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Tai chi [Feb. 22nd, 2015|11:52 am]
I think I can now officially say that I know tai chi.

I started learning Yang short short form (that is, Cheng Man-ch'ing's form) about a decade ago from Gary, one of the other employees, who taught a weekly evening class down at Foothills lab. I kinda learned most of the form, but there were some pieces in the latter part (which was emphasized less) that I never really got down, and then a bunch of new students came in and we started over from the beginning, and then my office moved across town, so I stopped.

Then a couple years ago, Sam (who had been a student of Gary's for longer) announced that he was running a weekly session in the exercise room in the basement of my building and they were open to new students, so I started going again. We've cycled through teaching the whole form to a couple different complete beginners since I started up, and I was able to fill in the weak spots that I didn't know.

Well, Sam is taking a new job in San Francisco, and next week will be our last tai chi session. So on Thursday (tai chi is on Wednesdays), I had Jerry come up to meet me after work, and I took him down to the exercise room to see if I could (1) do the whole form on my own without the visual prompting of someone else who knows it doing it alongside me, and (2) start teaching it to him.

And I can! I have memorized the entire form, and can do it without any external cues.

This is a bigger deal than it probably sounds, because it turns out that I am really really bad at learning physical movements. I can open up my brain and just inhale abstract knowledge in no time flat, but learning movement is like, "okay, show me what the left arm does. Now the elbow. And the wrist? How does that line up with what the leg is doing? Okay, again. Again. Again. One more time? Slower. Okay. So like this?" *falls over*. I feel slow and stupid and incompetent and it's just so much more difficult than learning other kinds of things. I hate it. (Jerry, by contrast, is really GOOD at that kind of learning; after 45 minutes, he was at a point that it took me about two months to get to.)

So that was pretty keen.

Afterwards, we went to Ras Kassa's for dinner. It's an excellent Ethiopian place in Boulder, which will be hopefully relocating (but possibly just closing) later this year. We went there on special occasions a couple times many years ago when we first got together, and I definitely wanted to go one more time before it goes.

[User Picture]From: goddessdster
2015-02-22 07:46 pm (UTC)
I completely understand that there's a difference between kinetic intelligence and other forms, and so I say Congratulations! on realizing you're not a total physical doofus. Also, I admire your dedication to sticking with something. That takes work, and also must mean it was helpful for you.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-02-25 12:15 am (UTC)

I'm generally pretty good at sticking with things. Once I get into a groove, I can keep at something for a long time. It's developing the groove that's hard. (He said, having skipped gym today...)
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-02-25 12:10 am (UTC)
I don't think it's that we're averse to things being hard, but that we're calibrated to a high ROI on effort. We're used to skill domains where if you put in a lot of work and don't have much to show for it, that's usually a sign you're doing it wrong.

Jerry's got a couple DVDs of a fan form that he wants me to learn. I will probably give it a shot down the road, but first I want to solidify this form to the point that I can do it in other settings, explain it to other people, know the names of all the moves, etc.
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[User Picture]From: backrubbear
2015-02-24 02:14 am (UTC)
Congratulations. I've spent a lot of time in that "total clutz, not sure how to move" space. A lot of time in SCA has broken me of some of that, and it's been odd to see the carry-through it's had in other bits of my life.

I'm still a clutz with regard to my environment (I don't keep anything near the edges of a counter), but my sense of propriocentrism has jumped tremendously.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2015-02-25 12:05 am (UTC)

Working construction with my stepdad in high-school and cooking dinners on a four-man team in a smallish kitchen taught me how to be muuuuch more conscious of my surroundings, so I do okay on that front.

My problem is combining the elements of a movement that I'm trying to learn. I have no trouble mimicking any individual component of a move that someone shows me, but then syncing them all up and getting everything to happen in concert is just really, really hard.
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