Thursday, March 29, 2012

A milestone of sorts

When I began my serious taiji practice (as opposed to an ad hoc affair) I set myself certain goals. I wanted to learn Yang style fairly well. I wanted to see what my practice would look like after a thousand hours of taiji: how would my form be? What health benefits would I see? I had a vague notion that to accomplish anything worthwhile, a thousand hours is about the minimum. So, I recorded my taiji practice in a daily log. On day one, a thousand hours seemed like an eternity away.
Today I reached one thousand hours of taijiquan.
Feels like there should be a drum roll, or a fanfare, or something to mark the occasion. But there was just me and the pugs. They didn't take much notice.
My reflections then:
First I need to acknowledge and thank my teacher Master Jesse Tsao, of San Diego. Master Jesse is a very good teacher, very kind, very patient, and I am privileged to have him as my guide in taiji.

What have I learned in taijiquan?
Too much to tell, though this blog has some of the highlights over the last few years.In terms of routines I have concentrated on Yang style. Besides the basics of taiji I have learned the following routines:
  • Yang Style Traditional Long Form 108
  • Yang Style Short Form (Winter)
  • Simplified Taiji Form 24
  • Taiji Bang Eight Immortal Flute
  • Eight Immortal Cane Routine One
  • Traditional Yang Sword (half learned)
  • Chen Style Old Frame Routine One (third learned)
  • Chen Silk Reeling
  • Qigong Eight Pieces of Brocade
  • Qigong meditation for self healing
  • Qigong Five Animal Frolics (one fifth learned)
How has it helped?
In terms of my health I am physically much more flexible than I was (perhaps since a very young chap). After 50 I began to notice more aches and pains. By and large these have gone. For instance, it had become quite painful to turn my neck from side to side. Now I rotate my neck any which way and there is no discomfort. The same would be true for squatting down, touching toes etc. Taiji has given great flexibility. Balance too. Taiji's rooting has given me a better balance than I have ever had. Taiji has also kept at bay other health issues I have struggled with for the last twelve years.
In terms of my meditation practice taiji has helped enormously. My breathing is much slower and more regular. Taiji has helped me to be able to "get in the zone" quickly and easily. Overall my meditation practice has deepened.

And martial arts?
This is a strange one for a nonviolentist! Open hand and weapon forms could be quite deadly! (Seriously) But, taiji as a martial art is defensive, and like aikido is more about using an aggressor's energy against themselves. It is about preventing violence, rather than using violence. It is deflecting a thousand pounds with four ounces.

Where to from here?
Daily practice. Building on what I have achieved so far. Turning my attention to Chen style. Next goal? Three thousand hours.

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