As we move into December, we have a bunch of unfinished business with staff (see for example here), but also with Compulsory form which we’ve been working on since the summer.
For many of you, this form is the most challenging form you’ve done as well as the longest, and because of this for the first time, you may be having trouble just getting by with your natural ability. In essence, for the first time, you may need to practice outside of class in order to do well inside of class and retain the materials, despite the presence of online instructional videos in our library. How do you do this with limited space?
For my part, I started learning Compulsory Changquan in the spring of 1992, first from the book, and then with some help from a friend, Bobby DeSario. Later, I got coached by various instructors including Wang Yang who worked with us at the Delaware Karate and Kungfu Academy (DKKA), and in Baltimore, but this is skipping ahead 3-4 years. At the time, I lived in a room in a house in Newton Center near Boston. I remember working through the form trying to figure out movements in that room (it was large – about 15’x15′), and repeating short sections over and over again in limited space. Looking back now, it reminds me of my practice during the pandemic. When I could, I went in to Sargent Gym at Boston University where I was in grad school, and worked at putting larger sections together in the early mornings. As spring started actually getting warm in May, I went out into my driveway and practiced there. It’s true that outside practice will often earn you strange looks from your neighbors, but most usually get used to it, and leave you be, especially if you are dressed to do sport rather than in some sort of traditional martial arts outfit.
Although I probably put at least 30-60 minutes per day into my practice during these home training sessions, I’m pretty certain that I didn’t jump inside, and that I had to be in bigger spaces to pull these off. I remember being coached by Bobby one warm day in a park somewhere as to how to prep for and take off in a lotus kick. My kicks kept improving over the next 5-8 years as I started competing with this form and had the incentive to really focus on it. My final competition with it was in the 1998 Pan American Wushu Championships in Toronto where I performed it well according to my teammates… except for one thing. I was so thrilled at how well it was going that after my jump-toe-tap, I quite literally just spun and forgot to do the tornado kick! The rest of the form went well, and my teammates told me so, although they really were confused about the missing kick. Needless to say, I didn’t place in Changquan that time, but I did in Broadsword (but that’s another story).
The bottom line is that to do well with more advanced forms takes a LOT of practice, and you need to commit to it. If you don’t have that kind of time, but are having fun with it, that’s OK too, but don’t expect that you will fly the same way as those who are putting in all the training hours.
The schedule this month is more or less the same as last month until just before Christmas. The weekend prior to Christmas, we will have an application class and a taijiquan class on Sunday, December 19th. Likewise, the weekend following Christmas on the 26th. There will be no Friday or Saturday class due to the holidays either on the 24th and 25th of December, and on the 31st of December and 1st of January.
Finally, as more kids get vaccinated, I am interested in hearing from you about how we’ll move forward. We have not had dedicated kids classes for quite some time, and it would be nice to start them up in person.
In the meantime, good luck with your training, and happy holidays!