Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Tai Chi Notes, April 2, 2019

Apr 02 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m starting to feel that I’m not getting so much benefit from Dantian Rotations any more; maybe I should stop doing those, or dial them down? I wonder if there’s something else I should do while waiting for the train…

I asked on Saturday about your right hand during Pat the High Horse: it is indeed supposed to be extended.

On Sunday, when I was practicing, it felt like my natural speed for doing the first form was a little faster than it had been? Not sure if that’s a change, or if I was just in a different mood than normal.

Lotus Wu Ji is still being a pain: literally, and also I’m still not sure if I’m getting the positioning right, in particular I’m worried that I’m not leaning the right amount and/or not squatting enough. And, for whatever reason, I’m finding it harder to do on Sundays than I am on Tuesdays/Thursdays; not sure if that’s a fluke or if I’m tired after practicing Tai Chi or if doing Qi Gong first (like I do on Tuesdays/Thursdays) helps. One thing I did notice while looking in the mirror is that I feel like my neck is going too far forward; I kind of think that’s a general problem, I should work on that…

I kind of feel like, when doing The White Goose Spreads its Wings, in the middle step I should be straight instead of having my shoulders forward; I’ll try to ask about that on Saturday. And, when doing the form in class tonight, I was thinking that, when standing up in Drop and Split, my weight was a little wrong over my left foot, I should think about that. The other interesting thing in class was that the person leading the form waiting a really long time before starting, and that made raising my arms feel different, I should try that.

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Tai Chi Notes, March 26, 2019

Mar 26 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a whole lot to talk about this week. I’ve been working on the Lotus Wu Ji a little more than normal; it’s definitely getting harder as I bump up the time. And I’m wondering how much that has to do with me not having the right muscles built up for it, how much has to do with me not relaxing appropriately, how much has to do with my body being in the middle of adapting, and how much has to do with me doing it wrong. It feels right at the start, but I start feeling hunched later on, and also really heavy; maybe the heaviness is good, a sign that I’m setting up my frame well, but maybe it’s a sign that I’m being too rigid?

Also, in terms of my body being in the middle of adapting: when I took the Lotus course last month, the teachers made a point of talking about sinking your shoulder blades; I’d felt I was doing a decent job of that, but this weekend my shoulder blades are starting to ache a bit, in a way that makes me think that they’re actively adjusting more? Which Mitchell’s big book talks about; though there’s certainly a chance that I’m just doing things wrong and messing up my body!

I’m also feeling that I should do more breathing practice; my breathing is feeling forced when I’m concentrating on it, and when I relax, it feels a little shallow?

Nice time going through the form this evening: it felt natural to go faster than I normally do?

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Tai Chi Notes, March 19, 2019

Mar 19 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m getting into standing practice more and more: I feel like the Lotus course taught me some interesting new possibilities, about my structure and about sinking back into my kua instead of just sideways? At work, I’ve started attending the standup of a team adjacent to the one I spend most of my time with, and honestly their standups are kind of long, so I’ve started doing standing practice during that; I feel like the extra practice is helping, and one day last week I felt super heavy, like gravity was unusually strong, which was an interesting change.

I’ve been feeling for a while that the heels on my shoes are thicker than would be ideal for doing Tai Chi (or standing meditation, for that matter), so I ordered some custom shoes, and they finally showed up last week. Seems like a good choice, though I don’t have anything concrete to report about them yet.

On Saturday, my teacher was out, and one of the senior students was leaded. She mentioned that, in the two kicks with your heel, you should have your arms open up as fists with the palm side ending out upward; it does seem to give some extra force to the move, I’ll have to try that.

While going through the form, I was thinking that, in Pat the High Horse, I should probably extend my right arm a little more; I should ask about that to confirm. And the last step in White Crane Spreads Its Wings still doesn’t feel right; I’m thinking maybe the problem is in the middle step, when you go to the left foot: I’m rounding my back there, maybe my back should be straighter? Not sure, I need to experiment with that more.

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Tai Chi Notes, March 12, 2019

Mar 12 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I asked on Saturday about when I should tuck my tailbone. Basically, my teacher’s answer was that I should keep a straight back and not have my butt stick out, so I think pretty much whenever I’m focusing on having my back upright. He also said that I should relax my muscles after tucking my tailbone, and that I should feel a connection in my thighs when doing this.

On Sunday, we had the Pao Chui class; when doing the Chopping Hand, have an opposing energy in your left elbow when you’re going down with your right fist. And we went over Great Red Fist / Little Red Fist (I think that’s the one, the one that’s kind of like hand maneuvers): I was really confused on the timing of that my first time through the form, but it seemed to make more sense this time. The first time, when turning into it, you step with your right foot and then open your left foot, ending with your right hand up and out. Then you do two iterations, turning on the second iteration; and you do two iterations on the other side, again turning on the second iteration. So the two sides don’t feel symmetric: it feels more like you’re moving you hands 3 times on the first side and 2 times on the second side, or maybe 2.5 / 1.5.

