The conundrum of Snake feet.


Tuesday morning in the Danger Room.

I told Nelson, "You should drill with me today… since I probably outweigh you now!" So we drilled together, on all the same stuff from yesterday’s classes. He gave me pointers on the hip throw (He’s a judo practitioner) and I gave him pointers on the upa.

Positional training from front mount with Nelson (I made him work hard…. now that he doesn’t have enough bulk to just shrug me off like a fly).

Short timed rolls with a white belt guy I don’t know, then with Dave. I gave the white belt guy my Go Light On Me speech. He was a little spazzy and muscley- not too bad- but I was pleased to see that I was able to dominate him positionally much of the time. I got knee-on-belly four or five times, since that’s been one of the moves-of-the-week. Holding it for more than three seconds, even. Finally I said to him, "Don’t let me do that again… I’m getting three points every time I do that," so then he got a little more squirmy when he felt that knee sliding in. He was doing a nice job defending the front mount, but I found that if I distracted him by groping for chokes or armbars, I was then able to mount. I was happy to notice Rodrigo watching us at one point… after I was apparently so inept in his eyes last night, it was nice to have him see me redeeming myself this morning.

I didn’t do nearly as well against Dave, which is to be expected. He clock-choked me and cross-collar-choked me. I did get out of his triangle, though… it took me a while, but I got out.

Beltin and Jesse got stripe promotions today!


Okay, it’s not a master’s thesis or anything, but here’s what I just pulled out of my hat without doing any research or asking anyone else’s opinions:

Why is it important in today’s world to train with the dao?

An argument could be made that it’s important to preserve tradition and history by not allowing forms and techniques to fall into disuse and be lost, even if they might be considered obscure and of dubious practical use today.
I can see that- although personally I feel that priority should be given to the most practical skills. For beginners, especially… your beginners these days are more likely to survive to pass on your martial art if you teach them gun and knife defenses, and mugging and bar brawl scenarios.
There may be people in one’s class who study martial arts for reasons other than practical self-defense… an interest in history, for the health benefits of the exercise, etc. Practicality in today’s world may be less of a priority in the eyes of those students, so they might enjoy learning some of the more esoteric and exotic things.

An argument could also be made that many weapon techniques translate to multiple different types of weapon. Some dao techniques would work well with a kitchen knife or an umbrella or other modern object. It’s a good idea to train with different types of weapons so that you learn to see how technique must differ according to the weapon. When you have experience and skill in that, you can competantly use any weapon- or use something as a weapon that may not have been designed for use as a weapon.

My favorite argument is that any weapon is just an extention of the martial artist. It is a tool. The weapon itself isn’t that important in the process.

Evening kung fu:

While waiting for class to start, I went through a few reps of Cannon Fist and one rep of the Tai Chi long form. I should have worked on dao, but truthfully I was starting to feel a little dao-ed out today… and I knew we’d be working it all during class. We are all going to end up looking like a gang of Quasimodos, with our weapon shoulders/biceps muscled up to about six times the size of our weak sides.

After warming up with a few forms, we reviewed the Snake dao pieces we’ve done so far. CN had no corrections for me, so either it’s PERFECT, or he’s not paying attention.

Then we split up into pairs and worked apps for the piece we got last week, the one with the deep lunge and uppercut. Versus bo. I was coming up with all the ideas and JM was shooting them down as impractical as fast as I could generate them. Finally I said, "As we know, the first two or three most obvious apps are going to be the good ones, and after that, we’re kind of reaching… but that’s the exercise, we’re supposed to be getting creative." I was getting irritated enough that I hung onto the staff and let her do all the deep lunging.

Then SK taught us a new piece- this is really tricky. You’re in a relaxed left cat stance with a warding left hand and the dao horizontal at waist level. Then you do a 360-degree flying spinning maneuver, with your arms crossing at chin level, and finish in a RIGHT lunge with both arms (one holding sword) thrown out wide and forcefully. Sort of like an orchestra conductor’s "cut" motion, only with a 360-degree spin and two separate high-knee pumps in it. The LEFT knee is first, and you’re turning to your RIGHT, which doesn’t even make sense. Yikes. I knew this was going to take considerable practice. I attempted it ONCE, and JM was already chiming in with advice literally before my feet had hit the ground again. Even though she had only attempted it a couple of times herself, and could not do it yet either. Gods, woman, back off…. work on your own sword-tornado and let me have more than ONE crack at the durn thing before you put your little mortarboard-and-tassel hat on and start instructing me. (Yeah, this was one of those days when she was kind of getting on my nerves…..)

I had to do it a *lot*- enough that my thighs started twitching and cramping- before I felt like I was beginning to get it down. I really had to picture someone slashing at my forward leg… that mental cue made me jerk it back and up in the way it needed to go. It reminded me of a certain move in the Chen dao form, where CK would stand there and poke the tip of her own dao into your foot if you didn’t pick it up fast enough. Imminent threat of impalement is always good motivation.

Then SK brought my attention to the fact that my arms were over my head during the spin. Huh? It took me a minute to make sense of that. OH- ballet taint creeping in again! Then I had to explain what I was chuckling at. I got the arms down, but not far enough… "Now they’re over your eyes, so you can’t see." Well, crap. If I move them any lower, I’m going to cut my own kneecaps off with my sword when I whip around. "Are we trying to get our knees as high as possible… and the jump itself as high as possible off the ground?" "Yes." "Of *course* we are." This obviously needs much, much, much more practice. In small increments, because those spinning flying maneuvers take it out of you.

I complained that it is not fair that the footwork in a Snake form be this complicated- Snakes don’t even HAVE feet.

Once Nemesis got the technique, I had to just say in awe- "THAT is really scary." Those mile-long arms and mile-long legs, whirlwinding, with a sword sticking out. Seriously intimidating (although beautiful and powerful) sight. I would be running the other way, for sure. He makes even Snake look Craney.

Then class seemed to devolve into chitchatting, so I worked on a little Catherine Dao and a little Chen dao. They both seem good, but I still need to review the vid for the ending of Catherine Dao. I know I’m not doing it right. Just to amuse myself, though, I made up an ending of my own. It involved a graceful circular turn incorporating strikes with the hilt. I like strikes with the hilt!

I really enjoy days when I get both a BJJ class and a kung fu class. If only there was time for a NAP in the middle, that would be my idea of a perfect day.


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