Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Spitting Teeth And Breaking Open Skin

Hey kids! Happy to report that I'm finally getting some forward momentum in my life. It would appear that the rut is over, thank the lord! Was developing a serious Sisyphus complex for a while there. No matter how hard I pushed, life was pushing me back tenfold. Frustration city.

The biggest news is that I was invited by my kung fu school to participate in the black belt pre-test at the end of September! So exciting! Been an advanced brown belt for about 6 months or so and I am very ready to make the giant step up to black.

In my school, the pre-test is really the test that counts. The instructors won't let you go to the big honking official black belt test in front of the parents, instructors and Master Wong if you are not ready. Plus if you pass the pre-test, you are getting your belt, no matter how crappy you do on the official test. And that's a good thing- would be embarrassing to be the only one to not get your black belt in front of everyone you know and respect!

I'm honestly more excited than nervous. Been stepping up my class attendance and really putting the focus back on my kung fu for the last few months. And my injuries from February have been clearing up (left elbow kicked, right thumb jammed, left knee sore). So I'm fairly confident about the pre-test.

The only rub is that I will need to put even more focus on the martial arts, to the deficit of Pop Zeus and this blog. I will play it by ear and see what happens. But don't be too surprised if in a months time, not much progress has been made on the comic and you haven't heard much from me.

If yr curious, the test will primarily consist of 5 hand forms (no weapons, in other words), 2 staff forms (the staff being a 6 foot bamboo pole, like Donatello), and a broad sword form which I just finished. A form is a choreographed series of movements, kinda like a dance routine, which demonstrates what you have learned. Around 30 self-defense techniques and 5 kick series must also be shown. I will need to do a 3 minute horse stance (not terribly long), a bunch of jack knives, some board breaking, and a bunch of panther-fist push ups as well. And lastly, sparring (with protective gear) is on the test which brings me to my latest injuries!..

So the final week of every month at my school is sparring week. And in the final sparring day of last month, all of the 6 foot plus, over 250 lbs towering and beefy testosterone-laden beaten-by-their-dads hard-asses in my school showed up (including "Tree Man", the one that injured me in February and the other guy that bruised my ribs last year). I have since dubbed them "The Gashouse Gorillas", cuz that's just what they are! The students have been instructed from day one to spar with speed but light hits so as not to injure our classmates. The gear we wear does protect us somewhat, but 90% of injuries in kung fu are from sparring. And some injuries can cost you months of recovery time.

(sexy, no?)

So I got a little banged up. Not sure when or who- each one of the Gorillas spar like their life depends on it, full power. The injury you see below my knee swelled up right after class, not unlike a cartoon lump on the head. It looks worse than it felt and is now just a bruise. And the arm bruises in the photo are pretty much par for the course (note the Circus Devils tee, natch). The bangs and bumps looked pretty gnarly though, so I thought I'd take some pictures of them and share a little of my kung fu world with you all.

Take it easy folks and I'll be back soon.


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