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June 2003

01: Sunday

02: Monday


Cool and sunny. I am up betimes: next week I'll be communting to New London for the certification workshop and I have to reprogram myself.

Six very good, very slow sets. My head and my body were very close to being in exactly the right places. But not quite. I was still aware of myself.

Sun style next. Step Forward to Deflect Downwards... the coordination still puzzles me. Tomorrow, in class, I will watch David closely.

42 form... I spent a lot of time getting the left side version corrected— that turn into White Crane is very confusing from the left. But I have it now.

Katas to finish... so much to learn!

Cool-down qigong.

03: Tuesday


This morning, I'm just going to sit...

Sensei was telling us last night that when he was taking lessons the warmup was always exactly the same: ten of this, ten of that, ten of the other, and so on. Naturally, Sensei being Sensei, he always made sure that when he practiced on his own he did fifteen of each warmup exercise. That way, in class, when the warmup was done, he still have something left. *sigh* I suppose I ought to do the warmup exercises every day— even if I do them last.

Last night we did shihonuke again. I got the spinning block in, but Sensei noticed that I waasn't making the directional transition properly. The bo is supposed to stay in position at the forward jab while I turn my body ninety degrees; then bring the bo around into the block, leveraging it off the hip. I muffed it twice while he watched; then he came over. "I'm going to hold onto this," he said, taking the end of my bo. I finally got it right. *sigh*

I thinking I ought to get a private lesson on the bo katas, but, I also feel that I'm so lame that Sensei would feel it a waste of time for both of us.

Joe wrote— emailed to tell me that the Push Hands seminar on Sunday was excellent. I'm very sorry I missed it, but there was no way. Rats.

Joe's the reason I'm just sitting today. He advised me to take some time off from training. He said it wounded like I'd been pushing myuself lately. Maybe so. I feel driven, I guess. Partly because I feel I've been abandoned by my taiji teacher, partly because I feel I'm going to run out of time. Mortality.

Speaking of which, Jon had to drive Ma to a funeral yesterday. She tells me that Jon uses his hand exerciser constantly while he drives. He says his goal is to do a thousand squeezes a day. Jon also bought that "leg stretcher" a while back. Guess the obsessive-compulsiveness runs in the family, it just takes different forms.

Later: Ha! I knew I couldn't get out of here without practicing something! My feet took me out on the porch and the mop handle leapt into my hadns and the next thing I knew I was "fixing" shihonuke. (Much better!)

04: Wednesday


T'ai Chi... the disruptive woman was there. She never speaks to be, but tonight she felt compelled to tell me I looked tired. Strange woman.

I noticed tonight that David had very little qi... no, that's not true. David automatically generates qi when he moves, and he was generating it tonight, but, whenever he came within proximity to the disruptive woman, his qi got.. smothered, that's the only way to describe it. Ma noticed the same thing. It's very odd.

Tonight David only had one correction for me, and it was for something I wasn't doing wrong. "Point your fingers up." They were "up." Hrmph.

05: Thursday


One set before I left for the meeting; two when I got back, plus some work with my bo. It's hard not to practice.

I felt very strong in my sets. Very. And today my left foot stayed rooted while grasping that right-hand peacock's tail. Excellent!

Last night, Sensei sent John C. and me off to work with Kim on han bo. I don't know what it is about that kata that makes it impossible for me to remember the sequence. I've never had so much trouble remember anything before.

Later: Kobudo class was excellent. I learned a lot— and have so much to work on now!

Cindy came to watch. Sensei visited with her and then excused me for a few minutes to talk with her. He is an excellent host. I called to thank him later, and give him Cindy's thanks, too. She really enjoyed her visit. After class, we went for coffee and talked. She said I had a bright aura.

06: Friday

Last night, I fell asleep thinking about all I'd learned. It was so exciting that I was tempted to get out of bed and practice, late as it was... but I was very tired and I decided to sleep.

07: Saturday


Kobudo class on Thursday was excellent. We're reviewing, and Mike has joined us, so we got to see the oar katas. Sensei innundated us with a lot of new information: it will take me forever to incorporate all of it into my practice!

Cindy from taiji came to watch. Sensei made her welcome, even spent some time talking with her. And, because he can't resist a new audience, we got to see him do a couple of katas that would knock your socks off— tabi socks, I guess, if you were wearing 'em in the dojo.

