THE JIGSAW PUZZLE OF TAI CHI CHUAN
By Lane Jon Habib
When someone wishes to buy a jigsaw puzzle many factors are taken into consideration in the purchase. So it is with someone who wishes to learn the art of Tai Chi. How can these totally different activities be compared?
If you havenít done a puzzle before usually you look for something simpler, or if you feel you are gifted and up to a challenge you may go for the biggest or hardest you can find. Also when you pick the puzzle, initially you look at the picture and find something that suits to your taste.
So you take it out of the box and begin. When you first look at the pieces you are amazed. There are so many pieces and they are all over the place! (Sound familiar?) So you begin to put the pieces together. First you start with a foundation, usually the border or the outside. Then you start the eye journey, looking for the right pieces that fit or link into this border, this foundation. The border pieces are easy to find as they are clearly defined for you, but the links are a little harder, and as the puzzle grows they donít always follow such a clearly defined pattern, like the border, that you hoped they would.
If youíd picked an easier or smaller puzzle, eventually and sometimes sooner than you had expected the pattern of the links appears and the final piece fits. If you had decided on a challenge and bought a hard puzzle for its picture it would take a long time before you put the final piece in place. Regardless of the puzzle you choose, once completed it becomes easier every time you do it. Some puzzles can take years. Personally, I find the puzzles I like to keep take a long time to complete.
When doing the puzzle how does it affect us? Searching for the pieces and finding their place takes time, patience and good eye sight. Picking up a random piece, seeing it and knowing it, could take a life time. Therein lies the endless cycle. Look at the picture, look at the pieces, look at the shape; does it fit? Some pieces are easy to find, some look the same but donít fit! Far out!
Yet, although this becomes a frustrating endevour, somehow the overall effect is relaxing, peaceful and a quiet focus of concentration. Eventually you become better at looking for the right shape that fits the pattern and the pattern becomes regular and more easily revealed.
There are so many puzzles you can choose from, but with your previous puzzle experience you start to look for the more challenging ones. Continuing the puzzle journey, the variables of your expertise can be endless For everyone finding the final piece is different. Sometime you may find it in the corner, sometime at the top or bottom. Imagine if with every puzzle, that you could fit that last piece just in the centre and reach the ultimate goal of your art.
Lane- Jon Habib.
Yueh Fei School of Kung Fu & Tai Chi.