Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Sabre Form

I knew I loved you before I met you

I have a confession to make. It’s really hard for met to admit this because I feel as if I’m cheating. I have had one love for several years and now….There’s a new game in town and I can’t help but be drawn to it. I’ve tried to deny it, but I have to let my feelings out. I’m just going to say it so I don’t have to have it preying on my mind, unspoken, any longer.

*covers sword and puts it away in a safe place*

I am in love with the double sabers.

Whew! I feel so much better now that I’m gotten that off my chest. I can move on with my life now.

I know it sounds silly, but I do have mixed feelings about the double sabers. Let me rephrase that. I have mixed feelings about my feelings for the double sabers. There’s no mixed feelings about the double sabers themselves.

I feel a passion for them I haven’t felt in ages. When they’re in my hands, I am filled with a joy that I can’t describe without being reduced to using trite soundbites. And, it’s different than the feeling I have about my sword–which is the same with the different energy each weapon has. The love I have for the sword is deep and abiding. Holding it in my hand is coming home again, wrapping myself in a cooling weighted blanket, and sipping a cup of raspberry tea. The double sabers, on the other hand, are an exhilarating kind of love. It’s a put on your fanciest outfit and dance the night away before having hot sex for hours kind of love.

If I were in a monogamous relationship with  the sword, I would definitely be cheating on it with the double sabers. So, I feel a bit guilty because I have always said that the sword is my true love (jestingly, of course) and while I wasn’t being serious about it, it was the weapon that changed my life. It’s what got me to totally buy into taiji after five or six years. It felt so natural in my hand as if it was meant to be there. It was an extension of my arm and learning the left side of the form was as natural as breathing to me.

When I saw my teacher demonstrate with the double sabers, I felt an excitement that I hadn’t felt–well, ever. As I said, my love for the sword is different and I never had that NRE with it. It has always been like a long-lasting and stable relationship in which there is happiness, deep satisfaction, and an emotional fulfillment, but not the passion, the butterflies in the stomach, and the sense of  naughtiness.

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The grand unification theory of me

This week, I finished two things. I’ve talked about both on this blog, and I’m going to do it again. The first is Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games. It’s a game I had my eye on for quite some time, but I forgot about it because there was no chatter. Understandable as it’s an indie game that doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre, but, man, I really think it’s an underrated game. Those who played it and reviewed it LOVED it, but it’s not enough people. I’ve gone back and wandered about in a desultory fashion to find the secret chests I missed and because Med the community manager sent a newsletter with a BIG reveal that I didn’t get from the game itself. In retrospect, there were subtle hints, but they were easy to explain away or overlook at the time.

The other thing I finished this week was the Sabre Form in taiji. Or, as my teacher calls it, graduated from the form. The first time she said it was when she taught me the final posture of the Solo Form, and I nearly laughed in her face. I might have ‘known’ the whole form, but I wouldn’t be allowed to do it myself without heavy guidance. Now, many years later, I’ve done the form so many times, I could do it in my sleep. Well, I could have before it got radically changed by my teacher’s teacher. That’s another story for another day, though.

I can’t stop thinking about how much I hated the Sabre Form the first time my teacher taught it to me. I resented every minute, and I did not understand it at all. I wanted it to be the Sword Form, and it wasn’t. By the way, I’m beyond ecstatic that I’m learning a new Sword Form. It’s such a finesse weapon, which is not like me at all. Or at least….That’s the point of this post, and we’ll get to that later. For now, I’m musing about the Sabre Form and how it went from not to hot. While the sword is still my beloved, the saber has become my bestest friend. The karambit is the the honey of the moment, and the cane is that entertaining friend that always makes you feel better when you see them (as long as it’s not TOO often).

The saber is an infantry weapon. It’s not a thinking person’s weapon, and taiji is the scholar’s martial art. It’s about power, and I do feel powerful when I brandish it. Sometimes, I feel like a swashbuckler and sometimes I feel like a Hun. I feel as if I can do anything–and it feels good. I feel like I’m saying, “Don’t fuck with me!”, and I’m backing it all the way the fuck up.

The Sword Form is still my favorite, but it’s not about the power. It’s about elegance and grace, and it’s a finesse form. It’s about cutting someone before they know that you’ve even moved, and it’s about severing tendons. That doesn’t sound elegant or graceful, does it? The saber is about smashing and cleaving. That’s more in keeping with the nature of the weapon.

