Saturday, July 30, 2011

Modified Box Form

Just like animals attack when they perceive fear and weakness, people can unconsciously feel a person’s power and will probably avoid conflict with those who are animated by deep self-confidence. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's FOD is the Spear Hand fragment.

Glutes and knees are a bit sore after yesterday's workout, but I was not so sore this morning as I'd expected I'd be.

I transcribed the rest of Touch Bridge and the rest of Black Crane One.

Session with CC. He wanted to see (and film) Hurricane Hands and Angry Snake Defends Its Lair. He seemed gratifyingly impressed with both. He commented that HH looked a lot better than the last time he'd seen it, and it was obvious that I had done a lot of hard work on it. I was a little exasperated that he wanted to film Angry Snake- he always catches me *RIGHT* after I've learned a form and it's all hesitant and full of bobbles, to film me and show it to RS. But I have been working on Angry Snake pretty hard, and I performed it reasonably well, I think.

We worked some more on (his very different version of) Box Form. Need to transcribe (maybe I can get that done tomorrow), but for now, notes:

Left foot steps out first,
Beginning spear hands- palms together, use a forward stance
Throw- not quite so arm-swirly. Note that you grab opponent UNDER his arm so that you can do the throw with only one hand.

Hop and unwind feet- right hand palm down and cupped slightly towards me, left palm-heel smacks into it.
right cover, left leo fist
The part with the groin strike was pretty much the same.
The Dragon hands do not cross so much. Then a step forward into fwd stance, rt spear hand eye level, grab and pull back, left palm heel, rt palm heel.

He asked me what weapons I like, and I said KNIVES! He mentioned possibly doing some Mantis knife stuff next. That would be neat.

Friday, July 29, 2011


If you don’t give up your power and your dignity, no one can take it from you. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

(Non-MA) gym.

I worked on all three dao forms, the jian form, Cannon Fist, short and long empty-hands Tai Chi forms, The Leopard At Dawn fragment, Touch Bridge, Frolic Of the Five Animals, Wood Monkey, Little Red Dragon, Leopard Three, Little Red Dragon In the Mirror, Leopard Three In the Mirror, Five Animals In the Mirror, and the modified beginning to Box form that CC went over with me a few weeks ago.

The Chen Dao and Catherine Dao have changed in light of my recent work with the White Snake Dao. I have never been enamoured of the dao- I can't get over the sense that it looks ridiculous, and I look ridiculous using it- but I must say that my dao work today looked and felt badass.

Two and a half hours of formwork- blisters on the sides of both big toes- then walking thirty laps around the track. Yes, thirty. Maybe more- I'm not entirely sure I remembered to hit the counter every time I went past.

Hopefully between that workout and a double dose of Unisom, I may be able to get the hell to sleep.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monkey tails

Inducing a certain state of mind is sufficient to control those who don’t know any other way than reacting to stimuli. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle.

Triangles, omoplatas from guard (Grab one sleeve cuff, one wrist, place foot on opponent's hip on sleeve cuff side, Spin body inward, release grips and grab belt, sit up, grab far underhook, omoplata), and sweep (opponent is standing, you have sleeve cuff. Scoot close to non-sleeve-side leg, wrap your free arm around the back of the leg, pass the sleeve cuff to THAT hand, grab lapel on same side, pull guy over).

A little positional sparring (guard pass vs sweep).

Then Mira had us all take off our belts and tuck them into the back of our pants so that they hung down like monkey tails. We chased each other around the gym trying to rip off each other's tails. I went for Brandon, the biggest guy in the place (you don't necessarily have to fight them, you just have to be quick- I came close to diving between his legs to get his tail)- then Mira sneaked up behind me and pickpocketed my tail while I was facing off Brandon.

King of the hill, guard pass vs sweep or submit.

I had to leave at 1. I still haven't had a chance to roll with Mira, and I really want to.

Archery. My precision has improved some (ie, my shots are mostly grouped close together), my accuracy has improved less (still shooting too low and too far to the left). If there had been a second bullseye just to the left of the deer's head on my target, I would have well-feathered that one. I tried a slightly closer target this time; I think that was a wise move for working on aim. I had my contacts in, so that may well have played a factor in my aim (everything is very different with my contacts in; all different adjustments to make).

I had to comment that if civilization collapses and I find myself forced to hunt for food with bow to avoid starvation, I'd better be hunting mammoth.

Getting better with form, and with pulling the string all the way back. Still having issues with the arrow slipping off my finger while I'm trying to aim or (worse) just before I loose. I've been tilting the bow pretty far to try to compensate, but I also find myself unproductively bending over and/or hunching my shoulders in reaction to that.

My string-drawing fingers (one of which is the broken one) were the limiting factor today, they got swollen and sore before anything else got too tired.

Thursday Kung Fu.

Since we were outside in the grass, we first drilled the knife defense where you sort of "slide into home plate" and kick out the attacker's knee.

Then body drops. I really wanted to make these into hip throws. I eventually started turning them out competantly, but when we switched to my stupid side, it went all to hell in a handbasket.

Tiger Versus Crane (this is the Form Of the Day). SK wants me to do a left knee-up before the box kick in the ending sequence. I have not been doing it that way. He also comments that I continue to pause during the wind-up for that one gnarly jump that I have historically struggled with so much. When I repped the form again and specifically tried to eliminate the pause, he informed me that okay, the pause was gone, but I had pulled my elbows in and micro-fu'd the technique. Dang it. Need more work on that one. And I already worked so hard and so long on that a few semesters ago... still not right. Chaining together those two final kicks is working well, though. Also, the Tiger kicks continue to feel like they could knock over a full cement truck.

One and two step Sparring, first with JM and then with SK. Still trying to stop kicks with my hands, grrrrrrr. Need to break that habit! Also still reacting poorly to crescent kicks and other big circley kicks coming in. They are just mentally intimidating.

