Sunday, June 2, 2013

Discovery in Classical Tai Chi

I know that Master Hwa has consistently examined his own movements and tries unceasingly to come up with better ways of teaching.  Additionally, he maintains the desire to share his own discoveries with his students.  There are of course some students who develop what they learn from the teachings naturally by just practicing. I believe he is right in thinking that his desire to shorten the learning curve might be viewed with a disapproving eye by old masters.  After all, they believed in diligent practice and self-discovery. Master Hwa is well aware of this concern and relates it to Mencius story about a farmer who was impatient watching his seedlings grow so slowly that he went to the field and pulled the seedlings up to help their growth.

My understanding of the story is that the pulling up to see the results resulted in the plants dying. Intuitively I think that Mencius wanted to illustrate that successful cultivation of personal virtue was a long term process.  It is a satirical thought indeed that anyone can be impatient for success yet act to destroy the very conditions upon which success depends, or hastens growth yet hopes for success. 

Here is one discovery that I have made:  The desire for success is a self imposed obstacle to success. As a Westerner, I think I have self imposed things standing in my way that make living Tai Chi very difficult.  I know that I am not immune to the many feelings wherein one needs success and needs it in a hurry - in things other than Tai Chi as well.  So the question of what Tai Chi can mean to me particularly in light of these self imposed roadblocks is ever more important. 

 Although Master Hwa feels the need to shorten the learning curve, I don't think he should ever regret it.  I hope I am not being too bold when I say that Tai Chi has had a difficult time in the West. For one thing the ground that he planted Tai Chi "seedlings" in is as I say,  in the West.  One might also say that it is needed very much in the West, but the ground is not the most fertile considering the obstacles, albeit self-imposed . If anything I think his efforts to shorten the curve were necessitated by forces that may well be difficult to control as I state above.  

I have encountered no other Tai Chi learning  as he teaches where students are taught to zero in on the correct sensation of a movement.  I have found that this is truly the best tool for achieving self-improvement.  One learns to sense the gradual discoveries of their own body which have been "under ground" for perhaps their entire life - how can this be called "pulling up"?  The health implications of this are incredible for the sensing of gradual discoveries is a direct pointer to how well the nervous system becomes both healthy and well "tuned".  One doesn't have to look for results, one can feel them.

In the domain of sensing movement and feeling the results I have included a link to a Youtube video wherein Master Hwa talks of one of these many discoveries.  I have included the link here: Discovery in Classical Tai Chi and the transposition of his workshop here:

Master Hwa: "You know sometimes, as I recently wrote in the book about discoveries. And it is still continuously discovered. For example, we talk about rotating this arm, your arm is up a little bit?  OK. Before I kind of said, now, because you rotate up, elbow is down.  So now you can go down like this. But really that rotation, HAS LOTS MORE MEANING TO IT.  

So you understand because you are nodding your head right?  You know, you try with one hand, you can see. So, one hand you rotate, ok, you rotate then you start moving again.  MORE.  You see this move, starting with this rotation.  This is a very powerful move. Right? Starting with this rotation. Once you start to move this...  So again, I just, just ...Ohhh, these old masters, they really think about everything. This is a very powerful move...for blocking, and later on, you can feel the power.  Right...very good, right, exactly. Right and also later on, when we talk about push hands, there is other uses for this move too.
You, know, so early on, I just followed my teacher, turning but. Now I really understand, why, so important but.  Two hands is actually  more difficult, so your both hands come down. You know most of the Tai Chi forms when they do this, they pull the arms back like this. It is NOT, we really do THIS.  It is more difficult than one hand...both sides actually. 

Student: "At that point, it is a feeling in the back?"

Master Hwa:  "Yeah, the back, my back goes down. That's how the back goes down. It's easy to illustrate it using one hand but two hands is a more difficult situation. Yes the SHOULDER SINKS. "
"Now two hands can also be used for blocking, Or, when someone comes underneath you, you strike him on the back with the elbows. The shoulder goes down."

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