To enter the flow

To enter the flow

Avi Beracha           日本語版

Having lived in Japan for nearly 35 years, the concept of Chi in martial arts and indeed, in maintaining health and wellbeing, is hardly unfamiliar. But that what it had been so far, a concept. I had no firsthand experience of its reality despite years of martial arts (mostly archery and some aikido and internal martial arts) and meditation practice .

Until, that is, I was invited by Master Senzaki ,Takahiro to join his Yozen Qigong and taichi chuan classes, a unique privilege.

Being a middle age man, my expectations from a martial art practice have shifted from a quest for personal power to experiencing serenity. And what I got was an experience of serene power.

Practicing the gentle forms of Yozen Qigong and Tai Chi, sometimes standing still, sometimes moving softly, my body quickly felt relaxed and well centered and ,amazingly, inside a field of power, power that I did nothing to create.

It happened as I relaxed, let my shoulders drop and focused on maintaining an erect balanced stance. My breathing, the movements of the body , the sensation of Chi flowing through it and the silence-Yes, the silence, right in the heart of Umeda, not the quietest  spot on Earth-became an indescribable whole.

Master Senzaki guides us through the exercises, gently correcting the students’ posture, occasionally explaining the theoretical (and the martial) meaning of what we are doing, not pressing, letting the student move at her/his own pace and  discover the meaning of the flow through  practice. After few weeks of practice, my aching knees have felt better than they felt in years, my coordination improved, I feel lighter on my feet and that rather shadowy sensation of the space the body occupies made itself present.

Yozen Qigong lays the foundation to Taichi practice. (Or perhaps the distinction between Qigong and Taichi is artificial and the difference is only a question of emphasis).Here too, Master Senzaki guides the student individually, patiently ,through the often complex movement, insisting on precision, always clarifying the combat meaning of the movement, a meaning that later on during the class we can apply when practicing with a partner.

Practicing Yozen qigong and Taichi, I’m often reminded of music. Music doesn’t cease when we no longer hear the sounds, and movement continues when we stand still. While not a particularly original insight, it is, nevertheless an experience I gained in the short months I have been practicing under Master Senzaki instruction.

I’m looking forward with joy and excitement to continue learning and practicing with him, to enter the flow.