Tai Chi Y3D242: Drawing in Arms

Back on Day 125 this year, I began the sonnet project.  On Saturday (yesterday), Quin decided to try to learn my tai chi form from my sonnets, but admitted he’d need some diagrams to help him.  So I decided, it’s time to make the diagrams that go with the tai chi sonnets, and I started drawing.

So yesterday I did the Opening. Today is Circling the Arms:

Both hands rise up to the height of the shoulders,
while feet, planted firm, stand shoulder-width wide.
The hands retreat, like a pair of soldiers
on guard, overrun by opposing side.
Ere they retreat all the way to the chest,
they stop and resist; and the knees sink low.
The hands remain just a moment at rest,
then they, too, press downward, following flow
of chi — that eternally-living flame.
The knees unbend and the body ascends,
though hands still press opponent down in shame,
’til fingers impress with their last extends,
how direct forward motion does not land,
but tumbles down by the circling hand.

Picture?  Oh boy. This is where things get complicated.  Can I do this?  Probably.  But probably not immediately or swiftly. Guess what, even though I just did this in my tai chi form, I’m having to stand up, do it again, turn on the iPad, try drawing, stop drawing, do the movement, pick up the iPad, draw again, and so on.  Sorry Quin — this is not going to happen nearly as fast as either of us would like…

CircletheArms Well. What have I learned about drawing so far?

I’ve learned that it’s going to be more challenging than I’d imagined when I started.  Here, I think I left out a step. The arms are at the sides at the end of Opening and the start of Circling the Arms. Then they rise up — and I missed a step here, the palms facing the opponent. It’s worth noting that although I show the palms rising up to the right, they actually are straight out in front. Then the arms bend at the elbow, and the hands push down from by the shoulders. One doesn’t squat into a horse stance or a squared-off position, either; but one does sink down quite a bit, before rising back up to a normal posture.

This is going to be hard.

Quin asked me to comment on color in the diagrams. Basically, the figure and the physical movements are going to be in black or possibly black and green, for Earth-based or physical movements. Blue arrows will indicate the flow of fluid weight — how the body goes through shifts in its fluid from one posture to the next; this is the Water of the posture.  Yellow, usually circles or arcs, will indicate the flow of chi from one part of the posture to the next — the breath or Air of the movement.  And red will be the fire — which energy centers should be active during the movement.

Ideally, every diagram would be colored with all four colors. But in truth, just because I am diagramming them, doesn’t mean I understand how all four elements move in each chart in each movement. Getting these diagrams created, revised, corrected and understood is probably going to be my work for the next few hundred days. What am I getting myself into?

This morning has also been complicated by illness. In the middle of my tai chi routine, I suddenly felt enormous pressure in my gut, and realized I was going to vomit.I spent the next hour and a half either on the toilet, bowed over it, or waiting to go back to it. It’s taken me most of the day to feeling up to finishing the tai chi…

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  1. This was easier then yesterday– not as many apparent contradictions, and also I may be getting used to the idea of how I need to approach this. I wasn’t floundering about so much, thinking “can I actually do this???” over and over like yesterday. 😉 Still, a good solid half-hour– I guess I’ll try to make that my time budget for this.

    Even though you did explain in today’s Summary that the arms are actually straight out in front, it took me awhile to figure that out– pictures are powerful that way. I think if you both have the color wash in the background to clarify what angle it’s from, and are careful to match the footwork to the new perspective, it will be clear enough.

    Here’s my self-made instructions– please give them a looking over, when you have a chance!

    1. From your shoulder width stance, raise both hands up to shoulder height, ending with palms facing forward, in defence.

    2. Let the hands retreat by bending the elbows, until the elbows are at your sides and the backs of the hands are at your chest.

    3. The hands stop there and resist an unseen force, while the knees sink low [to about the same depth as the opening?].

    4. The hands remain in place for just a moment, before they too press downward [and coming together, as in the sketch? And if so, are they pulled apart again later, as in the last square? Or are they the same distance apart the whole time?], following the flow of chi [and pushing down the imaginary opponent? Seems to be implied by the sonnet…].

    5. Unbend the knees to ascend to normal height, [slightly curving the arms as you do so as to keep the hands at a fixed point in space?], still pushing the imaginary opponent away.

    • All of this looks right except for 4, where the hands come downward but don’t come together. Something to fix in the sketch in the long-run, I suspect.

    • Actually, one more question.

      In the Opening sonnet, we lower our center of gravity. Is there any point from there until the end of Circling The Arms’ sonnet that it is raised up again? Or is it that in line 6 above, “when knees sink low”, the already-low center of gravity goes even lower than before (so what I wrote in bullet point 3 above is actually wrong– it’s *deeper* than the Opening)?

    • Hmmm. No. The center of gravity lowers in the Opening, and then it goes lower during Circling the Arms, and then rises to about the level it was in the Opening. But I don’t know how to tell you how low to go in the Opening, and how much lower to go in Circling the Arms. A challenge.

  2. Be finite and determine what you wish to capture in the first six drawing poses. That notes of what you would add/subtract and make the next six drawing poses. Repeat and iterate.

    Upon completing your series of poses, you could go back to the first and improve that set of drawing poses.

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