morsla: (mantis04)
One thing that we discussed in last night's workshop was the underlying philosophy of each martial tradition taught in the school. Each Chinese martial art begins with a central principle that defines it and shapes how each technique is developed for, or incorporated into it. It also provides a statement that is essentially a victory condition: we will win by achieving X.

For Wing Chun, that principle is controlling the centreline. Vulnerable points (throat, solar plexus, groin) fall along that line, so you want to protect them and also attack along it. The footwork helps you manoeuvre so you can strike directly towards the target, while the opponent must turn to attack you. Straight lines are fast and efficient.

Lung Ying and Choy Lay Fut, though vastly different in their application, both seek to take the upper position. If your opponent's hands are trapped below yours, you have the fastest route to strike at their head.

For Tai Chi, the principle is destabilising the opponent's stance. Absorb and redirect strength, letting your opponent overextend while pushing you into a stronger stance. The core and legs are strong but flexible and relaxed, minimising unnecessary force: don't resist opposing force directly; let it guide you in which direction you should be pushing in.

Liu He Ba Fa seeks to control the inside position. It looks superficially similar to Tai Chi, but those soft and relaxed arm techniques are there to help you get inside the opponent's guard. Once there, you can strike unimpeded. It has far more subtle variations than the other styles, and the choice of technique (even more than usual!) is determined by what you can feel your opponent doing. Wing Chun and Lung Ying can both take more simplistic approaches if needed: strong and fast practitioners can bulldoze the centreline or lunge forwards with the powerful Dragon Shape punches and palm strikes. Liu He Ba Fa helps to provide answers when those approaches fail: when locked up or out-manoeuvred in very close quarters fighting.

It's an extremely technical style, and one that I think Anne has been steadily unpacking and analysing over the years. The 2013 workshops are quite different to those from the camp in 2001: not necessarily slower (I remember two hours spent gradually lowering into stance, and then gradually standing back up again), but more meticulous in their detail. Last night I found two groups of core muscles that I hadn't known how to articulate before, and I can see where an additional range of movement should be in my shoulders. Poor posture and days in front of a computer have reduced movement in there, but I have some exercises to help fix that.

I'm fascinated by the ways the different styles combine together: each new development feels like it's shedding a bit more light on a much larger and more complex martial art than I realised, as a great deal of thought has gone into selecting the elements that make up the whole.
morsla: (cthonian elephant)
It's funny how traditions develop. We're surrounded by one-off occurrences all the time. If something is repeated, it might be coincidence - a little less random than the rest of our lives, but the pattern is still only half formed. Three times seems to be the magic number: it reinforces the repetition and confirms a pattern; not just for the event, but for the separation between it. And then the tradition is born.

Eight years ago, I started a tradition of pausing for a moment at this particular point in our orbit. Once more around the sun, a week and a half before the equinox. Mostly relevant to the large group of New Year's babies out there, of whom I've met many over the years.

I've doubled in age five times since I first celebrated one of these.

I got to work early today, hoping to get some writing done. This time next year, I'd like to have my thesis submitted and accepted - and be well on my way towards RMIT's giant whole-university graduation in November. In about half an hour, I'll wander over to the GSBL 'Shut up and write' group. That ought to get me started for the day, carving out another section of writing to work on this week.

After that, I'm going home to paint. I don't paint nearly as often as I would like to, these days. It's a combination of things - the PhD has eaten up my free time, and Mochason causes havoc if he gets into the study. I can paint in the evenings with the door closed, but that means not spending time with [livejournal.com profile] aeliel after work. So, dust (and cat fur) builds up on my desk, and the pile of unpainted figures mock me. Not today, though.

Following a theme of "start as you mean to go on," I'll be spending a couple of hours at Kung Fu tonight. I think the rest of the class are getting ready for a grading next month, but I need to (re)learn a lot more before I'm ready to grade again. I'm not in any particular hurry. After all, it's been eleven years since my last grading...
morsla: (mantis03)
Lots of things have been happening lately. My ICWSM paper has been approved! Though it needs to be re-written as a short-format paper, before the end of the week. That means that I will be able to attend the conference in Barcelona (mid July), and meet a bunch of interesting people working in the social media field. This makes me happy :)

In less happy news, Melbourne Uni Sports continues to be crap. They appeared in an article in The Age yesterday, as the university has decided to cut support for venue hire, for the clubs that aren't involved in regular competitions.

