Some reflections on why I learn Practical Method, and why I’m going to (Master Chen’s) Bali (workshop).
My goal in practising PM Health, health, health. As I get older, my chances of getting into a fight diminish to (almost) zero. Not planning to be a push hands champion
A few years ago I went in for a regular check up and the doc diagnosed me with “borderline fibromyalgia”. Not painful enough to affect life, but walking around with a dull body pain all the time was sub optimal.
I tried Yoga, And it worked, somewhat, I was lucky enough to find a good teacher. During the class, and for a few hours after, the pain would disappear. And then slowly creep back.
I tried many things (Pilates , lifting weights etc) but nothing really worked. Apparently fibro is an autoimmune triggered disease and there is no cure.
I decided to learn Tai Chi, but India was pretty barren ground for good Tai Chi. There were some teachers teaching Yang style, but I didn’t find them particularly impressive (I used to learn Kyokushin Karate and the local martial art, (Kalaripayattu) when I was a teenager, and with this background, I could tell when people didn’t really have balance etc, and most of these teachers were doing “flower hands” – dance like moves which looked pretty but lacked substance, and their push hands were all external and strength based). Very disappointing.
Then I came across Practical Method Tai Chi. I bought some videos and learned some moves from them (you can imagine how inaccurate my moves were/are). And I noticed that on the days I practised I had next to zero pain. But I still didn’t practice every day, only when pain or stiffness flared up.
Then, some other things happened and I ended up with the arches of my feet falling, and having flat feet. Now *this* couldn’t be ignored. Putting my feet down on *any* but the smoothest surface was agony. If someone *touched* the soles of my feet, I’d howl!!! Physio therapy (very painful) helped somewhat, but as with yoga, the pain would go away for a few hours or days and then slowly creep back.
So in desperation, I started practising my fewmoves regularly. And the pain went away. It *completely* vanished.
One day I jumped off a running bus, and landed on one foot, and then ran a few steps to regain balance and it suddenly struck me that getting off a bus would normally involve me waiting for the bus to stop completely, then slowly arrange my feet in optimal positions, then slowly shift weight,then take a careful step, and so on. and here I’d just jumped off as I used to do before I got sick.
And the only “treatment” I was doing was my practise of the first two or three moves of(as picked up from video). Then I met Bhargav Khaund when he made a business trip to Bangalore, and he gave me some corrections, which helped a great deal. He is a very good teacher, but unfortunately lives a few states away, so I only met him twice in the last 4 yeas or so, and never could get a proper class with him.
Then I noticed that rheumatism runs in the family, and every family member over a certain age without exception was suffering from rheumatism, and other associated illnesses. I decided I wanted to *not* suffer this if I ever got to that age. The solution? Really learn PM.
So I decided to learn in earnest. When I had to go to Goa for a conference, I took the ‘gridded videos’ of Master Chen along, and stayed in my hotel room most of the time (ignoring the conference talks) and “learned” the first 10 moves ofsystematically, along with two other friends who were attending the same conference.
After I got back I learned the next 3 moves (again from video). So now i finally had a “piece” I could practice, (though I know logically that I’m almost certainly doing everything wrong and it will take many many corrections by master chen/other practitioners of PM for years before I can approximate “correct Yilu”). From then (about 8 months ago) I practice the first 13 moves almost every day, and my aches and pains have completely disappeared.
Along the way, I learned the next 15 moves (again from video, and again almost certainly incorrectly). so now I practice the first 28 moves of, everyday, with a friend (who is also coming to Bali) every day. My overall vitality is through the roof, and there is almost zero body pain, my feet don’t hurt at all, and this is when I am almost doing everything incorrectly.
The last time I had a medical checkup, a physio therapist who used,to work with me during the “so much pain I can’t move” said, “I don’t know what you are doing, but whatever you are doing, keep doing it, your range of movement has increased so much it is almost magic”. Lab tests reported that I had no inflammation markers in my blood (these used to be really high)
Ha! that is more like it.
In 2020 I plan to learn the whole of, and all the , and practice every single day without fail. I’ll also probably add a Hunyuan Qigong routine if it makes sense. We’ll see.
Bali workshop is the first step, where hopefully interacting with Master Chen and other senior tai chi brothers will put my practice “on track”, with many corrections, so I can practice practice practice.
Pain (not fun) led me to PM, PM leads to pain-free life. (fun).
Bali, here I come!