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My Ongoing Journal: the Intersection of Shaolin Arts and Life

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  • Bernhard
    replied
    Hello everyone!

    First of all i want to apologise for my unclear question. I meant What did your former Sifu say? Nevertheless Olli you answered my question.
    Even though I did not consult anyone, the reply would still be the usual: don't practice when overtrained, and spend energy in physical activities.
    Thank you for your answer.

    I want thank Markus Sipak for mentioning this important point.

    Now i want to share my experience of overtraining because i think it is beneficial for readers of this thread. Right now I am still at the overcoming illness stage. In the past i had overtrained regularly or I thought I would be. One important point which helped me was to realize why I practice the Shaolin Arts. I want to be happy, health and have a meaningful life. I was not happy, healthy nor had I a meaningful life during overtraining. Internal Force is a means to this ends not the end itself.
    The second point is connected to the first point. Kai Sipak mentioned somewhere in the forum that he only practices when he can smile from the heart. After that I read a post from my Sifu where stressed how important it is to enjoy the practice. To smile from the heart and enjoy the practice is certainly happier, healthier and more meaningful than not smiling and not enjoy.
    The third point is asking your Sifu. For example my Sifu told my a phrase I should gently think of at the start of the practice. Not only it worked fast it was simple, direct and effective. It is connected to Markus Sipaks post. But sometimes I may not be obvious what is the best way for yourself that's why it is important to ask your Sifu.

    Thank you Sifu, Sigung and Shaolin Wahnam Family
    Kind regards
    Bernhard

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  • understanding
    replied
    The Last Journal Entry for the Time Being

    Dear Bernhard,

    I don't have anyone to call as Sifu at the moment. I left the school, do you remember?

    Even though I did not consult anyone, the reply would still be the usual: don't practice when overtrained, and spend energy in physical activities.


    Dear Sifu Markus,

    It's nice that you had made a clear statement and overview, as it gives an additional perspective to what I had already written for my latest journal entry below.

    Originally posted by Markus Kahila View Post
    However, whatever you now may or may not practice is no longer our concern.

    It is, however, still my concern to recover and get rid of the overtraining symptoms and cool down the "meltdown". Some people have also expressed their concern privately, so I feel it's only good that I have kept updating my situation. It has started improving in the last weekend, which may be of interest to some.

    Can every story have an ending that satisfies all? We are still ordinary beings with ups and downs, which is part of the human condition. We might not be in a student-teacher relationship anymore, but for even more the reason I hope that we are still in good terms and can relate to each other with dignity and not be complete strangers.

    There are quite a few people posting here that I met specifically through this school or this forum. Even though I left the school, it is likely that I will keep dropping by the forum as a visitor I now am.


    Dear everyone,

    It is time that I review my own fitting with the school's teachings.

    ~ Faults in the Student ~

    1) Learning my first internal art proved to be a completely new frontier. It probably was a bit of loadstone that I kept expecting clear health improvements to come about in frequent periods, but unfortunately this didn't happen. Sifu Nessa gave a direct recommendation that it's unwise to learn other internal arts while still mastering the first. My experience is that it takes a lot of time to fully mature into the Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung because the art is nuanced and offers a lot of depth via systematic training. Nevertheless, sometimes I couldn't help but keep wondering how is the grass on the other side of the fence.

    2) Sleep and fatigue were the issues that I began with, and in the end they still persisted. Good sleep would have been essential for recovery, but it simply didn't develop consistently through practice. This was probably a significant reason why I ended up overtraining often even with little training. When the healing of my fatigue and sleeping issues were delayed, it started to wear me down both physically and psychologically. I probably should have taken Sifu Nessa's suggestion last year already when she wrote to me that sometimes it might be a good idea to try something else if it would fit better and not practice Shaolin arts then. Unfortunately, it would've been difficult and time consuming to find proper alternatives then because nothing appeared as complete as what this school taught nor addressing the sleeping issue.

    3) Emotional and psychological burden had become high at times. Sometimes the cleansing moments surfaced very strong psychotic tendencies. Particularly prominent have been fear, paranoia, and mania, sometimes mild depression, and on one occasion I even experienced complete loss of conscience and other psychic shadow sides emerging. Recovery from these was very dispiriting and alienating. Again this makes me wonder if the healing process is anything similar in other traditions.