The Melbourne Uni Kung Fu club has been running since 1977, and may not make it through the current year. As there are no competitions available to them, they are now required to pay regular hire costs for all their venue use, in addition to hiring instructors (which is traditionally covered by membership fees). For a "sports and recreation" body, MUSA doesn't do much to support recreation groups any more. However, the university is still happy to market itself on having an active student community, full of sports and general interest clubs and societies...

I've been told that venue hire will only be covered for three sessions per competition event that a club competes in. That's fine for a football club that plays a 16-week season, but not for martial arts groups that may only have one or two events available for the year. Clubs that don't "fit the mould" of a western sporting team are effectively being cut from the university.

At least RMIT is (currently) still in the habit of supporting its student groups, even when there's no space on campus to put them. RMIT Kung Fu is training in the appropriately named "multicultural hub" next to the Queen Vic market. It's a world of difference from the Melbourne Uni training area - which has been relocated outside, to the concrete lawns.
morsla: (lookin)
I went to a Kung Fu class last night, for the first time in about ten years. It's strangely familiar. The warmups and drills are the same as when I left. The forms taught now are the same forms I saw a decade ago.

My hands remember, even if my brain is fuzzy. During circle training, I kept finding myself ending up with a hand or fist at someone's throat, after they tried throwing a different technique at me to see if I was paying attention. I don't think that I was consciously aware of how to counter them, but my hands managed to find their way.

My legs will take a bit longer. My feet know where to go, and I'm lighter on them than I used to be. There's no strength in my stance, though, and I really noticed the difference even compared to junior members who have been training recently. That will come with time - it's the most important element, and one I can practice at home.

Not many people recognised me, but those that did asked what I've been up to. It's a hard question to answer succinctly... I've had three completely different jobs, lived in three different houses, travelled, studied and got married in that time. Mostly, I think people wanted to know why I had come back after so long.

So, why am I back there now? I think it's because that there are things I want to learn and practice, and that particular club is the best place I know of to learn them. Other styles have taught me more about things like forms, but they haven't had the routine that I needed. If I need to learn how to sidestep properly, I don't want to be learning a new form every second class: I just want to train with a group that can motivate me to do the thousands of repetitions that it will take to make that movement instinctive.

There is no separation between training stances (impractical, low, stretching or conditioning ones) and fighting stances. Every exercise is a building block, and is directly useful for applying all the other techniques. I think that's what I want from my training, at the moment. I'm planning to train twice a week in future - one class next to the Queen Vic market, and one up at Melbourne Uni. I'll see how it goes from there.

Today, things are a little painful. Usually the Gym gives me a day's grace - it's the morning after the morning after, when my muscles seize up. No such respite today: I woke up at 7am feeling like I got hit by a truck. Here's hoping that more regular training will mean things get better from here.
morsla: (mantis04)
It's been a few weeks of Interesting Times, though I seem to be surviving okay at the moment.

Firstly - thankyou to all the people who came to the funeral on Friday. I honestly hadn't expected to see anyone apart from family there (it being in the middle of nowhere, and on a workday) so it was a nice surprise to see so many friends. I'll write a bit more about the funeral later on, when I've had a bit more time to think about things.

[livejournal.com profile] aeliel got back from Europe on Thursday morning, and is still recovering from the jetlag. Neither of us have any kind of sleeping pattern at the moment. Instead, we've both been waking up at 4am and 2pm each day after sleeping for a few hours at a stretch. This worked okay during the weekend, but it might cause problems now that we're both back at work...

I got back to Melbourne late on Friday night, and ran the UniCon WM/Hordes tournament on Saturday. Most of the players knew a bit about what's been going on, and so they were very forgiving of the super-disorganised start to the day. I ended up with 22 players, after having about six drop out due to various problems. Good numbers, and the event ran very smoothly after the first round got underway. Lots of new players, too.

