Do you know what scares me? The comments attached to this video on YouTube. There was a time I would dismiss such things as trolls, attention seekers, and link builders, but then Trump happened. The comments run the full gamut, from not understanding the impact of climate change on famine and poverty to denying the moon landing, to flat Earthers.
After discovering Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming’s original, yellow Taijiquan book, practicing Taijiquan became everything to me. I moved outside, eating, drinking, and practicing under a Pin Oak tree. At heart, however, I am a skeptic, and seeing Taijiquan through the works of a single author did not satisfy my need to study more broadly. I later learned that the most ardent practitioners of Taijiquan suffer through the same phase.
My early passion with Taijiquan coincided with the earliest days of the Internet. At the time, there was little material online. The big box bookstores had a few titles, but for more detailed instruction you had to search the pages of Tai Chi magazine or other martial art magazines for VHS videos.
Vocabulary is the foundation to understanding a subject. The same is true with Taijiquan. For now, I am ignoring the translation problem and focusing on the basic vocabulary we need to communicate the Taijiquan routine.
Is the Taijiquan routine a sequence, or a routine? Is a static position a posture or a form? The interchange of the words form, posture, and stance creates confusion. For example, is it the Yang Style Taijiquan form, sequence, or routine? Is that the Ward Off posture or form? Are you in the Bow and Arrow posture or stance?
I have started this task of reviewing every book I have read since childhood. It is a ridiculous notion. I can’t remember every book I have read. Just now, I thought of one; a bear, and I am pretty sure an otter, have an adventure or two (no it’s not what you’re thinking). I think it was a series. I loved the books, but they were paperback, and I trashed them in a fit of organization. Still, I am an author now. The Fundamentals is moving to publication, and as for sharing my love of the written word I have been mum.
Reviewing my list, I decided that grouping the historical works by author would save time. Another problem with dredging up memories of old books is the desire to read them again before putting a finger to the keyboard. No problem, I have decided to cheat. I will piece together recollections from what others have said and make up the rest.
In my two books on the martial arts, I shared how my early focus on taijiquan benefited me on multiple levels. I also shared how my related success led to pain from sitting with a computer for hours on end. My focus on taijiquan helped to create my success, and that success lead to the later pain. That same pain lead to my intense study of baguazhang and hours of circle walking every night.
My process of learning Taijiquan is not unique. I know this because one of my earliest inspirations in Taijiquan study, Jou, Tsung Hwa, said so. Now, Jou was not talking directly to or about me, but he shared his journey with Taijiquan in his books, and those stories spoke to me and my journey.
The title of this post paraphrases the Zen Koan: "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is."
Learning a new art or skill is like this. First you see the mountain, and think that others have climbed that mountain, and you would like to follow them. You start climbing the mountain, and the trail goes up and down, back, and forth, and you are not sure if you are on the right trail, or even the right mountain. You think back to when you decided to climb the mountain, how beautiful it was in the distance, but now, when you look around, you cannot see the mountain because you are too close to it. Finally, you reach the peak of the mountain and looking back you can see all its peaks and valleys behind you.
In October, the Earth Observatory project posted a photo of the smog over China. The haze was thick enough to completely hide the land or water surface below, and it extended far to the south and east. The air is so bad in Beijing that the US Embassy measures and shares the air quality on a Twitter feed.
I wanted to share this image to give you an idea of how bad the situation is. The problem with pollution in China is not just Beijing. It stretches for hundreds of miles. China’s pollution problem is so bad it is changing our climate. When you hear about a product recall, such as pet food contaminated with steroids, or tea poisoned by diesel truck fumes that is a side effect of China’s poor environmental regulations as well.
The Underground Salt Museum is an old, and still active, salt mine in Hutchinson, Kansas. You can get the history of the mine from the website, so I will spare you those details.
Before you enter the mine, the museum guides show a short video describing how to use the hardhat, and an emergency breathing device. The hardhat is simple enough. The breathing device is a chemical canister that you activate if there is a fire in the mine. It creates twenty minutes of breathable air, includes a clothespin to plug your nose, and comes with a warning that it will burn your lips. A good thing, because if it’s getting hot, it’s working.
The trend on Facebook this month is to post what you are “thankful for.” Most of my friends are pretty much where I am at. Catching up for the four or five days we have missed. While most have went for things like god and family, the same stuff they will say around the table on the 25th, I am taking a different approach.
Here is my catch up list:
Day 5: I am thankful that I won’t have to wait 6 hours to vote in the morning. Kansas has done a much better job of suppressing the vote than other states.
Day 4: I am thankful that billionaires and corporations can give an unlimited amount of money to political campaigns. Maybe now “trickle-down” will finally work.
Day 3: I am thankful that legislature in Ohio allowed fewer days to vote in the general election, than in the primary. Without it, these mimes would not have gotten any press.
Day 2: I am thankful that I do not have to read my D20 dice in Egyptian.
Day 1: I am thankful for Science Fiction.
Martial art practice is more than the study of physical movement. It’s an exploration of the body through the mind and the mind through movement of the body. Martial art practice can expose humanity’s worst instincts, or reveal an inner nature that desires harmony.
The greatest martial artist of the twentieth century promoted the martial arts to a world searching for reason in the torrents of blood spilled around the globe. From the worst of those conflicts, masters arose that sought to restore balance and civility.