    Maybe I didn't empty my cup well enough. Eventual good results is why anyone practices Chi Kung, but it definitely disheartened me that there could be so many instances of overtraining and its discomforts, and not enough simple bliss and well-being. My heart keeps saying that another road will take me there...

    If I had been a much healthier student from the beginning, it would have been a much easier and effortless journey. In the end I couldn't satisfy the second Shaolin Law that requires the student to be physically and mentally healthy. It's disappointing that our ways diverted as a consequence of a very bad experience, but I believe it was a true call to change course and seek help from other sources.

    What I loved most about Shaolin Wahnam was its systematic Kungfu and Taijiquan training, and there were certainly many very good experiences with that. The philosophy of Shaolin Kungfu and its different styles has been clearly and expertly explained by Sifu Wong, which was a constant source for inspiration. If I ever again study Kungfu in another school, I will certainly hold the high level of organized teaching I received here as a measuring stick. Yet it would undoubtedly be a very rare to find similar scholar-warrior attitude anywhere else.


    ~ Towards a New Beginning ~

    I am still looking for something that solves my sleeping problems. I believe there are Chi Kung systems out there that will deliver excellent results and provide a style of training that is throughout enjoyable.

    Today the Internet abounds with hundreds, if not thousands, of different Chi Kung systems. What factors make different types of Chi Kung relevant to my interest and condition?

    1) Historically proven ones that consistently bring benefits. Preferrably traceable lineages going back hundreds of years.
    2) I have no interest in investing into complicated or forceful programs. Anything I try has to be reasonably simple and easy, with as little visualization as possible, and absolutely no forcing of chi to accomplish any cultivation attainment.
    3) It must guaranteedly address the issue of overtraining and chi overdose in some manner.

    This is my last journal entry for the time being. If I post something within two years, it will almost certainly be on the "Other Chi Kung Styles" section when I am ready to review other styles.

    I thank everyone for reading my journal and pray you all stay well.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 4 December 2017, 07:03 PM.

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  • Markus Kahila
    replied
    Want the benefits? Follow the instructions.

    For any Shaolin Wahnam student reading this thread who might now be wondering whether or not our arts could really be ”dangerous” or potentially harmful, I would say this: you’ll have no problems as long as you follow your Sifu’s instructions, and the three golden rules of practice:


    1. Don’t worry
    2. Don’t intellectualize
    3. Enjoy your practice



    This not only is a great way to safeguard against any difficulties that might face your training, but especially to enable you to get the best benefits from your practice.


    Olli’s (aka. ”Understanding”) former Sifu gave him very good advice, but he chose not to follow them. If this pattern repeats with any student, they’re eventually given a simple choice: follow the instructions, or go find something else to train. This is not unreasonable - a student of any art cannot expect good results or the continuing contribution from his teacher if he doesn’t follow what he’s taught.

    In any case, Olli himself made the choice to resign our school and to request for a full refund of his current course fees, both of which we were glad to handle immediately. Keeping students who don’t want to be in our school is certainly not the Shaolin Wahnam way; however, making it very easy for these kinds of students to leave, even happily giving them a full refund, and sincerely wishing them well on their way, is.


    So Olli, I really do wish you all the best. However, whatever you now may or may not practice is no longer our concern.



    Best wishes,

    Leave a comment:


  • Bernhard
    replied
    Hello Olli!

    Nice to read your post.
    What did your Sifu say about the symptoms?

    Kind regards.
    Bernhard

    Leave a comment:


  • understanding
    replied
    Not Feeling Well

    Dear friends,

    Thank you for your kind thoughts everyone. The last twelve days have sure had many difficult moments, so I am grateful for your concern.

    I am still repeating my last request to not send any energy or blessings. However, if you wish for me to receive benefit, you can pray Buddhas, especially the Medicine Buddha, to bless and heal me. I think there is a real difference between the healing energies of the Buddhas and common mortals such as us.

