Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tai Chi (tàijíquán)

I have joined a Tai Chi class that runs every Thursday, and today was the first time I attended the class. 

The first week I missed, because it coincided with my school course, but it turns out that was just a little white lie my schedule told me. This week I almost missed it again because it says the class is held on the 11th floor and yet the elevators only have buttons that go up to the 10th floor. I wasn't sure if they were the crazy ones or just me. It turns out the 11th floor is the roof, and the only way to get there is taking the stairs which are impossible to find. I feel like this not a well known fact and should be published more openly. Maybe by giant banners hanging from the roof reading “This is the 11th floor, come in! And know me better, man!”

Once I figured out where my class was I had in mind, a garden roof full off lush tropical plants and a big open space to meditate in. It turns out the roof is where the smokers go (since they are not allowed anywhere else) and it’s full of cigarette butts and who knows what else. With my daydream ruined, I resigned myself to 2 hours of boredom. As luck would have it I was yet again, ironically, in the wrong place. The class was being held in a small gym like area off to the side of the roof which was hidden by a cement wall. Entering in, it reminded me of a small dance studio especially with its full length mirrors and polished floor. I definitely felt like a stranger among the small knit-group so skipped the meet and greet and decided to head straight into warm up.

If there is one thing I can tell you about Tai Chi, is that it’s very, very, slow. Now I know a thing or two about slow movement, I took ballet for a year and it felt like a life time. I've also danced lyrical and contemporary, but in contrast they might as well be a glee musical number. They’re nothing compared to the drawn-out motions and deliberate movement we had to go through. On top of all this, I haven’t done much physical activity since University ended. I feel like the female version of the mini Pillsbury Doughboy which is fine by since giggling and smiling when poked in the stomach is not a bad trait to carry over. 

As my muscles were slowly tiring out I started wondering why in the world I joined this class. The answer came with a quick demonstration from the master. The instructor asked a male student to stand in front of him, and punch him in the chest. As the student shot his fist forward the instructor effortlessly caught his arm and twisted it so the student’s face was within a hair’s breadth of the floor. I almost clapped with delight, when did I become so malicious? We paired off and practiced in partners. I was with a French girl named Claire who I let remain in ignorance of my poor french speaking skills. The few words I do know mainly consist of “attention s'il vous plait” and “Ça suffit!”… Thanks a lot Dad.

The highlight of the class was when we practiced what to do if someone attempts to choke you. They had me stand against the wall as another student, a male over 6 foot 2, was told to put his hands on my throat as if he was attempting to choke me. Ever being the gentleman he used only the one hand approach (how kind). In a flash, I had him down and even made sure he didn't run his face into the wall. To be truthful I was surprised at what I did like everyone else since I had only practiced with a girl who was my weight and height. The instructor had a good laugh about it and for the rest of the class the Clair feigned being scared of me. I simply continued practicing the slow motion movements thinking to myself, this class might not be so bad after all. 

1 comment:

  1. Though she be but little, she is fierce.

    Glad you found the class!

    The only other french Dad taught us was "Vite! Vite! A'la table, tout la monde!"

    Not much help in a Tai Chi class, I must admit.

    Hope you learn some awesome skills.
    Love ya!