Thur. Apr. 5: LIMITS. I have wasted so much time trying to emulate the shapes, etc. of Sifu... well, i mean that I've tried to make my body look just like his body when doing movements, etc. In the last couple of days I've found my space, my niche in practice and it all came down to limits. If i reach just a little with any part of the body i'm disconnected, no flow, muscles engaged, even a quarter of an inch here, a quarter of an inch there and its all gone...offline. We are wanting a certain stretch, that's not to say ANY stretch. The stretch that comes from a big movement is not the same as the deep, subtle stretch of a correct movement. It feels so good, so deep and gentle... it's one that frees, not strains. I have to do what Sifu has said time and time again... work my budget, and yes, i look nothing like Sifu when I do the movements but I'm not supposed to at this stage. Ease, maintaining ease, if it's requiring effort in a physical sense, even a little bit, and the smile is no longer there and my face is not completely soft and gentle and relaxed then i'm not helping myself. After all of this time and practice I still may have only one half of an inch of correct movement to work with... but when I started it was like, an eighth maybe.
I suppose the real difference maker in how well I progress (or anyone for that matter) in our curriculum (or smoothly one progresses) comes down to how well I can follow directions, how precisely can I do what Sifu has told and taught me to do in the way in which he has instructed. A year later and it's still coming down to figuring out that I am having these 'revelations' about things that Sifu said to me on day 1, hahahaha. All part of the process. Use your budget... if you're not at ease, if your posture or alignment or movements aren't promoting ease and release and a smile then dial it down a bit until the flow returns and each movement invokes a feeling of 'yessss, this is what I needed'. That's my advice, and don't worry about how dumb and inept you may look doing it (especially compared to what Sifu looks like doing it, cause it won't be the same).