Tai Chi notes, October 23, 2018

Oct 23 2018

Pretty normal class on Saturday; though I’ve been trying to get into the habit recently of doing a second repetition of the form even when Tony isn’t there to tell us to do that. Two or three weeks back, maybe five other people did it with me; and this week, basically everybody did that with me; I’m sure that it helped that I was standing in the back row, which is the right place to lead when we turn around for the repetition. It’ll be interesting if that stays as a whole-class habit, we’ll see.

In the spear form, my full marshal felt a little messy, so I should work on that. But the good news is that the Xin Jia form is feeling much more natural than it was two or three weeks ago, I feel like I’m making real progress there? Not that I’m great at that form or anything, it’s just that it used to feel very unnatural, but now it’s much less of an active struggle.

After the regular class, we had a special push-hands class. I was curious how that would feel, since I feel like my Tai Chi has improved significantly since the last time I did much push hands. And, honestly, the single-hand push hands didn’t feel too good; but the two-handed form felt pretty different, in a good way. Partly because I felt like I was moving from my legs more than my torso, and partly because I got a little bit of the feeling of energy moving around in my body in ways similar to what I’m feeling these days in the form.

On Sunday I did my normal practice; I worked on the spear a bit more than normal, and I think I should be able to do better at the full marshal. Better in a couple of ways: keeping the spear movement in a plane more of the time, and also sometimes sliding my hands apart instead of always having them right next to each other.

I’m also continuing to read that Nei Gong book; there’s lots of stuff there, too much to absorb right now. (I was thinking I should reread it in six months; the author will actually be giving a course in the Bay Area in six months, though, so now I’m wondering whether I should do that?) There’s some fairly specific hard-to-believe claims about how bodies respond to these exercises, which at least would potentially have the advantage of making some of the harder-to-accept claims more potentially testable by somebody who is willing to put in the effort.

Which I’m not currently, but for now I think I should focus on doing abdominal breathing (and doing that by relaxing my muscles instead of forcing it), and also by guiding my awareness around the regular and lesser microcosmic orbits. (Which I can actually do kind of absentmindedly while riding the train!) Those orbits seem to be something pretty basic that Qi Gong books agree on, and that focus on awareness seems to me to dovetail well with my paying attention to my Dantian when doing the form and with my doing Dantian Rotations, so it’ll probably be interesting no matter what. (And certainly improving my breathing is a good idea.)

Speaking of Dantian Rotations, I’ve kept up that habit, as well as the habit of doing slow squats. (And I just bought the app Streaks to help with that.) With the rotations, I’m trying to put more into awareness and less into physical movements, and also to have the rotations that are on the plane of my chest feel like they’re farther back in my body instead of on the surface on my stomach.

All of this stuff (paying attention to my Dantian in the form and keeping up momentum, doing Dantian Rotations, and being more aware of the inside of my body in general) seems to be paying off. For example, I was realizing during class tonight that, at the end of Grab and Tuck Robe / the start of Six Sealing Four Closing, I think there’s an entire little Dantian rotation that’s completely hidden, where the momentum brings it around one more time when you have your right arm out, leading into you bringing you left arm over to meet it. And I’m actively trying to figure out how I want things to move during the Dantian Change: when am I trying to let everything calm down inside, and when am I going with the momentum?

This might actually be related to why I’m feeling more comfortable with Xin Jia: that form has a lot more circles in it. So maybe I’m now getting better at relating those external circles with internal circles that are hidden in the Lao Jia form?

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