Today I returned to Tai Chi after a long break. I won't be able to make it to training next year, so I have about four weeks to learn whatever I'll be taking with me. The club seems to be slowly fading away, with almost no new blood to keep it going. Motivating undergrad students to do, well, anything except study seems like an impossible task these days. I can't remember the last time newcomers kept training until the end of a semester.

Anyway, time I got back to organising things that have been on hold for the past few months. You know, like that whole getting-married-in-about-a-month thing...
morsla: (Default)
We finished the 36 Fan form in this morning's Tai Chi class. The final sections are still pretty rough, but the basic structures have been welded in place... now I just need to work on polishing it up a little. Just in time, too, as Semester 1 apparently ends next week.

That means I have five forms (24, 42, 32 Sword, 18 Fan, 36 Fan) to work on over the mid-year break. The club will still have the venue available throughout, although formal teaching will be stopping until July. It should also be a good opportunity to work on my stance, as we're (finally) back in the large stadium again. No more running out of room after taking three steps in any direction...

I'm also a bit confused, as I learned a few fan techniques (specifically, a throw and catch with the right hand) early last year in preparation for the 36 form. I've practiced them ever since, but they never did appear in the final section of the 36. I can only assume that they're part of an even larger form, that we might start on in the future.

Other news in brief: work is busy (and set to get busier). The Uberlist continues to grow. I have a callous on my hand from painting last night. GitS:Innocence was great - a very different film to the original, with more existential what-is-humanity stuff. Becoming a couch potato for the winter. Sat up watching Heroes with [livejournal.com profile] aeliel 'til 1am. Still not King.
morsla: (Default)
More painting - this time for Lon.

I experimented with a new way of using the white waterslide transfers, in an attempt to make them blend in a bit better. Like last time, I've added some matte varnish and patches of soot and dust to the finished product. This time, I applied the transfers over a coat of gloss varnish, with another gloss coat to seal them in place. It's much harder to see the transparent edges around each number now, so I think I'll probably use this method in future.

I'm also quite happy with how the bronze metallics are turning out. I've used brass and silver paint, and washes of thinned-down black and orange-brown paints to shade the surface. Thin glazes of silver + water seem to be working well for highlighting the raised sections. Here's a shot of the Spriggan, so you can see what I'm talking about...

http://www.purple-mantis.com.au/gallery/warmachine/spriggan_1b.jpg

Two more pictures under the cut... )

I didn't particularly appreciate TripleJ's "it's just gone six o'clock" timecalls at 7am this morning, as I almost rolled over and went back to sleep for another hour - fortunately, I made it to training on time. I've almost reached the halfway point for the 32 Fan in Tai Chi (over the last two classes...), so I have lots of new things to practice. The last two classes have been "revision" for all the people who trained during Semester 2 last year, so I've had to move quickly to keep up with them.

I've found myself picking up random souvenier-type fans, and being disappointed with their lack of weight - "Hey! This Welcome To Venice fan is a fake! You couldn't kill anyone with it!"

I wish I'd bought a steel fan while travelling last year, but I know I'd only have run into trouble getting it back through Customs.

random

Mar. 7th, 2008 01:42 pm
morsla: (Dawn1)
More Tai Chi yesterday. I'm not sure which is harder to adjust to - starting class at 0745, or using muscles that have been neglected for six months... Still, I can already see some progress since Tuesday, and I've re-learned most of the forgotten parts of the 18 Fan form. Next week I'll start on the 36 Fan, which should be interesting - from the little I've seen so far, the movements are much more complex than the "beginner's" 18. I guess there's no point exhausting just your body or mind in isolation - might as well do things more efficiently, and exhaust them both.

After getting home, I finally finished sculpting [livejournal.com profile] lycaonia's warcrack figures - they're both on the painting desk now. With luck, next week I'll be able to get stuck into a few more projects on the Uberlist. Over the last fortnight I've been assembling models like a mad thing, and have undercoated about 70-odd. Unfortunately, most of the paints I want to use have dried up (or cooked) over summer.

