Monday, July 31, 2006

Training the Way of the Warrior, Part I: "Funny, I Don’t FEEL Like a Warrior…”

It has been said that Americans are enamored of the quick fix, and I, for one, am no exception. Whether it’s “Thin Thighs in Thirty Days,” “Sixty-Second Abs,” or “Eight Minutes in the Morning,” I’ve probably plunked down my money for it at some point.

That’s how I came to purchase “The Shaolin Workout” a couple of months ago when I was spending a quiet Sunday afternoon at Borders Bookstore. I was browsing idly through the newly published section when a highly intense stare from a bald Asian man known as Sifu (“Master”) Shi Yan Ming caught my eye. (“Shi” is pronounced to rhyme with “Sir,” by the way.) The book advertised itself as “28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way.” Twenty-eight days! Less than a full month! I could manage that. Nevertheless, I was skeptical. I put the book down, wandered the store some more, considered the matter, picked the book back up for another examination, meandered through the store still further, and finally grabbed the book a third time (hoping in the back of my mind that no one was watching this performance). I found a quiet spot in a corner where I could peruse the volume in detail to see if it looked like it would really deliver. It was, after all, $29.95. Not a bad price for total transformation, but that was also a lot to promise. (I’m not sure if it occurred to me then to wonder just how a soul is transformed by a physical workout.) I finally decided that it was worth the $30 price tag, and took it home that day.

Sifu Ming is, according to the book’s opening chapter, a 34th-generation warrior monk from China. I don’t know exactly what a “warrior monk” is (readers, can you help me out?), but the accompanying photos clearly indicate that this man is on a par with martial arts action star Jet Li when it comes to flying leaps and twisting the body into seemingly unachievable angles. He has been featured many times on national and international TV and in countless newspapers and magazines. His book is “yet another way to introduce people to the life transformation they may achieve through kung fu training.” While I didn’t have much (if any) hope that I could ever emulate some of his poses, I was willing to give the exercises, which were grouped into daily routines, a try. I also liked the look of the daily philosophical meditations. Here’s a breakdown of how things went in Part I.

Session 1 – Wrist and Ankle Rotations. I still don’t know if I’m doing the wrist part correctly. The written description seems to indicate one thing, and the photos another. And what is the purpose of it? At least the ankle rotation is easy to figure out – until you start doing it in conjunction with the wrist rotation. If you’re a fairly well-coordinated person, you’ll have no difficulty with this. If you’re somewhat uncoordinated, like me, it will prove a slight challenge at first - something like rubbing the top of your head and patting your stomach at the same time.

Session 2 – Neck and Eyes. The neck stretches cause a slight cracking. Not too much of a surprise. I roll my head to the left and right, forward and back. Not bad. But it’s the eye focus exercise that really puzzles me. This consists of snapping one’s head rapidly to the left, and then to the right, ten times in each direction. Sifu instructs his students to “see as far as Iceland and its polar bears in one direction, and as far as Miami and its dolphins in the other,” and to “fully extend your sight.” Frankly, I cannot figure out how to “extend my sight” to save my life, and all I can see are my bedroom walls.

Session 3 – Shoulders, Arms and Chest. I’m not sure I’m “windmilling” correctly – my arms seem to fly out more to the sides than in back of me, á la Sifu, but I keep at it regardless. Practice makes…well, if not perfect, at least better.

Session 4 – Waist and Stomach. Now, I think, we’re getting somewhere! These areas are, after all, my nemesis. The waist stretch is something I’ve done in Matt Furey’s “Magnificent Seven” workout. Matt calls it the “Tai Chi Waist Turner”; I call it “The Human Washing Machine.”

Session 5 – Legs. One look at the photos demonstrating the positions for this section and I know I’m about to be challenged. Suffice it to say that I can’t picture ever being able to touch my head to my toes. It’s all I can do to touch my fingers to my toes. Actually, I’m not entirely positive I can do THAT yet.

Session 6 – Upper Body and Lower Back. A few side bends here. Shades of Matt's Magnificent Seven again. No problem here. Then some forward stretches that make me feel as if I'm about to breast stroke across a pool, until I get to the rotation part, which makes me feel a lot like a human screwdriver. Next is another “impossible” move – getting my head on my crossed arms, which arms, by the way, are to rest flat on the floor. (See closing comment in Session 5 above.) This is followed by the ankle grip. How about we make that "the calf grip," Sifu?

Finally, review time! And then Part II, which I’ll cover next week.

* * * * *

With all due respect to the master, I am not feeling a bit transformed. What I AM feeling is middle-aged, overweight, inflexible, and, at times (when doing the wrist rotations, for example) rather silly. I also feel distinctly American. We in the West have such a different way of approaching fitness than those in the East. I’m used to thinking of working out as something that involves sweat, weights, machines, soreness, and a lot of grunting (at least from men in the gym). This seems too…easy. (That is, until I try those human pretzel positions.) But I am beginning to understand that part of Sifu’s process involves achieving a deeper awareness of my body. Normally I regard it as something unwieldy and unattractive and cumbersome – even an enemy of sorts. And I suspect that many Americans do the same. However, as I am trying to stretch just a tiny bit further (“Get those fingers to the ground, girl!”), I am beginning to sense muscles instead of merely rolls or cellulite, to feel my body instead of just lugging it around. I may not feel transformed – but then again, perhaps my viewpoint is becoming so, albeit quite gradually.

Sifu and I are from different hemispheres and different religions – different worlds altogether, but I think he has something to teach this middle-aged, out of shape American gal. So check back in next week for The Shaolin Workout, Part II.


Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! retirement plans comparisons Ambien overnight fedex priority delivery saturday delivery Health pharmacy drugs and medications v venlafaxine 2004 junior swimwear ibex icefall jacket Can a low dose of neurontin work voip how does it work washable suede jacket 2003 ford electronic turn signal flasher 1993 pontiac sunbird se photos Loss cellulite and weight Ladies harness boots plotters Esophageal cancer survival rate Niagra tankless hot water heater Greg hastings maxd paintball tournament karbon ski jacket

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! Visiontek radeon 256mb 9250 pci video card Cosmetic surgery facial dimples latino playboy porn stars Plass appliance Computers in the 80's Sexy ass nude woman side affects of nexium adderall 401 Girl naked hot asses banging nice big ass Community tax preparation cincinnati oh 2006 miranda lambert butt penelope cruz ass depakote New gay black dvds Crabtree subaru why is levaquin persccribed butt rubbed lotion

Anonymous said...

You have an outstanding good and well structured site. I enjoyed browsing through it » » »

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you! Provigil treatment

Anonymous said...

A shared web hosting military talents or essential hosting worship army or receive assemblage refers to a net hosting checking where myriad websites reside on anyone net server connected to the Internet. Each placement "sits" on its own split-up, or section/place on the server, to support it detach from other sites. This is mainly the most thrifty option for hosting, as many people cut the entire set someone back of server maintenance.

Anonymous said...

ï»?For the price of a yearly membership[url=][/url]
these cheap software discounts might include a code that can be entered to get a room upgrade[url=]Charles Woodson Jersey[/url]
or provide you with an extra day of cruising at no cost By [url=]Heath Miller Jersey[/url]
China's railways in operation will reach [url=]Koa Misi Jersey[/url]
km mileage over which the proportion of electrified railway will reach of the total length of over thousand kilometers[url=]uggs[/url]
take the rail electrified railway traffic account for more than S MrIn the past[url=]Clay Matthews Jersey[/url]
if you wanted to share photos or projects with your clients[url=]Jordy Nelson Jersey[/url]
you would have to create a portfolio and schedule a meeting
If you use our Testinside CompTIA SYdumps and fail the correspondingSY exam once within days of purchase or within days of receipt of the SY product[url=][/url]
which ever occurs latter”Update: Despite those cool specs[url=]Ray Rice Youth Jersey[/url]
still focused on Windows 8 The vast array of color choices[url=][/url]
phone styles and accessories available for every manufactured cell phone on the market is right before your eyes In the old days[url=]Kevin Burnett Womens Jersey[/url]
a few scant years ago! in order to reach up to people you'd have to book convention space[url=]Jonathan Dwyer Jersey[/url]
rent rooms[url=]T.Y. Hilton Jersey[/url]
travel[url=]C.J. Spiller Jersey[/url]
accommodations for not only yourself but any support staff you needed to be able to pull this sort of presentation offdittoTweet span The financial plan top officials are discussing represents the release of $4Chapter : Regular Maintenance

Anonymous said...

S If you are like many small or medium sized contractors[url=]Antonio Gates Jersey[/url]
you only use a few different suppliers to get your building material Because this drill can be very taxing[url=]Jacoby Jones Jersey[/url]
it is important to increase the time spent at this slowly over time as the players strength increases Steel posts are the strongest and most heavy duty binding posts but don
Small raised knobs are used for better tire grip in mud and dirt And for goodreason – the BLS reports that benefits account for 30% of employers’ totalcompensation costs Colvin described Kate Gleason in his memoirs as "a kind of Madame Curie of machine tools Kate spent her youth learning her father's business from the ground up[url=]Kevin Burnett Womens Jersey[/url]
both in the shop and in the field[url=][/url]
so that when she branched out for herself about as a saleswoman for her father's gearcutting machines[url=]Clay Matthews Jersey[/url]
she knew as much as any man in the business Kevin HarvickKevin Michael Harvick (born December 8[url=]Cary Williams Jersey[/url]
1975) is an American stock car auto racing race car driver and car owner currently competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing[url=]Eli Manning Jersey[/url]
driving the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet ImpalaALT+0169 results into '©'

Anonymous said...

top [url=][/url] check the latest [url=]casino bonus[/url] unshackled no set aside reward at the chief [url=]baywatchcasino

Anonymous said...

He's still learning, but he's a talent"Mental health continues to be, in general society, an area that often has a stigma attached to it," said Robert Gulliver, the [url=]Anquan Boldin Youth Jersey[/url]
's chief human resources officerThey lost every one of those games, leaving the Lions with twice as many losses as wins with four games left - including Sunday night at Green Bay - [url=]Terrell Suggs Women's Jersey[/url]
putting coach Jim Schwartz's decisions squarely in the spotlightNelson ran down a long list of potential options for discreet communication, including dummy Twitter accounts, disposable cellphones [url=]Nike Lardarius Webb Jersey[/url]
encrypted e-mails
锘縏he victory also gave Cousins a chance to bask in the glow of being a winning starting [url=]Frank Gore Super Bowl Jersey[/url]
quarterbackI just told him itOn the previous drive inside Houston territory, Matthew Stafford ended the possession with three straight incomplete passes - none toward Calvin Johnson - [url=]Akers Jersey[/url]
Detroit had to punt just as it did when Stafford was sacked trying to pass on third downs on snaps from the Texans' 36 in the fourth quarter With the ribs, I am not going to stop playing ball"Contributing: Patrick Borzi, in Eden Prairie, Minn"We've had two very spirited [url=]Ahmad Brooks Jersey Super Bowl[/url]
well-executed practices this week," Freeman said [url=]Red Randy Moss Jersey[/url]
the lessons are harsh But me, I'm not really a stat guy