Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007
Itypically refrain from bogging any personal life type stuff on here. I'd really rather keep things on topic, and we're here to talk about toy soldiers, not real life, right? That said, there has just come to pass an event in my life that I feel worthy of remembrance -- I have completed the test to be recognized as a Student of the Physical Forms in Shen Lung Kung Fu.
That means I'm a certified Bad Ass. No, actually what that means is that I've completed the student program in Shen Lung. Sure, there's more, but its all either orientated towards becoming a Sifu, or very self-motivated and self-directed. But the basic program is done, and our journey along the pre-defined student path is complete. Finishing the path with me were Luke Anthony, Will Hooper, and Robert Britton. Observing and judging the test were some of the most distinguished martial artist in central Alabama, including Sensei Grant Nichols, Morris "Magic" Polion (he's fighting in London soon), Master Chris Worrel, and Master Harry Lawson. A bunch of the guys from Shen Lung were there to help out and throw hands, as well. My mom and brother were there, too.
The test itself was one of the most physically and, I dare say, spiritually demanding acts I've ever attempted. Here's a run down, with my scores as far as I remember them:
Feats of Strength and Movement:
Rope Climb: I'm not sure how high I got, but it wasn't much above a "passing." The rope started untwisting and I started spinning, my hands started slipping, and I got all acrophobic, and it was just time to get the hell down off of that rope.
Swimming - 200 meters: Just for completion, not for time.
40-Yard Dash: I think I did it in 5.57 seconds.
Standing Long Jump: 7'7" jump (three tries, all came to 7'7")
Bench Press: 215 lbs
Sit Ups: 50ish
Push Ups: 32, then my shoulders started twitching and gave out. I've never felt them do that before, but they just crapped out on me.
Running - 2 miles: 17:12 time, which kinda sucked -- I can usually run it in 16:50 at home, and was hoping to better that on the day. But then, I was normally clocking my rested time. From what I understand, Sifu was looking at the stop watch and shaking his head, saying that I wasn't going to make it, when I crested the small hill and came running in to the sounds of much cheering. God, it felt at the time like I just didn't have shit else to give.
Feats of Combat:
Knife Fight: Against one of Master Worrel's folks. He got a knife, I didn't, and man did I get cut up. I had a few good moves in there, and got a chuckle out of Worrel at one point. It was fun, and I don't think I embarrassed myself, but this wasn't one to brag about.
Grappeling: I went up against Jerre for this one, who outweighs me by, what, 50 or 60 pounds? Also, according to others, Robert had put him down hard and fast on the match before this one, so he came into our fight pissed and ready to go hard. So, he squished me. Literally, he pretty much got on top of me and squished my neck. My mother, apparently, really didn't like watching this one, and it made Celeste mad. Again, I didn't get embarrassed, but I got well schooled and beaten.
Boxing: I started to come into my element during this fight with David Hayes, who opened things by reminding me that his first round of boxing ever was with me. Well, he's done a bit of practicing at boxing since then... With him coming into the fight fresh, I resolved to get on him, stay on him, and make him react to me -- I wasn't about to let him set the pace of things. I'd also resolved the night before that I wasn't coming out there to teach any body anything, and that I was going to press shit home, keep the advantage, and not let up until someone calls hold, sportsmanship be damned. And that's what I did. I do recall one particularly clean hook I put upside his head, but other than that my memory of the match is all a blur of combos, ring work, putting him into the "ropes" (really just the crowd) and keeping him there. He did get in once nice clean shot to my mouth, but I was already moving back into the attack when Sifu called a hold on it. Then back in again! I really felt like I'd owned this one, until...
Kick Boxing: Came right after boxing, and I wanted to just dominate this fight. Of all the things we did this day, this was the one that should have been my strongest event, where I should have really been able to make up some of the points and pride that other events had cost me. I was going to kick ass and chew bubble gum! I drew circle mate Ben Kid for this round, and god, I just broke him. For the first minute he was playing along, throwing some shots back at me and at least making me pay attention. I just threw lots of combos with kicks in between them, and ate him alive. By the second minute, he was just standing there taking it. By the third, I was looking to Master Lawson to be sure he didn't think I was being a dick of beating up on the little guy. Really, the only downside of this round was that it was too easy -- Ben quit fighting, and I would have liked to have had more to work with.
Escrima Fight: I was paired up with Will for this one, and we both got all suited up for a stick fight. This was a lot of fun. We both got some good work in, but I was faster to remember that I have feet, and I block a bit better than Will, so I think I carried the round. It was a lot of fun when the stick fight degenerated into knees and head-butts, though.
Katana Fight: Will and I went at it again with the fabric-padded boffer Katanas. This one was just fun. We were playing with my toys (literally) not his, so this was kinda my round, but Will always keeps you on your toes. I got good mileage out of using the gim cone defenses with the Katana, and used my footwork to exploit the way Will was fighting -- he was treating the tools like there were double-edged blades, not singles, and a few times I was able to step between him and his blade where it was safe enough to really set in some nice slow cuts.
And that was about it. It may not seem like that much on the page, but it certainly made for a full day. We didn't do several of the things we were prepared to do, either because of time, or they weren't that important, or Sifu had already seen us do them, like all the forms, the speed bag and heavy bag work, throwing weapons (javelin for the guys, sling for me.) and some of the demos sifu had dreamed up, like my little trick with a katana and a cantaloupe.
Ranks were awarded on the spot, but there were to be only three green sashes. Sifu let that one kind of hang like a fart in the air at flower convention, but then he followed up with the day's zinger -- Robert hadn't been testing for his green sash, he'd been testing for a Black Sash, Instructor of the Physical Forms of Shen Lung Kung Fu. No, Robert didn't know that. And no, there was nary a dry eye in the house.
And so there you have it -- half of 16th Circle has green sashes, and Shen Lung has a new Sifu. Now we gotta get the rest of 16th up to that level, if they wish it, and figure out what's next for our own training.
That, and chill the hell out for a little while.