Side note: Just because the sword is a finesse weapon, it doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. It is; it’s just not the main point of the weapon.

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It cuts like a knife…and it feels so right

In the last post, I wrote about my love for blades and how it has happened. Before I continue waxing rhapsodic about the love we don’t talk about, I just want to say that I did the whole Sabre Form today (as much as I know), and my right arm definitely got a workout. That’s another thing people don’t realize about taiji–it’s exercise. Yes, it can be gentle and meditative (which is where the health benefits come from), but it can also get the blood pumping. In addition, the weapons are definitely weight-bearing, especially the sabre.

Side note: The saber is considered the most basic of the weapons. The sword is the second most advanced (the spear is the most advanced. This is to the best of my recollection), and I still find it amusing that my teacher taught the Sword Form to me first. Now, I knew it was probably because that’s the one she was taught first and felt most comfortable with, but it’s still funny. I do wonder if I was taught the Sabre Form first if my feelings about the two weapons would be flipped. I don’t think so. I loved the sword before learning a lick of the Sword Form, and it’s still the most comfortable weapon in my hand.

Side note II: I found out recently that my teacher is not a fan of the weapons. Or rather, they’re secondary to much of the other aspects of taiji. I could sense it on some level, but it was interesting to hear her say it out loud. She’s done a great job teaching me despite her lack of enthusiasm, but I’ve wondered if I should approach her teacher for lessons in weapons. He’s amazing, and when I saw him do the Sabre Form at the last demo, it was sublime. He made it seem effortless and his movements were minimal. That’s part of taiji–the least amount of effort for the maximum effect, but I had thought with a weapon like the saber, you had to move it more aggressively. He showed you did not have to, and it blew my mind.

These days, I have to choose which weapons I want to practice every day. I have to rotate them as the list of what I know/what I’m learning is growing. Right now, I’m learning the Sabre Form (two to three movements from done!), the Karambit Form (last section!), the Dancing Wu-Li Sword Form (new sword form! Just learned the first movement), and a drill for the Double Sabre Form (too hard to learn through Zoom, so on hiatus. I still practice it once in a long while, but it’s definitely on the back burner). I do the Sword Form once a week by halves (first half Sunday, second half Monday) and the whole Sabre Form once a week (Tuesday). I practice the last row or two rows of the Sabre Form every day along with as much of the Karambit Form as I know (it’s very short). I learned the first movement of the Dancing Wu-Li Form last Thursday, and I’ve been doing that every day as well. I do the Cane Form (first row, only row I know) every third or fourth day.


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My unending love for bladed weapons

I like bladed weapons. A lot. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone who knows me. Maybe the depth of my love, but not the fact that I’m an aficionado. I am fairly open about it, and I am always up for talking about it (though not the quantitative stuff such as the intricacies of different blades. I’m all about the feelings, bay-beeeeeee!). I’ve noted that women on twitter are uncomfortable with my declaration of passion for bladed weapons (it’s not ‘nice’ and is ‘so aggressive’, not to mention it’s hard for them to reconcile what they perceive as a gentle martial arts with weapons. I like to remind people that it’s still a martial art. I mean, it’s right there in the name!) and a weird corollary is that dudes think it’s hot. I mean, I get it in a way because think it’s hot, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think of weapons. And, it’s a bit creepy for dudes to be all, “See this hot sword scene that I immediately thought of when you mentioned weapons?”, especially on social media.

Side note: Dudes. My dudes. If there is one thing I can impart on you as a female-presenting person it’s this. If you don’t know a woman (anyone, really, but especially women and female-presenting persons) well on social media (and I define well as not ‘talking’ to them every few days at the bare minimum or having an offline relationship (that includes DMs/PMs), do NOT make sexual innuendos to them as your first foray. I might laugh politely, but it won’t make a good impression. And I’m someone who can be very ribald.

I’ve written before on how I had a similar mindset with the women above in that before I took taiji, I considered myself a pacifist and that violence was always wrong. The reason for it, however, was not a healthy one. I thought my life was worthless, so there was no point in defending it. When I used to walk the circle doing ba gua instead of meditation, I used to imagine an opponent in the middle of the circle. One time, I had a flash of visualizing me killing the opponent. It unsettled me, and I talked to my teacher afterwards. She said it wasn’t a bad thing because it meant that I was willing to defend myself. She was right, and it completely changed my viewpoint.

