A good weekend... - that yellow bastard

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February 11th, 2003


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2003.0211.1525::A good weekend...
I had a pretty fun weekend. Starting out Friday night, I met khubli for dinner and then we headed up to Dupree's to play some Spades with batnandu and Patty.

Saturday, I met the gang at Aprés Diem around noon for brunch. From there, Nandu picked me up at home, and we headed for Black Mountain, NC. On the drive up, I managed to finish Bringing Down the House, finally, although I didn't get to work on my bronze2lj script--the glare off of the already dim lcd screen prevented any serious work.

Some interesting snippets of conversation on the way up:

Me: Hey, you know what I'm doing?
Du: You're totally freaking out on me.

Me: Was that a deer or a pony?
Du: Where? I didn't see it.
Me: Back there. It looked like it had too much
mass to be a deer. I couldn't really tell--
MOOOOO! [upon seeing a cow on the side of the road]


So yeah, we had a fun time driving up, being punchy. We stopped at a gas station at one point to pick up some snacks. We got: a Gatorade Ice, a Bottled Water, a Starbucks Bottled Mocha, one bag of Funyuns, one bag of Bugles, one pack of Devil Cakes, one pack of Nutty Bars, and one Caramel Crunch. The lady looks at me and says, "Looks like you're good for the rest of the trip."

I look at what we have, and reply, "That's good for about ten miles..."

When we got to Black Mountain, after stopping to check in at the Super-8, we continued on the Asheville. In Asheville, Nandu's Sifu was going to be participating in a Chinese New Year's Kung Fu demonstration. We got there right in time for the demo to begin.

After the initial lion dance, it was interesting seeing everyone doing forms and katas (there was a single Japanese dojo participating). We saw some forms ranging from the simple to the moderately difficult with nunchaku, tonfa, staff, straight sword, broadsword, plus one with this big large polearm which looked like a cross between a thin oar and the large paddle that principals beat students with...

The most compelling demonstration, however, was the weaponless Tai Chi form that Nandu's Sifu presented. Nandu would later tell me that this particular form is original, composed by Sifu. I forgot to tell Nandu that watching his teacher perform reminded me a great deal of the scene in Tai Chi Master with Jet Li working out with a clustered ball of leaves gathered from the sheer strength of his will.

Following the demonstration, we ended up joining a few of Sifu's other students and going to eat at Doc Chey's Noodle House.

Yes. There's one in Asheville.

The following morning, we drove from the hotel to the Mountain Sanctuary on Gateway Mountain. I've never been to the mountain before, but dusted with a few inches of snow, it's quite a sight. The sanctuary is even more magnificent. Built from a wood imbued with a rich yellow-orange hue, the sanctuary's ceilings are high and open, and the large windows allow a healthy amount of natural light in, while revealing a spectacular view of the mountains.

When we got to the sanctuary, Sifu asked if I would like to participate in the morning's training. Having previously learned a bit of Chi Kung from Nandu, I agreed. We went through the Reeling Silk exercises, as well as some more exercises of Sifu's own devising. Since there was such a wide variance of experience (from my own complete neophyte status to Nandu's sixteen year study), Sifu separated the group into two, with the more experienced students working outside.

Laura, Sifu's wife, continued to train me and two other students. We worked on the stances, for a while, and then I actually got to do some Tai Chi, which I had never done. After running through the first few steps of the Chen form, we continued with Bagua Circle Walking, learning inside and outside changes. All in all, despite a relatively slow pace, a good workout--at times, my heart would beat heavily while my thighs burned.

When we were done with Cirle Walking, we watched the others from the window. I went outside for a bit and watched Nandu train in the configuration of tall posts that Sifu had set up. Nandu would tell me later that this, too, was a training technique which was unique to his Sifu, where the subject doesn't just try to battle through the posts, but work within them.

I think the thing which struck me the most, however, was not any part of the physical training, but the brief dialogue Sifu had with his students about the previous evening's demonstrations. A consummate teacher, Sifu would talk about various subjects--the nature of the soft vs. hard styles, the differences between training without an opponent and fighting against one. At the time, it didn't really seem like a lesson, but in retrospect, even in the really short time that I spent with him, I think Sifu can make anything into a lesson.

I left the sanctuary feeling much like I do when I leave Newnan, I felt a desire to stay longer. I wanted to learn more.

The road home was largely quiet and uneventful. We did try to stop at a South Carolina sports bar near Traveler's Rest called Gators, complete with a similar Orange-and-Blue logo. It was, hoever, closed, and we suspect that South Carolina's bars run dry on the day when most have dressed in their Sunday best.

When I got home, Nandu hung out for a while and we caught up on Angel and Smallville episodes, as well as eps of Invader Zim and Penn and Teller's Bullshit.

So that's my weekend.
Current Mood: [mood icon] excited

3 comments | Leave a comment )

Comments:


batnandu::2003.02.12.12:04 pm
[User Picture]> The most compelling demonstration, however, was the weaponless Tai Chi form that
> Nandu's Sifu presented. Nandu would later tell me that this particular form is
> original, composed by Sifu.

I think you misunderstood. That form is an authentic Chen Style form. He added a little to it (a brief warmup, since he'd been sitting, as well as a few moves to enhance the performance), but it's one of the oldest Tai Chi forms in existence.

> I forgot to tell Nandu that watching his teacher perform reminded me a great
> deal of the scene in Tai Chi Master with Jet Li working out with a clustered ball of
> leaves gathered from the sheer strength of his will.

Why do you think I shat my pants when I saw that movie?

> I went outside for a bit and watched Nandu train in the configuration of tall posts
> that Sifu had set up. Nandu would tell me later that this, too, was a training
> technique which was unique to his Sifu, where the subject doesn't just try to battle
> through the posts, but work within them.

Training with the posts is actually an old method, although these days almost everyone works "through" them rather than "within" them. The specific techniques and sequences of moves that you saw are 100% unique to my school.

> A consummate teacher, Sifu would talk about various subjects--the nature of the soft
> vs. hard styles, the differences between training without an opponent and fighting
> against one.

This is one thing (among many) that he does exceptionally well. He can take a group of students with immensely disparate degrees of experience and deliver a lesson that reaches all of them. Of course, I end up hearing the same stuff many times--usually 90% of his group lessons are not new to me. But he always manages to add a little something to keep me interested. And he consistently reminds me that it's important to hear that stuff because it's the same stuff I'll need to tell my students.

> At the time, it didn't really seem like a lesson, but in retrospect, even in the
> really short time that I spent with him, I think Sifu can make anything into a lesson.

This is one of the reasons I wanted you to go. People have asked me many times why I drive all the way to Florida for a lesson instead of finding a teacher in the Atlanta area. The fundamental reason is that I literally can't. Now I think you understand why.

> It was, hoever, closed, and we suspect that South Carolina's bars run dry on the day
> when most have dressed in their Sunday best.

Which day is that?
thepeopleseason::2003.02.12.12:24 pm::Re:
[User Picture]> Why do you think I shat my pants when I saw that movie?

Gross.

> Now I think you understand why.

Indeed.

> Which day is that?

Yeah, I realized the failure of the phrase after reading it a few times, but I was just too lazy to edit it.
khubli::2003.02.13.03:12 pm
[User Picture]tasty bones...
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