I want to do a better job of learning stuff this year, so I practiced Pao Chui, Staff, and Spear some Sunday afternoon even though there was a morning class. Unfortunately, the bit I wrote about in the paragraph above felt a little off, even though I’d just been practicing it a few hours earlier! And there was one place where I wasn’t sure what to do in the staff form, though I had an idea, which I think I confirmed watching other people in the Tuesday class. I definitely have gaps in the spear form, missing a Saturday class a few weeks back didn’t help, I need to work on that too.

I also did some Lotus Wu Ji on Sunday, and of course today. And my body is starting to feel like it’s falling into a good structure when doing that, and actually also when doing Chen Wu Ji and when doing Zhan Zhuang. So I feel like my subconscious is learning something about positioning and relaxing? I’m also noticing that I have a much better sense about when the energy in my legs is going straight down, it’s making me feel significantly more solid.

In the Tuesday class, my teacher was talking about Jin Gang Pounds the Pestle, and emphasizing that your knee should strike; when he was doing it, it seemed like he was having his lower leg go back a bit (to make the angle of the knee more pointed), instead of just having it hang down, I tried that out and it seemed like it did give me more of a feel of a knee strike. And I asked about the Spine Stretch in the Silk Reeling Exercises, specifically whether sometimes your spine should curve back a bit when going up; the answer was yes.

Looks like I will be able to go to the Lotus Nei Gong course in May, though I won’t feel 100% confident until I’ve actually sent in my money and gotten confirmation that it’s been received, the person handling that registration does not seem very organized…

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Tai Chi Notes, March 5, 2019

Mar 05 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I asked about the upward hand thrust in Flash the Back on Saturday: I feel like I’m either uprooting myself if I let myself go up or else I’m sinking down into my front foot just as I want to be thrusting up, so I feel like I’m not going high enough. My teacher’s answer was that I wasn’t thinking about where I was supposed to be thrusting: I’m supposed to be thrusting into my opponent’s throat, which isn’t all that high, so it’s fine to stay rooted in my feet.

I was also thinking about the moves before that. In the blocks that lead off Flash the Back, I feel like I should extend my upper arm out more; and in Oblique Posture, I want to think about folding my kua, and maybe fold further back than I’m doing?

One of the other students was asking about Zhan Zhuang, so I decided to practice along with that; my teacher told me to leave more room between my hands (about three fists, I’d thought that it was more like one fist), to have my middle fingers straight horizontal, to have my thumbs curving in (embracing the imaginary ball between my arms) instead of out, and to tuck my tailbone. So lots of little adjustments for me to do.

On Sunday morning, my breathing meditation was getting kind of intense. In a good way, energy flowing a surprising amount, it’s definitely making me feel like I should do that more… And it was raining so I did Silk Reeling and Lotus Neigong stuff inside; just as well, I could probably use the Lotus Wuji practice, and looking at that in a mirror was sort of interesting.

One thing from class today was that, when you’ve raised up in Embrace the Knee, your hands should be turned out slightly: your palms shouldn’t be completely parallel to each other.

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VGHVI Minecraft, February 28, 2019

Mar 02 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from the February Minecraft session:

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures at the start, but basically I wanted to talk to Dan about how to integrate his stairs and plaza into what I’d been building, and then I wanted to continue on the corner of the mountain that I’d been working on.

The stairs are narrower now, and Dan has built out the plaza. And I’ve started to build up the corner rooms, you can see the ladder sticking up to where the third floor will go.

And here’s the view going up the stairs.

Now the third floor is finished. Or at least the third room on that stack, it’s probably the fifth floor overall.

Looks better with some decorative blocks sprinkled in.

Here’s what it looks like inside the room.

That’s a pretty long stretch of ladder; I bet we could fit another room in there.

The fourth room. Which is, I guess, the four-and-a-halfth floor?

The other rooms connect up to the rooms above the train station, but this one doesn’t; so I put a niche on that wall and filled it with pictures.

Here’s what the outside looks like now.

The bottom was a little messy, so I cleaned it up.

The top doesn’t look quite right, let’s do something about that.

Looks a little better with an extra layer of stone and then a few pieces of dirt.

Here’s a view from slightly farther away at night.

 

That’s what I was doing, and a bit of what Dan was doing; he also worked on some other stuff in the area, in the desert section right nearby.

A tower Dan built in the desert.

Flooding most of the desert.

Here’s a closeup of the tower in the water; new brick types!

