Probably the biggest thing had to do with the learning process: The questions that arise in my mind are usually off topic and I think their purpose is to distract me from paying full attention to what Master Chen is teaching at the moment. By asking them out loud I’m distracting everyone else too. My mind doesn’t want to give up control.
I saw more clearly how the hand is supposed to follow a straight line that extends from one point to another point. To keep the hand and arm from deviating from that line (tossing), they follow that line within a tube. In fact, the whole body follows a line through a tube so that no joints toss (or “pop” as in the case of the shoulder rising). If an octopus can do it I ought to be able to do it!
The lower body has to mirror the upper body. Just as the shoulders can’t pop, the pelvis can’t either. And the legs have to be confined within tubes as well. There can be rotation within them, but the push to the floor can’t cause the legs to deviate from the line.
Saying aloud “In with elbow, turn the waist, out with hand,” as Master Chen instructed us to do, is annoying, but helpful to keep me focused on the exercise.
All the movements have to use all the joints and I haven’t been using my shoulder and shoulder blades correctly. Neither of them can be allowed to pop.
I asked Master Chen if I should try to lure push hand opponents into making a mistake that I could capitalize on and he said I should just take care of myself. I hope he didn’t say that just because I’m an old guy. I’d rather think he meant that if I just make sure I’m always balanced and adhering to tai chi principles no one will be able to disrupt me. That will take a lot of practice with a lot of partners, something I don’t have access to. I should move to China.
As usual it was a great camp. Great learning, great friends and great food. Thank you John and Levi! I’ll be back next year. Steve Doob