Repositioning myself repeatedly in the middle of the long 7 step walks is frequently causing me to finish sections on the wrong foot, which is throwing me off connecting to the next movement more than it should. I’m taking this as a clear sign that my familiarity with this form in my head is still at the more immature stage of me counting steps, rather than my body knowing how the changes and turns should feel. A long winded way of me saying I need more practice!
The lecture this time completed Sitai’s lovely art series illustrating how the constellations in the form fit together so that we can see the animals. These have been beautiful drawings which really would make for great limited edition centre T-shirts. In the lectures we’re also all slowly learning the constellation names by heart, but Sigong mentioned that the names are not enough really — the name and the picture and shape of the constellation should be linked in our mind, so that we can truly find the connection to the constellation as we step through the form. Only then will we be able to fully fit the form together with the benefits of the energy of the stars.
I do love the challenge of trying to make this form more martial but keeping the relaxation and the flow from all our other qigong practice. I am still trying to work out how heavy the steps need to be — bringing the weight forward as we land means I have a tendency to make a very heavy step which does not feel very qigong-y. I had a great discussion with my Sifu in one of the breakout rooms about how to work on this more. There’s always another challenge!
Another thing I think I have been overdoing is the height of the leg lift when we turn from facing East to facing South between the movements ‘Opening the Shoulder wings to fly up’ and ‘Release Qi with the Gua palm to fly up’. After the martial stepping, I want to really lift up my leg with thigh parallel to the floor, and make a strong movement on this turn — but watching Sigong, he does not seem to be doing anything anywhere near as big.
We’re now further than we got in 2019 and Sigong mentioned that next time we move on to the legs — mysterious and exciting and I’m really looking forward to it! Thanks Sigong for passing on not just the form, but the rich theory and the understanding of how everything fits together!
by Lee Baylis