I’m closing in on a goal of mine for these images. I wanted to be able to get to the movement False Close, because that’s a sequence, from Opening to False Close, that a beginner could learn. What they’ll learn from these drawings — pfft. Heck if I know. I’ve learned a lot from making them. What else can be said?
The last few nights have been terribly sleepless. Trouble going to bed and falling asleep; trouble sleeping; and then waking up too early. Very difficult this time of year with school and all. I did some Christmas shopping in October/November, and so I’m not quite as unprepared for the holiday as I could be. All the same, this business of not sleeping well is affecting my practice. It’s hard to get up in the morning when you haven’t gone to bed at a reasonable hour.
Today’s new movement in pictures is the motion, Throat Strike. I first described this on Day 143 of this year. Then, as now, I marveled at the oddity of what I was taking on, the use of an English Renaissance poetic form to describe a Chinese martial art from the 12th-ish century:
Let the right foot carry all of your mass,
and turn the right toes inward. Then shift back—
Now left side bears weight. Both hands pass
from inside to outside; both arms bend slack
as right toes traverse forty-five degrees.
Feet then hold their ground while the waist’s turning
sweeps left arm toward right. Retain the bent knees!
You need both springiness and discerning
centeredness to move. Turn the left hand down
and block with forearm. Turn right hand supine
and combine your fingers into a blade.
right hand over left, push up the incline
into throat where human voice is made.
Left arm thus blocks and twists their forward fight
to jab them in throat — their might, in your right.
I also marveled at the particular act of this movement. It’s designed to collect the forward momentum of one’s opponent, and then transfer and redirect that movement and mass back into their own throat. That’s the essence of tai chi’s structure and design — to seek to turn one’s opponent’s motions against them. No. Not “seek”. Rather, to be prepared to turn an attacker’s motions against them.
“To seek” implies that you’re intending to attack. That you’ll be preemptively aggressive in the face of risk. And increasingly, I don’t think that’s right at all. Tai Chi’s movements are carefully coordinated, at least within the circle of the form, to not overstep one’s original bounds. This is a martial art for being prepared to defeat those who come against you, not to seek and attack.
I think it’s a crucial distinction, and one where it’s easy to fall into error while practicing. It’s nice to be reminded, again, that I’m practicing for defensive action, rather than for the attack.