For as long as I can remember my mother has been telling me that I have two crooked little fingers just like she has. It is nothing serious, if you look carefully, you may notice a little hump. As a young girl my mother had tried to make her little fingers straight by squashing them between theof her school desk. Somewhere along the line she must have come to peace with her crooked little fingers because she seems kind of proud that I inherited this quality from her.
My crooked little fingers never bothered me. But during my practise of Chen Style Xinyi Hunyuan taijiquan I did work on improving not just the posture of my little fingers, but of all my fingers and my hands and wrists, trying to straighten them without becoming overly tense. It still needed a lot of work when I attended my first Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method workshop in may 2019. One of the first things the instructor, Vincent den Hengst, noticed was the posture of my hands and fingers and he gave me detailed advice on how to correct it. For starters I had to get used to the Practical Method which is different from the lotus hand in Hunyuan. But I also had this belief that my fingers, especially my little fingers never could become totally straight, since I inherited this from my mother. But I also know from my own experience how taijiquan can transform your health and body. Taijiquan works wonders for my joint problems due to a connective tissue disorder. So when my instructor insisted I should be working on getting all my fingers straight, I knew I shouldn’t give up on it.
This august I had the luxury to follow some private lessons with my instructor and that gave us plenty of opportunity to work on my challenges. So a lot of his attention went to my hands and fingers. He patiently explained to me what the posture of my wrists, hands and fingers should be like, even to the minute detail of what the tendons and muscles should look like. He showed it to me in his own hands and in mine. In order for me to be able to feel what it should be like, he carefully pulled my fingers and helped me to make my wrists, hands and fingers straight.
I imagine what it must have looked like for passers-by, seeing a man pulling a woman’s fingers. But I was focused on learning and observing what it should feel like. And all of a sudden, or so it seemed, I knew what to do to make my fingers straight. Beforehand I would just try to straighten the fingers, to no avail. Now I know that I should not try to straighten them, but to stretch or extend them. And that I should stretch my whole hand and wrist, not just my fingers. That to make my fingers straight, the stretch should be in the base of the finger and not in trying to straighten the crooked finger itself. I guess it was just crooked in reaction to the rest.
It was a weird moment of us both staring at my fingers and watching them become straight. It feels great in my joints. Like there is more space or a bubble of air in them. Maybe one could say that they are more open now. And they feel invigorated. I still need to work on making them tall and not tensed and on maintaining theduring practice. But when I look at my hands, they don’t seem like my hands anymore, even my crooked little fingers are straight. Experiencing them to transform like that, convinces me even more that the exactness of Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method gives me the possibility to learn how to further open and heal all of my joints. And maybe, I’ll be able to help my mother to make her childhood dream come true and try and teach her how to make her little fingers straight.