Back to weapons. I dragged my feet on them for so long. When I first started taiji, it was for self-defense and the martial art applications. I didn’t care about the health benefits or the mental health benefits–I was all about the martial arts. Weapons, though? That was over the line. No way I was ever gonna do that. Nuh-uh, no way. I dragged my feet until my teacher placed a wooden sword in my hand and exhorted me to just try. The second my fingers closed around the hilt, I was hooked.


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I just upgraded to my 2.0 version

I’ve been having a rough time lately with, well, lots of things. The low grade depression I’ve been experiencing for over a year–it might be two at this point–is more noticeable and yet….It’s hard to explain. I’m not outwardly depressed, but my body has been wrecked for a while now. The last week, I’ve been sleeping seven to nine hours a night except for two nights, and that’s a lot of sleep for me if I’m not sick. Am I? I don’t know. My nose is a bit prickly and my throat is a bit gummy, but nothing more than that. Oh, and I’m exhausted, but that’s par the course for me.

In addition, we’re renovating the house, which means I have to clean the bedrooms. I’m a slob. This is not an easy task. Well, one of the three rooms is clean, so that one is fine. My bedroom is a disaster area, and my computer room is worse. I’ve been working on my bedroom employing different strategies. The first was to do something every time I got up to do something else. Throw the clothes on the floor down the chute. Pick up papers from the floor. Or, in the case of my computer room, gather up all the stuffed animals. Then, I started to be more specific and take on larger chunks. Fill up this storage box with books from the bookshelf in my room. It’s a small bookshelf, but it’s already filled two medium-ish size storage containers. Today, I’m going to focus on cleaning out the top row and making sure everything is off the floor. Tomorrow, I’m going to tackled my desk. Which means getting more storage containers. Which means going to Target. I also need to get masks because there is a lot of dust I’m stirring around. A LOT.

I’ve heard of the Pomodoro method which is setting a timer for fifteen minutes and then doing whatever for that amount of time. The theory being that once you start, you’ll keep going. Or, if you don’t, at least you got fifteen minutes done. It’s a good method, but it still felt overwhelming enough that I chose to do it my own way. The bottom line is that if I put any kind of stricture on it, I wouldn’t have done anything. Now, I’m nearly done with my bedroom, and it’s more work than I’ve done on that room in over a year. The trouble is that I can only do so much in a given day, and it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because of all my health issues. Which I’m still having a difficult time grasping as ok. Or rather, I’m having a hard time not thinking it’s all in my mind.

My family is very pro-work yourself into a grave. Both my parents work way more than they should, and when my father was forced to retire, he withered until he started an association into which he pours all his time, energy, and heart. My mom will never retire and if she does, she’ll volunteer most of the time, anyway. My brother works fifty to sixty hours a week and seems to have all his spare time crammed with interesting activities. Me, on the other hand, spends most of my time plunked on my couch. The work I’ve been doing on my rooms has been difficult, and it doesn’t help that I’m chastising myself for not doing more.


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Chasing a unicorn

I’m fat. I know I’ve said this before, but it really hit home when I looked at the pictures of me from my niece’s wedding shower. Related, I looked up someone from college who I had a big crush on, and he looks fantastic. He’s two years older than I am, but he looks like he’s in his early thirties. I mean, I look younger than I am, too, but I’m still fat. Come to think of it, he’s also Asian, so maybe it’s partly our good genes. Anyway, I looked gargantuan in the pics. It’s partly because my niece is slim and gamine-like, but it’s also just that I’m fat. Have I said it often enough? I am fat.

I have spent almost thirty years battling eating disorders of one kind or another. Actually, my disordered relationship with food started ten years before that when my mother put me on my first diet with the words, “You would be so pretty if you would just lose weight.” I’ve also recounted my mother’s disordered thinking when it comes to her body and food, but I can’t emphasize how much it’s seeped into my subconsciousness. There was a stretch of time when every time we talked on the phone, she would mention her weight. She, of course, insists it’s all about health (also the excuse she gives for nagging about my weight until I put my foot down), but I realized it was bullshit because she never once voiced any concern when I was anorexic (both times). The only thing she said was, “Now your waist is skinnier than mine”, and it was in a jealous voice. The first time I deal with anorexia and bulimia, I got caught throwing up in the bathroom, and my mother was brought in to talk about it. I don’t remember how that actually came about, but I do remember my mom was not pleased and did not want to do anything about it. I’m sure it was embarrassing for her and that I brought  shame to the family. But, it also was chickens coming home to roost or however that phrase goes.

