“Now touch your knees to your ankles….”

Thursday lunchtime no-gi at Cindy’s.

I am losing patience with my poor sleep patterns and resorted to an antihistimine sleep aid last night. I was still trying to shake off some of the side effects as class began. I told Cindy that I hadn’t trained in a week, and she said, "Oh, you’re gonna hate me today…." It’s never a good sign when you get threats like that to begin a class.

All positional training today. Started with the positional flow drill. I’m getting more comfortable with this, although that pesky arm in the way when I try to go from north-south to scarf still trips me up. I focussed on doing good backsits, since I’ve fumbled at those.

Then side control- bottom person, try to replace full guard or sweep- top person, don’t let them. I was working with Cindy. I felt somewhat okay about my performance on top, but I seem pathetically inept on the bottom.

Then we worked some closed guard and open guard positional training. For some of it, we were only allowed to use our legs, not our hands. Other times, we had to hold some balled-up ace bandages in our hands so that we could use our arms but could not grasp.

I was getting frustrated with the exercise of trying to pass guard while standing, on a seated opponent. I tend to lunge in on them and end up in top half guard- but of course Cindy and Lamont are skilled enough that I ended up in full guard instead. Cindy wants me to run around and around the seated person until I can feint and get both of my legs past hir outside knee on one side. I wasn’t doing too well at that, especially on Lamont, whose legs are long enough that I was practically running laps around the dojo and getting really tired and frustrated. If I tried to do this on someone like Carlos, with his long, long, long legs, I’d have to take a bus.

It was good to get back in the gym, though. a week was way too long away.

Came out of class with a really sore right elbow- must have cracked it on something/someone…. and a very sore left index finger (smushed on Lamont’s knee while I was trying to pass his open guard). I guess it’s good to start getting caught up on having missed a week’s worth of injuries!

Later………….

Thursday kung fu. Nemesis wasn’t there, which is unusual enough that I was a bit worried- especially as he hadn’t texted anyone to say he wasn’t showing up. I asked JM to text him during the break and verify that he was alive. Fortunately we got a response by the end of class. He just wasn’t feeling well and had decided to skip.

MM was there- it was a surprise! He is in town for a month.

We started with some of the three-minutes-continuous-striking-against-the-pad routine. I had to hold the pad for MM, which was kind of painful. Not as bad as Nemesis! But afterward, my sore elbow was whining. I should’ve held the pad with the other arm.

I am still feeling awkward with keeping the flow going. Obviously needs more practice.

Some Sil Lum Tao. MM has learned a version from someone at his school back east. He repped with us since it was similar enough- but different enough that I asked him to demo it for us so that we could watch. His version has straight punches instead of sun fists, and there is generally less wrist-twistiness. Also no axe-hand section. Other than that, it looks mostly similar.

Then JM and I went into the lobby and worked on Kiu Two, while SK worked with MM on something else since MM doesn’t know the form. JM and I repped section A several times and then section B several times, and by the time SK came out to look, I only had one decent sweep left in me. Then, it was "Your first sweep looked pretty good, but after that…" Yeah, I know. I only have about 5 good ones in me before my knees start hurting too badly to do them correctly.

The same problems persist- I am not extending the Snake strikes enough nor continuing the energy through the series. SK did comment that I wasn’t popping up on my toes any more. Good. Another thing- I am still bending over at the waist during the double Snake strike at the end.

Then we did it a few times together. We had to do many reps of the flurry-of-Snake-strikes sequence… it feels pretty different with each different person you try it with, and JM is much shorter in both height and arm length than SK- so it was an adjustment. We agreed at the end that the motions are all there, and all the parries were parrying, but we don’t really have a good Snakey flow yet.

Next: chi sau. It’s been a while since we’ve worked on this. I ran into the familiar problem, though- the same one that crops up in chi sau, Dragon, and BJJ. All ideally involve melding with your opponent’s energy and using it against hir. I find it difficult to key in to my opponent’s energy and still keep sight of the fact that s/he is my OPPONENT. The dropping of psychic barriers does not mesh well with the basic intent of trying to kill each other. Not at the level I’m presently at, anyway. I expect (hope) this mystery will unravel itself at some future point of proficiency/experience.

In this case, I was percieving the spot of energy at the balance point and it was skating playfully around JUST within reach….where I thought, "If I can trance just a tad deeper, I can really latch on to that, and then I’ll know everything he’s going to do a moment before he does it" but to go a tad deeper, I would have had to let go of the awareness that at any moment, this person may try to clobber me- and also, I was supposed to be mindful of opportunities to clobber HIM. Tantalizing…. frustrating….

After a while I asked SK if we could switch arms- my shoulders and arms get tired VERY swiftly doing these exercises, because I’m so tense. He replied, "Err- no." and held up his plastic-splinted right wrist. Oops. Forgot.

Eventually switched to JM. Whoo boy- if anyone is more tense than me, it’s her. As soon as our wrists touched, it felt like she was putting a ton of pressure to the outside. It seemed like I should be able to duck under/over it and hit her very easily, but it wasn’t working as well as I expected. So I consciously began to push AGAINST her a bit, towards the inside… thinking that would make her push back even harder and *then* I’d be able to pop out and around. I figured our general knee-jerk competitiveness against each other might work for me in this case… ((grin)) That worked a little at first, but she caught on to my game pretty quick- she is no dummy. So I switched my focus back to trying to track the little shiny energy spot, even though that meant zoning out enough to let her whump me in the belly several times.

Individual forms practice. I did some Five Animals In the Mirror, which I was happy to see was almost as comfortable as the original version. Then some Little Red Dragon In the Mirror and Leopard Three In the Mirror, which were not quite so smooth. I worked on the kinks a little in both. Then a little Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror, which is still in mid working stages. I’ve got in transcribed to about the middle, and there are still a few kinks in that part. The last part of the form is going to be the worst to work out the mirror version.

On the way home, SK and I were talking about language barriers between teachers and students. I was telling him the funny story about the time Professor Carlos couldn’t come up with an acceptable verbal substitute for the term "ass", and he told me about the time when his Bagua teacher instructed him to "touch your knees to your ankles". Ha ha! I wonder how many years you have to train bagua before you gain the ability to touch your knees to your ankles. That’s quite an impressive trick.

(pic- Nick, Fred, Pat, Lindsey, and Jeff, the first five people from bottom left up to the bald guy (Jeff)… I don’t know who the three in the back are.)

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