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Archive for June 10th, 2009

And He Could Show Up Any Day Now…

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

We hovered around the door, watching the young man testing play his staff form for a minute or so before the baritone voice of Sigung Fogg asked;

“Would you guys like to come in?”

Everyone stopped what they were doing to find some extra chairs as we tried to quickly (and subtly?) make our way from the door to the other side of the room, crossing in front of at least 3 Sifus, the tester and a couple of other students. Once we got our seats there were three things I noticed right away:

  1. The test was taking place in a school weight room which was probably the size of our big room, except that about 1/3 of it was filled with weight equipment – and that the whole thing was carpeted.
  2. An odd sticky thwap-thwap sound, and
  3. That there was no air conditioning.

As he moved through his weapons sets I realized that the thwapping sounds were the guy’s shirt – which looked like he’d literally been hosed off in the parking lot – thwapping and sticking against his chest.

After the staff he went into his straight-sword form which was interesting as I’d never seen that.  From the straight-sword he moved to the spear form.  The emotions I felt as I watched him try and try. and try. to pop that spear up off the carpet with his toe at the beginning and then flip it around his back and catch it with the other hand ran from pure heartache to relief, to “Yes!” when he finally got it.  He finished his weapons with Yin Ching broadsword which was the same but with totally different emphases than what we learn at our school.  It was interesting though, after he played his weapons sets he touched hands with a couple of people and eventually got what they called a boxer’s cut which bled quite a bit, but it was watching him struggle so determinedly with that spear form that was more disturbing to me.

While he was fighting, Sifu Perry and his student arrived with the benches and everyone was called into the office where we relinquished our funds and were told to grab a bench and head outside.

It was standing in that parking lot, in the bright sun that made it feel like at least 107°, that caused me to briefly question both my sanity and the black kung fu pants and dark shirts we had all decided to wear.  We’d all lined up and had done a couple of drills when Sifu Curtis came out and just started doing the form.  There was no warning, no “let’s get started”, just straight into the form.

With a jumping inside crescent kick.

Over.  The.  Bench. 

Needless to say, he had everyone’s attention then.  Sifu Curtis didn’t speak much; he would occasionally say something like “now, on your own,” or “ok, from the beginning” but he really didn’t need to, all eyes were on him.

“And then you set the bench down, do a front flip over it and bow.”

We finished the form after that final tidbit of information and then took a break to get some water, find some shade and catch our breath.  As I sat there Sigung Fogg came out from the school and as he walked over to where we had gathered asked

Everyone’s got it? Wintor you got that flip no problem right?”

and instinctually, before my brain could even engage I grinned and answered

Well yeah, frontwards and backwards!”

And just as my brain fired up and realized that maybe, just maybe that wasn’t the most appropriate response, he laughed.  Sigung Fogg has a pretty good laugh.

Sifu Jones asked me to write about my experience that weekend and it’s taken me a while to gather all of my impressions and try to get them compact enough for a blog post.  But there are definitely certain moments that stand out in my memory:

~  The thwap-thwap-stick of Dustin’s shirt;
~  Dustin’s determination to persevere through that dang spear form;
~  The searing heat out in that parking lot;
~  Uh? The jumping inside crescent kick. Over! The! Bench!;
~  Not getting a grunt of disapproval for joking with Sigung (whew!);
~  The smile that completely took over Sigung’s face when I mentioned that it was probably time for another trip to Jucy’s, and
~  Everyone’s enthusiasm, to both learn and help in the heat of the day, in a parking lot in Richardson, Texas in the summer.