Unfortunately, JM and SK do not react as pleasingly to my sticky-hands games as Nemesis does... they consider it a bridge, so according to the rules of engagement, they are free to clobber me- and they proceed to do so. They don't let me just hang out and chop at them from there the way Nemesis does.

I did a few minutes of no-gi BJJ with JM (well, I snuck up behind her and RNC'ed her). Her breathing was TERRIBLE (huff, puff, wheeze), as I informed her, but her BJJ is good.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chen Dao

+Chen Dao

Begin standing straight, facing north, dao held hilt down in left hand with blade lying parallel to arm. Edge forward.

Step out with left foot into horse. Bring both straight arms (dao still lying along left arm) to waist level angling northwest, then across your front, then bring hands to rt hip as you bring the left foot back in.

Step north with left foot in forward stance, body turned to northeast. Both arms spread out in a low 45 degree angle. This is a "spreading" motion with both arms and legs.

Bring rt foot up to left foot, turn west and step slightly backward. Left heel comes up in a very narrow cat stance. Transfer dao to rt hand and swing in a full circle down, then overhead to hack to west. End with blade parallel to ground at chin level, bracing rt wrist with left palm.

Rotate the blade so that it cuts right, turn it over so that it cuts left. These are very small motions.

Turn body to south and lift rt knee up as you place both hands on sword hilt and bring it to left jaw, horizontally, point toward west and sharp edge to front. Step west with rt foot into deep fwd stance, thrust sword tip to west at a slight upward diagonal. Left hand floats down to 45 degree angle off left hip to balance.

Step left foot west (in front of right) in a scissor as you bend rt wrist and let the tip of the blade drop toward the ground. Wrap the sword all the way around your head from right side to left side, tip groundward, as close to the body as possible. Left hand meanwhile comes up to guard at right jaw as in Black Crane, then splits out to 45 degree angle from left hip as you finish the cut. End in a forward stance (rt foot fwd) facing west, blade at chest level horiz with edge west, left hand at 45 degree angle off left hip.

Turn to south and draw left foot in beside rt, toe touching ground only. Place left hand on the back of the blade. Swoop the tip of the dao at the ground (blade down) in front of your feet as if spearing a pumpkin on the tip. Lift the sword horizontally (tip now pointing east) to brow level, rotate so that blade is upward. Back of the blade is still braced with left palm.

Step east with left foot, toe turned toward northeast. Still bracing back of blade with left palm, swoop the tip the dao toward the ground just in front of your left toe. Touch rt toe to ground just east of left foot and turn to north on both toes, ending in high horse. As you turn, continue the curving path of the dao tip to float up to chest level (tip now pointed east, sharp edge UP). Violent splitting motion at rt shoulder, left palm (fingers up) thrusting to west and rt elbow (with sword positioned as an extention to forearm) striking to east. You are now facing north in high horse.

Turn west and lift lft toe for a cat stance, place left hand on rt wrist. Place sword horizontally on rt shoulder with edge up.

Take one step backward (to east) with left foot, making a cat stance with rt toe fwd. swing sword in a full quick chopping circle down and then up and over at the right side of your body. Lft hand is still on rt wrist.

Rotate the blade so that it cuts left, turn it over so that it cuts right. These are very small motions.

As the blade moves to the right, step west with left foot, turn to your right and do a 180 degree spin, slashing at chest level all the way around. As you complete the turn, left hand leaves wrist and splits off to 45 degree angle off left hip. End facing west (with torso turned more south-ish) in a forward stance (rt foot forward), blade at chest level with edge northward, left hand at 45 degree angle off left hip.

Step left foot in front of rt in scissor, moving west. Place left palm on back of blade and circle dao down to rt hip. Take one more step with right to end in a front stance (rt foot fwd) facing west. Bring the dao up diagonally across chest to end at rt temple, tip upward and tipped slightly back, edge west. Rt arm is straight, left arm (bracing the back of the blade) is bent at elbow.

Step left foot west (in front of rt) in a scissor as you bend rt wrist and let the tip of the blade drop toward the ground. Wrap the sword all the way around your head from right side to left side, tip groundward, as close to the body as possible. Left hand meanwhile comes up to guard at right jaw as in Black Crane, then splits out to 45 degree angle from left hip as you finish the cut. End in a forward stance (rt foot fwd) facing west, blade at chest level horiz with edge west, left hand at 45 degree angle off left hip.

Turn to your left, lowering stance and crossing rt foot in front of left in scissor. Bring left hand to guard at rt jaw as in Black Crane. With rt hand, turn blade over so that edge faces east and bring sword to hip level. Unwind 360 degrees to face south again, bringing rt foot in front of left so that you end in a low scissor stance. Sword slashes in a horiz ring at waist level until you return to south, upon which both arms cross inward in front of you across centerline and come up and out to end in a curtseying pose to either side (blade edge down). Try to stay low and not pop up too much on each spin.

Repeat twice, for a total of three spins.

Step out with left foot toward the east, ending in a front stance facing west. Brace back of blade with left palm and bring it to rt hip. Continue the arc to bring the dao up diagonally across chest to end at rt temple, tip upward and tipped slightly back, edge west. Rt arm is straight, left arm (bracing the back of the blade) is bent at elbow.

Look east, step rt foot BEHIND left and go into a very low scissor stance (as low as possible) while bringing the sword (left hand still braced on back of blade) down in front of the body and then thrust out forcefully to the east (still tip upward and vertical) with both arms extended. This is a hard block, and the body should be huddled down hidden behind the sword as much as possible.

Pull the sword in to your centerline and (staying in a low stance) step out southward with rt foot and drop left foot BEHIND it for another very low scissor stance. Your body is now facing north. Turn the storn over so that the hilt is upward. Thrust the vertical sword out with both arms extended to the east. This is another hard block with the body huddled down as much as possible shielding behind the sword.

