Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Learning Light Saber from Yoda

This past weekend my martial arts school sponsored a couple of seminars with our Great Grandmaster, Wong Gong. He's the highest ranking sifu in the system that i study (Choy Li Fut kung fu). He's a small man, and at 78 he's not quite the athlete he probably once was, though he's still amazingly spry and fit. But he has an undeniable presence. He speaks little English, but he has such remarkably expressive movements that groups of people at the seminars would break into applause when he'd nonchalantly toss off a tough maneuver, or they'd laugh when he'd speed through a long series of moves that he obviously realized nobody could duplicate.

Unlike most sports, there is no retirement from the martial arts, and it seems almost supernatural to see a man who's been doing something at a world class level for 60 years. The comparison to Yoda is inevitable. At this stage, he has a very refined economy of movement and such complete balance and stability that he looks as natural doing a form as he does walking.

He also performed at our annual exhibition, which was interesting this year since there were 5 generations of sifus. It's both inspiring and a bit depressing to see how good some of these folks are. I've always been a fair athlete-- i've got decent eye-hand coordination and i've never been too out of shape-- but there's stuff these people can do that i just can't do. The fact that almost nobody else can do them either isn't that much consolation.

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