Southern Mantis

The 70-80% level of technical excellence can be achieved relatively quickly; however, to attain the remaining 30% or 20% requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"


I’m relieved to not be gaining a lot of weight. Besides the "almost no exercise" thing, I have (as Georgette says) been "craving comfort food"- partly because I’m depressed and partly because it’s really really cold.

JoE wanted to work on the first section of the tai chi long form again, so we did that for a while. Then Southern Mantis.


After the first turn, the stance is a cat stance, but shifts into a front stance with the strike.

The first backfist- look at the target over the right shoulder, but do not turn the shoulders/torso. Torso remains facing south.

Just after the cat stance with curving-up topfist: as you skip forward with that circular punch, the left hand is doing a southern Mantis-handed clearing motion in front of your body. (This is *HARD*- it doesn’t really seem to make kinetic sense- yet)

The low splitting motion just before the head grab- these are also southern Mantis hands.

Head grab and knee up: the reason I was having trouble getting my rt knee past my inturned left knee to do this knee strike is that when JoE does it, he pivots on the posting foot as the knee goes up, so that the toe is no longer turned in. While I had barely been able to squeak out the technique with my toe still turned in, I needed to stop and clarify that- because the next move has you turning to the left. If my toe had remained where it was, the next move would have rotated my left leg 360 degrees at the hip and busted the thing right off.

New part: after you smash the bad guy’s head on your knee, turn to south in horse and chamber left hand at waist. Right hand describes a small counterclockwise circle and ends pressing toward the floor palm-down at groin.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike into another small counterclockwise circle and Mantis-fist strike rt hand across your waist to the east. Torso does not turn- remain facing south.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike and turn east in cat (left toe in front), rt forearm across chest and palm warding toward north just under left armpit. This had should be all the way past the body. As it snaps into place, left hand comes over it and strikes to east at neck level with poking southern Mantis-finger. This strike begins at centerline breastbone and the arm follows a looping corkscrew path, curving a bit to your rt and ending with the palm facing north. Very southern-Mantisy, it looks awesome when JoE does it- I am clumsy with it. I can see how it’s SUPPOSED to be, though.

JoE is not happy with my flow in this form (a perpetual problem for me, especially in Mantis material). He doesn’t like the pauses. He made me try to do it really fast, to get rid of the pauses.

We then did some Box form, at JoE’s request. I was able to confidently answer all of his questions. I feel pretty good about most of my Dragon material. *He* looks clumsy in *this*. I couldn’t criticize his motions (well, I could, and did, a few- but then he fixed them), but the flow needs a lot of work. He was pausing too much (ha ha… I’m totally serious!) It’s good that we have different strengths, so that we can help each other learn.

We ended with a little sparring, slow-mo because I didn’t feel like putting my contacts in. The slow-mo- with him- really points up 1)where I leave holes, and 2)how I let him tie up my arms (often getting one or both actually crossed over my centerline). I didn’t let him take my back and knock me down to RNC me this time, although he did take me down once, and then perched on top of me and punched me in the head. I was able to mime ripping his testicles off, but eventually had to cry uncle and admit that although he may be neutered, I was dead. I wish my sweep skills were good enough that I woudn’t get pinned with him on top like that all the time.

As usual, I had a hard time dragging ass out to do this this morning. My body was happy afterward, though.

“If you were naked, I’d have no problem”

It is important that when a new activity is being introduced, the practices that immediately precede it are will known to the student and the general movement pattern is similar to the new skill. The advantage of this strategy is that the student is confident in his own ability and has a starting point to work from. Having an existing frame of reference makes any demonstration or presentation of a new technique all the more effective for the student, because he can quickly relate it to his own existing range of skills. With similar movement patterns, the rate of learning is much faster than with different ones, because part of the skill is already known. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Yeah, there’s another blog post title that’ll get a few extra hits…….

Friday FOD: Iron Needle
Sat FOD: 3 Step Arrow fragment
Sun: Silken Needle
Mon: Chen Jian

Tues: Jian, again. Yesterday was the last stone in the jar, so today was the restart- and I picked Jian again. This is obviously straight-sword-and-Needle week.

Wednesday: Did not exist
Thursday: Sil Lum Tao
Friday through the following Wednesday: Did not exist. This has been a bad week.

Series of nightmares on Monday, including one in which something new and particularly disturbing happened- for the first time in about a decade, I reached for my knife in a nightmare and the thing wasn’t there.

