How much do you weigh?

Well, not exactly how much do you weigh. But, are you balanced? I use this technique in virtually all of my classes. Try this at a practice session or class. To start, you will need two scales calibrated identically. You will withings-wifi-scale-in-depth-review-69-thumbalso need one other person to measure the results. Then place both scales on the ground about shoulder-width apart, then stand on them, one foot on each scale, now staring straight ahead tried to place 50% of your weight each foot. Don’t look at the scales. When you think you are balanced let your friend know and they should measure the difference between both scales. So, if one scale measures 65lbs. and the other indicates 80lbs. they would write down 15lbs. Then, continue with your Tai Chi session like normal. At the end of the session perform the same procedure. I have found that 93% of the time (yes, I actually measure the results) the difference in practitioners’ weight has decreased more than 50%.

If you use the numbers from the example above The practitioner was putting 15lbs more on one foot each step they took prior to class. Not to mention all the alignment issues of the joints. After the Tai Chi session, the difference is less than 7lbs. This is tangible evidence that Tai Chi has immediate benefit for those who practice

Don’t Take The Bruce Lee Pill

Jack London’s credo was:

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

This is a great quote. However, it doesn’t work too well for tai chi. In tai chi we want to be a sleepy and permanent planet. Many students have come into tai chi expecting to be the master in six months or less. Hey, there are some martial arts schools that promise that, why not tai chi? Well, I call that, “taking the Bruce Lee pill”. People start and they want to know how they can change every aspect of their lives to improve to learn and to experience this mysterious art. They want to change their clothes, change their diet, change their gods, these are the “meteors” of the tai chi world. I do my best with some success in slowing them down. I tell them what they need to do is to go to a local nursery and buy a little tree. Then I tell them to put that tree where they’re going to be doing most of the training. They are still very excited at this point. Then I tell them their tai chi will grow as fast as that tree. This is when I usually get some resistance. Tai chi develops over a period of years. You can’t rush it. If you try speed up the growth of that tree by pulling on it you will only uproot it and it will die. That’s the same as our tai chi evolution. It is a journey. I was once asked by my first mentor, you’ve heard the expression “the ends justifies the means, and the means justifies the ends”. He continued, “but I urge you to live by this phrase, the means is the end”. This idea that each day we practice is our goal. What comes tomorrow is based on today. So, let’s focus on the now. Put 100% of yourself into your project right now. I challenge you to be a uni-tasker. Multitasking is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Am I Doing it Wrong?

While practicing tai chi you may find yourself thinking, and my doing it wrong. This is natural. You just need to refocus on your tai chi and try to be in the now. I am reminded of the times my Buddhist friend would come by my home at four in the morning and tap on my window to wake me up for our session of meditation. At the time I was teaching at three schools and working a full-time job at a restaurant. My mind was very full. He told me it was natural for my mind to be full of doubt as I meditated. When that happened I was to refocus on meditation, that was it. He encouraged me that I would be able to focus longer the more I practiced “no mindedness” during our meditation. As soon as I stopped worrying that I was meditating wrong it became easier and I was able to focus. It is natural to feel that your movements are different than your instructors while practicing alone in your backyard. The most important thing is that you are practicing. Even if you are practicing your movement differently than the instructor showed you, it is a lot easier for them to correct you versus teach you the movement again. Because most likely they will be learning a new movement during your next class and having to learn the old movement again plus the new movement you could feel overwhelmed and the urge to quit will enter your mind. So, in summary practice, practice, practice. Right movement or wrong movement both are right.