Tai Chi Y4D3: twenty minutes

Head in Show
The Great and Powerful Oz

The kids at school pulled off The Wizard of Oz this past weekend with flying colors; the head survived through the show without breaking, and — phew! — it looked amazing on the stage yesterday afternoon. The kids and puppetry crew did a fantastic job with this puppet. I can hardly wait to figure out what we’re going to do next year to top it.

But actually, I can. Between then and now are 200+ days of tai chi, right? That’s actually about when I began working on the head, in December of 2014, around 100 days ago.  And next year, I think, I could build a head in under 50 days.  It would help, really, if I didn’t have other projects to work on; but of course, I will, so it’ll need 100 days to build something new.  Something to remember.

My big challenge at the moment is learning how to achieve a half-hour daily practice.  Today it was 20 minutes exactly, without checking the clock.  I counted breath, and pulled a few other tricks, to try to make my practice last a half-hour; I was short by ten minutes.

Even so, I had a great practice that had me sweating and breathing hard at the end of it.  I did the wu chi stance for about three minutes, and then the same for the san ti stance.  Then Five Golden Coins, followed by the form, twice.

I think about that pair of forms. The first time was a focus on the breathwork.  The second time I focused on moving through water.  And I think that if I’d done it a third time, focused on footwork, I’d have been at about 30 minutes.  That means that to reach 45 minutes or an hour I’m going to have to do these walkthroughs 2-3 times each — three repetitions focused on moving through water, three on footwork, three on breath… and probably three where I try to put everything together.  It’s less daunting to break it down into segments like that; but it’s also slightly more daunting, too.  I was breathing a little hard at the end of the “move through water” procedure.

Even so, those two walkthroughs were pretty powerful.  While moving through water, you’re making the tai chi form isomorphic — that is, that you’re resisting the forward momentum of your body with your own muscle power in each movement; and you’re resisting with forward movement all of your reversals.  I turn out to be pretty good at this from shoulders out to the fingertips. But doing it with the obliques, on the sides of the body under the arms, or with the abdominals, or with the back… these are incredibly difficult.  We’re not used to engaging our body in these efforts in this way.

It’ll be a bit of a road to drive down before I can do that easily, several times in a row.

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