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October 2002

Blue Heron © 2002 New Moon

Blue Heron © 2002 New Moon

01: Tuesday

02: Wednesday


David was being a pain about 42 Form tonight. Before class he made me go through it on my own and wouldn't show me the "Deflect and Push On Both Sides." He just kept saying, "Make bigger circles!" But, he was saying exactly what I'd been thinking, and I finally did catch on to the trick of it. He enjoys making me "work for it."

Class was excellent. We do a lot of qigong now, and exercises to strengthen our legs. And tonight we spent a lot of time on the application of Grasp Needle from Sea Bottom through Hands Unfold Like Fan. David made me work for it again; but again, I finally got it together. Yay! (I say I hate it when he puts me on the spot, but I don't mean it. It's the best way for me to learn. And I really love "working for it.")

Cindy and I got to talking and we agree that we would find it very helpful to do more Push Hands practice. Visualization is all very well, but having a real sense memory of an application is even better.

After class David had Cindy and me practice 42 Form again while he packed up. And he was a pain again, acting as if all the moves were so obvious that I should have no problem working them out correctly. He enjoys being a pain, that's what. But it was funny, and by the time he had packed up, I had the whole of the first sequence firmly in my head. And finally David joined us and we did the sequence a few more times together.

All the while Cindy and I were practicing, Michael and Ma had been watching us. When David joined in with us, Ma said it was wonderful to watch the three of us all moving together. She said we looked graceful. It was nice to hear that.

As we were leaving, Cindy said to something to David about it being good to have something new to practice, and he started in again on how we should be working on 24 form and how if we had a traditional teacher we might have spent a whole year on just getting Opening Form right, et cetera, et cetera, ct cetera...

I didn't say anything, but I knew exactly what Cindy meant. And it wasn't a matter of the ego wanting to know more advanced forms, or of wanting to charge ahead just because you're getting bored. When I got home, I remembered the quote that summed it up for me:

"What a joy it is to learn and to practice consistently." — Confucius

The joy of learning. Exactly.

03: Thursday

Four sets left; three sets of first sequence, and I couldn't get the chi flowing until the cool-down qigong.

I couldn't get my chi flowing before karate, either. But, for the first time, in warm up exercises, I could do the extended leg stretch where you have to squat on one leg and balance on your toes while extending the other leg out to the side balance that leg on the heel. I did it both sides. I still don't know how I managed it.

It was very humid tonight. Earlier there was a little rain, a little lightning. I lit the lanterns and candles and some incense. But I was uncomfortable and hot and sticky and the sets were... pretty bad.


Stepping and three sets of first sequence of 42 Form. My balance is okay now, but I feel at low ebb physically. But it's a gray day, and perhaps that's part of the problem.

04: Friday

05: Saturday


Last night I didn't practice; and this morning there wasn't time. Tonight I thought I was too tired, and I watched TV. I finally turned it off, intending to go to bed. I turned out the lights, intending to go upstairs when I changed direction and wandered out onto the back porch. The wind chimes had been ringing gently all evening and I was curious about the night...

It was quite dark. Cloudy. I could see the silhouette of the pine trees against the deep gray sky. The wind seemed playful and it was mild. But it was playing tricks with the night sounds and I couldn't be sure if I was hearing far off traffic or just the wind in the pines...

Next thing I knew, I was practicing. Four sets— five? of the first sequence— and I'm beginning to understand "Deflect and Push." After that, I did three— four? sets 24 Form right side. It seemed quite light out by then, and my balance was good except when I'd begin to think— or worry about my balance!

One odd thing was the sharp aches I got during the second or third set. Suddenly my right upper arm above the elbow and my legs... I can't remember exactly where the aches were, but they were sharp and not in the joints... I can't explain. It's very unusual. I never feel aches. But I still feel a few twinges now, but in different places. It's very odd. Not muscle strain or tenseness.

The chi was flowing and I felt better, more energized with each set— in spite of the wind and the twinges. There is an article in the latest issue of Qi Journal where the author warns against practicing in the wind. But, truly, I believe it depends on the wind. I've felt wind that sucks the chi away, and the wind tonight was actually aiding the flow of chi. I felt as if I was part of the wind energy, flowing with it. It felt good— and don't be telling me that the aches were from the wind messing with my qi. When I did my cool-down qigong I was full of good qi. I don't know what those twinges were, but I don't think they were bad.

