Magda’s Memory

Magda Hribar

I began my Tai Chi Chuan journey in January 2005. I had been having some lessons in Alexander Technique for some problems with my neck and upper back, and the teacher advised that Tai Chi was a very highly recommended form of exercise.
After I commenced Yuan-Chi Tai Chi Chuan, I discovered lots of physical benefits – I have had a lot less problems with my neck and back, and I have also felt a lot more strength and stability in my legs and feet.

Along the journey of improving my physical well-being, I have also felt mental and emotional benefits. The way that Master Ric guides us in teaching Tai Chi Chuan has improved my ability to concentrate and to focus; it has also assisted me in dealing with stress. I look forward to contining the journey to see where else it leads. I also enjoy helping others on the journey because I have found that when I am instructing someone, I am also learning, so the journey is always ongoing.

Mon, 9 Apr 2012 09:34:19 +1000

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  1. Subject: CMC exercise report (24 Nov) + Match report (27 Nov)

    Hello Sifu

    CMC Exercise report (24 Nov): Exercise following CMC rules – arms at shoulder height, remain upright (vertical)
    Consequence of maintaining this rule is creation of energy pulsing up and down along the spine, creating the impression that the torso is extending and contracting.
    It also looks like the energy is highly focused along the spinal channel – very powerful, going into the earth and up to the sky. When filming Sifu, I was very conscious of holding the camera steady, and could feel the same energy in my body as when I do the exercise.

    Match Report (27 Nov): Rain, Wind, Grass swaying in the breeze. Feeling like the blades of grass, responding to the Chi.


  2. CMC on 5 May and Sword on 7 May 2020
    After being aware of floating leaves during last week’s practice, the feeling I had during practice this week was like having a highly inflated beachball in the centre of my body and all I had to do was to roll with the ball, and the rest of the movements just followed.

    CMC on 12 May and Sword on 14 May 2020
    In this week’s practice, my attention was drawn away from the centre of my body which felt light and focused, to the movement of my limbs. The image that came to mind was the coiling and uncoiling of DNA strands, the double helix, and my arms and legs moved with a fluidity and connection that I have not previously experienced.

  3. I couldn’t do CMC on Tuesday morning like I usually do, so headed down to the park on Wednesday morning, with the thought that I wanted to feel really light while doing the form and not get so out-of-breath as I have in previous weeks. The image that came to mind was a leaf floating through the air, obeying gravity in that it would eventually float down to the ground, but also obeying the air around it – responding to the energy in the air.

    I also usually do two repetitions of the form and these take about one hour. This time, I decided I would only do the form once and let myself drift for however long it took, which turned out to be 45 minutes. I kept the floating leaf image in my mind’s eye throughout the form, and was able to maintain the lightness that I was hoping for. What was unexpected was that this lightness did not mean that the dance felt superficial; it also felt deep and profound and powerful.

  4. Subject: Comments from Saturday 9 Dec 2017

    What does it mean to follow Sifu?

    When we look at an orchestra as they follow the conductor, they are not following the physical movements of the conductor. They are following the conductor with their instruments to make the music that the conductor is bringing to life from a composition.
    When we follow Sifu, we are following him to make or become the dance that he is dancing.

  5. Subject: Dance report for Saturday 6 August 2016

    The dance this morning was like a whitewater kayaking course – started off nice and slow, then picked up momentum but in a way that you didn’t know what was coming around the bend, with the speed varying with different styles and within styles.
    At the end, it felt like we’d popped out of the whitewater and were bobbing around in calm waters again.

  6. Subject: Re: Dance Reports Sat. 23rd April?
    {Before the Dance started Sifu chanted an invocation to “sleep in Tai-Chi”}
    First: Pulse of energy through the body, straightening and focussing. Hands floating out and up, then dropping, then spiralling back up and settling.
    Second: Energy pulsing through and around the mid-region and pulsing up to the shoulders. Hands coming up slightly and palms turning inwards and then settling. Took a long time to open my eyes.
    Dance: Eyelids felt heavy throughout. Body felt very relaxed and fluid and responsive. Felt like no effort was required. Langourous movement, dreamy state.

  7. Felt a great sense of weightlessness at the first Grasp Bird’s Tail, and then it was all downhill from there (so to speak).
    Felt like I was following a swooping and swerving path with the occasional stumble and slip when I lost the connection. At the end, just felt very tired.

  8. Subject: Dance report 28 Nov 2015

    Felt connected with Sifu – if I ignored the foreground action and focused on the underlying background theme, I felt as if my whole body was connected within itself. My movements felt like they were the result of the flow – no exaggeration, no forcing.

    After we gave our dance reports and Sifu commented on Sara’s experience (the body following and keeping up, even though the mind was elsewhere), I recounted a similar experience which I recalled because a leaf landed on my left wrist and made me jump and recoil. Sifu recalled a quote from a master “The body becomes so light that even a fly landing sets it in motion.”

