Underneath my yellow skin

Pushing past the plateau

As anyone who does any kind of exercise knows, there are ebbs and flows to your practice. There are times when you’re at a plateau, and there are times when you’re busting through that plateau and soaring high. In Taiji, there is a lot of plateau. Yes, there is the time of intensive learning–such as when faced with a new form.

In the beginning, everything was overwhelming. The concept of Taiji was unfathomable to me. Remember, I’m an American. We are taught since we were little ‘no pain, no gain’, and te give 110%. You were supposed to push through the pain and take it as a sign of pride if you were hurting all over after a workout.

One of my Taiji classmates was a guy who was very much all or nothing. He would get a bug up his ass every spring that he should go jogging. That’s fine in and of itself, but he would not have done any jogging in the winter. So, to go from nothing to jogging 10 miles a day–not ideal. Then, he would inevitably pull a muscle after going too hard. This led to him bitching about being hurt.

It’s hard to be sympathetic when he did it to himself. I have other friends who do this. They don’t exercise, and then when they do, they overdo it and hurt themselves.

Taiji has been called the lazy person’s martial art. Honestly, that is what drew me to it in the first place. My teacher made it clear that the basic tenet of Taiji was  to put as little effort (exertion) into getting as big an outcome/result as possible. That appealed to my soul. Anytihng that encourages me to put in LESS effort is aces with me.

Look. I used to work out hard every day. I was anorexic twice in my life with a side of bulimia once. I exercised up to seven hours a day the first time, and a more “reasonable” (only in relation to that cray-cray seven hours a day) hour-and-a-half of  dancing  every day and forty-five minutes of weightlifting every other day. And I kept lowering my goal–meaning the amount I wanted to weigh at the end of my journey. Why? Because as with many true anoerexics, it was never enough. What I looked like to me was nowhere near what I looked ilke in the mirror.

I looked gross, disgusting, and just oozing fat. In reality, I looked like I was either really sick on about to die. I looked at pictures of me from that time and just shake my head. It’s actually one thing I don’t like about RKG. They are way too focused on weight and talk at length about how fat they were as kids. No matter how much they say it’s not about weight or that you shouldn’t fat-shame people, that’s exactly what they are doing.

I try to ignore it best I can, but it’s hard. It’s so endemic in our world, and not just in America. They are British, and Asian people are THE WORST about weight.

Here’s the thing. It’s better to be slightly overweight than slightly underweight. Healthwise, I mean. You need that cushion when you get sick, and if you have no fat, your body is more at danger at being invaded/hurt/broken. I was listening to an NPR or MPR story a few decades ago with a doctor who said it was best to gain about ten pounds every decade as you age. She went into all the reason sand why the constant harping on being skinny was a bad thing. I had never heard that before, and it was such a revelation.

Back to Taiji! I really appreciate that almost anyone can do it. Not everyone will want to do it and there are reasons that it may exacerbate some mental health conditions, but as far as physically, it is much more accessible than many other kinds of exercise. My teacher had a student who was studying into her ninites. My teacher also knows the woman who started the previous studio my teacher studied at–and she’s nearing 100. She doesn’t do much Taiji any longer, but she did it well into her nineties. Plus, my teacher had a student who had MS and was in a wheelchair.

After my medical crisis, I went home after a week. I tried the Sword Form the third day I was home. I could do two or three movements, which exhausted me. I was thrilled, though, that I had remembered it. And it didn’t take long for me to get back to where I had been before. Plus, i taught myself the fan form maybe six months after getting my full strength back.

I have said many times that there are three reasons I survived. Luck, love, and Taiji. I honestly because that if it weren’t for my decade-plus study of Taiji, I would not still be here. But I was, to be blunt, resting on my laurels in my Taiji studies for the first two years after leaving the hospital. I’m not harshing on myself for that because it’s very understandable! I fucking died twice. I wasn’t expected to live. It makes sense that I would take a breather–yes, even a two-year breather.

Let me hastily add that it wasn’t that I was sitting around with my thumb up my ass. Like I said, I taught myself the Fan Form, and I was polishing other forms. In addition, I’m currently working on the left side of the Solo (Long) Form and the Cane Form. So I’m not completely stalling. And I needed the chill time after leaving the hospital. I don’t feel bad about it. At all.

Now, however, I’m on an upturn. I’m no longer plateauing, and I feel like I’m fyling. My teacher is teaching me the Swimming Dragon Form (Bagua), and I’m really into it. Like, so into it. I will talk more about that in another post. but it’s just…I love the DeerHorn Knives. So much. And I wanted to learn a form with it. My teacher said that she would teach me, but first, she was going to teach me the Swimming Dragon Form (the highest level Bagua form) with just hands. That’s how you learn a form first. I was down with it, and it’s fantastic.

Not only that, but I’m trying to polish my Cane Form. Bot sides. It’s my least-favorite form, so I’m struggling with it. It doesn’t help that I feel as if it’s just for show ratherhan a weapon. Why? Because Broadway. I want to love the cane because it’s practical. I can carry a cane around with me whereas a sword? Not so much.

I’m done for now. Will continue more later.

Leave a reply