Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Gift of Small Frame

At the WTBA USA Workshop, earlier this year, I was properly introduced to the small frame version of Yang Taiji by Erle Montaigue. I have been working on it ever since, and I am finally beginning to glimpse the enormity of this gift. I have a long way to go with this, and it is one of my Winter training goals. But even the small breakthrough that I have witnessed is powerful beyond description. And it is, like many internal practices, difficult to describe.

Being primarily a Chen-Hunyuan practitioner, my movements are big and expansive by design. When doing any of my forms, the martial intent is clear in my mind. The moves should be crisp and the intention clear and unambiguous to an outside observer. That is how it should be. However, over time the Taiji practitioner should concentrate more the internal movement and less on the external. As that happens the moves aren't so clear and unambiguous to the outside observer. But they are extremely powerful and moving to the practitioner. Many of us have witnessed a Master performing his form and wondered why it seemed so vague and indirect. That is because his intention was internal and the external movement is a mere reflection of the internal action.

As I have progressed in my Taiji training I have often felt as if I am backing up. It seems the more I learn, the less I know. I feel as if I am in a constant state of 'just beginning'. This is a potent example of that. Doing form at the small frame level is an incredible tool for accumulating internal power. And it is incredibly difficult. However, even to the degree that I understand it and am able to practice it, it has been extremely rewarding. That, I guess, is the trade-off for being an eternal beginner. The thrill of newfound treasure is constantly recurring.

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