In the evening I headed down to St Kilda, for a last chance to catch up with [livejournal.com profile] fetnas before he flies off to London for the next couple of years. Bon voyage Stef! Good luck, and don't forget to come back eventually... ;)


On an entirely different note - who is going to Golgotha this Sunday? The venue (Insignia) is pretty terrible, but good company can make up for a lot... I'm definitely going, and I hear rumours of a [livejournal.com profile] thekit, [livejournal.com profile] damien6 and [livejournal.com profile] deathbyshinies. What say ye?

Tai Chi

Mar. 4th, 2008 04:16 pm
morsla: (lookin)
First Tai Chi class of the year, today. Like any return to training, it's helped me to isolate the things that really need work - unfortunately, after a six month break, almost everything falls into that category... I was surprised how well my knees and ankles held up, but my memory is full of holes. On Thursday I'll re-learn the 18 Fan form from the first half of 2007, and then I'll do my best to pick up the 34 Fan from scratch. The rest of the class learned 90% of the new form while I was overseas last year, so I have a bit of catching up to do over the next couple of weeks.

I tried to count back the years, to work out just how long I've been training for. The best I could come up with was something like this:

1998 - 2002: Kung Fu
2001 (mid-year) - 2004: Wushu
2002 - present: Tai Chi

That means this is my seventh year of Tai Chi, although there have been a few breaks in the timeline (like no training since last July). No wonder I had trouble remembering how many years I'd trained for - the start date was lost in the mists of time, back in the Palaeoundergradic Era.

It's made me more conscious of how I move - where I put my weight, how I shift my balance, that sort of thing. I'm only actively aware of it while training, focussing on the details of how a technique works, and how it links in with other techniques. Apparently something must have bled over into everday movement, though - two people have commented recently that they can pick me out of a crowd by the way I walk, which is a little disturbing. Now I'm worried that I've developed some kind of python-style Silly Walk or something...
morsla: (Dawn)
If 2007 was a year for expanding borders, 2008 is one for working on things much closer to home. It's already getting off to a good start. I've been spending much more time with friends, and generally getting out a bit more often... making up for lost time, as I feel like I've been living under a rock since getting back to Melbourne in October.

There are about six weeks left, until I haul my creaking carcass back to wushu again. I don't think that my sore joints (mainly knees, ankles and shoulders) have appreciated taking six months off - with less muscle mass to keep them in place, I can accidentally hyperextend pretty much all my joints at angles they weren't designed to reach. If rest won't re-wind all my errant ligaments, I think the best option is to reinforce them and train the surrounding muscles to do their best impression of a "normal" range of movement.

I'm also getting some more use out of my bike, now that I can talk [livejournal.com profile] aeliel into coming out for rides - good company is a good incentive. Hopefully, I'll also start doing some indoor rockclimbing now that HardRock has opened up in the CBD. I'd love to get some sort of regular climbing in, but the admission fee + gear hire are likely to dictate what kind of routine I can get into. Wushu and Tai Chi will already be chewing up a bit of cash, so climbing looks like it'll have to be an occasional luxury. More incentive to work on making the business more profitable, though. Any incentive helps :)
morsla: (Dawn)
It's been almost four years since I trained properly with the Wushu group. I've done plenty of Tai Chi, lots of stance training, and learned two different Praying Mantis forms in the meantime... but no Wushu since getting stress fractures in my feet. They would have healed properly years ago, but I never got back into the jumping kicks after missing about six months of classes - my timing and balance was off, and my legs weren't strong enough to get the height I needed.

After a lot of thought, I think I'll be going back when classes start up next year. Training twice a week hasn't really helped me to get back into any sort of sustained fitness, as the morning Tai Chi classes add up to about 3 hours of moderate exercise - good for the legs, and good for the brain (when learning new techniques, or refining old ones), but not much help beyond that.

Since everything I do for work these days involves sitting still at a desk, painting or typing, I really need to break out of the bad habits I've gotten into. Getting some strength and coordination back will be good, but getting back into a healthier routine will be better - I'd like to find the willpower to keep training properly after a semester is over, instead of letting everything go to waste over the holidays. I'm aiming for four classes a week next year (2 x 2hr Wushu, 2 x 1.5hr Tai Chi), depending on when the classes are scheduled. Hopefully, that will be enough of a shock to the system to help me break out of the current routine.

