A warm day today. But in the current Covid-19 crisis every little precaution we can take to protect ourselves helps. While we should remember to do things like wash hands more frequently, avoid touching face and so on, we should also remind ourselves to do our daily exercise.
So for me this would be playing the Tai Chi form. A Tai Chi form a day helps keep the doctor away. The slow, gentle pace helps give our internal organs a nice, warm massage. You can literally keep a warm glow diffuse throughout the body.
The Tai Chi form is versatile as far as practice goes. If we have the space we play it the way it is organized as demonstrated by Grandmaster Dong Yingchieh below :-
If not, we adapt and play wherever we are. For example, if I want to video it myself then I have to play in such a way that I can fit into the screen and be in front of the screen rather than wander off or turn my back.
So I keep an eye on the screen as I play it ad-lib. I basically go through the entire form sans a few repeat movements here and there, not so much to keep the form short but to prevent the taping from stopping when the phone rings as what happened on an earlier attempt to video.
Dong the form freely does not mean you discard the principles out the window and do some sort of weird, fast paced, wriggly, butt shaking, fajingy bunch of moves. To reap the benefits of practicing the form we must still adhere to the principles such as using minimal strength, stay relax, keep the shoulders and elbows down, back rounded, etc etc.
When we adhere to the principles we can get a nice feeling when playing the form as if we are flowing and rolling, meandering sinuously like a river, whilst tracing cycloid spiral motions in space. Within the natural curves of nature we can tap them to generate power using the minutiae of rising-falling to generate momentum allowing us to fulfil the requirements of F = ma with minimal outer motion and barely breaking stride.
This is why Yang style is frequently misunderstood to lack power generation. It is hard to discern power when it is happening inside the body through the constant compression-release of the 5 points as we move through the techniques. Unless you have a hand on my body when I am doing the form you can’t tell when I am using for example open-close throughout the entire form.
I guess you can say this is the challenge of practicing Yang style. It is not easy but it can be fun trying to grasp something that eludes most practitioners because you can’t get it by simply doing brute practice. You have to use your brains to study the art, apply the little grey cells too.
If you keep at it eventually you will be able to achieve the internal small frame flavor of Yang style Tai Chi. It looks very ordinary, sans impressive powerful fajing. But then when a tsunami is moving along the ocean towards a beach there is very little outer movement until the body of water nears the beach.