Posts Tagged ‘kung fu’

Rendered Speechless

December 27, 2018

I don’t often look at old photographs.

I just did.

Work photos from over sixteen years ago.

Longer, perhaps, though not much more than eighteen years, I’ve been in San Francisco for sixteen, so they have to be at least that old.

There’s a private Facebook page with photographs of a place I used to run for six years.

1996-2002 I was the Floor Manager at the Angelic Brewing Company in Madison, Wisconsin.

A lot of the photographs are ones that I took myself.

Although I don’t have the album that they are located in.

I used to take a lot of staff photos.

Before Facebook and camera phones.

I kept a photo album in the office and I would put it out during big staff events.

Most usually the annual holiday party that I was in charge of organizing and running.

We got silly.

I remember one year I bought a bunch of disposable cameras.

Oh the pictures on those cameras.

Many stories.

I was rendered speechless though when I saw a photograph of myself that may have been at my heaviest weight when I was working there.

I don’t actually know what I weighed.

I didn’t like to use the scale.

But I do know that the shirt I was wearing was a size 26.

I now wear a size eleven.

So much has changed.

I just sat on my couch before logging onto my computer and I had an abstinent meal.

Abstinent for me means no flour (of any kind–almond, oat, coconut, corn, wheat, etc) and no sugar.

I do eat fruit, so I get sugar that way, though I tend to not eat fruit with my dinner.

I will.

Just not always.

Fruit is a sort of desert for me.

For dinner tonight I had about a 1/2 c of sautéed broccoli with a cup of brown rice and a roasted chicken leg and thigh.

I had some bubbly water and I listened to jazz.

When I think about the way I ate when I ran the Angelic.

Oh my God.

Freaks me out a little.

Sort of like how the picture did.

I almost want to post it here but I’m not actually sure how to do that and I am also not really sure I want to post it anyway.

I am grateful though for the changes I have gone through and for the good reminder that although my body doesn’t look the exact way I want it to, it looks a hell of a lot better than it did.

I mean.

I used to have a double chin.

I haven’t had a double chin in a long ass time and I am hella grateful for that.

The amazing thing about the photo is that I’m doing the splits on the bar.

I was a lot more limber then than I am now.

I was also studying to get my black belt in Kung Fu.

That also blows my mind, that I got a black belt at the weight I was.

I wonder sometime what it would have been like if I had lost the weight sooner.

But really that doesn’t do me much good to think about that, it’s just fantasy and speculation.

I also had to have some recovery under my belt before I could get abstinent, recovery, therapy, self-care.

A lot of that.


I am really quite proud of myself when I see how very far I have come.

All things considered.

I shouldn’t be where I am at today.

I am very, very, very grateful.

I’m also grateful to have gotten through Christmas.

Three gay boys, two movies, and one sushi dinner.

It was an official San Francisco Christmas.

Matinee at the Kabuki, hanging out in the Castro, then the Metreon in the evening.

I am grateful too for the people I spent time with.

I am grateful for San Francisco being my home.

I am grateful for all the lovely gifts I was given.

The biggest one, always does seem to be perspective.

That’s why the photo hit me so hard.

Just how far I have come.

I’m 46 now.

I look so much better at 46 than I did at 26.

I may have been a little older in the photo, but my weight would have been about the same.

It got bad there for a bit.

But then I think, I needed to be the way I was, to feel safe.  I ate to feel safe in a body that was not a safe place to inhabit.

I ate because I had been hurt.

I did not want to hurt anymore.

I also ate because it was a compulsion.

There were times when I would find myself in the dark raiding the desert fridge at work– shoving an entire piece of Irish Cream pie into my mouth, one, two, three pieces in under five minutes.

I hated it and I couldn’t stop it.

I also didn’t realize that once I put sugar into my body it was sort of on.

Sugar is just as addictive as many narcotics.

Sugar activates the same place in the brain that cocaine does.

I loved cocaine.

And before I had cocaine.

I had sugar.

I had a lot of it.


Just thinking about how much soda I drank too.


I mean.

I worked in the service industry for two decades.

I did not drink diet soda ever, I scoffed at it.

I drank straight up Coca Cola.

