Monday, September 8, 2008

Our First Class of Liuhebafa Quan

Saturday was our first class of Liuhebafa Quan, an internal martial arts system in the same broad category as Tai Chi and Baqua. I was more than a bit intimidated. All of the other students have been taking classes—besides Tai Chi—from Bob on a regular basis for a long, long time. On top of it, all of my life I have had dyspraxia or a similar learning disability, which has always made coordination somewhat challenging. I felt like a fifth grader working out with a bunch of college athletes. Bob was going at a pace several times faster than he normally takes an introductory Tai Chi class. “God’s littlest angel*” I sometimes refer to myself during moments like this. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Everyone one else was wondering about the difference between a 70/30 versus a 60/40 stance as we did a particular movement; I was just trying to figure out where the heck all my body parts were supposed to be, like which leg was supposed to be forward.

Yet part of me loves experiences like Saturday morning. I had to throw out all of my expectations. I had to ignore as much internal chatter as possible. I had to focus totally on the moment. Yeah, maybe I was “God’s littlest angel” but at that moment my right hand was swinging back and I had to figure out where my palm was facing.

The next morning, we had minor chaos at the tiny church I attend. The minister was nowhere to be found. The only person who knew what happened to her was ten minutes late for the service. As acting deacon, I tried to shepherd the flock to at least start setting up for service. Once we all knew that the minister was in Emergency, I officially took over the service. I was scheduled to conduct the service the following week, but I hadn’t quite gotten everything together. I declared that this was a “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” service. It wasn’t quite baked, but it could still be good. I managed to remember the major points of some readings I had planned and improvise in other ways. I “rolled with the punches,” as the cliché goes, when some unexpected things happened during the service. I did not deliver the church service that people had expected when they drove to church in the morning, but I think most of us felt that we received what we had needed given the circumstances.

I am not sure that my teacher Bob and my fellow students would understand that in my mind there was a direct correlation between the Liuhebafa Quan class Saturday morning and the church service on Sunday morning. Both required surrendering to the moment and intense focus. I had already practiced those things on Saturday. Sunday my brain was already primed.

I don’t know if I can realistically expect to learn Liuhebafa Quan in the two to three semesters that are currently planned for the course. It took me between two and three years to get the basic movements of Tai Chi down. On one level, I am not sure it matters. I am still learning what I most need to learn.

* For years Hallmark has carried a Christmas card with three little angels on the cover. One of the angels has her halo hanging off to one side on her forehead. This is in contrast to the many other cards picturing the majestic angels of Christmas with their trumpets announcing the birth of Baby Jesus.

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