'The Gazelle and the Trampoline' -
One man's path to enlightenment.
Taichi Instructor Longfei Taijiquan Association of Great Britain
Member of the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain
Tai Chi Devon
It was a dark, wet, autumn evening as the student set out for the long drive down lonely roads to the moors, and the isolated old farmhouse, where the master trained his secret knowledge.
The master, known as Sifu of Exmoor lived there with the gentle and lovely yogi, Persephone, a bright star in an often dark world. They shared their home and perhaps their secrets too, with a dog, Anubis, who had many friends - or at least thought she had - and an old stray and hungry cat called Gerroffthedogsdinner, and who may well be under the daisies by the time you read this.
So, it was dark, wet, and muddy on the track outside the farm, the student parked his car and put out the lights adding to the impending gloom. Out of the darkness came a white blur, even before his legs were fully out of the car, it was Anubis herself, speaking quickly in a language the student had not yet learned. Later after events had unfolded the student was to reflect on what the barking language may have meant. He concluded that Anubis was excitedly saying, "Glad you could come. Tonight we're doing martial moves, and you must be ready for the surprise attack; look, I'll show you.", and with that a full on 'animal paws' attack struck at his legs. "Come on", Anubis barked, "follow me.. And be ready!"
The student followed Anubis down the slope to the old farmhouse door from which Sifu of Exmoor had just stepped. Distracted by his master and not having understood Anubis' instructions the unfortunate student was ill prepared for the lightning speed double paw groin strike that was to follow, (apparently a favourite move by Anubis). Sifu of Exmoor laughed and demonstrated a simple mind control technique that looked very much like stroking Anubis' head .. Of course as students we know there must be more to it than that, probably highly refined transmittable telepathic chi energy or similar. Masters always tell us it's simple so we don't search for the real secrets.The student pondered briefly; 'would he ever learn?' After a while others joined them in the great hall, but by their smiles and absence of mud in the groin area they had not received the secret training from Anubis. Perhaps he was the chosen one to be given such valuable if unpleasant private lessons from the master's dog. Onwards then on our path of learning; First exercises from Yang and on to Hsing Yi adapted versions, all given code names so that the uninitiated would not understand if they overheard the training. "OK", said Sifu, "after cat washes face move on to chicken". "Can you show us the gazelle?" asked the student. "Later," replied the master, "these ones first then I'll show you the antelope", correcting the code word without making the student feel he had made a mistake - the mark of a great teacher. Everything seems confusing, everything seems to have an opposite; when you rise something must fall and going forward requires some backward, but never too much or an awful event is manifested, known in the trade as 'double-weighted'. You must look for space on an ever increasing level . but before you reach the limit, which is of course an unknown, you may have to act with power. You must not use your muscles for power, but the body, however in not using your muscles they must be relaxed, baring in mind that relaxed is not collapsed. You must follow these principles even with a partner, whereby you yield without giving in and neutralise without them even knowing it, and then the power you have stored can be issued .. Providing it complies with the earlier principles. While engaged in these activities it can help if you envisage yourself floating and suspended from a big rubber band in the heavens, and yet your yong chuan points (more code for 'bubbling well' - which is another code but in English) should be connected to the Earth, connected in a powerful but fluid way which is always light - despite that you weigh what you weigh regardless of how you think. There will always be stillness yet moving and in the midst of all your moving a stillness. Emulating a slow moving Gazelle between two trampolines begins to make it clearer for the novice. The Gazelles ribs should go in the opposite direction of its skin and at the same time intention must be strong in the direction of action. The action is only transient depending upon partner reaction, the intention must be focussed and complete and yet at the same time be careful of going too far which may carry you into the forbidden world of 'double-weightedness'. Though your partner may move first you have to sense this and arrive before them - and in doing so keep in mind all the above. So this is the gist of basics and enough for one evening. With thanks and farewells out of the way the student returned home in the rain soaked darkness enthused with new knowledge - all he had to do now was understand it. "Mmm", he thought, and he clumsily gazelled himself into the kitchen and took a beer from the fridge. " Mmm."