Well, here’s a new blog and a new look. I will try to update this more frequently than I did the other. I think I just lost interest over time but will try to fix that. I understand that friends, family, and supporters look forward to reading what we have to say. I just hope that they (or you) understand that we have a busy schedule. We train from 6am to 7pm and have many projects to work on.
To everyone who has been following our program: Thank you for your continuous support. It is appreciated. We have had many ups and downs but have made it to the end of third year now. Only seven more to go!
To any new readers: Please check out our website for more details about the 10 year program.
Anyways, since I didn’t update much this past semester, here’s a recap of everything that has happened.
We had been working on many projects including our Taijiquan Applications videos as well as a second Kung Fu Body Conditioning DVD. We spent weeks preparing for both of these and ended up shooting both within a few days. I was glad that we did lots of planning this time around. I felt that most of us were well prepared for the sections we had to present.
We expect that our Taijiquan Applications video series will be released within the next year or so. We are just working on creating more to put up at once so that our site isn’t as empty. I was put in charge of the next wave of videos and it has been difficult so far. It has been hard because some people have not been turning work in on time or have not been checking their emails frequently to know new deadlines, etc. It is frustrating because when one person delays, the whole project is set behind. I’m glad to have Rii (our media teacher) to help. I just wish she wasn’t so busy with her own business so that we could progress faster.
Kung Fu Body Conditioning 2 should be in the editing stage right now. I’m not sure when it will be released. My guess is maybe this winter. We were better practiced this time around for our scripts, so I hope it turns out better than the first DVD.
In addition to learning more about media production, we have begun a lot of newer training exercises as well. Examples of these include hard White Crane qigong, saber basics, running on high logs, stump running, and new sequences. For hard White Crane qigong, we have begun with a few patterns and are now beginning to practice with a partner and add stepping to each. Saber basics have included both solo and partner fundamental drills. Our neighbor and good friend Justin Bowman offered to help and teach us how build our own sabers.
|High logs course|
Running on high logs is a continuation of regular log running. We noticed that some trees were cluttered together and decided to cut them down to build ourselves a course. We then carried these trees from where they fell to our course and lifted them up about 10 feet into the air and stabilized them onto standing trees. Now we practice by running on the logs from tree to tree. Well, I guess we’re still walking.
|Stump running course|
As for stump running, we decided to use the larger firewood stumps we had behind the cabin to build this course. The idea is to be able to run from stump to stump without falling. Of course it is hard because many of them are not very stable on the dirt ground. As time goes on, we will be increasing the height of the stumps as well as decreasing the diameter of each one. My only complaint is: Falling hurts.
We have also recently begun learning new sequences. Yi Lu Mai Fu (一路埋伏, First Way of Ambush, Long Fist), Qi Mei Gun (齊眉棍, Equal Eyebrow Staff, White Crane), Qi Mei Dui Gun (齊眉對棍, Staff vs Staff, White Crane), and Taiji Dao (太極刀, Taiji Saber).
We have also been connecting more with our community this past semester. In the last few months, we have done two public demonstrations. The first was for a fund raising event in Garberville, CA for their local theater. It was a great opportunity for us to meet new people and to bring ourselves out into the public more. Our second demonstration was at the Salmon Creek Community School’s 40th anniversary event. They invited us because we have been teaching classes up the road at the school every Sunday for about a year now. I enjoy community gatherings. Everybody is always friendly and the food people bring is always great.
We were lucky to be able to perform in public as it prepared us for last month’s tournament. We decided to return to San Jose for the 3rd Annual Tiger Claw’s Kung Fu Magazine.com Championships. This time Dr. Yang came with us too, giving us a little more attention than last year. Javier, Santi, Patrick, and myself competed in many divisions: Northern barehand, Southern barehand, Taijiquan, long weapons, short weapons, and Taiji pushing hands (restricted step and moving). We were able to meet lots of interesting people, including masters such as GM Liang, Shou-Yu, Master He, Tao, GM Chiu, Chi-Ling, Coach Bryan Fong, and Master Grace Wu. We were given lots of advice from many of their experiences.
I am still trying to decide if I like going to tournaments or not. It’s nice to be able to meet new people, to see other styles, and to also compare myself to those who practice similar styles to myself. I just don’t like the whole sitting around and waiting to compete thing.
Anyways, we did pretty well. Well, at least the other guys did :P Javier placed 1st in moving pushing hands, 2nd in Taijiquan (int), and 3rd in restricted step pushing hands. Patrick placed 1st in Southern bare hand (int) and 3rd in Taijiquan (int). Santi placed 1st in Northern bare hand (int), 1st in long weapons (int), and 2nd in restricted step pushing hands. As for myself, I’ve decided I’m really bad at tournaments. I can’t seem to get the concept of a time limit in my head. I placed 1st in Taijiquan (adv) and 2nd for short weapons (adv). I was deducted for going too fast and not meeting the time limits for Northern barehand (adv) and long weapons (adv) and unfortunately lost my placements :P Oh well, there’s always next time, right? Javier and I also competed in the WildAid division in which all proceeds were donated to WildAid’s continuing efforts to save endangered animals. I ended up placing 3rd with Taizu Changquan.
|Picture fail with M. Lin|
I was glad that my girlfriend was able to fly out from the East coast to come visit me during the tournament. It gave us time both away and at the Center to be with each other. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to train with us this time because of a knee injury. Hopefully next time :)
|Sitting with M. Chan|
It seems like we have had many guests this semester, three being from my hometown of Andover, MA. In addition to my girlfriend, the other two from Andover were one of my old training partners and one of my best friends. There were many cookies baked, lots of pictures taken, and some lessons to be taught/learned.
A fourth guest may not have been from Andover, but was from the East coast as well. Now that I think about it, we seem to attract lots of East coasters. Anyways, his name was David Tringali, student of Coach Jose Johnson in PA. He was a really nice guy who decided to spend his birthday with us at the Center. I hope to be able to visit him sometime when I’m back East. He was super flexible and taught us some great stretching exercises. He was also a really good cook. Especially with Italian food :P
Finally, some very good news. After many years of hard work and much effort from Dr. Yang, the YMAA California Retreat Center has finally been recognized as a vocational school for Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. This is a great achievement for everyone at the Center, for YMAA, and for anyone who has been supporting our project. So what does this mean? Because we are now an accredited school, Dr. Yang will be able to award students at the Center with a master’s degree in Chinese martial arts at the end of the program :)
I’m sure there is more stuff to write about from this semester, but it’s not coming to mind. If I think of anything, I’ll be sure to add on. Our semester will be ending in another week and a half and we have testing beginning this Wednesday. Wish us luck!