Sunday, July 31, 2011

My First Tai Chi Article

will be something of a cop-out as I feel that I cannot write a proper article on it and I have been unable to convince anyone else who knows Tai Chi better than I do to write one.  Instead of explaining it, I will give a link to a good reference and tell you of my experience (very positive -- readers in hurry can stop here!).

Thus, I send you off to Wikipedia, which actually does a pretty good job:

I will expound on this other important part of my life and how it meshes into my life.  Some of you already know (occasional comments at Zero Hedge, family members and friends) that I have been doing Tai Chi for over seven years.  That makes me JUST above a rank beginner, a "Private First Class" for those of you familiar with military ranks here in the USA.  It takes a LONG TIME to get good at Tai Chi, the forms are best done exactly right...  Many, many details.  Patience and humility are required.  That humility part comes in handy, as our instructor is very demanding and not shy about correcting posture and movement.

I took up Tai Chi after I injured myself a little over eight years ago, a herniated disc in my neck that required spinal fusion surgery.  I now have in my neck a titanium plate (approx. 18 mm long), 4 titanium screws, a DEAD GUY'S piece of cadaver bone and "cement matrix".  Fortunately the surgery worked out just fine.  Some four months after my surgery I was at my doctor's office for a check up on how I was doing.  He then told me that I needed to do "something for internal strength", he tossed out the idea of doing yoga...  I told him to forget about that "as I was NOT a yoga kind of guy".  (author's O/T note: SINGLE guys of any age should consider taking yoga classes...)  But recognizing what he said about internal strength I then told him that I had read good things about Tai Chi.

THAT got a response!  He told me that he was taking Tai Chi from right then.  He said he LOVED Tai Chi...

Soon after I went to my first class.  It is my hunch that all you need is ONE class to know if you will like it or not.  It will be clear if it is for you or no.  For me, I was hooked right away, that first night.

Being the "new person" in a continuing class of students is often hard, and it was for me.  The movements are not intuitive or easy.  I was behind everyone, and learning was slow.  But, I stayed with it.  Eventually another "new student" came along, then others.

So what has Tai Chi done for me?  I am convinced that my life is better since taking it up.  I get sick much less (from one to two colds per year to just 3 (total) in the seven years I have been doing it.  I have confidence that scrawny Robert might actually have a chance in an ugly street encounter.  I get lots of gentle exercise of a sort I never had done before.  It has helped my joints from deteriorating...  My sense of balance is much better.

As we do not have a video camera here in the house, I will send links to various videos of people who are VERY GOOD at Tai Chi.  (I also have no fear from embarrassing myself by showing how beginner-like my forms are).

Now that this article has gone up, those of you who have read my two articles on our Peruvian business and now this article on Tai Chi now know something about two important parts of my life.

NOTE BENE!  The below videos are long (two of them are 10 minutes long, maybe more).


This first video shows the "Yang Style 24 Posture Form", the most commonly performed form worldwide (the Chinese government in the 1950s, I believe, forced their Tai Chi groups to make this "short form" so that it would not take YEARS for beginners to learn).  It took me 9 - 12 months before I was reasonably happy with my ability to do this form.  There are minor stylistic differences that the same form as practiced in our class.  Such minor stylistic differences are very common in the Tai Chi world.  NOTE to self-styled badasses: Don't mess with a girl who can do this, she will kick your ass so hard your digestion process will go COMPLETELY into reverse if you catch my drift...

Tai Chi 24-form

Tai Chi 24-form... It's a great martial art style. You should try it.

The below video is Part 3 (of 3) of the Yang Long (108) Form.  I could not find a clean, acceptable and complete Yang 108 Form there at Youtube (perhaps because it takes too long, Youtube does impose time limits on videos).  This guy is very good.  Again, there are slight stylistic differences than in the Form the way our class practices it.  The Yang 108 is my FAVORITE form.

The below video is very old (1970s) and shows Chen Xiao-Wang performing the Chen Xia Jia (New Frame) Form.  Mr. Chen continues to teach up to the present day.  Watch what happens when he stomps his feet, and listen for the echo in the gym...  He has immense strength.  Our instructor has studied under him as well as others in the Chen family.  I myself have been to three seminars with Grandmaster Chen (there were always lots of people there).  Master Chen's version is the "classic" (clean) version (his family invented Chen style Tai Chi), this is essentially what he has taught us.

Chen Tai Chi Chuan Xin Jia First Form

Here is another version of the Chen Style Xin Jia, performed by an amazing older guy.  This is NOT what we have been taught, he as added a lot of smaller, quicker moves.  We have been told that when we are "good" (twenty years?) that we can do this too, modify the forms as long as Tai Chi principles are adhered to.

Ma Hong Chen Style Taijiquan (Xin Jia Yi Lu)‏ - YouTube

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