Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Injuries & Focus

The good thing about some injuries is that they foster greater presence.  I've been dealing with a rotator cuff strain for the last two months.  Although frustrating at times, my concentration strengthened a great deal as I moved through the postures in the form and other physical exertions in my daily life.  When practicing push hands it made me conscious of using too much strength and offering too much resistance.  Not to say that having these kind of minor injuries is a good thing, but they are often valuable teaching tools.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Something's There!

We were talking in class about presence of mind when you raise your arms in the Beginning Posture.  I demonstrated that my arm was difficult to push down but at the same time wasn't full of tension.  Teacher used to say to us: "Something's there!"  My understanding is that 'something' is presence of mind, awareness, attention, or simply 'mind'.  It has great potential but is not manifested as internal strength until it receives pressure, i.e. someone pushing on my arm.  Tai Chi is unique in that way.  It looks like nothing (no strength), but 'something' is there.  Though that something doesn't become apparent until it reacts with external force.  The image of steel wrapped in cotton.  Soft outside, solid core.

This relates to one of the first lines in Tai chi Chuan Ching (Tai Chi Chuan Classic by Chang San-feng).  "The ch'i should be excited, the shen (spirit) internally gathered."

It should also be said that in correct practice this 'something' is present in all postures.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Robert W. Smith (1926- 2011)

Robert W. Smith passed away the evening of July 1st. He was a noted martial art researcher, writer, teacher, and practitioner. He was the author and co-author of 16 books and numerous articles dealing with the fighting arts. His work no doubt touched many martial artists regardless of style.  -From the Journal of Asian Martial Arts.-