    Today morning I tried Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung for the first time since the morning of November 16th. I felt that the leg stretches were in order because not having done those had reintroduced extra stiffness to my lower back. I did it very physically and everything appeared fine -- until the point I entered gentle chi flow. Suddenly my head started to ache (pins and needles, numbness) and the subtle pain spread to my neck that became slightly stiff. I felt disoriented, sick, and weak again. That was the point that I discontinued practice immediately and started to walk about to disperse chi.

    The symptoms were the same that I had encountered with the overtraining I experienced on Nov 16th and the days after, but they had gradually dissipated until no obvious symptoms remained except some tiredness which I associate with the sleeping issues I have discussed earlier. The re-emergence of such symptoms is extremely alarming because the pain obviously is not of good type and self-manifested chi flow is supposed to clear illness. Now the very much opposite happened and I am completely lost why and how this could be.

    The overtraining symptoms were too uncomfortable for me to continue, especially when considering my fairly frequent encounters with overtraining, so I left the school with the acknowledgement that this type of training is not for me. While such symptoms persist, it would have definitely meant that I would at the very least suspend all training and become an inactive student. Maybe leaving completely was an unwise and hasty decision, but the newly discovered immediate re-emergence of pain when returning to gentle practice has brought a question if I can or should ever again practice self-manifested chi flow or these arts at all. It doesn't feel safe anymore.

    I might write later to update whether to problem has resolved. Meanwhile I am wishing everyone extreme moderation and safe training.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli

    Leave a comment:


  • Alex McLeod
    replied
    Perhaps eat some ice cream, do just Golden Bridge very low and as physically as you can manage, and some seated meditation as appropriate for your abilities, take a bath and reconsider after that.

    Each of those actions help me when I happen to get a huge influx of energy for some reason, like visiting a temple, other sacred place, or have been ignoring one of the divine beings trying to communicate. Other, more temporary solutions include massaging the feet, hugging a tree, or standing barefoot on some clean stone or soil. I must stress the clean part of that statement. Alternatively, put your palms on the ground, and let the excess drain into the earth.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bernhard
    replied
    This is very sad. I liked reading your forum posts.

    https://shaolin.org/general-2/cleans...eansing12.html

    Leave a comment:


  • understanding
    replied
    Dear friends,

    Please do NOT send me any blessings just in case. I am again starting to feel more charged and uncomfortable.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli

    Leave a comment:


  • understanding
    replied
    Leaving

    Dear everyone,

    I am no longer a student of this school.

    An ongoing overtraining experience since Thursday has been too uncomfortable that I would ever wish to experience anything like that again.

    Certainly I am not fit for Shaolin Wahnam teachings. Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful for all the good I have received and learned.

    I wish everyone good fortune and blessed journey on your life! Let's still be friends if we meet by some chance.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli

    Leave a comment:


  • understanding
    replied
    Oh No!

    ~ Cold and Fatigue Strike Again ~

    Yesterday evening I started to feel surprisingly tired and odd in throat. Surely enough I have now another cold in short period.

    This time it doesn't feel like overcleansing or overtraining related because I feel superb. Instead I might have gotten some autumn wind for brief period or germ somewhere, and that together with my sleeping troubles that have continued are the probably at the root. Anyway, I feel tired enough that I will reduce the time of my training by half approximately.

    I wish I knew how to specifically target my sleeping problem because the holistic benefits could be really remarkable. It's hard to believe that I have gotten this far with so little improvement in this. If I had some extra money I would definitely consult Sifu Andrew, but I have already extended all the loan I can and still need to scrape a few hundred more for Essence of Shaolin. Maybe I should sleep on that and see what advice comes to mind next morning?

    Today in Helsinki University I was attending a particular lecture and my head kept sinking down towards my chest practically all the time. This is embarrassing. I want to be a good and deserving student (both in university and in Shaolin Wahnam), but how can I show my respect and keep studying when I cannot help such fatigue that I all but pass out? The prospect of employment doesn't look too good either from this perspective. Maybe there is a positive angle to all this, but I am having hard time finding any other than enjoying forced rest.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 12 September 2017, 06:54 AM. Reason: about daytime fatigue

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  • understanding
    replied
    ~ To Sifu ~

    You are so kind to me, even though sometimes I must be a bit (ahem ) annoying with all my questions and some weaknesses that aren't yet completely subdued. I so hope and desire to live up to all the standards of a good and deserving student.

