Tai Chi Y2D362: Twice Through

I did the tai chi form twice today; it was definitely better the second time, and at the right speed. But I’m wondering why I can’t achieve the “second time speed” on the first go-around.  Something to meditate upon, I guess.

I also have a tendency to talk about the spins, and how badly I do at them, which was still true today.  But I’m tired of talking about how badly they go, so I’m going to talk about a different maneuver today: Grab the Needle at the Sea Floor.  I’m “block-quoting” these instructions, although I’m writing them myself.

In this movement, one has just completed a block with the left hand and a punch with the right hand.  The left hand is open and turned palm out, and is at shoulder hight, and is pressed outwards and forward of the body.  The right hand is punching six inches to a foot below that. Weight is balanced roughly equally between left and right feet. There is a bend in the left leg, and the right leg is straight.

As Grab the Needle starts, the left leg loses the weight, and 90% and then 100% of weight distribution goes to the right leg as it straightens.  The left leg is withdrawn from the floor, and rests lightly toes down beside the right leg.

The left arm swings down in a larger clockwise circle, passing by the right hand and arm the first time, before swinging around again. The second time around, the left hand comes to rest on the right wrist of the practitioner.

The practitioner sinks down on the ankle, knee and hip of the right leg, maintaining a relatively vertical upper-body posture.  The right foot remains flat on the floor.  The bend, or squat, is taken all the way to the floor, so that the fingers of the right hand could in fact remove a needle from the floor.

Then, the right leg is unbent or straightened, until the practitioner is able to stand vertically, and make the left-side step that opens this part of the form into spread hands like fan.

I have had a lot of trouble doing this.  However, I’m pleased to say that I’ve finally achieved something like the ideal of this movement, and I’ve been able to do so again and again over a long period of time.  The common difficulties I encountered were:

  • The right foot not on the floor  (heel popping up and only ball of foot and toes holding contact)
  • balance wobbles, left to right
  • balance wobbles, front to back
  • Not being able to squat all the way to the floor
  • Not being able to get up again from the squat
  • The rise being too quick

I think that I’ve found a way to put all of these particular kinds of challenge behind me, and I’m ready to move on to other particular challenges in refining the form. But I think that I’ve stumbled onto a new format for some entries, too, which is nice: an analysis and description of each movement, the particular problems associated with each, and how to fix them.

You may have noticed that I didn’t explain HOW I fixed my approach to Grab the Needle on the Sea Floor, though. Notice the title at the top of this entry?  That’s right. Two years of daily practice will fix these problems, if you’re paying attention. So far, I’ve not found another way to do it.  If one comes to mind I’ll let you know.

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