China 2019 – Day 13, Tuesday, 30th July
Great training, hot weather, and awesome food were in abundance as usual – but today’s first for me was a new treatment that I had not had before, Gua Sha.
It is basically scraping the skin with a heated cup, or other implement. It draws out toxins, aids healing, reduces inflammation, reduces pain, is good for skin disorders, and much more.
In Chinese medicine it is said to remove cold winds from the body – and that can only be a good thing!
I asked the therapist (who seemed to enjoy the treatment a bit too much when it got a bit painful!) if Gua Sha or cupping was more effective. She said Gua Sha is better.
Having said that, she then gave me a cupping treatment just to be sure!
In the aftermath, my back feels very relaxed – in fact my whole body does – and I have a nice warm feeling all over my back.
So feeling detoxified and rejuvenated after my latest episode with Traditional Chinese Medicine, I decided to have a relaxing evening after what was also a hard day training lots of tai chi basics. You can never train the basics enough.
In a world where we are often mindlessly consuming and looking for the next thing, a back to basics approach is one in which I find comfort and reassurance.
Early on in our training, most students – myself included – will want more, more, more… the next move, the next form, learning more advanced techniques.
Enthusiasm is fantastic and a trait which I greatly admire but without a solid foundation, the skills which you are trying to build, will be more like a house of cards than a glorious temple!
But ask yourself, can you stand properly in the correct position in perfect alignment (get your instructor to check!)? Are your hips, pelvis, knees shoulders exactly right? Head aligned and raised correctly? Can you feel the weight sinking correctly?
Can you hold your stances without holding too much tension in your body?
As your instructor trains you in the basics repeatedly, train yourself to love the basics – it’s what everything else is built upon – and if you do wish to progress quickly, it’s the only way!
As you progress in your training, push for more, and learn more – but don’t forget to go back, again and again and repeat these fundamentals.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than training the rudiments. I could (and regularly do!) perform the opening move of the White Crane tai chi form again and again and again throughout the day. San Zhan (Three Wars), our first Kung Fu form is one that I do much more than any other. My favourite strength training – low horse stance! Nothing more basic than that.
Refining what you already know is so important. I did learn a lot in my early years of training, and very quickly. However, it dawned on me that coming to China and learning Chen is the first tai chi form I have learnt for 12 years!
I could have learnt scores in the last decade but decided to focus on what for me were a core few forms and make sure I became very good at them before learning anything new.
At the end of the day, if you perfected one Kung Fu form and one tai chi form, you’d be a force to be reckoned with!
So, focus on the basics, try to effectively put into place corrections when you receive them (learn to love corrections too!) and you’ll be able to build your skills on solid foundations and advance at a pace that is right for you.