Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to Basics or Whoa, ho, ho it's Magic!

"When I got my black belt, I realized that the best techniques were the ones they taught white belts. They were truly magical."

- Sifu John Angelos (1952-2002) speaking about his
experiences learning jujitsu. -

After last week's battle with the weather limited me to only two workouts, I knew I had to change something in my schedule. It's not very convenient doing my workouts earlier in the day because I like to stay focused on my writing. Also, when the weather is decent, I can let my son go outside to play while I get my workout done.

But when I'm battling the weather, it's just to
o much of a hassle to stay in my carport and supervise and/or entertain my son. As a result, I had to be the responsible parent and forego my workout in order to keep my son safe from lightning and keep my wife happy.

I decided today that I should do my workout dur
ing early afternoon. That way, I can get it done without having to worry about keeping my son inside during afternoon thunderstorms. Today's workout brought me out into the hot, humid, noon-time Florida sun in order to avoid afternoon storms.

Today's workout focused on basics. I did a circuit of three Yau Kung Mun forms: the Tung Jee Kuen, YKM's first empty-hand set; Luk Hup
Guan, YKM's first staff set; and the dan dao, the single sabre.

All three forms are short, each one has less than 20 moves, not counting repeaters. It takes less than a minute to do each one. But, as is typical of Yau Kung Mun, the forms are very aggressive and direct, with several drops to one knee, jumping kicks and fast, phoenix-eye fist blows, directed to the solar plexus, the armpits or the nipples.

In that respect, the first YKM set is very similar to advanced sets, like Gau Bo Toi (Nine Step Push) or Sup Baht Mor Kiu (18 Devils Bridge).

But short doesn't necessarily mean easy. Especially when I resolved to do eight runs of the circuit, going from empty-hand to staff to sabre. It plays a lot with your mind and your body, going from form to form, each with radically different body mechanics and demands on your strength, stamina and focus.

I'm not much of a traditionalist, but I did eight runs of that circuit. Asian martial arts in general, and Chinese arts in particular, tend to
do things in patterns of threes and eights. Those are lucky numbers in Chinese numerology. I suspect it is due to Buddhism's influence on Asian culture. There is a Buddhist trinity of Buddha (the Enlightened One), the Dharma (His Teachings) and the Sangha (Community of Enlightened Souls). Eight is the number of Buddha's Eightfold Path of how people should live their lives.

Though I am a Christian, I have profound respect for Buddha's teachings. Though I don't revere him as a deity or a messiah, I do consider him one of the greatest philosphers. I believe he was as Divinely-inspired in his teachings as were Moses, Solomon and Isaiah.

But I digress. As I said several days ago, weapons work will take a lot out of you. But the switch from weapons to empty-hands really taxes you, both mentally and physically. As I concluded, I had little time left but to do a set of crunches and a set of pushups. To my amazement, I managed to do 50 pusnups between the bowling balls.

It takes balls to do pushups like this.


  1. Glad to see you're keeping at it, in spite of all of the little everyday things that can sometimes get in the way of training !

  2. I like the bowling ball push-ups, it must really work the stabilizer muscles. Interesting how pilates has brought so many exercises based on balls, etc. Good Stuff.

  3. Hey DR,

    Glad you like it. I've been inspired a lot by the works of Pavel Tsatsouline. There's a lot of good exercises with bowling balls. I've got a few of them from Goodwill and from friends who no longer use them.

    My goal is to get them in a wide range of weights. I'd also like to get some duckpin balls, too. They're small bowling balls, you usually only find them in New England states.

  4. Three's and Eights are also in the San-Ti posture in xingyi 3.(Heavan-Earth-Man) and in bagua Eight, Eight Trigram Palms, coinciding with the Eight Trigrams that form the basis for the I-Ching.