Báihè-liàng-chì 白鶴亮翅

Pamela Hultgren / 2021.05

This is not the article I wanted to write. By now I’d hoped to write of how I had been able to discover the mysteries of Báihè-liàng-chì (White Crane Spreads its Wings) and how I had experienced the true meaning, and that I had “done it right” at least once! This is not the article I hoped to write!

It has been two years since Professor Wang talked about the challenges of Báihè-liàng-chì and a year since I finally asked the questions: Why is Báihè-liàng-chì so special and so challenging? Is there another hidden meaning? Why is it really so difficult to get it right!?

Initially as I practiced the form, I had assumed that I was doing something wrong. There was something to correct. That was, of course, true. There is always something to correct so I got more serious in my practice. I worked and worked and worked Báihè-liàng-chì until there was no Tai Chi left in the form. It was just a form. I’m not even sure if it looked better, maybe prettier, but not better. But I continued and each time I practiced I looked for the Ah-Ha moment. Each time I did the Form, I wondered, Would today be the day that I would find the secret? And finally, Why was I having so much trouble?

My first mistake was perhaps my biggest. WHY had I waited a year to ask about Báihè-liàng-chì. I’d not only had not gotten any closer to the true “flavor” of the form but my obsession had distracted me. I realized I was on the wrong path. So, I asked and Professor Wang answered.

Professor Wang’s notes in hand, I needed to change my approach. Because I had worked and overworked Báihè-liàng-chì, I needed to let it rest. I had to undo a year’s worth of bad practice. To find the true flavor of Báihè-liàng-chì, Professor Wang explained that I needed to apply the lessons from the past conferences, the lessons of Jiàngmó-jiàng-xīn (Overcoming Your Distractions, Calming the Heart) and Qīng-shēng-zhuó-jiàng (Heavy Sink, Light Rises), the lessons of Jīn-liáng-huàn-zhù (Golden Beam to Restore the Column) and Tuo Yue Gong (Bellows Exercise). But instead of working on Báihè-liàng-chì, I went back to Yù Bèi-Shì and Qi Shi, not to hunt down those exercises in these forms but for a fresh start and to play with these forms, nice and easy!

As I began to feel the connections to Jiàngmó-jiàng-xīn and Jīn-liáng-huàn-zhù, I was able to feel the fascia changing and not by chance or by accident but changing in my body and in the forms. And, what I discovered was that once I felt the fascia in one place, I began to feel it almosteverywhere and those places where I didn’t feel the fascia changing were becoming more and more obvious. I started to experience Qīng-shēng-zhuó-jiàng or at least a sense of it–that will require more practice.

Where am I now? I’m no longer obsessed with Báihè-liàng-chì. It’ll come, some day but, in the meantime, I’ll just play with it. I realize how easy it was to become too intense. I know that’s NOT the way to practice any of the forms or exercises! Perhaps I will print out a copy the photo of Grandmaster Wu in the tree at San Qing Temple as a reminder to play and to smile and as a reminder of where I want to go–and, yes, as a reminder to ask my questions sooner!

刊登於 2021 年〈原幾〉雜誌第五期

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