A short update today. No Kung-fu this week, so I've decided to pass the time with alcohol instead (kidding). Monk-son of Kunlun : Phoenix continues on. Still no end in sight, yet. Have put off a foot injury for years, so am finally seeing someone about it. And finally, a Black Dog episode that came out of nowhere, and disappeared just as quickly. Take this as a reason to keep taking your meds even when you feel you're doing okay. The Dog can creep up on you and dig its teeth in without even a moment's notice. And that's why it's important to do that one thing it makes you feel like you really don't have the energy to do : talk to someone about it.
Bit of a combination update this week. After months of very on-off writing, I finally have the final battle of Monk-son of Kunlun : Phoenix down. Still first draft, but still. An update came along for Vermintide II, which was nice. Got an old game out to try playing again, but stability issues prevented me from being able to play it for long. I once again used a Tai Chi move/technique in Kung-fu to help me during sparring. I also got told off (first time in a while) for showing the beginners something, when that's Sifu's job - hey, I'm keen dammit. I got my arms nearly beaten out of the sockets by a Kung-fu brother's top-notch punching (I was holding the punch pads). And the school summer holidays loom every closer. Thankfully, help appears at hand.
So you want to start at that thing that you feel appears to be your True Calling. You look out into the World (or the Web) and start trying to find where you can start. And then you find everyone under the sun has their differing ideas on how you go about it and become a success. They list all the things you'll need and all the stuff you'll need to do. And suddenly you have so many damned choices and things to do that it appears all too overwhelming. You freak out and suddenly you start procrastinating and then you end up getting nothing done. So what could be the answer? Well, for those of us who suffer from anxiety about anything and everything there appears to be a little something we can do to ease the burden of where to start and what to do : lists. It seems simple and yet it has helped me immensely in getting my week sorted and my work done. But not just with writing.
Martial arts can be a very rewarding experience. You dedicate your time and effort to it and you (hopefully) notice the benefits as you go on - better physical health, power generation, posture, etc. But it can also be a source of great frustration. This seems particularly the case if you have a history of previous martial arts training. Trying to quantify precisely what is so frustrating about it I've always thought it was a matter of my poor self-esteem - feeling like a failure for not being able to "get it." But, after having a conversation about this very subject with one of my Kung-fu brothers, the answer was given to me. "Having to start at Square One again."
School holidays always cause issues (rather than problems) with that old routine of Getting Things Done. Writing doesn't happen, time gets spent keeping little ones active where possible and thus in general Things seem to just not happen. So this becomes more a general post on what appears to have happened in the last week in both Life, Kung-Fu and whatever else I can think of to fill the space. Grading dates are set, my daughter learns that girls can be knights too (thank you Samantha Swords) and summer LRPing can be seen fast approaching.
Martial arts appears to be a path to power. Be it internal, external or just plain personnal, power all the same. Those of us who've never had it desire it. And naturally because you desire it you want it and fast. But what the Kung-Fu movies don't tell you would be that the power comes from a very unexpected place; patience. Patience can be difficult, especially with yourself. But, so Sifu says, that's what you have to do, you have to be patient. On the grand map of the path to power I'm still taking my first steps on a very long road. So my key to mastering all this and getting to the point where I can successfully beat someone lies not with some strategy of attack, some unbeatable move, but to be patient with myself. Also it occurs to me that I have to trust. Trust that all things, eventually, will come to pass. So patience and of course practice.
There appear to be two "rules" for being a writer according to a good many of one's "peers." One would be "Write. Lots." The other would be "Read. Lots." I've also seen it written that the piece of advice regularly given for anyone trying to write into a genre would be to read what one's peers in that genre are writing. Now, in case it hasn't been mentioned already, I'm trying for fantasy. One could go further and label it "oriental epic fantasy," but whatever. And so, according to Stephen King and others I should be reading other peoples' fantasy. There only appears to be one problem with this. I don' wanna.
Won't be going to the 20th Anniversary event for Mousavi Kung Fu, which appears a shame, but things have a way of working out against you some times. There's always next time. Coming back to training after a week away was good, and interesting in its own way. Sifu himself noted how everyone now appears a lot more relaxed when sparring. I myself try to do that, since I tend to get scrappy when I get all tense. This week I tried something a little different - during sparring, using only stuff from the Lau Gar 1 form. After all, the concept appears to be that everything we need to know appears to be there in the form. All you need to do appears to be study the form and its possible applications. Did it work? Sometimes. Shooting in for grappling was attempted too this week. Can't say I'm a big fan, since I'm so thin and long of limb, therefore am easy to grab and like to therefore keep to striking distance. People grab me and I start wailing on them. But... getting out of one's comfort zone does appear to be a worthwhile excercise. So that might be something to try next time. Also, taking things from other places can not only remind you of things you learn in Kung-fu, but also introduce new ideas that you recognise from other styles. This week I learned of a martial style I hadn't come across before - Jailhouse Rock or 52 Blocks. Reminds me of Keysi Fighting Method. Nothing I'd care to try in Kung-fu, but KFM's teaching method of setting time aside at the end of the lesson to do "shadow" training of the techniques learned as well as sitting down, closing your eyes and mentally going over the lessons learned in that session appear to be good ones. And, unsurprisingly, just like Dr Yang mentions when teaching Yang style Tai Chi for beginners, the initial drive can be to learn the moves, but then once those are learned you go back and start to apply what you learned. And then, once there, you apply the mental and spiritual part of it. All good stuff.
It can often be difficult for those who don't suffer with chronic depression to fully comprehend what it is the afflicted go through on a regular basis. Even worse can be the way said afflicted feel when confronted by those who don't get what we're doing through. Prone to thinking too much on how we appear to the outside world, the feeling of isolation can only get worse when faced with such misunderstanding. However, I was watching the episode of Sherlock, The Hounds of Baskerville (2012) and it suddenly struck me how well that shows an allegory of what we chronic sufferers go through. Hell, there's even a Black Dog in it that only poor Henry Knight can see. In a similar vein, the notion of the human's in-built capacity for self-destruction came up again this week (and last while I was away). We all seem to have this weird capacity for hurting ourselves that we consciously choose to ignore, or don't. And it doesn't always manifest as self-harm or even suicide. Drink, drugs, abuse (giving or taking), smoking. Slow-burning ways of destroying ourselves without us having to actually run a blade across our skin. And for those of us who suffer with poor self-image, the battle to not take up these self-destructive acts can be a constant one.
I've been neglecting my Tai Chi since things started getting more involved with Kung-Fu. However I recently got back into it. This proved both a help and a hindrance to my performance this week. However there was also something else that unexpectedly offered help and a little insight into the journey. Watching some of my Kung-Fu movies, I moved on from Tsui Hark's Seven Swords and progressed to Zhang Yimou's Hero. I also watched The Mindscape of Alan Moore. Interestingly enough, both of these offered insight into the link between Kung-Fu and art, and thus magick. After all, they call it a martial art. So why wouldn't these help in some form?