My Tai Chi Adventure
Tiger Crosses the Tiber: (The Journey from Hard to Soft)
Everyone knows that it is very hard to convince a Hard Stylist to go soft style unless you will really see something compelling for you to go that road. It came through many questions that need to be answered first.
First Brushes with the Soft Art:
I went to the Fuente Osmena Circle in Cebu, a park where many people were practicing healthy stuffs I saw joggers, military dirty dozen exercises, even dogs running around, and the elderly moving oh so slow that to me was like a waste of time. It did not do you any cardio that it seems that it is not strengthening you at all. I was so sure that it the only exercise for those that were already too slow in their movements. A conclusion I kept for years, until…
Hard Headedness Leads To Injury:
I always tell my students follow instructions to a K since this is Kung fu. That is what we Teachers are here for, to guide you, you need to be under the watchful eye of a teacher. Learn from me even the mistakes I did.
A back injury happened to be not in the Kwoon but in a western weight training gym. Here is how it happened and as a lesson to all I will be pointing out the mistakes I made.
It was early in the morning I jogged all the way to the gym about 6-7 kilometers. I was the first to be there, the gym keeper opened the door said I could start my workout while he gets water.
-Sifu’s words: “Never do movement without not moving for a long time“.
Make sure you develop the discipline to warm the muscles you will use and nourish it with Chi before you do anything with it. In Traditional Kung fu this is done by first and foremost lighting your candle do the meditation to get into yourself, as for first your mind is not there it might be on the concerns for the day and if your mind is not there (unmindfulness is a great cause of injury) you need to bring your mind to yourself and what you are doing.
That morning I did not follow that teaching and I thought to myself “Jogging 7 kilometers was enough warm up” but in the back of my mind or I knew it was drilled into my thick head by Sifu that other exercises does not necessarily work on the muscles you use, you need to zero in on the correct muscles used in the movement and one by one or holistically nourish them with Chi. In short I was not following instructions to a K, I was Lazy I was Hard headed! leading to my folly!
-always remember, Obedience is Important!
The Injury “An Accident looking for a place to happen!”
So there I was in the western weights gym, nothing wrong with that Shaolin Martial Artists used weights too like heavy rocks, water buckets, etc.
So vividly I remember the gym keeper open the door welcomed me in and said he will fetch water first and to help myself with the weights.
The Stage for the Accident:
I looked for a good spot and found one. This spot was good in front of the wall clock, near good ventilation. The only thing was there was a heavy weight in the middle of my spot. I knew what weight was right for me and definitely this was too heavy! But again my mind was not yet totally in sync with what I was about to do, I have not done the meditation with the mind and body nourishing. So of I went with a little thought of what I was going to do and headed for this big monster of a weight for I was not going to work out with this I was just going to move it. Not realizing that in order to move it I had to carry it, and so this man who did not do his homework that his Sifu has drilled to his head went nonchalantly to this weight and moved it, in order to move it I lifted it then like a small thunder I heard my lower back go “CRAAACK!”
It was so painful I could not breathe. I said to myself looking at the Clock “How long will it take before I get brain damage for not having air in my brain? I was staring at the wall clock and the only one in the gym to help me!
I could Imagine Sifu’s Face saying “You Hard Headed! I tell you many many times!” Sifu always said “no need to take notes I will be repeating and repeating my lessons to you”.
I remember his red face with anger when two crazy drunk students went up the kwoon during the afternoon when he was resting and started practicing with the spear. Of Course one injured his hand with blood everywhere Sifu woke up with the commotion and chased both of them out of the Kwoon with his Staff. He was so angry at those students who had the guts to practice with weapons without his presence and permission and Drunk! They scampered like rats being chases by an old man it was kinda hilarious to see but it was kinda Seriously Insane thing to see. And here I was in a much unenlightened accident that I just knew I would get an earful from Sifu Ty. Then again maybe I will be brain damaged already for I still could not breathe until…. I remembered some breathing exercises that I tried to activate my Diaphragm to suck in air, and it did like the lungs were activated again. I was breathing but the pain was still terrible.
The water boy arrived and saw me now in seated meditation I told him what happened and we did some stretching exercises but that was an injury that was menacing and gets you really angry at yourself. You only realize all the things you were taught and wish you followed it to a K.
