Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 229
Master Key to Tai Chi
I view intention as the master key to Tai Chi. It is what gives purpose to movement. It makes Tai Chi Chuan different than any other psycho/physical exercise. We practice Tai Chi so we can become real, simple, balanced, and whole. There are other movement arts that accomplish the same goals, yet I have loved the philosophy and beauty of the movements ever since I first saw Master Choy demonstrating his interpretation of the Old Southern Yang Style, over a half century ago. My practice allowed me to move from illness to wellness, depression to satisfaction, despair to hope, fear to love. I’m not just saying this. It was my experience.
I remind you that the learning process usually follows a set pattern. First imitate your instructors moves, then assimilate by study and practice, and finally innovate by letting your unique, true nature direct the moves from within. In order to do that, you need intention. You have to know what you want the body to be doing, and practice until it becomes reflexive movement.
A baseball batter practices over and over until he gains the skill to allow his body to hit the ball without thinking about it. I remember as a youngster learning to hit the ball. Many swings until I started to gage the proper distance, the speed of the approaching ball, the angle of how the bat must be in relation to the incoming object, and a lot more. With enough practice, hitting the ball became part of my nature, and no longer a part of thinking about how to do it.
Hitting a ball is not accomplished by studying the how to of hitting. You must get out and do it. Like riding a bike. No amount of study will substitute for getting on the bike and teaching your body how to balance, petal, brake, turn, etc. After you have done it for a while, you can then study how the experts are doing it, getting a lesson from someone in the know, and applying this to your own experience.
Each person is different. What I go through on my path, most probably will be different than what you go through. Students read about another person’s experience, and then try to make this happen in their own body/mind. It might happen, and it might not. I feel the best way to learn is to learn the proper movements from a teacher, then memorize by practice, then add intention by studying applications. Next apply applications with partners so as to build up the inner feeling of where the energy needs to be at any moment. Finally, just think about the application and let your body training take over so you just do the move without thinking how or why.
Just like hitting the ball. Practice until the body knows what to do, then just do it. Some people will have a special gift to hit the ball harder than others. You probably will never be able to hit like Barry Bonds, but you can hit like yourself with full awareness. Don’t compare yourself with others or you’ll never be satisfied.
Reminder: This Saturday we will start our monthly class on the Sword (Jian). Usually held on the first Saturday, this month it will be on the 14th, 1 to 4 PM. See you then.