A few days ago I published Chapter 3: Necromancy | The Valley of the Shadow of Death. In this story our Necromancer Dr. Alexandra White is also a skilled martial artist. That’s why I wanted to write a few words on martial arts.
My first experience on anything close to combat started at high school with fencing. Most people think it is just one sport but in modern fencing there are 3 different weapons, which divides it into 3 distinct categories of completely different styles. The one I practiced was the Saber. I chose it because it was the fastest and you could not only poke but also slash your opponent.
I started with fencing because my parents didn’t wanted me to practice a combat sport. I was a bit of a violent kid and they were too afraid I would get into fights with other kids.
Fencing teaches you a very important concept: Distance! Being able to evaluate when you are in arms reach, a kick’s reach or a safe distance is vital skill and it is quite difficult to acquire. It also teaches you quick footwork and fast reflexes. To read more on fencing check this awesome post from stansysports.wordpress.com:
In college I wasn’t living with my parents anymore and fencing was a bit above my student budget. I also wanted to explore other sports so I started Thai Boxing (also called muay thai). To be honest it took a bit of courage to dare starting that one. No more wearing masks, no more protection suits. When you get hit, you get hit. Scariest of all, I was one of the newest in the club and I feared people may make fun of me. I know it sounds stupid. Fortunately two other friends had started at the same time as I did and the people in the club were nice guys.
I wasn’t good at Muay Thai and fencing was partly responsible for that. My posture was too sideways and my guard was always on the wrong side. In boxing your weak hand is on the front, while in fencing your strong hand holds the sword and thus is on the front.
The good thing about muay thai is that it is VERY dynamic. I was already in a good physical shape when I started but the training was 2 hours and we were jumping ropes, doing push ups, running, sparring, lifting weights non stop! The two guys who started with me, one of them had a dizzy spell in the middle of the 1st training and the other one vomited at the end. I continued Thai boxing for a while but eventually had to quit when the two other friends did. Because they had the car and the club was a bit far away.
Then I started Wing Chun. It is a type of kung fu. Some call it Chinese boxing. It is a very intelligent, straightforward and beautiful martial art. While being gracious it doesn’t require outstanding athletic skills like Shaolin kung fu. It was invented by a woman and therefore is very adapted for fast and secure combat. This is the martial art that Dr. White does in Chapter 3. Here is what it looks like:
The funny thing is, the moves are so natural but the sequence series are ultra complicated (at least for my intelligence level). So you need serious, repetitive training in order to have them in a reflexive manner.
I changed clubs multiple times due to the fact that I had to change cities because of my job. But I’m still continuing. If you would like to know more about Wing Chun (and if you speak French) you can check this blog out: http://passionwingchun.blogspot.fr/
It is written by one of my trainers in my 1st club. Even if you don’t speak French, there are some really nice pictures in it 🙂
This year I also started Karate. One of my colleagues is a black belt 3rd Dan karate master. He is so very kind to train whomever is motivated in the lunch breaks, twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). It started out of curiosity and also because of the fact that exercising during the lunch break is the best way to evacuate scientific frustration. But I liked it so much. The karate he does is Wado Ryu. The logic of Wado Ryu is very close to Wing Chun therefore it is very familiar to me. The hand techniques are quite easy (since in Wing Chun I’m used to extra complicated stuff) and the kicks are OK as long as they resemble the ones in muay thai.
Although I only started this year I already have a green belt 😀 but I admit I practice a lot.
Whichever is the one you are practicing, Thai boxing, Kung fu, Karate, Vovinam, Brazilian jujitsu, Jeet kune do etc. There are many reasons why I like martial arts so much:
1. Good for cardio, flexibility and muscle building
2. Develops self confidence (in my opinion this is very important, especially for women!)
3. Teaches respect and discipline
4. Allows you to express yourself and evacuate your frustrations. Because I believe there is this inner energy in all of us (call it chakra or chi or whatever you want) and it needs to be expressed somehow. Otherwise, like a corrosive fluid it eats us.
As Martha Graham puts it so nicely:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”
… for me this expression is martial arts.