The Search for a Cure:
Of course Sifu was last in the list for I would get a mouth full. I went to all the healers, quacks doctors, chiropractors, etc. no healing happened. I was so desperate I reached the farthest and highest mountains where faith healers spit on your back, spill blood of a live chicken on your back, ashes to ashes dust to dust, nothing. Traction Machines from the state of the art Makati Medical Center, I thought to myself wow “Man is this frail, one injury and you could be downhill from there!” of course I also saw the spiritual part of this “Could this have happened because of Sins and wrong doing? “Of course no answer for that but it was at the back of my mind.
Sifu Ty’s Hand:
Wow! I was not different from the people lined up for healing in the Kwoon of Master Ty. I was human after all, I thought that I was not an ordinary mortal when I was doing my forms and learning Kung fu. Now I will be one of those people lined up for healing. What a humiliating thing, what will my classmates say? Again thoughts about the spiritual side came. Is God humbling me? Was I getting too proud? I know he humbles me so very often!
A Humbling Experience:
I remember that I rode a Taxi home and I told the driver to take a left turn at the sign saying no left turn. He said I can’t do that I will be caught by the police. But you see in the older times in Cebu, I could get away with that for my Dad a Lawyer was a very influential man. The Police people and Firemen who were near our house were always in our big parties, and my head got big and thought I could do some power play. So I told the driver, just do it I know all these police men they will see me and let you go. The driver was an old man he retorted “You young people who do not know about life think you are so hot shot huh! I was a war veteran who risked my life in war for a country that would have good laws and people to follow for our peace and well being who do you think you are! He came in like a flood scolding me like crazy I was dumb struck and I learned my lesson. I felt the Universe or God always did something to get me on track.
In line with the Injured in Master Ty’s Kwoon:
I went early morning so few students would be there! Already there were 3 people in line. The adopted children of Master Ty saw me and wondered why I did not light the candle to start my practice but instead sat in line with the sick, disabled or injured. Humbled like a wet chick (basang sisiw) I saw the smirk of the ones who lived in the house of Master Ty. He saw me like a hawk and asked me to come to him first. Asked “Ano Problema sa Iyo” he spoke very broken Tagalog and Bisaya to those who did not speak Chinese. I said “I got Injured” He said “How” he listened shaking his head many times and I knew what he wanted that I was learning my lessons so my story was like this I did this and where I was wrong was I did not do this …I did this was wrong cuz I did not do this so his head was shaking when I was saying the story of the injury and nodding when I would say where I went wrong. Of course this was a long thought out plan, the story was smooth and the lessons were clear. So finally he said “Bring out all your money!”
He got it and told Jaime his adopted son to buy a list of things. He even had to add for the money I had was not enough! So he let me wait while he treated the other patients, and of course when the students came my story would be the lesson of the day, what never to do again!
The Weird Medicines:
Jaime came back with one big sack of Ginger and many other Chinese smelling herbs and they started to pound these gingers to bring out the liquid. He brought me to the side of the table, then ask me to lower my pants then he got a coin and scratched my back then put the ginger into the skin every now and then. I saw he mixed the liquid ginger into a brown substance that began to look like mud. Then he placed it on my back where the injury was. He wrapped it into a sash like cloth. And gave me a bottle of brown pellets I was to drink 3 a day. He told me to do the standing meditation and told me some tips on the posture to help the injury. These medicine and healing stuffs helped but as he already told me it will not be the same, I have to be more careful because this is the spine, when we are doing is strengthening the muscles that hold these bones together, strengthen the bones, and some vitamins to strengthen the ligaments too. Even sleeping positions were explained and even where it might hurt in the legs.
The 2nd Brush of Tai Chi
I guess the Tai Chi voyage started with a search for a healing art. After practicing what they call hard kung fu or the external systems which if not properly monitored can be quite taxing for the body. Well from the injury of my back which I thought it would be good to start slow. I began to look into a little of Tai Chi.
My mobility impaired and an irritating pain on my back that would happen when the weather was cold made me look and look and look for more cures. I was in denial that it would not be perfect anymore; injured people will have to live with an injury. To all students reading always follow the proper instructions for if you go wrong an effect of injury could be life long.