Over the course of my training, I’ve had my fair share of screw ups. Some really hurt, some were just plain funny, and others were a combination of the two.
This is for some of the people who think that I take myself too seriously. I don’t, even though I may look serious a lot of the time, and here’s the proof. I still laugh and cringe at some of these things.
While fighting, you must be aware of both your opponent and your surroundings (among other things). Training outdoors occasionally involved my growing close to nature in ways that I would rather have avoided as evidenced by the following two incidents:
1) There were quite a few times that I would end up running into trees while trying to recover from being thrown in outdoor practice. Sometimes, I think they moved just so they could get a hit in on me as well. The really bad part was that you had to immediately respond to the next attack that you knew was coming even after you slammed into something begging to be made into a coffee table.
2) One day, while in the middle of sparing, I fell knee deep into a groundhog hole. It was one of the few times in my life of training with my sifu that I could look up to him physically without having been thrown on my ass first =]
Learning weapons was always a fun time too. Most of the time, learning a rigid weapon (sword, spear, staff, etc) is no big deal because they’re, well, rigid. The real fun comes when learning flexible weapons (whips, sectional staves, and things of that sort).
One of the worst of these that I trained in was the three section staff. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this weapon, picture a bo staff, cut it into three equal sections, and then attach the sections back together with short lengths of chain. It’s a very nice weapon, and impressive to watch being used if the person knows what they’re doing. Some days, however, you’re better off just handing it to the other guy and letting him knock the sense out of himself.
The beginning stages of my learning the weapon were filled with a scene similar to this one: Block, Block, Attack, Block, Knock myself in the head (or certain other spots), Fall over while my sifu smirks.
The best weapon training blunder, however, had to be the time when I nearly leg swept *myself* with my own spear. I’ll tell you, now that’s something that takes real talent (or a real lack of it).
There were even some amusing moments in fencing while I was at Ohio University. My favorite was when I was fighting a teammate who had trained in strip fencing before he came to OU. I made a short mantis spring in order to get inside his guard, and he started backing up rapidly. My spring turned into running after him while he retreated backwards.
I ended up chasing him around the salle literally one and a half laps (everyone else at this point had stopped fighting and stood there watching). In the end, I had a thought as to how to beat him.
I stopped and took two steps backward. As a strip fencer, this caused him to advance – right into my sword.
This list would not be complete without my favorite training incident. Keep in mind that my sifu was a small, evil Chinese man with a nearly perpetual Cheshire cat grin. I picked up a few too many traits from him (as some people who know me can attest).
While having me do low horse stance, he'd carry a rattan stick with which to make sure I was remaining focused. He'd give me enough of a hit to get my attention if I wasn't all there but not enough to hurt me, at random.
Since it was just the two of us, he'd wander around, looking at my stance from all angles and sometimes just appear to ignore that I was there at all.
One day, I hadn't noticed him for probably five minutes or so, but didn't really think about it. I just stayed in stance.
It turns out that he was sneaking up behind me.
He didn’t have a stick this time…
He had two.
I caught one behind each knee and got flipped in the air before landing, looking up at him.
He looks down at me, chuckles and shakes his head before speaking.
"You know, I have taught you to be prepared for surprises..."
"This was a surprise."
"You need to work on that...."
*failed attempt to not chuckle on my part*
"Now, get up and get back into stance"
Thinking about that still makes me laugh. Lessons in humility (I'd started getting a little bit over confident) and non-standard thinking from a small Chinese man. I try to think of that moment whenever I take myself too seriously.