I couldn’t go to Gracie’s this morning. Nor Cindy’s tonight. I’m really unhappy, with all the classes I’m missing this month. But that elbow… you know how it feels when you smack your funny bone? It feels like that every time I tap the spot, even very lightly- sharp flash of pain and then my arm goes numb for a second. I think there’s a hematoma swelling that’s pressing right on the ulnar nerve. That jammed finger on the other side is still not wanting to bend, either. Both injuries will probably be fine in a day or two, but I decided that it would be foolhardy to try to roll today, with that bad elbow hitting the mat every ten seconds, and getting it armbarred… especially as it is Competition Training day. I should have jow’ed the elbow as soon as I got home, but it hadn’t seemed like a big deal at the time. It’s worse today than it was yesterday.
I still went to my kung fu private, figuring that as long as I didn’t do any elbow strikes on a real target, I could still do forms and stuff. SK had his brace off for the first time. He’s planning to go back to work on Wednesday. Bummer for me- that means we probably can’t do any more of these sessions.
There was no space available at the Community Center, so we had to work outside. That was fine for the first hour, but then the sun went down (around 3pm, good grief) and it started to get reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally cold. My fingers were like icicles.
We worked on the White Dragon stances:
Fighting stance- the warding hand at the brow has the fingertips pointed toward the relevant direction (where the enemy is). I hadn’t been absolutely certain it wasn’t the other way around.
Ready stance- The wrist and hand of the other arm make a flat plane- no wrist flexion. The elbow of that hand makes about a 45-degree angle- sharper than I have been tending to make it. Make sure the elbow is dropped.
Guard/blocking stance- this was the one I couldn’t remember. If your enemy is at right- right flat palm guarding groin, left is across your chest and guarding right jaw. Again- arm and hand are in a straight plane, no wrist flexion.
Then Snake Dao (aka "Angry Snake Defending Its Lair")
The recurring theme for today’s Snake dao lesson is DO NOT BEND AT THE WRIST.
I got into position, and SK looked at me quizzically…
"Oh, yeah, I forgot- you only know bits and pieces of the form."
(eagerly)"We could remedy that!"
He did end up giving me one miniscule bit (only one move) that connected the two pieces that I know.
Begin in high horse with body facing east, left hand in low relaxed guard near left hip, dao held horizontally at right hip with point north and blade down.
Right foot crosses in FRONT of left in scissor stance. Press dao north almost to extention of arms, vertical, hilt up and blade north. Brace dull edge with left palm (making a right angle).
Unwind 360 degrees to your left, taking an extra step fwd with left foot, ending facing north in front stance with left foot fwd. Dao wraps around your head vertically (point down), then circles widely all the way around body as you turn, ending in a horizontal cut to north at waist level. The blade tip is facing almost front. DO NOT BEND THE WRIST. Left hard is warding at left temple, palm out.
Hop slightly back into cat with left toe fwd. Torso now facing north. Left hand relaxed guard at waist level. Bring dao up to horizontal brow level, point facing west, blade facing out to catch strike aimed at head. Push with the flat palm of the left hand as if you were pushing the corpse off your sword.
Hop slightly forward, still in cat with left toe fwd. left hand comes to brace right forearm as you pommel-strike to opponent’s left lower rib area.
Immediately bounce into 360 spin to the right. Left knee comes up FIRST to block. Both arms cross at brow during spin (don’t cover eyes). End in front stance, right foot fwd, facing north. Both arms come sweeping back down and out to low diagonal positions. Blade tip pointing almost forward. Do not overextend arms back. DO NOT BEND AT THE WRIST.
Draw rt knee up and across your body to block. Pull dao hilt to left cheek (make sure head is guarded), point forward, blade outward, and brace base of hilt with left flat palm. Stab forward on a slightly upward trajectory almost to extention, as you go back into a forward stance rt foot in front. Thrust *as* you put the foot down, and the thrust should be completed as the rear leg straightens.
Draw dao back to brow height horizontally, blade up, point forward to block strike at head. Cross right foot behind left and fall back into scissor stance (no pause here, but make sure that pose fully happens), then one more step into a very deep back stance (rt foot fwd). As you go down, circle the dao left, down, then back up in a backhanded uppercut strike. The strike should be as high as possible, point upward- but the torso remains erect (no bending over).
Then Kiu Two. Working even more on getting the Snake strikes extended, trying to not mix up parts A and B… this is most difficult during the flurry of exchanging Snake strikes in the end sequnce, as both A Snake and B Snake begin with a right Snake strike and then a left one. It syncs up because one of them is two beats behind the other, but it does make it confusing to remember which one you are doing.
The last time we learned a two-person form, we learned all of part A and THEN all of part B. This time we learned a bit of each in every lesson, so that we could better see how they fit together. It was an experiment… I had feared that it might lead me to mixing up the two parts, and that fear was realized. But it did make it easier to understand the applications, so it’s not just a bunch of rote choreography. So either method has its good and bad points.
I just couldn’t seem to get the rhythm of the part A "flurry" sequence, and finally asked in frustration, "Does it seem like I’m putting an extra curlique in there or something??!?" SK started laughing and said yes, I was trying to insert a more advanced version that I had not been taught yet. The extra circle made sense in an energetic flow pattern- and according to SK, if I was a Snake stylist using this technique in an actual practical application, that’s how it would be done. I find it very cool and gratifying when that spontaneously happens! But right NOW, it’s frustrating because it’s messing me up!!!!!
Note- do NOT bend the knee on the 360-degree spin in either side of the form.
I managed to figure out that in part A, the reason I keep forgetting to tip the hips over and do the kick sideways like I’m supposed to be doing it is that I’m anticipating the next move too much. I have to go in the opposite direction next, so my instinctual brain is thinking, "why waste all that time and energy turning the hips over the the left when you’ll immediately have to twist right again??" Figuring out WHY I’m wanting to do a move wrong is a good step towards breaking the habit.
Then we went over the Tiger drills again- but I was staring to lose focus by then, plus I was getting really cold…. so I wasn’t doing very well either mentally or physically. SK was able to figure out an application for one of CC’s Tiger drill techniques that I couldn’t even remember, which made me feel lame- but that’s why he’s the teacher, huh? (Not to make me feel lame- to be able to see apps for things he hasn’t even been taught.)
Do not get sloppy with the width of the back and front stances. Make them wide.
the kick in #8 (the elbow and hammer-fist one) is a ball-of-the-foot thrusty kick to the inside of the thigh, not a standard snap kick. Likewise the kick in #7 (the one with the two claws and then the groin slap).
Do not hunch the shoulder in #1 (the one with the scoop-and-claw)
Do not yank SK to the ground by his injured wrist (oopsie).
#3 (the one with the Crane’s neck strike)- the circles are going INWARD. You are parrying a high strike and catching a low kick with the SAME HAND. The rearmost one. Then the Crane’s neck is the FORWARD hand.
#5 (the one with the reap)- The clotheslining arm is in a hammer fist. The right is in a claw to hold the opponent’s arm. Don’t let the hip turn out and circle the kick around. It comes straight through.
#7 (the one with the two claws and groin slap)- make sure you grab the armlock ABOVE the opponent’s elbow.
#8 (the one with the two elbows and hammer fist)- When you do the headlock, ideally you have the opponent bent over frontways at this point- although it will work if he’s bent over backward as well.