The Taijiquan Journal Logo Copyright © 2001 New Moon

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February 2002

Taiji Chucks © 2002 New Moon
Taiji Chucks © 2002 New Moon

These are my practice shoes. They're good because they're light and flexible and don't have padding to keep my feet from making that nine-point contact.

01: Friday

I didn't practice today. Too much got in the way. I read a little in the T'ai Chi Classics before I left for work about Generating Jing from Chi. The Condensing Breathing is very interesting...

And I read a couple of articles in Qi Journal before going to sleep. One article Yang's Taiji Boxing Secrets was all about chi— energy— physics. It read just like a physics text, talking about how the energy is in waves, and how the waves can interact, magnifying or canceling each other out. Physics. Strange that science hasn't "proved" chi exists, and yet, I've seen it and felt it, and the Chinese describe it perfectly in scientific terms. It's real.

David has been teaching us a lot of new QiGong— Condensing Breathing, included. And I think it's making a difference: I think my chi is getting stronger.

02: Saturday

"T'ai Chi is born out of infinity. It is the origin of positive and negative. When T'ai Chi is in motion, the positive and negative separate; when T'ai Chi stops, the positive and negative integrate."
I feel that as I practice. When I begin, the chi separates between my hands and as I move through the forms, I become the center of a spiral galaxy of energy— on a good day, that is.

03: Sunday

Today I read a little more in the Classics.

04: Monday

Gorgeous day: just above 40 when I began; just under 50 now. The February sun is much warmer than January's. I had to take off my quilted shirt I was sweating so.

Four sets, and some QiGong. All four sets (3 right; 1 left) ended within a foot's-width of starting position. Interesting. Last week Paul asked about beginning and ending positions, and David reiterated that Short Form usually ends about a yard over (left) from starting position. I used to end a yard over. I wonder.

I could feel chi flowing today, but my back tightened up on the kicks and I couldn't sustain the feeling of flow. Still, other parts of my form have improved— like the transition from Press into Wave Hands Like Clouds. I do that much better now. My back used to bother me there, too, because I didn't stay down. But today I "got" it. (Finally!)

I could feel the chi in the QiGong, too. When I brought my hands together gathering chi the first time, I was surprised by the strong resistance. Neat.

05: Tuesday

Tonight, the first half hour of class was all QiGong. And considering that all we did was stand in one spot gently raising and lowering our arms and breathing, it was quite a workout!

We also worked on Grasp Peacock's Tail. I didn't have my hands coordinated properly. The hand that's coming around to do the wrist press has to move faster to make the circle, and it should connect with the wrist about half way through the movement... hmmmm.

David read from the Tao Te Ching: chapters 46 ("There is no greater illusion than fear...", 47 ("The more you know, the less you understand..."), and 53 ("The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths..."). 47 is one of my favorites. To me it means that the more you learn, the more aware you are of how much more there is that you still don't know.

Chapter 48 is a pip, too:

In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can't be gained by interfering.

— Stephen Mitchell translation

06: Wednesday

Three sets today and QiGong. I could catch a glimpse of my breath just before the breeze would snatch it away and disperse it...

I got to thinking way too much at times, but I performed some parts well...

Today I notice I ended two boards over from my starting place. Last night I noticed that I ended one whole floor tile behind my starting place. It occurs to me that the confines of the porch are affecting the development of my "travel." Where would I end up if I always practiced in a large area with no walls to hem me in and no people to avoid? I really do wonder. And I wonder if it would be better for me if I did have a large unconfined practice area...

And what would David say to me if I asked about this?

07: Thursday

Dentist this morning: no time to practice. I should have gone in to work late and taken the time to practice, but I wanted to be able to leave early— and I knew I would kick my self over that one, and I did! I've got to get back on schedule, got to get in more practice. Ther's so much yet to learn!

08: Friday

Four sets today— left, and QiGong. I ended one foot-width to the right of starting. Go figure.

Why is it that I have to keep learning anew to relax and turn my waist?

And now it's bugging me that the porch confines are keeping me from turning at times because I'm aware that the post is there, or that the wall is near— aaaarrrrrgh! I need a more open space to practice!

(Practice. Practise. Suddenly I don't know how to spell it correctly... looking back I notice that I use two c's...

Aha! Both spellings are accepted.)