Step to east with rt foot and place both hands on sword hilt, bringing it to left shoulder, horiz with tip pointing east. Thrust to east, using a splitting motion with left palm striking toward west at shoulder level. End in a forward stance (rt foot fwd) facing east with body turned north.

Step left foot east (in front of right) in a scissor as you bend rt wrist and let the tip of the blade drop toward the ground. Wrap the sword all the way around your head from right side to left side, tip groundward, as close to the body as possible. Left hand meanwhile comes up to guard at right jaw as in Black Crane, then splits out to 45 degree angle from left hip as you finish the cut. End in a forward stance (rt foot fwd) facing east, blade at chest level horiz with edge west, left hand at 45 degree angle off left hip.

Turn 180 degrees to face west and step out with rt foot in a forward stance. Place left palm on rt forearm as you hack overhead and end holding sword at chest level. Do not bring the sword overhead in a big slow arc as you turn- turn and then hack.

Lift left knee sharply as if snatching foot away from a stab. Place left palm to block downward at rt hip. Angle tip of dao downward and wrap it around the left side of your head- vertical and as close to the body as possible. Circle it all the way around the body; when it gets to your rt hip, tip turns toward ground and curves back up till hilt stops at left hip, blade tip vertical and pointed up. Pause there a moment. Put your left foot back on the ground in a high horse. Left hand goes on left hip.

Poke sword tip at a spot in the air just over your left temple.

Turn rt 180 degrees and hop southeast (rt knee up first) and land in a fwd stance with left foot fwd. Pinwheel both arms down-up-over at your sides in one full circle, opposite each other, rt (sword) arm first. The rt arm ends in a horiz chest level hack. Left palm ends in a ward at left temple.

Turn 180 degrees to your right, to northwest, and repeat the motion (again, rt knee up first).

Turn body to south and lift rt knee up as you place both hands on sword hilt and bring it to left jaw, horizontally, point toward west and sharp edge to front. Step west with rt foot into deep fwd stance, thrust sword tip to west horizontally. Use a splitting motion with left palm striking toward east at shoulder level. End in a forward stance (rt foot fwd) facing east with body turned north.

Put weight on back (left) foot as you go into cat stance with rt toe up. Wrap dao around head vertically with point down, starting at rt ear and going all the way around- as close to body as possible. Left palm goes to rt jaw to ward as in Black Crane. As the sword gets to the left ear, Step backward with rt foot and end in high horse facing north. Use the momentum of the turn to propel the dao in a low looping curve (point downward) in front of the body. Left hand drops down to press at 45 degree angle off left hip to balance. Wrap sword around body again (vertical, point down, as close to the body as possible) from rt hip to left shoulder.

Then pass hilt from rt hand to left hand over your left shoulder. Bring dao to chamber with hilt in left hand, at left hip, blade lying along left arm and point upward. Rt arm straight at side. Pull rt foot in to stand straight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The best commander attacks when the least skilled is still busy making plans. –Sun Tzu

Today's FOD is Hurricane Hands. Yesterday's was Sil Lum Tao.

For Hurricane Hands, I focussed on fully extending the Snake strikes as well as trying to relax some of the tension in my arms and shoulders. I have used the visualization of tossing my hand off the end of my wrist and watching it splat on the opposite wall- weird, but that was the visual I was using when I was told my Snake strikes looked most correct- so I guess I should stick with that. I will also need to watch carefully that my hand position doesn't get sloppy while I'm focussing on that.

Improvement point- the two spots where the arm drops to do a block at the hip. Those need to bounce off and continue the energy into the following Snake strike. I knew that they were supposed to bounce off, but apparently I am putting a bit too much energy into the hit and "leaving too much behind"... need to bounce and retain/recycle more of it.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. Rodrigo and Carlos both hugged me this time when I walked in. It's just about enough to make me tear up, seriously.

We didn't do any new techniques; we're doing something a little different this week. There's a small informal intraschool pseudo-tournament this coming weekend. Student will be acting as referees as part of our effort to become more conversant with the point system. The profs spent 45 min today talking about the fine points of points. Then they split us up into groups of 5 or 6 and had two people in each group do a match while the rest tried to score. At the end, the fighters and the "refs" had to explain how they scored.

I am still confused by a lot of this, especially the details of getting or not getting points for the takedowns and the sweeps. Guard passes and mounts I can usually recognize as good for points or not. It's more difficult to keep track while I'm fighting. It is also confusing that there are differences in gi and no-gi.

I did two matches with Kelly. She is doing very, very well. She now has two stripes, and will be doing the August Revolution. I wasn't going 100% on her, but I wasn't going easy, either- and she held her own very competantly. I tried some guillotines on her today, too, and she didn't freak- so maybe she is over whatever was troubling her before regarding that. She is still breathing too hard and expending too much energy, but those are common newbie problems. She did not gas out, even so.

I did that summersaulting takedown on her, and the initial portion worked beautifully- I pushed into her, and threw her as soon as she reflexively pushed back (Gotta love those white belts! Hee hee). Unfortunately, the same thing happened that happened when I did this on Saturday: I got her over just fine, but failed to get on top afterward- thus it turned into a scramble. I want to let go of my grips as soon as I launch them off my feet, and I think I might need to retain those. But I know for sure that I need to continue the momentum of the roll and not stop/stall there on my back. Both professors saw the throw and I could hear them exclaiming excitedly to each other in Portuguese. Damn- I would have impressed them a lot more if I'd finished it correctly!

Two hour strolling walk (up and down numerous hills).

Evening BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. Positional drilling with a teenage yellow belt first: taking turns just doing guard passes, then sweeps, against almost no resistance. I only feel comfy with about a half dozen different sweeps, so I cycled though them over and over on both sides.

Then, same thing we did at lunchtime. I sparred the teenage yellow belt, and he beat me. One of the other guys in my group did what looked like a scissor takedown, so my referee opinion was to DQ him.

