Yesterday, I was going to write about Bagua and then went completely off the rails. Well, not completely. It was tangential to what I was talking about, but it did relate. I was writing about my mother’s ability to gaslight me about past events, but with utter sincerity on her part.
Because of this, I question everything. This is both a good and a bad thing, sometimes at the same time. There is that meme about the ‘well, actually’ guy, but that is me. I know enough not to say it out loud all the time, but it’s constantly in my mind. I recognize that it’s not a trait that other people find endearing. Hell, I find it annoying sometimes. But I also find the lack of nuance irritating. Also, I said this to an online friend, I was raised to not voice my opinion by parents who were deeply sexist. Their culture in general was sexist at the time (Taiwanese) as was American culture. My parents were reactionaries, even in their own culture.
When I started Taiji, I had a million questions for my teacher. And I was clearly skeptical about everything she had to say. She remained cheerful and would answer my questions endlessly. If she did not know the answer, she would say that she would find out for me. I really appreciated that she didn’t try to shine me on or bluff her way through an answer.
My first Taiji teacher was…terrible. I won’t get into why because I’ve talked about it before, but one thing I really disliked about him as a teacher was that he put on this ‘I am the wise master who knows everything’ attitude that he had not earned. His Taiji was solid, but he as a person was not. He was scum, quite honestly, and I should have quit a lot sooner than I did.
His personal issues aside, he was not a good teacher, either. He would never say that he did not know something or that something was beyond him. In addition, I was in the beginners class and never learned the whole form. Why? Beacause the teacher would keep starting from the beginning. He said that since it was the beginner’s class, it was for beginners. In restrospect, maybe I should have moved to a different class, but at the same time, you would think that a beginners class would actually show the whole form
That was the least of my issues, though. The biggest issue was that he wsa a sexist asshole. And his tutor was also a sexist asshole. Or rather, did not think of things from the female point of view. I have huge boobs. Like, in my way huge. Don’t get me wrong. I love my boobs. They are amazing! Who doesn’t like boobs? But if a movement calls for me to put my arm straight across my chest, well, we’re going to have to discuss some accommodations. I once asked the tutor about it, and he got all flustered and had some flippant response.
My teacher told me that her teacher gets flustered by it as well (he’s a guy. Of course). That’s one reason I specifically looked for a woman as a teacer the secodn time around. I did not have time for that bullshit. “Hahahhahahah I would not know about that!” Really? You have not once thought about alternate placement for arms because of boobs? Then you are not a good teacher/tutor. You just aren’t. If you can’t talk about it without being a juvenile 12-year-old boy, then GTFO.
My current teacher was very matter-of-fact whenever I bring it up. She just tells me how to adjust my arms so that they didn’t knock against my boobs. Or smush them. Or in general make them uncomfortable. In other words, she acted like an adult and treated me like an adult as well.
I have a million questions. I’ve always have a million questions. Once I get into something, I want to know all the things. Well, most of the things. And I can talk about it forever. Fortunately, so can my teacher. She is happy to talk about Taiji and/or Bagua at length. She is so positive about it, it’s a joy to discuss both of them with her. At the same time, she knows when I’ve had enough and will stop if my eyes glaze over.
It’s interesting. Listening to her talk about the basics with the newbies is so wild. It has shown how far I’ve come and how much I take for granted now. In the class I take, she is teaching the second section of the Solo (Long Form). We are up to the kick section, which is my favorite. It’s hilarious because it’s difficult for almost everyone else. My teacher has said that it’s a hard part. For whatever reason, I found it easier than other people did. Maybe it was because I did 12 years of dance classes, but I never had a problem with it.
Standing on one leg was not a problem for me. I watched my classmates fall repeatedly, but I did not have that issue myself. I told my teacher that I really liked that section, and she laughed. It was just like me to appreciate the hard section because I liked a challegenge. Also, I needed something to prod my brain to make me want to learn it.
On the other hand, I had difficulty with the easiest movement in the form. Well, one of the easier ones. Cloud Hands. It’s the one that movies always showed people doing if they were supposed to be doing Taiji. The longer name is something like Wave Hands Like Clouds, but we just call it Cloud Hands. For whatever reason, it just would not click in my brain. The kick section, though? Yeah, that was a breeze.
That’s my personality in a nutshell. I go for the har stuff and am not interested in something easy. It’s the same with my prospective dating partners–if they are overtly interested in me, then I am not interested in them. I am not saying this is a good thing, but it’s how I am.
The video I have included is Master Liang doing the Solo Form. He loved dancing, so he set the form to music. He made all the postures 2, 4, or 6 counts, which was awkward. My teacher’s teacher recently changed this to counts that were more natural. Master Liang also liked to do al the weapon forms with tassels for the same reason–the performance aspect. Though he would use the tassels in the form itself.
I’m glad my teacher’s teacher moved away from that and develaped a more pragmatic solo form. Once again, I have done a bait and switch. I’ll try to get back to Bagua tomorrow.