Poems and a Beginning

Poems by Richard Rooke

(A veteran member of Cold Mountain Internal Arts, Richard Rooke is a published poet. See the May 4, 2016 blog installment for his advice for beginners.)

Tai Chi Prayer

Allow your weary body rest

From the hamster-wheel of the world

The tangle of daily expectation

That is the best

Let the heated body settle

From all exertion and be still

Listen to the organs vibrate and slow

Let time have its fill

Direct the mind to stop

Its flashing vibrations and be calm

Let the punishing world pass

And give no alarm

Be one with stillness calmness

Let slow breath descend

Benevolence anchor your being

And have no end

Fan Dance

A raven wing of fine black hair

suspended motionless in air

opened fans a gunshot storm

fluid shapes coalescent form

still point a rat-a-tat of feet

fans clack sound and silence meet

a surging run forward hands push air

stillness a settling senses flare

fire-blaze of arcs and pointed toe

thrust and retreat a weave to and fro

steps a silken ripple stately and slow

the pavane joins the river in flow

the whirlpool subsides fans close and rest

now bow to the audience you are the guest

step from the pattern leave no trace

dancing is a sleepwalk in space

natural dynamic as a lightning storm

and when tempered shaped the essence of form

Tai Chi and Poetry

The form is there

Waiting to be found

Consciousness the subconscious

concentration and awareness

all contribute

The body responds

In a variety of ways

A ripple a flow

sometimes a crescendo

slow motion movements

in life at full speed

Some things are subtracted

some things excised

some things added

or refined

Every moment

you are different

so the finished trope

is always elusive changeable

You clarify as best you can

You never know

if you have approximated

the eel of perfection

An Ordinary Soul

Lean and grey

a focus in concentration

she hugs her sword

when it flashes

arcs and arabesques

are swallows in the air

the sword hand slows pauses

its music almost majesty

a piano arpeggio erupts

the steel is swift mesmeric

flower heads and hearts

scattered diced skewered

the movement ends

in hushed silence

and an ordinary soul emerges

renewed from performance

smiling quietly

capable of the extraordinary

Jane Fridrich: Tai Chi Beginnings and Practice

Jane Fridrich: Tai Chi Beginnings and Practice

(An enthusiastic student of the martial arts for many years, Jane Fridrich is an associate-member of Cold Mountain Internal Arts. As discussed in her article, her martial arts career was inspired by a desire to acquire better self-defence skills. She has practiced Yoshinkan Aikido, Chen's Cannon Fist at Cold Mountain, and presently studies Chen-style Taijiquan at Stone Lantern Martial Arts in Guelph with Sifus James Saper and Jack Yan. For years she and her partner Chris have provided technical help at the Cold Mountain New Year event!)

My motivation to get into martial arts had a defining moment: I was crouched at the side of the road, a lug wrench in my hands trying not to panic. It was raining, and I couldn’t see the lugs properly to change the tire on my car. I was trying not to panic not just because having a flat on the 403 in the dark meant the traffic was whipping by inches away, but because a serial killer actually had been caught in southern Ontario at that time, preying on women. Two cars stopped and fearing the worst, I rebuffed each kind offer with the lug wrench tightly grasped in my hands. After I got the tire changed, I went home and decided I didn’t want to live fearing the motivations of strangers. It was a useless attitude.

I joined Aikido in the fall of 1993 and loved training. Ten years flew by, and I eventually injured my back to the extent I couldn’t continue in aikido. I tried out several Chinese martial arts for about a year and settled on tai chi as Steve Higgin’s student. Being an ex- aikidoka was a big hindrance at the beginning. I could follow the motions but could not shift my weight the tai chi way. I was always too far forward; my feet were too close together: I had no clue how to generate the kind of strength Steve was demonstrating. I was really confused.

But my body liked it. It started to heal. More than the physical benefits, it had some great mental benefits. Doing tai chi forms is mind-clarifying in a different way than Aikido. Both are energizing and meditative, yet tai chi makes me more feel more lucid. This benefit has become kind of addictive.

I practice almost everyday now. Aches and pains are ameliorated and the stretching of deep tissues is so helpful. I can feel more power now in the form and love doing push hands to experiment with that power.

People at Cold Mountain, and at Stone Lantern where I train now, are always helpful. Egotism is pretty rare in tai chi. It’s great to train with people who are your peers and not be distracted by etiquette and egos of a belt system of rank. I’m 51 and still love martial arts, and especially tai chi. It’s just pure joy to practice. My goal now is, just to practice and discover new aspects of the art.

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