A Taste of China

I attended my first “Taste of China” in 1999. I had not yet begun my Taiji journey in earnest, but I attended for a couple of reasons. The event was held in the small rural town in Virginia where I was born, and Janice and I were visiting my Mom, 15 miles away in Strasburg. Janice had been studying Taiji for a few  years and was very interested. Since I was a martial artist who figured one day that I would learn taiji, why not spend some time at the conference and make the family visit easier, too?  Turns out, that would be the last time I saw my Mom before she died.

I remember Janice learned a fan form, I think from Madame Wang JuRong and Master Helen Wu. I took a push hands workshop with Chris Luth and Elaine Waters. But what I remember most was the Saturday night Friendship Demonstration at the local high school – especially William C.C. Chen and the physical flexibility of his son, Max, pushing hands and bending backwards, and the way Nick Gracenin astonished me with his chain whip form ( really? tai chi? wow? ). The funny thing to me today, is that I don’t remember seeing Sam Masich at all ( though I know now that he was not only in the demo, but the emcee too!)

This Year’s Theme: Transformation

Fast forward 13 years, and more than a few taiji lessons later, and wow……what an amazing weekend I just had at the Grand Finale event.  After 30 years, Pat Rice is retiring the event. Read more about this year’s event on Sam’s home page) In this final year, many of the great masters attended, and the turnout of participants was more than twice what was expected. My teacher Sam Masich, and two of Sam’s teachers Master Liang, Shou-yu, and Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming, were there.

That’s me with Dr. Yang, and Sam

Also, Master Wei-lun Huang, Master Helen Wu, Nick Gracenin, Jose Johnson, Kathleen Cusick, Jay Dunbar, Yang Yang Ph.D., were there.  I enjoyed many great workshops – beginning the weekend with Taiji for Transformation with Jose Johnson,  on to Wuji and Daoist Qigong with Master Liang, and Martial Grand Circulation and Taiji for Health with Dr. Yang, and the Five Animal Frolics with Kathleen Cusick, and of course, workshops with Sam Masich – his newfangled PengLuJiAn method -for partner and solo practice.

But the best parts for me were the demonstrations and discussions both nights. I learned so much about the breadth of internal arts and I loved hearing the personal stories of these dedicated and top-level masters of these arts.  The other really wonderful part of the weekend was seeing so many of my taiji friends and making new ones. And of course, I definitely have a recollection of seeing Sam this time!

I only wish I could attend again next year…….alas,  I must say Happy Retirement!

Til the next move

enjoy your practice,

Dorian

SLOW Fitness

“Slow Fitness” means taking a more reflective approach to exercise and fitness; an approach that is mindful of impacts on the body, joints, and muscles, and that incorporates resilience – our ability to ‘bounce back’ from the consequences of old injuries, poor posture, habits of rushing about, multi-tasking and other stresses. It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful of our basic connection with gravity, with mind, body and spirit, and with each other. [Adapted from SlowLivingSummit.org ]

Sounds like a Tai Chi practice to me!

Til the next move, enjoy your practice
Dorian

I KNOW THAT

Jan Parker first told me that these are three of the most debilitating words to any practice. And she was right!

In seven years, I have learned the 108-move solo form three different times from my two taiji teachers.  This most recent time was an 8-day intensive with a focus on principles and applications.

Of course, the first time I learned the form, I knew I knew nothing, so I was a sponge. It took me nine months and much practice every day. Everything my teacher said was the first time I’d heard it, considered it, looked at it, or thought about it. Maybe it reminded me of other things I’d learned in other arts, but still it was new. That was great. I loved it. I couldn’t stop practicing, because there was so much new to experience and embody.

The second time I learned the form, three years later, I was, of course, not the same sponge. I was looking for new information, something to add to what I already now knew. (uh oh….there’s that idea that ‘ I know that’ feeling).  And what I found is that my teacher was right about “I know that’; there really is nothing like already knowing something to shut down the mind to the possibility of going deeper in one’s understanding of something, or even of really receiving correction.   I lost something real important in my practice, some enthusiasm or something. I kept it up, but I had a little too much of the “I know that” mind. This is why the zen masters talk so much about beginner’s mind.

