Thursday, November 17, 2011

Southern Mantis

The 70-80% level of technical excellence can be achieved relatively quickly; however, to attain the remaining 30% or 20% requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"


I'm relieved to not be gaining a lot of weight. Besides the "almost no exercise"thing, I have (as Georgette says) been "craving comfort food"- partly because I'm depressed and partly because it's really really cold.

JoE wanted to work on the first section of the tai chi long form again, so we did that for a while. Then Southern Mantis.


After the first turn, the stance is a cat stance, but shifts into a front stance with the strike.

The first backfist- look at the target over the right shoulder, but do not turn the shoulders/torso. Torso remains facing south.

Just after the cat stance with curving-up topfist: as you skip forward with that circular punch, the left hand is doing a southern Mantis-handed clearing motion in front of your body. (This is *HARD*- it doesn't really seem to make kinetic sense- yet)

The low splitting motion just before the head grab- these are also southern Mantis hands.

Head grab and knee up: the reason I was having trouble getting my rt knee past my inturned left knee to do this knee strike is that when JoE does it, he pivots on the posting foot as the knee goes up, so that the toe is no longer turned in. While I had barely been able to squeak out the technique with my toe still turned in, I needed to stop and clarify that- because the next move has you turning to the left. If my toe had remained where it was, the next move would have rotated my left leg 360 degrees at the hip and busted the thing right off.

New part: after you smash the bad guy's head on your knee, turn to south in horse and chamber left hand at waist. Right hand describes a small counterclockwise circle and ends pressing toward the floor palm-down at groin.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike into another small counterclockwise circle and Mantis-fist strike rt hand across your waist to the east. Torso does not turn- remain facing south.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike and turn east in cat (left toe in front), rt forearm across chest and palm warding toward north just under left armpit. This had should be all the way past the body. As it snaps into place, left hand comes over it and strikes to east at neck level with poking southern Mantis-finger. This strike begins at centerline breastbone and the arm follows a looping corkscrew path, curving a bit to your rt and ending with the palm facing north. Very southern-Mantisy, it looks awesome when JoE does it- I am clumsy with it. I can see how it's SUPPOSED to be, though.

JoE is not happy with my flow in this form (a perpetual problem for me, especially in Mantis material). He doesn't like the pauses. He made me try to do it really fast, to get rid of the pauses.

We then did some Box form, at JoE's request. I was able to confidently answer all of his questions. I feel pretty good about most of my Dragon material. *He* looks clumsy in *this*. I couldn't criticize his motions (well, I could, and did, a few- but then he fixed them), but the flow needs a lot of work. He was pausing too much (ha ha... I'm totally serious!) It's good that we have different strengths, so that we can help each other learn.

We ended with a little sparring, slow-mo because I didn't feel like putting my contacts in. The slow-mo- with him- really points up 1)where I leave holes, and 2)how I let him tie up my arms (often getting one or both actually crossed over my centerline). I didn't let him take my back and knock me down to RNC me this time, although he did take me down once, and then perched on top of me and punched me in the head. I was able to mime ripping his testicles off, but eventually had to cry uncle and admit that although he may be neutered, I was dead. I wish my sweep skills were good enough that I woudn't get pinned with him on top like that all the time.

As usual, I had a hard time dragging ass out to do this this morning. My body was happy afterward, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"If you were naked, I'd have no problem"

It is important that when a new activity is being introduced, the practices that immediately precede it are will known to the student and the general movement pattern is similar to the new skill. The advantage of this strategy is that the student is confident in his own ability and has a starting point to work from. Having an existing frame of reference makes any demonstration or presentation of a new technique all the more effective for the student, because he can quickly relate it to his own existing range of skills. With similar movement patterns, the rate of learning is much faster than with different ones, because part of the skill is already known. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Yeah, there's another blog post title that'll get a few extra hits.......

Friday FOD: Iron Needle
Sat FOD: 3 Step Arrow fragment
Sun: Silken Needle
Mon: Chen Jian

Tues: Jian, again. Yesterday was the last stone in the jar, so today was the restart- and I picked Jian again. This is obviously straight-sword-and-Needle week.

Wednesday: Did not exist
Thursday: Sil Lum Tao
Friday through the following Wednesday: Did not exist. This has been a bad week.

Series of nightmares on Monday, including one in which something new and particularly disturbing happened- for the first time in about a decade, I reached for my knife in a nightmare and the thing wasn't there.

True, I have not yet replaced my broken serrated knife. I'm still carrying the straight edge, but have gotten a little lazy in that I've been putting it not in my waistband or cargo-pants leg pocket as has been previous habit, but in my shirt pocket (where- if I needed it- there would be a delay as I would have to first think about what pocket it was in, and then dig past all the other crap in my pocket to get to it.) Now that I am sleeping in the tent, I have also gotten lazy in that instead of having the knife right where I can reach it while I sleep, I've been leaving it on the counter or hearth.