06: Sunday

07: Monday

08: Tuesday


Hey! I got a stripe on my yellow belt last night! Yay! I was standing around talking to my brother after class, when Kim came over and said Sensei had told her to put a stripe on my belt. Another surprise. Really, I don't think I deserve it: for the life of me I can 't remember Wansu. But, one thing I'm sure of: Sensei wouldn't give me a stripe if he didn't think I deserved it. Later I had a chance to thank him for the stripe, and he was kind enough to tell me I'm a valued part of the dojo. I am very glad to have a place to belong.

I didn't practice Taiji yesterday. A few runs through first sequence while I was at Ma's, and a little qigong before karate, but no serious practice. Wish I could bag work today and practice and work on the web site… and enjoy the day.

Stepping up and down… it's amazing how easy it is now. Used to be it was an effort to pull whichever leg in, but now I just turn my waist and it seems the leg just naturally comes in. Effortless effort, as David says.

Saw part of a show "Jackie Chan's Hong Kong." In one sequence he was relaxing by doing t'ai chi with a group of people. Looked like Yang style, but the sequence was very short and I couldn't tell. In "Grasp Peacock's Tail," though, everyone leaned the upper body into forward bow stance. Must be a different form… I'll ask David, maybe.

09: Wednesday

10: Thursday


Calm and cool. The coyote's are yipping and howling…

Tuesday's night's class was very good. Paul was back, but Dennis and Michael were among the missing, so it was just the four of us: Ma, me, David, and Paul.

Before class David was unpacking when he said to me, "Okay. Let's see what you've got." I messed up going into Whip, forgetting to shift back to my left foot, so I started again. By the time I finished the sequence, David was laughing— and not just because I forgot and rocked back on Parry. When I was done, I asked, "So, was I close?" "Yeah, close," was the reply. And David proceeded to give me a list of refinements as long as the form.

I made too big a circle here, brought my arm too high there, didn't follow through on my forward bow stances, didn't turn my waist enough in Crane— et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I learned a lot about my performance in both 24 Form and 42 Form. The slight differences in the forms and in the sequences makes everything seem new, and takes the forms out of the usual context so it's easier to "see" what I'm doing, right and wrong.

I asked David if I could do a reading. I had found one earlier in the day (in my book "365 Tao" by Deng Ming Dao), one that meant a lot to me. "It's titled 'Discord,'" I said, "but—" "— it's not about discord," we both said in unison. The reading was about how, sometimes, we lose our connection with Tao, but how, because we have known the connection with Tao, we can regain the connection, or at least take comfort in knowing that the connection can be regained. That's how I feel about taiji practice. Some days, sometimes, I can't do anything right, but then I remember that there were times when I got things just right, and, instead of getting discouraged, I remind myself that I only have to be patient and keep practicing, and everything will come right again. Eventually.

After class— during class we worked on Snake and then through to the end of the set— afterwards, David had me do first sequence again, and he did it with me. Paul and Ma followed along, too. I am getting the idea of 42 Form.

When I got home, I tried Wansu again, but I still couldn't remember it. That bugs the heck out of me, especially now I've got that stripe. Wansu is supposed to be a requirement for the stripe.

Karate tonight was fun. I watched the class before mine and got to see Wansu a couple of times. I still didn't have it down, but felt better. Before class we ran through it a couple of times, so, in class, I mostly had it.

Watched the black belts practicing techniques for handling an assailant with a gun. Very informative.

Tonight, I lit a few candles. Three sets and some work on tiger. My left side feels stiff— not achy stiff, just not flexible. I felt that way in karate, too. Just couldn't get the left leg and ankle to bend… I have excellent "tiger toes" on my right foot now, but my left foot still needs work.


A fine autumn afternoon. High cirrocumulus clouds hide the sun, but the sky is pale blue and opal. Cool. 60 degrees. I took an hour from work to do errands and practice.

Two sets that felt good. I have a blockage in my left shoulder. Tension. The qigong loosened it.

Since the inner soles of my topsiders wore out, I've felt I'm wearing moccasins. Good contact with the earth. Lots of qi today. I played with it and sent some to David. I wonder if he noticed. Wish I could practice longer.

