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.