    I love you Sifu! That is all I could really say after yesterday evening when I was about to get to sleep, but then out of nowhere I was overwhelmed with immense gratitude and care for you.

    I just wish to do my part in making the world better place for you and your family. While it might take more than one lifetime to repay my debt for the lifesaving teachings you, Sipak, and Sigung have given me, I am on my way to a brilliant start. It wouldn't be so without your kind help!

    ~ Small Success with Less ~

    Learning the Flower set has been relatively easy and fun. Of the released Sipak's slow demonstrations everything except Leak-Hand Hand-Sweep is quite readily digestable. I will have to stich the segements together with proper transitions, but that shall remain for the next week.

    There is a new and invigorating sense of softness and suppluness in my body. As I have started to gain small success in stretching, my chi flows have suddenly gained characteristics of Deer Play. I recalled and double-checked that liver is indeed related to tendon and joint health, so it seems that the physical aspects of training are brining more benefit rather unexpectedly.

    Even though the last Wednesday's training session was very powerful, I have felt no signs of overcleansing or overtraining by simply dropping out Cloud Hands and some very minor Chi Kung. Training forms of sets and combat sequences simply makes me immensely refreshed.

    With sincere gratitude,
    Olli

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  • understanding
    replied
    ~ A Taste of Breath ~

    Sifu and Sipak offered us all a free Chi Kung class on Wednesday. We had exercises concerning breathing and Zen as a relatively low-level taster of the forthcoming Winter Camp in Lapland. We performed Pushing Mountains and then our own selection (Carrying the Moon) with visualizing breathing in good energy and out bad energy. Then we had a traditional "Six Gates to Zen" type meditation and finished with gentle Abdominal Breathing. My experience was that the breathing exercises are terrific for smoothening energy flow, which is something I also recall from Dragon in Zen course early this year. The meditation was just great and I felt much more ready for it than during the Dragon in Zen when I had a lot more anxiety and restlessness.

    After a rest of half an hour some of us continued with Taijiquan. When we practiced combat sequences solo and paired up, and moving about in proper stances, it was as if I was riding effortlessly on the crest of an incredible chi flow. Some of that still carries on, so maybe the breathing practices helped me to realize a new level of development.

    Even though I have practiced relatively little stances overall, they have gotten much better recently. The only drawback is that I need to keep checking my form after moving my feet because the sense of proper alignment is not yet quite hardwired. Fixing this is my priority now. I wish I could practice more static stances and so forth, but unfortunately again on Tuesday I started experiencing slight discomfort from what I assume as overtraining. It apparently was a wrong move to include Cloud Hands in moving about stances and the gentle evening Chi Kung was also unnecessary. I need to cut it all and just focus on form, form, and form. Picture-perfect form is the key to many beautiful things.

    ~ Essence of Shaolin ~

    After the conclusion of the wonderful Cotton Palm course I talked briefly to Simon Sisook (Sifu Simon). He suggested that I asked Sigung how he had enjoyed the rose petal jam that I had brought as a gift. (Many instructors had complimented it already.) To my surprise the discussion turned almost immediately to the Essence of Shaolin. Sigung thought I had been on enough Kungfu courses already, twice on Fundamentals of Kungfu and once Cotton Palm totaling eleven six hour days for the record, and I would qualify for the once-in-a-lifetime special course in Malaysia. For a moment I was thinking if this is really happening. Thanks again Sisook, a Cotton Palm high five!

    I had purposively left without making a big deal about this because I wasn't sure yet if I could secure funding. Now that it is covered I can speak with clear conscience. It's really happening.

