Any tai chi move can be performed hard or soft — that is, with muscles tensed and flexed, or with muscles relaxed and flowing.  One is metal, the other is… wood, I suppose, or water.  Today I did the tai chi form with hardened arms.  I think it was largely successful — although I’m already tired, and it’s too early in the day. There were two immediate effects of this: first, I’m still breathing hard, although I’ve been done for a few minutes; second, I’m sweating.  Not as in, wow, light sweat, it must be really hot today… No, I’m talking more about Wow, why are my sides shivering? And how did I get so damp along my sides and back? Is this sweat dripping down through my eyebrows? That kind of sweat: heavy, thick… immediate.

There was no time-break at all between starting to harden the arms, and the appearance of sweat.  I suspect that my body needed and wanted this kind of serious exercise.  For a year, I’ve been worried about completion — just getting through the form with some semblance of the actual patterns.  Today, I was able to open up the form on a dark deserted highway, and see what I could do.  And the answer is…

Not much.

Sure, I did a tai chi form that lasted a half-hour. But that’s how long it’s supposed to last, not just four or five minutes.  And I did it with muscles tensed, fighting against moving forward through the form.  And it was difficult to do.  But that’s nothing compared with the difficulty of doing it that way, every day, for weeks and weeks, maybe more, before that work comes to fruition.

Still worth doing.