Crows Again and Empty/Full

Beautiful morning. Went to Chetzemoka for an early morning practice. Sun up, barely. I was the only person in the park at this time. So lovely. I went over to the bluff and looked at the Straits. The tide was way out. Must be one of the lowest of the low tides for the year. Got me thinking about empty and full which I will describe later.

As I got started my form practice, I noticed a crow fly by, from my left to my right, with something that looked like a hamburger bun in its mouth. Strange. I glanced over to my left and noticed another crow, standing on the side of a box, with his head inside. He then stood up with something in his mouth, and off he flew.

I was working on the empty/full intention with the form, but this was distracting. Back and forth this pair kept flying – out of the box with something in the mouth, and back toward the box empty. Hum, also the empty/full lesson for the morning. In order to get more food, the crow had to empty what it took.

When I had finished one form, I went over to investigate more closely. As I got near, I realized that there were two people, sleeping under blankets. The box was filled, well almost, with food stuffs, hamburger buns among them. The crows had ripped open the plastic bag, and were helping themselves. I debated waking the sleepers, but didn’t. I closed the box so the crows couldn’t get in, and went back to practice. Crows sure are smart and resourceful.

Back to empty/full. When I noticed the ultra low tide, it set me thinking about how it is high tide someplace else. I wondered how far away the high tide was from here. When I got home I goggled to find out. Not a simple answer. Depends upon many factors. I let it go.

In any case, when contemplating tides, I thought about how tides slowly change from low/empty (yin) to high/full (yang). It happens over quite a few hours, not all at once. So when I was playing my Tai Chi, I tried to be aware of how slowly I could change form yin to yang and back again. I noticed which parts of my body were yin and which yang at the same moment. It was a fun and interesting focus exercise.

Stance Progression

We have three major widths for our stances in Tai Chi – wide, medium, and narrow. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I have discussed these in previous Tips. Usually in the form, we stick to one width throughout, even though in practical application we might vary the width according to the situation.

The width also varies during the learning process. When one starts learning, most instructors will teach the movements using what I call a shoulder width (medium) stance. This is a slightly wider than the natural (hip width) way to stand and move, but good for starting the student on building strength and flexibility.

After learning the form and practicing for at least a year, the student then widens the stance, and takes the level of the center lower. This greatly increases the power and strength the body can deal with, and it really stimulates the Kua area where power is transformed from core to periphery. At least another year at this level and width. The student will notice how much easier the medium width is now, more natural feeling.

Finally, the student, having a good grasp of how to generate and project energy, can use a narrower stance, which increases speed, so that all applications can be performed from a regular, natural stance.

At this time, the student can vary the width for interest and variety of practice.

So, I recommend, not getting stuck in one way or another. Play with your forms and listen to you body. It will tell you what you need to work with and on.