Yet another fantastic, and fantastically exhausting, weekend as the holidays continue to stampede toward us. My activities for the weekend were dominated by events surrounding Kwan Jhang Nim Ferraro's visit to our dojang.
In preparation for his arrival we cleaned the dojang top to bottom Thursday night. At first I thought this was going to be a real disaster -- due to either the cold weather or the advance knowledge that they would need to scrub some floors and wash some windows hardly any students showed up for class Thursday night. Initially I was the only student there, but finally my friend Mark showed up, as did a couple of younger red belts. And then my mom and my friend Michelle came by as our class ended strictly for the purpose of helping get the dojang cleaned up. If they hadn't shown up I think I would've been cleaning well past midnight, but instead I was home by eleven.
Then I took Friday off so that Christine and I could get some Christmas shopping taken care of, and then we brought the kids to the dojang for a 5:00 class that was run by Master Cox from Dallas. Kwan Jhang Nim arrived, after having been delayed by weather for most of the day) at about 6:00 or so, and then Christine and I took part in an adult white/orange/green belt clinic that was supposed to have been run by Masters Cox and Riley, but which Kwan Jhang Nim instead chose to run himself. Now, this was a BIG deal -- Kwan Jhang Nim almost NEVER teaches students below red belt.
As I understand it he hadn't realized that the Friday night session was a lower rank session until he got on the mat, so he may not in fact have intended to teach us that night. Regardless, teach us he did, using the rough framework of the red belt/dan clinic he was teaching the next morning -- principals of learning and movement, various breathing styles and how they are properly applied to forms, etc.) but adjusting the content to be a little less difficult. It was a fantastic class, although some of the 9th gups were a bit overwhelmed and rattled by both his teaching style (which is notably more brusque than Master Nunan's) and the more advanced nature of the curriculum.
Then, Saturday morning -- prior to an entire day of running around like a lunatic helping to get Michelle's house ready for the dojang Christmas party -- my friend Rich and I videotaped the red belt/dan clinic, and I got to see what previously I would have considered magic happen directly in front of me. After teaching thee class a series of ta'i chi-style Tang Soo Do forms that can be used to train "mature adults," Kwan Jhang Nim then asked if everyone felt the buzz and warmth in their faces. Everyone agreed that yes, they did, and he said "That's the chi. Well, what can we do with that?" Then he had a couple of the students drag this big potted plant onto the mat, and he proceeded to place his hands near the leaves, and the leaves would then jump or move away from his hands. Or bend toward his hand. Or stop moving when they had previously been swaying. Master Riley had discovered just the night before, while working with Kwan Jhang Nim, that he could do it as well, and he managed to make one leaf move so suddenly and drastically that the entire room gasped.
Now, I'd always heard this was possible. I'd heard over and over that Grandmaster Ahpo can do this stuff from halfway across a room. And while I always kind of wanted to believe it, I also tend to be a skeptic and take a lot of stuff with a grain of salt. I'd always assumed there was a bit of self-delusion going on with this stuff, people seeing what they want to see, and that there could even be a bit of shenanigans going on, here. Well, I was wrong. This stuff is real.
And if seeing Kwan Jhang Nim and Master Riley do it unscripted and on the mat of the dojang where I spend a solid 8+ hours a week on a plant I personally helped clean and tend two nights before and which I know for a fact was not messed with in any way wasn't enough, then seeing Master Nunan and Kyo Sa Nim Brandt do it the following day, when I stopped by the dojang to drop off some stuff and they were just finishing up training, really made it solid and real. While I may not know Kwan Jhang Nim or Master Reily so well that I could say they would never deceive me (though why they would bother is another matter altogether), I can say without a doubt that I trust Master Nunan. And there, 1 foot in front of my eyes, I watched him repeatedly move the leaves of his plant using only the energy emanating from his hand.
I was thunderstruck. Part of me wanted to so much to try it then and there, but I could tell I couldn't do it, not yet. I was exhausted and run down from all the events and work of the previous couple of days, and I didn't want to make a half-hearted attempt to do this. So I kept my hands in my pockets and just ... watched, and simmered in this sense of indescribable wow. Watched something that science hasn't been able to explain happen, over and over, right in front of my eyes. And it made me laugh, later, thinking about how many scientific people dismiss this stuff out of hand simply because no one has yet been able to really explain how it happens. As if the fact that it's immeasurable means it has to be a trick.
But last I read no one really had a reasonable explanation for how, exactly, gravity works either, and yet no one seems to be questioning the existence of gravity. We may not understand gravity, but it's obviously happening so we accept the "what" of it and continue trying to figure out the "how" and the "why" of it scientifically.
How exactly, is this any different from what I saw this weekend? In my mind, they are the same.
So, needless to say, I went home and started messing with a plant. I raised my hand and tried to summon energy through loving thoguhts of my wife, and of my children. The plant stared back at me, silent, motionless, and uncooperative. I think I have a ways to go before I can figure out how to ask it to move.
Mood: Tired, and feeling kinda sick. Illness, cedar fever, or both?
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