Tai Chi notes, September 18, 2018

Sep 18 2018

I led the Silk Reeling Exercises in the Saturday class this week. One of the senior students gave me a few pieces of advice afterwards: when I’m doing the Spiraling from Dantian to Wrist, I should lead with the pinky and end with the middle finger; when I’m doing the punching in the exercises, the punches should be chest height instead of waist height; and when I’m doing the Six Sealing Four Closing in the form, I shouldn’t lean forward at the start.

When doing the form, I feel like my Hand Maneuvers are getting a little better – I’m doing a better job of relaxing the off hand. I’m feeling a little off-balance in the Oblique Posture, when returning to my back foot: I think I need to work on that. And I was feeling a little uncertain about what I should do with my hands between the Protecting the Heart Fist and the Whirlwind Kick; not sure where that uncertainty came from, but hopefully I’ve got it mostly figured out again, but I should probably ask about that on Saturday?

For the spear part, we just reviewed what we’d done the previous week. (Which was a good thing: it’s important, and I hadn’t practiced because the Pao Chui course had taken up my normal practice time. Tony repeated some advice to practice new moves a hundred times; I should probably try that at some point!) And Xin Jia was also a repeat, we’re kind of stalled with that.

After the regular class I reviewed both Dao forms for a bit, and a couple of other students joined me; good to have company. There were a few things I wasn’t quite sure of, but hopefully we mostly figured it out…

Sunday was the last 8 Energies workshop. When doing 8 Energies reviews, I’ve been enjoying the feel of the Lei, feeling like something is stretching between my forearms; I think I need to work on Lu, it’s subtler than I’d been thinking of it as; and Kao definitely needs some work. I’d been doing the Kao in the drill as just moving my shoulder forward, with my arm already down, but I realized that Tony spirals his arm down to set up the shoulder strike, I need to work on that. And the handout translates Kao as torso instead of shoulder; I asked about that, the point there is that the force comes from the torso as well as the shoulder.

Most of the morning was spent on the moving steps version of the 8 Energies drill. Not sure if I’ll be able to remember that, but here are some notes to try to help:

  • In general, moves are done with your hands in fists. And in the first four you slide your feet forward and backward; in the second four, you switch feet and step every time.
  • Peng: both fists curve forward and up, but make sure you don’t get uprooted: it’s important to sink. Your back fist goes pretty far forward, you’re not just expanding with the front fist, and in fact the back fist can turn into an uppercut.
  • Lu: both fists are in a horizontal orientation (in fists), with the front palm up the back palm down; pull back with them.
  • Ji: switch feet with this one; punch forward, with both fists in a vertical orientation.
  • An: pretty much what you’d expect, punch down just inside your back leg.
  • Cai: no fists on this one, you’re grabbing pulling back like in the regular version of the exercise. But think of the foot switch at the end as part of the Cai.
  • Lei: there’s a foot switch right at the start (coming very soon after the Cai switch, so it feels like two switches in a row). And then pull your fists apart while turning, but don’t think of it as a turn, rather as emphasizing the split: bend your front arm at the elbow, with the outer half of your arm vertical, while the left hand goes back. So you can think of it as using your back hand to pull on your opponent’s arm, extending it, while your left hand pushes on the part of the arm above the shoulder, locking their joint. It’s kind of like jump turn after third Pound Pestle in Xin Jia.
  • Zhou: start with a block and strike, just like in Kao. Both elbows are going horizontally sideways, but the front elbow is the important one: unlike Lei, you’re not splitting. (And maybe the back arm isn’t even really hitting so much with the elbow at all?)
  • Kao: it starts with the same block and strike as Zho does; it’s basically just like the regular 8 energies Kao.

And in the afternoon we did a push hands version of that; that was fun, but I don’t think I’ll try to write down notes, I don’t spend much time on push hands. (I should probably start doing more push hands at some point?) And then there was some other push hands thing after that, but I was feeling surprisingly wiped out, so I sat out during the last hour.

I skipped class today: Liesl wasn’t feeling good so I walked Widget after getting home, and I got home late because of train problems. And the combination of those two took enough time that I would have shown up quite late to class.

As to non-class practices, I skipped standing meditation last Thursday (I was at a conference over lunch) but I did it today; only 15 minutes, though. I haven’t been as good as I’d like about the leg strengthening exercise that Tony’s been talking about over the last month or so, but I’m still doing it some; hopefully I can turn that into a regular habit (before I go to bed, probably?), because I’m pretty sure it would be good for me.

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