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.

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