Most of the time, I prefer to follow a schedul and am rather rigid in my way of thinking. This is fine until the routine becomes a rut. I love Taiji, but I will admit that for the last six months or so, I was less-than-enthused about it. I’m weird in that while I vastly prefer a schedule for the most part, I will get bored of it at a certain point in time. I was telling my teacher that if I’m not careful, I start doing things by rote.
She said that was easy to do if you don’t practice without intention. Let’s face it. Doing something over and over can make it easy to slip into it being a habit. Taiji is about being present in the moment and not anticiptaing what was coming up.
My beloved weapons were the exception, but even with that, I aws lagging a bit. I have put learning vew weapnos on hold, which is probably part of thereason that I’m feeling stale. But,I need to refine my current forms and not rush onto another one.
Then I saw my teacher doing the Swimming Dragon Form (Bagua), and I needed that in my life. This is how I learn new weapons sometimes. I see it; I want it; I do it. I’m excited once again, and it’s because I’m learning something new. I have added several Bagua drills to my routine, and that has freshened things up quite a bit.
My usual practice goes like this. I start with the stretches and the warmups as I’m feeding Shadow. He has become incredibly picky as he’s gotten older, and he eats v-e-r-y slowly now. It can take up to forty-five minutes for him to eat one meal. And I have to switch his food two to three times per meal. He’s old. I think his nose is failing. His appetite isn’t, though. He eats more than he used to, but he still has old cat body.
Anyawy, while he is eating, I do my stretches and warmups. I o a sectoion from the Solo (Long) Form. on Saturdays, it’s the first section of the Fast Form. Which is my favorite. I only know the first section, but I cannot wait to learn more.
Side note: I no longer remember what my side note was gonig to be. I would say, though, that one thing that frustrates me about the solo forms is that my teacher’s teacher is constantly fiddilng with them. Maybe not now, buct there was a time when it seemed like he was changing things every other week. My teacher said that with the old masters, they did the same. They never stopped tweaking and they just expected their students to roll with it.
I get it. It’s not a static form, and there should be movement. It’s not written in stone, and my teacher’s teacher is still alive and kicking. Why wouldn’t he change things? At the same time, though ,it felt pointless to learn the forms if he was just going to change them a week later.
I was teaching myself the left side of the Solo (Long) Form during this time. This is the way we do it in our lineage. The teacher teaches you the right side and then you teach yourself the left side of the form. It’s both so that you can reinforce the teaching and because you should be able to do it at that point.
There came a point when he was changing things so often, I just stopped. I was roughly two-thirds of the way through the third section (which is the longest section by far, but I was just over having to change things every other week. My teacher told me to just roll with it, but that’s not something I can do. I can’t help but feel as if it’s a waste of time to teach myself a movement only to have to re-teach it to myself again, but in a slighly different way. Then, let’s make it even more infuriating when he changes it back again.
I literally could not finish the third seciton because he kept changing everything. Then, honestly, I just moved onto other things. So I did not finish teaching myself the third section of the Solo Form for several years. During the pandemic, I decided to finally do it beause my teacher’s teacher had CTFO. He did do an overhaul of the whole form, but all the changes made sense and made for a better form. I quickly incorporated them into the right side, then I settled down to teaching myself the left side. And, once my teacher’s teacher had his form codified, I was more than happy to teach it to myself, right and left sides.
Back to Bagua! It’s put pep in my step again. I’m eager to learn somethnig new, and it’s different enough from Taiji that I have to think about it very deliberately and consciously. The principles are similar to Taiji. It is an internal martial art. It does focus on the unity of the body, the mind, and the energy. But, it’s much more aggressive and muscular than Taiji. And while Tiaji can be nasty, it’s not by nature. Whereas Bagua is. Anything goes, and you’re looking to demolish the other person as quickly and efficiently as possible.
It’s funny. How I feel as I think about the two is radically different as well. When I think about Taiji, it’s calming, soothing, and more about being smooth and easy-going. As I’ve said several times, it’s the lazy person’s martial art in which you exert as little energy as possible.
Bagua, on the other hand, is all about going on the offense. Attack often and attack hard. Attack until the other person is permanently down. It doesn’t have to be fast, though–it’s not about speed. But it’s vicious. Delightfully so. My teacher showed me a move that is about decapitating someone, and we both cackled with glee. I don’t ever want to be in the position to have to do that, but it’s really incredible to see.
I’m done for the day. I will write more tomorrow.