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Thread: Stumblin' a little more...

  1. #1
    SifuDangeRuss is offline
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    Post Stumblin' a little more...

    The 3rd installment of this real life adventure can be found in the midst of the Breaking thread.

    Stumbling Down the Path of Enlightenment

    Chapter 4
    How I spent my summer vacation
    By Sifu Dangeruss 2002
    After a fairly bizarre by anyone's standards introduction to Sifu Archebeque, I quickly fell into a regular training regime with the quirky old Master. It was the summer of 1981 I believe, when I first was asked to come and stay with Master Archebeque. This was an unequalled offer of one on one attention from the most dynamic martial artist I had ever encountered.

    I pulled into the now very familiar driveway, my car loaded with all the things I thought I might need this summer. I could hardly believe the old man had invited me to come and stay with him. He heard my car pull up and came out to meet me. He greeted me affectionately. By now, he was beginning to treat me more as a son on a wide orbit, than a simple student. Sometimes he even called my by name, instead of "Skinny", although that was still a rare event. I still experienced a weird thrill, every time I worked out with this steel willed warrior. The man still reminded me more of some strange comic book character than anyone I had ever met. He was an odd blend of Confucius, Daredevil, the Flash and Doctor Strange. He was a vast, untapped reservoir of martial technique and I had been invited to swim all summer long. I drug my stuff inside and settled in. We worked out a bit, enough pique my appetite, then went inside to eat. After dinner we sat down in the living room. He began to tell me stories of his own training. Tales full of mischievous instructors slipping snakes under his sheets and attacking him when he least expected it. I wondered then if this was what I was to expect over the next several weeks? He warned me that we were going to get a very early start the next morning, so I should try to get some rest. I retired and despite my excitement, I resolved to go to right to sleep. I woke up, sometime around 2am, to find something warm coiled around my neck, it was making an oddly familiar rattling sound, but being groggy, I couldn't quickly identify it. Suddenly the story from earlier of Archie's instructors slipping snakes into his bed became a horrifying reality. I snatched at the thing wrapped around my neck and hurled it across the room. There was a really surprised "Meeeeeeeeeeeeoowrrrrr" as his pet cat hit the wall; itself rudely awakened from a sound slumber. Master Archebeque came into my room, turning on the light and laughed richly. He was duly impressed to find I had managed to subdue his cat with such little effort. Embarrassed, my heart still pounding loud enough to hear I apologized sheepishly. He went back to bed; I found sleep to be unattainable for the remainder of the night.

