Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kung Fu - Week 8

1/25 - Monday
Chinese New Year is just a couple of week away so we are starting to really focus on what each of us are going to do.  I'm not sure at this point if I will be doing anything but I want to be prepared!
Sifu broke us up in groups so a newer guy and I were in the same group.
Each group had to come out in front of the class and do our last form in front of everyone.
I did 8 Chain Punch - and at first it was very messy and sloppy.
By the time class was over I actually managed to tweak out the entire form!  Sifu even commented when I was done that I did all the forms!
This was a good boost to my confidence!  I'm in no way saying that I have it down perfectly but so glad I was able to get through it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kung-Fu - Week 7

1/18 - Monday

1/20 - Wednesday
Due to the snow it was only myself,Chris and 2other people..
After warmups we spent a lot time working on our basics. We broke down the 8 horse stances and basic 8 punches and it was great to have so much one on one time.
Sifu also worked with me on my next form - the 8 chain punch.
This is where line drills will come in handy!

1/23 - Friday
Had a decent size class.  Tonight's instructor is good at teaching and corrected a stretch that I didn't know I was doing incorrectly.

1/24 - Saturday
Weather was still a little dicey but we had a good sized group.  Chris led the warm-up's so that was cool.I was worked a bit with another lady on our 8 chain punches.  Hopefully I will get this down!
I put so much pressure on myself and get frustrated when I don't pick something up right away.
I know it will come.  Just wish it would come faster!

Overall this week was much better than last!

Kung-Fu Week 6

1/11 - Monday
It felt good to be back in class but I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little scared given what happened last week.
After warm-up's we did line drill but this time Sifu told me to only do half the gym.  That was a relief!
After that we did group forms.  Basically we break off into groups of similar levels and do the forms that we know.  At this point I am have learned 8 horse stances and 8 punches.
Overall I took it easy and tried to work at my own pace.  When you get in a group setting there are moments of peer pressure to try and keep up.

1/13 - Wednesday
By the end of the night we did over 100 pushups!  Brutal!
After class I had a great talk with Sifu.  He approved some different black shoes that have a lot more of support and we talked about last Saturday.  He told me that going forward anytime we get into something that I can't do then I can tell the instructor that Sifu gave me permission to modify.
But in reality I'm not really that far behind.  I'm usually taking 2-3 steps for ever most people's 1 step - so for instance by only doing 1/2 the gym in line drills I'm almost doing the whole thing!
I think I really needed to hear that it's OK and get the validation from Sifu.

1/15 - Friday

1/16 - Saturday
Today instead of running I did jump rope and straight kicks until the rest of the group came back.
We finished warm-ups and then did stations.
This was new for me but I actually really loved it.  We had 10 stations (one for every person) and they were anything from push-ups, kicking the bag to squats.

Overall this week felt really good.

Kung-Fu - Week 3

Day 9: 12/21 - Monday

Day 10: 12/23 - Wednesday

Day 11: 12/25 - Friday

Day 12: 12/26 - Saturday

I didn't do a great job of documenting this week.  I'll come back and fill in the missing pieces if I think of anything.

Kung-Fu - Week 2

Day 5: 12/14/15 - Monday
Class was similar to last week.  Some basic warm-up's and working on our own material.
I'm thinking that I finished my 8 horse stance and was introduced to 8 punches.

Day 6: 12/16 - Wednesday
In true fashion we started tonight with push up's!

Day 7: 12/18 - Friday
missed - Christmas Party

Day 8: 12/19 - Saturday

This week I'm feeling a little better about classes.  I'm still taking 2-3 Excedrin before class.
We missed Friday/Saturday but we did do about a 2 hour class at home.  Fortunately Chris knows a lot of warm up material so that helps me.
I find that I want to practice on my off nights - just to be prepared for the next day.

What have I gotten myself into?! Kung Fu - Week 1

Day 1: 12/7/15 Monday
After talking with Sifu we decided that Monday, December 7th would be our first day to class.
He said this is the biggest class (great!) and would be the most diverse so I would get an idea of different levels.

Leading up to that Monday I was pretty nervous - I won't lie.  From Saturday to Monday I had a bazillion thoughts running through my head.  Doing anything for the first time is nerve wracking never-mind an intense martial arts class as an adult.  I couldn't understand how as a beginner I would be in the same class as people that had been doing this for years.  More on that later...

Our traditional uniform consists of black pants, matching t-shirt, shoes and a sash - which took me forever to get tied correctly.  I mean, it is about 8 feet long so I have to wrap it around a couple of times just to get the slack drawn up.  The pic below is from a trial run before class (not sure what I'm doing with my hands here, looks like I'm directing traffic.. LOL)

We made sure to leave work in plenty of time to get there and dress out.  Once we got there Sifu did some introductions and everyone was very friendly.  Especially after knowing that Chris was a former student.

Class started right at 6:15 and there were 3 rows of 4 students.  I stood in the last row on the very end. I am assuming this is reserved for the newest student.   There are some traditional bows to begin each class and then we got right to it.

Class begins with a bow to the altar and Sifu lights the incense.  We then start "warm ups"

I use warm up in quotes because this was definitely not like any warm-up that I have ever done before.
It lasted for about 40 minutes and we did everything from straight kicks, side kicks, squats, lunges, and standing on one foot  All of the movements are about feet positioning and breathing.
Of course I had no idea what I was doing during the warm-ups but Sifu was very patient and helpful - often coming around and correcting my posture and feet positioning.

After warm-ups we had a brief water break and then one of the senior students took me aside to start teaching me some of the basic horse stances - which I would later learn is the foundation for everything else.
She taught me the first 4 stances (and the Chinese names for each) and I spent the rest of the class practicing this on my own.  She would come check on me and correct me if anything was not correct.

This is how a beginner can be in the same class as advanced students.  Everyone does the same warm-up and then we work at our own individual pace on the material we are given.

At the end of class we all got back together in our original positions to pay our respects to the ancestors and philosophies that make up the Wah-Lum style of Kung-Fu.

After class was over I felt very energized but to be honest I did have a feeling of "what the heck am I doing here".  I am optimistic that with each class things will get a bit easier.

Day 2: 12/9/15 - Wednesday
Teacher: J.
We arrived at class and did a few minutes of stretches and then we got in line.
Warm-up's opened with 25 push-up's!  We then did some basic warm-ups and finished with line drills.  I can tell this is not going to be a favorite part of our training.
Line drills are just that.  We get in line from the senior students to the beginners.  One by one we go in order and do whatever exercise J calls out.  I think for me it was the hand and foot coordination that got me tripped up.  I'm a pretty good dancer but for whatever reason this was tough for me!
I worked my horse stances and learned a couple of new steps.

Day 3: 12/11/15 - Friday
Teacher: T
Tim's warm-ups are similar to Sifu's but definitely not as tough as J's.

Day 4: 12/12 -  Saturday
Teacher: C
I like C's personality - pretty quiet but a good teacher.  I found out that he's the newest of instructors.

General consensus of the week:  I am proud that I made it through all 4 classes.  I have started taking Excedrin an hour before class.  Definitely feel the joint pains but really want to work through it.

October - National Dwarfism Awareness Month

This post started in October.  I put in the back burner but finally had time tonight to finish it up.. here it goes:

I saw a post on FB today that October is Dwarfism Awareness month.
To be honest, I never knew such a thing existed.

I don't get on a soapbox too often but this obviously hits very close to home.
My brother and I were both born with a rare type of dwarfism that while we were short our limbs were proportinate.  There are over 200 types of dwarfism and my specific type counts for a very small percentage.

Ever since I can remember my parents took us to see pioneer in the dwarfism field - Dr. Steven Kopits.  He was based out of Johns Hopkins and later moved to St. Joseph's hospital outside of Baltimore, MD.  Every year my family would load up the car and take our "vacation" to see Dr. Kopits.  My parents wanted absolutely nothing but the best for my brother and I and when our local pediatrician couldn't do the job they found the best doc around.  I have very many memories of my days spent at St. Joseph's - all the nurses, the playroom (which had an awesome gaming console that we could play Galaga for free!) and the fellow little people that I would meet through my many visits.

My brother and I had surgeries to correct various side effects from the dwarfism.  My brother had hip and knee replacement.  I had a neck fusion to correct some slipping vertabraes that if left untreated could have caused me to be paralyzed.  I will forever be grateful to my parents for making the yearly trips (sometimes multiple trips) and wanting only the best for us.

So the reason of my rant is that knowing that October is dedicated to "Dwarfism Awareness" I wanted to share some thoughts from my perspective.

I have an amazing husband and an awesome circle of friends and family that never saw or treated me as different but alas, the world can still be a cruel place.  Even at 37 the points, stares and whispers can still get to me.   I'm not talking about children per say but older kids, teens and even adults that for whatever reason think it's acceptable to be rude and condescending. Many days I want to reply "geez, I have no idea how tall I am, how fat are you!" but I can't ever bring myself to say it.

I welcome the conversations with children since now a lot of my friends have kids of their own that are in that inquisitive phase.  I don't want my friends to be shy or embarrassed if they ask "why are you so little" or "are you a mommy".  I hope that in some small way I can help open the dialogue with them and funny enough once I tell them that "God made me this way" they seem satisfied with that answer.

So my challenge is this, and it's pretty simple - "Treat others the way you want to be treated".