I'm going to spend the summer training, in preparation for when the Wushu club starts up next year. That should reduce the chance of running straight back into another long-term injury. It also might make the first two weeks of classes a little less painful, but I don't have any illusions about that. I'm expecting the first half of March to hurt like hell, but it will be worth it if I can get back into regular training. I like walking, but I miss being able to fly...

Rebuilding

Mar. 6th, 2007 01:18 pm
morsla: (Dawn)
I'm becoming louder as I get older. Not that I raise my voice much... my ankles, knees, neck, shoulders and wrists no longer move without making crunching sounds. I don't seem able to move silently any more, as any movement comes with a chorus of creaks. I wonder if there's something I should take for my ligaments and joints - it's possible that my mostly-vego diet is lacking something important, as I seem to need oiling.

I've started riding again, which was a bit of a shock for my knees. For a joint that's designed to have one very specific axis of movement, I have an uncomfortable amount of lateral twisting if I'm not warmed up properly. Kind of painful, and it disrupts my balance. Riding helps to clear my thoughts, though, and I'm enjoying the weather at the moment.

This morning marked the start of the year's Tai Chi classes, breaking a long (apathy-induced) training drought over the summer. Now that I'm working from home, I can practice forms and stances whenever I need a break from painting, without attracting strange looks from co-workers. Score! The long, lazy summer has stripped away any reserves of strength that may have existed last year, so I have a lot of work ahead of me. I'm expecting to take 2-3 intensive weeks getting my basic fitness back up, and then a few months of rebuilding my old forms from the ground up. By mid-year, I should be in shape to start learning something new - hopefully the Wudan Sword form.

There are more synergies between the Wushu and Tai Chi classes than I originally thought. That's unfortunate, as my ankles are unlikely to let me take up Wushu again... I've slowly come to the realisation that my Tai Chi reached a plateau after I stopped cross training with Wushu, and it's never been back up there since. The extra strength and flexibility gives a much longer window for training properly, before the movements become sloppy from tiredness. Plus, the routine of taking 3-4 classes a week helps to keep that physical memory active.

I'm going to experiment a little, isolating the the strength and flexibility training from the regular Wushu classes, and incorporating in into a daily training routine. As with all things, it's a bit of a hack but the end justifies the means...

'ere we go

Jul. 26th, 2006 06:30 pm
morsla: (Default)
It might be week two at Deakin, but it's the first week back for Melbourne Uni. That means I'm just in time to make a new start of things :)

I went to the first Tai Chi class for semester two today, and got quite a few curious looks... I vanished without a trace last semester, two weeks after paying my membership fees. In the third week my "free" mornings promptly got swallowed up by travel times to reach Burwood, cutting off any chance I had of reaching the rest of the classes.

I've missed it, though. I've missed getting things done in the mornings, too - I'm not exactly on an "office hours" timetable these days. Realising that peer pressure is a much stronger motivator than good intentions, I've told everyone to loudly ridicule me if I don't keep going to Tai Chi this semester, as I don't have morning classes any more.

Getting up early has done strange things to my brain, too. I've spent the day cleaning and throwing out junk, and putting things up for sale/giving them away on WAU. Which reminds me - [livejournal.com profile] kitling, I found another cache of Dark Eldar for you :) Which days are you working in the uni this semester?

In other news, I spent a while looking into bank accounts and interest rates. Turns out that I actually earn 0.01% on my main account, which would explain the complete lack of earnings on that front. I'm shifting it across to a savings account, where I'll get five hundred and sixty five times the interest :) Still not a huge amount, but better than the pittance that I've had recently. Plus, it won't involve setting up any new passwords for online banking, which is nice.

Ow

Nov. 21st, 2005 02:10 pm
morsla: (lookin)
Dear gods, do I hurt today. The Kung Fu/Tai Chi training camp was held in Anglesea over the weekend, and it beat the snot out of anything I've ever tried before. I used to go on 3-4 camps a year for Wing Chun, but this was something else entirely.

