The Wisdom of Beautiful Whiskers
by Bataan Faigao
1. Lao Shr said that you can not kick without having a target in mind. Kicking must be practiced slowly, with the image of pushing water with each movement. He told Dr. R: Do not move around too much. Too much practice injures the ligaments. Sitting too much injures the bones. Sleeping too much injures the lungs. The lungs should be like bells. If you lean forward or backward, the bell will ring. When you sit you must support your weight with both legs and the butt. The top must be empty. You can not lean as when you lean against the back of a chair. The whole body has to be attended to. There are five organs in the body and they are all equal. They should all be treated equally. He recalls a poem about 10 fingers. You can not love the little finger more than the thumb, etc.
2. Perseverance. Practice all the time. It is good to practice hard, but the practice has to be connected. It is not good to practice hard for a couple of days and then stop for a couple of days. It is not good to practice push hands hard and then stop. When you stop, that's when you run into trouble. Pay attention to when you are not moving. Your training can not be pushed to make you improve faster. Everything happens at the appointed time. Progress in t'ai-chi ch'uan is gradual.
3. Patience, that's what you have to have. When you push without using strength, then you have improved.
4. Lao Shr talked about speed in reference to K's question during the last class. He told a story about the Englishmen who chose from their 40 to fight with him... and they were huge people. He pushed them 20-30 feet and left holes in the walls.
And the 15 out of the 100 American soldiers he had to fight in Chungking. They came at him with speed. When you push slow you can control the push. Sometimes when he pushes with us, he will catch us. But when you use speed on him he has no control over what will happen. Then he told a story about the night before he got married. He was playing with a man who was as old as he was and who practiced t'ai-chi ch'uan as long as he had. Lao Shr tried to catch the man from crashing into the wall when he neutralized a push. But the man bounced the other direction into a chair and hit his kidneys by accident. (*14)
*14 There is another version of this story going around. This man attacked Lao Shr on his wedding day and the man bounced off and hit his kidneys in the furniture. The man lay dying and asked for a brush, some ink, and paper. On the paper he wrote that it was his fault and Lao Shr was not to blame and released all liability. Lao Shr asked his students to find the urine of a young boy. This provided a base for some medicine that Lao Shr concocted and which saved the man’s life.