  9. Dance Report for Saturday 16 May 2015
    aka TAOIST Melee

    Really hard to describe – seemed murky, a lot of static rather than a clear signal.

    Self: I felt good, but couldn’t feel any strong connection unless I was able to see Sifu.
    Group: There didn’t seem to be a connection. We were all dancing, but each person seemed to be in their own zone. It felt different – it didn’t feel bad or wrong, just different.
    Sifu: I had the sense that Sifu was sparring with us – mixing it up to “keep us on our toes” and keep us guessing where he was going to go next. This made me feel at certain points that there were really deep shifts / adjustments within my body.

    • The Melee left everyone alone to be really faced with themselves “without propping” up by the master?
      e.g. if a novice felt angry he was only confronting his own angry self?

  10. Dance report for 9 May 2015

    Unpredictable but enlivening. A sense of exploration and adventure, not straying too far into the unknown, but traversing new territory in different ways. Familiar styles providing a foundation, but different pathways allowing expansion of experiences and sensations.

  11. Dance Report for 25 April 2015

    Sweeping, sensuous, exhausting, cleansing.

  12. Match Report for Saturday 21 March 2015

    Sense of lightness – at the first single whip I felt like I was going to float away. Then a feeling of settling into a groove which made me feel like I was being carried by the flow – not pushed, not pulled.

    Became a little bit distracted a couple of times – with dogs and exercise groups and passers-by, but this just acted as a reminder of how connected I felt with the others in the Dance.

    As usual, my tiredness really surfaced during Cloud Hands, but not so much at other times. At the end of the Dance, my thighs felt like inflated pistons.

  13. Subject: A couple of reports
    Dear Sifu

    Dance report from Saturday 7 March 2015 (better late than never)
    Go with the flow: Initially mindlessly following, which is why I didn’t do Strum Peepa. Then awareness of being out of step and correcting.
    Then a balance between following while at the same time being aware of my surroundings.
    (Thought it would be good if Sifu had a brake light, some could slow down when he slows down!)
    It was relaxing even though my mind was still busy.

    Match report from Tuesday 10 March 2015:
    Compare and contrast – New U-foot vs. Old W-foot.
    – light vs. heavy
    – pull vs. push
    – fresh vs. settled


  14. Subject: Direct transmission (discussed at Push hands class on Wed 4 Mar 2015)

    Dear Sifu
    Direct transmission – the highest way of learning – no words, just do. Occurs in the Dance.
    I also felt this in the session with Sifu on Wednesday. I felt very open and receptive, wanting to be aware of everything that was happening. This resulted in a loosening and further opening.
    I followed this feeling in Push Hands with the others which resulted in a greater awareness of myself and of the other, and becoming like one.

  15. Subject: Report for Push hands on Wed 25 Feb 2015

    This report relates to Push Hands with you near the end of the session.
    – Bow Arrow stance, Left foot forward, Left arm raised to shoulder height pointing forward: Felt like Wild Horse parts mane – a slow settling.
    – Bow Arrow stance, Right foot forward, Left arm raised to shoulder height pointing forward: Felt an initial wave of nausea, followed by a lot internal pulsing sensations, like I was being spun around.
    – Afterwards, I felt like I was getting the aftershocks from an earthquake, with the pulsing slowly coming back into a stillness but needing to find their place.
    Also, my neck and shoulders had been tight and stiff over the previous couple of days. After this session they felt looser and released.

  16. Subject: Match report for Saturday 26 July 2014

    Dance: I had a strong sense of internal movement ebbing and flowing like the tide and needing to let the tide run its full course, not stopping it in any way nor trying to turn it around.

    Practice: “toong zhee bpai fudht”- I had a sense of starting to become physically balanced and settled.

  17. On 20/07/2014 7:14 PM, Magda Hribar wrote:
    As per my notes jotted in the Bakery Cafe this Sunday {Sword Dance without sword}….

    It made me aware of what was happening internally – like the hands were an outward manifestation of inner multi-dimensional spirals – rather than thinking about what the sword is doing or should be doing.

    It makes me think that if I can be aware of this feeling when I have the sword in my hand, then the sword will truly feel like an extension.

  18. Hello Aron
    Welcome to our family of Tai-Chi colleagues. We are a very diverse group – age, interests, what we do, how we came to tai chi. What we do have in common is that we realise that Yuan-Chi Tai-Chi, as taught by Sifu Ric Lum, is both a physical and spiritual journey with endless possibilities.
    I am only a short way into the journey myself. When I started, it was for the physical benefits and I had no idea tha I would progress to being an instructor. But if you stay with Sifu long enough, and you are open to learning as much as possible, then it is inevitable that you start instructing because this becomes a way of learning for yourself.
    What is nice about our group is that we learn from each other by sharing our thoughts and insights – through casual conversation and sometimes by email. I think you will be good for this group because we’ll use emails more and these can become a record of all our journeys, like a diary rather than a history, whereas conversations are lost.

