Zen Martial Arts Lesson One, Book Excerpt

I was really excited to go to my first martial arts lesson at the Canadian Rockies Zen Centre.   I walked in the door and met 5 other men between the ages of 24 and 50.   We all were given white martial arts uniforms and white belts to go with them.  Sifu Dr. Kim, on the other hand wore a gold satin traditional uniform with a thick black belt with Korean lettering.  He walked around us, helping us with our uniforms, with the casual air of a professional athlete, one who is comfortable in his body, the friendliness of a teacher, and the yet, he bore the authority of a commander.

“Welcome, welcome!” he said with his thick Korean accent.  He came up to me, shook my hand, and lead me to the place where I would get my uniform and meet the other guys.   We got undressed and suited up off in a corner, all of us feeling self conscious that someone from the street could look in and see us in our white underwear and harry legs, until we pulled up our pants.  Sifu came to me and showed me how to tie the inside strings of the top part of the uniform, after which he showed me how to tie the white belt around my waste, pulling hard on the ends of the belt and saying, “Gooood,” in a way that I would become accustomed over the next couple of years.

When we were ready to begin the class, we gathered in the dojo and stood in a straight line facing Sifu.  In a soft voice he used when speaking publicly, he said, “Welcome to Zen Martial Arts Class at Canadian Rockies Zen Centre.”  Because of his accent, he would pronounce the word ‘Zen’ as “jen”, as in ‘Jennifer.’   “Please sit down,” he commanded us, “We start with Chinese healing arts.”

Sifu sat cross legged facing us and immediately pulled his feet onto his opposite thigh in the traditional meditation style.  He was as limber and lithe as a baby boy.  I, on the other hand, was as stiff as a 27 year-old could be – but not as stiff as some of the other guys.  I could actually manipulate my legs into the full lotus position, but not at the expense of painfully sore legs later on.  Locki, the first student to earn his black belt at the Centre, could cross his legs, but not get one foot to fold onto the opposite leg.  He was so stiff, his knees seemed a full foot off the floor.  No amount of pushing down on his knees would loosen him up.  Ironically, he was a very fast and fluid martial artist.

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , | Posted on January 23, 2015

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