During our Jiulong classes, particularly when the students are engaged in circle walking or applications practice, it isn’t rare to see a grin or hear laughter. It’s as if the student can’t contain the feeling of exhilaration that accompanies using the whole body to move around the room, changing directions, avoiding other bodies and deflecting incoming strikes. When in the flow, even mistakes, like losing balance or turning the wrong way, evoke laughs rather than chagrin.
Laughter? – When we’re supposed to be training potentially deadly methods of self-defense? Absolutely! I not only cherish such moments but also encourage them in class. A smiling person is more relaxed and moves more freely than one who is grim and dour. Being able to laugh at yourself means you have been able to loosen the hold of daily stresses and self-imposed controls, at least for a while.
Moving freely and exerting whole body power is a goal of our training. Ironically, the more one disciplines oneself to hold the body just so, step precisely and, most importantly, focus the mind, the better one flows smoothly around the circle. Yes, one has to practice, but the practice itself is simple. It requires no special talents or abilities except the willingness to learn. It’s hard to resist laughing when freedom emerges from discipline and we learn to be free to make mistakes without shame or guilt.
Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to see the first time a student really starts to move freely and become aware of it. A smile might soften the face like dawn lighting up the sky and I know there has been an Aah! moment. “Just keep practicing”, I think. “There’s lots more where that came from”.