Review of GM Chen’s Zoom class, Edmonton, Sept. 17/20

by Doug Gauld on 2020/09/19

-so it was just myself, in back of a digital camera, watching GM teach a Zoom class, at 7:30 AM and I thought to myself, ‘Man I have to be careful of what I wish for because sometimes the fates are listening’
-Brennan Toh said it best when I Messengered him about this, “…it’s a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose…”
-you must be wondering what I’m babbling about, well, I’m helping out GM with working the camera during his Zoom classes which means I get to observe him teaching, oh yea, I have to watch the framing, adjust the focus, check the recording light, monitor the battery, etc
-but have no illusions what I’ve been given is the chance to learn from someone who is connected to the mysteries and martial history of real internal martial arts, not martial dance, a fighting art
-the man sitting before me at the desk, teaching some of his many students over the internet, is a direct lineage holder in one of the most storied and measurably accomplished Taijiquan styles in recorded history, so I’m not intimidated by sitting there trying to learn from his instruction while I monitor the camera
-you see I’ve been given this chance and during class, I can hear you but I can’t see what you are all doing on the screen, what movements you are making that GM is correcting, the moves he breaks down and demonstrates on camera are all I can see
-so the question struck me that first few moments on Thurs, ‘what am I supposed to learn by just watching GM without the context of what he is doing with a particular student at any moment in the Zoom class?’
-well I thought about this, I’ve observed GM instructing students in workshops and during impromptu classes, several times, and those observations always brought information to me in easily accessible ways, he saw a movement, he corrected it with specific information that I could always relate to my own training, easily
-this was going to be a bit different
-then I remembered a story from GM from either the first or second workshop I attended about his learning relationship with GM Hong, about how he learned to learn from just watching GM Hong sit or walk across the floor, how he did everything, how he unconsciously began to emulate his movements, and that eventually, the cup became his own
-it was at that point I really got nervous because the context for me is that GM has given me the task of ‘resetting’ my entire body so that it can generate Peng energy (is it redundant to say without any tension in the surrounding contractile tissues or is that implicit in Peng, that it must be both Song + expansion?)
-anyway, I also have to figure out how much content to include in these posts and how much process, I mean that content is about the technical details of what GM is teaching while the process is observations of how he teaches; one is what, one is how
-as I will possibly be penning a series of posts about GM’s ongoing Zoom series of classes I invite all my brothers/sisters to send me comments about what they want more of…anecdotes, specifics about my observations of what GM does with his body during class especially during his demonstrations, questions about training issues, anything…
-in keeping with still not knowing which area to focus on a couple of things GM said during this class struck me; this is a paraphrase…’ when we practice in the beginning we should feel like we are in the air, then we progress and its like practice in water, then we progress some more and its like molasses, eventually, we should feel able to practice submerged in concrete’…
-when I thought about this in relation to my own practice I realized I couldn’t do a circle in a pool without being buffeted about by the motion of the water, so my task for the weekend is clear, begin to create through intention the sensations in my body when doing jibengong that will mimic that movement in the water, oh I just realized my level of training probably means I shouldn’t be trying to imagine practice outside the medium I’m in now, the Edmonton air, only a little polluted thanks to wildfires on the U.S. West Coast…
-learning to live a breath at a time…

About Doug Gauld

took one two day workshop with Master Chen years ago in Victoria...studied with Gord Muir in Victoria for about 5 yrs, during that time was coping with spinal arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis)...have moved back to Edmonton to be closer to family...trying to learn more about has helped with my arthritis and perhaps if I learn it more completely and make my practice better my health will improve more than it has already...

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