Cindy had the same observations I did as to the similarities between taiji and karate. From the roots you have to grow beneath your feet to the thread that holds the top of your head connected to the sky; whether you say, "It's all in the hips!" or "It's all in the waist!" you're saying the same thing. If only I could get David and Sensei together—!

I've taken Joe's advice: for the time being, I'm only going to practice when the spirit moves me. I was driving myself before and it was making me miserable.

08: Sunday


The katas— bo katas haunt me. So much to work on! I keep returning to the back porch, grabbing the mop handle...

I tried to work on han bo today, too. But the sequence eludes me. I called Jon to ask, but he wasn't around.

I should be in bed, but I know I won't sleep. It's not excitement about tomorrow's class, either. It's just that... I don't know. I tried one set of taiji a little while ago to see if it would calm me down. I guess it did. Some.

09: Monday


The TCA Certification class is... amazingly boring. There are 25 students.

David is here, too, taking Sun 73 workshop. I saw him when he arrived, but he didn't say hello.

10: Tuesday


The TCA class continues to move painfully slowly. I'm waiting for tonight's teaching workshop. Wish I could go to the Push Hands one, instead, but I feel obligated...

I'm receiving a lot of complements on my form— and not just because it looks pretty, mind you. I tell 'em to chalk it up to having a good teacher.

Classes are being held in the theatre/dance building at Connecticut College. Nice building. Nice college. I scouted around today, and discovered that the big upstairs studio where they're teaching Sun 73 is not only big enough to swing a bo, but it is also equipped with a wall of mirrors and a Steniway baby grand. The place was deserted during lunch, so I practiced with my bo. Tomorrow I'll bring my music, too, and, if the place continues to be deserted during lunch, I'll get in some practice on the piano, too.

I was practicing bo when David poked his head into the room. I was sure he had come back from lunch early to practice. When I saw him, I stopped and said hello, but he turned and left. Too bad for him: I'd've given up the room to him if he had asked. We'll see if he shows up again tomorrow.

11: Wednesday


The room is deserted, so...

Each morning all the workshop participants gather up at 9:00 for a talk and a demonstration. This morning's talk was very nice, Anna called it "The Magic of Tai Chi." She talked about how people act as if there is some great secret about Tai Chi, and about how some people are very jealous of this secret. She illustrated her point with a story taken from the book "The Way of the Wolf." In the story the lesson is this: What we give freely to others we also give to ourselves, and such giving enhances the gift. We were reminded, too, that each hurt we inflict on another is inflicted on ourselves; and each help we give to another, is a help to ourselves. Also, we were reminded to be generous because another's failure does not enhance us, nor does another's success diminish us.

The demonstration was by Ian Etcel. He performed the Combined 42 Form. It was... amazing. I think he's even better than David— and that's saying something! The performance was inspiring. I only hope I live long enough to learn to be half as good. I'm more frustrated than ever that I'm in the TCA workshop, instead of Sun or Sword or 42 or Chen or... rats.

Practice. I remember the whole han bo sequence. The mirrors are depressing me though: I can see all my mistakes and shortcomings. Now I really do wish David had asked me to give up the room to him!

12: Thursday


They let us out early. The TCA is still painfully slow going. Add to that my exhaustion from driving back and forth, and... I want to sleep, not practice.

Everyone seems to be amused that I have my bo with me, and quite a few ask about it. I wish I felt I was good enough at any one of the bo katas to demonstrate for them.

13: Friday


Saw David in passing this morning and I "flang an arm" at him. He waved back.

Dr. Lam took our morning session today. It was good to finally see exactly how he performs the TCA set.

Kobudo last night made me feel quite discouraged. I feel as if I've hit another wall. I know the solution is to keep practicing, but I really just want to quit.

14: Saturday


I'm early, so I got to watch the Chen 36 teacher going through his paces. Wish I could take that form. It was really neat!


Waiting for the "social dinner" to start...

This afternoon, fate brought me into the room as David's Sun 73 class was rehearsing for their presentation tomorrow. I was sitting not ten feet from David, close enough to see his fingers vibrating from concentration. His performance was... beautiful. It made me cry. And it's not just my bias talking. When they were done, other people in the room were commenting on David's extraordinay performance, too. He stands out.