True, I have not yet replaced my broken serrated knife. I’m still carrying the straight edge, but have gotten a little lazy in that I’ve been putting it not in my waistband or cargo-pants leg pocket as has been previous habit, but in my shirt pocket (where- if I needed it- there would be a delay as I would have to first think about what pocket it was in, and then dig past all the other crap in my pocket to get to it.) Now that I am sleeping in the tent, I have also gotten lazy in that instead of having the knife right where I can reach it while I sleep, I’ve been leaving it on the counter or hearth.

This nightmare illustrates a disturbing disconnect between me and my warrior self.

It’s also bothering me a lot that when I fly to Delaware on a business trip at the end of the month, I will have to leave my knife at home altogether (unless I want to pay $50 to check a bag) and be totally unarmed for three days in a strange city. I do not like that feeling. No pepper spray either. &%#$^&% TSA Security Theater.

Congrats to Gracie Barra Seattle, which kicked butt at last weekend’s Revolution.

Tuesday: Another nightmare, during which I thought about reaching for the knife and didn’t even try this time. I had some kind of small blunt untensil in my hand, and decided (?) to make do with that, even though the guy I was about to engage was about half my age, three times my size, had already beaten the crap out of at least one person further up the hallway, and was ranting like he was seriously high. (Hey, at least I was still willing to pile in; that’s good, right? That guy was scary!)

Wednesday: Acrobalance. I discerned during the warmup that my right shoulder was sore and weak (Why- when the most martial thing I’ve done with it lately is open a stuck ketchup bottle for my housemate??). I also noticed that I seem even more wobbly than usual on poses that involve standing on the left foot.

Allover, I was doing a little more poorly this week in acrobalance, altho I think part of that had to do with the guy who was my partner for most of it. He was new and clueless as well, yet somehow decided that he was competant to teach me (yeah, those types of people aren’t just in BJJ class!) At one point, he slid his foot down to brace against the inside of my knee while I was in the Chinese splits, and then instructed me to swing my leg to the inside- umm, sorry dude, that is not physically possible unless I saw it off first, or you move your damn foot!

I gave an instruction tonight too, though- I couldn’t help it. I try really hard to remember to keep my mouth shut unless it’s a class I am actually officially supposed to be TEACHING- and moreso when it’s only *my* second class in the school. But the (male) assistant teacher tried three or four different ways to tell a teen girl how to fix her posture so that she wouldn’t get pulled too far forward by her partner, and finally I couldn’t stand it any more and I told her "stick your chest out". She did, and immediately was able to balance after having fallen off about ten times. So I forgive myself.

Ironically, I seem to be more balanced on upside-down techniques than on rightside-up ones.

I would have liked to practice being the "base" a little more, but once again I was by far the lightest person in the room. Not that that means I can’t lift someone a lot heavier than myself, with the proper form- when I did contact improv, I once had a six-foot-two male ballet dancer jumping up and sitting on my shoulder, and he must have weighed twice what I do. But I figured that since I don’t know what I’m doing in this class well enough to always *HAVE* proper form, I’d better be conservative.

Being the lightest also made me the default for "Hey, Kitsune, come over here and let this brand-new guy lie down and try to balance you upside down on his feet" even though it was only my second class. Luckily, as a martial artist, I know how to fall down. And here they have something I don’t have in MA class- SPOTTERS, whose job is to save you when you’re about to do a face plant or go cartwheeling over the railing into the arena below.

Note that there were several clothing malfunctions tonight, mostly involving trying to stand on people’s thighs, and having one’s foot slip on their pants or tights. I think what I wore tonight is the wise choice- bike shorts with yoga pants over them. That way if people are having trouble getting purchase on my pants, I can just take them off. When I was standing on my partner’s thigh (the pose in the photo, incidentally) and he suggested an alternate direction of balancing, I said, "It’s not the orientation that’s making me slide, it’s your pants. If you were naked, I’ve have no problem." (You know, I really ought to take more time to get to know a class and its students before tossing out commentary like that…. but the teacher was repeatedly making reference to the position of her "ass" and our asses as well, so I figured if she could get away with saying "ass", I could get away with suggesting that a guy take his pants off….)


Sunday FOD: Iron Needle
Monday FOD: Southern Mantis fragment
Tuesday: did not exist.
Wednesday FOD: Sil Lum Tao

Today I went to Acrobalance class. It is indeed a lot like "Extreme Contact Improv For Martial Artists". It was fun. I did one lift with the teacher’s assistant, and he immediately asked me if I was a gymnast. Well, yes, back when all the continents were still one land mass. Then he had somebody else lift me, while he hollered across the room to the teacher, "Jenny! Look! It’s her first night!" Ha ha.