Understanding Changes doesn't it?

Understanding Changes doesn't it?

Postby yangchengfu04 » Wed Jul 07, 2004 8:15 pm

Some simple thoughts here; just thinking out loud.

Here's what has become clear to me after another year of TCC practice (4 years in all) ...........

1) The longer I practice, the less I know.
2) The longer I practice, the better I am than before.
3) The better I get, the worse I seem to be (in comparison to my teachers.
4) Don't talk about TCC to people that don't practice it; I end up looking like a new-age hippy - lol!!
5) The longer I practice, my faults become painfully clearer (physical as well as mental).
7) Whenever I get "proud," I become humbled.
8) The more of these random thoughts I write down, and look back on later - see number 6!!

I suppose this is just part of the TCC learning process, but damn it's a humbling road to tow isn't it?? As a matter of fact, I'm afraid to write anything down anymore for fear of feeling like a jerk; I know I will read it here 6 months or a year later from now, and ask myself, "what the hell was I thinking?"

Anyone else gone, going, or been through this thinking process?

[This message has been edited by yangchengfu04 (edited 01-26-2005).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Jul 07, 2004 8:45 pm

I think what you are saying is true of life in general. On the taiji front, I feel satisfied if I can say I am getting better than I was before. Never mind what others do; as long as I make progress measured against my previous performance, well, that's progress! For me at least, there is nothing to prove, no one I have to defeat in battle, no particular goal except getting better than I was before.
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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:08 pm

I agree with you both.
As I learned from the Wu family:
The more I know, the more I know that I don't know.

So it goes.

Succint list. Goes to the heart of TCC practice for me as well.
I can't tell you how many times I read postings I made two and a half years ago and say:
"Man! What the hell was I thinking?"
I do that sometimes on something I wrote six weeks ago as well.
After nearly eighteen years in the art of TCC, with different flavors and varieties of training, I find myself frequently thinking these things.
Thanks for the chuckle.
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Postby DavidJ » Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:24 am

Hi yangchengfu04,

The more you know the more clearly you can see that which you don't know, but also the more you can know.

As far as I can see both pride and humility are stumbling blocks. In Freudian terms an inferiority complex and a superiority complex are the same thing. You are neither greater than nor less than others in intrinsic value. If you only rate yourself relative to others then you've already lost. You need to learn to trust yourself. If what you respect you aspire to that is enough. Abasement is only for false gods.


David J
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Postby Polaris » Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:38 am

Very interesting! The Wu family's formula for such things is:

1. The more you know, the more you know that you don't know.

2. The more you know, the faster you'll learn.

3. You'll always know more than you think you know.

And they qualify number 3 by saying that it is the one you hope to never find out for sure...

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Postby Jamie » Thu Jul 08, 2004 3:19 am

Hi All,

I agree. But at the same time - get a good teacher with direct lineage and have confidence in them and what they teach. When you have a direct transmission you can rest easy that what you are learning is correct and concentrate in improving. You know what to look for from reading the classics and your own instinct so get out there and find the right teacher. Help fate to help you. It's not all passive. I was determined to meet a true Shifu and had run the course with no further alternatives. One day while is was "out" practicing at the park - my current Shifu walked up and introduced himself to me. I live in an area where this is next to impossible - I should have been hit by lightening. Affirmative action...keep practicing. When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

In the mean time - take action and trust heaven and earth.


[This message has been edited by Jamie (edited 07-13-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Jamie (edited 07-13-2004).]
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Jul 08, 2004 3:10 pm

I found out about 3, the hard way.
The Wu family is correct in that qualification, you definitely don't want to have find that out.
Glad I did know more than I thought, sorry I had to prove it.
Such is life.
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Postby yangchengfu04 » Thu Jul 08, 2004 3:27 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks for your comments. I just wanted to know if I was the only one who feels this way. It's good to know we are all sharing the same journey. It doesn't feel so daunting that way.

One thing I do know for sure is........ I MUST PRACTICE, and PRACTICE OFTEN!

Another thought I often have....... There is something about an image of myself practicing somewhere when I'm 75 or 80 that really appeals to me. I've actually dreamt about it! I always thought it was the coolest thing in the world to see a really old man doing a wonderful TCC form.

I strive to be this really old man.

[This message has been edited by yangchengfu04 (edited 01-26-2005).]
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Postby Polaris » Sat Jul 10, 2004 7:13 am

Yes, I agree with your reasoning completely. "Longevity with Eternal Spring."

At an affair a few years ago, someone asked the head of our Singapore school, Ao Tuck-seng Sikung, why he practised T'ai Chi. Ao Sikung was around age 70 at the time. He stood up and said "Most people my age walk like this..." and walked slightly stooped, stiff and with tentative balance for a few steps. He then straightened up and said "I walk like this..." and strode confidently across the floor like a healthy 20 year old.

I was convinced!

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Postby yangchengfu04 » Mon Jul 12, 2004 4:05 pm

Polaris, that is great!! I love it. I also have told people that when I'm an old man I do not want to be a "shoe gazer!" I realize that some seniors citizens have a medical condition, but other than that, I hope to be walking upright and with a pep!
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Postby Audi » Sat Jul 17, 2004 9:12 pm

Hi YCF04 and Jamie,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Thanks for your comments. I just wanted to know if I was the only one who feels this way. It's good to know we are all sharing the same journey. It doesn't feel so daunting that way.</font>

YCF04, I can certainly relate to what you have posted, but wanted to offer up a variation on it.

At times, I have felt that Taijiquan gets more and more complicated, and it feels as if any possibility of satisfactory achievement is getting further and further away. After some time and a lot of work, it then appears as if everything gets simpler and simpler. I make more and more connections until everthing begins to feel like a variation on a theme. "Taijiquan becomes just opening and closing, empty and full."