    I felt so very lucky as I had been secretly wishing that I would be good enough to join in, but of course it would had been very silly to talk about it to anyone: I could just imagine Sifu with a gentle smile shaking her head slowly in response of such thought. I even consulted Sigung and asked whether I should go for the Essence of Shaolin or the Glory of Shaolin Kungfu course if I had to make a choice, he gave a definite answer after a moment of reflection. Essence of Shaolin. The fact remains that going to Malaysia means that I will be among the most junior Kungfu or Taijiquan students, if not the most junior. I have had no prior martial arts experience and my health hasn't fully recovered still. Yet I am not worried at all: my circumstances may be what they are at any given moment and I will give my best regardless. My experience in this year's Fundamentals of Kungfu course was simply very relaxed and focused and I thought I improved already a lot in terms of flowing with the teaching and letting it sink in despite difficult moments. A Malaysia special intensive course should prove an even better opportunity for personal progress, and I have improved quite a bit already since returning home and finding a good regular practice.

    Reflecting back to mid June, it could have been training in frustration and futility if I had attempted back then to train the more technical patterns of Essence of Shaolin set. The training I have done with waist rotation was really essential in that I have now improved in my basic form and stances. There is no other way about it, although it is mildly regrettable that I couldn't jump to it straight away.

    Currently my plan is to first go through each of the patterns and their transitions, then memorize the entire routine in six segments of 18 patterns, and finally focus on fine tuning the form and trying to figure even rudimentary applications to every pattern. To be honest, I found some of the patterns so strange that so far I am just scratching my head. My Kungfu and Taijiquan applications learned so far are really basic and my little exposure to Tiger Claws and Chin-na are proving effective limitations to my insight. Or maybe I am just a bit slow. However, there certainly is something magical about the set which I cannot put into words, but I am antipating that keeping my cup empty and having more practice will open the doors to some wonderful applications before December.

    I was planning to familiarize myself with 18 patterns each day, but in practice some of the patterns are technically so demanding that I have to practice them extensively before moving on in order to get even a rudimentary grasp how they are performed smoothly.

    Stretching has been a whole new experience to me after I grasped how to expand and open into it. I'm just hoping that my groins and legs will not take long time to get even a bit limber because I could really use that for practicing kicks. Especially the rudimentary side kick (Lazy Tiger Stretches Waist) is currently very difficult for me... It was truly great to discover early with the set training that I have some technical inadequacies that need directed practice before the event. Training Art of Flexibility has been good enough so far, but I will add daily 100 Kicks once my ankles, knees, and groins are not so tender from all the new training. Hopefully I am able to progress in sensible pace, so that I can carry on to kicks with force and confidence.

    ~ Seeing Light ~

    Few nights ago I had a strange experience that I was first skeptical about. I thought I had started seeing a new type of luminosity while trying to fall asleep, but I tried to dismiss that as imagination. Then later as I kept doing my moral cultivation of repentance and humility (it's almost a subconscious habit now), it started to become oddly familiar. I recalled something similar from my early childhood when I knew nothing of internal practices: I would feel soothing light cover me and keep me well when I was in my bed. I had completely forgotten about all that. After a while something purified in my Heart and I felt a relief.

    Now my moral cultivation seems to easily lead into increasing mental clarity and a wonderful subtle joy arising from the Heart. It's very delicate and beautiful, sometimes even moving me to tears, and unlike any energy or spiritual practice I have experienced so far with Shaolin Wahnam or anything else. In fact, it barely feels like energy training at all, which certainly is most suprising considering I have learned to associate mental clarity with intense energetic sensations that are absent now.

    With sincere gratitude,
    Olli

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  • understanding
    replied
    ~ Diversifying Training ~

    By Wednesday's weekly Taijiquan class I had reached a point that I felt really comfortable with rotating my waist and easily issuing spiral force. Indeed, by the end of 50 repetitions I had again started to feel like I could issue fa-jing spontaneously and the flowing force was very thick or solid (consolidated?). Hurray. Now I can advance to back to moving in stances and practicing combat sequences physically and focusing on picture perfect form. At first the sequences felt like a chore and not so pleasant to be honest, as I still experience some discomfort from the remaining internal injury, but already on the second day I got a hang of it and it started to feel more than just alright. It's actually very enjoyable to do forms without energy flow because now even in the form level there is a subtle energy flow and sense of healing involved. It wasn't like this earlier. If some people say this isn't magic, then they are lying through their teeth.

