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#280820 - 08/21/06 05:21 PM Stressed Tai Chi!
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2577
Hey all. I took a Tai Chi class near my place of work last year to see what it was all about.

I went in, and was the youngest member of the group by about 10 years at least.

During class, people were talking to each other, mobile phones weren't turned off, and the sifu had an awful soundtrack coming out of the stereo, it was a terrible new age, low quality pseudo-oriental music CD.

All in all, I found it tricky to relax in this environment. I wasn't "stressed" per se, but I couldn't relax. I have been able to relax in MA classes before.

Do you find Tai Chi relaxing? Perhaps it was the surrondings that disrupted my ability to relax, or maybe my Tai Chi needed a lot more work!!!
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

#280821 - 08/21/06 07:15 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
alphawolf Offline

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 137
In the dojo setting we dont allow any of that, i dont do tai chi, but none the less it is still a martial art and should be treated with respect. If someone in my class is caught using a cell phone,talking, ect they are usually told to put it away immedietly and stop. I know that when i go to the dojo, i go to learn and to progress in an environment that i feel comfortable in. If people are really talking in the middle of class with cell phones ringing, horrible music, and the instructor doesn't care, i think its time to find a new place to go.
More chi! Train harder!

#280822 - 08/21/06 07:25 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
ashe_higgs Offline

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 593
Loc: phoenix
martial art is martial art (and that wasn't it).

but what kind of relaxation are you looking for? knowing what you actually want will help.

if you're looking for a way to hang out and blow off some steam after work, make a few friends etc. you're probably better off joining a kenpo school or something.

if you just want something meditative and a little exercise, i would actually suggest you look for a reputable yoga studio.

at least with the first two, chances are, you'll end up with some sort of real skill for your time spent.

by far, finding someone who can teach you any internal art and not have it turn into some hippy new age crap fest, or just be down right completely ineffective in promoting anything but the most superficial type of relaxation, is like looking for a diamond amongst a nest full of dung beetles.

the number of internal arts masters who can actually use thier art with out resorting to bad western boxing AND have a high degree of mindfulness and concentration AND can pass thier skills on to you can be counted on probably one hand.
falling leaves discipline, concentration & wisdom

#280823 - 08/21/06 08:10 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
kunin Offline
hard-boiled aggression

Registered: 06/05/06
Posts: 73
Loc: - cloud-hidden in the big city
The class, the way you describe it, sounds like a real dog, hardly conducive to serious practice. Who knows what the regulars there were getting out of it! I can imagine, though—'imagine' being the operative word here —that a couple of the more serious ones were keeping their minds on business while everyone else was messing around. Who would you think, then, would attract bits of individualized instruction and advice from an otherwise indifferent instructor? Many traditional teachers operate on this principle—perhaps not tolerating such lackadaisical behavior as your witnessed, but still handing their students just enough rope to reveal themselves.

As far as "relaxation" goes, what exactly were you looking for? Real-deal taiji practice is guaranteed to challenge your leg endurance and make you sweat! It's not unusual to see pools on the floor where a serious class has just finished performing a slow set. Cultivating structure and connectivity to the dantien requires a lot of strenuous "factory work," and the way relaxation figures into this is rather different from what most folks expect. That said, it does tend to “hurt good” more often than not, with mind and body feeling relaxed and refreshed after you’ve had some time to recover!
'If you have an honest mind, everywhere is a dojo.' Nicole

#280824 - 08/21/06 09:30 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

Well that class does not resemble my own studies, which were one on one with my instructor.

But interestlingly I once took a clinic with Dr. Yang Jwing Ming and he described the large open daily tai chi practice in China and it does resemble your findings.

He told us town open tai chi practice was a social event. People would talk, discuss their shopping, etc. while they practiced the form together.

I've also seen plenty of groups pratice with new age music in the background.

There are millions of different tai chi practices after all.

