Monday, May 28, 2018

Second Year's Homestretch

Bear Butte--southeast of the Retreat Center 
Listening to Bobby McFerrin, Irma Thomas, Gregory Porter, and Betty Carter from my playlist. It's a bright, sunny, and mildly breezy Sunday! I'm really enjoying today and the time to just BE; no scheduled demands or obligations to fulfill...

There are 28 days remaining before the first graduating students from the Retreat Center celebrate their achievements. Some have been training here as long as 10 years, but none less than 5. Dr. Yang provided an environment for them to train and they have taken full advantage of the opportunity.

In preparation for the event, we've had performance rehearsals. Our group, the 3-Year Program, continues to improve and refine the Taijiquan Saber sequence we will perform that day. My shoulder injury continues to improve and won't interfere with wielding the Saber correctly. In fact, I've managed to resume climbing the vertical rope albeit only 3/4's of the way up so far just using arms. My speed is understandably slower for now, but I feel I can still aim for my goal of getting to the top in 10 seconds or less.

After having spent much of this semester using the trampoline to refine my rooting and leg work, I've added back the brick standing drill to explore rooting further. The trampoline work I've done has literally given me access to a spring-like momentum in my ankles, knees, and hips I don't recall experiencing before. It feels similar to when I played basketball growing up. It's both a horizontal and vertical feeling of ease of movement with control and power, not just strength. It shows up most clearly now whenever I do Centering partner drills. I'm more relaxed overall and less prone to losing my balance under duress from my training partner. Additionally, Quentin introduced us to some stepping drills that are very helpful with leg conditioning.

I'm definitely more comfortable with the applications and Qin Na from the first chapter of the form. We keep practicing and refining and I see the improvements coming. I had to back off somewhat from the Peng-Lu-Ji-An partner drills because of the shoulder, but used that time to work on other drills that didn't aggravate my shoulder.

In the past several weeks, we've had a number of visitors train with us. They've included prospective candidates for the new 3 and 5-Year Programs, returning visitors, as well as YMAA students who come to refine their skills. I've enjoyed training with the variety of people and the different skill levels they bring to our experience.

This second year of training "on the mountain" is coming to an end quickly. The 6-month long second semester sometimes feels interminable physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychically. Now, the end is in sight--5 more weeks. I look forward to being with family and friends, students and colleagues "in the valley," and to sharing what I've learned to date. I accept that my daily training will be radically different when I'm home. More important is that I need a break to recover and recharge.

I'll be doing at least 2 workshops in the City this summer. One is scheduled for July 14th and that flyer has already gone out. It will be taught by me and one of my teachers here, Quentin Lopes, who is a disciple of Dr. Yang and graduates in June. The other will be co-taught by me and Julia Kulakova who is a certified MELT™Instructor. We'll explore the intersections between MELT™and Taijiquan. Details about this workshop will be sent out soon.

As I prepare to shift into my third and final year of training, I am pondering and weighing my return to teaching in New York when it's my turn to graduate in June of 2019. The synthesis of my experiences in the healing arts since I was 10 years old through my career as a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist and now culminating in my training with Dr. Yang is taking form. I look forward to sharing that with you in the not-too-distant future.

I sincerely thank each of you for your support in making this journey possible. It's been 2 years already! I've learned so much in so short a time. I hope that my experiences shared with you through this Blog have given you some insights and appreciation for my journey.

Depending on how busy the schedule becomes between now and June 30th when I leave, I may or may not be able to share another posting. If I am not able to before I leave, I will certainly reach out to you once I return to New York this July.


All things are possible once you clearly SEE it, commit your every action to achieving IT, and KNOW that what appears to be a roadblock in your way is just PREPARATION for more than you ever anticipated achieving. Don't give in; never give up!