Sparring with first Ron, then Pat, then Steve. Steve and I closed down the mat. I pushed myself to keep going through the exhaustion. Steve was thrashing me, but I could tell that he was exhausted too- so I focussed on being peppy and trying to fool him into thinking I wasn't tired.

I overheard Sasha talking to another white belt, thumbing over at me and saying, "...and she taught me to breathe." Wow, there's a warm fuzzy. I remember rolling with him months ago, and telling him that he was huffing and puffing a lot, and needed to moderate his breathing. Apparently he remembered that and took it to heart. That is so awesomely cool that I was able to help someone improve his BJJ game like that. That makes me feel great.

Got an e-mail from Cindy- she is moving her school from the Tully's building to a location on the Eastside. Also, adult classes will be coming back: Mon/Tues/Fri evenings. Hopefully this will be underway sometime in mid-August.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Angry Snake Defending Its Lair

’Feeling’ other people’s intentions when there is no time to comprehend is not a special talent reserved for enlightened masters. Only a bad relationship with our perceptions and a poor regard for our intuition can take this fundamental weapon away from us. Centuries of strict rationalism and skeptical philosophies have contributed to undermine our natural sensitivity. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's FOD is Black Crane 3. Yesterday's was the Snake Dao fragment (fitting, since I knew we were going to be working on that again today and would have had to go over it beforehand anyway). Friday's was Chen Dao. I threw the Chen Dao stone back in the "working" bowl because I struggled a bit with the two low scissor blocks after the three big circular techniques.

Sunday competition class at Gracie Seattle (first hour only).

Lindsey exclaimed "Oh no, the Little Monster is in the house!" I said, "You missed me, don't even try to deny it." (I wonder if "Little Monster" is going to end up being my "jiu jitsu nickname".... I guess I could do worse...)

It was beautiful outside, so as I expected, we had a small group (6 of us plus the teacher). It was hot as a broiler in there, and my cardio has backslid. Lindsey loves to make us run, of course- argh. Then he made us do three hundred crunches (I am not kidding- we counted them out) and some other stuff. Then it was rotatng takedown spars from standing (restart as soon as someone gets a takedown). I got exhausted pretty quickly, and was not doing too well.

People continue to have a bitch of a time throwing me (and I can sometimes take their back while they're trying), but I continue to be embarrassingly vulnerable to the double-leg. People can usually grab a single leg on me as well, but most often that doesn't get me down- like the throw attempts, I remain upright and can often turn it into a back grab (or at the very least, a guard jump).

As per usual, I didn't make a lot of attempts myself- and what few I made were poor. I tried the fall-backward-and-flip-him-over-my-head-with-feet-in-his-hips thing on three people, and succeeded with one (it was sloppy, but I managed to get on top, so I'll call it a success).

It hurts so good to get back in the BJJ gym.

Sunday Kung Fu. SK and I were the only ones who showed up. When that happens, he feels okay about saying he wants to bail early because he's hungry- and I can't really protest. So we only did about an hour. But we got some good work done on the Snake Dao (aka "Angry Snake Defends Its Lair"... I was thinking it was "White Snake defends Its Burrow" It is indeed a White Snake form, but I had the name wrong.)

At the very beginning- hold dao at a 45-degree angle with blade down.

Make sure to place both feet side by side and touch the hilt to the right hip before going into the lunge-and-thrust.

The first lunge and thrust is different from the others: instead of bracing the hilt with your left palm and having the blade to the side, brace your left palm on your right forearm and have the blade toward the ground. It's going to take me a little time to grind that one in.

After the slice, turn and split that I learned last week: Step forward with right foot into a forward stance and stab dao backward behind you under your left armpit. You can turn your head to look where you're stabbing, but do not turn torso. left arm crosses to block at neck (as in Black Crane).

Step forward with left foot and turn to your right, sinking into a low horse. Bend at the waist and duck head as low as possible, as you continue that turn. End kneeling on left knee, facing the way you just stabbed under the armpit. The sword circles all the way around with you and then up above your right temple, held horizontally as your left hand presses forward at chest level ("pushing the corpse off your blade" motion).

Plant tip of blade in ground in front of your right toe (sharp edge to front), stand up and thrust kick groin level with left foot.

Bring blade back to hip and then overhand to hack. This isn't a huge motion (it doesn't have to be a full circle behind your hip). Hips propel the hack, as they turn back toward that opponent. The hack ends with a pull-back (sword) and press-forward (left hand at waist level).

Now you are at the starting point of the other previously-learned piece: where you scissor-step in front and press the blade forward.

(skipping previously notated section)

After the deep lunge, stand up and little hop/chop that I learned last week: Lift right knee up, brace dao with left palm at face and lunge/stab right. Make sure to extend fully (I need to watch that with all of my lunge/stabs).

Pull dao hilt back to face- pull arms as far to the left as possible. At the same time, pull rt foot in beside left.


Chamber dao at right hip and rest back of blade beside your own neck. Chamber left fist at waist. At the same time, step forward with left foot. (This is weird to me... I have never done a chamber this way; all the Chen dao and other dao work I have ever done never holds the hilt like that, nor places the blade beside your own neck! Bizarre)

Step forward with rt foot into cat stance. Bring dao hilt up to chest level and cup both hands over hilt.

Step back with right foot and then with left foot, rechamber both arms as before.

Dang, I feel like I'm forgetting a few details.... it already starts to slip away in less than four hours. I didn't go directly home to make blog notes right after practice, that's why. I'll have to get it cleaned up next time.

SK let me try the form a few times with his metal dao. Man, that puppy is heavy. Too heavy (and too long) for me. I had a hard time stopping swings, etc, because the weight/momentum wanted to continue the movements. If I tried to use that sword regularly, my right bicep would be three times bigger than my left. I do, however, want to try the Chen Dao and Catherine Dao forms with this sword next time I get a chance.

