BLOG OF POOTENHEIMER... Fear it, Love it
Big busy blog entry
A lot's happened. Hang on to your butt. Okay - so first, Sunday. It was the culmination of my kung fu weekend. Wake up earlier than normal AGAIN and go to the kwoon for Sifu's workshop. Which was quite cool. An exploration of chi kung exercises as used in the ultimate Hung Gar form, Tid Sin Kuen. This form is one that used to be secret, and only taught to specialized students who were seen fit to learn it. It still is, pretty much - not very many people know it. I aspire to reach that point. It's a crazy form - Sifu only showed us a taste of parts of it (and didn't specifically mention the form, I don't think), but in reality, it takes a good twenty-five minutes to properly do the whole form. For me, that form is still VERY far away. For now, I'm working on one called Gung Gee Fook Fu - it's the first true Hung Gar form, and very difficult. Although it only takes about three minutes to do, not quite twenty-something. Although it's three very difficult minutes. I need to start practicing it daily - I know the whole set, although not as well as I'd like to. Much practice left to do.

So yes, Sifu's workshop. Then lunch, which meant practicing for me and Si-Hing Justin, for our phase tests. We were both rather nervous, because we didn't know what Sigong would make us do. I practiced my six forms, and he went over his major sets that he thought Buck would ask of him. Lunch ended, and Sifu and Sigong show up, and it's time for Sigong's workshop. A lot of people showed up for his, and I think the only other one that had more than one person show was Sifu's, and there were only three at his (including me). His workshop was awesome. He began by talking a lot about kung fu, and how vital it is to properly practice a LOT to even begin to be good. He mentioned how "his boys" at his school (his students) entered all sorts of tournaments. Against karate from Japan, taekwondo from Korea. And more recently, Muay Thai tournaments. Now let me explain something here. Muay Thai fighters are tough. They not only practice a LOT, they practice to hurt people. Lots of elbows, lots of knees, breaking of shins by conditioning their own a crazy amount, that type of thing.

So anyway, lately Sigong's team have been entering Muay Thai tournaments. And winning them. Continuously. I believe they haven't lost one yet. These are rough tournaments, not like our standard soft and happy American karate/taekwondo tournaments, where kicking high and breaking boards is impressive. No, these are where minimal padding is used, and blood is spilled, and people are hurt. But it's a true test of martial arts. And kung fu can PASS that test. Which is why I love it so. Sigong told us about his experience taking his students around, and how they've been winning several competitions. And then he said they went to two actually IN China, where they competed against traditionally trained kung fu practitioners. He smiled, laughed, and said, "They beat the shit out of us." He talked about how they actually trained six to eight hours a day, every day. And Americans can't compete with that. Same thing with Muay Thai fighters that actually stay in Thailand, where they're treasured (when they're good). The schools there adopt children who are orphans and train them from age six. Eight hours a day, two for basic studies of school-type things, and the other six for Muay Thai. And then when they reach eighteen, they're thrown into rings to see if they can pass the test of battle. If not, they're thrown out. They live violence, they don't know how to "play" in tournaments, they fight to hurt.

So considering that, I'm okay with training a few days a week, a few hours at a time. In my peak training periods, I actually have trained as much as twelve hours a week, sometimes more. Which, for an American, is a decent amount. I'm hoping, now that school is over, to get back into a higher level of training, learn how to use the techniques Sigong taught us, and be a decent kung fu student. Maybe even decent by Sigong's standards.

So he told us these stories, and how we can't hope to compete against fighters like that, and how we NEED to practice, practice, practice if we want to do our kung fu well. Once he finished that, he talked about Hung Kuen. Which is basically the Hung Gar motions, all the basic elements (12 of them) necessary to understand fully to truly use Hung Gar in sparring situations. He went through each of them, demonstrating an example (on poor Si-hing, who go smacked a few times) for each. And then we went through about four of them, practicing on each other. I practiced with Nick (he's a couple of months under me, my Si-Dai, although he's had ten previous years of karate), although I don't think he liked that too much, since apparently my arms are kind of hard, and he hasn't conditioned in a while. He still had bruises from Monday when I helped him with HIS first phase test. So I added to them a bit more. And then added some new ones. And jacked his shoulder up a little bit. Pssh - he needs the conditioning, though. It was funny to see, though. I'm a few inches shorter than him and definitely a few pounds less than him, and one of the moves we practiced was a basic block (with one of the elements being focused on) against a punch - when I'd block him, occasionally he'd go flying a good six feet or more. It surprised me that it was THAT effective. But I was grateful for the workshop.

