Crack in diabase boulder near the headwaters of Rock Brook. The crack follows a harder band of rock--less eroded than the rock surrounding--running through the boulder.
"Make no mistake," my kung fu teacher says, waving his hand, "soft is powerful. Hard is not always more powerful. Soft is more powerful than hard." Sifu demonstrates the first form of Ngo Cho Kun, sam chien, with incredible power and tension. "The young ones do like this."
Again he demonstrates sam chien, this time alternating powerful strikes and relaxed parries and counters. "When you become older, more experienced, you do like this."
He demonstrates sam chien one final time with no force. He begins to add other strikes and blocks. "Like the white crane. When you become senior tis is how you maintain your power. This is very powerful."
Woodpecker holes follow the edge of the tree's scar tissue. I wonder if the scar itself is too hard, too dense for ants to drill into. Did they find the place where soft meets hard?
"Look for the weak point. Do not punch your opponent in the chest. If he is very strong, he will not feel anything."
"Use this," he makes a phoenix fist, "to the temple. Very painful. He will get dizzy and fall down. Or, to here," he points to where his jaw meets his face. "You cannot body-build this."
Trees can be difficult to identify by bark alone. Individuals may appear very different based upon age, habitat, and even the side of the tree one is facing.
Tupelo tree, opposites sides of the same tree. Bark tends to slough off the southern or sky-facing (if leaning) side. Exposed to the sun and thus more drastic fluctuations in daytime and nighttime winter temperatures, ice thaws and refreezes, causing the bark to fall off.
"Do not let him know what you are doing. You must be quick. He will want to hug [grab] you," he puts his hands around a student's neck. "Like this. What do you do?" The student blocks out with both hands, presses down, and pushes. "That's correct!" he exclaims.
Black birch tree tip up. Black birch seeds germinate on bare ground. This tree's roots were flattened on the bottom from the diabase boulder it grew upon. I began to think boulder fields are similar to plants grown in pots -- sometimes there is not a lot of room for roots.
"if you are not rooted, he will knock you down. It is very easy."
Turkey vulture cruises overhead, far above the widow-makers that we walk beneath.
A diabase boulder cracked by the pressure of tree roots--that boulder-field/potted plant situation again. This must have taken awhile. Native Americans used diabase--hard but could be fashioned to a sharp edge.
A classmate and I practice attack, defense, and counter moves. We're polite to each other. I'm the only woman in the class. "Move! You have to move when you attack. No, like this." Sifu, a slight man, takes monstrous steps across the floor. He gently but firmly places his outer blades of his hands on my shoulder joints. He suddenly snaps his hands forward and strides. I step back quickly, following his movement, lest I trip over my feet.
"Add power at the last moment. Very powerful." He says, "You push. Then you throw away. Like a rubber band."
Cranefly orchis. A nice surprise.