Underneath my yellow skin

When the student becomes the master

I’m still bothered by my doctor’s insistence on my weight, but here’s a weird thing. My clothes are fitting better. A pair of shorts that were tight on me months ago are now swimming. There’s the possibility that they stretched, but not that much. My weight is still high so my guess is muscles. My body is made for muscles, thankfully.

Side Note: I am insanely pleased with my biceps. And my ass. I’ll get to that in a second. Yes, I know I’ve blathered about it before, but I don’t care.

When I had to use my desktop briefly, I loved having my dual screens. It was so nice not to have two sets of browsers squished side by side. On the other hand, my desktop does not have an SSD so waiting for it to do anything was torture.

Side Note II: It’s really funny how tech rapidly goes from ‘never in a million years’ to ‘ how the fuck did I ever live without this?’ in a heartbeat. I still remember when I vowed I would never let emails replace handwritten letters and when I vowed that I would never use emojis. Then, when SSD became a thing, I scoffed at it because how much difference could it really make? A lot as it turned out. It’s funny because I am a weird mix when it comes to technology. On the one hand, I use it heavily and know more about it than most people. I said to my brother that I know a bit more than people in general and he said I knew a lot more. It’s hard to judge because I just use it the way I use it.

I rail against new inventions as being intrusive before unwillingly adapting them and then fully embracing them. Currently, I’m thinking about my next laptop because this one is on its last legs I think. I need my brother to take a look at it. I’m also thinking about getting a sit/stand desk with an ergonomic chair because I want to be more active without, well, being more active. I hated actively doing exercise whenever I tried it. I hated the gym. I hated brisk walking. I hated yoga. The only things I didn’t hate was lifting weights and dancing. Or more to the point, I liked the results of weightlifting and didn’t actively hate the activity while I loved dancing.

Taiji has been a godsend now that I’m obsessed with weapon. Not only is it something I really enjoy, but it’s excellent exercise. There’s a weightbearing set that I used to do, but I stopped when I got in my car accident. I would like to pick it up some day, but in the meantime, the weapons are an excellent weightbearing exercise.

I want to overhaul my whole life, but for now, let me focus on activity and maybe food. I’ve been revamping my diet yet again and I’ve finding myself reluctant to cut out even more. I felt lucky when I had to give up gluten and dairy in that the substitutions were much better than when I tried it decades earlier. That’s part of the issue, though. Just because something is plant-based, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. One of the ways that plant-based substitutes makes things taste fatty is by using oil. So, I’m trying to cut out sour cream, cream cheese, and other condiments. I’m also trying to go full vegan, but giving up chicken has proven to be really hard. Funnily enough, both my brother and my mother immediately voiced their concern when I mentioned I was thinking of giving up meat. The circles I run in (online and in real life) have plenty of vegetarians/vegans, so it’s weird for me to hear that point of view. My difficulties with giving up meat are because of taste and my resentment at ever-narrowing what I can eat.

I need to go to a co-op so I can change what I eat. I’ve been eating basically the same things since the pandemic started. I’ve bumped up my veggie/fruit game, but I feel like I’m in a rut. I know I should cook, but I just don’t want to. I don’t like cooking especially when it’s just me and its so easy to order stuff that doesn’t need to be cooked. Microwave burritos are the best, yo. Amy’s has a non-dairy/gluten-free bean burrito that is delicious.

Back to taiji. In the past, doing my daily routine felt good, yes, but it never really felt like exercise. Wait. That’s not exactly true. It felt like exercise, but light exercise. I did enough to fulfill my half an hour a day exercise requirement, but that was it. All that changed with the double sabers. I know I have gone on and on about them several times in the past, but I can’t get over how good it feels to do the form. It’s intoxicating and I have to force myself to stopĀ  before I overextend myself.

It’s funny because when my teacher teaches me the weapons, we do one or two movements per lesson. Maybe three. I remember when I first started learning the sword, I had a substitute for one class. She zipped through three or four of the most complicated moves of the sword and said that my teacher could clean it up for me. I was flustered and didn’t retain anything so that part of the Sword Form was fuzzy for me for several months until I brought it up with my teacher. Now, I can teach myself several movements at one time without it being a problem. Why? Because I have much more general knowledge than I did at that time.

Let me see if I can explain that better. When I first started learning the Sword Form, it was the first weapon I had ever held. It was the first weapon form I’d been taught. It had the same basic principles as the Solo Form, but it was still substantially different. It felt natural to me, yes, but I still had to learn it. Now, I’ve learned three weapons forms, right side and left side. I’m almost done with the Double Sabre Form and I only have one more row in the Karambit (non-taiji) Form. I’m dabbling with three other weapons at the same time. In other words, my base knowledge has greatly expanded. I have references and know how to make connections between seemingly disparate aspects of the forms.

To use a concrete example, I’m teaching myself the Double Sabre Forms when I don’t have lessons. There are whole entire sections that are like the drills or other parts of the form so I can knock off a whole section at one time instead of one or two movements. The last time I had a lesson (well, the second-to-last), I was at maybe a third of the form learned. Then, at my last lesson which was three days ago, I was at two-thirds learned. Now, I’m nearly done.

I want to teach myself the last row of the Karambit Form (fifth I think?), but I don’t have as much of a knowledge base in that case because it’s not a taiji form. I still will tackle it at some point, maybe after I finish the Double Sabre Form, but it’s more difficult than the rest of the forms. By the way, I’m teaching myself with the aid of my teacher’s teacher’s videos. He’s done a series of teaching videos for the weapons forms and I’ve found them invaluable.

Here comes the rub. My teacher is not a huge fan of the weapons. Or rather, they are not her focus. I sensed she wasn’t enthused about the weapons and she confirmed it much later–years after teaching me the Sword Form. Me wanting to learn all the weapons have forced her to bone up on her own weaponry. However, she’s trying to pace it so that she’s just ahead of me because she has so much to do. Her teacher handed the school over to her and she needs to find a place to hold classes. Our last studio was in the Ivy Arts Historical Building, which caught residual fire from the George Floyd protests.

Anyway, we are studio-less at the moment. Not to mention the pandemic. She has a lot on her plate, so I understand why she’s just keeping up with me weapons-wise. The problem is that while I don’t mind teaching myself and having her polish my form, I would like to learn from a master. It feels disloyal to say that, but I’m damn serious about my weapons and I want to take it to the next lesson. I’ll have to think about it, though, because I do not want to offend my teacher. She’s done so much for me and I can truly never repay her.

Leave a reply