Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have wondered a while whether I would ever reveal on this public blog more details about the journey I find myself on. A path that dramatically changed my perceptions about my identity and my relationships. It has tested me physically, spiritually and mentally. It has made me consider things I would have otherwise taken for granted. It has made me face the darkest sides of myself.

It has taken me 3 years to even get to this point. To write these words. To give voice to something that has frequently brought me to tears that rendered me speechless.

I would come to find it is an experience that is more normal than not, but one that is often experienced in silence, alone, anonymous.

In fact, I have been writing about the experience, just not here where one can attach my name to it, but somewhere else in the ether where I can be nameless. It has helped.

But the writer in me starts to call out, wants to give a voice to the unspoken. I just don't know if I'm ready.

Friday, November 12, 2010

is back to writing...

I cracked open a blank journal yesterday and started writing. Alot has happened, alot is happening. Most of it I haven't been sharing publicly. In this day and age of blogging and facebook, that seems almost blasphemous.

Over the last few years all the talk shows and self-help books talked about honesty and talking to someone and telling someone. I believe it's important to be honest with oneself, as for being honest with everyone else, eh, they can probably get in line.

What is this world without noise. Without chatter. Why are there still some things people just don't talk about?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Going back

One of my students recently went to the Exploratorium's Tactile Dome. A journey in complete darkness that you must feel your way through. The first time, you're just looking for the one way out. The next time through, you get a chance to feel around and see if you can find anything new.

The last few kali classes, I've been going back to the classic style. What I call the classic style is the style that I saw when I first practiced, what can be recognized as "typical" Filipino Martial Arts.

As I've watched the students practice, I've noticed some things that were missing. Little things. Subtle things. I had to go back. We've dropped stuff along the way.

I've been teaching for 12 years now and it feels like I'm beginning again. The first time around I kind of stumbled along trying to remember what was taught to me and repeating that method. This time around I'm getting a chance to see new things, how things connect, why this movement was needed to get to this movement. Each time I teach nowadays there really is something incredible to learn and uncover.

So I've been going back. The Classic Style. yes. The percussive left hand. We started with the left hand percussive because it's the only way anyone knew how to use it. Then people learned how to blend and manipulate. But then to go back to percussive really tests ones accuracy and sensitivity. When you return to something, do you go back to the way you did it then or are you able to return to it as another layer? Do you have a deeper understanding of what you did before? One of them simply defaulted to how they had learned it. I remember when I defaulted. I didn't think there was much more else you could do with the technique. Once learned, it was boring and repetitive. I just didn't know its potential.

Simply using the left hand was difficult for some. It forced them to move their trigger, stop using muscle, and learn to follow their weapon. Instead of forcing the weapon (typically right hand) to do everything (hold the weapon, generate power, manipulate for accuracy), we move the power and accuracy to the left hand. It's a switch in brain thinking. But when they did let go, you could see their entire bodies relax.

In high school, my track coach told me to "run faster." I didn't understand what that meant. I was running as fast as I possibly could go. I instinctively tried to contract my legs more, to harden, to run faster which only resulted in me going slower.

To go faster, one has to create mechanisms to spring them to go faster. The mind only knows one voluntary speed. The body has to be taught what faster feels like.

What it takes to actually go faster is contrary to the instinct the mind takes.I don't need more muscle to be hard, I need the muscle I have to relax. I need my joints to swing. I need muscle and joints to work together to store spring energy. I need less control to be in control.

Next week I think we will go pick up another piece we are slowly losing: to see and not see. Too too easy to fall back into the habit of tunnel vision in sparring.

We did a bit of it today and my student said, "I'm not a very good liar." in reference to how the technique uses some "magic". I told him, "I'm not lying to you, I'm showing you exactly what I'm doing. It's not my fault your looking in a different spot when it happens."

Monday, August 02, 2010

the circular nature of the spirit

I've been reading posts from Eileen, Leny and Jean on Eileen's mom's reading talking about the Dawac, healers she remembers from her childhood.

At the same time, there's a facebook email thread that someone included me on about the roots of the word Kali. (There are constant complaints my Filipino Martial Artists, usually non-kali folks, who believe that since the word was not documented, then it couldn't have ever existed.) I keep trying to delete the thread, but it just keeps coming back.

I also watch a stroke recovery progress through the memories of their life, rebuilding and reconnecting.

All this leads me to how does one search for a forgotten past.

Much of the memory of the Philippines faded quickly from my parent's memories as soon as they set foot here. A consequence really of needing to focus on building a new life in a different country, which rolled into the craziness of kids and work. There are few things that remind them.

I remember my mom tell us a story here and there of her grandfather, the abulario/local healer. He walked on fire and didn't get burned. When I met him, he was near 80, deaf and blind. Not sure if he remembered my mother, his eyes always in half trance.

When I took up Kali, the sticks I brought home triggered other memories not just from my mother but from her siblings. How he had sticks, but never taught his own sons. How he moved just like me. How when he slept he raised his arm to the sky and no amount of force would bring that arm down. Without knowing it, I had stumbled upon a memory and lineage I didn't know existed before. Was I genetically programmed to move in this way? Was there still a spiritual connection that brought me to this place, to pick up where 2 generations had left?

As I carried these stories with me and told them to others, they too had stories. A collection of anting-anting. The trance healing dances of their mother. The more I explored this Kali movement, the more I triggered memories that people wanted to share as if they wanted to keep the memories together, connect them to something living today.

