Here’s the thing about taiji weapons. They’re like Lay’s: you cannot eat just one. Er, I mean. It’s really addictive–at least when it finally clicked in my brain. My brain is broken on many levels. One, I have a hard time doing anything—even things I like. Someone in the weekend thread on Ask A Manager asked how to make themselves do exercise on the regular. Other people gave good advice, but the one that I had to counter was to do it when you felt like doing it. Why? Because I never felt like doing anything. I related how when I first started practicing taiji at home, it was literally five minutes a day. The way I did it was to put it on my to-do list. Get up, brush teeth, feed cat, do taiji. I emphasized that it wasn’t a YOU HAVE TO DO THIS YOU LAZY ASSHOLE, but more matter-of-fact like, oh, right. Do the taiji thing. It expanded to ten minutes, then fifteen, and now, with my new-found love affair with the weapons, it’s 45 minutes to an hour.
I didn’t get into it, but the five minutes a day was so resentful on my part. In fact, before I started practicing at home, I went from one to two to three classes a week because I wasn’t practicing at home. When I started practicing, it was a quick section of the Solo Form (or part of a section) and then some stretches. The stretches were fine, but the Solo Form was not. I still am not a huge fan, but the Medium Form is way more my jam than the Long Form.
I’ve documented how I fell in love with the sword and it’s still very dear to my heart. Then, my struggles with the Sabre Form that has turned into a deep appreciation. Currently, I am intoxicatingly infatuated with the Double Sabre Form. It’s my everything and I would do it all day long if I could.
When I think about the weapons, it’s all about the feelings they invoke. The sword makes me want to dance and Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe is the perfect song to dance with the sword to. I mentioned in the aforementioned forum that before taiji, the only exercise I liked was dancing. Weightlifting was tolerable and I hated the rest of it. Now, I’m pleased to be able to combine dancing with taiji weapons because they are my two favorite physical activities (well, excluding sex*). I have chronic depression and it’s hard for me to find joy in anything.
I can find quiet moments of contentment such as chilling with my cat. I can be engaged by activities such as playing video games. I can be pleased chatting with friends. My brother came over last night and we tried the new Thai restaurant down the street. That was a really enjoyable time. But all of these are very muted. Which, to be fair, is my style in general. It’s partly just my demeanor and partly the depression.
All that changes when i grab my double sabers and wait for the music to start. Or not. Even when I practice with no music, there is joy in my heart as I move the double sabers in the air. I am someone who feels chained in so many ways, but when I do the Double Saber Form, I’m free.
Side Note: I like to joke with my teacher that she’s ruined me for watching anything that has to do with taiji or bladed weapons. I’m already a ‘well, actually’ kind of person and it’s even worse the more I learn about taiji weapons. I tried to find a video of the taiji sword being done to music (that’s the only taiji weapon done with dancing that I can find on YouTube) and I found flaws with the vast majority of them. The problem is that most of them were focused on the dancing and it was clear that the dancers were not martial artists.
On the other hand, the ones that were focused on the martial arts aspect really didn’t add much by having music, nor were they really dancing. In the end, I chose someone whose dance training is impeccable and his sword handling is decent. I felt it struck a decent balance (though leaned more to the dance side. Understandable as he’s a dancer). It’s still more about making the sword fit into the dance, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless.
Music has always been a way for me to let my emotions out. When I first heard the song, Father and Son, by Cat Stevens, I sobbed hard and listened to it 20+ times on repeat. When I’m doing a weapons form to music, I feel like I can truly express myself. The double sabers are very evocative to me. In addition, there is one movement that is my favorite and it makes me feel so powerful. I’ll try to describe it. You bring the double sabers up in a parallel fashion with the palms facing up, shoulder-width apart, and cross your forearms when their chest height. Then, you quickly turn them over so your palms are facing down, wrists still crossed and move your forearms out so the blades are like wings with the tip (claws) pointed forward. I feel like a bird of prey at that moment about to stab my prey and a jolt of power surges through me. This whole movement just makes me so happy, it’s difficult to describe.
I’m a little lost now that I’ve taught the whole form to myself, though. I don’t know what to do next because I have so many possibilities, but also because I love the Double Sabre Form so much. I’m not sure I’m ready to move on from it yet. I do need to teach myself the left side of the form, which will be interesting. Will I love it so much when putting myself through that? Will I find it as easy as teaching myself the left side of the Sword Form and the Wu-Li Dancing Sword? Or will it take more effort such as the left side of the Sabre Form?
I’m freaked out by how fast I’m moving now, I’ll be honest with you. I worry that I’m going too fast, but it’s not as if I’m being tripped up by my pace. I have to remind myself that I can slow down if I want–but there is so much to learn and I’ve left it to so late in my life. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t dive into it ten years ago because I would be so much further.
One thing I have to think about is if I want to get another teacher in addition to my current one. I don’t want to be disloyal, but weapons are not her thing. I feel like I’m outpacing her and while I know I can always count on her, I would love to learn from someone who was as into the weapons as was I. I don’t know how to bring it up with her, either.
The good thing is that there is no rush for me to find another teacher. Since her teacher keeps sending out videos of him doing weapons in the monthly email newsletter, I can teach myself until I find someone else. I’m ok with that for now.
*I have not had sex in quite some time and, honestly, I don’t know how I’d feel about it now.