Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: sword form

I knew I loved you before I met you

I have a confession to make. It’s really hard for met to admit this because I feel as if I’m cheating. I have had one love for several years and now….There’s a new game in town and I can’t help but be drawn to it. I’ve tried to deny it, but I have to let my feelings out. I’m just going to say it so I don’t have to have it preying on my mind, unspoken, any longer.

*covers sword and puts it away in a safe place*

I am in love with the double sabers.

Whew! I feel so much better now that I’m gotten that off my chest. I can move on with my life now.

I know it sounds silly, but I do have mixed feelings about the double sabers. Let me rephrase that. I have mixed feelings about my feelings for the double sabers. There’s no mixed feelings about the double sabers themselves.

I feel a passion for them I haven’t felt in ages. When they’re in my hands, I am filled with a joy that I can’t describe without being reduced to using trite soundbites. And, it’s different than the feeling I have about my sword–which is the same with the different energy each weapon has. The love I have for the sword is deep and abiding. Holding it in my hand is coming home again, wrapping myself in a cooling weighted blanket, and sipping a cup of raspberry tea. The double sabers, on the other hand, are an exhilarating kind of love. It’s a put on your fanciest outfit and dance the night away before having hot sex for hours kind of love.

If I were in a monogamous relationship with  the sword, I would definitely be cheating on it with the double sabers. So, I feel a bit guilty because I have always said that the sword is my true love (jestingly, of course) and while I wasn’t being serious about it, it was the weapon that changed my life. It’s what got me to totally buy into taiji after five or six years. It felt so natural in my hand as if it was meant to be there. It was an extension of my arm and learning the left side of the form was as natural as breathing to me.

When I saw my teacher demonstrate with the double sabers, I felt an excitement that I hadn’t felt–well, ever. As I said, my love for the sword is different and I never had that NRE with it. It has always been like a long-lasting and stable relationship in which there is happiness, deep satisfaction, and an emotional fulfillment, but not the passion, the butterflies in the stomach, and the sense of  naughtiness.

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It cuts like a knife…and it feels so right

In the last post, I wrote about my love for blades and how it has happened. Before I continue waxing rhapsodic about the love we don’t talk about, I just want to say that I did the whole Sabre Form today (as much as I know), and my right arm definitely got a workout. That’s another thing people don’t realize about taiji–it’s exercise. Yes, it can be gentle and meditative (which is where the health benefits come from), but it can also get the blood pumping. In addition, the weapons are definitely weight-bearing, especially the sabre.

Side note: The saber is considered the most basic of the weapons. The sword is the second most advanced (the spear is the most advanced. This is to the best of my recollection), and I still find it amusing that my teacher taught the Sword Form to me first. Now, I knew it was probably because that’s the one she was taught first and felt most comfortable with, but it’s still funny. I do wonder if I was taught the Sabre Form first if my feelings about the two weapons would be flipped. I don’t think so. I loved the sword before learning a lick of the Sword Form, and it’s still the most comfortable weapon in my hand.

Side note II: I found out recently that my teacher is not a fan of the weapons. Or rather, they’re secondary to much of the other aspects of taiji. I could sense it on some level, but it was interesting to hear her say it out loud. She’s done a great job teaching me despite her lack of enthusiasm, but I’ve wondered if I should approach her teacher for lessons in weapons. He’s amazing, and when I saw him do the Sabre Form at the last demo, it was sublime. He made it seem effortless and his movements were minimal. That’s part of taiji–the least amount of effort for the maximum effect, but I had thought with a weapon like the saber, you had to move it more aggressively. He showed you did not have to, and it blew my mind.

These days, I have to choose which weapons I want to practice every day. I have to rotate them as the list of what I know/what I’m learning is growing. Right now, I’m learning the Sabre Form (two to three movements from done!), the Karambit Form (last section!), the Dancing Wu-Li Sword Form (new sword form! Just learned the first movement), and a drill for the Double Sabre Form (too hard to learn through Zoom, so on hiatus. I still practice it once in a long while, but it’s definitely on the back burner). I do the Sword Form once a week by halves (first half Sunday, second half Monday) and the whole Sabre Form once a week (Tuesday). I practice the last row or two rows of the Sabre Form every day along with as much of the Karambit Form as I know (it’s very short). I learned the first movement of the Dancing Wu-Li Form last Thursday, and I’ve been doing that every day as well. I do the Cane Form (first row, only row I know) every third or fourth day.


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My unending love for bladed weapons

I like bladed weapons. A lot. I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone who knows me. Maybe the depth of my love, but not the fact that I’m an aficionado. I am fairly open about it, and I am always up for talking about it (though not the quantitative stuff such as the intricacies of different blades. I’m all about the feelings, bay-beeeeeee!). I’ve noted that women on twitter are uncomfortable with my declaration of passion for bladed weapons (it’s not ‘nice’ and is ‘so aggressive’, not to mention it’s hard for them to reconcile what they perceive as a gentle martial arts with weapons. I like to remind people that it’s still a martial art. I mean, it’s right there in the name!) and a weird corollary is that dudes think it’s hot. I mean, I get it in a way because think it’s hot, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think of weapons. And, it’s a bit creepy for dudes to be all, “See this hot sword scene that I immediately thought of when you mentioned weapons?”, especially on social media.

