Taiji Day 78: Outdoors

Taiji outdoors is so very much better than indoors, it’s a wonder that I don’t do it outside more often. It’s a much better quality experience — the ground is uneven, you feel the Sun’s warmth, the tall grass brushes against your legs, you much more aware of whether it’s a fly or a tick that just landed on you, and in general you’re just so much more aware and alert. It leads to a better quality workout. I feel like my flanks and my arms and legs got a better workout, and so did my mind and heart, because I was outside rather than in.

As I’ve noted before, outside has a downside too. Being in the open, in a space you haven’t secured yourself, invites the risk of attack. I remember wearing my taiji jacket to a party on one occasion, and it was just a dress-up occasion, but another guy felt it was ok to put me in in hold — to grab me — because I was a “martial arts dude” in a “real uniform and everything”. Holding
yourself as a martial artist, especially by doing form work in an outdoor place, even your own back yard, invites others to test you.

In the same way, though, just as practicing martial arts outside risks others wanting to test you, so does practicing outside in itself invite the test. You find yourself wanting someone to test yourself against, to be sure you’re practicing in the right way, in a way that will truly prove the effectiveness of all the practice. And that carries the risk that you will ultimately be the one who grabs someone else at a party, “because you’re wearing a martial arts jacket, so you must want to spar, right?”

So. Acknowledge both the benefit and risk of practicing outside, and practice outside whenever you can. At the same time, swear in open ground, under the blazing Sun, that you will not be that guy who invites another to spar, by grabbing them. That’s just rude.

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