I drank vats of it.

When you work in the service industry you usually get free soda.

And because I was in management, I got free meals.

French fries dipped in sour cream.

Fried fish sandwiches with buckets of tartar sauce.

Pasta with chicken and mushrooms and cream sauce and parmesan and bread sticks.

OH bread sticks.

Idaho nachos–cottage fries instead of corn chips–with heaps of cheese and chicken and black beans and guacamole and sour cream.




Beer cheese soup.

And it was a brewery, so yes, lots of beer too, many, many, many pints.

Ex-employees used to joke about how they would lose the “Angelic 20” when they stopped working there since they weren’t always drinking the beer.

Which was not light in any sense of the word.


How things have changed.

For the better.

I might have a nostalgic moment once in a great while for something.

But not ever looking like that picture again?

That will kill any craving I might have.

Fact is.

I don’t crave food, when you don’t have it in your system, the urge goes away.

Hella grateful for that too.

So here’s to not having to make New Years resolutions.

I am resolved every day.

I am happy.







Back In It

January 16, 2016

“What you doing tonight?” The kid in the car asked tonight as I bundled myself, my messenger bag, my bag of leftover utensils and coffee jars, notebooks, readers, and books into the back seat of the car.

“Going out? Got plans? What’s your Friday look like?”


Ok kiddo.


I just want a ride home.

“Going home and sleeping so I can go back and do another eleven hours of class tomorrow.”



“Oh,” is right.

And I’m totally ok with that.

I actually feel pretty damn good about that.

I am in a different place with my classes this semester.

That being a state of preparedness.

I did all the reading for the weekend prior to class and even had enough time yesterday to re-read some of the articles for my Multi-Cultural class.


Get this.

I like all my professors.

ALL of them.

That feels really extraordinary.

I don’t know that much about the one credit online course that I have to do, I found myself talking to a fellow in my cohort and we commiserated on the idea that we already do a lot of what the class calls for–it’s applied spirituality–basically implementing some sort of daily spiritual practice into our school life.



Got that covered.

And immediately I copped a resentment.


I pray, write, I read spiritual readers, I pray some more, I review and reflect on my day, I call my people and check in with spiritual principles, what fucking more do you need?

I have to do more?


I thought, well, fuck, maybe this is God saying, change it up, shake it up, get flexible, there’s other things that you can do.

Maybe it’s time for some martial arts.

I used to study kung fu.

I could pick that back up or perhaps yoga.

I have a writing practice that I am loathe to give up and my prayer and meditation aren’t going to change, nor will my checking in daily with my people or the passing on of what I have been given.

It’s just not an option for me.

I have to do it.

It’s life or death.

And when I realized how seriously I take my routine I could see, with some perspective changing from my person that maybe instead of coming from a place of hubris I could come from one of humility.

In the discussion I realized the martial arts aspect.

I could also do T’ai Chi or Qi gong.

I have options.

Moving meditation is good.

Being in my body is good.

Something to explore.

The path narrows and I wish to stay on the path.

I have to as a matter of fact, so widening the circle of my spiritual exploration can’t hurt.


I could dance.


I have had spiritual experiences dancing.

That is a concept.

This is actually, now that I am writing about it, the way that I might just have to proceed.

More getting into my body and less my mind.

I am super self-reflective and thoughtful and aware, I live a moral life, I feel an ethical one too, at times, not always but I am highly aware of my values.

They are the spiritual principles that I have based my last eleven years of life on.

Moving out of a way that is logical for me and re-orienting myself in my body maybe just the next part of the spiritual path for me to explore.

Now that I have that covered.

I can focus on the rest of the weekend.

Which is basically showing up for my classes, being on time, contributing my knowledge to the conversation and engaging as much as possible with the material being presented.

I found myself so much more relaxed having covered all the material, even when it wasn’t necessarily brought up in the classes, it just gave me a sense of accomplishment and stillness in myself that I wasn’t anxious, that I could listen, that I could be attune to what was happening.

Basically, I got to practice being a psycho-therapist.

Which, you know, is the end goal here.

I actually left tonight being excited.

I felt alive.

In connection.

And grateful.

