Past News Posts
Posted By: Sifu Calph
On February 13, 2011 at 10:33
Wishing you a Stupendous "Year of the Hare"
Anticipating the new "Year of the Hare" always reminds me of the story of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise is slow moving. The hare moves very fast. But the hare loses the race to the tortoise, deciding that it is safe to stop for a nap, as slow can never beat fast.
From tai chi, we learn the value of moving slowly. It seems natural in our hectic world to always move as quickly as possible and rush to meet our goals and deadlines. However, tai chi shows that this attitude, taken to its extreme, can become self-destructive. There is a Chinese saying: “If you rush, you will shorten your life.”
At the same time, we should keep in mind that tai chi doesn't always have to be done slowly. Tai chi is not always slow. It has been called “the slowest art and the fastest art.” Tai chi is practiced slowly for health & circulation; but in martial use it is very fast. For example, when students practice the push hands pattern together, it seems to be slow...even...continuous. But when you put out energy in actually pulling or pushing your partner over – it is very fast. Your partner is uprooted in an instant!
In this Chinese “New Year,” we should take both the tortoise and the hare as our tai chi teachers: both soft and hard, slow and fast...working together.
- - - - - - -
Member's Tai Chi Vignette
by Michael K.
I have been a member of Chinatown Tai Chi for the past 4-5 years. My contact to Tai Chi started by a series of events which I will try to explain. After a night out with some old Army buddies, I found myself in a situation. In the morning, I was sitting outside of courtroom on a bench; elbows on knees, my suit a mess and my shoes caked with last night’s dinner. I was in need of a bath.... OK, you could say I was hung over. As I waited, an old Chinese man, who was impeccably dressed, walked by. He stopped and looked at me, I heard him say, “tai chi.” In court I was given community service time. Remembering what the old Chinese man said, I offered tai chi as part of my community service.
There is an epilogue to this incident. A few years later, I ran across this old Chinese gentleman. He did remember me from court; something about my appearance and demeanor stayed with him. I began thanking him; although he knew of tai chi, he denied saying anything about tai chi. He remembers saying “Tide cleans,” apparently this gentleman is quite fastidious.
I continue to come to Chinatown Tai Chi Center for a number of reasons. Sifu Phyllis’ leadership is positive. Her style is clearly seen in her instructors. They are patient; they encourage as you struggle with a form, their corrections make the form feel right. Also you can ask an advanced student a question, and they are helpful. The overall "air" among students is camaraderie. People want you to do well; there is not a sense of competition or hierarchies.
Finally, why do I practice tai chi? I have never found words to describe this. Yes, I enjoy doing the forms. There is a feeling when you do a form correctly of inner satisfaction. Yes, there are reported health benefits. My physical balance and knowing my body space, has improved. I continue to practice Tai Chi and maybe one day the correct words will come.
- - - - - - -
Tao Te Ching
Chapter 33 is another very well-known passage of the Tao Te Ching. This theme of knowledge and humility is one of the major lessons for leadership; the theme also has implications for Tai Chi practice.
Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.
He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of will power.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.
This chapter reminded the nobility of Lao Tsu’s era that knowledge alone is not enough. True enlightenment requires humility. It’s no wonder that Lao Tsu had trouble finding a king to welcome and support him. All the major religions have taught these same themes – humility, self knowledge, patience.
This chapter reminds us of the internal nature of Tai Chi: knowing and mastering self, and staying and persevering are valued over focusing on outward things and overpowering others. In partner work this can be interpreted as knowing our own bodies and what they will do, having confidence that bringing our best to the partner work experience will be enough, and maintaining the patience needed to learn and grow. These qualities are valued more than “book knowledge,” more than mastering others, and certainly more that amassing the “riches” of tournament trophies. Finally, the very last line, applied to partner work, could be reworded to say, “Yield, but don’t give up – that is the way to stay with your partner.”