SK showed me a piece of a different dao form and asked me what animal style I though it was. First I asked, "Is it one of the standard five, or is this a trick question (ie, Leopard, Hung Gar, etc)?" "One of the standard five." I saw elements of all of them except Dragon- so I didn't know- but I guessed Tiger. Then he wouldn't tell me the answer. "Do you not know, or do you know and just won't tell me?" "The latter." "I hate it when you do that." "I know. It is done to me, and I'm just passing it down." If it turns out to be Dragon, I'll be annoyed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Often, the obsession for being fair and objective under all circumstances transforms our mind into a tribunal. We want tangible proofs and objective evidence to believe in what we already know. Unfortunately, intuition is not objective and offers no proofs. It travels on tracks that are much too fast to wait for the painfully slow speed at which logical analysis moves. Rational understanding arrives at the finish line hours later (if it arrives at all), only to confirm what intuition has already revealed to us. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's FoD is the Dance Of Life. Yesterday's was Bung Bo Kuen.

Thursday evening kung fu. While waiting for class to begin, I repped Dance Of Life.

After some hand strike drills, we did some sideways horse stance walking (twisting alternate directions into scissor stance). Then some stationary horse stance- folding all the way to the ground in scissors and back up again. I didn't do so well at that one. I got about to knee level, and then just had to drop the rest of the way and land on my butt. Had to use a hand to get myself back up the first time.... although after that, I managed to get myself up off the ground.

Kick drill- inside crescent, outside crescent, front, back, side, shovel, hook, roundhouse. Nemesis led the kick drill today.

Sticky hands. I worked with Nemesis. He was muscling some, and I had to either back up (out of my range, although of course still well within his), or endure him pressing my own wrist back against my own chest. I finally backed up and started walking around in circles- which wasn't exactly the drill we were supposed to be doing, but in that context, I could deal with him better.

Five Animals. RM knows the whole form now, and has the movements down pretty well, but he is stiff as a board. The concept of flow has no meaning for him right now. Marcie is about 2/3 of the way through learning the gross techniques, and is still focussed on "what comes next". I was told that I am having a few random flying-elbow issues in a few spots.

SK wants to encorporate some more sweat into the class- more (and harder) cardio and conditioning. He asked what we all thought of that idea, and I said fine, although I don't want to spend *too* much class time on that sort of thing at the expense of actual technique. I also mentioned that if he makes us run stairs and stand in tabletop horse stance for an hour, it's going to blast my knees to the point where I won't be able to do much for the remainder of the class (or for the following four days or so).

Individual forms time. I went over both Spear Hand fragments, the Tai Chi long form, Cannon Fist (three times), Hurricane Hands, Long Qi (half a dozen times).


Even more than strength and agility, awareness is our best weapon: a dynamic
awareness that can look simultaneously into the present, the future, and the past. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's FOD is Bung Bo Kuen.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Pulling guard from standing, foot in hip. Then, pulling the opponent's sleeve to the side, scooting out, taking the back. To be followed by: gi choke from back mount. I got tired- and scooting out to jump on someone's back and get your hooks in gets a lot harder once you get tired! Carlos kept us drilling at a brisk pace, finishing with a blast of cardio exercises. I stayed for positional training, but not open mat.

Rodrigo pounced on me in the locker room… "So, August 20….." LOL. He's so funny. I give him credit for waiting one day, instead of asking me about it last night when I first came back! I've missed a lot of training, and August is rife with 11:30am-8pm workshifts (which do not allow me to go to any classes), so I will still not be getting in there as much as I want to be. The finger will not be 100%, either. (I'm not sure it ever will be again.) We'll see what I feel like when the tournament deadline looms.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

At least I'm not pre-diabetic

Without a mind reminding it of its limits, the body discovers new sources of energy.
-Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's FOD is Long Qi.

I did a heme/chem panel on myself Saturday night. I had slept much of the day, had a piece of pizza around 5pm, and a can of Dr. Pepper when I got up to get ready for work around 8 or 9pm. I didn't feel very hungry at the time, so I didn't eat a meal before work. Got the blood drawn around 11pm-midnightish, and was surprised to see a glucose of 66. I guess it *was* sort of a "fasting" sample at that point, although I would have thought the soda alone would have popped it up higher than that. I said to my lab assistant, "I guess I should go get a snack, huh?"

I faxed the labs to my gyno (who had asked for them); the nurse left me a voice mail this morning telling me to eat more frequent meals with protein and carbs. (grin) She also wants me to eat some bananas, since my potassium was also a touch low.

The rest of the labs looked fine. My weight is still around 127, give or take a couple- despite my BJJ hiatus. I got my Jeep back today. I am going to try to make the commute into the city tonight and do class with JB. Should also be able to hit the Seattle school for lunchtime class tomorrow, although I will have to shower there and go directly to work afterward. This month and next month are heavy on the work schedule- I can't really complain, since I need the money (The repair bill for the Jeep is painful, plus the rental car costs, and all the bills from my trip last month are coming in now as well). Yes, I *can* complain, since it's making it harder to get back to jiu jitsu. Well, work: necessary evil.

CK will be in town Aug 4-13. Work again is going to interfere, but I should be able to get a couple of sessions with her. I am happy that the Form Of the Month program means that I am reasonably up to date on all of her forms and should not embarrass myself. MM will be in town the entire month, but I will likely not see a whole lot of him, since we will most likely not be having any Sunday classes in August.

Tuesday evening BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Pulling guard from standing, tripod sweep, foot-switch from failed tripod sweep to a sweep of the OPPOSITE leg. I adore the tripod sweep. I try for it all the time, but I never get it because I can't keep straight which things I'm supposed to be doing on the left versus which things I'm supposed to be doing on the right. But someday I'll get it.

Another trouble spot- I have a hard time remembering to keep my fingers out of the pants cuff. Rodrigo came over to warn me against that, and I did the very same thing on the next rep, drattit.

I drilled with JB, then did positional training (closed guard, then back mount) with one of the white belt girls from the self-defense class. She did very well.