To see my friends and to re-connect with my classmates.

I had a little heart to heart with my dear friend from Paris and made plans with another friend for dinner the next weekend of classes.

I felt like I belonged and I was a part of and yes, still finding my way, oh, there’s forever that, and I discovered a new modality that I have a lot of interest in exploring–poetic therapy!


The teaching assistant for my class in the Clinical Relationship read a poem by John Fox to get us situated to being there in the first moments of class and it resonated so strongly with me I had tears coursing down my face just minutes after sitting in my chair.

The poem managed to ground me and uplift me and reminded me of a precious memory I have of my grandparents home in Lodi, Wisconsin.

They had there own well on the land and the water from the kitchen tap was always so cold and earthy and good, strong with minerals and pure, it tasted like all things right and it refreshed me in a way I don’t think any other water ever had.

My grandmother had a set of plastic green cups with pebbling on them, and for whatever reason as a child I was drawn to those cups.

I think water tastes best out of a glass, but there was something to those cups and I can remember filling them up and drinking the water, looking out the window into the back yard, seeing the stretch of lawn rolling towards the fruit trees and grape arbor, the vines and canes from the raspberries and the garden full of so much lush vegetation it is hard to enumerate all that was there.

Tomatoes and corn.

Onions and shallots, garlic, peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, wax beans, eggplants, okra, broccoli, and the many varietals thereof of the above vegetables and many I am sure I am forgetting–cabbage and brussels sprouts, red and green lettuce, asparagus, watercress.

The smell of the tilled earth, the warm of the grass on my feet when I walked barefoot through it.

A bowl of raspberries with sugar and cream in my grandmothers kitchen.

I was flooded listening to the poem.

And discovered another thing that I can use.

Another way, I can perhaps, integrate myself, my words, my language and vocabulary to help others.

Poetry as a way of being of service.


I’ll take it.

Happy to be so situated at the start of this, my second semester of graduate school.

It’s a lovely surprise.

Here’s to more.

I am ready.

Night & Day

November 30, 2013

I was down at the beach not once today, but twice.

Both times a surprise.

Both times smitten with the air, the waves, the sky, the sun, or the last streaks of it heading into the night.

During the day I went down with my housemate and her boyfriend after a quick trip to Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club for an Americano.

They went running on the beach.

I stayed behind with my hula hoop.



I hooped.

I watched the waves.

Grand beasts they were.

Few surfers out, but there were some very experienced riders making it out past the break point.

I saw amazing technique and not a few times a surfer go flying over a trough of water, the board flipping up into the air with the force of the wave moving through.

Despite the sun and the lack of fog, it is winter weather and the waves are already so big I don’t foresee doing much more surfing at Ocean Beach.

Fingers crossed I will get in another few sessions, but I think I will be heading to Pacifica or possibly Santa Cruz for a better break point.

It looked like a gigantic washing machine of froth.

I would have been overwhelmed in minutes.

But it made for great watching as I set myself up on the beach.

The hooping was lovely, worked off the turkey pretty quick, not that I over indulged, but you know, and when the hooping had gotten my body warmed up I did some stance work–kung fu–mainly horse stance and some basic front position.

Ah, kung fu, it was nice to meet with you again.

I was really happy to go over my blocking sequence, it actually happened from holding my arms up in front position while I was hooping as my arms started to get tired from how I was holding them.

I naturally just fell into it, the muscle memory coming to me unbidden and strong.

Eight hard block, eight soft blocks, and the corresponding throws and elbows.

Then I added in some kicks–front ball kick, back kick, side thrust kick–left and right sides alternating with a few combinations worked in.

I was happy to see that my form with some of the strikes was still really on.

And as would be obvious, I was quite rusty as well.

But once I warmed up I was doing some nice side thrust kicks, getting myself in stance and really going through the blocks and the strikes until I moved an elbow just a little too aggressively and oh, yeah, take it easy lady.

You are not 29 anymore.

The age when I got my black belt.

You are 40.

41 next month.

Which reminds me I am supposed to make plans to do something.

I tossed about a few things with my friend as we walked upon the shore this early evening as the last bits of the sunset were melting into the ocean.

