When people tell me they just don’t like to run I often wonder if they’ve given it enough time that it no longer hurts. When you learn to play the piano, you have to get through the chore of learning the notes before you can play a beautiful song. And so it is with me and Kung Fu.
Last night we practiced three new “arm locks”. This is where you twist a person’s arm or hand in such a way that they can’t move without causing excruciating pain to themselves. Ideally in an attack you would use the lock to break the arm or tear their shoulder right out of its socket.
There were only two of us in class and my classmate and I went back and forth contorting the other’s arm until we slapped our leg feverishly – the signal that your opponent has achieved the lock. It’s that pat on the leg or a scream, whichever comes first.
I asked Sifu when will it be second nature to react to your opponent’s attack with one of these locks? He took a few minutes to explain the process we’ll go through as we progress toward Free and Combat Sparring.
So far we have only done One Step and Still Sparring. We know the attack and practice one response to that attack until it is second nature. With Chin Na Sparring we practice the joint locks from standing, sitting and on the ground and this leads to Situational Sparring.
As I listened to Sifu describe each of these progressions, I could see myself sparring with my classmates. I could see myself anticipating their move and reacting with the techniques we are learning now. I was still thinking about this when I woke up this morning.
Since next week is the first week of marathon training, I have already been researching the training plan I will use for the next 18 weeks. It occurred to me that I should also have a Kung Fu training plan and devote a number of hours to this training every day just as I do with running. To reach my goal requires more work on my part.
I will ask Sifu to help me with a weekly plan. Lord only knows what he will suggest. Last night we learned eight more animals and did the technique as we walked in a circle. One time he said to me, “You’re walking right through the middle of the circle.” I could see that. It’s harder than you may think.
He told us a story about one of the Grand Masters, whose picture hangs on the wall in the front of the classroom, and how he walked in a circle for an hour every day with his arms straight out on either side. Try holding your arms out to the side for five minutes. It hurts. And walking in a circle is not just walking in a circle. It’s all about opening and closing the hips properly.
Summer seems to be my time to take on new challenges and this summer may be the most challenging of all. I’ll post my new schedule for the week on Mondays and see where it takes me. This will definitely require adjustments in my daily schedule but it will no doubt be an adventure – a Fartlek of sorts!