Archive for December, 2018

Tai Chi Notes, December 26, 2018

Dec 26 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

Not so much to write about this week: because of Christmas, there wasn’t class yesterday, and I didn’t end up practicing yesterday at home either.

On Saturday, when doing the Wrist Rotation and Arm Circles during Silk Reeling, I noticed a connected feeling in my whole arm; I should try to pay attention to that feeling and see if I think it’s something good that I want to bring out. And during Giant Monkey Searches for Fruit, you’re supposed to shift your weight to the right and open your left foot early on, I think I’m keeping my weight on my left foot more than I should?

On Sunday, I went through the form five times; it wasn’t as dramatic as it was the previous Tuesday. Maybe that’s just chance, or maybe the previous Tuesday I’d been helped by warming up some first. At any rate, it did feel better than going through it three times, so I’ll try to stick with five.

Somewhat to my surprise, I’m managing to stick with doing three sets of Dantian Rotations a day instead of two.

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Tai Chi Notes, December 18, 2018

Dec 18 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

An eventful week. It was the week after I led the Silk-Reeling Exercises on the Saturday class, which meant that I got to have my teacher review my form this Saturday. And it turns out that I wasn’t deluding myself when I thought I’d made a lot of progress since the last time I’d had a one-on-one review!

Specifically, last time he’d told me to connect the moves in my form more; I’d been focusing on that, and I felt like I’d gotten significantly better in that regard. And, indeed, he said that I’d made a big improvement, and specifically called out my moves being more connected; that was really good to hear.

But, of course, I continue to have stuff to work on. He told me that I was making overly large arm circles in a few moves, that I should push with the heel of my hand instead of the fingers in Six Sealing Four Closing and related moves, and that there were some moves where my knee was off.

 

After that, I asked for some advice when doing Qigong. He said I should tuck in my tailbone significantly more when doing Wuji; and, when I asked him for advice about my Qigong routine, he said I should start it off by doing some a little bit of silk reeling to stretch, specifically loosening up my neck, waist, and knees.

One of the other students asked him about Chest and Abdomen Folding, which I’d also been wondering about, so I got to watch him do that a few times; I’d specifically been wondering about how the hands work in that, especially in the first part of the forward version. And the answer seems to be that the hand position follows from the shoulder position, and the shoulders don’t go that far back, so the hands only go a little farther out than parallel. (Whereas in the reverse version, the shoulders go farther back, so the hands turn palm up more.)

I also have notes mentioning the left hand in White Goose Spreads its Wings and the right thigh in Embrace the Knee, but I can’t remember what I was thinking about there… Though certainly Embrace the Knee is one move where I don’t feel stable when I move back to the right, I just can’t remember what specifically I was thinking about.

 

On Sunday, one thing that I noticed was that I felt like I was starting to actually store energy when I let things settle a bit at the end of certain moves. So hopefully that will start translating into better Fa Jin? We’ll see.

 

And tonight’s class was also super interesting. It wasn’t a formal class, we’re between quarters, but one of the senior students was leading. And one of the things she mentioned was sinking into your kua when closing to the right near the end of Dantian Change. And that’s a section that I’d never felt confident about; it had been getting better, but now it’s starting to actually feel right.

And sinking into my kua turned out to be a theme tonight; in particular, in the sort of reverse Oblique Posture in Diagonal Body-Stroke Fist, sinking into my right kua helped me turn a little more, so I came significantly closer to turning ninety degrees to the right than I normally do.

So that’s something to work on, and to think about conceptually: there are a few places where I should turn my hips more than I have been, I think, but sinking into my kua, not twisting my knee.

 

And then I decided to break off and go through the form a few times; I ended up doing it six times in a row, while I don’t think I’ve ever done it more than three times in a row before? The first three times, I was going quite slowly, trying to follow up on Sunday, feeling energy gather.

Honestly, it didn’t feel like it was gathering in quite the same way it was on Saturday, though going slow felt like the right place. But, towards the end of the third time, it started to feel like the wrong speed; so I sped up, and by the time I was on my sixth round through the form, I was going a lot faster.

And that sixth round felt natural, too, and actually a lot of the fa jin felt like it had more force. Not that it was the right speed while the slow first two rounds were the wrong speed, more like my body had gotten warmed up after the first three, and it was ready to let loose? So that’s definitely something I’ll want to dig into: I’ve been in the habit of going through the form three times on Sundays, but now I’m thinking I should regularly go longer.

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Tai Chi Notes: December 11, 2018

Dec 11 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

I led the Silk Reeling Exercises this Saturday; it honestly didn’t go as well as I’d like, I didn’t feel like I did a great job during the middle third of the exercises in particular. So I should probably start practicing them more on Sundays.

And, speaking of Sundays, this week was the monthly Pao Chui class. I missed that last month, and apparently they finished the form that month; this time was a review session, and it actually concentrated on the end, so at least I’ve seen that a few times now. But I was already feeling like I didn’t have a great grasp of the form; I’ll be glad to see it start over again next month. And also the weapons form on the Sunday classes is going to switch from the Guan Dao (which I haven’t been doing) to the staff (which I plan to do, I’ve even already bought mine). I’m looking forward to that: I think my choice to not do the Guan Dao last year was the right one, but I’m feeling more confident in things now, so adding in the staff now should be okay.

