Tai Chi Y3D149: Single Whip

The basic order of my morning practice these days is this: 20-25 pushups (17 good ones this morning, then 8 poor ones after a pause — I don’t think I’ve yet had a day when I could do 20 pushups consistently for 5 days in a row, but I’m getting there), Druidry form, the two qi gong forms (called Five Golden Coins, and Eight Pieces of Silk), and finally the tai chi form.  The whole thing now takes me about 55 minutes.  I’m not sure how I’m going to do it once school starts up next week, first with faculty meetings and then with students returning the week after.

Today’s movement is Single Whip.  When I first worked through Single Whip poetically, a few weeks ago, and the result was this:

Hands stay still. All weight shifts from front to back,
and when the right foot’s light, inward it turns,
pointing to the left. Arms are somewhat slack,
as hips start to twist.  Upper trunk returns
in line with lower. Arms follow where led,
but with left arm straightened and right arm bent.
Shift weight to right foot, and lighten your tread
with the left. Spike right fingers to what’s meant
by “Buddha’s teacup” — and put a saucer,
the left hand, under.  Then explode both hands,
open the whole body: slow, but fiercer
as right fist balances and left arm lands
striking with shoulder, then elbow, then wrist,
last the hand’s grip —  all pure movement, not list.

I wasn’t pleased with it at all.  I am still not pleased with it at all.  It spends too much time on the turn from front to back, and not enough time on the elaborate strike that occurs at the end of the turn.  In other words, the poem is front-heavy.  Really, the first octave, the first eight lines, should be about one subject, but the sextet, the last six lines, should be about another subject.  That’s the logical place for the break.  But the movement itself doesn’t logically break that way; the second half of the movement is more complicated than the first half, and it really should have more weight to it.

I’m also noticing how many of these poems focus on the shift from front to back, or shift weight.  There’s an unfortunately-limited vocabulary of words to draw on for these poems. They’re likely to get boring, even to me, by the end of this whole exercise.  Oh, well.

Fold in your arms to the center of chest,
and shift your weight backwards from right to left.
Turn right toes inward from where it steps at rest,
then shift your weight back there in a slow drift.
Right hand forms hook, with all fingers pressed tight,
with left hand open — a saucer below.
Left toes turn out, as if to form a sight
indicating direction you will go.
Now everything is coiled like a spring:
Push off right foot, committing to the strike.
Right arm straightens, like the scorpion’s sting,
while left arm flails: shoulder, elbow and wrist,
ending with hand’s edge, far harder than fist.

Wow. That’s much better.  Well.  It’s better, anyway.  Far better? Maybe.  I guess it’s ok.  Better than the first time, but not much.  Meh.  I suddenly feel like Statler and Waldorf in the balcony. Is there anyone who’s been trying to follow the movements in any way, or duplicate them from the descriptions at home?  Better, or worse?  I suppose a video would be better.  Not likely any time soon, I’m afraid.  Poetry first. 🙂

As a final note, today is Tech Leadership Day, organized by Scott McLeod; I’ve already published my main piece for the day, but … that one was kinda depressing, so I may write something else later today if I can get to it.

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