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.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Final Countdown (Updated!)



(I made it! Received my black belt yesterday at around 8 PM PST after a three and a half hour test. Was a especially tough day for me because I caught a nasty head cold the day before which I'm still dealing with- sore throat and congestion which lead to major dehydration and brain fog during the test. But what could I do but try my best and push on through? The highlight for me was definitely the board breaking. Plowed through two boards with my side kick, jump spinning back kick and elbow strike. Very empowering! Congrats to all the other graduates and a huge thanks to my instructors and supporters- I couldn't have done it without you!)

It's the final countdown! Bee-de-dee-do! Bee-de-dee-dee-dee! Bee-de-dee-do! It's the final countdown!

In precisely 9 days (June 9th) I will finally be taking my black belt test! Its been a long long road, paved with blood, sweat and tears... literally. And receiving this honor will be that much sweeter having come back from a bad calf injury last year (no relation to Bob Pollard's calf injury... or is there?), which delayed my advancement significantly (not to mention 2006's minor injuries- bruised ribs, bum left elbow, funky right knee...).

Add to that the perfect timing of my work hiatus, enabling me to accelerate my training over the last couple months. Many pre-tests later, I received my official invitation to the black belt test a little more than a week ago! So off I go, dad in tow (flying out from New Jersey to watch the test- any more spectators would probably freak me out!).

If you've been following along, you would know that the style of kung fu I have been studying for over 4 years is Choy Lay Fut, a fairly well-known, practical, modern style practiced primarily in the urban centers of China. It incorporates many aspects of other older styles including chi-na, Shaolin, Buddhist palm striking, and all sorts of fun weapons. Its movements are wide and circular, keeping opponents at a considerable distance. Here is a clip of my Sifu, Master Tat Mau Wong, demonstrating an advanced form at an exhibition in China. It is followed by another Choy Lay Fut form demonstrated by several of my instructors and fellow students. And no, this video is not sped up...



For the test, I will have to demonstrate all the kicks and self-defenses I've learned, a small bout of sparring (with protective gear, mind you- not to the death), 6 hand forms, two staff forms (Shaolin staff and Chat Gum fighting staff), board breaking and strength demonstrations including 50 panther fist push-ups (on your second knuckles and quite painful), 50 jack-knives (advanced sit-ups, to put it mildly) and a 3 minute horse stance (not terribly long, as they go). Phew- makes me tired just typing it! ;) Here is one of the forms I will be doing (5 animals form) in the test, as perfectly demonstrated by my friend and instructor Sifu Alex...



Not too worried about the test... yet. More than anything, I'm totally excited to be moving forward again (bring on the new weapons- sword and spear!). But I will admit stressing more than usual about the training leading up to the test (my perfectionistic nature catching up with me again).

And since my latest class on Tuesday (many many jumping jacks), both of my calves have been unusually sore, which understandably freaked me out. To reinjure my left calf at this stage of the game would be a tragedy beyond words. So I sucked it up and didn't go to class today. I figure at this point, one missed class isn't going to blow it (getting to the test is more than half the battle). And without a doubt, a reinjured leg would bring this party train to a calamitous end.

So please send positive vibes my direction until June 9th and wish me good luck! You probably won't be hearing much more from me before the test (plus my dad arrives next Wednesday). But I'll let you all know how it goes soon afterward. Until then, lets all contemplate the wise words of Chop Chop Master Onion- kick, punch, it's all in the mind...

7 Comments:

Anonymous Dick Masterson said...

Kung Fu. That's man business all right.

-Dick

11:59 PM

 
Blogger Phil said...

lol. yeah, I guess...

actually, Chinese martial arts has a long history of female practitioners. Several styles (including the famous Wing Chun and White Crane styles) originated from women, with women in mind. And I would not want to tangle with any of my female instructors, thats for certain.

My school is 50/50 men and women, by the way...

12:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kick the ferdippin-dee-punch-smash kick 'em on Saturday!

6:56 AM

 
Blogger Phil said...

will do

1:49 PM

 
Blogger David said...

congrats bro!

10:21 AM

 
Blogger Sean said...

Woah! Congratulations! I'll start wearing my full face helmet when we hang out from now on. I wouldn't want you to mistake my mug for a board or anything like that...

2:10 PM

 
Blogger Phil said...

Thanks all! I'll try not to kill any of you by accident. Was a good experience and I already have my new weapon- the spear! Sweet.

12:11 AM

 

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