Anyway. The second bout with anorexia/bulimia included me fainting at First Ave. for a Los Lobos side project concert. Which was very disappointing because I admire Los Lobos so much. After that, I gave up on ‘dieting’ because I just could not do it in a responsible way. No matter how rationally I started (I will be honest that I wasn’t all that rational at the start of the second round, but I had at least tried not to be crazed), I spiraled out as the weeks progressed. I clearly remember how I set a goal of 150 lbs, and when I got to 155, I dropped my goal to 145. I kept doing that until I passed out.

Here’s the thing. I can’t do numbers. I don’t mean I can’t do math because of course I can. I like math. I liked everything except geometry and trig 2, and the latter was because of the teacher. I mean I can’t do numbers when I’m dieting because I lose all sense of proportion. During my first bout with anorexia/bulimia, I weighed myself twice a day. Now, this isn’t good in general, and it’s definitely not good for someone with disordered thinking. It’s not good in general because a person’s weight fluctuates on a daily basis. All the health rags say you should only weigh yourself once a week if you weigh yourself at all. It should be more about the clothing fitting better is the new train of thought, and while it’s better, it’s still too much emphasis on the actual weight loss. The second time I tried to lose weight, I tried to rely more on tape measurements than pounds, but it didn’t matter. I knew an inch was equal to five pounds, so if I didn’t lose a half inch a week, I’d be very depressed.


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It’s my birthday and I’ll cry (or not) if I want to

It’s my birthday today (yesterday by the time you read this), and I have a history of hating my birthday. As a kid, it was always fraught with who to invite to my party (which I was expected to have), and it only underscored what a loser I was. I remember one birthday (but not which one) in which I had friends over. I was blowing the candles out on the cake with all my friends watching, and I was utterly miserable. I felt like they were there because they felt they had to be (my depression started young), and I hated being the center of attention if I wasn’t on the stage.

In my twenties, I actively hated my birthday. I refused to say when it was, and I preferred to pretend it didn’t exist. It reminded me every year that I was still alive and that I shouldn’t be. I got really bitchy* a week or two beforehand, and it carried over for the next few days.  I don’t think I can emphasize enough how toxic I thought me being alive was in those days. I thought I was actively harming the world by being alive (which is the weird egotistical part of having a low self-esteem–an outsized sense of impact–and I hated that I was too cowardly to kill myself.

It’s strange how my twenties were when I was both at my most depressed and when I was out doing the most things. I was involved in the theater community, which was probably one of the best experiences of my life. However, I stopped once I moved to the Bay Area for a short time (to get my MA), and I never started up again once I returned because I had a few big issues to deal with at that time.

I became less hateful of my birthday in my thirties. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I would never offer it to someone else, but if they asked, I wouldn’t obfuscate and refuse to answer. I never made a big deal about it, but I didn’t freak out if someone else brought it up.

Side Note: My amusing birthday story. When I first started Facebook, you had to provide your birthday, and they displayed it. There was no privacy option at the time, so I used a fake birthday. I always do this online. I may not care about my birthday, but I don’t need others to have it. Anyway, I set it as one day in January, and I promptly forgot about it. When that day came around, my FB wall was flooded with birthday wishes. I was like, “What the–oh, right.” FB will still wish me a happy birthday every year on the fake day, and it’s still hilarious to me. Thankfully, now the setting is private so I don’t have to explain to everyone that it’s not actually my birthday.

Two or three years ago, I slowly realized that I didn’t hate my birthday or even really dislike it that much. I mentioned it casually and didn’t feel weird about it. Last year, I actually bought myself a piece of (gluten-free/dairy-free) cake and enjoyed it thoroughly. That’s because cake is the best, even when it’s a lie. Today, I ate a banana walnut chocolate chip (GF/DF) muffin, which was delicious. I will have GF/DF ice cream later and call it a day.

Not gonna lie. I still don’t love my birthday. I don’t dislike it, but it still brings with me the feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.


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