This nightmare illustrates a disturbing disconnect between me and my warrior self.

It's also bothering me a lot that when I fly to Delaware on a business trip at the end of the month, I will have to leave my knife at home altogether (unless I want to pay $50 to check a bag) and be totally unarmed for three days in a strange city. I do not like that feeling. No pepper spray either. &%#$^&% TSA Security Theater.

Congrats to Gracie Barra Seattle, which kicked butt at last weekend's Revolution.

Tuesday: Another nightmare, during which I thought about reaching for the knife and didn't even try this time. I had some kind of small blunt untensil in my hand, and decided (?) to make do with that, even though the guy I was about to engage was about half my age, three times my size, had already beaten the crap out of at least one person further up the hallway, and was ranting like he was seriously high. (Hey, at least I was still willing to pile in; that's good, right? That guy was scary!)

Wednesday: Acrobalance. I discerned during the warmup that my right shoulder was sore and weak (Why- when the most martial thing I've done with it lately is open a stuck ketchup bottle for my housemate??). I also noticed that I seem even more wobbly than usual on poses that involve standing on the left foot.

Allover, I was doing a little more poorly this week in acrobalance, altho I think part of that had to do with the guy who was my partner for most of it. He was new and clueless as well, yet somehow decided that he was competant to teach me (yeah, those types of people aren't just in BJJ class!) At one point, he slid his foot down to brace against the inside of my knee while I was in the Chinese splits, and then instructed me to swing my leg to the inside- umm, sorry dude, that is not physically possible unless I saw it off first, or you move your damn foot!

I gave an instruction tonight too, though- I couldn't help it. I try really hard to remember to keep my mouth shut unless it's a class I am actually officially supposed to be TEACHING- and moreso when it's only *my* second class in the school. But the (male) assistant teacher tried three or four different ways to tell a teen girl how to fix her posture so that she wouldn't get pulled too far forward by her partner, and finally I couldn't stand it any more and I told her "stick your chest out". She did, and immediately was able to balance after having fallen off about ten times. So I forgive myself.

Ironically, I seem to be more balanced on upside-down techniques than on rightside-up ones.

I would have liked to practice being the "base" a little more, but once again I was by far the lightest person in the room. Not that that means I can't lift someone a lot heavier than myself, with the proper form- when I did contact improv, I once had a six-foot-two male ballet dancer jumping up and sitting on my shoulder, and he must have weighed twice what I do. But I figured that since I don't know what I'm doing in this class well enough to always *HAVE* proper form, I'd better be conservative.

Being the lightest also made me the default for "Hey, Kitsune, come over here and let this brand-new guy lie down and try to balance you upside down on his feet" even though it was only my second class. Luckily, as a martial artist, I know how to fall down. And here they have something I don't have in MA class- SPOTTERS, whose job is to save you when you're about to do a face plant or go cartwheeling over the railing into the arena below.

Note that there were several clothing malfunctions tonight, mostly involving trying to stand on people's thighs, and having one's foot slip on their pants or tights. I think what I wore tonight is the wise choice- bike shorts with yoga pants over them. That way if people are having trouble getting purchase on my pants, I can just take them off. When I was standing on my partner's thigh (the pose in the photo, incidentally) and he suggested an alternate direction of balancing, I said, "It's not the orientation that's making me slide, it's your pants. If you were naked, I've have no problem." (You know, I really ought to take more time to get to know a class and its students before tossing out commentary like that.... but the teacher was repeatedly making reference to the position of her "ass" and our asses as well, so I figured if she could get away with saying "ass", I could get away with suggesting that a guy take his pants off....)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


If even for the blink of an eye you can control two of the other guy’s limbs with one of yours, either with angle or timing or some sort of clinch, then the opponent is in grave danger. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

(Kitsune to CC and D)
Are we on for Thursday at 6?

Looks like D will be here…I will be visiting a friend at a hospital but will try and be back in time for the tail end

(K to D)

you really don't like to waste time with socially pleasant extraneous words do you!?!


Tigers like to just get to the Point. If not all Five of them.

Some evil person has been stocking the cookie jar in the communal kitchen with Halloween candy for the past couple of weeks.

Thursday FOD: Touch Bridge

JoE wanted to work on the Tai Chi long form, so we did that for a while. Then more Kiu Two, which again took the bulk of the time. He had a cool armbar app for the salute, of all things. JoE loves those armbars.

