Just a brief update since that last entry. It’s interesting how so many of my recent posts have been on the topic of the martial way.

George is a 16-year-old kid who’s part of Rebel Empire to gain work experience, and he’s pretty quick with the uptake. He also has ten years experience Taekwondo, and holds the rank of second dan. That’s pretty darn impressive. He also expressed to Kaneda the confidence that he could win in a fight between the two of them. Kaneda gently showed him the error of his ways by taking up his sword and, without striking him, unleashing his fierce battle aura. George no longer believes he could take Kaneda in a fight. I however became curious. Such confidence must surely belie worthy skill, or great arrogance. I wanted to see which, so after the mats were cleared of people and with Cameron as witness and referee, we did some sparring.

I’ll keep it short and say this much. I’m not actually as slow and out of practice as I thought I was from my last entry. Although George’s experience clearly shows, it was a reasonably close battle and we each landed many good hits. I’d say he would have won though, at least if it was purely Taekwondo. I found it all coming back to me, and though I wasn’t quite as fast as I used to be, it was reassuring that I couldn’t "lose it" so easily.

Something else that was deeply reassuring to me was another chi demonstration by Kaneda. I asked him, at the end of one of the Mugai classes, if there was a way to conceal your energy- to "hide your powerlevel" if you will. I just thought that because Kaneda could sense anything around him, would anyone ever be able to play hide and seek with him? Or wait in the darkness for him to return home? The answer he gave me is surprisingly deep. It’s not about burying your energy within yourself, it’s about getting rid of it. Dispelling it into the ground, out and away from you so that you yourself become a void. When there’s nothing left in you, when you become empty, what’s underneath has room to surface: cowardice, anger, fear. It’s an awful state to be in, like those moments in the Star Wars universe where a character enters a situation where they are, in deep and profound ways, tempted by the dark side. They are overcome with passion which may be used for very dark ends. Some have described it as summoning spirits and demons to power the body. It’s hardcore stuff, not to be taken lightly. But the point of this story is that he showed me how he can give and take energy. He once again did the exercise where  he put my hand between two of his (so that they weren’t touching) and generated a current. It was warm and most definitely tingly- one of the sensations of feeling chi moving in the body. But it worked in reverse as well- he could feel my chi running up all the way to his arms, and it was tingly and made him giggle as he shook himself off. It’s flattering for me to say of myself that I think of it as a zap of positive energy that just makes a person happy and they can’t explain why. But he described it as "good energy", which I take to mean pure and positive, with potential to be and do so much. I may be taking it a bit far by explaining it so, but this is what I felt he meant.

In my past, a similar thing has happened. I met a karateka in my first year of uni who had been training for a very long time. He was used to full contact fighting, and had conditioned his body and mind for combat. We were sharing our experiences in the humanities commonroom, expressing our love for the martial arts together. He taught me a very important lesson- that in any fight, there is a very deep connection between you and the other person. You can intimately understand almost everything about them just from a few seconds of connecting in such a way. Every subtle movement, every act of aggression or passivity, changes in stance and intent can all paint a picture of who that person is. He showed me a wing chun exercise for sensitivity where I placed the back of my hand against his and we moved them between us in a circle. As soon as we made contact he jerked his hand back. He said there was a shock (which I hadn’t felt) and it was really weird. There was a startling amount of energy in me. When we did the exercise we harmonised almost instantly, with almost no resistance in the movement (for our right hand, anyway).

Bert also mentioned being able to feel energy coming from me. He feels there’s "something there" wherever I am.

This leads me to believe I have potential to be so strong, to do so much. I just don’t yet know how to tap into it. To my frustration, I still have trouble sensing energy with my eyes closed or from behind me. I begin to grasp it when my mind becomes really quiet, but it takes so long and so much effort to do (or rather to not do, to let go). I deeply wish to believe I can be a great warrior. I just need to find out how. Practice and experience will help teach me.

Just for my own notes, until I get a proper notebook, lessons from Mugai on Sunday include:
-Balancing a sharp knife on the shoulder to practice fluidity and steadiness of movement.
-Thief defence: drawing, moving from behind, locking. Remember to lead them- offer, then pull back.
-Keep practicing sensitivity drills.
-Aggressive/defensive yokomenuchi. Watch your footwork- don’t cross-step.
-8 directional step with proper breathing, fluidity, and a constant push/pull action. Keep your eyes up, three feet in front of you.
-Seiza at the end of class is a time to remember your connection to nature and to everything.


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