Archive for August, 2019

Tai Chi Notes, August 27, 2019

Aug 27 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

From the Saturday class: after the second punch, when you’re transitioning to Six Sealing Four Closing, I’ve been shifting weight right, opening my left foot, and then shifting my weight back left; but another possibility is to skip the weight shift and just step right. This is more direct but potentially harder on your knees; also, you can work in a right shoulder strike when doing it this way.

My teacher looked at my form after class. He told me to slow down a bit and try to integrate my movements more; the main example he had for the latter was Cover the Hand Punch. I should focus on where I’m hitting, then hit that point, integrating my push/turn with the lower body and with my punch, everything going to that one point at the same time. Also, when doing that move, I should have my left hand a little higher (but still sinking my elbow and shoulder), and my right hand should be a little closer to the body. I should do similar integration ideas in other striking moves, e.g. Teal Dragon.

When doing the form recently, I’m not super happy with my balance when kicking, and (sometimes) when doing Reverse with Spiraling Forearms; I should work on that.

Lotus Wu Ji is being a lot easier now that I’m changing my positioning; up to 26 minutes and I’m positive that I can hold it for another 10 minutes after that if I want. I should probably spend some time treating it more like regular meditation, right now boredom is as much of a problem as physical stress / pain. (I do think it’s still doing good things to my body physically, though.)

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Tai Chi Notes, August 20, 2019

Aug 20 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I spent Saturday through Monday at a Lotus Neigong workshop, focused on standing positions. And I’m glad I went, because my Wu Ji posture was significantly off: way too low, and too far forward. And, interestingly, too far to the left: apparently I’m favoring my right leg some? I’ll have to look at myself in a mirror to understand that better. (Spreading my stance somewhat helps, apparently.) And I don’t spread my palms as much as I should, and I don’t sink the heels of my hands enough.

We also learned a seated version of Wu Ji: lean forward more than normal, have your feet at a reasonable distance for standing up, and lift your heels so your weight is on your Yongquan. I doubt I’ll do that much, though.

And we learned / practiced lots of other standing positions. I don’t think I’ll spend too much time in the different ones, though: I feel like focusing on Wu Ji is going to be more helpful. I was pleased that I did okay with the ones that had me holding out my arms; in particular, I remember the first time I saw Zhan Zhuang in my Tai Chi class, my shoulders were in pain the next day, whereas in the class this weekend, I held it for much longer and my shoulders were just fine. (So partly I’ve gotten stronger, but also in that posture in particular the way I’m relaxing my shoulder is apparently effective.)

Having said that, the class as a whole was pretty stressful: I made it through all of the first day, but I bowed out halfway through the second afternoon and skipped the third afternoon. Spending so much time holding standing postures hurts; it actually didn’t hurt my legs so much (largely because I wasn’t going so low), but my back was not happy. Not horribly in any one session, but it added up. (And some individual sessions were hard, but those were in more standard “push yourself for how long you can hold a position” ways.)

I probably could have stuck it out, but I don’t feel too bad about leaving; I pushed myself to some extent, I learned some mistakes that I’d been doing. And, compared to the class I went to in May, I can understand why this one was more stressful: that one did some static postures but also had lots of moving postures, and some lectures and some meditation. And that sort of mixture is a lot easier to deal with; this specific class had a little bit of moving and meditation, but it was a lot heavier on static postures. So it makes sense that it was rough; and, given where I am, that’s okay.

Anyways, back to Tai Chi tonight (for the first time in a week and a half, since I missed last Tuesday and Saturday); mostly going over Silk Reeling, which was pleasant enough.

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Tai Chi Notes, August 13, 2019

Aug 13 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I got back from my trip on Tuesday evening; I skipped Tai Chi and Wu Ji on Wednesday, because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t causing problems with my allergy shots, but I got back to practice on Thursday. So on Thursday I did the form five times; on Friday, I was a little more tired, so only three times, but still, enough to start making up for the classes I missed. And I did Wu Ji both days; I’m not reliably reaching my target every day (21 minutes was my target last week), but I’m sometimes doing that.

And I’m glad I’m doing Wu Ji more. My legs are having problems, but I can feel changes in my torso. I’m relaxing more, my shoulder blades are continuing to sink, and I can get some of that feeling while I’m just sitting / standing around as well. I’m going to a three-day Lotus seminar this weekend, focusing on standing postures, and I’m definitely looking forward to that, to get in some focused practice and to get my form refined. (And I’m glad that I’m over my cold and my weird burst of allergy symptoms.)

