Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wu style Taiji practice

I received an email from a friend of mine asking how my practice was coming along. My response:

Interesting question. When I began Wu style, I stopped doing every other Internal Martial Arts practice. I wanted to do it their way. I even stopped standing. Standing is a more advanced Wu style exercise, which I'll take up again, their way, when it is introduced in the sequence of learning.

What I do every day (I rarely miss) is Wu style's "Tai chi walking," plus five warm up exercises (reportedly the first five of a 24 exercise set which makes up the neigung exercises), then I work on the form.

From what I know from my previous experience, I think I'm getting to the heart of these exercises a little more quickly than the usual beginner. I'm getting the same feeling I used to from standing (although not as intense as I'm not doing them for the same length of time). I find this very interesting.

When the form is practiced as a group in class, it's performed a bit more quickly than I like to do it on my own. I mentioned that to the teacher, and she said that in class, they have to get through it so they can work on things, but for my own private practice going more slowly is a good idea. There's a difference between our private practice and class practice together.

I like to go more slowly so I can feel and pay attention to what's going on. Am I holding any tension? Is my lower back rounded? Etc.

It's really easy to tell if my mind isn't in the right place, and when it is.

She told me that the last instruction given at the end of the form is: "Now feel what it is that you feel." I think those words are very wise.

I have to host my out of town visitors to dinner on Thursday, so I'll miss class. I'll be traveling the week after next, so I'll miss that class as well. My thoughts are to use this time to really solidify what I'm working on right now.

This is the link to the list of movements in the form:

I'm at #32. I'm about a third into it. The next sequence has a lot going on, so I really do want to solidify what I'm doing before moving forward in a significant way.

An aspect of the form that I find very interesting is the separation of yin and yang. Frequently the weight is 100% on one leg or the other, mostly shifting back and forth. The blood really gets flowing. I am told that if you're doing it right, you get a good healthy sweat going. I have enough movements to where I'm getting really warm and starting to break a sweat.

I'm glad I stopped doing the Cheng Man Ching short form altogether before starting this. The principles are the same, but the practice is just SO much different.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing more of your wu taiji experience. I really like how you noted there *is* a difference between private practice and group practice. Like you, in private self-training, I like to go slower and focus more on subtle things that can easily get glossed over in the group classes.

I figured you would have kept up the standing training in conjunction, but I also think it's good that you've stopped in order to train in the 'wu' way.

Sounds like you're having a great time!

Rick Matz said...

I was going to continue the standing practice on my own, but I had decided to do it their way. I will wait until they introduce their version of the standing practice in their own good time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rick, I use to do this style! I don't remember a walking exercise, but I do remember the 100% weight shifting and the lean. This was my very first intro into Tai Ji. Too bad i got knee pains which made me stop this style altogether. Care to share what this walking exercise is?

Rick Matz said...

I once saw a video clip of Eddie Wu doing these basic exercises. I'll try to find it and post it.