Friday
The first class began an hour after we arrived at the camp. I recognised about a dozen people in the group, and wondered what the class would be like - the forty-odd people ranged from high-school students to retirees. I thought we would be split up into different styles (Bagua, Liu He, Tai Chi, possibly some Xingyi as well) but I proved sorely mistaken. We jumped straight into wushu training - deep stretches, high kicks and footwork drills, punctuated by sets of pushups or punches. It was a bit of a shock to the system, and set the pace for the weekend.

Saturday
First class (0630hrs) was an hour and a half of fairly gruelling yoga. The objective was to warm up for the weekend, so even the people who had done yoga in the past found it... a little intimidating. The stretches helped to get over the previous night's weariness, and it was interesting to see how different core body strength exercises are compared to the "external" exercises from Friday. Muscles from Friday hurt less, replaced by aches in muscles I didn't know I had.

After four serves of breakfast (!) I went for a walk to the beach. The sun was up, the breeze was soothing, and I got to be a geology nerd by looking at the cliff face. What more could I ask for?

The next session threw us straight into lunging stretches and Liu He boxing drills - lots of running, direction changes, kicks and punches. After an hour or so we were sorted into groups for Zi Ran Men circle walking (very low stance, almost like walking in a cat stance): palms (300 steps clockwise, 300 anticlockwise), tiger claw (200, 200), front kick (50, 50), side kick (50, 50), hands on hips (50, 50). It's been about a year since I did any circle training, but I slipped back into that meditative mindset early - it helped that I was too tired to think. We finally got to work on some Tai Chi in the last half hour of the class. I practiced the 32 Sword for the first time in months, and revised the Beijing 42 as the other people learning Wudan were all off practicing their Bagua forms.

The evening training picked up the pace even further. After warming up, we started on the Liu He 64-hands form. I re-learned a few forgotten techniques and practiced applications for each of the movements. I also got to show people how to break someone's wrist by lowering your body weight... if they've grabbed your arm, hold their hand there and twist. Seems fair to me - after all, if they've grabbed hold of you, they obviously want to stay holding on :) I rolled my ankle during some of the jumping exercises, and did some extra horse-stance practice while the others started circuit training. I iced my ankle for the last half hour of the class.

After dinner the drinks came out, and we sat in the dining hall for a few hours - we had planned to have a bonfire, but had a few complications. Half the venue was booked by a Christian group, and they insisted that they had 'booked' the fire area exclusively... I thought it was a communal area like the barbeque, but their organiser was pretty stubborn. When the general level of alcohol was high (and subtlety was low), we moved out to join the last few people from the other group by the fire. They all headed off to bed soon after (possibly trying to avoid the disgruntled martial arts group who outnumbered them five to one...). I stayed out there until about 1am and headed back with the last few stragglers.

All told, the pace was tougher than the nine-hour days in Beijing two years ago. I can't name any single day of training where I've done as much work, over all the years I've trained for.

Sunday
0600 is not a natural time to wake up, nor is it a natural time to start moving after a long day of training. Despite this, we didn't have a single latecomer to the morning class - perhaps everyone was too scared to risk additional training if they came late... This class focussed on Qi Gong and meditation, with a reasonable dose of stretching. My ankle was a bit stiff, but it hadn't been twisted too badly. I didn't do any side kicks, but kept pace for the rest of the class.

I sat by the ashes of the bonfire for a while and waited for the final class to start up. This was a follow-on from the Liu He class on Saturday - lots more movement drills, 64-hands practice, and a few more ways to apply the techniques. I need to get stronger legs (and ankles!) if I'm going to do more of this... the emphasis was on outmanoeuvreing the opponent, while getting into a stronger offensive position. The footwork is very effective, but you have to be quick - any delay and it doesn't work at all.

We finished up with another hour of yoga. It was a completely different beast to the class on Saturday morning - slower, poses held for longer, more emphasis on flexibility than strength. If only I could remember half of the movements... it was the most effective set of stretches I've ever done, and it's probably the only reason I can still walk today.

