Sticking with Jones' "star-war themed title" I share the following funny, of this wk. I've started a sequence with the first *weapon* in kalari: LONG STICK. Um. Yeah. It's pretty much what it sounds like: me and my teachers grab these long sticks, a special kind of bamboo, and then we go about sparring with a crack-crack here and a crack-crack there, here a crack, there a crack, EVERYWHERE a crack-crack! Needless to say, I'm loving it. It's like my *jedi*/use-the-force light-saber training I did as a young boy, jumping on the trampoline, imagining myself as a Thundercat or with Luke and Lea is FINALLY having a place in this in the world. So, don't discourage young'uns that like to play swords,... they may very well use it someday. ;)
Anyways, Rajeef and I were sparring and it was during a morning practice. I stand at LEAST a foot taller than this wonderful, dark-skinned, white-toothed Indian wonder. As he is usually always laughing, once we get into sequences he is stone-faced and I follow suit: no time to smile while trying to kill your opponent.
The sequence lasts about 2 minutes, moving up and down the kalari pit. We lean towards one another, and with relaxed but focused energy send the stick flying and cracking more quickly with every practice. If you forget a move, there could be the unhappy incident of a sudden BAM to the head or shin or shoulder. Concentration on the here and now is important.
As we are sparring, I notice Rajeef is squinting and then dodging his head this way and that... the way someone would move their head if trying to move if sunlight were in their eyes. He was doing it often enough, that I made a small mental notice: an obvious advantage for me. But wait, we're in the kalari pit: there is NO sun shining in... what is he doing?
With a final CRACK we back away in lion posture and then stand and bow to each other, signifying the end of the sequence. Rajeef's glow-in-all-places teeth open in a wide smile and he points to the front of the pit where our clothes are stored, where the oil table is, and says:
"Dallas, you go use towel. You sweat. I cannot see. It get in my eyes."
Not only is the idea that one of one's personal body fluids (in this case, SWEAT) is FLINGING and FLYING around in wild abandon, hitting innocent passers-by without invitation, completely grossifying, BUT that it is also BLINDING them as well... well, that's just odd and sick. Sick-odd. Gross. Yuck. And stinky.
The truth (which some of you have heard from my typing finger-tips): I have NEVER sweat like I have here, during my kalari training sessions. I underscore past lines of text: I LITERALLY leave a trail of sweat on the clay floor and if I'm standing in one area for a few minutes, it begins to pool. Call me Swamp Thing. Call me Sweat Thing. But at any rate, for what happened between Rajeef and myself, I should be labeled with "thing" somewhere in the name.
Rajeef and I laughed for a few minutes. Danesh (the other teacher) as well. There is the now-standing joke that we are calling the weapon "sweat stick" instead of its ancient and proud, historical "long stick."
The moral of the story: sweating ON your teachers CAN give you a strategic advantage in your relationship to them. How do you think Luke actually ended up being able to take down his darkened, and plastic-made Darth-Father? You think it was the Force that actually allowed him to serve the final severing blow, do you? Or was it something else? Something more... "personal" ... something more "slimey"... But don't take my word for it. Skip to the chapter on your own DVD collection of that fitful but historical star-battle and see for yourself.
May the Sweat be with you...