in Hebei 12 animals, since it'll help us refresh our memories with that.
when i use the word applications i'm not referring to just practicing the techniques. Sifu wants us to try and work with them in a low-intensity combat setting, essentially merging them with gong fa. he says he wants us to see how to use the principles in the context of working against a hostile opponent, so that the techniques require a set-up in terms of timing, gate control, and movement. we didn't discuss it, but i also think it's getting us to practice ting jing, hwa jing, na jing, and fa jing in the context of a free-flowing unpredictable environment. it's a little tricky, and everyone is a little awkward with this, but i think that just comes with learning, and that it'll start to look smoother (and better) the more time and practice we get with it.

miao dao
i'm not going to say too much about the miao dao, since there's only been 1 class since the Las Vegas tournament and i missed it. people told me that it ended up not being about the miao dao but on other material, and that we'd return to the miao dao this coming weekend.
the last things we covered were the concepts of point, line, and curve. Sifu said we can look at the miao dao as an object that applies in 3 different ways:
it can operate as a point weapon, working to thrust, either in offense or defense
it can operate along a line, so that the blade moves linearly, either in offense or defense
it can operate along a curve in what is essentially 3-D space, either in offense or defense
Sifu said it's useful to recognize these 3 categories, because it helps to understand the nature of the movements in the form and recognize the applications that can come from them.

i've only been able to make 1 kyudo class since the last post, and it was the weekend when everyone was still returning from the Minnesota testing seminar. also, Sensei was in Hawaii running another seminar.
as a result, it was a class with just 5 people. it turned out to be good, since it gave all of us free opportunity to get a lot of practice shooting. Jean, who had been at the seminar, ended up still coming to class straight from the airport, and gave me some individual attention with respect to my form that i found useful.
i missed the gashuku weekend that provided more intensive practice because it was the weekend i was sick, and so i haven't got much more to say, but i suspect there's going to be quite a bit more as i get back to class. Sensei also announced another gashuku weekend for the fall, and i hope to make that.