09: Saturday

It's February, and I'm practicing with a light cotton turtleneck and a light cotton shirt over that, and I'm warm, and the sun is warm, and the air feels cool, and it's great practicing, but dreadful for the plants. We desperately need cold and precipiation or spring will be a disaster.

Up and down; bits and pieces: parting, brushing, repusling, and grasping— but not creeping, not today.

I learned a lot about grasping today. For instance, I had been turning my toe in more than 45 degrees when swapping sides. If you do that, you can go in a circle— which is interesing, but not kosher.

I didn't do any QiGong today. But I'm going to see Jo and Paul later and maybe we'll practice a bit. That'd be fun.

10: Sunday

Today I worked on this Journal. I would like to have practiced, but then there wasn't time. Choices.

11: Monday

Snow. Very pretty to watch. Big, heavy flakes and just beginning to stick and I thought practice would go well, and I had gotten as far as the spitting snake when the phone rang, and, dammit, I thought I'd better answer it. Aaaarrrgh! Rats. And then it was time to leave for work. Return to Old Policy: I'm not answering the phone during practice. I don't care who might be having a crisis.

12: Tuesday

Gung hay fat choy! (Happy New Year!)

No class tonight. We've got two weeks break. A new session would have begun tonight, but, because Levy School would be closed the 19th for February vacation, David decided to postpone the start of the next session until the 26th. Rats. (That was Ma's sentiment, too.)

I was up betimes doing errands related to the New Year celebrations (had to deliver a red lucky money packet and stuff), and by the time I got to practice, the wind was cold and fierce. On the first set, I was strumming the lute when I noticed that the aluminum ladder leaning at the windward end of the porch was about to break loose and come flying at me. I battened it down and began again; but, after that set, my fingers were very cold and I had to go in and get my heavy gloves. By then end of the second set, I had decided to give up: that wind was a chi-sucking wind if ever there was one! (And on Chinese New Year, too!)

13: Wednesday

Very windy today. I didn't want to go outside to practice, but where else can I go?

Fours sets (two each side), and QiGong.

I put the music on— the T'ai Chi Melody 6 minute 10 Short Form second piece— but kept to my own pace. I figured it'd do me good to break the habit of keeping pace with that piece, but, besides that, I also had so much else on my mind to think on that I didn't think about the forms. Some ways that was good: my mind didn't get in the way and I found that I did some things better: the snake creeps easier when I don't worry beforehand!

Oh, by the way, I did ask David about practicing within the physical limitations of the porch. He acknolwedged that it did make some difference— Well, these were the emails:

Me: "I've noticed that the limitations of my practice space affect my execution of the forms. So, Duh!, right? Anyway, it does. I know I move differently when I'm not hemmed in by the porch railing and the house wall. And I wonder, Is this a bad thing, or is it just something to be aware of?"

David: "Space limitations should not be a worry, just practice a few postures like grasp peacocks tail both sides. Though having room to move and practice whole movement would be a greater benefit to health and to a more flowing practice. Remember in martial application the opponent is sometimes closer to you so movements could be smaller in size. Key would be proper equilibrium/center and substantial and insubstantial stepping. In other words stick to the Taiji classics."

I don't think he answered the question I asked. Sounds like he was in a hurry. Rats.

14: Thursday

Cold, but not as windy...

One set and QiGong and then it was time to go to work. That's what I get for turning on the computer before practicing! Rats.

The latest issue of Tai Chi Magazine arrived today. Yay!

15: Friday

No practice today. Windy.

16: Saturday

Five sets left; three right... Qigong.

I felt very relaxed— it's a beautiful day: near 50 and the sun coming out; there's a bit of a wind, but not nasty.

I kept ending up within a board-width of starting position, even when I added the fourth Wave Hands to the last two sets. Go figure. I think my head must be programmed to bring me back to start position— maybe it doesn't have antying to do with the actual execution of the forms.

Grasping is giving me a little problem. I can't quite get both sides to work the same and I know I'm double-weighted, but I can't get the trick of the balance. Rats. Guess I just have to let my head work on it.

I timed one set: 7 minutes, 40 seconds. I can't quite believe it, but it's true. I didn't make an error. I began with the music at 00:00 and ended at 07:40.

17: Sunday

Ten sets, no Qigong. I ate breakfast between sets of five.

I still can't grasp that peacock as easily on the right as on the left. It's my left hip. It's isn't flexible enough yet.

