When is it good to stop?

The first rain of the season! I welcome the cleanse, but not the inconvenience. :) I have grown to love my tiny class. It is no small feat to commit oneself to a new practice that starts with a 75-posture form. 

This month's tip from my "Semi-Secret Manual"
In my own practice, I am realizing the utility in stopping while learning. I explored a lot of intensity during the summer focusing on my strikes and strength training - and doing so with a pace to match. Three gym visits a week, attending two taiji classes with my teacher, teaching my own class, plus another solo practice session or two. At any given time, I can't practice deeply on more than two forms - even though classes will review up to four over the span of the week. I didn't see this as "too much" either. I was making steady progress with difficult moves, and I had finally found a rhythm that matched my desire to learn. In fact, I was hungry for more and more.

Then something else happened. In my teacher's classes, we practice weapon sets (yes, taiji has weapons!), and work through the straight sword, spear and broadsword, then back again. Circling through all weapons will take about 18 months or so. Spear is toughest for me, but what I noticed is that this time around, my consistent practice and principles learned in all the other forms now shows up in the spear - without having touched it in over a year! 

That is all to say that any form deserves a break. I have way too much FOMO (fear of missing out) if I miss this class or that because "what if my teacher reveals a fundamental teaching tomorrow and I'm not there?!" Getting too hungry and greedy with all the forms and consuming too much just leads to indigestion - and the nutrients (the learning) can't get through. That's no good. This is the value of stopping. Then resuming later. One part moving, another part not. Whatever ground I do cover in this "adventure" of Chen Taijiquan, I know this is what will ensure that depth and quality shine through. My next step, which takes discipline, is to put certain forms on sabbatical, embargo others, and wait for what emerges the next time around. :)