    We had a really interesting stance training session on Wednesday. Somehow I expected Sifu to have us in stances for three times longer than we actually did, so the session felt really strange and unsatisfyingly easy. Maybe I should take this as a sign and encouragement that I should start adding stance training next week? We also learned Taijiquan combat sequence 5 which became my new favorite because of its pressing footwork and changing sides.

    There have been quite a number of small developments. Relaxing makes dan tian spread energy everywhere in a manner which wasn't obvious earlier. If I initiate movement from waist, it stimulates the dan tian like I just mentioned and especially directs energy to legs.

    Speaking of relaxation, I started doing the rest of Art of Flexibility early this week. On Wednesday I complained to a Sisook that the three stretching exercises weren't an instant hit and pleasure to perform unlike Three Levels to Ground and Dancing Crane. Today gave me a breakthrough, as I could finally accomplish the same sense of relaxation and spiritual expansion and not rushing with physical exertion. It's almost contradictory that such physical exercises are to be performed with heart and mind completely open or otherwise they provide little improvement. There's a qualitative difference between pushing to your limits and pushing yours limits further: most athletes and competively minded people turn stretching into a bitter struggle that closes the Heart instead of embracing its natural elation and expanse. So simple, yet so profound. Now I am fully expecting that focusing on the good form and expanse during the Art of Flexibility will help me further my mind training in Kungfu and Taijiquan more elegantly and effectively than before.

    My sleep has been getting much better after a bout of disturbing dreams and sleepless nights. Quite remarkably I didn't feel much ill effects for missing much sleep, which I attribute to my successful Chi Kung and Taijiquan practice. After consultation I stopped doing two sessions of Kungfu and just condenced my practice to a morning session. Then a priceless advice was to perform Lifting the Sky 10-15 times and hit the hay immediately (without chi flow), which has made my nights very peaceful and restful. Enjoying the rest, and not worrying nor intellectualizing makes even sleepless nights better if they should return. Thank you Sifu and Sigung!

    Currently my morning Taijiquan schedule is (with a gentle chi flow between each section):
    1. Rotating Knees
    2. Moving in stances (with and without Cloud Hands)
    3. Sequence training
    4. Art of Flexibility (with gently entering to Chi Kung state of mind)
    5. Standing meditation and the usual closing sequence

    During the day and evening I should also practice some special Kungfu sets' routine (not even form yet). Then before five o'clock in the evening I would have a gentle Chi Kung session. There are four different exercises from 18 Lohan Hands (Carrying the Moon, Turning Head, Presenting Claws, Deep Knee Bending) that I would love to do for one reason or another, but currently I keep favoring Deep Knee Bending (and Rotating Knees) until my ankles and knees feel substantially stronger.

    I am on a thankful mood once again, so thank you... for reading this training log, or for just being.

    With sincere gratitude,
    Olli

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  • understanding
    replied
    Transfer of Skills is an Interesting Topic!

    ~ Waist is not Waste ~

    On Monday I first time had a moment that my kidneys were not aching anymore. It may take more time before all my symptoms related to kidneys and nerves vanish, but I have attained a major milestone that I set to achieve with my current regime that began with Carrying the Moon, cleansing Cosmic Shower, and then continued with Taijiquan's waist rotation. I can sincerely recommend practicing some simple waist rotating Kungfu or Taijiquan patterns for very efficient kidney cleansing and nourishing, although necessarily with a master's guidance to correct the fine points of mechanics and chi flow. The eventual healing of the kidneys system will signal the beginning of another regime which will focus on my spine and correcting remaining postural defects, which means that I am not giving up on Carrying Moon anytime soon but adding Turning Head and the rest of Art of Flexibility. I forgot to mention in my last post that I had already added Dancing Crane, and it was simply delightful how effortless and natural it felt this time!