He wanted to work a Wing Chun drill of CC's, and we bumbled around trying to remember exactly how it went. Next time I see CC (if I ever do- geez that man is flaky about meeting... he's bailed again for tonight), I'll need to review that.

A little sparring- again not too great on my end, although once again I avoided most of his copious takedown attempts.

Last time I sparred him, though, I had let him GET MY BACK AND TAKE ME DOWN- **TWICE**... he did the same darn thing today (only once, though). I need to not let him do that again- I'm still not quite sure how it happened, so if he *does* get that on me again, I need to call a time-out and reconstruct exactly what he is doing and what I ought to be doing in order to stop him.

I did get front mount on him and hold it for quite some time, although he was doing a pretty good job defending his neck. He normally does not have any trouble tossing me off front mount (few people do), but today I prevented this by constantly shifting my weight around- sometimes sliding almost off into a side control, then back on again (while constantly attacking the throat). He was only able to get me off him in the end with a hair grab (OOOOOH how I hate those!!)

I asked D to work on the Green Dragon form- Plum Blossom Fist (who makes up these names???!? I wonder how many of these bizarre form names can be traced back to poor translation skills).

First arm-circle: make sure the back of the rt hand SLAPS, and pull left hand all the way to centerline.

Elbow strikes- fold arms more, so that elbows are overlapping

Second arm-circle: end with a snap.

Both arm-circle parts: note that these are cat stances and not Seven Stars. For some reason I keep wanting to do Seven Stars.

New part, after the 2nd arm-circle.....

Little hop to the right (south), Black Crane guard to north (Rt palm at left jaw, left palm outward at left thigh).

Left side kick north to knee level. Rechamber. Do not set foot down.

Bring both straight arms down, circle to your rt, then over head, As you give a little 180 degree hop to face west. Hands continue circle in a karate-chop motion to north (rt one on top and in front), continuing to your knees as you bend a little, facing west. Now arms circle around to your left, overhead, face north again and end in karate guard position facing north. Left hand is on top and in front, you are in a north-facing cat with rt toe in front. This entire arm-circling sequence is continuous and flowing.

Scissor step rt foot to west in front of left. High blocks to west, elbows leading. Left, then right.

End by pulling rt Mantis hook back to rt shoulder, step west with left foot and turn north in a high horse. left palm-up knfe hand strikes to north neck height. The power comes from the torque in the turn and Mantis-hook pull.

Now into the previously learned hop-and-turn-and-kneel section.

Those elbow circle-block things are going to need a lot more work- I am still a bit confused. I want to be doing low palm-heels as I pull out of each one, but apparently you don't.

We practiced the Kneeling-with-Leopard-fist guard section as well, and D keeps harping on me that my flow is not continuous enough (thus the energy is not recycling, and I'm chopping the power off of all the strikes). Also (as always) my shoulders (all of me, in fact, but especially my shoulders) are too tense. Part of this is a mental block- when I loosen up these big arm-circle things, it makes me feel that if I was actually hitting anyone, it would be like those chicken-flap hits that women who've had no self defense traning always do. I wish I could see CN do these- it would probably help a lot. Anyway, after he'd had me rep it about a bazillion times and I'd loosened up to where it felt distressingly flappy-armed, I watched him do it and said, "It looks almost like Monkey." He didn't seem to like that observation much, but it did. The two slappy strikes at the end of the two arm-circles at the beginning of the form also look Monkey-like. So I did the section as I would interpret Monkey doing it. D said it looked much better. Well okay then. Dragon + Monkey. There's one ugly deformed nuclear-fallout baby for ya. But I'll experiment with it.

That section- as well as the part with the Mantis hook- is confusing my brain because it's transitioning large vertical circling to large horizontal circling and back again. That seems Dragony, but my body and brain aren't assimilating it very well at the moment, so I don't think I've done anything like that in any of my other forms (Dragon or otherwise).

We did some sticky hands, played with the Wing Chun drill (we couldn't figure out out either... will have to ask CC).

D's going to be out of town for most of this month. He seems to want to bolt the rest of Hurricane Hands as soon as he gets back. I hope he's not planning to blow town for good before he teaches me the rest of Plum Blossom Fist. Unfortunately, I can't really hold the remainder of HH hostage, because D learns new form material about 10x faster than I do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sunday FOD: Iron Needle
Monday FOD: Southern Mantis fragment
Tuesday: did not exist.
Wednesday FOD: Sil Lum Tao

Today I went to Acrobalance class. It is indeed a lot like "Extreme Contact Improv For Martial Artists". It was fun. I did one lift with the teacher's assistant, and he immediately asked me if I was a gymnast. Well, yes, back when all the continents were still one land mass. Then he had somebody else lift me, while he hollered across the room to the teacher, "Jenny! Look! It's her first night!" Ha ha.