Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enter the 36th Chamber

The two disciples of the 36th Chamber and Grand Master Eric
Allow me to demonstrate the skill of Shaolin. The special technique of shadowboxing...

Enter the 36th Chamber. 

My training partner and I met up at the pavilion in the afternoon yesterday to train with 'Grand Master' Eric.  I only refer to him as the Grand Master here well.. because.. it is what it is. People I know, including my coaches, would always tell me stories of Eric as if they were sharing legendary tales of an undefeated warrior who trained in the mountains of Shaolin and dwelled in the streets of Bangkok defeating all those who dare try to impose their will against him. He is The RZA of our Wu-Tang Clan.
Grand Master Eric

Training or just being in the presence of his teaching makes me feel like I've travelled to 1980's remote Thailand, learning the ways to defeat Tong Po in glorious fashion. Okay perhaps that's being a little ridiculous but working with him truly makes you feel like a warrior.

We started out with footwork drills. I always love starting at the root of all things and when I'm not over thinking it, footwork is something that I feel have slight confidence in (though I'm not sure why as it seems to get tossed right out of the window during sparring). He watched the both of us carefully, sometimes shouting out corrections that we both individually needed to make. Every 5 minutes or so of watching us just do footwork, he would add on some kind of movement to use in our repertoire. Resets, pivots, bobbing and weaving, slipping and pivoting.

Blended fight stance ala Operation Condor
After that we worked on our hand positioning/fight stance. I've learned so many different fight stances that sometimes I tend to blend them all together into something that really just isn't pretty to look at. But I really like what Eric showed us. I tend to keep my hands close to my body in order to protect it but it honestly does no good for my face. Our hands can be used as sensors but my sensors are so close to my face that once somebody throws a punch at me I won't have enough time to react defensively. He suggested I keep my hands more out but still at an angle in which you can quickly retract your arms to protect your body. It was perfect.

From there my training partner and I practiced defensive hand movement drills. We went back and forth deflecting each others punches by only an inch (or perhaps even less) using our own wrists. I really enjoyed this drill as it reminded me of the Wing Chun techniques I learned.

Once we finished up and went to grab a quick drink he asked us what kind of style we wanted to learn. I honestly wanted to reply with "Badass" but resisted. My training partner and I didn't really know what specifically we wanted to learn but I think he could tell we were leaning towards kickboxing. I honestly just want to learn techniques that work. I feel that it won't always be boxer vs boxer, kickboxer vs kickboxer and so on and so forth. So if someone is coming at me with things they are pulling out of their ass, I want to know the exact technique to counter or defeat it.

One day...
We started out with some kicking drills against the wall. He showed us a Kempo kick (which is his background). I instantly felt discouraged before we even began. As I stated in my first post, kicks are not something I am comfortable with. I am the least flexible person you will ever know (but perhaps with the help of The Kid, I'll be doing split kicks ala Trinity from the Matrix in no time). But none the less, I tried to work through it. Eric figured out that my stronger leg was the left one. I actually felt quite balanced kicking with that leg and after awhile it looked like I was throwing some decent kicks. Maybe one day I can throw some Michelle Yeoh kicks! Wishful thinking. My training partner had no problem at all with her CroCop-ness.

When we switched to our right leg... well things kind of went downhill from there. I had no balance, no power, and zero technique on this leg. And lawd was I stiff. Seeing this, Eric attempted to stretch me out in the most painful manner against the wall. "Does it hurt yet?!", he would ask as he pushed one of my legs upward. Uh yes. Yes it does Eric.

After doing these kick drills (which were pretty damn awesome... I'm going to insist that my training partner and I do them before each session), we were asked to do these drills without the support of the wall up and down the pavilion.  We started off with the left leg. At first I had a little trouble but after a few kicks and attempting to relax my kicks were actually looking pretty decent! That is... until we switched to the right leg. I had so much trouble with this leg again but continued to push through it, trying not to over think the movements ("Step.. slide.. kick!") as Grand Master Eric would yell out corrections and compliments to the both of us.

The next and final thing we did was work on the mitts. Eric's mitt work is INCREDIBLE. Dude is like Freddie Roach meets Roger Mayweather on the mitts. It's beautiful to watch and even better to be a part of. I always try to mimic him when holding mitts for the girls but... I just kind of look stupid. Eric just looks too suave. But enough complementing his mitt powers... My training partner was first up on the mitts.

Eric and my training partner
I enjoy watching people work with Eric almost as much as I enjoy training myself. Like I said it's like watching the creation of a magnum opus. It's beautiful. It was also great seeing my training partner work with Eric for what I believe was the first time. She's got beautiful movement and incredible power. Eric told her that if she used the lower half of her body more than trying to rely on her upper-body strength (which she has an ABUNDANCE of), she would be able to discover and unleash her inner Shaolin warrior (okay those weren't his exact words but you get my point). They started out with some boxing but eventually moved onto combinations of kicks and punches. Seeing her mix it up gave me goosebumps.

When it was my turn to jump on the mitts with him, we started out with the basic jab. All of my coaches have told me to just jab... jab jab jab. Jab offensively. Jab defensively. Jab for distance. Just jab. So I was happy when Eric told me I have a pretty solid jab. Both my training partner and I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to Eric's mitt holding. Eric just seamlessly flows from one thing to the next calling out (what seemed to be at first) random as hell numbers as he just held up a mitt. Sometimes two. Eventually we both sort of fell into a groove. I swear there must've been a twinkle in my eye, as I began to feel like Floyd Mayweather working with Uncle Roger (Eric and I share the same love for Floyd). I felt more precise and fluid working with him. Sometimes, when working with others on the mitts, I tend to feel like my punches are so pitter-patter (I'm sure the girls that I train with are tired of hearing this from me haha). It's true really... but for whatever reason... I felt strong working with Eric. He truly brings out the best of you.

We both did a couple of more rounds with Eric before ending our training session for the day. There truly are no words for how awesome yesterday was. My training partner found herself giggling like a little school girl while working with him... she made Grand Master Eric blush. HAH! I'm glad I was able to set this up for the both of us. We really needed it. And Eric seemed to enjoy working with us. We really are just so eager to learn and get better at this point.

And thus we became disciples of the 36th chamber. Until our return...


  1. Your writing really blows me away! GREAT WORK and THANKS for all the nice compliments!!!


    1. LOL! No words that you read this.

  2. Van Damme, yes! Michelle Yeoh, yes! Miss. Cynthia, Yes!
    One question - you're right-handed, yes? And you have trouble kicking with your right leg! That's insanely curious. Anyway, keep at it, lady. I have trouble with the switch kick because I neglect it. :/

    1. Gah I didn't even notice these comments! Nowadays depending on what day of the week it is (apparently) I have trouble kicking with both legs! One day my right leg will be awesome the next day my left leg will show my right one what's up! I don't get it. :(

  3. wow im impress just being a friend of eric for a long time, i do understand his skills but take them for granted im glad there is people out there appriciate what he have do work son go and find us a mike tyson!!!