I haven’t updated as much as I’d like because I usually want to include photos or videos with each post. But, I figure it’s better to write more often than not, so here’s an update with more to come.
I’m 5 lbs heavier and while I’d like to think it’s all muscle, I’m pretty sure it’s not. Most of the weight appears to be in my thighs, back, shoulders, and forearms. You might notice that martial arts practitioners have more definition in these muscles due to stances, legwork, power generation, handling weapons, etc… There are definitely some new muscles I never knew I had.
I also gained 1/2 an inch in height! At 31, I don’t believe I actually grew taller. My theory is that all the spine loosening exercises (and maybe some of the ropes and bars drills) stretched my spine and torso. I’ve heard that practicing yoga can make you taller as well.
My body is more Yang now. Before, I was too Yin and I got cold easily. Now I can train white crane qigong in 38 degree weather wearing just 2 thin layers. One thing that happened early on during winter break was that I got really warm very quickly. One time, I was just sitting and people noted that my face had a reddish glow. At class in Andover, my body heated up and I felt nauseous and had to lay down for a bit. I went from training a lot on the mountain to almost nothing for a week. Maybe my body was going through mini-shocks from extreme changes in physical activity levels. Has this ever happened to you? My body has normalized since then.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of training?
Meditation and internal training (nei gong 內工). Meditation is tough and it’s tougher when you’re tired, which is usually the case at 6am after long days of training and other work. We focus on embryonic breathing and martial grand circulation. I’m still working on clearing my mind of distractions, extending my breathing, and finding a comfortable sitting position.
If you want to train at a high level and be able to use weapons and maximize your power, it’s necessary to start internal training at a young age. Dr. Yang says that ideally, students will begin at age 5 or 6. Well, it’s very late for me, so I can only progress so far. But the idea of Center is to develop teachers who can train the next generation to develop the skills for increasing quality energy and learning how to use it.
Q: What’s it like being the only girl at the Center?
I don’t find it difficult and it’s hard to compare otherwise because this is the only way I know. Everyone gets along and if we didn’t have the common goal of wanting to train, we wouldn’t be here. We all have demons to battle and we just have to control them enough so that they won’t affect anyone else. Negative stereotypes of either gender wouldn’t be a good fit for the Center so I think gender is irrelevent.
I do get to sleep in my own room so that’s an unfair advantage I have over the other students.
Training-wise, I’m smaller than the average person and the smallest student here, so I’ll be at a disadvantage when we get into more applications and sparring later on. But, size and strength aren’t everything. I’ll work on speed, reaction, precision, maximizing power, technique, listening/sticking/neutralizing, sense of enemy, spirit, and outsmarting my opponent. On the flip side, women supposedly have an easier time finding their center compared to men.
Also, we get a lot of visitors and some of the are female so it’s not as if I never get to talk to another lady.
Stay tuned for an update on the competition at ICMAC Houston!