Hello, Friends. Hope you are all keeping well in these trying times. I was talking to a former student of mine from my days as a university professor. She is now a senior person in a big cheese engineering firm, working on many of their “green projects”. Her team actually won first prize in the “Best Environmentally Designed School” a few years ago.
Like many, she is working from home nowadays. I called her up and asked her how she was doing. Never one to mince words she said, “I have three kids under the age of 7 keeping me company all day. How do you think it is going???”
Okay, I get it. Trying to be a 21st Century professional in a high tech company with the life of a 1940s homemaker…it’s like trying to blend oil and water. But, I know she will make the necessary adjustments and come through with flying colours.
I’m sure many are finding themselves in a similar situation. “Working from home” is HARD. It is, as a friend from long ago said, “like swimming through fudge”. It can be done but it IS work.
For those who are able – or wanting – to take a break during the work day at home, I include the following video. It is of the Tai Chi adept, Gao Jiamin, doing a basic tai chi pattern involving, essentially, only 10 elements. This video is actually quite well-known in tai chi circles. You just have to go to YouTube and search for “tai chi pink lady” and a number of her videos will pop up. I think this “10 Element Form” is one of the best ones.
For starters, there aren’t that many techniques – just 10, as I said. Second, she does it with such fluid grace, even a complete novice can’t help but do a pretty close approximation the very first time just by following her in a relaxed way.
When we were kids being taught the intricacies of internal arts like tai chi, we would be shown the moves to be taught that day and be asked to emulate them to the best of our ability. There’s nothing magical to learning tai chi: you just have to try. You don’t even have to try hard: just relax and follow along.
That’s what you should do while learning from Sifu Gao. Just follow along to the best of your ability. If you get lost, just stop and watch the rest of the pattern. Then repeat the process a couple more times in the hopes of learning a little more each time.
Try to learn at least one move per session. You will notice there are left and right versions of the moves here. Even if you learn just, say, going left in one move…that’s perfectly okay. Learn going to the right another day.
If you don’t get very far, don’t fret. Just repeat what you can do one or two more times that day and then get on with the rest of your day. Come back tomorrow or the day after to try again. Little by little, piece by piece, layer by layer, you will get it. The key to success is not natural skill, athletic ability or anything of the sort. The secret is to just keep at it, at a pace that suits you such that you feel good after every session.
Let’s say a session is about 10-15 minutes. It takes a few minutes to watch the video. Then a couple more to zero in on the move you want to learn that session. And then another 2or 3 minutes at the end to watch the video again. Watch, Do, Repeat. Easy, peasy.
The goal is not to LEARN the pattern. Rather the objective is just to DO the pattern. You will find that, in time, just by following along you will have unconsciously learned how to do the entire FORM without forcing yourself.
One advantage of practising at home is that there is zero pressure in trying to keep up with the rest of the class. You ARE the class.
So, here is the Yang Style 10 Form as presented by Ms. Gao Jiamin, the Pink Lady. Enjoy.
Many thanks to Robert C. Martin for this video.