Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday in the Yard. I think it was the 15th of May.

Don came by today for the first time in a couple of months. The life of a secret agent* is a busy one that takes him away from town for weeks at a time. When he gets back, he has a lot of catch-up to do with his wife and kids. As much as we enjoy our workouts, I gotta respect that he puts his family obligations first.

Today's Saturday session was pretty typical. We pick each other's brains about various forms and applications from Chinese gung fu, discuss the latest in personal fitness and try to get as much done in between breaks to watch the Tsarevich do his latest bike trick.

But the latest entry in today's Dojo Rat blog got me thinking about my long history of outdoor training. As journalist and martial artist Joe Hyams once said in his classic, "Zen in the Martial Arts," - "Anyplace can be a dojo."

Easily, one of the greatest books ever written on the martial arts.

Don and I have trained together for nearly 10 years. It started when I read an ad he put in a weekly newspaper, looking for training partners interested in Yau Kung Mun and Hung Gar Kung Fu. I'd had some training in Hung Gar and was interested in learning more about that art.

For the most part, our training sessions did take place outdoors, sometimes in Don's backyard; sometimes in the cul-de-sac where our friend, Tony Chan, holds his workouts; but usually, here in the Carport Kwoon.

I should mention that the carport is the only shelter for my practice area. When doing some heavy weapons work or a lot of forms, I use the side or front yard. The backyard is for the dogs to shit in.

One of the first times Don came over to practice, he was reluctant to use the front yard. He's always been a very private individual and I try to respect that. But in addition to the greater open space in the front, I also prefer to practice on grass.

You gotta admit - a sight like this will slow traffic on your street.

Wood is my second choice for a training area. A padded floor, like the floor of my carport, is somewhat better than bare concrete, but not by much. Over the years, I've learned that exercising on concrete is a recipe for rheumatoid arthritis, among other health issues. Truth is, I'm not even sure I believe it is safe to stand or walk on concrete for extended periods, let alone exercise on it.

Don relented when I convinced him that my street is generally pretty private. It's not a major through-street, so I don't have to worry about cars constantly going back and forth. After 12 years here, the neighbors have gotten used to me.

They also know that some strange behavior on the front yard is a small price to pay for a great neighbor like me. I don't mean to brag, but I don't drink, I don't throw loud parties, I don't blast my stereo or have a loud muffler on my car.

And since I started swinging my kwan dao or sam jie guan in the front yard, it has slowed down traffic as people try to take a look at what I'm doing.

Occasionally, someone does stop and try to talk to me about what I'm doing. I remember one morning in particular, one of Tampa's Finest came by in a plain brown wrapper** while I was working the kwan dao.

He slowed down, pulled up and said "hi."

"That thing looks pretty heavy!" he said, leaning across his seat.

"Yep," I said. "That sucker weighs about 15 pounds. It'll give you a helluva workout. Wanna give it a try?"

The officer said "thanks" but that he was looking for someone in the neighborhood who failed to appear in court.

"Well, have a good one and I hope you catch him," I said.

It's times like that that make me glad to live in Florida. In other places where I've lived, I'd be committing a felony for training outside with a weapon.

TOMORROW'S POST: "Outdoor Training in the Nutmeg State" or "Connecticut Yankee Karate".

*Look, I don't know for sure what he does for a living. All I know is that he travels abroad, often for weeks at a time. Calling Don a secret agent is just a lot easier than just admitting I don't know what the hell he's doing.

**Policeman in an unmarked car

No comments:

Post a Comment