Repeating almost exactly the routine I had this morning.

Go to Trouble.

Get Americano.

Go down to the beach.

However, I did not do any kung fu or hula hooping.

Just some walking and talking.

And some photographs.











It was nice to go out for a stroll under the stars and chat about this and that and holidays and birthdays and my friend suggested I definitely make plans and he book marked my birthday and that was sweet.

I don’t always care for making birthday plans.

My birthday is so close to Christmas that it feels an imposition to do so, everyone has their holiday plans tied up so quickly.

However, I know that I will want to do something and I thought about what I really want to do.

I want to go horseback riding on the beach and I want to do a bonfire.

Now, I realize the horseback riding is a little on the pricey side, it runs $40 to go out to the stables that are by Fort Funston.

So it may not be the event to invite a bunch of my friends too, but I will probably put it out there that it’s what I am thinking about doing.

I am not 100% sure, but I like the idea of doing it and then a little dinner close to home or thereabouts.

The bonfire would be awesome, except, well, I just realized after getting excited about it that I will be house sitting that night in the Mission and do I want to haul between the two places.

Something to think about.

I may just see about getting a table at Samovar and having friends drop by for evening tea and do something simple and easy.

Things to ponder.

Not going to worry too much about it right now.

My thoughts drift toward the conversation that occurred after the walk.

“I am really attracted to you as a person,” he started.

“But not romantically, and I want you to know that so you can be free to pursue other options,” he finished.

And then there was that.

Small pang.

But not bad.

Thank God we are friends, and honest, and it was sweetly said.

I was startled to feel a little welling up of tears, but breathed turned my face and it drifted off.  No need to cry here, there was not a relationship happening, just some recent history being cleared up and a deepening understanding of our friendship veering solidly into friendship land and out of romance land.

Good to know.


Free to whore about the city.


Just kidding.

What I am grateful for is that stuff like this comes up and goes away so fast.

Clarity is lovely.

Oh, there is a little sadness there, I think it could have been fun, but you know, that’s my fantasy.

Reality stepped in and said, nope, just friends, but thanks for playing.

Heading into the holidays with no solid plans, birthday, romance, travel, or otherwise.

No anxiety either.

What I have discovered with this time off is that the things that need to happen, happen, the insights occur, the work coalesces, and I see where further work has to be delved into.

I see that I am capable of further intimacy and I was given some great information tonight.

I choose to take it, be grateful for it, accept it, forgive myself for being single, take care of myself in the meantime and when the morning comes I will be still with me.

In my cozy studio by the sea.

Building big castles way on high.

Or at least hula hooping in the sand.

At the edge of the ocean where everything is possible and I am complete.




I Am Lost Already

April 15, 2013

Well, Rome and navigation will start off with a bang.

Not excited to find out tonight that my host will be unable to meet me at the airport.  I will be left to my own devices to make my way into the city.

I already feel lost.

I had to get off the chat and take a deep breath and go put the kettle on the stove.

I dislike being lost.

And being lost in a country that I do not speak the language.

Fuck my mother.

Sounds horrid.

She is busy typing instructions and I will go back and read them in a moment when my brain settles down.  Yeah, I will probably get lost.

What else is new?

I feel like I am finally getting my bearings here, only to be leaving and having to figure out another city.  Despite having been in Oakland before I left for Paris, I only went so far, mainly on my bike back and forth to BART.

I learned quickly that there were only a couple of routes that made sense to me and I stuck to them.  I did no real exploring of the neighborhood, it did not feel safe to do so, however, I am sure I will have to do more when I get there.

I really do not want to navigate around a new city and meet someone at a hotel somewhere in Rome.


I am getting way ahead of myself.

The directions will be clear and easy and I will do the opposite of what my brain tells me, turning left when I feel that I really should turn right.

I always turn the wrong direction.

Do not tell me to go East either, where the hell is that?

Left, right, up, down.

If it could all only be in just a straight line, then the world would be such an easier place to navigate.  As it stands it never is a straight line.

But the path can be pretty when I let it be.

I felt pretty today.

It did not hurt to be told by two different people who I adore that I looked pretty as well.

