Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tai Chi - A Decision

I have been thinking about Tai Chi lately because I am at a cross road in my training. I need to decide whether to continue or to move on. Last month, I wrote that I was discouraged because I have not been to class. In total, I missed the last six classes: four cancelled, one sick and one scheduling conflict.

I needed to consider my purpose for taking Tai Chi classes. I am a student and instructor of Okinawa Kenpo Karate and Kobudo. I have been studying for seventeen years and there is so much more to learn and discover within Okinawa Kenpo. In addition to the fifty-one kata, there is application, self-defense, drills and sparring…a lifetime of learning.

Why do I want to explore another martial art? Tai Chi takes years to learn. I probably need to add a few extra years because I am training in another martial art. My Tai Chi instructor told me that it would take several years before a student could use Tai Chi for self-defense. My initial reason for taking class was my knee. I thought that Tai Chi would improve balance and strength in my ACL reconstructed knee. Oh how my knee ached during the first two months of Tai Chi classes! I pushed through the discomfort and eventually my knee became stronger due to the slow movement and one leg weight transitions.

Another reason for me to take Tai Chi is longevity. My knee is great now but who knows how it will feel in ten years. My surgeon told me that ACL reconstructed knees are prone to arthritis. If arthritis gets bad enough, a TKR is a possibility. What happens if one day my knee can no longer handle the demands of Okinawa Kenpo. What will I do? Will I have to quit martial arts completely? Alternatively, will I be able to continue with Tai Chi?

Last night I needed to make a decision about Tai Chi. I wanted to go to class but I was concerned that it would be cancelled again. I did not want to get my hopes up. What about the time involved? The time I set aside for Tai Chi class was gone in a flash. I spent the time with my daughter, at the gym or practicing Okinawa Kenpo. Fate seemed determined to throw distractions in my path. My sister called and asked me to go to the movies. My Mom invited me over for a tasty dinner – fried chicken, rice, vegetables and homemade apple pie with ice cream. I said “No” to the movie but “Yes” to the apple pie. I could go to dinner and still make Tai Chi.

Did I go to class or did I choose to relax on my parents’ front porch?

I am happy to report that I went to Tai Chi class. It was great being back in class. I was a little early and I asked the senior student to work with me on the second section of the Yang long form. I was able to remember the pattern up to needle at the sea bottom. In class, we practiced the entire form and I started to see patterns emerge such as white crane spreads its wings, brush knee, step, hold guitar.

I want to persevere.

9 comments:

Dojo Rat said...

Hi Michele;
Tai Chi will make your Karate better, it did for me. Eventually you will probably go completely soft-style, even with your Karate.
Also, look at Bob Patterson's recent post on combat stress at "Striking Thoughts"

Littlefair said...

It's always satisfying to make a tough decision and then to do it.

Well done.

Rick said...

Having a clear mind about our training; really about everything, is very important. It's good to ask yourself those questions from time to time. Sometimes the answers change, sometimes they don't, but it's important to entertain those questions.

Steve said...

Really ask yourself what you want. I mean, really, what do YOU want? Sometimes it is time to broaden your horizon's and try something new. I get this "high" whenever I try sports I've never done before (triathlons, lacrosse, and P90X). It's an amazing feeling to start out "not so good" at something, and then see progress. Although there's always room for improvement at anything, possibly there isn't much there for you at what you're really good at now.

Rick said...

Self discipline is remembering what you want.

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Anonymous said...

My teacher had this to say - "The secret of the external martial arts is the internal martial arts."

Wow! I was really pleased with myself for going internal from the very beginning of my training!

But then he added "But the secret of the internal is the external!"

Why not continue to do both?

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments.

Dojo Rat: My Tai Chi instructor tells me the same thing. :)

Littlefair: Thanks!

Rick: I feel much better about things.

Steve: I enjoy trying new things too. I like to learn and to be challenged.

Anonymous: Thank you for stopping by my blog. It sounds like you have a very wise instructor. Thanks.

Zen said...

Tai Chi will improve all your arts and your life. As you get older your tai chi should get better, Hang in there!

I know this is an old post, I hope you are still with it!