The last 20 years I practice on my drive way, except for rain, every Sunday morning from +100f to -20f, and of course it's not quiet, there is the wind, the birds and critters, car noises and even occassional hot air baloons overhead.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#280825 - 08/22/06 02:36 AM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
ButterflyPalm Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
I think the problem is with the word/concept of 'relax / relaxation'

Many new students in a mandarin speaking TC class will always be told to be and remained "suung" It does not exclusively or necessarily means 'relaxed' in the sense of relaxing in front of the TV with a beer in hand watching a sporting event.

It is closer to being 'loose' physically, but not being limpy.

Think of a tree bending in the wind; it bends because its limbs/branches are loose, but still remains stiff enough to withstand the wind. The tree is suung and relaxed even, but not limpy; if it is, it would have collapsed as a heap onto the ground, which is what you would do on the couch in front of the TV with a beer in hand.

So how do you get to be suung but not limpy and still be stiff AND relaxed?

I know of only one way -- Zhan Zhuang. Every TC or internal MA student should do (daily) at least (minimum) one year of ZZ before starting on any TC or internal Forms.

ZZ will turn you into a tree, not after one year, but eventually, and when that happens, you can practice TC in a disco or whatever people go to these days to relax.

One last thing, stand naturally with you elbows (bent at 90 degrees) very close to your ribs for a few seconds, then do the same thing with the elbows about 10 inches away from the ribs. In the former you feel stiff and not relaxed, though you can be loose. In the latter, you feel loose (suung) relaxed and can still feel the internal stiffness of your skeletal structure.

With ZZ, this feeling of internal structural stiffness will increase to the point where outwardly you look 'relaxed' / 'suung' but stiff like a tree inside. This represents the start (only the start) of acquiring the martial side of TC or other internal MA.

For now go look at a tree on a windy day.

Good Luck. You need it.
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

#280826 - 08/22/06 03:20 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: ButterflyPalm]
ashe_higgs Offline

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 593
Loc: phoenix

what style/s do you train and where abouts in malaysia are you?

anyway, song is not enough. you need to go through (fan) song (loose, the term fan song has the sense of long hair to give non mandarin speakers an idea

then ran (soft), rou (elastic, this is where you get to the tree like example Buterfly Palm quoted; tight, yet flexible, or springy) then (fa) jing.

as you progress through the stages, you start adding in curvi-linear movement that gets tighter and tighter (like winding the spring) until you get to fa jing which is releasing the spring.

IMO, ZZ is not enough. it has it's place but and you still need to play with all the qualities of "relaxation" (song, ran, rou, jing) within your ZZ practice.

but in my training experience and after playing with other IMA-ist's the best method for developing these qualities is through some sort of heavy rou shao practice. without fail, anybody that i've ever met that had some skill spent a lot of time doing heavy rou shao.
falling leaves discipline, concentration & wisdom

#280827 - 08/23/06 01:21 PM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: Prizewriter]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
I hate mobiles and insist they are turned off when I run any kind of class or workshop. Music, depends on how I'm training.

For TC, I once did personal training to Chinese Opera but don't know if I'd like it in class.

Where I did get stressed out was doing my form next to a river or lake or in a forest, because the mosquitoes and horseflies kept taking advantage. My 'brush past the knee' turned into a slap on the back of the neck more than once.
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

#280828 - 08/24/06 12:33 AM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: ashe_higgs]
ButterflyPalm Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
I've just recently relocated to KL and spend my semi-retirement dabbling in chi gung to keep healthy, plus cutting down on fatty foods, sugar, hard-meat and all the other stuff that makes life worthwhile.....sighhhhh.......
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

#280829 - 08/24/06 02:28 AM Re: Stressed Tai Chi! [Re: ButterflyPalm]
ashe_higgs Offline

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 593
Loc: phoenix
alright, you're in just the right neighborhood! see if you can check out the i liq chuan (yi li quan) group there. ask for "jimmy". ;-)
falling leaves discipline, concentration & wisdom

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