Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

CategoryMartial Arts

Parkour and Freerunning Drills

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My kung fu studio now offers classes in Parkour and Freerunning, two arts which are really starting to take off. One of the instructors described parkour as “the art of getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible” — meaning, whatever you have to jump over, under, or through, you do. Freerunning, on the other hand, is “parkour with style.” A few nights...

Broadsword, Baby!

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Tonight I got to do something on The Great List of Things I Want To Do Some Day, When I Have Time: Ground work with a weapon. In this case, the weapon was my trusty broadsword Blueberry. I finally got to the point in my sword form where you do a forward roll to the ground, then perform a series of side rolls where you swing the sword in an arc under your legs. It looks amazingly cool when done by...

What’s in YOUR back seat?

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Disneyland is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, but I think the back seat of my Civic Hybrid deserves the honor more. Behold this photo, taken mere moments ago: From 2009 Photobook The weapons are: Whisper (the staff) Mr. Pointy (the spear) Autumn (the Tai Chi straight sword) Blueberry (the Chinese Broadsword) And yes, that’s a glorious stack of D&D rulebooks in the back, a...

Tai Chi Goofball

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Most people who’ve taken at least one Tai Chi class are familiar with the visualization of chi as an invisible beach ball you hold in your hands. It helps keep your hands the proper distance apart, and helps you think about how to move them while “holding” the ball. At the beginning of our Tai Chi form, we “form the ball” as we sink into our first Tai Chi stance...

Unexpected Names

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Before I got my new Chinese broadsword, I’d been trying to think of cool names for it. Some of my other weapons are named Whisper, Cricket, Oolong, Dragonfly, and of course, Mr. Pointy. But a sword is special; a sword needs a super-cool name. But when Sifu Carrie handed me the sword, I looked down at its faded blue hilt and the first name that came to me was “Blueberry.”...

What 4 Months Looks Like

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This is what the first night back at kung fu after four months away looks like. (My face was rose-red in the first five minutes. It’s actually better here.) For the record, my plantar fasciitis isn’t any better. I just decided to stop listening to my doctor and go back to kung fu anyway. I’m hoping the regular extensive stretching will compensate for the damage I’m doing...

Epiphanies, Large and Small

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Honestly? I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with me either. It’s like all of a sudden, I woke up and decided to treat myself more respectfully. I finished my novel revision, started eating better almost overnight, and have started buying clothes that make me feel better about myself. (My wallet doesn’t like that last one.) Is it a coincidence that I allowed myself to...

Grand Master Wong!

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When the Grand Master of a martial art dies without leaving a direct “heir” to the style — be it a wife, a son, a daughter, or another instructor — the resulting infighting can destroy the art, among other things. So this last weekend, in a surprise pre-emptive strike, White Lotus Grand Master Douglas Wong officially handed over the White Lotus art to Sifu Carrie. She was...

On Being a Bad Student

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I was a bad student in kung fu tonight, and writing (actually, posting) this entry is my punishment. I am normally a good student. It’s one of the only things I’m really good at in martial arts. I’m on time, my uniform is always clean, and I never forget my sash. I pay attention, stay focused, and try my hardest. I’m respectful to my instructors, my fellow students, and...

Meet Mr. Pointy!

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I got my very own spear tonight! Here it is, newly dubbed “Mr. Pointy” (it’s a Buffy reference, for the non-Whedonites out there). From 2009 Photobook The spear is much heavier than my staff, and much longer. If you stand and raise your right hand straight up, the staff should be as high as the base of your palm. The spear, however, goes all the way to the tips of your fingers...

Martial Arts Irony

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Tonight, I managed to do a series of standing front rolls without killing myself! Wooo! Standing front rolls are not terribly difficult, but they have scared the bejeebus out of me since I started martial arts. At first, I worried excessively about my back, since rolling is not generally advised for folks with bad scoliosis. That excuse lasted several years, until Eagle Claw, a form that contains...

Spear

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I started learning the spear last night in weapons class! The spear is weird. It’s longer than the staff, which was already pretty damn long, and it has a funny red fringe just below the spearhead. I assumed the fringe’s purpose was to distract, but Sifu Carrie said there is a second theory: that the fringe is used to catch and soak up blood so the shaft of the spear doesn’t...

Listening or Caving?

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I drove all the way to class tonight. I parked, got out of the car, opened the back door, and reached for my duffel bag. I stood there a minute, breathing in the dark air. Then I closed the door, got back in the driver’s seat, and drove home. I didn’t get a lot of sleep over the weekend. I was at the office until 4am Sunday night, and unlike my younger self, am not bouncing back...

Run, Lift, Kick

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Thanks so much for all the comments on my last post, and sorry I didn’t have time to respond to them all. I was surprised that so many folks have experienced similar reactions to a wide array of activities. There’s one thing I want to clarify, though. And, like everything I write in this journal, this is just my opinion. You’re welcome (and encouraged) to feel differently. I...

Healthy or Obsessed?

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I’ve noticed that when someone works out at the gym or runs every day, other people tend to applaud his or her discipline with words like “healthy” and “dedicated.” But in my experience, when people ask me how often I go to martial arts, I am often confronted with surprise and words like “obsessed” and “fanatic.” Sometimes there’s even a...

Meet Whisper

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I’ve previously expressed my glee at beginning weapons training at White Lotus. I will now be squeeing some more. On Tuesday, my very own Chinese white maple staff arrived. After using it for a few days, I’ve decided to name her Whisper. From 2009 Photobook As you can see, she is formed from the trunk of a slender white maple, knots and all. This gives her character and a wonderful...

Martial Arts Update

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Back in October, White Lotus Kung Fu moved to a new location. We said goodbye to the strip mall and moved to a huge warehouse two miles away. Despite the addition of tons of awesome new classes and sessions, I attended about four classes there for the rest of the year. Ah, but it’s January now, and the schedule has been finalized. I’m still taking kung fu three nights a week (and it...

The Forbidden Kingdom

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The Forbidden Kingdom, a martial arts action adventure starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan, was far better than I’d been expecting. Perhaps because I’d heard luke-warm reports about the movie, I never went to see it in the theater. I certainly regret that now. You see, most of the time, people care about things like plot and character. Yeah, yeah, most of the time I care about those...

The 5 Animals

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My kempo school had a version of the 5 Shaolin Animals that ended up in Jade Tiger because — hey! — I hadn’t even studied kung fu when I wrote it. Tonight, we reviewed the aspects that my current school associates with each animal, and I feel the need to put them into a chart. (Keep in mind, other kung fu and kempo schools will have other interpretations.) White Lotus Kung Fu...

Fear of Fu

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I’ve missed a full month of martial arts. That’s the longest period of time I’ve gone without martial arts classes in the eight years since I started practicing. I never thought I could survive that long without it, and in a way, I couldn’t. But let me go back a few hours. Back to the drive from work to class, when I suddenly became consumed with fear. When I started...

More Evil Pushups

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Before I describe the new pushup torture I witnessed in class tonight, let me first say that I did none of them.* Level 1: Pushup position, but with your feet flat against a wall. Move your feet about one foot up the wall, and do the pushups from that position. Level 2: Body folded in at a 90-degree angle, feet against the wall, legs parallel to the ground. Torso and arms are parallel to the wall...

Kung Fu Retribution

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Tonight in kung fu class, I paid the price for my spotty attendance over the last two months. Here’s how the class went: Salute in. Horse set number 4 to warm-up. Long arm drills with daggers. (x2) Elephant Hand set with daggers. (x8) Animal set one. (x3) Animal set two — the one we’re working on. All of that took about 30 minutes. My face was lobster red and I was covered in...

Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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