We had the regular class on Saturday; the one thing I noticed there was that, after the second Pat the High Horse, your right hand moves first, not your left foot, and your weight is on your right foot after the turn, only shifting to the left foot when you strike with your left hand.

On Sunday, my teacher’s Tai Chi group had a picnic; lots of Tai Chi. And I did sneak away to do some Wu Ji at the end of that, and I also did some at the end of work yesterday. I didn’t do my regular lunchtime practice today because I had a lunch meeting at work, and I skipped Tai Chi class tonight because there was a special one-day showing of Millennium Actress that I wanted to go to, but I shifted my allergy shot to today so I could avoid weird potential problems.

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Tai Chi Notes, August 8, 2019

Aug 08 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I got back on Tuesday evening from visiting my parents and helping Miranda move into her new apartment. I didn’t do any Tai Chi since my last post, it just didn’t fit so well into helping Miranda move, and I actually paused doing my Dantian Rotations for most of that time, too: I’d had a cough while visiting my parents, which was exercising my stomach muscles quite a bit, so I figured I’d give them a break. But I did manage to do Wu Ji pretty much every day in Cincinnati, finding some time either in the morning or the evening, and most days I did 30 minutes or so of meditation. (And I’ve just now added meditation to Streaks, to help remind me, because I’m forgetting about that on non-workdays; I added Wu Ji a week or two back, that was useful.)

In one of Damo Mitchell’s books I was reading recently and one of his podcasts that I was listening to, the concept of Ting (listen) came up. Which had been coming up for a while, from the first seminar I took, but I’d mostly been ignoring it, because it didn’t make much sense to me in that context, but it seems like something I should experiment with. Basically, he says that Ting (listen) and Song (relax) are both key; I’ve been hearing about Song for years in my Tai Chi class, and that makes sense to me. But I don’t understand what listening has to do with understanding the state of the inside of my body; Mitchell claims, though, that not only are there sensations that are best accessed through listening, but that using other senses (e.g. feeling) can turn out to be actively misleading. Not sure what to make of that, but it sounds like something I should try, hopefully it will make sense eventually…

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Tai Chi Notes, August 1, 2019

Aug 01 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I was visiting my parents for a few days, so a slightly late update.

I did Wu Ji as normal on Thursday, and did the Animal Frolics for the first time in a while. And I also set up Streaks on my phone to prompt me to do Wu Ji every day: I’m not yet committing to doing it daily, but I want to at least consider doing it every day. Which worked on Friday, I did Wu Ji then as well.

Unfortunately, on Friday evening, I started sneezing and having a runny nose like crazy, like my cold was having a resurgence. I’d had an allergy shot that morning, so I’m pretty sure it was the shot, but it was a quite bad reaction. So on Saturday I mostly skipped Tai Chi class – I showed up near the end to learn the next Jian move and to see if we were going to learn any new Xinjia moves (we didn’t), but I didn’t feel up for the whole thing.

On Sunday I traveled to my parents, and on Monday I was having coffee with a former teacher of mine downtown and decided I was feeling good enough after that to do some Tai Chi; I ended up going through the full Silk Reeling Exercises and going through the form twice, and then after lunch I did some Wu Ji. And I was actually feeling diligent enough that, at the end of the evening, I did a bit of Wu Ji and some meditation before going to bed.

Unfortunately, my stomach really wasn’t feeling great the next day; almost positive that it was just mucous rather than anything associated to what I was doing, but at any rate I skipped practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Other than Dantian Rotations; which, thinking about it now, might be a mistake, my stomach muscles actually don’t feel great because of all the coughing, so maybe that’s what I should be skipping.) But I’m feeling better today, so I decided to do a bit of Wu Ji; ended up only doing 10 minutes instead of my current goal of 19 minutes, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the saddle pretty quickly.

And I decided to go to a local Lotus course in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I won’t have the same allergy problems before that happens! I’ll want to dial down the dose next week, to increase the chance of that. I’d been thinking I would skip the local Lotus courses for now, just going to courses when Damo Mitchell is visiting, but the next course is a three-day one (Saturday-Monday) on standing postures, so I’d only have to miss one day of work and it’s a topic that I’m interested in. A pity that it’s only a couple of weeks after getting back from vacation, but not much I can do about that…

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