Monday the 3rd

I woke up a little late but got to the park around 7:30. I warmed up with stretches and kicks practice, then 8 reps of the 24 postures Wu Laoshi taught me. Then I did the first three sets of Sun style. It began to spit a little so I moved over to the door of the CC and waited a few minutes for the center to open. I got in first and changed my shoes and went into the corner to practice. I had no encounters today with Mr. class leader (good).

But what was really interesting is that two or three other groups showed up to practice at about 9am. A sword group, and a Cha Quan group, and I think another one. Fortunately Mr. class leader did not confront those other groups either, or we would have had a big brawl on our hands.

Frankly I can’t imagine that he was not embarrassed at having been so confrontational and lying so much. I really don’t know what his problem was. I am probably going to have to accept the fact that I may never know what got into him, as it doesn’t look likely he will approach me again with a schpeil like he tried to pull off last Saturday. Then again, seeing me another twenty plus times this month might change something in him I don’t know. This is actually a really interesting situation, a good test of emotion and spirit for me. We will see what happens in the future.

Class with Hu Laoshi was spectacular. He is so generous and accessible. However I feel clubbed over the head with information and technique. It isn’t that I forget what he taught me per-se. It’s that I am going to have to work very hard and do my homework immediately without rest in order to grasp what he has taught me. He has gifted me, and I must appreciate it by oening the gift.

In the afternoon I happened to walk by a branch of the Taoist Tai Chi society. Someone inside was doing the form — not particularly well, but not the worst I had seen. I didn’t really want to go in but I did anyways, and I asked them about taoism. They basically do not teach taoist meditation or philosophy as a separate practice, as I was told, not even in the temple on D’arcy street. I was told that everything is wrapped up in their form. Honestly, I am not really surprised, only maybe that they have managed to survive this long in today’s Toronto, which is much more enlightened than 30, 20 or heck even 10 years ago. I also saw a few other schools notably northern karate on st. clair which has a very nice studio.

I want to promote Tai Chi in a nice downtown studio. But that is going to take more than just skill, I will need money! Maybe I can partner with some other masters somehow. It is a dream for the future.

First days in Toronto

I landed in Toronto a couple of days ago and have finally begun to settle in a little bit. I don’t enjoy my space as much as I had hoped, but it’s not bad.

I’ve already had two classes with Sifu Wu and although I wasn’t expecting it, due to the material we covered, I do find that it is helpful material. I’ll continue to trust Sifu on those matters for now. Sifu knows best!

And now the curious case of the Scadding Court Tai Chi drop in. I went in on Thursday, and the instructor, a younger Canadian man, was leading the class — full of older Chinese people. Observing the class this did not make sense to me, as I recognized at least one of the older Chinese was a tai chi teacher in the park from 10-15 years ago. Why was he joining this class, did not make much sense to me. The lead instructor’s form was not good or bad, well, it just seemed average for the class. In some ways the students in the class were better than him. But not in any meaningful way. But what really surprised me was his attitude. I’ve been thinking about it for days.

Encounter 1
I went into the Gym on Friday morning to see him doing standing meditation near the benches. I approached him and asked about the Tai Chi drop in. He was immediately evasive. I kept asking him about the drop in because I was confused at the information he was giving me as it was obviously inaccurate based on what I had from the community center director and also from personal experience going to Scadding Court for many years prior. He then excused himself to go to the washroom. When he got back he simply pretended I wasn’t there. I got the hint and went off to practice by myself on the other side of the gym.

Encounter 2
After his class I attempted to ask him again if he taught Tai Chi and if they did push hands but he just ignored me and left.

Encounter 3
The next day (Saturday) I showed up and just did my thing, standing meditation, in the corner. He approached me and asked if I wanted to join his group. I said I wasn’t sure, because I was doing other styles of Tai Chi (in all honesty I didn’t want to pick up on yet another style/group, I wanted to practice what Sifu showed me). But he didn’t let me explain anything, he just cut me off and said he only wanted to know if I was going to join his group. I said no and he went back.

Encounter 4
About 3 minutes after the previous, he came back an asked me to leave since I wasn’t going to join his group. I was shocked but it still didn’t “sink in” to me. So I explained to him I was aware this was a Tai Chi drop in, that the director had explained to me about the different groups and tensions between them etc. He just interrupted me and told me that since I wasn’t going to join his group I had to leave. At that point I kind of lost it (kind of) and told him that I had done Yang style for 20 years and that I wasn’t going to join his group because he was rude to me. He didn’t seem to care or to understand and just said I had to leave. So I told him in no uncertain terms I was very well aware of what was going on, i.e. that it was a drop in, there were multiple groups sharing the Gym, and so forth. I told him I was nice to him in the beginning and I couldn’t understand why he was being so rude. But he just said he was going to call security and that was it.

