Sunday, December 9, 2007
Five Years Later...
Five years ago I started studying Hung Gar Tiger/Crane Kung Fu. I had no martial arts background, and my goals were modest--stick with it for 6 months, and maybe earn my yellow belt. Watching the black belt students in the school, the idea of progressing anywhere near that level seemed impossible. Well, I stuck with it those first six months and continued with my training. A funny thing happened, I started getting better and at some point the idea of earning my black belt didn't seem quite so out of reach. Five years after starting my training, which works out to roughly 1000 classes, 3000 hours of studying on my own, and countless bruises and sore muscles, I tested for my black belt yesterday and earned my degree.
In my school, when you first start you hold your hands to your side to signify that there's no body/mind connection yet. After you earn you brown belt, you bow with your right hand as a fist and your left hand pressed against it with your fingers held straight to signify that the mind/body connection has started. As a black belt you bow with your right hand as a fist and your left hand wrapping around it to signify that there is now a mind/body connection. There's a lot to that. My black belt test was by far the most physically demanding of any of the belt tests--over 2 and a half hours of demonstating punches, kicks, the five animal forms, self defense techniques against attacks, and holding postures--but in some ways it was the easiest of the tests because for the first time taking a belt test the mind and body worked in syncrony and there was none of the feeling of being "scattered and confused" (as my head instructor likes to call it).