The dirt tower was procedurally generated; I like how the two towers relate to each other.

 

Miranda was working on her desert tomb. I’m honestly not 100% sure what all she was doing, she was fiddling around on top when I visited.

There’s a tower of sand inside, that’s fallen down from the surface or something.

I like how the roof is sprinkled with sandstone.

Looking down from above.

 

And Pat added a grove of trees to his floating city.

Ground-level view of floating trees.

The trees in the context of the city.

There’s a flat area on the side that he’ll be working on next.

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Tai Chi Notes, March 26, 2019

Feb 26 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m trying to move more with my legs these days, and Chest Opening and Closing in the Silk Reeling Exercises was feeling pretty different on Saturday: much less of the action coming from my arms. Also on a Silk Reeling note, I forgot to mention that, last Tuesday, Elbow Rotations felt a lot more spirally; not sure if that’s just my imagination or what.

On Saturday, when going over Protecting the Heart Fist, I learned that you’re supposed to move your weight back to the right for a bit after the part where you thrust with both elbows. (Before rearranging your arms and foot in preparation for Whirlwind Kick.) And I was noticing that I’m having a hard time avoiding getting uprooted in Flash the Back, when you thrust up with your hand. Or, alternatively, if I try to avoid getting uprooted, then I sink down just when I should be thrusting up. So I need to think about that, I’ll probably ask about it next Saturday.

Also, on Saturday, I practiced the staff form a bit, and realized that I’m already getting lost in it: I’m having a hard time remembering the sequence right at the beginning. So I should keep on trying it with other people (who hopefully remember better than me) on Saturdays, given that I’m only learning it in class once a month; I can’t count on remembering it myself when practicing on Sundays.

In class today, I asked about Grab and Tuck the Robe: I’m tilting to the left when moving to the right. My teacher said I was probably going too low at once, so I should either try not to go so low or I should take an extra step in the middle. I tried that out, and either did seem to help, but I need to experiment more; and I realized that I also am not sure how far forward I should be and whether I should tuck my tailbone. (I also asked about tucking my tailbone when doing the squatting exercise, he confirmed I should do that.)

I was getting more feeling all along my arm when doing The White Goose Spreads Its Wings, that’s fun. And it might be my imagination, but I feel like I’m getting sensations in my feet now, like I’ve been getting in my hands for years; maybe the Lotus Neigong work helped with that? Also, my shoulder blades are feeling heavier: I’d been doing a decent job of relaxing them before, I think, but I suspect the Lotus class gave me a push there, too.

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Tai Chi Notes, February 19, 2019

Feb 19 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I missed the Saturday Tai Chi class, because I spent Friday and Saturday at a Lotus Nei Gong class instead. And wow: it was a lot more painful (and a lot more sweaty) than I expected. I think I’ll write about that more on my main blog, so I won’t go into details here; I was going there as preparation for probably going to a class by Damo Mitchell in May, and if his class is anything like that one (and if I still decide to go and manage to make it off of the wait list), then I will definitely be glad to have had some preparation.

The one concrete thing that came out of that is that the class spent a lot of time in something that is called Wu Ji that is significantly different from the stance named Wu Ji that my Tai Chi teacher presents: your butt sticks out more, you lean over some (with the result that your Huiyin is not at all in the line between your Baihui and your Yongquan), and you stick your arms forward and down with your hands spread. This was extremely painful (and I was sweating buckets) at the duration we were doing it in the class; less painful the second day than the first day, though, and my body was starting to feel like it was clicking into place a little bit when I did the posture. So I’m going to work on that: if I do end up going to the May class and if we spend anything like the same amount of time in that posture in that class, then I will definitely be glad to have been working on improving my tolerance.

On Sunday we had the monthly class: we’re continuing going through the second form, it’s the start of the second time for me. So we’re in parts of that form that I did learn the basics of, and it’s good to see some refinements. And we started the staff form, the parts we did are more different from the spear form than I expected.

I was reading another of Damo Mitchell’s books on my commute in this morning, this one about meridian theory; that’s something that I have a hard time believing in, but he gave a sensing exercise that he claims will help you perceive them more or less directly. So I figure I’ll also add that to my Tuesday/Thursday lunchtime practice. So I did both the Wu Ji and the meridian sensing drill; I started with 5 minutes of Wu Ji (with the plan of going up one minute a time until I hit 20 minutes), that was fine. And, in doing the sensing drill, I actually was kind of surprised at the feelings that I felt between the Taiyuan point (LU9, at the base of my wrist) and the end of my thumb (which is where LU11 is); could totally have been an artifact of how I was holding my hand, so it’s absolutely not any kind of strong evidence as to the reality of the lung meridian, but it’s not a complete lack of evidence, either. So I’ll probably keep that up for a little while, seeing if I can feel more of the lung meridian and eventually parts of other meridians.

