Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Helping out Brad

One day we all went to help Brad move some stuff. I think he was moving out of his house. Or maybe he was putting stuff in storage because he was going to travel. I forget.

I recall that Lonnie, Jeff and myself were there for certain. I think George or somebody else must have been there but I don't remember for certain. It was a beautiful sunny day. The area where Brad lived in was a nice area. I recall feeling impressed or invigorated as we drove to his house. The sun, the air, the houses in the neighborhood made it one of those "life is good" moments.

At some time or the other, Brad had mentioned he had a girlfriend. I don't remember what was said about her other than that he had one. I think that Jeff might have said she was attractive. I guess he had met her as part of Brad and Jeff's friendship.

We got to the house and pulled into the driveway. The house was beautiful. I can clearly see an immaculate piece of white concrete for the driveway. Maybe I am embellishing my memories. I can't get over that feeling of, "Wow. This is really nice".

We went to the door and his girlfriend opened it. She was a Chinese woman which surprised me. I don't know why. I just pictured a rich white guy like Brad with a white girl. This woman was a dark colored Asian with jet black hair. It seemed so out of place.

She was as attractive as Jeff had said she was. I don't think she was dressed in any way special. Maybe jeans and a top for working on the house preparing it for whatever. We all exchanged some small talk and then went inside to move the heavy stuff.

It didn't take very long. There was not much stuff to move. We all said our goodbyes to Brad's girlfriend and piled into Brad's car to leave. I had an electronic watch that could do all kinds of things. When the buttons were pressed, it would beep to tell you the button pressed. I was pressing the buttons on the watch to set the time or something. It beeped in rapid succession. Brad said "Oh Oh. I hear someone beeping".

I have no idea why, but it was one of those weird magic moments where time seems to slow down and everything happens in slow motion. Those moments when it is obvious that something wierd is going on. I recognzed the moment, but I had no idea why it had occurred. To me, I had been beeping the watch to make it set the date. For some reason, the way Brad said he heard someone beeping, it was as if he was saying something momentous. It literally felt like the attention of every person in the car was focused on the same thing. Whatever that was.

Knowing what I know now, maybe my energy was doing something. I was in the backseat with the watch pointed to the front of the car. That means my energy would have been focused that way. The cadence or rythym of how I pressed the buttons of the watch would mean something to people. The cadence would be almost as clear as spoken language to some people.

They might have interpreted what I was doing as a call for attention. That is so weird to say because I would never think of that. Pointing the watch and making the loud beeps was like I wanted them to listen to me for some reason. The focus of everyone's attention I felt was them focusing on me waiting for me to say whatever it was. But I wasn't saying anything. I was only setting my watch. ;)

That kind of weirdness is one of the things that made Ba Gua stressful for me. Instead of sitting in a car and driving around with friends helping people, every action of every minute had to be analyzed for some hidden meaning. If you did not get the meaning, you were hosed.

So her I am, recoginzing that something odd is occurring, but not knowing what to do. Thinking I will be polite, I blurt out that I thought that Brad's girlfriend was healthy looking. No one said a word. I repeated myself. I think I said, "I could tell just by looking at her that she was very healthy".

I felt at the time that I was becoming insightful about people and the martial arts. I had been involved in the martial arts long enough by that time that I felt I could look at a person and judge their strength or weakness. A byproduct of that ability is the ability to tell if a person is healthy or unhealthy. I can look at people and see where they have trouble with their bodies.

By saying "I could look at her and see she was healthy", I was trying to say to Brad that he was a lucky man because in my skilled opinion, she was both very health and very strong in a martial arts kind of way.

I have no idea what the guys thought. After repeating myself, they still refused to say a word. All of them. No acknowledgement. No changing the subject. Nothing.

I am sitting here laughing. Knowing the way those people thought, they were probably silent because they were waiting for me to say more. That is a psychological as well as a martial arts or a social ploy. If someone is talking, and your refuse to talk, it puts pressure on the talking person to continue speaking. If they have anything to say.

If I had more to say about Brad's girlfriend, but I was shy or ashamed about it, by being silent, they were putting pressure on me to say whatever else I was thinking. I wasn't thinking anything else. I was only trying to be polite to Brad because of the weirdness with the watch I did not understand. There was nothing they could pull out of me.

Now I wonder if they thought I was attracted to her. Maybe I wanted to say she was hot or I wanted to date her. They thought if they were silent I would say I wanted to grab her boobies or something. Or maybe it was completely out of line to complement another man's woman. Heck. Can you see how much trouble those guys were? ;) Even the most simple things were made stressful and complicated.


This is an entry that is out of time sequence, but it doesn't really matter.

We were all standing around talking about something or the other. Or working on our exercises. Mike was there and suggested we do something. One person, I think it was George, was going to stand with his arms at his sides. The rest of the group would then grab hold of George's arms. On the go mark, George would begin to struggle. It was our job to hold him so that he could not move.

