Tai Chi Y4D311

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.

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