No regular class today, but a bunch of us were there anyways; I ended up mostly practicing on my own (going through the silk-reeling exercises and 6 repetitions of the first form), though I did also do a bit of push hands with another student. I continue to think that I should spend a little more time doing push hands in Tuesday classes, I feel like I’m at a place where I can start to get something out of it.

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Tai Chi Notes, February 12, 2019

Feb 12 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m spending some of my focus when walking around trying to keep my head pulled up without pulling my whole body up; one concept there (I think saw this in one of the Damo Mitchell books) is to think of my spine as a chain with both the top of my head and my pelvis pulling on it to keep it taught. Also, I want to get out of the habit of tensing my stomach muscles by default. Not sure exactly how much progress I’m making on keeping my head raised, but it is reminding me of how it feels to sink a little into my kua: it can actually feel really good, and that feeling was sometimes spreading to my torso. So I guess I should keep on trying that…

One thing I noticed in class on Saturday was that I was managing to relax my torso while doing the form. This actually started with Silk Reeling: e.g. on Waist Rotation it’s mostly my legs / kua (or maybe those plus my dantian?) moving things with my torso coming along for the ride; and I felt like I was sometimes getting that feeling while doing the form. I’m not 100% sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I think it is? And maybe it’s in part what people are talking about when they say that movements should originate from the dantian, though I’m not 100% sure about that either. At any rate, something to experiment with.

On Sunday morning I was doing a breathing meditation exercise lying down on my back while Liesl was walking Widget. One thing I’ve noticed in the past is that it feels like my breath goes in an arc: down from my nose to my throat, then along my lungs (horizontally, since I’m lying down, and then it feels like things are going up a little at the end (maybe that’s my abdomen expanding). And, this time, maybe 5 or 10 minutes in, that last little bit started to spontaneously set off a feeling of dantian rotations, in the forward circle direction, with the up from breathing at the bottom of my lungs matching the up part of the dantian rotation at the top. Kind of a trippy feeling; I didn’t want to pay too much attention to it, because the instructions for that exercise say to observe but not really focus on what’s going on, but I hope it happens again? (I looked up the description of the exercise after doing that and I didn’t notice anything matching that experience…)

Some notes from the Tuesday class: my teacher mentioned turning to the right / sinking into your right kua at the start of Six Sealing Four Closing, I don’t think I do that so much, and it clearly helps. And he mentioned relaxing at the end of the movement to the left right after that: I do that some, but maybe I should do it more? Also, I’m still feeling a little stuck (and with my torso out of place) right after pounding my fist in Jing Gang, and also I’m leaning a little when I move my foot to the right partway through Grab and Tuck Robe, I should work on those.

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VGHVI Minecraft, January 31, 2019

Feb 09 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from the first Minecraft session of the new year. First, the inevitable wandering around:

I’m sure I’ve taken very similar pictures to this before.

Those stairs affect my mountain more than I expected.

Another view of how the stairs look in context.

The area to the right of the windows looks promising.

My initial reaction was that those stairs that Dan built are a little overwhelming. He wasn’t there this month, unfortunately, but maybe next month I’ll ask him if he would mind if I made them significantly narrower?

 

I’d been thinking of building more around the shop area, maybe extending it to the path through the base of the mountain, but when I was flying around, there’s this area that sticks out a bit to the right of the windows, and I was thinking maybe I could turn that into a sort of corner tower. So I decided to add another set of rooms there.

Digging my way into the corner.

Here’s the first stab of the shape of the room, without regularizing the wall blocks at all.

The outside view, with some of the blocks replaced / smoothed out.

Now we’ve got some windows, lights, and a fence.

It’s a little cramped on the inside now, though.

Also, this side looks a little blank.

A few more touches, now I like it better.

Here’s what it looks like now on the inside, with the side expanded and a second window added.

Going up a level.

The inside view of the second floor.

Here’s what it looks like from the side: the second floor is currently set back a block, and also has a shorter balcony.

The side window on the second floor.

Not up for decorating the inside yet, but let’s at least put in a splash of color.

Purple carpet on the second floor.

A daytime view of the front.

 

Dan couldn’t make it, and neither could Miranda, but Pat was there; in addition, his wife (I’m blanking on her name, maybe Emily?) also showed up. Here’s the building he was building; and she added some finishing touches to the roof of one of the existing ones.

The inside of Pat’s latest building.

Another angle on the inside.

Here’s the outside view of the front door.

And here’s the back view from the outside.

A slightly wider view; on the right, you can see the roof being worked on.

Finishing off the roof.

Looking across the roof to more of the city.

The finished roof, and the back garden.

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