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.

Thursday

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

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.