I did twenty-one forms last night, and aside from needing more sleep, I feel good. I wasn’t intending to supersize it on the training; I just threw in a few sword forms (to see, one last time, if I could pull off a performance worthy of public consumption on a form that wreaks havoc on my right shoulder.) I also did more repetitions than initially intended on the brand new staff form in my repertoire, White Eyebrow. Toss in practice for the competition forms of long staff and Lian Huan Tui, and all of a sudden I was doing more than twenty forms in a day for the first time in about a year. There’s nothing like the freedom of space, time, happy joints and dormant sciatica!
Another first last night was the discovery that I’ve regained great enough vertical distance on my kicking combination that I can once again do the mid-air kicks in the sword form. The calendar year was 2010 the last time I could leap high enough to complete those kicks with a sword held behind my back and not come down too hard, too soon and sideways on a really bad knee, injuring it further. In fact, it was the third knee operation (the first that occurred as a student of kung fu) that grounded those sword form kicks for me. It’s great to know that once I find out what needs to be done to get the shoulder back in shape, I may one day get the complete sword form in as good a shape as long staff. But that’s not something I’ll be putting a lot of energy into any time in the near future. White Eyebrow is the next training priority, and frankly, it’s hard in the most irritating of ways – subtly.
I’ve been charged with perfecting the first half of the form before Sifu will teach me anymore of it. And the impediment to improvement is spinning the staff with my feet together. Turns out that after seven years of knee injuries and operations, I can’t put my feet together! When my thighs and knees are touching, this is what my feet look like:
They’re supposed to look like this while I’m spinning:
The only way I’m able to pull off the feet-together position is to turn my legs and knees inward toward each other, to become pigeon…kneed. That’s fine at the very beginning of class or a form, when bowing to the teacher, but sustained for several seconds, while twisting the waist and hips from right to left and spinning a seventy-seven inch staff??? Good grief!
The next physical challenge has officially been set! And I haven’t even gotten to the running-while-spinning part…. Oy!