Streaks asked me again if I should add a third Dantian Rotation section. (I tell Streaks that I’m doing it twice a day, but each time is 25 rotations.) And I’m going to give that a try: I don’t know exactly how I’ll fit in the third section, whereas the first two are next to my two train commutes (ideally while waiting for the train, but if I get to the station too late, then right after I get off), but hopefully I’ll be able to fit it in? I did manage that on Sunday, Monday, and today, at least. I actually don’t feel like I’ve gotten as much benefit as I hoped to when switching from 20 rotations a day to 50; so part of me feels like I should actually go back to doing less, but maybe I need to lean in more.

I feel like I’m getting better at sinking while standing normally (i.e. when not practicing). Relaxing my stomach, opening my kua, and sinking into it: not a ton, but even a little bit makes a difference that I can feel. So hopefully I’m retraining my body’s habits a bit.

I’ve been reading through Chen Taijiquan: Masters & Methods, and this bit from Chen Zhenglei stuck with me. I’ve been feeling the tingling in my hands for years, and I think now I’m getting to the warmth in my Dantian. So the good news is that now I know what to look forward to next, that I hopefully am doing the right thing to get to the next stage (spending more time in standing meditation and on leg strengthening exercises), and that I’m hearing consistent stories both from my teacher (who told me to do more standing meditation when I asked about developing these feelings in my feet) and from this book. But the bad news is that apparently the next stage will take a while! (And it’s not like I do that much standing meditation…)

I started a post in my main blog on silk reeling exercises, hopefully I’ll finish that this weekend or maybe even this Thursday.

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VGHVI Minecraft, November 29, 2018

Dec 09 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from the November VGHVI Minecraft session:

First, the usual wandering around deciding what I want to do next.

Looking at my mountain and Dan’s castle.

Dan is building some stairs down to the ground.

I think I’ll do something inside the mountain next.

Here’s the other side of the pool.

And a view of the waterfall and stairs, just for context.

 

I’d initially been thinking that I’d put some shops in this area, and I still might do that for part of the area, but for the next bit I decided to be inspired by the water and dirt and make the area around the water feel a little bit like a beach.

Putting some sand near the water.

Sand next to the water on the other side, too; what do I want to do about the stone?

Let’s put in some dirt and tall grass. (Which can’t grow in sand, it turns out.)

Here’s a top down view of the whole pool area.

And here’s how the water, sand, and stairs fit together.

 

So that’s me. Meanwhile, Dan was building a wide set of stairs down to a plaza; I’ll have to talk to him next time about how he wants to integrate that with my mountain.

The stairs have landed!

The builder gazes up at his work.

Looking down the stairs.

How do we want to relate the platform at the base to the nearby construction?

 

Miranda was chipping away at her buried tomb:

A glowing box in the water.

Turtles and fish swim above the box.

One of the adjacent rooms is now white instead of gold.

A view of the white pedestal from above.

 

And, finally, I caught Pat when he had finished the shell of a building but was working on finishing it.

The outside of the building.

Nothing yet inside.

Adding some lights certainly helps.

Adding some grass to the back balcony.

Grass and sunset.

Furnishing the interior.

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Tai Chi notes, December 4, 2018

Dec 04 2018 Published by under Uncategorized

My exciting discovery for this week: my shoes have always had their backs start tilting towards the inside as I wear them. And when I’ve been thinking about sinking into my kua, I’ve realized: by default, I stand a little knock-kneed. So that’s why my feet are tilted the way they are; and if I open up my kua a little bit, then that puts my knees in the correct position. And maybe that’s also part of the reason why my kua feels better when I open it up: maybe something is getting a little compressed by default? I don’t think that’s all of the explanation, but it could be part of it.

Another potential part of the explanation is that I’ve been continuing to do slow squats, with an emphasis on my kua rather than other parts of my thighs; I think that that’s slowly making my thighs stronger, with an emphasis on the upper parts. And that in turn makes them tingle, kind of by default. So if I’m thinking about how my kua feels, I notice that. But I think that that’s independent of opening up my kua. So, I still feel like there’s a third component of what’s going on, that there’s still some sort of sensation trigger specifically by opening my kua, relaxing, and letting attention or something fall from my dantian to a little lower in my body…

Anyways, a pretty normal week other than that. On Saturday, I asked about Dantian rotation, and had it confirmed that the center of the rotation should be lower than my navel. (I.e. it should be in my Dantian!) And Qigong went well today over lunch, I managed 20 minutes of Wuji without being distracted out of it without too much trouble. We’ll see how I keep that up over the winter, as it gets rainy; I’ll probably start doing meditation in conference rooms instead of outside, I did that once last week.

And I’ve been thinking I should write a piece over on my main blog about what I pay attention to during Silk Reeling Exercises. So I’ve taken some notes towards that, hopefully I’ll get it written over the next couple of weeks.

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