Underneath my yellow skin

Making new muscles

I am tired. My body is sore, and I’m having to be careful about working out too hard. Even though I do not espouse the ideal of giving 110%, I can become consumed by a pasison. And, I do get obsessive from time to time. That’s how I was pulled into anorexia (which included exercising seven hours a day the first time I had anorexia), and it’s why I stay with a partner past the point of when I should have left.

It’s partly an obsessive nature, and it’s partly because I was raised to always think of other people I was recently talking with a friend about being empathetic. I used to think it was something I was born with–which was true to a certain extent. But it was also because I was told over and over again that my worth was in my ability to be an emotional dumping ground for others. Specifically my mother and then later, my hypothetical husband.

Because of that, I can now read people very easily. I would say I can read people 95% of the time. The 5% of people who get past me, well, that usually turned out really badly for me.

I don’t do anything by halves. I either went all in or I didn’t do it at all. Things like the Taiji Solo Form are outside my norm. I am not passionate about it, but I have come to appreciate it. It’s the basis for everything else we do in Taiji. And, I  hated it for so long. I could not stand it when I first started Taiji fourteen years ago. It was the first time I stuck to something I hated so much. Why? Because I knew there was something in it. I knew that if I could push through the disdain, there would be something else there.

What I did not know was how long it would take and how much I would rebel against it. I’ve told this story many times, but I added two other classes a week because I could not make myself to practice at home. I would tell myself sternly to do it, and my body would shut that shit down. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses. It’s my own body. How could it not do what I wanted it to do?

It would not do it, though. So I added another class a week. Then another. Then I forced myself to do five minutes of stretches a day. That’s right. It wasn’t even the Taiji, but the stretches we did in the first half hour of class. I don’t quite remember how I started practicing at home. Probably when my teacher pushed me to hold a sword, and I fell in love with it. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was pratciting the Sword Form at home that got me into a daily practice.

I still hated the Solo Long Form. I did not practice that at all. I only did the stretches and the Sword Form. I used to say to my teacher that I was really lucky she didn’t my shit personally. I was the most recalcitarnt, questioning student she’s ever had. But I stuck with it. And I slowly started expanding my daily practice routine.

Five minutes. That was how much I practiced a day for the first few years I was studying. And not even Taiji–but just stretches. Now, I’m up to an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half a day. Half an hour of stretches/warm-ups. I do one section of the Taiji Solo Form a day. Then, the rest is weapons.

Wait. Not just Taiji any longer. I also do the Karambit Form (I need to teach myself the last section). I want to teach myself the Hsing-Yi Kwan Do (another internal martial art and what is essential a halberd/glaive). And I’m getting really into Bagua. Yet another internal martial art. My teacher has been studying that for several years as well. When she first showed me how to walk the circle with DeerHorn Knives (because she knew how much I loved weapons and beacuse I could not tolerate meditation at the time), I loved it. LOVED IT.

There are weapons I like, and there are weapons I endure. Then there are weapons I fucking love. That would include the sword, the double sabers, and now the deerhorn knives. When they are in my hands, I feel complete. I endure the cane, by the way. It’s my least favorite of the weapons.

It’s funny how certain weapons just instantly called me to them. Others, it took some time, but I got to at least warm regard if not love. It’s really only the cane that I still don’t like. I’ve been asking my teacher to help me get to the point of being warm about it because it’s an actual weapon I could carry with me without looking suspicious.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been dramatically upping my Bagua a day. It’s a more strenuous exercise that Taiji, and it’s meant to be aggressive. With Taiji, the idea is to react when you’re attacked and to put out as little effort as possible. With Bagau, you go in and you go in hard. You don’t wait to be attacked, you are the aggressor.

I asked my teacher how she felt about how disparate the two are. She said that they were complementary to her, and I have to agree that they feel very yin and yang to me. They are opposites, yes, but they fit well together. And upping my Bagua has really released my aggressive nature. Which was weird in the beginning, but now, it feels like a good way to move the anger and aggression through me. It’s better than repressing it and having it all explode somewhere down the road.

I have increased the weight-bearing exercises by a lot. I am not someone to nich things up cautiously, though I should be. If I am into something, then I want to do it all the time. I don’t mind, honestly, but my body is sore. Plus, I’m very tired more often than not, but it’s in a good way.

The Swimming Dragon Form is what my teacher is teaching to me now. A Bagua form. We’re doing it open hand for now, but then she’ll teach me the DeerHorn Knives version. I am loving it because it’s new and very different that Taiji, but familiar enough that I’m not completely out of my depth. I’m loving my practice once again.

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