Revisiting My Goals for Taiji

“What is it you want from taiji?”

I was asked this question from a taiji buddy of mine a couple of weeks ago and this question still lingers in my mind. Ultimately, I practice taiji because of it’s effects in my life. My wife has often noted that I am much calmer and more at ease after a session of taiji.  Additionally, she can pick up when I haven’t practiced for a couple of days.  Is it that obvious?

Over the weekend, I was watching the Chen Village DVD by Empty Mind Films.  The film had an interview with Derryl Willis, founder and Chief Instructor of Seattle School of Chen Style Taijiquan.  Derryl was talking about the role of taiji in his life and in summary he noted the practice of taiji has essentially made him a better person.  Derryl spoke about how he has incorporated principles of taiji into both his personal and professional life.  His interview really resonated with me as I feel that taiji makes me a better person.

Melvin Udall: You make me want to be a better man.
Carol Connelly: …That’s maybe the best compliment of my life.

— Source: As Good as it Gets | IMDB Memorable Quotes

I had written a post called Cranking Widgets and Taiji almost 3 years ago where I address my goals for practicing taiji. At the time, I had listed the following as my main goals:

  1. Physical Well-Being and Health
  2. Mind and Meditation Training

Right now, more than ever, I would have to say my main goal is physical health and well-being. I have always had bad knees, which is one of the reasons why I began training in taiji.  Over the weekend, my left knee buckled under me as I was carrying my son up the stairs.  In fact, my knees often hurt when I try and climb some stairs, or even when am just walking around.  I turn 31 this year and having this much knee pain at a relatively young age worries me.

I am planning on seeing a doctor to get some X-Rays on my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) just in case.  I want to be able to play with my grandchildren without worries and/or pains.  While I do not plan on getting knee surgery if I can truly avoid it, I just want to know what’s going on.

So, what’s a taiji guy to do when he has knee pains?  Many moons ago, I was in a class going through the Yang Long Form. After the set, I went to the instructor and said that my knees hurt when I do X. His response was, don’t do X.

Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought.

— Fortune Cookie

Even after all of these years, I have not heeded that simple advice. I push and I push, because taiji is supposed to be about eating bitter, right? Maybe not.  Not all bitter is good bitter. I need to be more clear in discerning soreness from pain.  Additionally, I know that my knees hurt a lot more when I do things in a low stance.  But the signature of some styles is a low stance … I am afraid there may be a disconnect between the path of my mind and the path of my body.

I want to be able to practice things that I can do well into my old age. I want to be able to play a form of taiji without modification when I get older.  I want, I want, I want…

To be continued …

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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5 Responses to Revisiting My Goals for Taiji

  1. Jordan_Keats says:

    Wuji,
    Sorry to hear about your knee problems. I used to skateboard before starting CSPM Taiji, and my Doctor of Chinese medicine said my joints are not in the best shape either. The advice he gave me for rebuilding my joints was to ride a bike.

    Master Chen Zhonghua rode his bike to practice with Grandmaster Hong every morning, and look where he is today.

    Thanks,
    Jordan

  2. Shang Lee says:

    Hey wujimon. i used to like being able to do the low stances and kick-ass high flying kicks. at some point, i realised I didn’t really understand Tai Ji by doing these things, so my need for going low, flying high has somewhat disappeared. Not that I don’t like doing it, but it’s just not the thing I’m looking for. I think if you’ve found the way, going low will not be an issue, it’s a by-product. Just look at Ma Hong in his old age. 😉

  3. Rick says:

    Hey Wujimon

    Injuries Suck! It’s funny how many people have these kinds of issues.

    Knee issues… I know CXW had knee surgery a few years back… The cool things is how quickly people recover from these kinds of things too.

    I agree with you on understanding purpose.. The why… On a deeper level as well as on some more shallow levels… Both can be very insightful. I know one guy who does Taiji at a local Rex center because he like the people and there are some cute girls there. Reason or the why’s shallow and deep always seem to help us be more honest about the “what” we are doing.

    Sorry to hear about your knee… I hope all goes well… I’m sure it will!

    Sorry to hear about your knee.

  4. jussumdood says:

    What constitutes eating bitter in developing your Gong Fu depends on your perspective, and really should not undermine the feeling of internal comfort any type of Nei Ji Quan should be producing in the practitioner , IMO. There is a spectrum between adapting yourself to the demands of the art and adapting the art to the demands of the self; find the balance between these extremes that works for you ( unless you’ve become a formal disciple, in which case your master will dictate that balance for you). From a personal perspective, I rehabed my knees, damaged from years of pre-commercial timber cruising and woefully willful dissipation, with the Chen style, which I then used to turn right around and damage my knees again to the point of having to turn to the Yang and Wu styles- healthy knees again, but had to pay inordinate amounts of attention to proper alignment to get there. One thing that really helped me- using the inside edge of the foot to receive weight, outside edge of the heel to issue. Great blog BTW, keep up the good work.

  5. Pingback: The Relaxation Response | wujimon taiji blog

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