11: Friday


Cloudy and cool. 50 degrees. But I was warm while I was practiced by candle and kitchen light in my shirtsleeves. Afterwards, I shut the back door for the night.

Six sets. I am very dissatisfied. I'm fixed on the problems I have with my left leg and can't get past them.

At Ma's tonight I practiced Wansu and the first sequence of 42 Form. My forearms are all bruised from punching and blocking practice.

Today I was thinking I should sign up for some of the workshops at Willimantic. Yang Applications, and Yang Competition Form, maybe…I should take advantage of the opportunity… Push Hands, too, I think. We did some in karate last night and I haven't a clue of how to handle it, in spite of the [few] times David has worked with us. Not enough times.

12: Saturday


Rain and mild. A little wind. I put on the Yin music and my chucks and practiced. Six good sets. My legs felt strong, my feet were rooting solidly, flat on the porch boards.

Some things I did very well. In some places I flowed. Once in a while my bad habit of coming to a stop manifested. The sets were faster today than usual, though. I'm thinking that "stopping" between forms adds a lot of seconds to my time. Today's sets all timed out at about six minutes and twenty seconds.

I haven't made up my mind about Snake, yet. I mean, whether I try to get high form exactly right, or shoot for low form. I did it both ways today. Low form is easier some ways, of course. Less precision is necessary— what do I mean by that? I'm not sure. But it seems easier than high form in that if I place my stepping foot out too far when I step out in high form, I can't rock back because my balance is off; but in low form, I have momentum to carry me through the form. Rats. I think I should work on getting high form right.

I also practiced my katas. I got messed up on the Wansu sequence and called Jon. We talked for about half an hour. Jon has also noticed that Dennis— Sensei treats everyone differently when it comes to advancement. It's puzzling; we can't pick out a pattern. But I find it interesting to think that, perhaps, he's just seeing each student as an individual.

13: Sunday

14: Monday


While I practiced the wind cleared the clouds away; the candles flickered, but didn’t go out. One brilliant star appeared to the left of the pines. It's still mild, and I hear the last of the raindrops falling from leaves and gutters. I think it's the coyotes I hear yipping.

My energy today was extremely low, so I did almost nothing today, and even napped for a while. At Ma's tonight, getting a snack, it occurred to me that my chi was low, and it wasn't just the dull, wet weather. I have to say practice has made me feel much better.

Six sets and cool-down qigong. I've been working on getting high form right. I haven't quite got Snake gauged correctly, but almost. It's not as impressive as low form, but there's more satisfaction for me in getting it right.

I've been using the alternate transition David showed me for between right and left Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. It's a circular motion, and if you don't control it just right, the shuttles don't work smoothly.

My left shoulder is bugging me. The qigong helps, but when I stop, it tenses up again. I've been minding not to raise my arms & elbows too high in Brush Knee and Repulsing. David pointed this error out when I was doing 42 Form last week. Instead of letting my arm pivot on the elbow, I was bringing my arm and elbow up.

Towards the end of the last set, I found myself thinking about Willimantic. I haven't settled yet which seminars to sign up for, except the 24 Form Real Life Applications. I'll have to make up my mind tomorrow, though, and send in my fees.

15: Tuesday


Clear and cold. It's 34 degrees out there! I had to sweep the leaves off the porch: during the first set the crackled so much underfoot I couldn't concentrate.

I practiced the first sequence of 42 Form. The more I tried to improve, the worse I got. I'm all at sixes and sevens, now, and very frustrated. So, I'm going to go to bed and read "King of the Khyber Rifles."

16: Wednesday

We didn't work on 42 Form tonight. Before class, David was showing me the CDs and stuff he has for sale. After class, there was very little time. We ran late trying to get Michael and Shane squared away on Snake. I bought two CDs from "Ali Hakim" ("Sheng Hua: Music to Invigorate the Spirit," and "Qigong Massage," which included an instruction booklet on massaging the joints) and two yin-yang lapel pins (one for me, one for Ma).

David was tired tonight, but he was talkative. He gave me a lot of good information on taiji theory as we went through the particulars of the forms...

