Saturday, September 16, 2006

Family Files

After two pieces on the rising waters of martial law (well, the other one hasn't come out yet), I guess it's time for a few words regarding martial arts. Rio's taken up taekwondo lessons recently and the boy seems to be having great fun. Every Tuesday and Thursday he goes back to school to take in new lessons and he hasn't missed a single class.

I've always been fond of martial arts. Fond of watching martial arts and reading about it, actually; all about the melange of philosophies that created and sustained its many forms, the grammar of force and counter-force that frames its expressions, the grace and the cerebral quality that different arts impose on devotees.

I took up martial arts only once in my life. I remember being enrolled a long time in what was supposed to be karate lessons. But although I think I got to wear the white uniform, somehow all I ever recall doing was to endlessly throw the same punches over and over again while standing still or taking that mechanical step back and then forward. Ya! Ya! Ya! Ya! and all that. Then no more.

I could never sit still for a few seconds and think straight. Somehow the same logic kicks in whenever I'm doing something over and over again. And so one day, I think errant thoughts began to worm their way into my head due to the routine of movements and my mind started to go astray and I vaguely remember wondering during the course of one of the lessons when exactly the fancy moves that I kept seeing on television would be taught.

Predictably, it wasn't long before the scimitars and broadswords and knights and Saracens in my head got the better of me, and then off my mind galloped, away from the chops and kicks and parries I coulda shoulda woulda learned.

Happiness of course that it's not the same case with Rio. He's all seriousness and he's been practicing his forms at home and dutifully stretching before class and so on. Luna and I went with Rio one day to watch one of his classes. We behaved ourselves and marveled at their practice session. Teacher Tyrone was patient but authoritative and aside from the few giggles that managed to slip from the faces of the kids he was teaching, he had the eyes and ears of his class.

Students passing by couldn't help but glance or stop to gawk at the taekwondo tykes. You have the tall teacher in front, initiating the bows and the forms to follow and quietly giving out instructions and tips and encouragement.

Not all the kids chose to train in uniform, understandably because of the heat (the textile's a bit thick), but the others who did and wore the full dress seemed to be in a different mood.

I suppose it's rather empowering to wear the neat, stiff white kimono and belt since it seems to lend a kind of aura of seriousness and intent, and it rustles during quick movements and so the high kicks, the roundhouses, the ax kicks, the multiple punches and, yes, the shouts, it was all quite impressive.

The only hurdle that Rio has to overcome is his tendency to practice his forms at home right when he's having a meal. It's uncanny.

Breakfast time, he just bolts out of his chair and lunges forward with a kick.

Lunchtime, he stands up to do some defensive-maneuvers.

Over dinner, till he gets told firmly to return to his chair to finish his meal, Rio pushes his seat back, does a quick twirl to throw one or two roundhouse kicks.

I really don't know why the urge hits him while he's eating, but it's been a little hard to stress the point that he should refrain from doing so given that his tatay continues to exhibit the equally reprehensible habit of getting up from his chair to jot down a passage or two when a bright idea pops out, or when an email or message he's waiting for goes ding-ding-ding.

I'd lie if I said Luna and I watched Rio the whole time. We ate a bit of ice cream too and strolled and played with dolls and a small unused bar of soap (why a piece of soap? who's to know; all I can say is it's Lunalu playing).

There was a twinkle in my daughter's eyes, which said she was up to something or was thinking of doing something naughty. Despite my ribbing she wouldn't let on; wouldn't even deny there was something she was cooking up. I never did find out though.

During a break in the class, Rio gulped down gallons of water and the three of us goofed around in a corner and Luna tried a couple of tactics to annoy her brother, who indeed got irritated but shortly after decided to just give his sister a tight hug and a tickle and she quickly shifted her attention to other things that didn't tickle back.

Was a nice day.


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