14 November 2007


Two weeks ago, I got a random call asking if I would do a taiji demo for a woman's group. It was on a Wednesday night, so I said "Sure." It was interesting. There's a "Whole Health" something-or-other on 12th street, which is where they meet. I didn't have much of a plan going in, other than "Show them some of the simpler qigong." They also wanted me to talk about the history a bit, and I'm not really an expert there, but I did mention some of the bigger style names. The Yang style came from the Chen family, via a servant who spied on the family while they practiced and tried to teach himself. He was caught, but the head of the family decided that the servant was better than the actual family and brought him in for actual instruction. That was the beginning of the Yang style. Then Cheng Man Ch'ing modified the Yang form, legendarily after spending a year with one of the Chinese Immortals.

Then we worked on some simple qigong. First, the two basic standing meditation postures. Both are feet parallel, shoulder width apart. The first involves balancing the bones of the legs on top of one another, so that you can release all the leg muscles but still stay upright. The second involves bending the knees to activate the quads and give the hips more room to bend. You want your spine perfectly straight, so you want to relax out of the so-called "natural" lumbar curve. The first one is challenging due to the amount of concentration; the second, due to the pressure on the quads.

Then I showed them the bear sway and the taiji walk, demonstrated the entire yang short form by their request, and then did several variations of cloud hands, as well as the five wrist changes that open the form. A lot of them were getting the warm, red palms characteristic of strong qi flow, so I talked about qi a bit. If nothing else, it's clear to me that qi is a bodily sensation, and that things are going right when you experience it. I suspect that there's more to it than that, but I have no proof of that. Well, I have one anecdote, but I'll save it for another time.

Anyway, the upshot (besides being paid for the presentation, which really didn't matter to me) is that this place may have a room I could rent out to give taiji lessons. It's a small room, but if classes are as small as they have been at ISU for intermediate level, that shouldn't be a problem. If it IS a problem, then a bigger place would likely be affordable. So I'm considering that right now. We shall see. Don's been telling me it's time to hang up my shingle. *shrugs*

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