Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A New Month, A New Beginning

The start of a new month, or a new week, or a new year, also seem to give us the impetus to start some new projects, or to undertake some new resolutions.

I was thinking about that yesterday as I marveled that it is already March 2010. But the new month was not the only thing that got me thinking in terms of setting new goals for myself.

Saturday, I received that one piece of mail that I look forward to late each winter - the invitation and the sign-up sheet for the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship, to be held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando.

Chi sao, as demonstrated by Sam Kwok and Ip Ching. Kwok Sifu taught Hunter von Unschuld, my sifu.

I've answered that call three times in the past, the last time in 2006, the year just before my son came to stay with us. I was training hard to compete in that tournament in 2008, with the full intention of competing for the Southern Style Grand Championship. I even bought a brand-new, combat steel kwan dao and learned to use it for the event.

An example of a kwan dao, easily the heaviest weapon with which I've ever trained.

But sadly, on the day I was going to pay my entry fee, I got laid off from my job at the college. The job loss completely knocked me for a loop. I also wasn't sure I wanted to continue to spend money on the event.

Well, I'm still not working steady, but I looked over that entry form. I filled in the blanks for "Over-35 hand forms," "Over-35 weapons" and "Chi Sao." I was tempted to fill out the blanks for the various Southern Style Kung Fu events. Though I'm rusty, I still remember how to do the cutlass and the staff sets. I could do a Lion's Roar set for the Southern Style Long Hand event and a Yau Kung Mun/Bak Mei set for the Short Hand form.

However, the entry fees would be just too much. It would also take added time that I should be using to do or find paying work.

And, I am 45-years-old. I can still do some good forms, but it would be one Hell of an uphill fight to try to impress the judges when being matched against high school and college kids.

If I do that tournament, I'll focus on quality rather than quantity performances. Just three events - an empty-hand form, a weapons set and chi sao. By focusing on them, I stand a better chance of doing well.

Of course, the trickiest thing will be getting in practice for chi sao. I've lost touch with my Wing Chun brothers, though I do have a lead on one of them. Instead, I just got on Facebook and let my buddies know I'm looking for chi sao partners. I was pleasantly surprised to have the following training partners and instructors answer that call.

Anthony Chan: My instructor in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Tribal Arts. He has some training in chi sao from me and our mutual instructor, Hunter von Unschuld. Good trapping skills, too, from the Filipino arts and JKD.

Practicing Filipino Tribal Arts with my instructor, Anthony Chan

Don Weiss: My instructor in Yau Kung Mun and Hung Gar. I've helped him cross-train in Wing Chun. Apparently, the Wing Chun dummy set was appropriated for YKM and Bak Mei, a related art. I'll most likely be using YKM sets in the forms and weapon competition. Don's developed some good chi sao, though some of his signature moves (like biting) would be illegal in competition.

Bret Bumgarner: He's been teaching me Baguazhang, and has some training in Taijiquan. He's got good push-hands (t'ui shou) and those principles will carry over into chi sao. In fact, he's partial to what Hunter would calls "sickle hands" motions in his push hands, which is how Chinese Mainlanders do their chi sao.

Baguazhang instructor Bret Bumgarner. Though he doesn't have chi sao training, the principles are similar to his push hands training.

David Somers: A Goju-Ryu Karate master with some training in Wing Chun (at least partly from me). Dave's got a strong root and some great internal training from his Goju.

So now, the only thing left is the entry fees. Unlike other bloggers, I'm not going to shake down my readers, waving a virtual coffee can for you to send your Paypal payments. Though I'm not too proud to accept charity, I won't ask for it.

But since I'm saving for this tournament and a trip to New York for my wife, I am going to be selling heavily on eBay and Amazon again, under the name "The Florida Fanboy." If you dig classic vinyl LP's, comic books from the 1970's and 80's, Playboy back issues or just some other light reading, keep checking back here. I'll be listing items I have up for sale or auction.

It's your chance to catch some good deals!