Underneath my yellow skin

Simmer down now

I feel like I can just breathe. I still have shit I need to do, but the rate at which I have to do them has slowed down. And, things like getting a new phone can wait. I do want to be able to take video, though. It really helps now that I’m learning something completely new. That would be Bagua, specifically the Swimming Dragon Form. It’s stimulating and slightly scary at the same time to be a total newbie again.

Well, not exactly. I mean, Yes, it’s a new internal martial art, but I’ve done some Bagua before. Walking the circle with 8 palms plus the DeerHorn Knives….I know this sounds mad from the outside, but I promise you it makes sense. At least to me!

I loved it from the start, but i thought it would be too hard to learn two martial arts at once. I wanted to focus on Taiji weapons because they are my life, my love, and my happily ever after. But…at a certain point…I got really into my beloved DeerHorn Knives. It makes sense because they are weapons as well. I asked my teacher if she could show me a form for them, and she saw an opening. She said that there was the Swimming Dragon Form, which was the best-known form. Maybe the only form? Don’t quote me on that. You have to learn it with your hands first before you can learn it with the DeerHorn Knives. I agreed because I was so earger to learn the DeerHorn Knives version and because I really liked Bagua in general.

I have mentioned it before, but the feeling while practicing Bagua is so different than the feeling while practicing Taiji. With Taiji, it’s about being calm, chill, and being receptive. You take the energy that is given to you and return it twofold. Theoretically, it’s not for aggression, but, of course, you can initiate if you want. When I’m practicing, I’m more about being smooth and doing it for my health. Even with the weapons, it’s not about attacking. It’s about perfecting the form and doing it as seamlessly as possible.

The Double Sabers are perhaps the most aggressive. I feel like a human blender when I do it! I like to joke that I’m a Cuinsinart in human form, and it feels very dangerous when I do it. Obviously, I don’t practice with sharpened weapons because that’s not the point of doing the forms. My teacher told me about one of her classmates who brought a sharpened sword the very first time he was learning it. Needless to say, that did not end well. He cut himself and his classmates were scared to be near him. Honestly, the teacher should not have allowed that as it was irresponsible. I know my teacher would not have allowed it.

It’s the yin to Bagua’s yang. When I do Bagua, I want to punch someone in the face. No oone specifically, I hastened to add–just anyone in general. I feel aggression well up inside of me, and I’m ready for fighting.

My teacher told me that in China, if people find out that you do Bagua, they back away from you because you’re dangerous. I have watched people fighitng with Bagua, and, yes, they look like they have the intent to kill. It’s thrilling and there’s an edge to it that isn’t present in Taiji.

Bagua doesn’t have a bunch of different forms or weapons. If I remember correctly, the Swimming Dragon Form is the main form and it can be adapted as needed (and for the DeerHorn Knives).

Taji is about exerting as little energy as possible for the biggest results. It’s called the lazy person’s martial art with good reason. That’s one reasonĀ  I was drawn to it–because I’m lazy AF. Tell me that I can just fuck around without having to find out, and I am in.

It’s so different to the way Americans think of exercise. “No pain, no gain!” “Give it 110%!” “Go big or go home!” I have heard so many people brag about pushing themselves until they got hurt. One of my former Taiji classmates would talk about how he would go running for miles in the spring after not running at all, and he would pull a muscle. I have no sympathy because he does this every year. Like, what do you think is going to be different?

But it’s the American way of thinking, especially for American men. If something doesn’t hurt, then it can’t be doing anything. My teacher has said that people complain about that to her because they feel like Taiji is not doing enough for them. I have told people that you can’t expect to see changes for months. I mean, maybe you might feel a bit less tense within a few weeks, but on the other hand, you might feel MORE tense. My teacher told me that one of the problems with the American way of life is that we are so stationary, we become accustomed to it.

We don’t recognize the tension we feel because we’re so used to it. When I first started Taiji, within a year, I had so much tension and some pain in my shoulders. As I studied and practiced Taiji, the tension moved down to my lower back. A few years into my study, I started experiencing excruciating back pain. It was so painful, I could barely walk without flinching. I brought it up to my teacher, and she told me to do the floor exercise that we did. Three times on each side, it’s basically a gentle drop of the knee to one direction or the other.

I was skeptical to say the least. It seemed too easy to alleviate such deep pain. I trusted my teacher, though, and I dutifully followed her instructions. Three times per side, which took about three minutes. Within a few months, the pain was markedly less. After a year, it disappeared completely. Now, I have no back pain at all. I get some if I sit in a weird position for too long, but then I just do a few extra reps of the exercise and it clears right up.

It truly is a wonder stretch, and I am a rabid convert.

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