Somehow the class got onto the subject of how qigong exercise affects the body. David pointed out that qigong often makes people feel like burping. Of course Paul and I felt obligated to point out that there are other similar effects. David wasn't sure he wanted to respond to this, but he allowed as how the "massaging" of the internal organs did sometimes have certain consequences. I made a joke saying if one was going to practice qigong, one shouldn't eat broccoli for lunch, and finally David laughed and said that, as a matter of fact, the qigong workshops usually included vegetarian lunches, and that "things happened." We all got a good laugh out of that.

17: Thursday


Nor'easter today. Lots of rain and wind. But it's stopped now, except for some wind. When I walked up to the post office before practice it was completely overcast, but by the time I got to the bridge, there were big blue blotches in the sky where the clouds were thinning and the moon was trying to shine through. By the time I was across the bridge the clouds were moving very fast and there were black patches with stars and the deep blue clouds were thinning fast and getting lighter as they raced past the moon making rainbows around it. Beautiful sky show. I'm glad I saw it.

Reason I was heading for the post office was I wanted to mail my registration for the seminars at the Second New England International Chinese Martial Arts Championships. I decided on Silk Reeling with Grand Master Zhang Zhijun, Taiji 24 Form Real Life Applications with Master Randy K. Li, and Tai Chi San Shou with Master Yuzhi Lu. All the seminars are on Friday afternoon, one after the other. I hope I'm not too tired afterwards to stay for the Masters demonstrations on Friday night.

It took me a while to figure out which seminars to take— and I hope I didn't wait too long to get in on all of them. David recommended the Real Life Applications, but the Silk Reeling and the Tai Chi San Shou were my own choices. I've been fascinated by silk reeling exercises since that first one I came across in T'ai Chi Magazine nearly two years ago. I tried it and I liked it. It really helped healing my broken elbow. And the 'San Shou just sounded neat. It incorporates two person moves , qina, and… other stuff. As I say, I hope there's still room for me in the seminars. I'm really looking forward to them.

For practice I put on my new CD "Sheng Hua." Four sets left. On the third set, I remembered something David said last night. He was explaining to Shane about where the power comes from, and how all the parts from our feet up move in sequence, one after the other, transferring the power like the snapping of a whip. I remembered especially David explaining the sequence shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and I thought I'd try moving my arms by consciously invoking that sequence. Well, it worked better than I could have imagined!

I began by letting my arms relax as completely as I could. Then, when I stepped out into the first Parting Horse's Mane, I let the movement go from foot to waist to shoulder to arm, and— it felt amazing. My last two sets weren't perfect, but I surely learned something about power and relaxation!

Karate tonight was interesting. I'm getting a little better at everything. I can almost coordinate a side kick, for one thing. Also, I'm learning a little more about balance— though, there's still a long way to go.

The black belt class after ours was interesting, too. There's a black belt who trained in another form of karate concerned mainly with sparring techniques. His approach is very different. (Sensei was kind enough to come over and explain the differences in technique to me. That's one of the things I particularly like about Sensei. He's very forthcoming with information. And he treats even beginners like me as equals in intelligence, if not in skill. And that's why everyone chipped in for his birthday, too. He's got a lot of students who truly like and respect him. Tonight we gave him a cake, and a card, and a fancy juicer for a present.) Anyway, what was most interesting to me was that the blocking and striking techniques reminded me very much of T'ai Chi blocking and striking, even unto the hand being open instead of in a fist.

I've signed up for the Bo workshop this Friday night. (The "bo" is the long staff.) It's an introductory thing. Jon bugged me to sign up because they need eight students and he is very keen on taking it. I'm very interested in learning weapons, too, but the class is early and I didn't think I could get away from work. But then I realized there wasn't anything critical happening on Friday and I could go in early and leave early. What was that quote from "Illusions"? Ah, yes: "Argue for your limitations, and they're yours."

18: Friday


Today I developed an amazing bruise on the wrist and thumb of mmy left hand. I think I hit myself doing a block. *sigh* The kids noticed it when I was over tutoring Lauren in Geometry tonight...

I have to sleep fast: got to get up and go in to work early so I can leave early to go to the bo workshop. I really do want to learn more about weapons.


