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Philosophy Tuesday

February 19, 2019

The spear is the third weapon taught in Northern Shaolin kung fu.  Before you begin learning the set proper, there is a basic drill to practice that familiarizes you with the feel of the weapon as well as ingraining an effective and basic technique.  It’s three motions:  circular snap to parry by your leg, circular snap to press onto the opponent’s hand, stab forward to the full extension of the spear.  Pull back, and repeat.

Once you get the hang of it, you drill it with speed.  Swoop, press, stab.  Swoop, press stab.

“Now, practice it 100 times a day,” Sifu instructed.  When Jay learned the drill, he was way more eager than that.  “I’m going to practice a ton, get good real fast.”  And so he’d go into the kwoon to practice well before class, he’d practice after class, practice on days he didn’t have class.  Any moment he had.  Swoop, press, stab.  Swoop, press stab.

Several weeks later while Jay was practicing in the kwoon, Sifu walked by and noticed that his form was really suffering.  The movements were slow, the trajectory all off, and the energy all erratic.  “You seem to be regressing,” he called out.  Jay could only nod unhappily.  “Yes Sifu, I don’t know what it is.  I’m practicing, but it’s just not getting better.”

“Let me see your left hand,” asked Sifu.  Jay held it out.  The web of flesh between his thumb and index finger looked as though someone had attacked it with a belt sander, all raw and split and bloody.  “How much have you been practicing?”

“Oh I’ve been real good,” said Jay.  “I’ve been doing it around 300 times a day!”

A silence hung in the air.  Sifu looked from Jay back down to his bloody hand then back up at Jay again.  He mock smacked him upside the head.  “That’s why I said 100 times a day!”

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