Continued from Part I – Fire
My mind and body have been getting some much needed rest so the fire has died down, but it still burns a bit. The next step is to learn how to balance everything – training, diet, rest, mental tasks.
Life at the Retreat Center is not difficult compared to what most citizens of the world deal with. But it’s not easy, either. You sacrifice your time, energy, money, mind, body, spirit, family, friends, and personal space in exchange for knowledge and a path to self cultivation. You believe in it, embrace it, and share it. No one has sacrificed more than Dr. Yang.
Am I fortunate? Absolutely. Having daily access to one of the world’s top martial arts teachers is something many people wish they had. Not to discredit my long time teacher whom I continue to learn from, but with a great teacher and many more training hours, I’m finally beginning to develop the feeling.
It’s challenging to sum up Year 1, so here are a few things that come to mind:
- Sequences: Lian Bu Quan, Gong Li Quan, Yi Lu Mai Fu, Qi Mei Gun, Qi Mei Dui Gun, Qi Xing Dao, Shang Xia Zhi, Yang-Style Taijiquan Long Form, Taiji Saber, Taiji Sword. If you’ve never studied under YMAA before (like in Kyle’s case), that’s A LOT. I learned the Shaolin sequences before, but everything is still in the learning stages and will take a lot more time to be polished.
- Conditioning: We train so many skills that we only spend a few minutes on each. I can do a lot of things, but I’m bad to mediocre at them. I had a few minor injuries as expected, but thankfully nothing serious.
- Physical changes: Bigger and stronger, especially in the back, shoulders, and legs. I “grew” ½ an inch after the 1st semester (I believe my spine stretched). My eyesight improved by 0.25 (which my optometrist said was normal, but I also attribute it to not looking at a monitor all day and doing the meditation recovery drills).
- Conquered fears that most people don’t deal like flips on the trampoline, tumbling drills, and high logs. When it comes down to it, we’re training to conquer fears and accept challenges in all facets of life.
- Faced challenges with persistence. The idea of mountain running with a 50 lb weight vest seemed daunting at first, but in the end it was doable, even if my time wasn’t great.
- Learned about media production and worked as a crew member for DVD shoots.
- Learned to cook on a tight schedule for 10+ people.
- Learned to live with 10+ people.
- Met a lot of kind, interesting, and like-minded people and made new friends.
- I lived a new and challenging lifestyle and I will carry all the lessons learned for the rest of my life.
Next semester, I hope we spend more time training for quality rather than learning new material. However, we only have 4 years left so we have to learn as fast as we can while developing a basic feeling for the arts. Some people think 5 or 10 years is a long time, but it’s not nearly enough.
I am eternally grateful for everyone who has supported me along the way. You have given me the chance of a lifetime and motivated me when I needed it. You’re a permanent part of my journey. Thank you.
This summer, I’ve been mostly working, teaching beginner taijiquan for the first time and loving it, teaching seminars in Portsmouth with Jon, training, working on side projects, spending time with family and friends, catching up on Game of Thrones and 24: Live Another Day (both awesome), playing tennis, indulging in much missed New England seafood, and even relaxing a bit.
This weekend is our White Crane seminar in Portsmouth. Come if you can!