One Breath


Anyone who has trained long enough in anything understands that at the moment of graduation from apprentice to journeyman, or journeyman to master, there is a stillness like the eye of a storm. In that eye, there is both a reckoning and an awakening. You have counted the cost to get to the next level. And there is always a cost. The enlightenment occurs when you witness what you sacrificed manifest in your art. For me, this moment occurred while studying Wing Chun Kung Fu and practicing what’s known as ‘sticky hand’ training with my master. He increased his speed and range of attacks and I not only kept up but counter-attacked. There was no active thought in that moment, there was only the moment. After practice ended, I went home, meditated on what had just happened, and wrote what follows.

a blessing of the earth
a call to the sky

like an instinct of electricity
the animal stirs
ghosts of muscle memory

in the space of one breath
energy expands beyond flesh
beyond everything
to nothing
without beginning
without end

whispers of movement within stillness

skin breaking air like a dervish of steel
honoring the requiem of the blade

to coil
to strike

to center