Woke up at about 5:10 am to the discovery that I had forgotten to set the alarm last night. I got up, did my druidry work and then one form of tai chi, and a little bit of qi gong. The depths of winter are getting to me these days, and slowing me down a bit. We’ve only had one storm, really. It shouldn’t be that bad.
Yesterday I ran my class for ten students; we did both qi gong movements, Five Golden Coins and Eight Pieces of Silk. Then we did about 20 minutes of push-hands with three different partners each, me circling and correcting student work, providing ideas about how to make it work successfully next time. One student seemed annoyed that I was helping the little kids get better, and I said, “your form won’t improve until the little kids are able to shift you. Otherwise you just use your strength against them rather than technique, and that doesn’t teach you anything.”
I have to be careful about using my strength; I’m trying to be particularly cautious that I always throw them off balance with a minimum of force, and as much technique as I can muster. Ideally, I try to throw them off-balance by not pushing them at all — when they throw themselves off balance is best. “How are you doing that??” two kids said yesterday. At the same time, I’m using what I know to create wrong situations for myself: “Here, I’m pressing hard against you… and now I’m lifting my back foot. Can you feel the difference between me pressing hard and being grounded; and pressing hard and not being grounded? OK, now wait for the ungrounded… and push. Sideways.” And then I fall. Well, not fall. But go off balance. And they feel what being off balance feels like in me. And then they think, “Well, I’m only a hundred, hundred-ten pounds. Mr. Watt outweighs me by a lot. But if he’s not balanced, and I am, he goes over and I don’t.” WE started the class with a lot of chatter and non-engagement. By the end we could move through the whole form in silence.
What else? After push-hands, we did the form. The first time through, I talked through each movement. We have a long mirrored wall in the teaching space, which is also used for dance classes. So we were also able to settle into a mindset of watching for the second go-around, which was silent — them not talking and me not talking.
And then we concluded by setting up our socks and shoes as the corners of a box, and working through Fair Lady Works Shuttles for a period of time. The kids were really impressed with Windmill Kick, the first time they saw it. But by the end of this little routine, I think they get that Fair Lady Works Shuttles is this movement one of splendid grace and elegance.
After school yesterday, I went to the Mini Maker Faire at our local library. They’re doing some good stuff. At the moment it’s all electronics and robots and aluminum foil and coding. But I think we’ll be able to get some other stuff going on for them, and it will be cool.