Then, just as I feel everything is beginning to converge, I become aware of something else, and then a second thing, and all of a sudden an entirely new level of complexity is revealed that I was unaware of before, or did not know enough to really care about before.

I think some people go through this in learning all the postures of the form. At first, all the postures are incredibly bewildering. After a while, the stepping patterns and arm positions begin to reveal certain commonalities that ease memorization. One stops worrying about limb positions as much as the sequences of the postures. It seems possible to memorize all the movements.

Just as such people begin to get comfortable with the postures, they begin to really appreciate postural subtleties and realize that every movement has to be relearned at another level. The issue is no longer such things as whether to use heel or toe, but when exactly to do so and how. Everything that felt the same before starts to feel different now and more complex.

After a few cycles of this, I have found myself much less interested in many topics that used to fascinate me. For instance, two preoccupations I have had for the last few months are how exactly to do Ward Off Left and Lifting Hands, not exactly complex or advanced postures.

I also realize that I may never have learned how to keep my right shoulder down, how to keep my elbows down, or how exactly to extend through the top of my head. Who needs esoterica like "ling kong jin" (Towering empty force) if you can actually learn to keep your shoulders and elbows down? What wonders I could perform if I could just figure out how to line up my structure correctly in Press!

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Help fate to help you.</font>

Jamie, very nice post, including this bit I singled out.

Both "action" and "trust" are not easy to mobilize. Unfortunately, I tend to find passivity, pointless complaining, and cynicism much easier and more congenial. Image Action and trust take work.

Taijiquan is the worst, because it seems to require both physical and mental work. Image Even the "relaxing" takes work. The one saving grace is that Taijiquan does not really require anything on its own--no special equipment, space, time, etc. It simply gives back according to what you put in. There is the real zinger.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Jul 19, 2004 3:25 pm

Very concise posting.
I'm working on the complexities of Wave Hands Like Clouds right now. I got introduced to a few new layers of complexity on that one over the weekend.
Is it just me, or is that one of the most deceptively difficult movements in the forms?
Also just had a new level of complexity to Raise Hands, Step Up shown to me on Saturday morning.
I stood there saying "You have GOT to be kidding me!", but deep down I was saying "Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! I see", as the idea behind the form was becoming more and more clear to me on my new level.
The overall level I am shooting for is far, far away for me. The one where you forget all these postures and begin to work soley on the principals for their own sake.
I can do this with Peng, to some extent. I am glad I've reached that point!
Now I only have seven more to go!
So, I guess I'm making progress.

OK. You can stop laughing now! It IS progress!

Never mind.
Back to practice.
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Postby Kalamondin » Tue Jul 27, 2004 12:38 am

Great original post YCF04! That really sums it up!

Sort of extrapolating from the idea of "the more you know, the less you know:" one of my training techniques involves always trying to push beyond the cusp of what I do know into what I don't know. I try to recognize when I'm feeling comfortable, particularly in push hands, and then I try to find a new way to lose.

Right now it feels really crazy and I don't remember my training plan as often as I'd like. I've still got ego and arrogance and insecurities in the way. It feels really counter-intuitive to think that the way improve my position in the pecking order is to lose as much as possible, in as many inventive ways as possible. It IS hard to remember that there's been any improvement because I lose so much of the time.

No doubt this is one of those posts I'll look back at in the future and think, "Silly git, that should have been obvious!" Image

And Wushuer (I think it was you), to add a possible complication to your WHLC exploration: the Yang family response I've heard to "Does your family do any Qi Gung?" is something like, if you really feel like you need something other than the form, stand in one place and do WHLC.

So one day, just for kicks, I tried it. I experimented with going really fast--it was great fun and it helped my understanding of the trajectories involved. It was like making a big infinity sign with my arms. It was hard to get it to go smoothly and depends utterly on precise timing in turning the waist. You also have to be completely grounded and centered or your own momentum will throw you off balance. But once I had it down--whee!! It was like being a kid and whirling around with a backpack full of books. I started to see how opponents could be thrown off of a fast spinning circle.

Of course, I don't advise it for anyone with back problems. You really have to relax the back and waist for this to work smoothly.

I was going fast, in part, to try and understand the movement of the waist. In fact in this movement, you can let your arms go floppy to see if you can move them with your waist alone (like one of those Japanese prayer drums with the two beads on strings, but in a sideways figure 8). Then go back to their proper form in WHLC.

Happy practicing!
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Jul 30, 2004 2:45 pm

I found your post very humurous yet precise when you mentioned the japanese prayer drum, because that's exactly what I think of when doing WHLC in a stationary stance (no stepping, just dividing full and empty and using arm movements). The Wu style second warm up also works very much like that, only in bow stance, and it's more one sided. I do a warm up I learned from my YCF instructor that is nearly exactly like the prayer drum, legs stationary, waist turning arms in arcs from side to side, and I love that warm up as well.
Have you tried to do WHLC without arms? It's kind of fun too.
Just got back to work after six days of training with Master Yang Jun. Wow, was that fun.
I learned an entirely new level of leg pain, for one thing, but eventually worked past it (day 5 was a breakthrough) and now my legs feel like steel wrapped in cotton.
I'm not kidding. It feels wonderful. I hope to keep that level up, now I've achieved it.
I guess all it took was six full days of doing TCC along with some of the best practicioners I've ever met.
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Postby Michael » Mon Aug 02, 2004 7:56 pm


When I did a seminar with YZD and Yang Jun I noted that the first day that my Thighs ached so bad (once I had been off them) I could hardly get up. Each day it was less and less. Six to seven hours of taiji daily takes some geting used to. Glad you had a good time.
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