Side note: Dudes. My dudes. If there is one thing I can impart on you as a female-presenting person it’s this. If you don’t know a woman (anyone, really, but especially women and female-presenting persons) well on social media (and I define well as not ‘talking’ to them every few days at the bare minimum or having an offline relationship (that includes DMs/PMs), do NOT make sexual innuendos to them as your first foray. I might laugh politely, but it won’t make a good impression. And I’m someone who can be very ribald.

I’ve written before on how I had a similar mindset with the women above in that before I took taiji, I considered myself a pacifist and that violence was always wrong. The reason for it, however, was not a healthy one. I thought my life was worthless, so there was no point in defending it. When I used to walk the circle doing ba gua instead of meditation, I used to imagine an opponent in the middle of the circle. One time, I had a flash of visualizing me killing the opponent. It unsettled me, and I talked to my teacher afterwards. She said it wasn’t a bad thing because it meant that I was willing to defend myself. She was right, and it completely changed my viewpoint.

Back to weapons. I dragged my feet on them for so long. When I first started taiji, it was for self-defense and the martial art applications. I didn’t care about the health benefits or the mental health benefits–I was all about the martial arts. Weapons, though? That was over the line. No way I was ever gonna do that. Nuh-uh, no way. I dragged my feet until my teacher placed a wooden sword in my hand and exhorted me to just try. The second my fingers closed around the hilt, I was hooked.


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My Sword is My Life

so tempting, and yet, so wrong.
My new nemeses.

Health update first: I’m around ninety percent, but I’m having bouts of being besties with my toilet. It starts with stomach cramps, and it ends with me rushing to the bathroom as fast as I can. I sit on the toilet for up to half an hour, and it’s not fun at all. I had hope that by cutting gluten and dairy out of my diet that I’d not have to deal with this any longer, but it’s still happening, albeit much more infrequently. I bought some vegan Fettuccine Alfredo sauce from the hot bar at the co-op yesterday, and I was hesitant because it had noodles in it. However, the description card for it only noted it contained soy (I really appreciate they point out the major allergens in the food they provide), but I could SEE noodles. I didn’t see rice as an ingredient (a common substitute for wheat in noodles), and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask. I’m pretty sure they would have put wheat on the card if there was wheat in it, but it also said the item was just the sauce.

The other thing I’ve changed is that I’ve added more fruit back into my diet. This time, plums. I ate a plum after eating the vegan Fettuccine Alfredo, and I think it’s the plum rather than the Alfredo that caused the problems. I’m going to test it today by eating them at different times, and hopefully, that will pinpoint the problem. I’ve also had an issue with grapes and possibly cherries, so I’ve self-diagnosed the problem as either an intolerance/sensitivity to fructose or IBS. I don’t think it’s the former because there are fruits I can eat without problem. Oranges, apples, blackberries, and strawberries, for example. Watermelon, too. Also. I did have a bad reaction to a banana once, but only once, so maybe it was something else. It might also be that I’m not used to the amount of fiber I’m now ingesting. That’s another

I know I should see my doctor, but since I got sick after the last two times I went to my doctor, so now I have an irrational fear it’ll happen again. I know correlation is not causation, but it’s still in the back of my mind. I’ve been sick for nearly six months, and I don’t want to deal with another bout. For now, I’m just going to keep testing myself and hopefully come to the correct conclusions.

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Taiji Demystified, But Not Defanged

strike a pose!
Not kung-fu fighting.

I was at the bank the other day to straighten out a snafu. As the banker and I waited for the person he was calling to help us, the banker began chitchatting with me. He asked me what I did in my spare time, and I told him I practiced tai chi. He got a strange look on his face, a mixture of bemusement, bewilderment, and intrigue, and I waited to hear what he had to say to my proclamation. After a few seconds, he said, “You mean, the martial art? Like karate?” and did the breaking boards with his hands movements (the stereotypical karate chop) that you see in corny martial arts movies. I could have said, “No, tai chi is an internal martial arts style, and we have no interest in breaking boards with our hands.” I could have said, “Tai chi is good for your mental health as well as your physical health.” I could have said, “Tai chi is excellent for meditation and attaining a peaceful attitude.” I could have said any one of those things, but I didn’t. It’s difficult to adequately explain what it is in five minutes or less. So, I simply nodded and said, “Yes, it’s like that.” He asked what rank I was, and I said we didn’t have ranks or belts. I’ll give him credit. He persisted. He asked if I was an expert or a beginner. I said I was somewhere in between. Then, because I was highly amused by the conversation, I added that I was studying the Sword Form and the Sabre Form. I emphasized that weapons were my thing, and I snickered to myself at the look in the banker’s eyes.

After I left the bank, I thought more about the conversation. I want to emphasize that the banker did an excellent job in helping me with my problem. He was friendly, yet professional, and I’m not upset at his ignorance. I appreciate that he showed an interest when I mentioned taiji, even if it was beyond his ken. However, it underscored how esoteric taiji is to people who don’t practice it. I know, that’s not very insightful because anyone who has a niche hobby knows that people who don’t share the interest won’t know the ins and outs of the hobby. It’s too easy to forget that when you’re surrounded by other practitioners. I go to taiji classes three times a week and have been studying it for eight or nine years, so it’s as natural to me as breathing. The interaction with my banker reminded me that I’m an ambassador for taiji, which is pretty sad as I was the worst student ever for the longest time. One of the reason I started going to class three times a week was so that I’d actually practice on those three days. I didn’t practice at all outside of those classes for more years than I care to admit. I’ve changed that recently, but it’s still a fairly new habit. It’s also not what this post is about.

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