The Three D’s

Every once and a while, I read a fiction book that contains something unrelated to Tai Chi that helps clarify my thinking on teaching this wonderful art. This week, my wife Dana and I went for a couple of days to a close by, small town called Langley. To get there we had to take a ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island, the longest island in the U.S, then drive 25 miles south on the island. Close, but different.

In any case, I brought along a book I had started. It is called Nemesis by Philip Roth, a true master of the written word. It is about the polio epidemic in 1944 and takes place in Newark, New Jersey. The main character, a physical education instructor, who gets stricken, is teaching his students to throw the javelin. For the student to achieve excellence, he uses an expression, that turned me on. He called it “The three D’s”. They are determination, dedication, and discipline.

Think about this and I am sure you can see the importance to our study of Tai Chi Chuan. Let me know what you think. And I do recommend that book.

Near and Far

I am an early riser. While at Langley, I got up as the sun was rising, and went to a spot I had found the day before, close to where I was staying. A nice grassy area, right on the water. Heron, gulls, and crows were stirring, as the sun started to rise behind Camino Island right in front of me. The jagged peaks of the Cascades were in the distance. Interesting cloud formations. Lovely.

For my intention goal, I decided to play “near and far”. Each movement would have two places of focus – when gathering I would focus on my center (near), and when releasing I would focus on far. Generally, when I was on the forward foot it would be far, either completing the push, press, or strike, or reaching out, making contact and joining, like the first part of Repulse Monkey, or the first Ward Off Left. For the near, I would soften my focus and concentrate on the center, and for the far I would send my focus to the farthest distance I could. It allowed me to enjoy the inner feelings of gathering into the center, and the majesty of the mountains, clouds, and waters. I’m sure you can figure out for yourself when to focus near and when on far.Have fun doing it.

I can’t imagine going to a gym, and playing these sorts of games and enjoying it nearly as much. Tai Chi is designed to be played out of doors. I encourage you to find a place where you can play your forms and enjoy nature.