My understanding of Tai Chi seems to come in the form of a sine wave: the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know, and as I adjust for more and more details, other details get lost.
For the last few months, I felt like I was getting nowhere. The concepts made sense in my brain, but not in my body. My teacher has said that Tai Chi is already too intellectualized, and as a person who’s never been very physically co-ordinated and tries to compensate in SHEER MENTAL POWA!, this holds true especially for me. Until I’ve mastered telekinesis, however, I’ll be reliant on more traditional means of movement.
One thing that helped a lot is when a senior student showed me what ward-off (peng) felt like. As he stood with structure in his body, I tried to push him1, but ended up pushing myself off him and falling over. In order to move him, I was forced to use the proper technique (since he’s considerably bigger than me), and expand with my entire body — legs, waist, arms, chest, lungs — instead of simply trying to move through him.
Then we reversed roles and he pushed me until I could channel his energy through my feet. It was the first time I ever felt grounded, instead of simply understanding the idea. I still don’t really understand it, insofaras I couldn’t explain it to someone else.
Adapting this all to the form is something else. I try to focus on one thing at time2 but it falls apart in other places. At this point, I’m just trying to get all the gross mechanics to be natural without having to think about it, hoping that I’ll eventually be able to fine tune everything else.
- It reminded me of the feeling of squeezing a rubber stopper, something with give but not much, that becomes exponentially difficult to compress. [↩]
- Such as staying at one level without being rigid (considered “breathing”), relaxing my lower back, thinking of my body being anchored through my legs, and keeping structure and intent in my palms. [↩]