Sam makes corrections on Single Whip

This third time learning the 108…..for whatever reason, I felt much more like a sponge again. And lucky me! I feel like I have a brand new form…from the inside out.  There are some moves I will do the same with a different understanding of what I am doing. And there are a few moves that I will practice quite differently from how I ever did before. And in one or two cases, I am correcting a misunderstanding that has actually kept me from moving forward in the practice of my art. So glad, I didn’t know that!

If you are one of my students reading this, I hope you are excited about the new aspects of the 108 practice that I will share with you. And I invite you to notice the power of believing “I know that” to close your mind to the possibility of what is still to discover in another person, in a field of study, or in an art, or even in a form you have learned.

And for me,…. I am inspired again and again to cultivate beginner’s mind every day. (Thanks for the lessons, Sam). Not only in seminar with my teachers, but in my practice, and in my teaching. And everyone else, beware of those three little words: I know that!

‘Til the next move

Enjoy your practice

Dorian

 

The Taiji Circle

The Taiji Circle is such a great graphic!

In one elegant and simple design it conveys so much meaning.  A circle with an S curving through the middle, one half white, the other half black, and each side with a dot of the other side’s color in it.

Seems no matter how long this symbol has been a part of my life, the meaning to which it points goes ever deeper.   The symbol refers to the yin-yang philosophy that the dualistic nature of all that we see in the world can be understood not as mutually exclusive contrary opposites, but as complementary to, arising from and dissolving back and forth into each other.  Night becomes day, summer becomes winter, etc.

Qualities, not Things

Yin and yang are qualities, or aspects of things, they don’t exist on their own.  No thing that exists, exists in isolation or absolutely.  And therefore, no one thing is yin, and no one thing is yang – but everything may be yin or yang relative to something else.   And the same thing maybe yin in one regard and yang in another regard, relative to a single other thing. It’s just not as simple as black and white.

No Conflict

Seems to me the human challenge is to recognize the harmony among the opposites. Black and white relate to one another, and black and white have the seed of their opposite within.  I find this incredibly valuable to remember – especially when I am in what feels like conflict with someone else.  Whatever I feel is in opposition, I first notice the seed of that in me, in my position, and then I remember that my position exists in relation to theirs – this gives me the ability to accept their position, without abandoning my own and points the way toward some resolution reflected in the greater whole.

The Whole

Right! The greater whole – the circle in which all this dualistic interplay is happening. For ultimately, there is something which cannot be talked about or described, because it is not subject to the yin and yang of life, but encompasses them both.  For me, this is where blogging stops and the practice of taiji begins. Moving through 108 moves of my taiji form, I feel the harmonious interplay of all the seemingly opposing forces – up and down, advance and retreat, form and emptiness, mind and body, and on and on and on…..

Til the next move, enjoy your practice

Dorian

A Name for My Blog

I write these blogs to help me digest my own taiji lessons, to share my journey with my students, and to possibly, provide some entertaining and sometimes enlightening reading for other travelers on the mind-body-spirit connection journey.

Why call it The Next Move?

I decided to call this whole blog thing “The Next Move” for a couple of reasons.

One is that there is a forward momentum to the phrase, and I am feeling like I could use a little forward momentum in my life, these days.  (Of course, by now, you would think I would know better than to ask for change. Change happens.)

Another reason has to do with the taiji class experience. While learning the 108-move long form of Yang’s style taijiquan, there are many opportunities to study and practice the move we are learning.  And there is also a feeling of anticipation and excitement about learning the next move.  I wanted to bring a little bit of that excitement to this blog.

So, as I go forth into my next move, I hope to keep what I’ve acquired – lessons learned, goodwill, some peace of mind, and let go of what no longer serves – all the worries and fears, doubts and expectations.

I hope you will subscribe to my blog and check back often –

Til the next move,

Enjoy your practice

Dorian

I’m Blogging Again

This new website is in progress – and I am getting excited about blogging again.

I plan to write at least once a week and sometimes more.

And I will be sharing my thoughts about Taijiquan (Tai Chi), Qigong (Chi Kung), push hands, the Taiji weapons of Saber, Sword and Spear, Chinese healing arts,  philosophy, life as a journey and the great lessons that Tai Chi offers, self-healing, alternative medicine, Five Elements, Taoism, and sometimes I am sure I will not be able to resist talking about my ukulele or my corgi, Maggie!

I hope you will check back often and join the discussion when something interests you.