I skipped open mat- I want to be careful to not kill myself after I've been off for so long.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dao, bo, Sil Lum Tao

Today's FoD is Catherine Dao. Yesterday's was the Northern Mantis Bo form. Friday's was Five Animals.

Kung fu. I have been working much and sleeping little this week, and was pretty wrung out. It took a lot of effort to stay focussed tonight, but I did, and got a lot of good work done. Man, am I tired, though. I would really like to sleep all day tomorrow and then go back to to BJJ on Tuesday.... but it's all going to depend on whether or not my unreliable colleague is going to show up for work for the next two nights or not. If she does not, I'm going to be dragging in for the seventh and eighth night in a row. It wouldn't be so bad if I *knew* I was working eight midnight shifts in a row, and could plan for such- the problem is being woken up every afternoon at 4pm by my boss to be asked to come in, and then not being able to get back to sleep after the phone calls.

It was just SK, Nemesis and me in class today. (I wonder if JM is just particularly stressed out right now, or if she's gearing up to actually drop the class.... hopefully the former.)

First, SK asked if I remembered the Snake Dao stuff. I said yes, he said, "Show me" and then I proceeded to muck it all up. How embarrassing. And I *had* practiced it within the last couple weeks (it's on my FoD list). He refreshed my memory, then added some corrections and a few new things.

First chunk:

Opening: remember to place the left hand (bracing the back of the dao) at a 90 degree angle instead of paralleling the blade with the fingers up.

Keep the blade as upright as possible during the wrap around the body (here and elsewhere- it is a recurring trouble point).

I asked him what was wrong with my turn; as I was bringing the foot through, I felt unbalanced. It turns out that I was swinging the foot out in a curve instead of bringing it straight through like any sane person would. I had to laugh. It was another case of "dance contamination". Once I started bringing the foot straight through, it got much more stable.

In Snake dao- contrasting sharply with all of the other dao work I have done- the opposite hand does not work on a straight line to balance the sword when you are bringing it up for head covers. The head-covering arm comes right up in front of the face instead of off to the left like I always want to do it.

This move goes straight into the wiping-the-corpse-off-your-blade move, then the hilt to the ribs with the little hop (make sure you're in a cat stance at the end of this- do a little pause just to make sure). Spinning jump, rt leg up with dao at left temple (make sure you brace the hilt with the opposite palm), stab, circle and drop. On the drop, place the left palm guarding at ribs. when the drop is complete, move that palm up to the jaw (as in Black Crane).

Now, bring the blade tip back down as if you were going to stab the ground, then circle it all the way around as you get up and hop slightly to the left (replacing the left foot position with the right foot). End in a high horse. The hilt ends at your right hip, right elbow glued to ribs (this stops the momentum). The left hand chambers. The hack down is a powerful motion, and the left hand chambering HARD is what balances it. I had a heck of a time because my left arm wanted to do something leg and swingy to better balance that right arm making big powerful sword circles. Paying close attention to the two separate guard poses during the drop, and then to the splitting motion at the end, are important.

Second chunk: (in the form, there is some stuff between these two chunks... it must be harder stuff, since we're not going to work on that yet)

The up-and-down floppy-wristed cuts- make sure they make a narrow parabola and that you are aiming both cuts at the target (slightly left of center). The tip of the dao tilts up slightly on the upcut so that it slices- it's not straight up. They go for a count of four (beginning with the left foot stepping). On four, stop dead with the hilt at hip, in a high stance with the feet (seemingly) way too close together. The body is facing left. Then step fwd with right foot (turning body to front now) and lunge. Left palm is bracing bottom of hilt, and sword is on a line with the straight rear leg.

Now, pause to look behind you. Scissor-step in FRONT with rt leg, while wrapping (again, keep dao close to body and straight up-and-down). You are blocking the enemy that you turned to look for. Step into a horse, facing east, and slice through at waist level. Make sure that opposite "covering" arm comes up in front of the face and not flying off to the left side.

When you finish slicing all the way through that person, turn the blade over (without stopping) and step into a medium-deep lunge, left leg south. Left hand crosses right wrist as you turn, then both arms are out at waist level in a curtseying pose as you do the lunge.

My brain was full and my knees aching by now. SK wanted to do Kiu Two next, but I had to say that I didn't think my knees could manage it tonight.

So, next he asked if I remembered the Mantis Bo. I wanted to reply "yes", but after what had happened the last time I did that, I instead tempered that to "I think so". This time when he said "Show me", I was able to do the whole form. I was happy about that- especially as SK, JM and Nemesis had apparently worked on this form while I was out of town, and it took the three of them a long time to piece it back together. I did get some feedback, however, that I was doing the Peter Rabbit thing again (popping up on my toes every time I did a turn). Need to drop the stances and make sure to keep my head on the same level. (Pay particular attention to that at the very end for the salute).

Improvement points- pay more attention to the wrist snaps, and don't get lazy with the grip (SK walked up and knocked the bo out of my hands to call my attention to my lazy grip).

On the stirring ankle-looping thingies, make one little circle as you pick the right foot up, then a SECOND circle. I have not been doing it that way.

My entire form is thrown off by the fact that my bo is too long for me. I can't trim it, because I still haven't paid JoE for it.

After working on that form for a while, and taking some time for Nemesis and I to practice our blocks by hitting each other with our staffs, we had 30 min left and were asked what we wanted to work on. Nemesis suggested Sil Lum Tao.

Pak saus- my hand is too close to my chest, and I'm pushing the palm further to the side than I am supposed to.

First palm strike is fingers-up, second one is lower (solar plex level), fingers to the side. Third one is fingers up. The ones after the axe-hands are sort of diagonal.

I am pushing my gon sau's too far to the side as well. They only have to go slightly past center.

The power behind the groin strikes is mostly from the drop, not from pushing the hand forward. However, you don't have to drop too far (with the knees together).

