Testing is DONE!! :)
Compared to other YMAA students, I have it easy. Most test once or twice a year if you’re lucky. Some travel long distances and test with someone who doesn’t know you. If something goes wrong or you weren’t adequately prepared because you didn’t know about such-and-such (not necessarily your fault), try again next time. I am not saying this to brag. There are good teachers and training partners out there, but some of you live far away or have other obligations that limit your training time. I’m grateful for being where I am and I want to help anyone who feels alone or stuck. Please ask us questions. Even if you feel stagnant in your training or you wish you had more time to train, keep it up. Do what you can. Remember that testing isn’t about passing or failing, it’s about learning and improving.
Day 2 – Tuesday
7:00-8:00am – Tumbling
One front head spring down, but nothing else beyond the basics. I don’t feel confident pushing it with my injuries.
Taiji Partner Drills & Applications
For Pushing Hands (linear moving) and Taiji Symbol (Yang side linear moving), we have to change patterns more frequently and give each other more trouble. We also started Large Rollback like in the YMAA curriculum to prepare us for Peng Lu Ji An. The hardest part is waiting for the exact moment to follow the direction of the pull and then neutralize. All of these drills take time.
The seniors are doing moving Pushing Hands, Taiji Symbol, Intercepting/Sticking.
Shaolin Fighting Forms
Fighting Forms train strike/block patterns repeatedly to prepare for reaction and sparring. Try to get your partner. You don’t have to punch really hard, just let them know if their block sucks or if they’re not turning their bodies. For #6 and 7 (the first two for 2nd stripe), your eyes should be closed.
Short Defense 1 & 2
My goal was to review all 10, but we were having trouble with 1 and 2 (small rollback). In many YMAA schools, partners are a lot more cooperative by going in a low stance and not pulling back the punches quickly. It’s okay to cooperate when you start because you are trying learn the technique correctly. Once you give each other trouble, (not necessarily resisting or adding speed, even by just relaxing/being soft), some techniques are a lot harder to apply. A lot of it depends on timing and if a technique doesn’t work, the next step is to figure out how to follow up with a different one.
We’re still working on the basics and need to add more variety in dimensions and stepping, but it’s cool to watch the seniors do wrapping and coiling.
Short Rods – I get nervous testing difficult sequences and this one still needs a lot of work. I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the movements but this performance was baaaad.
Lian Bu Quan angling – I really like this sequence and I got into the zone. It felt okay, but I know it can be much better. Then I watched the video and my stances were so high. Doh!
Nothing to say about my own training, just need more practice. Some of the others are creative with their drills.
Day 3 – Wednesday
Finger Speed – The goal is 180 for the basic level. We do this 6 times a week after meditation but I don’t think I’m getting much faster than about 160. Maybe I’m at my max for this one.
Entire sequence slow – We did this with 7 people in the gym (it was raining) so we had to make sure we didn’t get in anyone’s way and try not to get distracted by them. I wasn’t disappointed by my lackluster performance. I really like practicing and know what to work on.
Part 1 medium speed – When practicing Taijiquan or any other martial art, ideally your body knows what it’s doing and so you can focus on sense of enemy. I was so far from that. My thoughts as I did the sequence:
- Beginning: “Oh no, this is probably not fast enough, speed up.”
- Jing at Peng (started 3 weeks ago): “Where am I now? Oh yes, but I slowed down, speed up again.”
- White Crane Spreads Its Wings: “What are my arms doing???”
- Play the Guitar and Brush Knees: “Okay arms, do what you’re supposed to do. No, not that!”
- Brush Knee: “Let’s get a little bit of jing here on this one… That was bad, but at least I tried.”
- Circle the Fist, Parry, and Punch: “At least I’m familiar with adding jing at this punch. Yes! Almost done.”
- Seal Tightly: “ Oops, spoke (thought) too soon. Not supposed do the signature move for medium speed but I’m already doing it, oh well.”
So it was pretty bad, but better than what Dr. Yang expected! I could be bummed that his expectations are low, but I’m actually happy because I know I have the ability do much better.
We did Qin Na and Lian Bu Quan Apps (the seniors chose 3 random techniques and we showed a variety of applications) and then we were done!
Sure, there is a lot of room for improvement in everything, but the lasting feeling after this test was: “I can do better.” The old me might’ve been upset that I didn’t perform my best when under pressure, but now I feel good. I may have started training past the prime age but I have not reached my peak.