Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, 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 ~

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Not So Fast

Some thoughts on doing the taijiquan form correctly, not slowly.

Everyone is familiar with seeing the taijiquan form being practiced slowly. I don’t see that slowness is actually the characteristic that is being refined, but of not being in a hurry. Without paying attention to what we’re really doing, even if you start the form slowly, you’ll find yourself going faster and faster as you get towards the end. The taijiquan form can be practiced fast as well, but mindless rushing is doing you any good either.

Since it’s harder to train oneself to not be in a hurry, that is the characteristic it makes sense to work on that first. Simply pay attention to what you are doing with each movement, give it your full attention and if you add anything on top of it next, keep your mind on maintaining an even pace.

When you pay attention to what you’re doing, you’re naturally slowing down as a result. When you are not in a hurry and pay attention to what you’re doing, you’ll find more and more details to which you should pay attention, which slows you down further. Even in instances where you don’t seem to be doing anything, you’ll likely find that your alignment, weighting and posture could use some attention.

Having the attitude of not being in a hurry is just opposite of having the feeling that you’ve got to get it done; to get to the end. It’s that feeling that you have to get to the conclusion that prods you to rush faster and faster through the form. Placing on artificial deadline on when you’ll finish the form will foster this. Speed has its’ place once the form is correct and you’ve mastered slowness through not being in a hurry.

Once you can keep your mind on what you are doing throughout the form as well as all of the details, you can start to do the form more quickly as long as you can maintain the concentration and the level of detail. Lacking either of those, it’s a sign that maybe you shouldn’t go so quickly; not yet anyway.

The older I get I find the less I find myself in any hurry. Everything unfolds in its’ own time. The Daoist recognizes the rhythm of the moment and paces himself accordingly. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always the appropriate speed.

Finally, you may wonder about the accompanying picture of Audrey Hepburn. What does she have to do with all of this? Nothing. She's just hot.


walt said...

"’ll likely find that your alignment, weighting and posture could use some attention."
Yes, but only every time.

A quote attributed to Aristotle reads that "A wise man is never in a hurry." Since he was into logic, I presume the inverse of the saying is true as well.

I've noticed that a "pont of expectation" -- an errand to run or appointment to keep -- right after practice, just sucks my mind into the future, aways from the practice. Who schedules these things, anyway?? Oh ... right ...

Rick Matz said...

That future event intruding on the here and now is a constant challenge for myself as well.

walt said...


Good choice of words.