Monday, January 05, 2009

an hour a day

I don't make New Year's resolutions.

This year, however, I am making a plan. You see, I have 28 weeks until the Legends of Kung Fu Tournament next July. Sit wants me to try for Grand Champion. Basically that boils down to beating 30-something other women in my division, and beating the winner of the men's division.

No pressure, there.

I've never been much for competition. I have this weird superiority/inferiority complex. I know that I have certain natural gifts--athleticism, flexibility, smarts... and, um, a certain lack of humility, shall we say--but I feel somewhat guilty about them, because they aren't anything I chose or earned for myself. Nevertheless, I know that with a certain amount of discipline and practice I can beat 98% of the people out there. I know this because I've done it, time and time again in my life.

The problem is, I also have a long history of coming in second. Often for stupid reasons--internal politics, for instance, or because I seem *so* capable that the judges thought the other person should be given a break, just this once (I kid you not). And that has made me somewhat gun-shy. So I sabotage myself, either by not being prepared, or by not trying at all.

Pathetic. I know.

Nevertheless, I have decided to compete. And I am going to make myself prepared. Partly because Sit deserves it; he's a skilled, generous teacher and he doesn't deserve to have his students blow off competition year after year, or blow him off to go teach--badly--in another part of town. He's made a plan of his own, to start teaching an evening class one day a week. My plan is to make myself ready to teach at his school in the next two years--and help him start a school, if necessary.

It would make both of us look good if I had a Grand Champion under my belt. But that's not why he wants me to do it. He wants me to try for it because like every other teacher I've had, he's exasperated with me--in his silent, Taoist way--because I'm such a chronic underachiever. See above re: pathetic.

"It doesn't matter if you win," Sit has said, to me and others. "Winning is karma. You might have good judges or might have bad judges. It's about training for it. So you have a goal."

It's also, in my mind, about doing one's personal best. Not in a namby-pamby "we're all winners!" kind of way, but in a "let's see what this baby can do" kind of way. I want to test what I know. I want to test my body before I start thinking I'm too old to do it. I want to re-establish good habits before I lose any more ground to indolence.

So I have made the decision to work. I used to be pretty good at praticing on my own after work every day, and it's not as if I can't push myself to finish what I've committed to doing (Hello? Six Harley costumes in seven weeks?). It helps to have a deadline, too. You can push yourself to do an awful lot if you know there's an end in sight.

Sit says that to prepare for a tournament you need to do your form at least three times a day, every day. A single form repetition is 3.5 minutes, max. That's 10.5 minutes for three reps. Simple. Nothing.

I plan to prepare six forms for the competition. That works out to 63 minutes of forms practice per day. It's probably more like 75 minutes a day, by the time you work in warm-ups and water breaks, but that's still no big deal since I do it all in my living room.

There are 28 weeks until the tournament, give or take a couple of days. I have class 2 days each week, so that leaves 5 days a week to practice on my own. In 140 days I can do 420 repetitions of each form. Times 6 forms, that's 2520 forms done between now and then.

An hour a day. For two thousand and a half forms in half a year.

Someone--I think it was Rudyard Kipling or one of his contemporaries--said you have to write a million words before you can begin to claim to know what you are doing. I once calculated I had arrived at that landmark somewhere around the time I graduated college, at age 25. There was definitely a leap that took place around that time.

The old masters say you have to practice a move a minimum of ten thousand times before you can use it in application. It's much harder to tabulate that threshold but I figure I'm getting close in some things--Brush Knee, for instance, and Single Whip. The next six months could put me over the top.

Sigh.... Cue the Rocky Theme.


Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts occurred to me after reading this entry. It turns out that at one time or another, I have posted those observations at this website.

Thought One re New Year resolutions: I have made two in all my life, neither of which I have broken. The second one was to never make another resolution.

Thought Two: The Northwest football team has played in the Division Two national championship game these four years running. These four years running, they have lost.
What's my point?
The point spread in those games was a matter of a field goal or a touchdown. Such a miniscule difference does not prove which is the better team, just the one that got more breaks. So you train, train, train, practice, practice, practice, and still come up short of the gold. Being second does not mean that your are second best.

Holly said...

"Being second does not mean that you are second best."

This is true.... however after a while I started to wonder what was the point of competing, when winning clearly was not dependent (solely) upon being the best?

There was a stink recently about a woman, a marathon runner, who got the best time in a marathon out in California, San Francisco, I think. She was not declared the winner, however, because the "winner" was supposed to be chosen out of a pool of "elite" runners who were being sponsored by Nike.

So you find other reasons to compete--Sometimes to have something to prove to yourself. Sometimes you're doing it to win respect or attention. *shrug*