I feel bad. I didn't practice today. Even though I left work early, I didn't practice, deciding instead to go to the bookstore to pick up that "Complete Idiots Guide to Geometry" and then I stayed there to peruse all the martial arts books and magazines. Then, when I got home, I decided to skip practice in favor of turning in early. And now, I've stayed up studying geometry instead of getting some sleep. Rats. Why can't there be more hours in a day?

19: Saturday


Yesterday was a beautiful fall day. Two sets and coold-down before work. The sets felt very good, and I could feel the power transfer from foot to hand happening. Later, at work, I practiced Grasping while I waited for Adelina's computer for scan its disk drive. There was just enough space in her cubicle to grasp to both sides, and I learned a lot about my foot placement in the transition.

Last night, Friday, I attended a workshop on basic bo (staff) techniques. It was excellent, and I learned a lot, not least of which is that the "softness" I've learned in T'i Chi, and the power transfer I've just begun to understand are both techniques necessary to successful practice with the bo. Neat! I very much want to pursue the study of weapons, but I'll have to get a belt higher before I will be allowed to attend Friday weapons lessons.

The wind is blowing a gale today, sending leaves and pine needles rushing maddly across the lawns and through the air. But it's mild for all of that. 56 degrees. Very comfortable for practice in a teeshirt.

I'm quite stubborn sometimes. Today I spent quite a while trying to learn the "secret" of the opening sequence of 42 Form. I wonder if my "problem" is that I don't understand enought about the reality of the applications. Anyway, somewhere around the sixth or seventh try, I managed to begin to feel coordinated. I gave it a few more tires, and went on to 24 Form.

Three sets right, the cool-down qigong. I think I've got the energy transfer down now, though it's rough and quite exaggerated...

Every once in a while now, I do something that feels so right it surprises me. It's kinda like getting an unexpected present. It makes my day.

Before practice I swept the porch. It was covered with pine needles and crunchy maple seeds and leaves. I swept it clean, but then when I went inside to get my music, the needles and seeds and leaves came back!

20: Sunday

21: Monday


Two sets, one each side. The second was much better than the first. It's a beautiful, pale autumn day. I wish I could practice longer.

22: Tuesday


Full moon and cold and I'm so tired. I want to practice, but... no.

I karate tonight we played push hands again. I still don't "get" it. We stand in horse stance— left foot to left; right to right; left to right; doesn't matter— and, wrist to wrist, we try to push each other off balance. We try to "stick" with the opponent's wrist and feel for the chance to push...

I guess I just don't understand the combat aspect of this game. It it were real, then the object would be to find or make an opening and push, but...

I'll say it again: I don't think novices can learn much or well from palying this game with other novices. It's like handing a bunch of first graders a book and saying, "Go learn to read."


Six— seven? sets and cool-down qigong. I'm beginning to feel "spring-loaded." It's as if I have to move/turn to release the energy... but there's an element of needing to control the energy expenditure. Interesting.

No class tonight because... I don't know why. David said he had something to do.

23: Wednesday


Karate was interesting again. We did more push hands. I was partnered with Bruce, a black belt, at one point though, and I did learn a lot from that. I wish we could do a lot more push hands— I wish I could do push hands with David every day. (Hey, if I'm going to wish, I may as well make it a good one, just in case it gets granted, right?)

I still remember how good t'ai chi practice felt today... how I could feel the "spring-laoded" power in my waist, and how I felt that if I "let it go" without some control I'd turn too far it would have been just like a spring going "sproing!" instead of the controled, continuous release of a clock spring that can power the mechanism for a very long time on one winding.

You know, it's a strange thing, but I feel stupid when I talk to Dennis— sensei. I did tonight, anyway. I think it's because I can't articulate many of my feeling about the dojo experience. My experience. Maybe it's because he's the sensei. Dennis does listen, and he is intelligent, so talking with him is usually rewarding, but... But I can't talk about my feelings, not the deep ones. Guess I've grown used to pretending I don't really have any that need to be expressed.

I wish David and I could talk easily. It's be nice to be able to really get to know both of my teachers.


Sleet... sleet. Brrrrr. Wet snow. Snow. And it's only 36 degrees out there. Good thing t'ai chi wards off the cold...


Two sets and cool-down qigong. Nothing special today. I watched my breath and wondered that I felt warm enough. Guess it really is time to change my schedule. I certainly don't have to stay up late to practice in the cool of the day now!

