Underneath my yellow skin

Internal martial arts are life

I love my weapons. I will just come out an d say it. They are my life, and the one hobby I would give up the last. Writing as a very close second, but something about the weapons just sing to me. When I’m practicing the forms, I am as light as air. Or as heavy as the earth. As hot as fire? Not particularly. But floating on air? Yes! Wait. The fire one is not necessarily true. As fierce as fire? Yes, there’s that, too.

One reason I was committed to my teacher was because she was very honest about what she knew and didn’t know. I asked a million questions and was a recalcitrant student. I had been burned by my first teacher (he was terrible), and I was not someone who trusted easily in the first place. She was very patient with me. If she did not know the answer, she would say that and tell me she would find out. Either by reading or by asking her teacher.

In addition, she never took what I said about Taiji personally. The complaints I made, I mean. I said that one posture/movement was the W. (George W. Bush) of postures, which tickled my teacher. I also said at one point, “Fuck Taiji!”, which also made her laugh. She repeated it delightedly, which showed that she had a healthy attitude towards her craft. Many people can’t laugh at something they love, which is not a good way to bring people in. Being defensive, I mean.

She was so patient with me. I told her at our last private lesson that I really appreciated how she took each student as they were and knew that every student learned differently. She did not try to impose her way of teaching on any student, and she was able to keep the impatience from her voice–most of the time.

I have told her several times that I was thankful for her graciousness to my surly attitude. I fought back against everything and made things much harder than I needed to make them. I’m better at it now. If she says something about Taiji (or Bagua), I accept it. She has earned that, and it’s much easier on me.

I will say that I really enjoy learning a new martial art. As I’ve said in the past, I felt as if I was in a bit of a rut with Taiji. Here’s my last post which was about how I find the way Westerners think about exercise to be toxic. It’s one reason I chose Taiji as the martial art to study, but I do like learning new things. I had put my weapon forms on hold because my teacher cautioned about learning them too quickly.

It’s something Master Choi said about basically being the master of none when you learned a bunch of weapon forms. It hurt, but I got what he was saying (and my teacher by extension). In addition, I need to learn the last row of the Karambit Form. My teacher taught me four of the five, but did not feel confident with the last row. She sent me the videos of her teacher doing the form, so I just need to teach it to myself.

Bagua has given me a boost. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s so different from Taiji. Wait. That’s not completely true. It’s also an internal martial art, so there’s that. And there are things that are applicable to both. Like relaxation and the use of the mind. I would say the unity between mind, spirit, and body is also important. The difference is that Taiji is receptive/reactive whereas Bagua is more anything goes.

That’s not to say that Taiji cannot be lethal–it can. “If there’s a hole–poke it. If there’s a knob, pull it.” That’s something said in Taiji, and it basically means to use anything to your advantage. But you’re not looking for a fight–you’re just finishing it. With Bagua, you are the fight. You start it, are in the middle of it, and you finish it.

I want to be clear. I don’t want to be in a fight. ever. I did start learning Taiji in case I needed to fight because while I had the hard stare and the attitude, I had nothing to back it up. When I told my teacher that was the reason I wanted to learn Taiji, she told me that it would be quite some time before I could use Taiji in self-defense. If that’s what I wanted, then I should have done aikido or something like that. Imean, if I wanted something I could use soon.

Now, fourteen-and-a-half years later, I would say that I have a better feeling about defending myself in hand-to-hand combat. We are starting Pushing Hands, which is the basis for sparring, and I have taken a class of that before (from my teacher). More to the point, Taiji (and now Bagua) has helped me in more ways than I can count.

One. I am not as claustrophobic as I used to be–and I can go through crowds without feeling hemmed in.

Two. My relationship with my parents is the best it’s ever been. Mind, that’s not saying a lot, but it’s something.

Three. Taiji has helped me stay in he here and now more often than I was able to before. I’m still not great at it, but I’ll take it.

Four. I improved my sleep and my body issues. With the former, I went from five hours a night to six-and-a-half. The only thing that helped me more was dying. Now I sleep eight hours a night (waking up once), which started after my medical crisis.As to the latter, I went from hating my body to being studiedly neutral about it. And appreciating how sturdy it was. Again, it was dying that put that issue to rest. I fucking love my body now. You can’t say shit about it to me.

Five. It’s instilled discipline into me. I tend to be a procrastinator and put off things to a ridiculous degree. Now, I get up and feed my cat. While he’s eating, I start my Taiji practice (he can take up to a half hour to eat). I finish that (and Bagua) within an hour-and-a-half. This was without fail. When I had to drop my car off at the shop before nine in the morning, I did skip my weapons for that day. That was strange, but that was only a one-day thing.

I’m happy where I am in my pracitice. I can’t wait to learn more Bagua.


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