Monday, March 08, 2010

March 8 - March 14

International March like a Cat Crossing the Courtyard Week

In my favorite book series there is a lot of sword fighting, and before that, sword training. (I used to have swords, and would again if the state would let me.)

Anyway, when the characters in the book are training with their (practice) swords, they use what is called Forms. There are various forms, each with a precise set of movements and very colorful names, like:

The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain
Heron Wading in the Rushes
Apple Blossoms in the Wind
Parting the Silk
Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose
Stones Falling from the Cliff

You get the idea.

One of my favorite positions actually isn't for fighting at all, but rather, the way a swordsman is supposed to walk. The idea is to teach balance and readiness, so that the sword-fighter is NEVER caught off guard.

However, an ancillary effect is that he ends up looking about as arrogant as....well, a Masters Swordsman might look strutting around. The Form is called Cat Crosses the Courtyard. Here is a description:

A method of movement which maximizes alertness and reaction potential. Weight should be on the balls of the feet, with head held high and eyes constantly shifting, watching for threats. Arms and hands should freely move, not in pockets or holding items. Each step should be taken confidently, but not hurriedly.

One character breaks down the mechanics even further. The person's back should be ram-rod straight, as if their head and spine were connected on a wire. BUT HERE'S THE CATCH! While the head never dips, the entire rest of the body is relaxed and loose, as if about to fall asleep.

Whenever I read this description, I have two thoughts: How on Earth could you keep your spine that straight, while the rest of your torso is jelly? Also: if that ain't the fitting description of a cat, I don't know what is.

We may not all be able to be master swordsman like I am, but for one week, we can march around like we are. We may get some unfriendly glares, but we'll feel so good about ourselves that we won't care. (And I have a feeling that for every many who glares, a passel of honeys will be itching to show you a kitty of their own.)

This week, March Like a Cat Crossing the Courtyard. You deserve it!

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