Dragon Shadow Sword Pt 16

With only one more polishing seminar to go, Sigong is drawing Dragon Shadow sword to a close soon and making way to polish some of the other skills which were taught during lockdown.

Something about finishing off the form feels a little sad to me and in an effort to understand why, I popped open my calendar to look back over the series. Seeing that we started back in 2022 started to put it in perspective — we will have had it as a Saturday afternoon treat in our lives for almost two years! No wonder It’s come to feel like a regular presence and something I will miss doing with everyone.

Sigong’s lecture this time was about a question from the instructor course about the differences between junior and senior students in your class. I think on the course most of us picked up one or two, but seeing it all written down, there are actually a lot of differences! From how you give feedback and polish their movements, to what kind of relationship you can allow yourself to have with students at these different levels and how much you can involve them in teaching others.

For my part, I have always been interested in the different reasons people come to class in the first place — some people have just heard the name and want to see what it is and have a go, whilst others have done more research and have more of an idea what they are looking for, and have specifically come to study with our centre because of Sigong’s reputation and lineage. Listening to Sigong’s lecture, though, I think his points about juniors apply equally well to both ends of this spectrum. I have seen people who came to ‘have a go’ be encouraged in class and stick with it, and I have seen some people who did their research have their ‘cup too full’ and disappear again. Only time tells, but until it does, you really don’t know, and so you must still take care to encourage your junior students without being over-familiar with them early on no matter how keen they seem.

As Sigong said on the seminar, all of us studying Dragon Shadow Sword are relatively senior now, and so maybe we should be a bit stricter with each other! I of course say this a little tongue in cheek, I think one of the compelling parts of these seminars is how much we all do our best to help each other in the breakout rooms, battling to overcome dodgy connections and cramped kitchens! Coming to the end of the series, I definitely want to thank everyone who’s puzzled over the form with me in a breakout room at one point or another, I always appreciate the pointers I get from others and without them my form would be much less clear. I remember not too long before COVID that online meetings systems didn’t even have breakout rooms — how very different our seminars would be without them.

It has been wonderful to polish the whole form this time, and as for what the last seminar will hold, we’ll have to wait and see! In general people in the breakout rooms have seemed much more comfortable with the first half of the form, so some more time to work on the newer sections would definitely be of benefit. I’m also remembering some of the other final polishing seminars for forms such as Guan Yu, Yue Fei, and the Chen Pao Choi, where we got the chance to go through the forms with the jumping versions of the movements added in, and that would be exciting if we get the chance to do it for Dragon Shadow Sword as well.

Thank-you Sigong for passing on this form — In two years I have gone from never even having seen it, to thinking of it as a truly fundamental sword skill with something different to offer over Wudang Sword. I hope those of us who have learnt it will be able to still practise it together sometimes in class!

by Lee Baylis