Mind you, I'm not moving too fast... I've changed my shifts at work to Tues-Thurs this week, as I didn't think that eight hours in front of a computer would do me any favours. I also fell asleep halfway through getting out of bed this morning, and woke up at 10am. Something didn't want me getting to work today.
morsla: (Default)
I woke up bone-weary this morning, trying to work out what possible reason I could have for being so worn out. In those first few moments of consciousness I felt irritated at my recalcitrant muscles, unable to fathom why they weren't letting me jump out of bed. When I started to remember yesterday, however, I didn't feel quite so bad.

I walked for about 10-12km after work, to training and back. The class great - focussing on consolidating things we have learned already. As it was pointed out, we could probably be taught to do the whole form in a few days of solid training. Actually knowing it takes thousands of repetitions. Master Liu also touched on something that I've always liked about the chinese martial arts: adapting techniques, instead of following rigid instructions that may not suit the build or requirements of people using those arts now. Of course, there's little point rushing in and redesigning things the moment you "learn" them... understanding which parts are integral, and which can be changed, is an important part of the process.

After finishing the Wudan techniques, we'll be slowing right down - spending whole classes refining small components of the forms we've seen so far. It's something that I'm looking forward to - when I started, we spent most of our time building strong foundations for the styles. Lately, there have been a few people driving the class forward at top speed... we've seen more of the road ahead, but it feels like stealing knowledge instead of working for it. I'm overbalanced at the moment, lagging behind the information overload. Sure, I can perform any technique I've been shown recently, with a reasonable degree of success. It's not really mine, though. That will come next - spending ten times as long, on each tenth of what I've seen.

I also spent quite a few hours last night preparing items for the Scav Hunt (it's Prosh Week again at uni... no wickedness for the restful). I think I had about 600 points found/made by the time I crashed at about 2am. Unfortunately, it looks like things went to hell some time this morning, and the team has pulled out of the event. I hope everyone involved is okay.

I must keep reminding myself of this
I must keep reminding myself of this

If there was no reward to reap
no loving embrace to see me through
I certainly would have walked away
By now...

- Tool: The Patient
morsla: (Default)
Eight people, twenty four wheels, one sunny day and an enormous pile of fish and chips later...

Photo and bike trip )

In other news... randomly spotted on [livejournal.com profile] izzylobo's journal is a Le Parkour video and more information at http://www.urbanfreeflow.com/

I've never learned how to tumble, especially to the extent these guys do it. However, I have good balance, sure footing, and I can leap an awfully long way. I feel like building my strength and reflexes to try this out somewhere... I've always considered the world to be an obstacle course waiting for a starter's pistol :-) I'm starting twenty years late, but all I'll achieve by stalling is holding myself back further...

[livejournal.com profile] fetnas - as the most acrobatic person reading this, any pointers for getting into shape for tumbling? I'm quite serious about getting back into shape, and I'm using random acts of ridiculousness like this to keep myself motivated.
morsla: (Default)
Delving deep in muscle memories, I found some things I thought I'd lost. There's the ghost of a person down there - if I strain my eyes I can see what I used to do, but if I close my eyes, I can feel it. Last night's class was much better than the previous week - I have started to take back the things I had forgotten.

I still need prompting for many parts of the forms, but I have an advantage on my side - I understand what these movements are designed for, instead of just their appearance. Everyone has a different build - the different ratios between wrist and elbow or elbow and shoulder will make two people look very different when they both perform a technique "properly." This is the reason why I love these arts. There is no expectation that you will copy a movement like a mirror image - instead, you have to find how you can do it.

Old understandings crept back last night, and I discovered that I can still anticipate how a movement works - on myself, and on someone else. Knowing how to pivot and step lets me apply more force than I otherwise could; knowing where limbs are and aren't supposed to go helps me to unbalance someone, or hit from angles that their anatomy isn't designed to sustain. With context, l can learn more clearly.

Seven years of training climbed back into my head, brushed off some cobwebs, and moved back in. The old cranium is a little worse for wear - it needs plenty more work, but it feels like home. I'm fairly sore from training, but nothing that some stretching won't fix. It's such a good feeling to reach out and find that things aren't permanently lost. It'll take a long time to properly get it back, but it's much easier to do when I seem to be making some visible progress.