Cold today and raining, but comfortable for practice. Today I waved hands four times and ground the rice meal when the lady worked the shuttle. I ended three boards over— in the right-hand sets. In the left-hand sets I ended three boards over and 3 inches forward of starting. I wish the porch were two feet wider, then maybe I could figure out my "orbit."

I'm really noticing the differences between sides. And I'm beginning to think there will always be a difference. I've always noticed that David's "sides" are different and that doesn't really bother me, but, for some reason, it bugs me that mine are.

Today I paid extra attention to closing and made sure I didn't sway as I brought my feet together. Rootedness.

After practice, I went for a very long walk. Six miles or so. And I felt good. Relaxed, even though I was thinking the whole time.

Had an email from David today saying that there would not be a QiGong session at his house this week. He said he was going to visit old friends and mentors. Rats— for me, that is.

18: Monday

No practice today. The neighbors were clearing trees and it was noisy enough to hurt my ears out on the back porch.

19: Tuesday

The neighbors were making a racket again, so I went to work early and left early. I practiced in the sun while it set. Six sets, maybe seven— I should've used the counting pennies! It was beautiful on the porch. Warm, near 50. And even though I had just come from work and the neighbors were bugging me, I felt relaxed and light...

I feel good practicing. It seems strange to me to feel so good practicing. And yet, even though I feel good, I am very aware of my shortcomings and mistakes. But I don't feel bad about that because I know I've now learned enough to know I still have a lot to learn, and to know where my mistakes lie— and now I know I can learn, taijiquan won't remain a complete mystery to me forever.

It's very interesting to be in this place in my learning. Two more weeks will mark my second anniversary of lessons. One more year and I may actually begin to know what the forms are all about...

I know my progress over this past year. For each one thing I learn each day, I now see two deeper aspects to explore, aspects I could never have expected, imagined, or even begun to understand a year ago. How very interesting it will be a year from now!

How amazing it must be for David after twenty years of taijiquan...!

20: Wednesday

Gorgeous! 58 degrees. I did three sets and QiGong, the music drowned out by the guys (still!) clearing and chipping the trees, even up to my back wall. (They took down the lilac. Idiots.)

I felt a bit stiff today— I wasn't as relaxed, but I could feel the chi...

I'm messing up the creeping snake— and other things. I kept wondering if David remembers how he felt as a 2-year student. Maybe I'll ask him. (!)

21: Thursday

Warm today— near 60!— overcast and humid. The sun is trying to come through, and I noticed that some of the bulbs are poking their heads up.

Four sets (left), I think— I completely lost track. I felt good, but the snake made me think and that messed me up... I did some silk reeling and QiGong afterwards.

My left arm has been tensing up from time to time lately, but I don't know what's causing it. Today I can feel my left shoulder is tense, too.

22: Friday

I didn't practice. I woke early enough, but didn't want to get up. Stress. There was only time for a shower and breakfast. I hate this.

I've been reading "River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze" by Peter Hessler. As I suspected, I'm lucky to have Mr. Tymekci for a teacher. Chinese teachers are always right and students are... humble students. If I had a real Chinese teacher, I would've been tossed out on my ear during the first lesson. So much for even thinking about me studying taijiquan in China!

23: Saturday

It's a beautiful day. Cool (50 degrees), sunny. I tried practicing barefoot, but I couldn't do t'ai chi to save my life. My left side felt stiff from my foot to my shoulder. Why? I tried stretching, but it didn't help... I gave up and went for a long walk.

17:30 — Five sets (alternating) and QiGong while the sun set. Much better, but not relaxed. And I was wearing my hiking boots. The boots seem like cheating because it's so much easier to balance with the added ankle support. But the difference they make also teaches me more about balance.

24: Sunday

No practice.

25: Monday

No practice.

26: Tuesday

No class tonight. The school is back from break, and someone had to schedule a meeting in the cafetorium. New session starts next week. Rats.

Three mediocre sets. For some reason I lost my balance on Kick with Right Heel. I don't know... I think I was tensing up.

27: Wednesday

I was thinking: you could study t'ai chi like atoms, dissecting them down and down and down into component parts, ever smaller, until, as in quantum physics, you're left with the pure essence, a vibration, perhaps, that is chi...

Physics. Yeah. Studying t'ai chi is like studying physics: each level of understanding discovers a deeper level to be understood. Cool.

28: Thursday

Cold and windy— sunny, though, and the sun bright on the snow.

Three sets, no qigong. Very bad. David would've beaned me if he saw.

Copyright © 2002 New Moon

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