A thought experience as though eating bitter

Patrick, first of all I want to apologize for plagiarizing a passage on your comment to Michael’s post, not to mentioned Sifu’s FAQ. I intended to comment your diary entry “TJ April 14, 2012“, then after reading Sifu’s comments to both of you, I thought not delaying it anymore because the right timing to do it would be lost. I guess this post of mine goes also in accordance with Michael’s undoubtedly progress (still, who am I to evaluate anybody’s progress…?).

Michael, do you remember telling me: “Letting these qualities come about and finding the 13 points is, as sifu says, in a very small place”. I was then a little unaware about this Sifu’s advice and I remember thinking: “how great is this guy’s attention to (important) details“!

Patrick believe it or not when I was reading your comment to Michael’s post, in the middle of it, I was already thinking on “eating bitter “as a possible title for this post. Since you are acquainted to my tortuous writing I'll try to be clear enough.

Reading your diary entry I thought of “lucky guys (and girls)” as another possible title because of our fortunate exposure to Sifu’s teachings on I Liq Chuan and Tai Chi Chuan. This wouldn’t be a good choice either, because it wouldn’t express the right meaning I want to convey, plagiarizing you again and maybe disregard in some way.

Patrick, (since it was your post that inspired these lines – as occasionally they do - giving me the opportunity to put in perspective the impressions/feelings, perhaps, of most of the people who have begun their journey in the Internal Martial Arts with TCC) please imagine that instead of ILC and Sifu’s guidance you had begun with TCC and an instructor looking for the kind of structure you’ve described, emphasizing song, central equilibrium, rooting (despite being it energetic or the natural gravitational pull), the “sitting”  and so on. In this case you’ll have an idea and understanding of the odd feelings that occur to people, the “taijiers” like me, with lengthy TCC practice. Look at Jeff’s blog and you’ll see what I mean, although Jeff may think otherwise of what I’m trying to express (Jeff I’m sorry to suggest your blog explicitly without prior request but I guessed you wouldn’t mind).

My previous “taijier” background didn’t help, in anyway, to feel the right feeling of “feet merely touching the floor”. From the very first class of stage 1 this concept was the most singular and difficult to grasp (still a work in progress – as a matter of fact like all the ILC principles and qualities). As an analogy to my previous understanding of TCC principles think of a one sided coin (as a print on paper) if it makes any sense at all!

Now I begin (just beginning) to understand and feel the right feeling of “feet merely touching the floor”, and the emergence of “new dimensions” by studying and practicing (see FAQ “eating bitter” and be aware of Sifu’s remarks) seemingly resolve the inconsistency with tai chi rooting the way I see it.

Patrick, once more thank you for your courage exposing your experiences in favor of the kung fu brothers and sisters here at Sifu On demand. Michael I thank you for the same reason. With your posts we get the unique opportunity of learning with your experiences and Sifu’s invaluable comments and teachings.

I think this must make some sense to all sincere practitioners, kung fu brothers and sisters, that have here at Sifu On Demand the unique opportunity to feel what “internal” (in the martial arts) stands for, and by the same reasoning the unavoidable truth of Eating Bitter.


sifu kelley's picture

I am enjoying your discussion.

Thank you.


I've responded to you a little in chat box on this but I wanted to do it here more thoroughly.   First, no, don't worry about ever taking my words... I don't own words and typically I try to be pretty specific about the ones i use here especially in regards to training experiences for the very reason you've described: so others can somehow relate or connect to them.  If you've done that in any way then please, by all means say exactly what I've said right back to me... that would actually be very helpful in letting me know that we're on the same track and help reinforce some of the things we're doing.

Also, as to being a former taijier...  I do understand now.  Since making that post, reading yours, and participating in the classes since I've gotten an even better understanding of exactly what those differences and distinctions are between what I felt this weekend and what i feel in our training.  Especially after reading your post, because you hit the nail on the head!  You said that your previous tcc experience couldn't have prepared you, or didn't help you in our training because it didn't have the three-dimensionality of our training.  And that was it!  That's what I couldn't quite put my finger on after this weekend.  You see, i got very confused for a number of specific reasons.  One of which was this:  we talk a lot about ease and what promotes it in our training.  Well, the taiji structure and method brought a ton of ease.  And it felt really 'good'. It was pleasant, etc.  So, despite the obvious 'holes' I had noticed from the tcc method even during the experience that I mentioned, I began to wonder if it was closer to what I was supposed to be doing in our training simply because of the ease, etc. that it brought, i began to think perhaps I'd gotten Sifu's instruction wrong this whole time.  But in addition to those 'holes' I had mentioned before... there was still something else that was different, and I may have mentioned on a couple of points from my original post that some of the things just 'didn't seem correct' or made me think something was off about it. 

And you explained it to me, exactly what it was, 3 dimensions.  As pleasant and at ease and whatever as the tcc experience was... it was very much two dimensional, or at least not 3.  Even though I seemed full and round, there was something restrictive about it, even though I felt open in the body, i couldn't do anything without taking it down first.  I couldn't do much without the 'root'.  So as nice as it seemed, it seemed like it wasn't... something, which i think is what brought on the confusion and the feeling of uncertainty.  So I think its a matter of being complete.  The feelings and experiences of our training (in the precious slight moments that I think I did something correctly) lets me feel like there's nothing left undone, or no stone left unturned.  When I make a good movement one way or the other, or make a shape this way or that way, there's a sense of 'that's all there is to it, its simply this way... every base has been covered and there's nothing left to do...'.  And I think this is the physical aspect of being 'present'.  While in the tcc experience even though it was very much one of ease, there were times when I thought to myself in a given posture or movement 'this feels great, but what is my next move? what should I do next in order to make X happen?'.  In ILC, we don't seem to have to do that... or in other words 'X just happens, and there is no next move, we're already at the next move..'. 

Thanks again and as always Paulo, my training experience in this program would be very different if you weren't here to share it with, many many things come up simply because of your sharing and perspective that wouldn't be there if you didn't.   And yes! I can see how these ideas and methods would have been quite difficult to wrap one's head around coming from a place or method like the one I experienced this weekend.  So similar in so many ways... yet completely on another planet in many many big ways, in many many big areas.


sifu kelley's picture

ILC vs Tai Chi Chuan methods and Tai Chi Principles.