Last Saturday, I arrived at the Liuhebafa class twenty minutes early, hoping to join the Tai Chi class for the run though of the form. They are close to the end of semester, so I was hoping to get my practice in for the day plus spot any points where I had started to go astray while practicing alone. When I got into the gym, over twenty faces were pointed in my direction! Bob had reversed the orientation of the class! Instead of everyone pointing to the back wall, they were all pointing to the front wall. Front was back, and back was front. That also meant that all the movements that we had practiced for a decade facing the water fountain now had to be done facing the benches and chairs. I jumped into a spot in the front, right corner of the group, which was now the back, left corner of the group. They were already in the middle of the form, so I had to not only figure out which movements came next, but I also had to figure out where we all were in space. This was not easy. I found that I did better forgetting the gym entirely and instead imagining where I would be if I was practicing the form in my living room at home.
After finishing the form, a little voice in my head thought, “Bob is mean.” It was a small, whiny voice that wished I had gotten to the class earlier so that I could have been a trifle more prepared. My second thought was that we should have been doing this a long time ago. Everyone seemed uncomfortable. Everyone seemed to have spots where they were confused. We had all depended upon the visual cues in the gym. The cues were great for initially learning the form, but after awhile we really didn’t need them. They sometimes contributed to us sleepwalking through practice. Well, I definitely woke up for this practice.