"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Tai Chi Rage

Tai Chi is one of those slow, low-impact exercises that is supposed to bring you feelings of peace and serenity. When you see folks practising it on the end of the pier, or in the park, they always appear very zen, very "I'm at one with the universe right now, so please don't bug me."

As much as I adore the increased circulation and the way it makes my popsicle stick body more flexible, I simply cannot believe how much rage is involved in learning Tai Chi. Cause it's really difficult to learn. I don't mean "Ooh, this is kind of challenging" difficult - I mean, stamp your foot, make loud huffing sounds, slam your fist into your forehead kind of difficult.

There are 108 moves in total. Instructors demonstrate each move three times and then the students attempt it themselves three times. Then the moves are linked together until you know the whole "set." It's frustrating to convince your body to do things like balance on one foot and kick the other into the air, not to mention learning 107other moves and remembering to do them in sequence. Worse still are the names of the moves. Apparently, snickering when the instructor teaches you "Golden Cock stands on One Leg" is frowned upon.

The philosophy for teaching beginners is that you never, under any circumstance, correct an individual in front of the class. I'm not quite sure why. Something about not discouraging people early on. So you have a few freak outs when you screw up the moves, and laugh about it with other people who are screwing up their moves, but you have no idea how awful you really are until you leave the safety of the beginner class and venture into the ADVANCED class.

Once you're out of beginners, the zen gloves are off. Instructors are more serious about providing "corrections." And they're not afraid to use your name or point you out in front of the other students. All the stuff I thought I'd finally figured out in the beginner class has turned out to be pretty much wrong. Either my fingers aren't pointy enough, or my foot is turned 4 degrees too far to the corner, or I'm not rotating my body correctly. It's enough to make me pitch the pot of green tea out the window at breaktime.

The worst part was when my instructor told me that no one ever really masters Tai Chi. It's a continual learning process. Even people who have been doing it for 20 years receive corrections. WHAT??! So I have to do it for eternity because there will always be something to correct? Good grief.

I've thought about it long and hard, and I still keep going back week after week. I've decided I can't let Tai Chi beat me. I can't let 108 floaty, slo-mo-karate moves drive me mental. I can't allow ten graceful retirees to outshine me in every class.

I am going to be zen if it kills me. And I am going to learn NOT to laugh at the Golden Cock.


Sweet Somethings by Lois said...

Hey Kim.
You know what the best part of Tai Chi is? Once you sort of know what you are doing, you can speed the moves up and it becomes a form of martial arts. Do you know how much damage you can do to someone when you use the Golden Cock?
Seriously girl, you can do some major damage to the old guy who tries to correct your stance.
And it doesn't matter if those seniors outshine you in class.
You’re younger, have tighter abs and can run faster than they can if the class starts getting too frisky! LOL.
Have a great week Kim!

PS Tai Chi is something that hubby John and I would like to try.
Mind you, we're both old so we'll probably blend into the class.
At least I hope we do.

Kimber said...

That's so true Lois - right now, I can only kill people if they stand still.

As for the abs..that's debatable. *sigh*

Try it...you'll probably like it!

tanzi said...

Hmmm...methinks your post reveals some Ed Sr. -like competitiveness, eh? Wanting to be good at something right away...Be patient my little zen lotus. It is much like life--never perfection, always something new too learn.
Don't discard your green tea in a rage. Those who spill hot tea burn others in face.

Jaime said...

The Golden Cock?! Good God, tell me that they don't actually say "Golden Cock" during the class? I don't think I could contain my laughter.

Good for you for sticking with it Kim!

Kimber said...

Oh, they do better than that Jaime - they say, "Golden Cock stands on Right Leg."

Tanzi - I am frightened by your comparisons to Ed Sr! I must go and drink some tea to calm myself down.