I was so complimented earlier that I carried it with me the entire day.

I was easy in my body, light in my skin, I felt aglow and a loft and scattered before myself with my own external lamp of good being and wellness.

There are times when I struggle with this body I have been given and it feels unwieldy and unforgiving and just not graced at all.

I remember when I was filling out the application to the martial arts studio that I trained with for four and a half years, leaving right before I moved to San Francisco with a black belt amongst the few possessions I had decided to take with me, there was one question that stuck out to me.

It had something to do with my desires to study, what was I looking for.

I answered with a much higher degree of honesty than I suspected I was capable of.

First, I wanted to lose weight.

Second, and more importantly, I wanted to be graceful.

One can be graceful and heavy and I was just that.

In fact, despite becoming quite good at martial arts, I mean I did earn that black belt, that was not something that came all together that easy.  I will never forget Mister Kessel spending a good solid hour showing me blocks one and two.

An hour.

I was so frustrated, left and right, left and right, left and right, that I was in tears.

I eventually got it.

But man, it took a long while.

I never lost all that much weight.

Oh I did, I dropped about thirty, maybe thirty-five pounds over the course of the four and a half years, but I am easily 60 lbs lighter than when I got my black belt.

Sometimes I wonder about that, what it would have been like, how fast I would have been without the weight holding me down.

I mean, you go do a five-hour black belt test with an additional 60 lbs on you, that’s like having a third grader strapped to your body, do anything with extra weight after being lighter, and see how it feels.

Of course, I never knew what being lighter was until fairly recently.

I did put on some Paris pounds when I first arrived, trying to juggle the change in food styles and eating eighteen times as many french fries as I did in the states–really I cannot remember eating french fries at all when I was in the Bay area, roasted Japanese sweet potatoes with Earth Balance and fresh tomatoes from the garden at Graceland, but not french fries.

I have since dropped the Paris pounds, sort of like the freshman 20, although I am doubtful I put on that much, enough that there was a week or two when I wanted to wear tights all the time instead of my jeans which felt a little too tight, but not enough that I need to go up a dress size.

And since the house sitting gig in Chambourcy I have been vegan.

Whether or not it sticks I am not going to promise, but I will say once the dairy detox was done (head aches, mucus–where the hell did that all come from–I mean I know they say not to drink milk when you have a cold, but I had no idea, mild body aches, and some irritability), it took about a week and a half, I am at day fifteen today,  I have been feeling good.

Really good.


Could be that it is Spring.

Could be that I am wearing pink.

Who knows.

But I do know this, I am pretty, even when I am lost, and I am graced.

Despite what size I am.

Despite what pants size I am.

I am graced.

The kung fu training was not what did it, although it did not hurt, I still tend to carry myself a bit like a stalking lion, but it was the acceptance of my body being what it is, how it is, beautiful despite the sagging arms and loose belly skin.

That, hate to break it too you, is what happens when you lose a lot of weight and don’t do the cosmetic surgery bit.

Which I may somewhere down the line, but probably won’t, as I have more important things to spend my money on.

Self-love, self-acceptance, forgiveness.

Time and patience.

Fortunately, they came before I got too many grey hairs.

“You are NOT 40,” she said to me Saturday.

Yes, I am, just talk to the varicose veins on my thighs, but they lay over some strong muscles and some graceful moves, and once in while the day conspires to tell me I am pretty and I actually believe to my core I am totally one with myself.

That is damn fine.

Lost or not lost.

Utterly graced.

Here in Paris.


Lost in Rome.


My Motives

February 25, 2012

Are ass.

And are about getting ass.  Literally.  Today I own up to wanting to go dancing to get asked on a date.  To wanting to go to Oakland to go dancing to see if I would possibly run into Mister West Oakland.

He likes to dance and I could see him hitting up the People’s Party.

My motives, bad new bears.  I know better.  And I have another admittance.

My licence is expired.  I say this because I was negotiating with myself about getting a City Car Share to drive over to Oakland to go dancing to impress some guy who I went on three dates with?

What the fuck?



And no.

Tuesday I have a date with the DMV to renew my licence.  It recently expired and I have to physically go in to the DMV to renew as I have moved around so much I don’t have the forwarded information they normally send and I missed my window to renew via mail.