Nemesis and I then took turns pak-sau'ing each other's arms. I did about 1 nice one to every nineteen where I was pushing too much with the arm. I could tell what it was SUPPOSED to be like (ie, I could identify that one good rep when it happened), but I just couldn't seem to make my arm **DO** it. It was exasperating. After I tried and failed for a long time, and started getting frustrated, SK poked a finger into my rock-tense trapezius muscle and made me yelp.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Today's Form Of the Day was Kiu Two. Wednesday's was Leopard at Dawn. Tuesday's was the Tai Chi long form. (Again, noticing that that is one extremely looooooooooooooooong form, even micro-fu'ing through it at a speed that would make CK cringe).

Yes, my Jeep is still in the shop. I popped a tire on my motorcycle on the way home from work Monday night. I have obviously offended the Gods Of Travel in some enormous way- inadvertantly desecrated a shrine or something. Anyway, left with no transportation at all, I was forced to rent a car. I mean to get back to BJJ class next week.

Thursday kung fu:

Hand strike drills. I am still doing my ridge hand strikes with too much elbow-flying and too much shoulder movement. I am also putting some unneccessary wrist flourishes in some of my Mantis parries. When I removed the extra wrist flourishes, the technique was faster... however, it felt more "Mantissy" *with* the flourishes.

Tiger Kick Drill. Most remember that the third technique involves a claw to the side (west) and not to the rear as I first learned. The left hand does not need to swirl upward before chambering (this makes for a strange palm orientation that felt glaringly wrong). Just move it directly down in a J shape trajectory.
After Dragon Rides the Wind, replace the kicking leg BEHIND the posting one. I have been pulling it through and placing it in front in order to begin the drill again on the opposite side- which is great, but as soon as I tried it THIS way, it was much easier to keep my balance. I can always just take a rolling step forward after that, in order to begin the next rep on the opposite side.
One more thing- remember to chamber everything fully- especially the kicking leg. The kicking leg still chambers in front (not to the side) for a side kick.

RM got the Dragon Rides the Wind today. After struggling for a good while, shaking his head at the weirdness of it, he threw out two perfect ones. Then went back to the ones where he looks like an arthritic farmer pitching a fork of hay up into the loft. But he's getting it. I commented to him today, "You like Mantis, don't you?" When it was his turn to pick a hand strike, he asked SK for something Mantissy that he hadn't seen before. I can hardly wait to see him start learning Bung Bo Kuen.

Black Crane line drills. Need to remember to not lock out my elbow on the corkscrew punch. Let the ending rotation rotate around a fixed point on the knuckle. Corkscrew punches have always been a bugaboo for me. Also, the very first drill, with the eye strike- for some reason I wanted to use knife hands today, although I know it is a two-finger stab. I think it was just because I was tired (this is my third consecutive night of midnight shifts, sleeping very poorly- no sleep at ALL today). But I am notating it anyway, so as to jog my memory next time.

We continued on to one of the more complex Black Crane drills- the one with the White Crane stance in it. I seemed to do better this time with the "which-hand-does-the-Crane's-beak-strike" confusion, but still worth noting that the beak strike is with the opposite hand as the kicking foot. Also- the kick should have the foot oriented diagonally witht he heel inward, because you are aiming where the thigh joins the torso. I was furthermore told that I should do the second kick (the one after the takedown) lower. This drill also starts in a low Black Crane guard with Eagle claws (although I first learned it from high Black Crane Guard (no claws). I found it easier to morph the two by ending the drill in the high Black Guard and then deliberately dropping the arms into low guard with Eagle claws.

Five Animals. I remembered to not bend my wrists in the White Ape Presents the Fruit. (SK really wants me to do this technique "the mean way"- with the protruding gouging thumbs- instead of the "nice way" as I tend to do it.) I also remembered to do a hard decisive wrist hook with the double Crane Beaks. My Snake pull-aparts are better this week as well. I am getting the weight shift into the pull. I seem to want to straighten the front leg on the second rep, though. It is a Cat stance, so I need to make sure I go into the correct stance.

My Improvement Opportunity for this week- after the two kneeling stabby strikes, do NOT get up from the second one and raise the right arm while turning east into the double Dragon fist punches. As SK eloquently demonstrated, this is inviting someone to come along and nail you in the right ribs. Instead, lead with an elbow. This can curl straight into the right handed Dragon fist (I wasn't able to quite manage that this time, but I can see by slo-mo'ing it how it would work).
Also- do not collapse the left knee in during the closing.

30 min of individual formwork. I did Kiu Two, since it was the FOD. Then I did some Spear Hand (both chunks) and the Southern Mantis bit. SK wanted me to show him the Southern Mantis. Then I asked him to do Kiu Two with me. I bobbled it some at first (I always get so discombobulated trying to do partnered forms). At least I did not mix up any techniques (in front of him, anyway) between Part A and Part B. Needed some fine-tuning of the final Flurry-Of-Strikes sequence (including one bit where I told him to go ahead and Snake-strike me in the bladder hard enough to make me remember, if I continued to fail to parry low enough). Still cheating- if not forgetting altogther- that blasted ton sau. I also phucked up the sweep and needed to be reminded to 1)set the second foot down closer to the first, and 2)don't try to spin 360, end facing the side and then twist as you stand. Sigh.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


In order to resist [suffering] for a long time, we have to be able to move the mind somewhere else. Beyond the body, beyond the sharp teeth of Pain. We can keep on suffering stoically….. or we can use it to learn to move our consciousness at will. Pain and fatigue exhaust the body until the rational mind, not the least intrigued by all of this, decides to take off and leave us free to explore other states of consciousness. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday's Form Of the Day: the Three Step Arrow fragment. Saturday: Five Points Of the Star. Today: Leopard Fist. I removed the paper list of Forms Of the Day and replaced it with two little bowls of glass aquarium stones labelled with the forms. I had to shorthand most of them, but that's okay. Another thing that might be interesting to do someday is to transcribe the Chinese names of the forms onto the stones. Anyway, the FOD will now be in random order.

