Taiji Day 103: muscle memory

Five Golden Coins, Eight Pieces of Silk, the form.

During the form, there’s a movement that involves a high kick with the left turn after a spin. The way I do it, I start out facing east, do a half-spin to the west, plant the right foot after the spin, touch the floor with my left foot to balance, and then lift the left foot into a high kick with the heel.  About halfway through this complex maneuver, I realize I’m going to unbalance, and spread my hands into the air, wobble a bit, and then quickly retreat into a ground-based pose for stability.

The wobble and the retreat are not part of the official movement. 🙂

Today, though, I executed the spin, and lifted my leg into the kick without rebalancing.  And the leg kick was the perfect height, and the right foot supported my weight, and … this was best of all… my arms were stable.  I stayed there, open in a high kick for maybe 30-45 seconds.  When I returned to the next pose, a false close posture, I did so on my own terms and at my own speed.

In other words, it worked exactly like it was supposed to.  I was thrilled.

Muscle memory is a curious thing.  It allows us to do things we don’t expect to be able to do, and achieve certain aims or ends that are out of the ordinary.  My brain didn’t do this.  I was surprised as anyone else would have been to see me execute a perfect motion like this.  The fact that I succeeded, though, was based on other considerations than what my mind believed would happen.  Did the muscles decide to do it right? Did my mind decide to do it right?  I don’t know.  I don’t even know how to urge you to replicate the experience, because I don’t know how I did it.

But I did.

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