Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tai Chi Discouraged

I am feeling discouraged with my Tai Chi training.

There is only one class available per week. I have not been to class in three weeks. The first week, due to a scheduling conflict at the dojo, I needed to teach Okinawa Kenpo instead of attending Tai Chi class. The second week, I received a message from the instructor saying that he needed to cancel.

Last night, I went to the gym and waited for the instructor with another student. We practiced the first section of the form a few times. We then received a phone call from the instructor saying that he was stuck in traffic and would not make it to class. The instructor works near Philly and sometimes traffic is impossible.

It gave me an opportunity to think about my Tai Chi training. One class per week is not enough. I can not seem to remember the pattern of the form. I do not know enough to practice on my own. I have been attending class for eight months.

I know that this is not a lot of time. Am I expecting too much?

Other news: I finally replaced my broken digital camera. I bought a Canon Powershot AS1000IS. The bad news is that the first pictures I took with this camera was the damage to my home from a wind storm. It ripped some siding and trim off my house. The storm wiped out a few shingles from the detached garage and the roof needs to be replaced. We have never made a homeowners claim and is much more involved that I realized. The insurance company gave us half the money for the garage roof. We need to come up with the balance or replace the roof ourselves to save money. I am waiting on quotes from the contractor.

Spin Class kicked my butt. Let's just say the bike seat was as comfortable as concrete. I did not love it...I did not hate it. Jury is still out on this one.


Narda said...

Wow...lots in your post. I didn't want to weigh on spinning, but I tried it ONCE. After darn near ripping my knee off...I decided there were more enjoyable and safer ways to raise my heartbeat! LOL!

As for the tai chi, are you sure you aren't making an excuse...throwing a bone to ego? Why do you think you have to be good, or quick at something? That Tai Chi has to be 'improved'? At 'getting it down' within 8 months, or a year, or even a lifetime? Are you too used to benchmarks?

Yes. One class is enough, if that is what you have to work with. I've had only once class of kobudo a week for 5 years now. Am I any good? Probably not. Will I ever get better? I can't think about that...I have to think about today.

Sue C said...

I agree with Narda on the spin class - life's too short to spend it saddle sore!

I can appreciate your frustration with your Tai chi class. I think training once a week is o.k as long as it happens once a week. Problems occur when it starts getting cancelled a lot. Perhaps you could offer your instructor some space in your own dojo to run his class if you can fit it into the schedule - the rental could go towards your new roof! And you won't waste time travelling to the gym if he cancels. Just a thought -probably not feasible but I thought I'd just mention it.

Pete said...

Before my latest injury, I had been taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 2 years (at a different dojang) in addition to my other training. I made good progress at 3 classes/week and okay progress at twice/week.

Once a week (which I also did for a while) is awfully tough. Progress is very slow. But what would you be doing with the time you are devoting to Tai Chi if you stopped doing it? Is that other stuff more or less important to you?

But then maybe you could have your instructor run through some forms and you could record them as movies on your new digital camera. That might give you a point of reference to spend some useful extra time on Tai Chi on your own.

Dojo Rat said...

I think once a week works IF you are truely dedicated and practice on your own at home.
You should try to video your instructor doing the form for reference, it really helps. I also like the idea of offering space in your other Dojo, perhaps your Kempo students would be interested in trying it out.
Hope you stick with it, I've been practicing Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan since 1996, and I tossed out all my Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo forms.

Rick Matz said...

Once a week has worked fine for me, but in my mind I separated my practice, which I did at home; from the instruction I received, which was at the school. With Tai chi, you really have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and practice on your own without the crutch of a structured class to lean on. This might sound a bit harsh, but that's the way it is.

Maybe you are trying to do to many thing. The older I get the less I find myself in a hurry. I'd rather focus on doing a few things really well rather than try to get my fingers in a lot of different things and not be satisfied with any of them.

If there is anything you need to change, it's your mind.

Colin Wee said...

Last night, I went to the gym and waited for the instructor with another student. We practiced the first section of the form a few times.I'm wondering why it is that I have never seen my students practice by themselves before class starts.

The way is long ... and sometimes not very clear indeed. I share your plight. Stick with it!


Michele said...

Thank you for your helpful comments.

Narda: You make an excellent point about training for today. I should go to class, learn what I can and enjoy the process. Truly, I never expected Tai Chi to be fast or that I would be good at it. My initial reason for taking class was to strengthen my knee and explore another martial art.

SueC: Regarding spin class…so true.

I think you touched on the source of my discouragement…missing class for three weeks. When there is only one class offered a week, a missed class makes an impact. A few missed classes in a row is even more difficult. I have invited the instructor and class to our dojo…no luck.

Pete: If I stopped Tai Chi class, I would be working out at the gym instead. A point of reference would be a great idea. I am going to have to work on finding good books and videos. Once I figure out how…I can take videos with my new camera!

Dojo Rat: Thanks for the encouragement. I want to stick with it. I have to figure out how I can make one class a week work for me. Quite honestly, Tai Chi has improved my knee strength in a way that physical therapy, weight training and karate has not. Could it be because of how weight is transferred in Tai Chi movements?

I learned a lot from the “Study of Split” video on your blog. I must have watched it at least five times. :)

Rick: Thanks for your comment. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I agree that I need to change my mindset. I need to supplement class time with more individual practice at home. I think this is part of my frustration because I feel I need to know a little more of the form before I can practice effectively on my own. I should simply practice what I can remember.

Colin: Thanks for the encouragement.

Mark Cook said...

I am in a similar frame of mind but in regard to BJJ. I have a group that meets in my home. When I began I hoped to meet 2 times a week. It seems I was overly optimistic. Between the end of a school year, conflicting obligations and a flooed dojo there were many times we couldn't meet at all.

I have had to remind myself there is no timetable for my progress other than the one I IMAGINE. I will grow or not when things come together. A trees growth is as much determined by the weather as what is in the seed. It's like farming. Sometimes you are working like a dog. Other times you are waiting for rain.

Rick Matz said...

If you wait for conditions to be "perfect" in order to pracitce (for example, "knowing enough"), you'll find yourself waiting a long time indeed.

Michele said...

Oldman: Looks like I am waiting for it to rain...class was cancelled again this week. Instead of Tai Chi, I spent time working on Okinawa Kenpo and extra homework time with my daughter.

I saw pictures of your new dojo floor on your site. Nice. That was a big project!

Rick: I decided not to wait any longer. I try to spend some time each day reviewing the parts of the Tai Chi form I can remember.

Unknown said...

while I agree that training various forms can enhance skills through the idea that you have a broader view of martial arts than someone who practices just one style, there is always the fact that you will most likely not be able to master the styles because too much time is spent inbetween. if you want to master something, you focus on that and that alone. again, im not saying anything negative, but you cant exect something like tai chi stick if you're doing it less than once a week. i do hung gar 4 times a week and when i miss even one class i feel the effects.

Unknown said...

wow excuse the omission of various letters and words in that post, my fingers must be drunk. "expect" and "tai chi TO stick".