24: Thursday

Tonight I began to get the idea of the bunkai for naihanshi shodan. I also am beginning to get the hang of that nasty punch and kick in wansu— at least it now seems as if the the number of individual moves required to execute it is managable. I'm still not good at kicking, especially not side kicks.

I asked about the fist alignment for blocking and punching. When the two striking knuckle bones are in a line with the arm bones, there's an angle made by the heel of the hand on the outside of the wrist that helps to "catch" and stop what you're blocking. I need to practice keeping my hands properly aligned in both blocking and punching— and I'd better be especially careful to keep my left thumb bent in, or I'm going to break it. (The right thumb stays properly positioned: it can't straighten out since I snapped the tendon making that birthday cake for Sarah.)

25: Friday


Today is my fifty-first birthday.

I don't remember whether I did six or seven sets today... it could have been eight. After the first three sets (left), I went on to do the right-hand sets and I got caught up in working on various details, and so I just kept doing sets, working on this and that until I lost count. Finally, though, I bethought me of the time and, reluctantly, ended my practice. I'll tell you what's very satisfying: I'm strong enough now that six or eight sets don't tire me. If I do ten consecutive sets, I begin to feel it, but I'm ever so much stronger than I was even a year ago.

The sets today were interesting, the first one espcecially. From the moment I began, my whole body felt extra heavy. Not heavy as in the feel of gravity, but heavy as if I had become more dense. It was a strange feeling, but it didn't interfere with my execution of the forms. In fact, because I felt I had more inertia to control, I felt I was more precise in my movements. And though the t'ai chi didn't seem to be flowing, I felt I was filled with it. The feeling seemed to dissipate in the next set; and by the third, I felt "normal." Very interesting.

I would have been on time for work today (Thursday) but I met David at the post office and we stood on the steps talking for 40 minutes!

The reason we didn't have class this week is that David was in Hartford getting certified to teach T'ai Chi for Arthritis. David said he had a very good time. He got to talk with other T'ai Chi teachers from all over the country and compare notes. And he got to talk with Dr. Paul Lam, the inventor of the "arthritis form," quite a bit, too, and not just about the class, but about other things.

David told me that he was a little disappointed that in the practice sessions for Dr. Lam's forms he didn't get corrected much. I had to laugh. We both knew that David most probably didn't get corrected because he was doing it right. And I told him so, just so he could hear it out loud. After all this time, knowing how meticulous and detail-oriented David is, it would never surprise me to find him picking up even the smallest nuances of any form quickly and executing the forms perfectly.

We had quite a conversation. I told him about my experiences practicing lately, about the feeling of power and the "spring-loaded" effect. And he gave me some "homework." He told me to practice "with intent," to work as if I were doing the applications with a real opponent. I said I didn't know all the applications, but he told me to work the ones I know and to use imagination for the rest. He's right, of course. Why is it I seem to have to have someone always pointing out the obvious to me? Duh! And you know the really stupid thing? It's exactly what Sensei keeps telling us, too: imagine.


Three sets (left), and two of first sequence of 42 Form.

Today I did my homeowrk and imagined I was interacting with an opponent on every move. It's more difficult than it seems. But I did it. The sets went faster, and I felt quite different doing them— but I didn't lose all my relaxation as I feared I might. As ever, I wish I could have practiced longer on this beautiful fall day.

26: Saturday


It's raining— steady rain— and feels colder than it is.

Ten sets (five each), and half a dozen of First Sequence. Today practice generated more questions than qi.

I noticed that I'm very sloppy in some forms when I step out. I found I was turning my waist as I stepped in Press, and sometimes in Grasp Peacock's Tail, but it was most apparent in 42 Form when I was in Deflect and Push on Both Sides. *sigh*

Wow. It's really pouring out now....

Anyway, I worked on that, but I'm not satisfied. And Deflect and Push is hard enough for me without worrying about my feet— aaaaarrrrgggh! But what's even worse, is going from Grasp to Single Whip to Strum the Lute in 42 Form. I hadn't a clue how to move my feet today. Expecially when it came to coordinating with Whip so I'd be ready to step out into the Press. Guess I'll just have to ask David on Tuesday.

