20 June 2005

Tales of the Sword

Last summer I started taking lessons in the Cheng Man Ching Taiji sword form. It has been quite enjoyable, as well as quite a challenge. I took to it more quickly than many of my classmates, perhaps because I have some experience with olympic style foil-fencing. But carrying a sword around town, even a wooden one, does tend to draw a bit of attention. ;-)

One time I rode the bus around campus with the sword tucked into the top strap of my backpack. I got some odd looks, and one person was brave enough to ask "Are you in drama?" I just grinned and said "Nope. Sword form practice."

Another time I was practicing at Alameda Park, and as always I began with some meditation. That day I chose seated meditation, in lotus. An older guy and a younger one, probably the older one's grandson, were in the playground area. The older one said, "I don't know why people do that yoga sh*t," in a voice obviously meant to carry. I finished my meditation, skipped over a few warmup exercises and went straight into the sword form. Didn't hear another peep from the old guy.

Just recently I was walking back from the same park and I cut through the alley behind my house to get home. Some kids were playing in a camper. One said "Hi," so I said "Hi." Then as I was going past, I heard a startled "Whooah!" :-D I expect that they noticed the wooden practice sword strapped to my back. I had a similar experience today at Reed Gym: a kid's eyes got wide when he noticed the sword, and he said, "Nice sword!" I just said, "Thanks!"

This tale isn't directly related to sword form, but this is as good a place as any to put it. While I was practicing at Ammon Park, I noticed a black cat playing in some of the taller grass. As I was getting ready to leave, I saw the cat again, hiding in the tall grass. I approached the cat's position slowly, knelt down a few feet away, and said "Hey, kitty-cat!" The cat gave me a horrified look that clearly said, "You can see me?!??" and took off as fast as it could. Ah well.

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