I’m setting out on a trip in just a few minutes, so this morning’s tai chi was… perfunctory. There’s really no other word for it. Breathing, yes. Movement, yes. Technique? Not so much.
What I’m discovering in year two of this adventure is that Year One was about completion. Year Two appears to be a second envelope nested inside the first, called “correctness”. Yes, there is a standard pattern to tai chi forms and qi gong forms. Yes, those forms need to be followed. Yes, the magic of these forms arises from the technique being mastered.
But there’s a difference between “exactly like the teacher” and “correct”. The first is an exceptionally-tight window, and without regular participation in a school with other students, difficult to master — because one tries to put on the ‘suit’ of the teacher’s forms. The second is not so much a suit as a bubble; there’s a fair bit of wiggle room. As I was going through the form this morning, even doing it in as gentle and as rapid a manner as possible, I noted that my elbows are rising to the correct position during Ward Off Left, even while doing a perfunctory walk-through of the forms. I don’t mean “correct like the master would do it”, I mean “correct as in not wrong“… and there’s a broad differential between the one, and the other.
It’s funny. I can now tell the difference between a great tai chi day, a good one, an OK one and a bad one. Today was OK, not bad… but my body is still suggesting that I might want to do it again, later today.