    I tried to jumpstart into doing Open Window to Look at Moon, but that turned out unwise. There is a reason for the principle of gradual progress, even though I wasn't pushing it too hard. Starting it slower and getting the form correct in minute details actually made flowing movement readily generate an energy flow. I also realized sooner this time that it would serve me better if I did the pattern in conjunction with another pattern. This is its natural predecessor from Grasping Sparrow's Tail, namely Black Bear Sinks Hips. This dual-pattern enables me to practice sinking down more efficiently and thus gain additional proficiency, but currently it's rough enough to my undertained thighs that I need to separate left and right side to with additional chi flow. I also started again from 30 repetitions and let it naturally rise back to 50. Once I am able to master this new dual-pattern's flow and effortlessness, I will continue to other more dynamic practices, combat sequences and sets in particular, and others that I have mentioned earlier, so that I can train more demanding and natural waist movement while moving around more freely.

    On Wednesday our Taijiquan class resumed, although I began having cleansing (definitely not overcleansing!) cold symptoms in the morning. To show my gratitude for the new season I brought Sifu a small jar of the same rose petal jam that proved popular in Guildford; I am hoping her family likes it as well! We began with Lifting the Sky and then holding Three Circle stance for 10 minutes. That had to be the easiest stance training experience I've ever had and I enjoyed it very much, but still I wasn't feeling particularly charged afterwards. I'm not sure, but I suspect that my recent disturbing dreams and involuntary lack of sleep are not conductive for force building. We progressed to once more going through the first three Taijiquan combat sequences and then recalled the fourth that we learned before summer break. It proved an interesting and useful trial for me to measure my success in waist rotation in practice. Sure enough, I could perform every Immortal Turns Sleeves very well, but the skill didn't just leak into other patterns without any effort, which hurt even doing the Immortal Turns Sleeves. Therefore I need to systemically exercise each of the combat sequences' patterns. I have done the ground work with a select pattern already, so it should be a mere matter of having enough routine to make the skill seep over. Once all the individual patterns are good enough, I would begin chaining two patterns as units to perfect my transitioning footwork (defender's response from right Black Bear Sinks Hips to left Immortal Waves Sleeves in the end of combat sequence 2 is particularly demanding) and to retain a skillful, smooth flow all the time. Eventually, I could just let my waist loose and any combat sequence should be unleashed as one unending flow.

    My health seems getting better every day. A lot of right moves must have happened that I finally have a training routine that doesn't lead to overtraining and I am reaping increasing benefits instead of being dumbfounded over what I could do right. Even though everything does not seem quite clear and perfect all the time, the increasing moments of happiness, clarity, and freshness gained from Taijiquan training and Art of Flexibility remind me that there is plenty to be grateful for. Thank you!

    With sincere gratitude,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 25 August 2017, 07:36 PM. Reason: dancing crane

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  • understanding
    replied
    An Entry on Persevering in Correct Practice and Developing Skills

    ~ Sounds of Unexpected Progress ~

    Since beginning with my Immortal Waves Sleeves practice in early July I have probably done about 10,000 repetitions so far: 2x2x50x50 which is for twice a day on both left and right side, and 50 repetitions for fifty days (I can't recall exactly when I begun). I am being generous with the 50 reps because I got to it reasonably fast and I feel having been doing even more for a while. Recently my stance started relaxing and sinking down more and my thighs are becoming less tired with all the moving around. My waist rotation is starting to be quite formidable and very enjoyable, yet I am far from satisfied: I am still bit behind of the flow, ease, and gracefulness that I set myself to reach.

    I had earlier caught an anticipation of excess flowing internal force being generated with the smooth and continuous movement, but now it became so strong that by the end I started to fajing spontaneously. I didn't plan to introduce internal force like this, so I have to either do less repetitions or change the exercise or focus on fajing since my form is getting near fine. As Immortal Waves Sleeves is not the choice pattern for fajing anyway, I decided to change my original plans and start practicing Open Window to Look at Moon instead, which would also compliment my recent training in Cotton Palm. I just tried doing the pattern a few times, and I was really suprised about how easy it was to generate a windy "whoom" sound. How exciting, it seems I am doing something very well! My plan is still to continue focus on waist rotation, but it might open new windows of development really soon.

    Our classes are returning next Wednesday with level 4 Taijiquan. Sifu had emailed us and said that among other things we would focus on fajing. I guess my diligence is paying off at the right time and I am naturally prepared. From you-wei to wu-wei.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 20 August 2017, 07:35 PM. Reason: tested Open Window to Look at Moon

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