Earlier this week I had, by far, the worst tai chi session I've had in a very long time. The strange thing is that I can't attribute it to lack of practice or injury. I practice tai chi daily, and I currently have no injuries, hell I slept very well the night before, but the session ended up being frustrating as I'll get up.
My forms were disconnected, I would skip sections or repeat movements, I got turned in wrong directions, my movements were clunky and my footwork was clumsy at best. Each form I practiced seemed worse than the last, and it seemed like after a while, every mistake became a fight to continue or just skip the rest of the workout and I was at wits end.
I pushed through. I did every form in frustration, but I still pushed through to the end. In the grand scheme of things it was just another day regardless of positive or negative feelings, but as a martial artist it is these types of sessions that forge the spirit to handle the truly difficult circumstances and overwhelming moments in our life. Like weightlifting for our willpower. The next day my session was normal and has been since, no special abilities or increase in skill, it was just a weird random occurrence in my training.
So why am I writing about one bad session, especially since it had no significant effect on my training either way? Because I want to let you know that these days happen, and pushing through a session is not easy, but it is important to do it. It's a mental mountain that you are forced to climb, and rather than skip it the best thing to do is go for it, because in the end you will reach the top of the mountain. And the next day, the entire ordeal will be nothing, non-existent, and in the long run you'll probably forget that specific day. Your training however, will not have a gap and remain consistent and just as the old saying goes "Practice a day, gain a day. Skip a day of practice, lose a week."
Back in the early 2000's after watching Kill Bill, my friends and I decided we would make our own gory/martial/hiphop/western. Our production was cheap and so were our props, but the heart was there, we had a vision. Although we shot 80% of the film, we never finished and nothing came of it, except a very particular lesson that I still bring up to this day.
In one fight scene my character with the Chinese broadsword was pitted up against the lead antagonist with a Japanese katana. My sword was a cheap flimsy wushu pressed steel sword and his a cheap smoke shop katana, so we didn't mind making direct blade to blade contact as they could be easily replaced. We filmed our fight for just over an hour and were satisfied with the shots so we decided to pack up and head home for the day when we looked at the damage.
The katana had many bites, burrs, and serious gaps up to an eighth of an inch deep whereas my flimsy, wiggly wushu sword had only a few scratches. We laughed at how cheap the swords were and went home. But I kept thinking about it. The katana was really not that bad in quality and the blade was much thicker than the pressed wushu steel, so how come the situation wasn't reversed or at least equal?
I realized later that it all comes down to experience and energy. Though my friend was an avid martial arts fan, he had absolutely no experience that some film combat we would do, so he had no fundamental structure. I had already learned and had been working with swords regularly for a couple years at that time. The other, and most important factor was energy. His blade took the damage of each clash even when he was striking, because my movements had weight and the energy I was using was more than what he was putting into it. This is not "energy" like chi, but literal momentum, force, energy. Each impact went back into his weapon and even a simple flimsy wushu blade could cut into a katana.
Just in case you were expecting an opinion of which style is superior to the other... this isn't it. It's just the beautiful lesson that is learned when cheap swords clash 😅