    As promised, Sifu Archie came in to find me already awake at about 5am. We had a quick breakfast of rice and went out to greet the morning. There was the intimately familiar field of weeds that was the Dojo Proper. We worked in those same weeds, through rain and shine, mud and snow. We went through the familiar routine that involved him bouncing me cheerfully around over and over, then he suddenly stopped. Uncharacteristically he launched into a detailed explanation of how to generate maximum power for leg techniques. For what I think may have been the first time ever, he led me, step by step through something. Although much of this was already familiar ground, I found myself listening attentively to every word. As the lecture drew to a close, he pointed out a section of small saplings and thick brush, that was growing out of control He suggested that might be a perfect proving ground to see if I had gleaned anything from his instruction. Wait-a-minute ! He expected me to clear his yard with my legs? Survey says…"Yes". He then explained that he had things to do and would be leaving me alone that day and would see me again in the evening. I sighed audibly and went to work at the small trees and brush. Working my hips and legs, as I never had before, it soon became obvious I was indeed making some progress as a human weedeater. Encouraged, I worked harder, kicking the saplings, and thicker stalks of brush, then dragging them with my insteps to a large pile. It was strangely exhilarating. My legs began to burn, but it was hours before Archie was due back, and I didn't want to disappoint on my first day, so I buckled down and worked even harder. Little did I know just how many acres of such growth awaited me. I would find out in the days to come. By the time the Master had returned, I had cleared an impressive patch of land. My shins were barked, my insteps, heels and bottom of my feet ached. My quadriceps complained loudly. Archie allowed me a small smile. I was ready to collapse. He announced that now we could begin our workout now. He proceeded to poke and prod my tired body, lighting up nerve centers and pressure points in such a way as to animate my body as I could not have done on my own. I vaguely recall going inside and sitting down to eat, then being shaken awake some time later, still at the table, a half full plate before me. "Hey skinny, how you ever gonna make it through the summer, if you don't eat?" Numbly I choked down the rest of dinner on autopilot and drug myself off to bed. It seemed like I had barely laid my head down, when that obnoxiously cheerful face announced it was time to get up. I climbed groggily out of bed. My legs felt like over-cooked pasta. An all too quickly devoured breakfast found us outside again. Today's lesson seemed to be focused on proper delivery of hand techniques. I was introduced to a conspicuously short handled hatchet. Predictably he pointed out the slightly larger trees that remained in the area I had cleared yesterday. I nodded as I understood that today I would clear the area of those, too. Once more using my hips, back and arms to deliver maximum power, with the short handled weapon. I had thought I was in pretty descent shape before coming out here, but I would learn that my body required further conditioning and under the supervision of a master smith, I would be summarily hammered into a well-honed blade before the summer was over. I was a fairly quick study, and learned that if I harnessed my entire body into each blow, it increased the efficient of my tasks. Day by day, I cleared a sizable tract of land with little more than my own sweat. Some days Archie would join me in my labor, other days he would leave me alone to perfect my techniques. Years later I would smile as Miagi forced Danial-san to wax his car paint his fence and sand his floor. In much the same way, repetitious mundane tasks were unconsciously honing my martial technique. It was in the day end practice sessions that the lessons became more clear. Responses became automatic, the power and effectiveness of blocks and strikes began to dramatically improve. The crafty old man knew. He smirked and nodded as the summer wore on, and my endurance increased. We even built a crude ring; from trees we felled, peeled and shaped ourselves.

    His teaching methodology was certainly not for everyone, and in fact really only beneficial to one with a fairly substantial martial background to use as a building block. While his arsenal of martial technique had greater depth than the Encyclopedia Britannica, his command of the English language (which unfortunately was the only one I was conversant in) was severely limited. His tendency to fall into a handful of catch phrases to explain things was often frustrating. It took someone who truly wanted to learn and was extraordinary patient and perhaps even a bit masochistic to truly grow and flourish under his instruction. I guess I scored on all three counts. More often than not, his lessons consisted of performing a seemingly endless stream of techniques, (seldom the same one twice) on whoever was willing and able to stand back up and take another drubbing. The fact that the techniques were seldom performed identically more than once in succession made it challenging for even the most studious to absorb. More often than not, it was only after meditation, that some of the techniques would resolve themselves into something usable and duplicable. In fact, even today, years later, I sometimes will stand bolt upright in the middle of a class, taken by what I have come to affectionately call "Blinding flashes of the obvious", as for no apparent reason, some technique the old man had shown me, decades ago, would suddenly manifest itself in my conscious. Many of these techniques or principals buried so deeply in my subconscious, I was totally unaware of their very existence. My subconscious continues to wrestle with the ideas and images, and the few sparse word and still glean important messages from lessons long since over and done. I frequently find myself correcting a stance, strike or target, hearing Master Archie, admonishing me to, "Know what your gonna do!" Although the days of regular physical training with the Master are becoming merely fond memories of a distant past, even now, he continues to make me a better martial artist and a wiser man.
    NEW and IMPROVED Non-Chunky Version!


    I only know enough, to understand how much I don't know

  2. #2
    John Brewer's Avatar
    John Brewer is offline Starting Over
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    Default Re: Stumblin' a little more...

    Sounds like a very enlightening experience. Love the "Blinding flashes of the obvious" by the way.

  3. #3
    Takai's Avatar
    Takai is offline
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    Default Re: Stumblin' a little more...

    Quote Originally Posted by crane557 View Post
    Love the "Blinding flashes of the obvious" by the way.
    I have always enjoyed that happening. Lightning strikes and you just go, "DUH!"
    "Change is not necessary...Survival is not mandatory" - W. Edward Deming

    "When I hit....I hit the whole enchilada" - Master David Leung

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