Damn it.

Which, ultimately is good, good to admit I am not allowed to drive a car this weekend. I had a vision of getting pulled over and handing over my expired licence and oops, officer, how did that happen?

I was willing to lie to get some attention.

What else is new?

How about instead, I stay in the city and just because the show at Public Works got cancelled does not mean that there won’t be plenty of other things going on tomorrow night that I can ride my bike to.

I have great wheels that don’t require anything to ride them but a sense of adventure.  So, in the city I will stay.

Funny, I was relaying to Mrs. Fishkin this afternoon at work that the show at Public Works was the first show in a really long time that I have bought tickets to.  Wouldn’t you know it would get cancelled.

Hmmm, something just pricked the back of my memory, I think the Space Cowboys are playing somewhere in town this weekend?  Unfortunately, if memory serves, they’re playing Sunday night.  Sunday is not a great night for me to go out and dance, although it can be a fun night, the dance floor is a bit roomier.

It was already going off tonight as I was making my way home.  Staying off Valencia Street as much as I could.  The bike lanes are considered the double parking lanes and it is a wild fucking ride through that part of the Mission on a Friday night.  There was a lot of activity happening out there.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of just getting back to the homestead and getting cozy with my “new” space heater.  It is adorable.  I got it off Etsy.  It is definitely vintage, but it works really well.  I had a moment of what would it look like to go out and go dancing tonight, but the weather had shifted so drastically to the frigid side of town that I knew I would be happier going home.

My motives elsewhere are actually good.

Occasionally that happens.

I spent a little time earlier looking around for schools for Kung Fu here in the city.  And I discovered that the place I was hoping to go was still up and running.  It is the Eight Step Preying Mantis school here in the Mission.

I went to it when I first moved to the city and they are still operating.  I sent them off a query e-mail about classes and I am going to drop in over the weekend and check the rates out.  If I can swing it, I’m going to sign up.  I would like to be in classes three days a week.

I may even request a change in my schedule to accommodate the school.  I definitely feel ready to delve back into martial arts.  Mantis is not my first preference, but Kung Fu is, and the school is super convenient to where I live, it’s on 20th and Florida.  I live at 22nd and Folsom, it’s basically four blocks away.

I am excited.  Nervous, oh yeah, but excited too.

Adventures in martial arts, here I come.  I had to remind myself as well, that I will probably be frustrated and I will be challenged and I will get to fumble around and not be graceful.  I feel like enough time has elapsed since I last trained that I may actually be able to approach it as a new comer, with fresh eyes and hopefully with a new attitude about why I want to train.

I want to be in my body.  I want to be connected with myself.  I want to keep my strength, which I feel like is rapidly diminishing as I no longer sling toddlers around nor am I riding the same amount on my bike.  Plus there’s a good part of my day spent in a chair behind a desk.  I need to get my exercise on.

Lastly, and here’s where perhaps my motives are not so scrupulous, I want my body to look better.  I want to shape up what still needs a little re-shaping.  I want to drop that final dress size.  I am quite close to my goal, but I feel like I have been plateaued for a good while now.  A little push of exercise will get me there.

And I am not good at being a gym rat.  I need something that will be challenging and different.  I don’t just want to work out on machines.  Plus, the mental stillness I have experienced doing martial arts is stunning.

Getting out of my head and into my body is an important thing.  Despite wanting to out myself on my motives for going to Oakland, I will say this, dancing does it for me very well.  So, I will stop punishing myself, and pat myself on the head and tell myself, it’s alright, if it gets you out of the house on a Saturday night, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

I may not venture to Oakland, but I will venture out.

Suddenly Shaolin

February 24, 2012

Kung Fu, that is.

I am ready.

I met with Carolyn this morning before work.  It was one of the most productive things I have done this week.  I spent a lot of time grappling with some of the ways I punish myself around my life and what I do.

As though, if I hurt me first, you will be less inclined to.  Or, I will somehow win you to my side.  I don’t even realize I am punishing myself.