This seemed like a test of strength kind of exercise. In an obvious "who can benchpress...." kind of way. It sounded like fun because George was the biggest and it would be a challenge to see if we could hold him down. Mike said go and George began struggling. Not surprisingly he could move around. He was the biggest and he played Australian football so he was used to people grabbing him. We struggled a bit, then stopped and judged about how well we had held on to him.

I think everyone must have done the exercise. My strongest memory is of Jeff being next. Jeff was interesting for two reasons. Number one was that he was the top student. It was our job to hold onto him and see what he could really do. Number two was because Jeff was so small. He was only about 5 feet 8 or so. He was also mostly thin. Looking at him, then looking at the bigger white guys, including big George, who were going to hold him, there seemed to be no challenge at all.

Mike said go and Jeff began struggling. He did a good job, moving us around and forcing us to step in and out. Still, his size was a disadvantage. It was interesting to see that. I know I personally had a harder time holding onto Jeff. I think maybe Lonnie or George had a firmer grip on him that I did.

We all agreed that Jeff had done well. He had twisted about in our grips in spite of being dimunitive. I can see George in my memory looking speculatively at Jeff. There was more than a little admiration or respect that Jeff had accomplished what he did.

Then it was my turn. I was pretty confident. In spite of having health problems, I still felt I had a particular kind of strength. Wing Chun had made me sick, but I had also become strong in a way. I felt I would give a good account of myself.

Mike said go and I began to struggle. I was not doing nearly as well as I thought. What was worse, I did not understand why. I knew I was strong. I was bigger than Jeff and Jeff had been able to move. I began to feel like I was trapped. Then I realized I was actually begining to get fearful and panicky.

Looking back on it, I think it was the mental realization that if 4 or 5 men had a hold of me, I could not break free. I had never experienced that kind of helplessness before. Any kind of altercation I was ever in was one or maybe two people. I had never really considered 4 or 5 people grabbing me at one time. To realize that I was helpless if that happened rocked my mental stability.

I think Mike saw that. Or perhaps it was only my heightened emotions. Anyways, he signaled them to let me go. I felt like a frightened animal, adrenaline coursing thru me, ready to run off. I think my eyes must have looked wild too.

I did not do nearly as well as I thought I would. I was not unhappy as if it was something I had failed at. I was deeply disturbed at how it was possible. According to everything I knew and believed, there was no way that they should have been able to hold me so effectively. You can see by my writing this down how much of an impression the event made on me.

Now I know what it was that bothered me so much.

The exercise was designed to test the internal strength of a person. Ba Gua and Tai Chi are designed to develop internal strength. The reason Jeff could do so well was because he had been practing with Mike and on his own for so long. George had the benefit of the Australian Football and his time with Mike. Lonnie had done Tai Chi for a long time so he was also good.

Part of the reason for my ill health was that I had developed external strength. My internal strength was very weak. That was what made me sick. The exercise, and my extreme reaction to it were because the exercise was like taking a stick and poking it right into the spot where I was sick.

It is difficult to describe. If you think of grabbing a person with external strength, it could be described as grabbing a piece of wood. There is something hard there for you to get a good grip on so that the wood cannot move. Grabbing a person with internal strength is like trying to grab a fish. If you have ever done this, you know that they have the ability to squirm away from you no matter how you struggle to hold them. There is nothing for your hands to get a firm purchase on. The energy of the struggles of the fish travel thru your body in a wave kind of feeling. That waves of energy from the fish interfere with your commands to your arms to hold steady.

I did not understand the purpose of that exercise for a very long time. Mike did not explain it. I guess it was supposed to be obvious that it was a test for internal strength.

If you are a curious kind of person, you might like to know that there is a physical component to my mental reaction to the exercise. In addition to the mental thoughts of being trapped that made me anxious, my brain was being physically affected so that it did not work properly.

One of the goals of higher martial arts is to connect the entire body into one big piece. Although I was not skilled at martial arts, I had practiced enough so that I had developed a basic unified body. When the guys grabbed my arms and I could not move them, I tensed them up to try to move them. Because the body is one big piece, when my arms tensed up, certain parts of my brain physically tensed up also. It is like your shoulders go up into your head. If your shoulders are tight, then your head would be tight also.

That is a useful piece of information if you can understand it inside of yourself. I do not mean intellectually declaring "the body is one connected piece". I mean feeling inside of yourself that something that affects your arms affects your brain or some other part of your body. When you can actually feel that within yourself, then you are making some real progress in the martial arts.

What Happened?

As you can see, it has been 5 weeks since the last entry. If you think about it, I bet you can figure out why.

Mike is not happy.

I have been involved in a mental battle since the last time I wrote. For some reason, for the first time in years, I have spoken to Mike. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I completely stop writing in the blog.

There are no coincidences.

I believe he is concerned that a real life account of how things went while I was in the class may not be in his best interests. I am an honest person. I told him what I was doing. He knows I am unhappy about some things. He knows I will unflinchlingly write exactly what happened from my point of view.

We will see what happens I suppose. If the blog dies, Mike won. If it continues, I have succeeded in becoming strong enough to rebuff him.