Wrap it up. I’ll take it.

So I went to kung fu class this morning. I think that’s the most fun I’ve had since I moved to Tulsa. I have no idea how I managed to make it almost three years without setting foot on a mat. Guess it’s like any addiction: You’re OK as long as you stay away from it completely, but as soon as you get another hit, it’s all over. 😉

After some initial stretching and a few crunches and push-ups, we went right into stances, blocks, rolls, and falls.

A lot of the moves are the same things we did in karate, except they have different names, but there were a lot of stances I hadn’t learned yet, and some of the blocks were different.

One major difference is in the way we hold our hands: In karate, we usually kept our hands in fists so we were ready to punch the snot out of an attacker. In kung fu, we keep our hands more open — often in sort of a tiger-claw position — so that’s a big thing I’ll have to remember.

The best thing about this morning: I finally got the hang of forward rolls. My new sifu (instructor — the Chinese equivalent of sensei), Chris Johnston, made me do them over and over and over and over and over and over and over until I got them. And I didn’t get to start from a kneeling position like we did in karate, either. I had to dive right in from a standing position. Scary. Awesome, but scary. And as soon as I got the hang of rolling over my right arm and shoulder, he said, “Good! Now, try it with the other arm.”

D’oh!

I didn’t do that quite so well, but I intend to move the furniture out of the way in the living room and devote part of next week to left-handed zempo kaitens. (I don’t know what we call them in kung fu, but that was what they were called in karate.) I don’t do weakness, and I don’t do fear. Both got the best of me this morning, but that’ll be the last time I let that happen. If I can’t work through those claims by myself, I’ll just cheat and call a practitioner.

If anybody in Tulsa is looking for a good place to work out, this class meets at noon Saturdays and 6 p.m. Wednesdays behind the QuikTrip at Southwest Boulevard and 33rd Avenue West. It’s in the strip mall up behind the QT. Sifu Chris Johnston and his wife used to hold classes over on Sheridan, but they live in Red Fork and got sick of driving all the way across town for class umpteen times a week. The new location isn’t “officially” open, but Chris says anybody who’s interested is welcome to come in and work out for free. Once he finishes remodeling the new space, he’ll start charging for classes and holding more workouts per week. In the meantime, you’ve got a primo chance to come in and see whether kung fu is your bag.

I found martial arts to be a very liberating sort of thing. Besides being a terrific workout, it gave me a lot of confidence. Ron was laughing about it today, remembering how different I was before my first lesson. I spent 25 years scared of my shadow, afraid somebody was going to attack me. After about three lessons, I was sort of hoping somebody would try something stupid so I could test-drive my latest kick.

A few years later, I’ve mellowed considerably, but I’m still the one who gets up to see what went bump in the night. These days, I’ll certainly respond to an attack with prayer … but as far as I’m concerned, if somebody tries to hurt me, there’s no reason I can’t recognize his innocence as a child of God while he’s lying face-down on the ground with his arm pinned behind his back, waiting for the cops to show up. My practitioner assures me that we always have the right to restrain error. Beating the poor schlep senseless just for the fun of it would be considered conduct unbecoming a Christian Scientist, but dealing with an emergency in a sensible manner is certainly not out of line.

Emily

The Street of the Lifted Karateka

Two random topics this morning:

1. In my eternal state of dementia concretia, I have decided that I simply cannot live without a replica of the Lorax’s Last Stand in my garden. What you can’t see from the picture on Amazon is that the circle of rocks left behind when the Lorax departed includes a half-moon-shaped stone engraved with the word, “UNLESS.” This thing is going in my garden. Probaby around the dog waste composter. Too bad I can’t find something that looks like a Truffula tree to plant in it. I wonder if that would make a suitable site for a Bottle Tree instead?

While we’re on the subject of the Lorax, has anybody else noticed that magic scarves bear a striking resemblance to Thneeds? I keep thinking I should get a bright pink one and wear it with a Lorax T-shirt and just see who gets it….

2. Two and a half years ago, after four years of combat karate lessons, I packed up and moved to Tulsa, where I promised myself I would get back on the mat somewhere as soon as humanly possible. Then, in typical Emily Priddy fashion, I got sidetracked and found myself up to my teeth in dozens of other projects. But it appears that a new dojo, a new sensei, and a new fighting style are about to materialize right here in Red Fork. A guy who lives here in Red Fork but ran a kung fu school on the other side of town has secured a space in the strip mall down the street, and at noon today, I will be bowing into his dojo and finding out just exactly how combat kung fu compares to combat karate.

Which means I’ve got about 10 minutes to get dressed, pull my hair back out of my eyes, and figure out where I put my gear. Let’s see … tonfas? Check. Gi bottoms? Check. ‘Chuks? Bueller…? Bueller…? Ah, fuhgedaboutit. If they’re working nunchakus, I’ll borrow a set. I have no idea where I put my belt. Which doesn’t matter anyway, because this is a new art and a new instructor and I’m starting back at the bottom of the food chain. Maybe I can figure out where my white belt went before the next lesson….

Emily