My Tai Chi Journey So Far: Looking Back At 15 Years Of Practice

Hi all!

So, as I was walking to the park to practice my Tai Chi routines the other day, I realized that the 15 year anniversary of my Tai Chi practice had passed me by without me fully realizing it. So I thought I’d make a blog post about it, especially as I’m sure some folks have questions.

When I was 11, I did an assessment with a physiotherapist, who found my flexibility was severely limited. I also avoided most physical activity, as dyspraxic kids are wont to do. Thus, my Mom talked me into joining her at a Tai Chi class taught by a friend of the family. I thought this sounded like a terrible idea, but I gave it a chance.

The first class I went to included a demo for all of us beginner’s–and even though we only saw half of the set, I was instantly in love. I wanted to learn how to do it, and was drawn to the beauty of it. So, in Grade 7, I started studying Taoist Tai Chi and continued my study through high school.

When I came to university in 2009, I wanted to try learning a more traditional form of Tai Chi, and was connected with a Chen style Tai Chi instructor. I attended two classes before my first year of university went off the rails.

However, I did continue studying Taoist Tai Chi through university and college–and indeed, my practice improved immeasurably due to a greater sensitivity, awareness and control of my body I developed in university. I loved Tai Chi, but I still felt a lack and there wasn’t much more I could learn.

Then, in the spring of 2015, I remembered that Chen style Tai Chi instructor, and sent a message. Thus started my instruction under James Saper at Stone Lantern Martial Arts in Guelph. The past 4 years have seen a huge improvement in my Tai Chi practice. Chen style is the oldest form of Tai Chi, retaining the martial roots, and includes bursts of fa jin. I learned how to do things I never dreamed I could (the first probably being the double-jump kick in the first routine which sounded like sorcery to me at first). I’ve now learned the First and Second Routines of the Old Frame and the Saber and Sword routines–my second routine of the Old Frame is, admittedly, a work in progress, but I’ve got a good chunk of it down pat, and a lot of it is a matter of refinement.

During the spring, summer and fall, I’m often found going through my routines on the banks of the Speed River in Royal City Park. I go through all my routines, and for Saber and Sword that does indeed mean practicing with weapons in the park—fortunately, the saber and sword are pretty obviously practice weapons, and it doesn’t take long for people to realize I’m doing Tai Chi or something similar. There’s also enough LARPers in Guelph, that people don’t tend to panic at first by somebody swinging a sword around.

People have often expressed two particular questions which I thought I’d address here. The first is why I often practice shirtless. This is, quite simply, because I do not deal well with heat–it increases my emotional deregulation severely. I also sweat excessively, and wearing a shirt becomes rather unpleasant when the sweat really gets going.

The second thing people may wonder is: why practice with sword and saber at all? The answer is manifold. Apart from being the closet thing to Jedi training I’m ever likely to get (which on its own would be enough) saber and sword both have a whole heap of health benefits. Saber and sword are both really good for the upper body, as you’re adding weight to your practice and they’re particularly good for the back and shoulders. They also both require a significant amount of awarness and concentration and you have to learn how to project your intention out through the blade rather than stopping at the hands like we do in the bare-handed routines.

Additionally, saber is quite acrobatic when done ideally. One move involves a series of spins, followed by a jump to the side where you land in a cross-stance. So you’re dealing with dizziness and demanding a fair bit of leg strength and flexibility. Saber also involves fairly precise set-up so that you can ideally launch from that set-up position with no effort–but if you don’t set up properly, you’ll be in trouble.

Sword, on the other hand, is more delicate and precise which has its own challenges. The grip is a lot looser, often being held by a couple of fingers, and it thus does a lot to increase my dexterity which has always been a weak point. Ideally, the sword can rotate around a fixed point at the tip or the distal third of the blade, which is useful for pulling a surprise move on an opponent. The sword involves some tricky footwork of its own as well with a few jumps and skips designed to close distance and set an opponent up for a quick stab. One of the moves I’ve also been trying to improve is a back-bend designed to lure an opponent in and then slice the tendons on both wrists. I’m still not the greatest at that as figuring out how to bend back involves different body mechanics than I’m used to. 

What I do know is that Tai Chi has been of immense physical, emotional, and spiritual benefit, and has helped me to learn to love my body, and develop confidence in and control of it. 15 years is only the beginning as I intend to continue my Tai Chi practice until the day I die.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

19 thoughts on “My Tai Chi Journey So Far: Looking Back At 15 Years Of Practice

  1. Great blog here! Also your website loads up very fast!What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    Like

  2. I blog often and I truly appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.

    Like

  3. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it's driving me insane so any assistance is very much appreciated.

    Like

  4. You made some really good points there. I looked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

    Like

  5. I use Blogger.com for hosting. It's pretty good, and free. I've had this account for over 11 years, and no complaints. Yeah, there's a fair bit of spam in the comments. I only recently enabled them for public use, but I have it setup to preview comments so I can delete any hateful ones, and mark as spam anyones with links to sell stuff. You can also add others as approved moderators so if your blog following is big enough it may be worth outsourcing some of the comment moderation to some trusted individuals.

    Like

  6. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to offer something again and aid others like you helped me.

    Like

  7. I really like reading an article that can make men and women think.Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

    Like

  8. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.But just imagine if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, \”pop\”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this site could undeniably be one of the most beneficial in its niche.Excellent blog!

    Like

  9. Nice post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I'm inspired!Very helpful info specially the ultimate phase 🙂 I handle such info a lot.I used to be looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thanks and good luck.

    Like

  10. Hello to all, since I am genuinely keen of reading this weblog's post to be updated regularly.It consists of good information.

    Like

  11. I've read some excellent tuff here. Definitely value bookmarқing for revisiting.I wonder how so mucһ attempt yoᥙ place to create this kind off great informative website.

    Like

  12. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further post thank you once again.

    Like

  13. What's Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I've discovered It positively helpful and it has aided me out loads.I am hoping to give a contribution & help other users like its aided me.Good job.

    Like

  14. Excellent bⅼlog right here! Additoonally your weЬ site so much up fast!What web hoѕt aгe you the use of? Can I gett your affiliаte link in your host?I wish my website loaded up aѕ quickly as yous lol

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: