Monday, June 19, 2006

One Small Step for Swordsman...

Well, that was a failure! John and I got together to try to cram the whole Yang Sword form into our brains in one day. First, it was 95 degrees out, and of course I had the poor forsight to schedule it on Fathers Day. In the way I suppose Chinese might forget or overlook Yom Kippur, I tend to forget about Father's Day since my dad passed away when I was young. These days, Father's day is a fuzzy space in my schedule where the family gathers for dinner to honor parents and grandparents in a quasi-confucian style.

I used to have this theory that Confucianism was part of the reason Chinese don't organize very well on large scales. In my limited understanding of the philosophy, I reasoned that there was such an emphasis on honor, respect, and obedience to the family and elders that anyone outside of the "clan" was fair game for cheating and stealing. It was a convenience way to explain the politics and corruption in Chinatown. These days, I'm a little more inclined to believe that clannish thinking if more of a human trait than just a Chinese one.

We spent three hours to learn the first quarter of the 54-stance Yang form today. We started by stepping through the whole form three times, following the moves on our source video as best we could to get the form into our heads in the most general sense, and then we began stepping though the moves stance by stance. We moved briskly from "Unite with Sword" to "Big Dipper," stopping along the way to see the "Swallow Skimming the Water" and the "Wasp Entering the Hive." We were dazzled by the "Phoenix Spreading Its Right Wing," and came to rest with the "Little Dipper."

Suprizingly, it wasn't very hard. The names of all the stances and our abuldant source material made the whole process mostly staightforward. It just took so long to cross-reference each move with the video and sometimes our notes that we found ourselves out of time before we knew it! Thre great thing is we learned so much that we're definitely going to give it a few more goes. It was fun!


Scirocco said...

You need someone to cross-reference all the information for you and show it to you in easy-to-digest pieces.

Charlie said...

I think you're right in a big way. The challenge isn't learning the form--anyone can learn to mimic a teacher. The challenge is to take something that in its most accessible instances is just a shadow of something real, and breathe fighting spirit back into it. That's one reason why we're collecting referenes from so many sources!