I was looking for the poem that came next after False Close from yesterday’s artwork, and found this mess today from Day 147: Oh, I’d forgotten this mess. The finished poem from False Close wound up looking something like this:
From this braced posture, the right hand
retreats, (swings high)
but right elbow remains just in its place
The left hand
rises too, moves also, and it entreats (cuts by)
the opponent as it
travels side-swipes through space
until fingertips graze the bent right arm.
Thus a right angle is ordered — and stands
between the forearms on the right and left:
This is a posture of defensive hands,
for the arms can shift with movement so deft
to deflect the strike. Once the hands are firm,
weight can shift away from the front right foot;
the left leg can carry the weight a term —
but neither leg should move from where it’s put
Sweep both hands down and sideways to the left,
to guard the flank that in this move’s bereft.
What a mess. This poem doesn’t match with the drawings I’ve done at all. The drawings don’t make sense with the actions. You can’t interpret one from the other. I don’t know how to do the next drawing.
Excuses. Yeah, that’s easy.
But doing the work is hard sometimes. And there’s backtracking to do, and reorganizing the material, and re-thinkiing it. That’s what this blog is for. Right? Right? That’s why you’re coming here — to read about the challenges and difficulties of the daily work… and this is one of those places where I made a hash of things in poetry, and I’m going to have to fix it one of these days.
Even in the drawing, I can see that it’s wrong. The last image, the guy is hunched over at the neck, not with a straight spine. Duh. But it’s a detail that’s hard to get right. And, one has to know that the previous drawing involves standing with fire at one’s back, and now water and earth, and now earth, and now earth and air, are at one’s back.
Truth be told, I’d never considered this deeply how the directions interplayed with tai chi before. It’s clear that it matters which direction one faces in practice. I always begin in the east, but I’ve seen practitioners label the directions 1-2-3-4 in videos before. This is somewhat different. There’s a notional east, of course, which is different from true east, which is different from “the direction from which I’m attacked.” The movements must be suited to the moment at hand.
My tai chi practice has been speeding up of late. I made a deliberate effort to slow down today, but I’m also looking forward to taking some time over the upcoming vacation to really slow it back down again. The Yule/Christmas season always seems to sneak up on me and zoom past in a rush, and it’s been working its way into my form-work. Time to push back against that tendency and slow down.