And after that, another brief rest (Sigong got a professional massage for his break), just enough to get crazy butterflies in my stomach about testing. More practice on the forms, chit-chatting about stuff with Nick and Justin. Then test time! We go in, Sigong has a smoke break, and then it's time to start. And of course, I'm first. So I step up, and Buck is sitting in the chair, relaxed (from his massage - thank you, Sifu, for setting him up with that). And he looks at me, smiles (he likes to smile), and says, "I'll make it easy. Just do Lau Gar Kuen." Which is our first form. Eighty-some moves, but I know it well. So I nod, say, "Yes, sir," and begin. I gave it my all, which meant very low, very fierce, strong stances, strong attacks. And I finish, bow, and he smiles. He tells me it was good, and makes a correction on how certain tiger strikes are meant to be thrown (which Sifu has now modified in the set, to teach everyone), and then wants to see a few applications of self-defense. So I go to it with Si-hing, and he seems to be content with it. And I pass! Woo!

Nick went up next, and did Gung Gee Fook Fu. I won't say much about it - I'll just say there was some murmuring about what Sigong thought of it. Nick actually missed one move in the form (which I know well enough to have noticed), and Sigong pointed that out. He asks for some self-defense, which Nick does against Shannon (who's still there to watch us), and then Sigong passes him. And then Justin is up! And Sigong asks him to do the Tiger Crane set, also known as Fu Hok. This is another traditional Hung Gar form. Very long, very difficult. But Justin does it well, keeps very low stances. And he finishes, and Sigong asks for TEN self-defense moves, which I help him with. He does them well (well enough that he actually pops me in the jaw with one), and Sigong is pleased. So we all receive our certifications! Yay! And Sifu reveals that this day, a first has been reached. Si-hing is the first student Sifu has had that has passed the Phase 3 test. Very cool stuff.

So my Phase 1 is over, and I'm happy with how I did, although Sifu told us all we got it EASY. Sifu, when testing us in Phase tests, makes us do EVERY form from that phase, as well as self-defense for each. So yes, we did get it easy. Yay! And afterwards, we go out to dinner at Outback, and the food is good, and the waitress flirts with me (which Si-hing and his grandfather nudge me constantly about, wink wink, etc.), and all is cool. It was a good day.

Today, in comparison, doesn't seem quite as exciting, but it was good. Started with picking a friend up from the airport. She was gracious enough to actually give me a t-shirt, which I really don't deserve, but THANK YOU. It's cool. And then class, to receive our tests back, which I did all right with. Not great, but not bad, either. About average, compared to the class. And some more work, but not quite as crazy busy as Friday. Will be finishing it tomorrow. Then more kung fu! And I'm freshly inspired, so I help teach many of the students as well as I can. In addition to practicing Gung Gee a bit. It was good. I think now that school is going to be FINISHED I'll be studying a bit more of the Chinese martial arts thing. Yay!

Oh, and the Swan I had to watch, of course. Probably the most impressive one yet. I actually thought the woman was already good looking to begin with. If you have any curiosity, this one would be good to check out. Unfortunately, they have a special Tru Calling episode, so the standard rerun won't be seen. Alas. I was impressed, though.

A friend of mine has apparently requested that my blog be readily available for text browsability (to get some Pootenheimer blogging on the run, some people need their fix), so I shall comply. The feed can be found under the e-mail address. If you need it (or can use it) you probably know, so if you're confused, don't worry about messing with it.

Ah, and I might be getting a new guitar! A friend of mine (ahem, AMY) has a boyfriend who needs dinero and has more than one guitar, so he's going to sell one. It's a good guitar, an Ovation acoustic-electric. So I may go ahead and take advantage of the opportunity. AFTER I move into a new place and get a job. I like guitars.

And I went to Wally World for the first time in a long time. Got me some MUNCHIES. Mmm, yes, that sounds good. I think I'll go sample a munchie right now! The variety, the choices. Yes, I found some good stuff. I also found something rather weird. What's wrong with this picture?

Oh, but it's still tasty.

Okay. That's a HUGE blog entry. Lots of kung fu. So much so, you should have some more. Yes, it makes sense. Don't question. So here.
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as of 10/23/03

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