Tai Chi Y3D247: Single Whip is Hard

not happy with the color scheme yet... :-/
not happy with the color scheme yet… :-/

I can’t say that I’m hugely happy with today’s drawing.  It looks weird, the figures are all sorts of sloppy, and I’m not really good at using the watercolor tool in the app Paper. It drives me crazy, a little, actually.  This enormous blob of color appears, and then when you try to spread it out it gets deeper and thicker.  And I haven’t really represented the motion of the arms or legs very well.  The arms swing across the body in step one, but then the right arm bends in step two, the weight shifts back in step three, the left arm bends to meet the right arm, and then the whole body is popped open like a spring — or a whip.

That’s the idea.

The reality is quite different when reduced to 2D form and presented in a digital paper medium like this.  Not so good.

I represented this in poetry for the first time here:

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.

The actual practice went fine.  This week, due to illness, I’ve not been able to do my two qi gong forms, because I’ve simply been too tired to manage that work on top of the form; but today I reintroduced Five Golden Coins, and that went fine. Tomorrow, I think I’ll bring back Eight Pieces of Silk.

During the movements for the tai chi form, though, I had some very strange bits that made me wonder about whether I was doing Fair Lady Works Shuttles 1, 2, 3, and 4 correctly.  I don’t know what made me wonder, but I found myself reaching the Ward Off Right that follows FLWS without being entirely sure that I’d done those four postures.  Weird.  So I went back and did that part of the form again.  Same bit of blankness. Odd.

When I think about it, though, I realize that this is one of the pieces that I learned later in my time at Star Farm Taiji, when I was a student there in the late 1990s.  The second half of the form took me a lot longer to learn than the first half, and it was these sections that I had the most difficulty integrating. The fact that my brain now skips over them may be a sign that I’ve finally integrated them. But that means I have to now tender them differently, so that I can do them consciously as well as unconsciously.

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  1. Well, since it turned out I was basically doing things right, I think we both have to admit that it was successful! But at the moment, a bit too much like solving a difficult logic puzzle, rather than following instructions. Much more comment follows at the other page…

  2. Hi Andrew, don’t worry too much about the darkness of the watercolors for now. This is just a sketch anyway– what matters is, is the information you want to convey successfully conveyed or not?

    I left the writeup of my first day of Tai Chi practice here. Please take a look. I’m definitely going to need some input from you if I’m going to continue along this humorously difficult Sonnet/Sketch learning path.

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