She hesitated ever so briefly, and said yes, putting me in the back row. My husband, the more cautious of the two of us, decided to watch from the stands. In retrospect, he was definitely the smarter one.
I don’t know what I was thinking. Just caught up in all the hoopla, I suppose. I even got another new student to go out there with me. But there I was, in the back row, happily doing Section 1 with all these students who were far more advanced than I. That is, until I reached the end of what I knew (which wasn’t much), and then I had to put on my best acting face as I flailed along helplessly, doing my best to follow the others. When we were done, I turned to look at the other new student, only to find that she had stealthily sneaked off when I wasn’t looking.
Obviously, I bit off more than I could chew, but I watched the rest of the demonstrations with my husband in total awe. Everyone was so graceful and fluid, and I wanted to be graceful and fluid, too.
So here it is, six years later, and my husband and I are still practicing tai chi. (Although, we’re still not as graceful and fluid as we would like to be!) This weekend, we have several demonstrations that we will be participating in. And the hazard of having accumulated a little knowledge in different forms through the years is that our teacher expects us to perform what we know, even if it’s been a long time since we’ve done them. During the few weeks before the big day, we start scrambling to run through forms that have been locked away in remote, dusty regions of our brains.
The lesson to be learned here, or at least a reminder – is that we cannot take what we’ve learned for granted. Even though we’ve spent months, even years, learning a form, if we set it aside for awhile, it does NOT come roaring back to us immediately, like riding a bicycle. And I’m not just talking about remembering the sequence of the form; I’m also talking about how to execute the form. Where to step, when to shift your weight, how far to extend – all these things that we had practiced over and over and thought we had ingrained in our heads are now figments of our imagination.
Thankfully, though, with each re-introduction to a form, we remember more than we did the last time. And with the tai chi hand form as our steady companion, the one form that we’ve practiced longer than any other weapon and that we practice the most consistently, the fundamentals we continue to learn there do permeate our weapons practice.
So, we will continue to work through everything we know this week, to prepare for this Saturday’s performance. I pray that we remember all the forms, pray that we get a spot in the back row for those forms we’re the shakiest on, and pray that all weapons (especially that slippery fan!) stay in our grip. If you’re in town, please come and join us. Admission is free!
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day
Saturday, April 26, 2014 @ 10:00am – noon
Keller Elementary School
1505 N. Campbell Road (south of 12 Mile)
Royal Oak, MI