The Dragon Journals
The Dragon Journals

My Story - Chapter 4: More Practise.

The most awful word in the English language must be the word "practise". It gives rise to images of drudgery, your mum's voice shouting from one end of the house to the other "have you practised [insert meaningful childhood hobby here] yet?" and suggests that you aren't good enough to actually do anything yet. ("Are you going to perform that piece at the recital?" "Nahhh I'm just practising".)

Understand that, more than anyone in our group, practise is important to me. Not only does regular practise keep my improved circulation, but it has also eliminated the painful nightly foot cramps which had woken me up every night without fail between the hours of midnight and 3 am for at least half an hour at a time. It has also eliminated the hand and other muscle cramps I was experiencing on an almost daily basis, and has reduced my tremor to the point where people who have known me a long time, have said to me, "You don't shake as much anymore."

Nonetheless, after several months and the decision that this art was right for me, a few more months had me convinced that I just didn't have the required level of dedication. If I did, I would practise. Simple, yes?

No. Not simple at all.

The bizarre muscle twitches (haven't mentioned that particular affliction yet have I?) returned. As did the nightly muscle cramps. I also still wanted to be good at this and I know practising is the only way to improve. So, having all the best intentions and still practising only sporadically, I took my concerns to the class. I talked to the SGLs (Study Group Leaders). I talked to other students. During Dr. Painter's next visit to Canada (half a year had passed), I talked about it again.

What did I discover? Well, we all have this problem with "practise". Yes, it's hard work and as with all hard work, it carries its own rewards. During one discussion about practising, Eric mentioned that in Chinese, nobody says they "practise" Baguazhang, rather, they "play" Baguazhang. After all, this is fun. I didn't join this group because of the health benefits, I found out about that aspect later. I joined to have fun and to learn something really, really, cool. And in the end, it really is quite cool.

And once I started playing, and worried less about "how long" and "how right," I played more. Some days it was only for a few minutes, usually at least half an hour, and often up to two hours, without ever realising the time. Yes, I still run into the problem of not playing... but I am improving, and not just in terms of practise - the tremor is slight to unnoticeable, the twitches are rare and nighttime cramps have disappeared completely. My concentration has improved and I am more relaxed in my day-to-day life than ever before. You see, there are benefits to this art not only in terms of improving poor health, but in maintaining good health, and I'll tell you about all the different health and well-being improvements that I have personally experienced in my next chapter.

But for now, please excuse me, I'm off to play for a bit :) ...

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