15: Sunday

I have my TCA teaching certification. Last night I was too tired to eat, but I got to talk to some folks. Jay van Schelt is very interesting, one of Dr. Lam's Master Trainers— quite the commedian, and he really knows Push Hands and taiji, too. Saw David at the banquet, but we didn't speak. I won a door prize. I'm exhausted. I'm going to email work and tell them I won't be in tomorrow.

16: Monday

David Sun Style © 2003 New Moon
David Sun Style © 2003 New Moon

Sunday morning I took pictures of the class demonstrations. I have one of David that I'm going to frame for him, as you see. I hope he likes it.

17: Tuesday

Class tonight. Same as always, but... afterwards, David asked to speak with me... so we spoke. He wants me to find another teacher. He told me to think about it, but he didn't give me any choice. Nor did he give me any reason.

I gave him the picture. He thanked me.

18: Wednesday

19: Thursday

20: Friday


It is done. I have written to David accepting his dismissal of me.

Ma is disgusted by it. She says it's stupid, that I haven't done anything to warrant dismissal. And that's true. That wasn't the problem. And we all know that— David acknowledged it.

To tell the truth, I find it's a relief. Sad, but a relief.


A beautiful night. Scorpius in the south twinkling in answer to a firefly. The sky still holds light...

One set in the dark, just to see if I still can. It seems an age since I practiced— maybe it is.

But I haven't lost anything. In fact, I seem to have gained in some indefinable way. Magic. Seeing other masters and other forms has done me a world of good, I guess.

I'm feeling now that my letter to David said all the wrong things, but then, between us, the words will probably never be right, no matter how carefully I attend to the crafting. That's just the way things are between us.

21: Saturday


Three sets this afternoon. The magic is still there— though the sets were imperfect. Something there is my body has learned, though...

Where will I find another teacher? Speaking of which, you know something? All the times I talked with Dr. Lam last week (and he is very interesting to talk with), I never did remember to ask him about that damned 42 Form! LOL! Rats.

22: Sunday


I still haven't quite got the knack of tapping the power of the follow steps in Sun style, but I'm closing on it.

As for my Yang style... I need teaching.

23: Monday


Two sets of 24. Each ran 8 minutes and I wasn't trying to go slowly...

A set of 42's first sequence, but, today, I've got no notion how that should feel...

A few sets of TCA, concentrating on the "back nine" and the follow steps...

It occurs to me that I'm an orphan now.

24: Tuesday

25: Wednesday


It's cool enough to practice, but I've got nasty blisters on the bottoms of both feet from having to hoof it back from Eagle Motors tonight in the 90 degree heat. I'm going to have to wait until the blisters mash down before I can practice...


I was thinking about some unsettling postings I read on a Martial Arts newsgroup I discovered while checking out a computer at work. The only point I could agree with was this comment: "There are a lot of people out there teaching t'ai chi who don't know the first thing about it." Amen.

26: Thursday


Hot and humid. Did a few sets of TCA. Strum the Lute to the right kept messing me up for some strange reason. Go figure.


Leisurely Tying Coat: a very interesting move...


Kobudo. Sensei continues to delight me. "Let the bo go, don't try to control it. Let it fall: it's going where it's supposed to go. You don't have to use your strength to make it go. Just guide it with your hands and let your hips drive it..." And he showed us how to do that. And his bo went falling, quite effortlessly, exactly where it was supposed to go, Sensei barely touching it. Amazing. (T'ai Chi!)

When you see it done, it's so obvious, so simple, so... effortlessly powerful, you can only think, "Of course! Why didn't I see it before?" And you wonder, "Why can't I do that?" (Duh!)

Practice. Lots of practice. Relax and let the bo and gravity do the work. I wish I had a video of that demonstration.

27: Friday

28: Saturday


Six good, solid sets... but I know I need my teacher to really get it right.

I hadn't thought I would be able to practice. "Losing" my teacher does bother me. But taiji is truly a part of me now, not just a passing interest....

If the sweat wasn't dripping off me and the mosquitos weren't biting, I'd keep going. "Strengthen your spirit through continual practice." Truly.

(Han bo. Just to satisfy myself that I still remembered it. I do. I'll rest now.)

29: Sunday


A few sets of everything. I feel as if I have no qi. Ah, well. Some days.

30: Monday

I think I did the right thing in accepting my "dismissal" with grace. I think I did...

But did I? I still don't understand it.

Copyright © 2003 New Moon

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