Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tai Chi is hard but not as hard as you think

How is it that you stand like that, for that is “double weighted”? A student once made this accusation as I was teaching him the round form. I was standing with the feet looking parallel as you see Master Hwa doing here. I was in the throes of demonstrating the “cloud hands” sequence using the square form as an example.Video of cloud hands instruction and stepping . Actually, one of my feet was slightly back of the other via a step back, he thought it looked parallel and thus double weighted.  Unfortunately the student never completed his study, preferring to defer to what his former teacher taught which was a 24 Form, large frame Wu Style. He was enamored of that to the point of stating that I “...was not teaching Tai Chi...” and promptly left.
Well, it is next to impossible to be double weighted in Classical Tai Chi, unless one pushes with the back leg instead of pulling with the front. As we know,"... the pushing , which is synonymous both with everday walking and large frame Tai Chi, engages both feet stuck to the ground until the move is completed . In the case of pulling the back foot has no such responsibility, it is free to be lifted and moved…even in the case of parallel feet..."
I cite this example of what is or is not double weighted as an example of how difficult it is for many people to learn Classical Tai Chi, needless to say it helps if one wants to do the work. If one does not want to do the work, it is impossible. I shall attempt to explain why and you may be surprised.
On his web page, Master Hwa makes reference to his teacher Grandmaster Young Wabu “…he tested his martial art skills with Wu and found that he was completely dominated by Wu At that point, Young gave up all he had learned before and became Wu’s student. Young remembers the difficulty in trying to FORGET the deeply ingrained external martial arts he had learned and switch to the very different internal …” You see, this applies to those like that student I mention, that learn other Tai Chi, even large frame Wu Style for that is also “external”…they do not want to admit this.
Almost in keeping with “…it cannot be changed…” as quoted by Young Wabu as he attributed it to his teacher Wu Chien Chuan. There is also the concept that learning a style of Tai Chi , learning the postures of Tai Chi, learning another martial art, having learned to do everday walking, etc. is relatively EASY compared to the act of trying to change these things…changing these things is HARD. Unfortunately, my experience with MANY students bears this out for they personify what one might call “pigheaded resistance” in mind and body. Pigheaded in relying on prior notions of both thinking and tendencies.
Here is WHY: This is understandable, why shouldn’t it be , for it is natural for body and mind want to cling to information provided by the senses. eg. Once having learned to everyday walk, of course the body and mind resist change. I had an elderly man in my class who resisted learning the "basic walk" so much, he would slap his thighs say "this is stupid,I know how to walk" and continually resume everyday walking Another student would put both hands out to the sides like a tightrope walker, preferring to do everday walking instead of holding onto the wall, doing basic walking etc.
Therefore, It is absolutely necessary that a student’s beginning lessons of the principles be correct without compromise. A student asked once why it had to be “so difficult”. In light of what we know about our sensory “pigheaded” resistance to change, is it so much that the Tai Chi is difficult …or is it is more a case of your body and mind making things difficult ? If you can come to admit the latter, you have taken a good “pulling” step toward learning.

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