So we went up to talk to the front desk lady. At that point he demanded to speak to her alone so I said sure, and waited. Obviously he was not giving a fair and balanced account of what happened. But during this time my friend Henry who had been coming to the Tai Chi drop in for 20+ years happened by and we struck up a conversation at the front desk. I don’t know if this helped when the desk lady saw it but the long and short of it is that the lead instructor went back down to the Gym and I was given an official membership card for the center and told to come back on Monday (it was the end of class by then).

Encounter 5
During this time I went back down to collect my things. This may have made it look like he ‘won’ and that I was told to leave. In any case I went back down to the Gym and tried to apologize to him. I just wanted to diffuse the situation but maybe because he thought he ‘won’ he just continued to ignore my apology and walk away. Needless to say, me apologizing for his bad behavior is backwards, but it is a friendly gesture to allow him to save face. I did it for him and I was really and honestly surprised that he did not accept this opportunity. But no, he did not accept, he just totally ignored me and walked away while I was talking to him. How this man came to lead the seniors at Scadding court is far beyond my ken.

I wonder if he will be surprised to see me there on Monday! I really don’t know what will happen on Monday morning but I sure as heck am going to blog about it. See you then 🙂

Day 1: Jogging for Life

Day 1.

In many ways this is so true. I’ve let my practice down severely after a series of accidents and ill health. The big one was a motorcycle accident I had a few years ago after which I stopped practicing altogether. But today I feel better. I feel out of practice, but I also feel like I have turned a corner in my life. Finally — in many ways, not just physically and mentally but with my job, I finally can set aside all the worries of my daily life and concentrate on kunfu.

Why Kungfu and not Weiqi, or some other art or hobby? I’ll bring that up later (or not at all). But the focus on martial arts has multiple benefits for be besides fulfilling a lifelong ambition.

For now, here’s day 1. There will be more to come soon; I have three days worth of footage lined up for editing.

Stretch Machine Calculations

When I bought my splits machine, I had no way to easily calculate the angle of the machine. So I dialed in a visual 90° angle and started looking for convenient ways to measure the machine’s leg length. I measured a leg length of 28 to the screws at the end of the leg, and then measured the “base” of the triangle between the opposite leg’s screws. I discovered a measurement of 39.5, which gave 89.717°. Measuring from the absolute ends of the machine legs show a leg length of 29 and a base (spread distance) of 41, for a result of 89.996°. This was very accurate and since it was round numbers I was happy with the results.

I would then use an on-line triangle calculator to determine the angle of my splits for the session by measuring the distance between the legs.

Months later it occurred to me that I could just measure the distance between the legs and use that to index a previously calculated figure. So I re-measured 180cm from end to end at 180°, and then 125cm end to end for 90°. The implication being that the factor is about 1.6° per cm as you go from 125cm to 180cm. To test this I dialed in a visual 135° using the tiles on the floor and measured 164cm. This is an extra 39cm, and I expected only an additional 27cm. So the figure gets more accurate as you get closer to 180°. What would be better, likely then, is to do a table of expected results based on the leg length and not rely on a formula.

However while doing the table I kept coming back to highly accurate visual results indicating that a leg length of 29 (88cm) was very accurate between 90° to 180°. It became simply too convenient to use this number. Yet, when measuring at 180° we got 180cm, so perhaps using a leg length of 90cm would be a bit more accurate.

As it turned out, a leg length of 90cm provided greater than a very careful visual tuning of the angle. At 135° and 90°, observed error was attributable to human error. For example, I tried to make the machine 135° and measured a 165cm spread from pad-end to pad-end. This would give us 132.9°. But when I went to visually check the degree I found it to be slightly inside 135°. Meaning, closer to 132.9°. Thus the leg length of 90° was adopted and used to key spread lengths to spit angles.

Table 1: Spread Length to Angle

Spread Length Expected Angle
180cm 180°
175cm 153°
170cm 142°
165cm 133°
160cm 125°
155cm 119°
150cm 113°
145cm 107°
140cm 102°
135cm 97°
130cm 92°
125cm 88°

Table 2: Required Spread Length for Angle

Angle Spread Length
180cm 180cm
170° 179cm
160° 177cm
150° 174cm
140° 169cm
130° 163cm
120° 156cm
110° 147cm
100° 138cm
90° 127cm

More later.