I relayed the story of why I stopped training in Shaolin to Carolyn today and wow did it bring up a lot of stuff.  I cried all my eye make up off before I even got into work today.  I worked before I worked, so to speak.

I am getting to have a new perspective and a fresh willingness to do the plan.  I am scared, excited, nervous. I told her about work and the fallout and the drama and how that has played out and got a little more relief and a lot more ego puncturing and a lot of insight.

I don’t feel like a thin layer is being pulled off, it feels like a slab of self is about to get lifted.  I don’t expect that it won’t be without pain, but I don’t have to suffer through it. It will and already has been a period of growth for me that I think I am only just beginning to understand.

One thing that I realized is that I want to train again.  I want to get back into Kung Fu.

I miss it.

I haven’t trained in 9 years.  I stopped training when I moved to San Francisco.  I received my black belt at the Frederick J. Villari school of self-defense in June of 2002.  My god, that’s almost a decade ago.  He is the Grand Master, I got the pleasure of meeting him three times and once getting to be in a workshop with him.  He developed the style, thus the name, and it is a combination of Kung Fu (about 85%Shaolin), Kempo (about 10%–grappling techniques), and Karate (%5, emphasis her on the kicking techniques)

At one point I could knock over a 190lb body bag without breaking a sweat.  You got over it real quick though as the bother of picking up the bag every time it toppled got annoying.  Eventually you tuned your kick to knock it 2/3rds of the way, just enough that it would slowly wobble and then come back up.

Eek.  I am getting old.

But if Mister Landretti can do it at the age of 50, he and I went up the ranks together and got our black belts around the same time, I think, then I can get back into it now at 39.

I did go to the Preying Mantis school of Kung Fu in the Mission when I first moved here.  But I rapidly out paced my abilities to show up for class with my ever-changing work schedule.

I further demolished whatever ties I had to kung fu when my cocaine usage outstripped my desire to train.

Hell, it outranked everything.

I ended up sharing a story with Carolyn about having met a Shaolin monk at R Bar in the Polk Gulch.  I was drinking, I was doing blow in the bathroom and I was sizing up the odds of whether or not I would be getting more.

There was a man, a small Chinese man, indiscriminate age, sitting next to me at the bar sipping a Seven Up.  He inquired after the tattoo on the back of my neck, the Chinese characters for Shaolin, a tattoo I got at Steve’s Tattoo on Willy St. in Madison after I had taken my black belt test.

He asked if I trained Shaolin.  I said yes.  He asked if I went to temple.  I said no.  He asked to see my Horse stance.  I hopped off my bar stool and dropped into the stance.

He knocked me over without getting off the stool.  He pushed me over with a finger tip.

I was mortified.  I politely declined his invitation to come check out the temple he taught at and slunk off to the loo to do more blow.

I could not get his face out of my head.  I could not do enough powder to forget that feeling of failure.  When I got back to the house that night, I was living on 22nd and Alabama, I threw away my black belt.

I felt that I did not deserve it.

Carolyn likened it to punishing myself.  And that I was still, years later, almost a full decade later, still, punishing myself.

Oh my god.

She is right.

How could I not see this?  I earned that belt.  I worked my ass off.  I trained after school before work.  I would get done with classes on the UW Madison campus and head to the dojo and take a class and train until I had to go to work.  Then I would work from 6 p.m. to close.

Repeat, lather, rinse, repeat.

Add a lot of vanilla lattes to the mix.

A lot.

I drank so much caffeine I swore I kept Steep and Brew in business.

I miss training.

I think I said that already.  I am seriously considering Shaolin again.  I would like to surf.  But I don’t have a car to get to the beach or a surf board.  I would like to do yoga, but I don’t know that I am that interested in it to pursue it.

I am already, however, thinking about how it feels to do Katas and how to run numbers and how to do my blocking sequences.  I can feel how my body wants to do it again, I can feel the yearn for it along the muscles in my arms.

I want to throw a punch with beauty and grace and precision.  I want to feel the ache in my thighs again from standing in stance for so long that the muscles trembles with fatigue.

I do like to punish myself!

But what a way to get back into my body.  Kung Fu.

Just saying it makes me smile.  It’s time to do Kung Fu again.


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