Underneath my yellow skin

Patience, Grasshopper

Situation status quo, so no real reason to talk about it. What I do want to talk about is taiji. Yesterday, we worked on the third section of the new Solo Form (Medium), and it’s a real mind-fuck. Not because it’s difficult, but because it’s so different than the Long Form. All the movements (use to be called postures) are the same (well, mostly. There are a few new variations), but they’re in a different and more abbreviated order. I’ve been practicing the first and second section at home, but haven’t touched the third because we hadn’t learned the whole thing until yesterday.

It’s rather overwhelming because I’m so used to doing the Solo Form in the old way. My brain would go on automatic, and I would cruise my way through it. The change is good for that reason because now I have to actually think about what I’m doing. Being mindful is a core principle of taiji, but it’s something that I struggle with. My brain is always thinking of a million things at a time, and it’s hard for me to focus on just one thing. There are many reasons for this, but it’s something I’ve both embraced and fought against all my life. Learning the new form forces me to think about each movement because the changes are plentiful, but there are also stretches of the old form in between.

I’m not good at change. I’ve been grumpy about the pace of the changes in the form for several reasons. One, it feels like I’ve wasted a lot of time learning the old form that is now being negated by the new one. The stated reason for the new form is to allow new students to master taiji more quickly, which is good for them, but I feel somewhat ripped off by it. Oh, so I spent all that time doing things the inefficient way? It doesn’t make logically sense because practicing taiji is good no matter what, but it’s hard not to feel a little bitter that I would not wasted so much time on the Solo Form if I had started learning taiji now. Yes, I know I have many benefits having studied it for eight or nine years, but still. I also feel a bit like the old timer sitting on the lawn spitting tobacco into a can. “When I was your age, we walked ten miles in snow up the hill both ways to school!”

Overall, I would say that I like eighty to eighty-five percent of the changes to the movements, which is surprisingly high. I like that the martial arts applications are clearer, and I can’t deny that less Cloud Hands makes me a happy camper. It’s not the changes, but the pace of the change that is freaking me out. I don’t adapt well to changes, and they’ve been fast and furious. Here is a video of Master Liang doing his form (the Long Form).


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