Now I have to get ready to go to the dojo's fall clean up party.

27: Sunday


Daylight Savings. I didn't realize I hadn't set my kitchen clocks back until now. It was a bit of a shock to realize sundown had come and it wasn't anywhere near supper time yet!

Today my feet were tired. I set about practice with the thought of being light on my feet, and that seemed to help, but... I don't know. I got more out of watching the sky at susnset than I did out of the t'ai chi. Today.

Earlier, I was rereading the article on peng jin in the latest T'ai Chi Magazine. There was a mention of Push Hands drills and how the peng jin works— the "anatomy" of "yielding" as it says in the article— that gave me an insight into what the push hands is about. Very interesting— and I understand some of it! Next time we play push hands, I may do better at it. I wish I could explain to you what I've apprehended, but I can't.

Reading the article on peng jin, I was pleased to discover that I have chosen exactly the right workshops to attend at Willimantic: silk reeling and T'ai Chi San Shou. They're exactly what I will need to develop a feel for my qi, and for learning push hands. Good to know my intuition is working.

28: Monday


Up and down wtih my morning tea; two sets and some qigong. I'm not "with it" today.

29: Tuesday


This fall has been... yellow. Very yellow. Yellow belt autumn.

Last night Sensei mentioned that one of his teachers, Sensei Eizo Shimabuku, recommended that each kata be practiced seven times, and that each time the student should focus on one of seven aspects of execution, such as breathing, stance, eyes, etc. It sounded like an excellent plan to me, so, after class I asked what the seven aspects were. Sensei didn't remember the list exactly, but we came up with: breathing, eyes, stance, form, focus/power, kiai/timing, and integration. Sensei said he would check his notes. (He always took notes, it seems. He had good reason, I supose, since once he left Okinawa, if he had any questions, he would have the devil of a time checking with Master Odo.)

Note: September 2003: One Way to Practice Karate, my interpretation of the above practice method.


Tonight t'ai chi class seemed... unfocused. We worked a lot on Grasp Needle, its execution and applications. We also worked through Parry and Punch.

David corrected my form in the pulling and pushing movements the we do in Peacock and between Punch and Return Tiger. It seems I have been allowing my elbows to rise and turn out and they should be kept down and close to the body. I must say I can feel the difference. There's a cleaner, more efficient power transfer on the push when the elbows are down and in line— but also don't forget to leave that open space under your arms!

David had us doing push hands tonight. I think because he remembered that I'll be going to the workshops at Willimantic on Friday. He mentioned it a few times during class when he was making points. When he did push hands with me he made sure I understood about keeping my elbows down. I've always had a tendency to raise them, and tonight every time I did, he would tip me right over! Push hands really does make you improve your form!

After class David didn't offer to go through 42 Form, and I didn't ask. But when we got out to the parking lot and he was putting his stuff in his car, he did ask how it was coming. I said I had one question about coordinating the hand and foot movements in Single Whip, and the next thing I knew we were working on it. Oh! But you should have seen how beautifully coordinated the movement was when he did it— ! I was disgusted at how easy he made it look, too. David saw my face and laughed.

So, we went through it again, me following, but David didn't stop at the end of the first sequence, he kept going. I tried to follow. I was with him at times, but his pace was fast and required more skill than I currently have, so, in places, I just stopped and watched while he kept up a commentary on what he was doing. As he pointed out at the end, I have all the moves, it's just a matter of putting them together differently. ("Just!") Whatever. It was obvious that David has been practicing, and that he enjoyed overy second of showing me his quick-time 42 Form. He is very, very good.

After that we got to talking, David and Ma and I. We talked about everything from town politics to immigration to cats and coyotes. We talked until the chill of the night finally got to Ma and she told us we had to say good night. As he was leaving, he called back telling me to have fun this weekend "— and keep you elbows down!" I said I'd try.

30: Wednesday


A little 42 Form practice, minding my elbows. I'll practice more later.

I'm planning not to practice on Thursday. I know I'll be worrying about the workshops on Friday, and I don't want to get all tense and discourage myself with a bad practice session.

31: Thursday

* Please note:

The times given are in 24-hour military notation. 01:00 is one o'clock in the morning. 13:00 is one in the afternoon.

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