I've come to terms with the lack of "proof" or written knowledge. I'm tired of people wanting "proof" that Kali ever existed. What does it matter if it existed before if it exists now? Why can't I rewrite my own history in the way colonizers have rewritten mine for centuries at a time? Why must history always be written to be proven? Why can't I carry my history in my body?

My teacher always felt that we were discovering new techniques, only uncovering ones we had forgotten. We have been exploring the movement of our basic human structure for thousands of years, surely someone somewhere in that time did this movement in this way.

I have no issues with wanting to document what is currently known. But this inverse that if it isn't written down then it does not exists, irks me like bible fundamentalists. And I know they copied me on that "thread" to "hear" what I have to say about this. And while they may honestly just want to know, I refuse to walk into a discussion based on prepositions that if I cannot show proof of my name, then I do not exist. So I refuse to respond. Just because the Spanish wrote about Escrima, does not make the existence of Escrima more legitimate than something that is not documented. There's something very colonized about that idea.

Close relations of the person in stroke recovery ask each other, how old do you think he is now? We watch as his body relearns movement, his mind relearns his life. He memories and stories bounce around a general age range and never in linear form, more like an interwoven tapestry. They hover. If you could relive your life, would you forgive yourself? What bits of your life are retained, who do you remember, what do you remember? What parts do you hang onto and should you? it's like his mind is repacking his bags: folding, reshaping. His personality may reflect this fragmented memories: the brash young man, the young boy on his own, encounters that changed his life, regrets. He must rebuild, bit by bit. Who can say what "normal" is anymore?

In searching for the forgotten past, I treat it like a treasure hunt. Stories here and there giving me clues to something larger. I note things I hear repeated and confirmed as possible truths. The clues are not "substantial" for academic standards, but they are big enough for me. If our history is shattered where do the dust particles go? Do they still exist. Or are they hidden in plain view, the way we traded pagan gods and gave them Christian saint names?

I know there are questions of the past I will never have answered. I also know there are answers I have that I cannot reveal. There are many things in this world where writing them into words kills the very spirit we wish to pass on. There are some things that have to be experienced.

I had to come to terms with what I could not have and have taken pleasure in what remains. I see them as points on a strand. They repeat and connect. There are confirmations if they strum the right way. It is possible to seed these stories. It is possible to create your own. These stories, these affirmations, remind me that if it existed before, it can exist again.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quadratus Lumborum

Last couple of days I've had a stiffness in my back, kind of middle and the side. I got a massage and asked her to work on that.

I've always had issues with that side of the body. I could always bend more one way than the other. She said the muscle was the Quadratus Lumborum. And that she fines that when we feel vulnerable, it's this muscle that activates to protect us. It connects the lower back to the pelvis and runs just under the kidney.

Then it all made sense.

What I've been doing for my health. What I want in my life. The blockages I've been experiencing in those areas. I get it now.

It's all connected you see. The answer we want is always in front of us. Everything is a mirror: our bodies, our homes, what we wear, the people in our lives.

I think I'm going in the right direction. It was the first time with some help I could reach that muscle. I have a ways to go. Whenever I think I had already past a turning point, there is yet another turning point. I hope I have time.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

there can only be one

I know you are not yet whole. That the person before me is a fraction and fracture of your whole self. And yet, I do understand, that we both know this is for the best. Fractured selves feel pain readily, but I want you to know I leave in love. Hate is not the only source of Pain.

Up until this point you have known me and seen me as clearly as truth. Up until now you knew me better than myself and made sure I recognized my own lies. Never ever lie to yourself you told me and always held the mirror up so I could find my own truth.

Until today.

Today I do not know who you see. Your eyes that are always distant as if seeing everything from afar. So far, I can no longer feel your presence on this earth.

I do not know the woman you speak of when you talk of me. Have we fallen so far that you must fill in the gaps? You have made me who I am today but I am not that woman. And yet, the message is clear. It is what exists in the periphery. This is truth.

Doors have closed between us. The path diverged below my feet. It is time. As you said, there can only be one. I do not deny that this is true. Yes, you are the one.

Perhaps you felt the tremors between us. Perhaps I felt them too but didn't want to.

In parting I walked away. In the end you've never lied to me. In parting you told me to turn my back, and to not follow you. We both know where that path ends. You gave one last message to my guardian, let her know she has always been loved.

In love, there is can only be one truth.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Earth creates metal that attracts water which nourishes wood that feeds fire that burns everything to earth.

Earth muddies the water that douses fire that melts metal that cuts wood that breaks up earth.

Then there are yin and yang states of each one, yet another permutation of these cycles. I don't really understand all of their yin and yang states, so I will attempt to seek possible examples of what they might be.

Yang fire will clear an overgrown forrest and open it up to new growth. Is Yin Fire like the earth's core or the sun's fusion?

Yang water will cause great flooding, yin water will carve something as spectacular as the Grand Canyon.

Is Yang Metal like armored plating and yin metal the edge of a blade?

Is Yang Earth an earthquake or a mountain? Is Yin Earth the dust that settles on riverbanks eventually creating solid land?

Yang Wood can be like the ivy that envelops and kills a tree or the grandeur large redwoods or other canopy trees that form the forrest. Is yin wood the sprouts of plants that find their way in every crevice? Who they can split sheer rock and find a place to hold onto and grow?

Lava is an awesome combination of fire, earth and metal.

There is always another layer.