One of the skills of the internal artist is called wrapping. A perfect example of this is a spider as it wraps its live prey in a silk cocoon, or a snake that wraps its own body around the victim, both of which render the prey helpless.
As a martial artist, I need to get in close to my opponent and wrap him up so he can’t use strength to attack me. In my first Tai Chi tournament, I was very surprised by the opening tactic used by most competitors. After making three circles in front of the body with both of our hands joined together, one on the wrist, one on the elbow, my opponent would make a huge lunge and push in order to push me away which would earn him a point. I had never dealt with this problem before, as I was used to studio push hands where we train sensitivity and subtle techniques in a more slow and relaxed way.
I quickly learned that wrapping was the skill that would counteract this charge at the beginning. As the circles were ending, I would imagine myself as a snake and immediately let my hands tie up my opponent until I could slow down the action enough to deal with my opponent in a way I felt more comfortable.
So the bottom line is to use the concept of wrapping in different situations to slow down events until you can think about a solution more clearly. Wrapping and hugging are closely related; that could mean something.
Seeing is Believing
I went to the wharf early this morning and it was one of those perfect, early Fall days here in Port Townsend. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the water like a lake, the mountains in all directions nice and clear. What a place to practice Tai Chi.
I use the word “practice”, because to me it means to polish my skills in the art of Tai Chi. My father was a doctor who had a “practice”, but we, or at least I, don’t think of a medical doctor learning on the job, but of course they do. Practice means doing something on a regular basis. I am so grateful I have so many special places to practice and feel unity with nature.
And I made a nice observation during this morning on the wharf. I do not wear glasses and never have. Before I started practice, I gazed at the mountains, especially the Olympics, because that was the direction I faced when I started. My special intention focus was on the bottoms of my feet, imagining velcro on the bottom of my shoes which gave me incredible stability, and awareness of how I rolled up and down the foot. It was very relaxing and informative.
When I finished, I stood and just let my gaze fall on the Olympics. And they were quite noticeably clearer and sharper then when I started. That’s when the “Ah – Ha” hit me. My vision, and I imagine most people’s, gets clearer the more one relaxes. It was such direct proof of the relaxation benefits of Tai Chi practice.
So next time you practice, take a moment to notice something in front of you with relaxed focus, then do your practice, and notice the same thing and see if it comes more into focus without trying. Be open to the results. Enjoy.