Tai Chi notes, September 25, 2018

Sep 25 2018

The first main event this week was actually a book I read: Internal Body Mechanics, by Ken Gullette. He talks about six key mechanics, the ground path, peng, whole-body movement, spiraling / silk-reeling energy, opening and closing the kua, and dantian rotation. There’s a lot to think about there, but the main one that struck me is the ground path: always maintaining a connection from the point of contact with your opponent to the ground. It’s not a phrase that my teacher uses, but it feels related to things he talks about (e.g. uprooting yourself, which it makes sense to me to think of in terms of losing the ground path). And related in a potentially actively useful way: if I can get the feel for what it means to have the ground path, then I can try to maintain that feel.

The other five concepts seem worth thinking about too, though: it seems like a good list? For example, the mention of the kua there reminds me that I have work to do there. I used to sink into my knee too much; more recently I’ve gotten better about that and am sinking into my thigh more. But I should actually probably frequently move that sinking further up my leg, into the crease at the hip.

Anyways, on Saturday, I tried to pay attention to maintaining the ground path while doing silk reeling exercises, and quickly realized that I was constantly uprooting myself: e.g. when doing shoulder rotation, I’d uproot myself on the upward part of the rotation. So I spent the entire time trying to maintain that connection; felt surprisingly low, seems worth working on.

Since I’d led the exercises the previous week, I got one-on-one instruction this week on the form. I got one small piece of advice, that I wasn’t turning my body enough at the start of Dantian Change; and one big piece of advice, that I should stop pausing between moves but instead try to maintain more of a continuous flow, and that I should have the flow led by my Dantian. I went through the form a couple more times, trying to follow that advice; again, quite different! So: two big things to work on.

Also on Saturday we reviewed the Full Marshal in the spear form; Tony showed us a place where we could skip a step compared to how he’d taught us before, but presented that as optional, I think I’m going to stick with the earlier version. (And there were a couple of other little things that I noticed I wasn’t doing right.) And then he showed us the next move in the form, with three chest-high thrusts followed by a shoulder-high thrust; I was doing something wrong with the shoulder-high thrust, though, tensing up too much or something.

And we got caught up back up in the Xinjia first form to where we had been a month or so ago, good that we should be able to make progress again soon. (But, honestly, it’s also been good to have a pause where I could solidify things a bit.)

On Sunday, I practiced as normal; the main thing I worked on was the spear form, the shoulder-high thrust felt better after that.

In today’s Tuesday class, I didn’t have quite the same feel while doing the silk-reeling exercise or while doing the form as I did on Saturday; so clearly those feelings are a little transient (and probably aided by concentrated practice), and I shouldn’t take them for granted: so I expect I’ll have to focus on the ground path and being led by my dantian for a while…

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