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Not kung fu fighting. *Rimshot*

(I can’t help myself.)

Ahem, ANYWAY…I’m running my usual 2-weeks late with this blog.  The next thing that happened chronologically might not be of much interest to the Casual Reader or the Reader Who Ended Up Here By Googling “yasashii kyoutou sensei” (@_@?), but as I’m a forgetful person and this blog serves as proof of my existence in Fukuoka, I will chronicle it.

When I first got to Fukuoka, I did a homestay with one of the teachers from my school. In the linked post I erroneously referred to the class the teacher invited me to as a tai chi class, but it’s a baguazhang class. (From my Wiki-understanding, both are “internal arts” but they are, in fact, two different things.)  In Japanese, this martial art is called “hakkeshou” (八卦掌) meaning “8 trigram palms.” Anyway, while I thought it was very interesting, the combination of the class being held at a community center outside of my city (though I don’t even know if that matters) and the fact that I had arrived in Fukuoka just two days prior made me not quite ready to randomly become a martial artist. (Not that that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with my rock star fantasy.)

Fast-forward to August 2010, and the teacher I did the homestay with is asking me to translate for an English-speaking Chinese master of baguazhang who would visit the class at the end of the month. I asked her if it was okay with the teacher to have a non-professional translator, and she said, “yeah, of course, don’t worry.” I wasn’t sure whether to attribute the carefree attitude to a small class not being able to afford hiring a real translator, or a mistaken belief that either a.) translating live is easy or b.) that I’m actually good enough at Japanese to do that kind of translation. Whatever the case, I said okay as long as I could get a list of the technical vocabulary in advance.  Since things like “Striking Bear Palm” are not a part of my Japanese vocabulary and all.

(…well, then again, I’ve learned some random things from the kind of J-rock I listen to, not to mention all the Warring States Period Japanese I know, so I guess I shouldn’t try to be funny on that point. ^o^;)

Shortly before setting off for Hitoyoshi, I went to a class for a brush-up and to receive the list of vocabulary.  I took notes and practiced the particular techniques of magui baguazhang that the Chinese teacher was to introduce.  I’ll probably not forget for a long time the phrase “en no chuushin” (「円の中心」) meaning “the center of the circle,” which is what the teacher would say when beginning a circle walk, a training move characteristic of baguazhang.

Now, me being the horrible procrastinator that I am, after the class I only glanced at the list and kept putting off serious study.  ^_^; The day before the actual demonstration I was cramming: “Souken = circle walking. Souken, souken, souken. Yuukei = Bear circle walking.  Yuukei, yuukei, yuukei.  Tankanshou, single changing palm; soukanshou, double changing palm…” Etc. ^0^;;;;;;;

Come showtime, somehow, I made it.  I thought to look up words related to martial arts that weren’t on the list, but since I’m such a genius I forgot to look up “martial arts” itself and was using the words meaning “technique” instead.  Now, the Japanese teacher knows the basic words of his art in English and Chinese, so he caught it.  As our circles overlapped, he said, “Eli…Eli, ‘martial arts’ is ‘bujutsu.'” ^_^;;;;; Luckily, random things such as ogling Tetsuji Tamayama in the movie Hagetaka helped me remember how to say “hawk” (okay, okay, I already knew “hawk” thanks to the SoftBank Hawks, but then I would have no reason to mention Tamayama) and a particular GACKT song taught me the word for “snake” so I was well prepared to translate things such as “move like a hawk flying through the forest” and “attack like a snake” into Japanese.

It was very interesting to see another teacher of baguazhang.  The Japanese teacher has a very…how shall I describe it?  His moves are flowing, yet staccato, pensive. It’s like there’s this pause, and heavy shift between each move, but between those pauses, he’s very fluid.  It’s as if he imposed the stiffness of karate on the fluidity of kung fu.  Granted, I’m not a martial artist so perhaps the metaphor is quite wrong. In contrast, the Chinese teacher moved in an almost carefree way.  Like, “Oh, hello there.  I just happen to be walking in a circle with my arms held up this way. Hmm hm hmm hm hm.” ^o^

Overall I think I did a decent enough job translating. (We don’t need to talk about my form. ^_^;)  What left the biggest impression on me was the following. The Chinese teacher said, to paraphrase: is there someone who is terribly weak in the arms? No.  But when people are tired, what hurts?  It’s always the lower back and the space between the shoulder blades, no matter what.  Athletes always end up with aches and pains after a few years. Other martial arts and modern sports teach you how to make that which is already strong stronger.  They train the muscles. But baguazhang teaches how to make strong that which is weak, by training the tendons and the bones.

I thought, what if we all trained our weak points instead of just our strong points?  I don’t just mean physically.  If someone had the drive to improve their weakest ability, rather than just that which comes easy, imagine what they could achieve, at least in their strong point.  A bad singer might only be able to go from being dreadful to being mediocre, but it’s something, especially if it pushes them to work harder in that which they do have a talent for.  Personally, I think this thought has helped me get back to working on my weak point: laziness. Specifically, spending too much time procrastinating on the internet instead of doing something productive.

And on that note, I end this post. XD

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