Friday, April 14, 2017

Eleven Weeks, But Who's Counting?...

It's truly amazing how the time seems to be moving by quickly. There are only eleven weeks remaining in this semester and the first year of training will have ended! It seems like I just got here a minute ago last September...I've learned so much and am excited about sharing it with my students when I return.

In my last post, I realized that I didn't show me actually climbing the rope. Well, here's the evidence;-) This is the result after the third attempt to get the camera working correctly:

Video credit: Jamie Urquhart

The only days I don't climb the rope are Sundays (our scheduled rest day) and when it rains (for safety). Otherwise, I climb it at least once daily along with doing my fourteen chin/pull ups and thirty pushups.

Earlier this week, I was pleasantly surprised when one of my students from New York, Jean Matthews, arrived here at the Retreat Center.
Jean is standing, 2nd from the left. These are my 3-Year
Training Program classmates and two guests.
Photo credit: Quentin Lopes
Hopefully, she's the first of many that will take advantage of the opportunity during the next two years to train with Dr. Yang and his students in this unique environment. She now knows first-hand how rigorous the training schedule is.

For the past several weeks, we've been training the additional basics of the Taijiquan Saber that we learned from Frank during the first semester. The learning pace now is just right for me as I'm turtle-like in my learning process--slow and steady. We're spending adequate time with the conditioning, proper stances, and the beginnings of a Saber sequence which is the main goal for the remainder of this semester. Currently, I'm focused on executing a three hundred and sixty degree turn on the left leg, beginning from a crouched forward posture with feet together and then spinning left as I begin to stand upright. Ultimately, we'll have Saber in hand, arms outstretched horizontally while making this turn as the opening to the sequence. More to come...

We're still practicing the basics of the Bo staff, but the emphasis has momentarily shifted to the Saber drills. With the persistent and unexpected extension of the rain, it makes it challenging to practice this weapon because of the space required to move as well as avoid injury.

Additionally, we are spending more time on our Qin Na (joint locks) and applications with variations as found within the Taijiquan form. I really enjoy this section of the training and regard it highly in terms of practical use. Dr. Yang is world renown for his Qin Na and we are so fortunate to be his students.

While I still do my squats, I now favor walking the mountain to the creek and back at least three times weekly. This has deepened my leg strength from feet to lower back tremendously; not to mention my stamina because of the oxygen demand on the return climb. To accomplish my goal of running from the creek back to the Retreat Center with fifty pounds on my back, I'm contemplating a strategy of adding five pounds (I have a weight vest) weekly during my treks starting next week so that by the week of June 19th, I'll be carrying that amount. More to come...

In addition to regularly practicing Embryonic Breathing, the 8 Pieces of Brocade, White Crane Soft Qigong, and the 4 Seasons Qigong (All Seasons set and Spring set), we've begun learning the first patterns of the 5 Animal Sports Qigong. The first animal and most challenging of the five is the Tiger sequence. By the close of this semester, we'll most likely have learned the Deer and Bear patterns as well.

Next month is the annual Retreat Center cookout where the surrounding neighbors and community are invited to visit, eat, and enjoy presentations from the students. It appears the 3-Year Group will be presenting as well. Most likely it will be the Taijiquan form. Hopefully, there will be photos I can include in the blog.

That's all for the moment! Enjoy the blessings of each day and be well.


Thank you sincerely to all my financial, mental and moral supporters that continue to make this journey possible!! 

What would you do if you knew you could Not fail?