A moment of stillness following travel, competition, testing.
The past 10 days has been a whirlwind of martial arts in this household.
The weekend of the 17th-19th we traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Kerry and I and two other young boys from our school participated in the WEKAF National Eskrima stick fighting championships. This art has its origins in the Philippines and is inclusive of empty handed, grappling, and weapons. The kali sticks, which is one name for them, are one of the weapons strongly associated with the discipline. One fights with them much as one would a sword or nunchaku; in fact there is correlation to both.
I ended up in 5th place in single stick for my division losing by one or two points to the fighter who went on to win the National championship. It was close enough for him to claim I was his toughest opponent. So the brackets go. My double stick competition was much the same. I also thoroughly enjoyed putting a three man team together and competing in the team fights. I was assured I won my round there.
Kerry, even being down with a respiratory infection, took second in single stick by a split decision against a young man almost two years older and 70 pounds heavier. He then went on to take third in double stick having never competed in that before. What can one say. He has the chi and is qualified for the World Championship again.
Following our return to Colorado I spent many hours in final preparation for my Black Belt test held this Friday. Principally this is a Jeet Kune Do school and black belt. We are tested on at least seven different styles and our own expression thereof, including Jun Fan, Muay Thai, Boxing, Ju Jitsu, and Eskrima. After several hours of testing I received my Black Belt. I do understand this…a Black belt is a benchmark. It is a door opening, not a graduation. I have an entire world before me which serves as a dojo; a place of training, for again as Steve Ilg has said ‘my workout is everywhere.’
‘The key immortality is to first live a life worth remembering’
Above: Kerry (in red) in a final Eskrima match. Haku flowing into Ai Imawa during his demo. Sparring for the Black belt.
by Kerry Sheader
I once walked into the hut of a wise man, and he spoke to me of
He told me to raise my hand and to wish, and I did. I did not make
I just wished because it felt so good, and the full light of the
through my hand as dawn broke through my palm, and there was a way
light and I entered it. I sat, a long way away. Then I stood in a
sand, the fiery sun rose in front of me to the endless south, where
feel the end of the universe, and the warm wind blew across my face
kissed me and filled my lungs with the light of the sun. As I
turned to the
west I was within a dry forest, with a flowing stream over a smooth
rock, who spoke to me of a light beyond the trees and smiled at me
eyes, and my hands were warm and cold at the same time, and my eyes
cool and wet and I could see without pain. I turned to the east and
was in a
deep forest, I was on my back in a clearing with some light to my
a crisp darkness to my right, three trees in front of me, they were
next to my feet and a mile away at the same time, and beyond them
place that I had once called home, but where I no longer belonged.
to the north and there was a beast, a white beast who told me what
and I was in a canyon, still facing north, my body and soul pressed
a wall of sandstone, which was warm and shone with the full light
of the sun
reflected from the south, but was wet and covered in lush green
flowed along it. I stood up in the air and crawled into the very
face of the
rock and I was wearing black moccasins, which disappeared leaving
but the walls face exposed to the sun. I stood in a place of red
light and through the edges of my perception I saw a blizzard, and
creatures walking side by side. Then I was standing in a stream,
anything, but still with a warm soul, and I was plunged underneath and
everything that I knew was chilled and washed away, I froze and it
best I had ever felt, and I stayed under with my eyes open, smooth
beneath me, and I breathed the water, and my soul was cleaned by
it, and I
was filled with it, and it was sweeter than any fruit or drink
be, it was crisp and healthy and strong. I rose from the water and was
laying on the cool earth, looking straight at the dark early
through a break in the trees above me, and the there were
and they were not of the world I knew, but of another place, too
far away to
know. I gave the wise man my greeting and walked out of the hut