Today also marks the beginning of the remaining four weeks for this first year on the mountain. Since the annual BBQ several weeks ago, most of the Retreat Center students traveled with Dr. Yang to San Jose, CA for the 25th Annual Tiger Claw Kung Fu Championship to participate. There was a special evening celebration the day we arrived where many Grandmasters of various traditions performed their art and were celebrated. The following two days were devoted to Wushu and martial competitions and demonstrations (solo, group, Push Hands, barehand, and weapons). I did not compete and went to observe this time. Most striking for me was the enormous number of children who participated. That was great to see and experience. Additionally, there were a sizeable representation of adults and seniors competing. I most enjoyed several of the solo form demonstrations; especially the Chen and Wudang Tai Chi forms.
This was my first time in San Jose and we drove there and back. I got to experience the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time and the unique architecture of that area of San Francisco. On the way, we also drove through Napa Valley and I saw the numerous vineyards. Although we didn't visit, we did eat at a restaurant across the street from the sprawling Apple campus. Being off the mountain in San Jose was not as traumatic as re-entering New York during my winter break. I'll see how the summer goes...
In May, the 3-Year Training Program students (and some guests) performed during the annual BBQ. We presented the first chapter of the Taijiquan form and we also did an abbreviated presentation of the Tiger sequence of the Five Animal Sports Qigong routine. I didn't include footage of the senior students, because I forgot to ask for their permission to include in this blog. However, this is a brief video of yours truly doing a double Pushing Hands drill with one of my teachers, Mr. Lopes.
The training has reached a steady state of manageable intensity lately. My personal conditioning has shifted further and I'm now climbing the rope three days weekly rather than every day. I've added back in the High Intensity Interval Training sequence with the 70lb. kettlebell, Squats three days weekly with eight pound dumbbells in each hand, and recently have included a sequence using Coach Scott Sonnon's Clubbells for grip, wrist and shoulder strengthening.
Next week our primary teacher, Frank, returns from a well-deserved two-month break and will resume teaching us along with our current teacher, Quentin. I look forward to having both help us be better. The Saber sequence has accelerated a bit with Dr. Yang wanting us to finish it before we leave. Obviously, it won't be 'perfect' by any stretch of the imagination. What we will have, however, is a complete choreographed flow that we can then continue to refine; especially while we're away for July and August. We've also begun a Staff sequence. It remains to be seen how far we'll come along with that. Both the Saber and staff are exciting extensions of what we are developing within our bodies and primarily serve as tools to express that power. The Taijiquan form continues to be refined and we're now consistently doing all three chapters in the expected time period of eighteen to twenty minutes. There is still so much more to learn and refine just in the form itself. Each practice session is full of opportunities to 'get it right.'
The hummingbirds and bees are now out in numbers and they vie for the space on the feeders. The training area is literally abuzz throughout the day with their coming and going. The weather is more predictably comfortable every day now-slightly chilled and overcast in the mornings, dry heat in the early afternoon with breezes, and cool in the evenings.
I am grateful to be. I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be able to still learn and refine my Self. I am grateful for your support.
Wishing you and those you love the very best in all things,
Be grateful for what you have. Ask for what you desire with all of the emotion you can muster. Release it. Expect to receive it NOW!