Taiji Day 301: Weightless

Hard to believe it’s only 64 days until this experiment is over.  That’s the rest of January and February, and the first half-dozen days of March.  How weird is that? Part of me wonders if I’ll skip a day or otherwise deliberately throw myself off my game to avoid completing a year; part of me wonders if I’ll finish it, and there will be some great insight on the last day; part of me wonders if there will be a sudden flurry of commenters as the audience that’s been secretly reading all along suddenly comes out of the woodwork to start commenting and encouraging me.

Not really expecting any of those things.  It’s just martial arts. Again, and again, and again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Today was not particularly unusual in any way, either.  I got up, later than usual because I didn’t sleep well.  Because it’s Thursday, I read The Archdruid Report‘s latest column, “Into an Unknown Country“.  It’s a good regular read of mine, and you can read him once a week — unlike me.  I blather on and on.

During tai chi today, there were two points that were alarming.  Something I ate yesterday caused me some digestive grief, and during one of the first “sinking postures” — basically, a place where I bend over to touch my toes, or sink down on my knees to make a swipe or a sweep — a massive, acidy, burp exited me, and shocked me into stationary silence for a moment.  I’d thought the digestive issues had finally settled down around 1am, and here was evidence that they were still well underway.  If anything has become clear from this year of work, it’s that I need to make major dietary changes, not necessarily for weight loss (though that would be good), but for internal health.

The second thing that attracted my notice was the problem of weight leading to wait.  There are two places in the tai chi form where one has to give up connection with earth for a moment, in order to execute a spin.  The first of these is just after the left and right kicks, and just a little before the action called “Bounce Baby on Knee” — which is itself a pleasant name for a martial maneuver designed to smash someone’s nose and face into the hard surface of the thigh and kneecap, actually.  A spin has to be executed with only the ball of the foot in contact with the floor; and it has to have just the right amount of contact with the floor — too much and you don’t spin far enough, or you do damage to your ankles; not enough contact with the floor, and you spin and fall over.  There’s a sweet spot in this movement, just the right amount of contact to spin completely and yet not fall over nor lose contact with the ground.  While doing this, there’s a vulnerability to attack, I suspect, but without a sparring partner, I think it’s a moot point — one can’t turn to face an attack from behind as fast as one can spin; if it’s a serious enough matter that you’re facing off against someone, the spin is the right response.  So it’s important that a spin is neither binding you to the floor, nor leaving you unbalanced.

On my first spin, just before “Bounce Baby”, I was unbalanced.  On my second spin, (just after “Ride the Tiger” and before “Windmill Kick”) I was too lead-footed.  Usually, I do both of these spins correctly, so I think that they’re connected to my current gastric issues. Think about that. I’m having stomach problems, and the stomach problems lead to a physical challenge in how I distribute my weight during movement.  The body is a connected system — all its various moving parts interact with one another, and with the larger environment.  Muck up the works in one part of the body, and the effects show up elsewhere in the system.  It’s somewhat similar to the issues that I was having with tightness in my lower backthe cause of that tightness wasn’t the lower back, primarily, but the soaz muscle — which my friend Ad. describes as a weird, Aliens-like thing, joining the upper thigh to the hip, and the hip to the lumbar vertebrae. (A massage therapist works the soaz muscle by pressing down on the sides of your abdomen below your rib-cage, and if your soaz is locked up, MAN does it hurt!  It brought tears to my eyes as he pressed down on it, and tremendous relief when it finally unlocked and stretched out).

There’s no easy way to end this already-overly-long post (and look at the time!) so I’ll conclude with a general reminder to treat the body as a complete system. Be light on your feet, but not too light.  Feed it good food, but not too much.  Collect data and do the things that work.


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  1. that psoas is a bugger! (and often misconstrued/diagnosed as a number of other problems)
    good luck as you close in on your goal and thanks again for the inspiration to forge on with my own tai chi practices.


    • When you say the psoas is often misconstrued, do you mean that a) problems with it are often mis-labeled as back pain or a misplaced rib or a slipped disc or what have you?

      Or do you mean that b) the psoas is often identified as a problem, when it’s not really the problem? It sounds like you mean the first, but I want to be sure.

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