The carpool was late today- so late, in fact, that we missed Nemesis altogether (sorry buddy). So we just free-sparred for an hour or so, then SK was ready to call it a night because he was tired and hungry.

We started from standing, and I sucked really bad- in no small part because we were outside at the Hiawatha Community Center- which was locked- and thus I didn't have a bathroom in which to insert my contacts. While my logical brain tells me that with my glasses off, I can still see all I really need to see in order to fight adequately, my primal brain is whimpering, "I feel so vulnerable and crippled and impaired!" and my performance suffers perforce. This is definitely something I need/want to work through, but I'm not sure if now is a good time to do that.

After getting clobbered and slammed and battered and knocked about, I asked if we could do some BJJ so that I wouldn't be at quite so much of a disadvantage. Well, I wasn't doing a whole lot better there. SK can still beat me more often than not, especially if we are doing no-gi.

Oh well- still fun, and a good workout... even if I got my butt kicked.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


So often I have witnessed things I would never have believed possible that I am more than willing to keep my mind open to the idea that our bodies are home to forces that we don’t fully comprehend. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Jeep still in shop, which is crippling my ability to get to class.

Friday's Form Of the Day was Touch Bridge. Saturday's was Hurricane Hands. Sunday's was Cannon Fist. Monday's was Kiu Two.Tuesday's was the Chen Dau form. Wednesday: Dance Of Life. Today, the Snake Dao fragment. I am now at the end of round one through the form list. This was a good idea.

Today I tried archery for the first time. My form and aim both need work, but I was mostly hitting the straw bale (if not always the target itself) instead of the trees, random fly-by birds, or my fellow sportspeople. Go me!

I was worried about using my arm muscles too much as opposed to the back muscles to draw, but my form did not seem too bad as long as I kept paying attention to it and didn't get sloppy. I had to be reminded a few times to not hunch. I was also worried about getting tired really fast, but I did okay there, although my aim definitely went downhill later in the session. My broken finger was hampering me a titch, but it was bearable. I have green dye from the fletching ground into the knuckle of my left index finger- at at one point I embedded a piece of the fake feather in the skin (ouch). There's a little leather thingie you can wear for that, which I wore for a while, but it was making it more difficult for me to aim, so I took it off again. I wonder if taping that knuckle would work.

The biggest challenge was trying to aim with my F'ed up binocular vision. I am very strongly left-eye dominant, to the point that I tend to tilt my head in that direction and not use my right eye much, especially for aiming things. I'd been told that it was bad form to close one eye, so I tried it with both eyes open. Fair results, but not as good as I wanted. So I closed my right eye (the weak one) and the aim got a lot worse. Huh??? I tried closing the left (strong) eye, and the aim got better. That made absolutely no sense to me until my teacher pointed out that it was my right eye that was in a position to be sighting right along the arrow. Duh.

Still having to make what seemed like a lot of adjustments and aim fairly high and to the right of my target... and still shooting a lot of "grounders" that ended up UNDER the straw bale, as well as a good deal of shooting the paper-target antelope in the ass instead of in the ribs where I was aiming... but I think with practice, I will learn how to compensate for my weird eyes and be able to aim better. It was fun, I definitely want to try some more!

Thursday kung fu. We started with JM in horse stance (feet "glued" to the floor) and me attacking. She could only parry and block, no counterstriking. Then we switched places. It was so hard to not counterstrike. On the other hand, it's nice to see how ingrained it is to do so. She was behind me- forcing me to work in deep 180 degree scissor stance- for a long time, and at one point I felt my left knee go "pop". Crap. But it seemed fine for the rest of the class, so I forgot about it.

Next, review of the first three Black Crane line drills: apps with partners. As usual, I had trouble with Nemesis, and I had to change one throat-strike-with-takedown into a groin-strike-with-takedown. I also had some issues with right versus left, which went away as soon as I quit worrying about it and just focussed on doing some app that worked instead of the "correct" app with the "correct" foot on the "correct" side.

Next, kick line drills. The jumping box kick, which I've always struggled with a bit, seemed mostly okay tonight (better if I could stay focussed on getting proper elevation before the second kick). The flying whirlwind kick- ugh. It got better- it gets better every time I work on it- but it still sucks! Improvement points- I need to make sure to spot my target FIRST, and turn more *before* I get in too much of a hurry to get my feet off the ground (which incidentally will help me spot my target). JM's flying whirlwind kicks are ***SICK***! Perfect form, scary power, jaw-dropping height. And of course when I told her this, all she could do was nitpick at some imaginary tiny flaw. I tried to talk her out of it, but no go.

Oh, I also made a point of telling her last week- when I was alone with her- that for what my opinion is worth, her Dragon energy is more powerful than ANYONE's except for CN. She seemed quite shocked. Well, it seems patently obvious to me that she is a Tiger/Dragon, just like me. The two styles are clearly connected. She may be teetering a bit closer to Dragon, with me teetering a bit closer to Tiger. She doesn't seem to see it. Yet.

A few more kicks.... roundhouse into hook kick... again, needing to spot the target more carefully (in this case, before the second kick). In both of these cases where I was sloppy with spotting the target, I was launching the kick prematurely, and even if I was flexible enough to get all the way around, the point of greatest power was being reached before I reached the actual target.

Five Animals form. Improvement opportunities for me- watch the hop back into White Crane pose, don't have the arms hyperextended, and make sure the elbows are dropped. Also, the White Ape Offers the Cup- I have been doing it with my wrists bent. No bent wrists. I argued that I was visualizing my target higher than was being demo'ed, but SK made me do the app on him until I had to admit that yup, you're right, I'm wrong. And that's why he's the teacher. (heh heh)

On the walk back to the car, my left knee siezed up in a gaspingly painful fashion. It had been fine all the way through class- doing spinning flying kicks! But it didn't want to walk back to the car. I had to hobble, agonizingly. Let's see what it's like in the morning.