In other news:

Golgotha is happening again on Sunday 12th of June. For those who have met Dan and Yaz (the other 2/3 of the combined 75th birthday last September...), this may be their last public appearance before they leave for England - their bags are (mostly) packed, and there's no return date planned. Come and join us! I need to dance.

VNV Nation should be touring in September! (Melbourne, September 3rd) Tickets are rumoured to be around the $50-ish mark. [livejournal.com profile] aeliel and I are going, despite ticket prices/final details/venue/the entire tour not being confirmed yet - we'll find a way :-)


See my shadow changing
stretching up and over me
soften this old armour
hoping I can clear the way by

stepping through my shadow
coming out the other side
step into my shadow
forty six and two are just ahead of me
morsla: (runes)
Clarification: I consider "fit" as being "fit enough to comfortably achieve things I want to regularly do."

Thanks for the helpful comments in my last entry. For the others... well, it is something I feel strongly about, and I know that I'm not physically capable of doing many things that I'd like to have back in my life. You only need to be as fit as your hobbies require, within some sort of minimum "required to remain alive" guidelines. Please just accept that I have unusual hobbies...

The plan... )

[livejournal.com profile] kikilon: could I bribe you with dinner one night, if you can show me some more stretches? ;) Beyond some basic leg stretches, I've never really learned how to get at my recalcitrant muscle groups...
morsla: (lookin)
Some random thoughts I needed to write down...

Praying Mantis kung fu has been around for many generations, and there are plenty of branching points in its history. Each person teaching the style has incorporated some of their personal biases into it, and the style has evolved much the same way as any other chinese art. This sort of evolution is common for chinese arts, but quite rare for many others - especially most Japanese martial arts, which take pride in preserving precise movements through the ages...

Thinking back over the training I've done, there are styles on both sides of a split in the style - specifically, in using footwork. Early in the style's history, footwork from the Monkey style was incorporated - fast, lunging steps, twisting and crouching before leaping away again. This is the footwork used in taichimeihua (plum blossom) mantis - the style I learned in Beijing from Master Ma. It's very different to anything I'd done earlier, but surprisingly effective. Something "clicked" a few months after I started to practice the forms, and I finally worked out how to maintain the mobillity I need - something I've had difficulty with throughout all the years I learned wing chun.

Liu he mantis (six combinations/harmonies) is a later style, after the monkey stepping was removed in favour of straight-line efficiency. It moves like the wing chun forms (and some of the much older xingyi forms); weight on the back foot, fighting front-on. The running hands (a chain of palmstrikes and punches) are very effective for attack, but it's not a defensive style. The first form begins with a very obvious eye gouge... the aim is to provoke a defence, as the style is designed to tear through whatever is used to block. I've seen a few websites refer to it as the "softest" of the mantis styles - it's certainly more internal than the others, but it's aggressive as all hell for a "soft" art.

It's interesting learning two branches of the same style - meihua from Master Ma, the 8th generation lineage holder; and liuhe from Grandmaster Liu and his students in Beijing - he is also the lineage holder of that style. I know the theories behind the "economy of movement" in the later footwork, but for some reason I find the meihua steps more effective - probably just a result of having the build and agility to take advantage of them.

An unusual build seems to help :) I'm not very close to the Da Vinci ratios at all - 200cm armspan, long legs, and only 170cm tall - all my height is in my limbs. This tends to mean that vulnerable areas like my head & torso are kept way back, with a lot of arms and legs to get through first...

All those years spent doing lung ying and tai chi help for leaping - who'd have thought that you learn how to move your legs by standing still? The training had amusing side effects, like being the 54kg runt who could lift [livejournal.com profile] aslan42 at the FAS2 masquerade a few years ago ;) Liu he ba fa (which I just discovered a wealth of wiki & web information on, at last) also helps with coordination - mantis simply doesn't work unless all your muscles are cooperating.

I'm still not sure that I'm ready to get back into proper training at Richmond, but I keep catching myself analysing movements and breaking them down into drills. Shed demolition went by a bit faster once I worked out how to use my weight...

September 2014

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