  19. Subject: Report from Sat 28 June 2014
    Dance report
    First section felt like I was following Mr Bean – it felt very exaggerated and extreme.
    Second section felt like I was channelling the Thunderbirds (Lady Penelope?). My trunk felt very still, with lots of momentum from the arms and legs. It also made me think of downhill skiing – lots of knee-bending which would catapult me around the slalom posts.
    Third section felt like I had landed in a version of MacBeth – it felt very poised and slow and deliberate. I found this much easier to follow.

  20. Dear Sifu
    As mentioned straight after the dance, I was very aware of my lower back, particularly on the left side. It felt like I had strained it and it was sore and tender, but not to the extent where it stopped me from doing the dance. However, it did make feel like I was being very careful so as not to do anything to exacerbate it. Interestingly, today there is no pain, just a slight awareness.
    In thinking about how I felt and what I did, I tried to be very precise in my movements, as if being careless in any way could cause problems, and the pace of the dance suited this need for precision. What I felt was things were very focused, going narrow but deep.
    Despite a lot of distractions currently, for the most part I was able to stay in the zone for the whole dance and the immediate aftermath.

  21. Dear Sifu,

    There are a number of definitions of “integrate”, and the one that seems most pertinent to this step is: To combine previously segregated systems into one unified system.
    My first experience of integrating these steps happened during the Dance on Saturday 14 Dec when it was really windy and I was feeling unsteady, so I started focusing…

    What developed was a really strong sensation of a sheath of energy rising up from my foot around my leg, like a reinforcing tube (or sock), then the energy went through my knee, into my body and back again. Sometimes it was from one leg to the other, other times it was into my body and back again. Even though the wind continued, I felt stable and steady – like the wind was blowing around me rather than at me. The thought that came to mind was that constant balance comes about because of constant movement which flows out into different parts of the body and comes back to a central point, similar to how each leaf of clover is independent and yet connected at a central point.

    At the class on Tuesday 17 Dec I had similar sensations which gave me a sensation of floating.

    At Push Hands on Wednesday 18 Dec, it was the first time that I had the sensation that I wasn’t pushing with my hands or arms – they were the channels for the energy that came up from my feet and through my legs and body. Likewise, when I was “receiving” my arms were just the channel for the energy from the other person to flow back through and down into my legs and feet. Overall, I felt like I was in a dreamy state – very relaxed – but also very aware of the sensation of the flow through my body.


  22. Match Report 18/5/13

    Today we followed Sifu for Left Grasp Bird’s Tail, Grasp Bird’s Tail, Carry Tiger back to Mountain, Right strike tiger…..
    We only did arm movements, the legs did not move, which left me feeling incomplete initially, but after the first repetition that feeling was replaced by a feeling of completeness. Just focussing on the arms meant that I became aware of how they move constantly.

    After we finished following Sifu asked “Was there a point to the sequence?” What is the song being sung? (by the arms)
    I think that doing something different helps us see what we do normally. “There’s actually only 5 moves in Tai Chi” was a joke, but it is true that the sequences we were doing were like a variation on a theme – the same melody, just a slightly different arrangement each time.

  23. Dear Sifu
    Doing the Dance last Saturday, there were lengthy periods where I felt like I was floating – I wasn’t moving my arms and legs – they were floating up and down around the ball of chi, following the currents. The feeling came and went a few times, due to getting distracted by things happening in the park or other thoughts, but I was able re-focus each time, and then the floating sensation returned.

  24. When I worked with Virginia to instruct her in S.2, I immediately felt very centred as if my trunk was an axis and the other parts of my body were rotating or moving around that axis and the source of any movement came from a central point.
    As a beginner, I know I would move my hands and feet and the rest of my body would follow. As I have progressed, I have slowly become aware that the movement of hands and feet, or arms and legs, is the result rather than the cause.
    When I thought it was the cause, there was a lot of effort; when I think of it as being the result, it feels effortless.

  25. Subject: Notes from class 6/4/13
    Dear Sifu,

    DANCE: S.3
    I felt confusion at the start because I didn’t know where we were going. Once I realised it was S.3, I felt OK, but got confused again when we changed positions because it was so different from anything we have done before. I also had trouble with the pace – it seemed really slow but then there would be some fast outwards swing.
    Then I stopped thinking about it, became very focused and the pace felt normal. Even though the group was very ragged to start off with, we came together in the end – like a band that starts off with instruments playing different notes but then the conductor pulls everyone together to create a good sound.
    For my own step, I could feel my torso moving smoothly up and down through “Wild Horse Parts Mane”.

    Body spiralling and swinging back and forth, with a strong preference towards the right side. Chest feeling open and expanded. At one point my body sank lower and lower on bended knees and I thought that I would end up on the ground, but then I came up again. At another point, I felt a strong backwards push on my upper body. I followed the push and then went back to spiralling. I saw different lights behind my eyelids at different times. I sneezed at the end.
    End of practice: External stillness, internal calm with a soft pulsing energy. A downward push made me bend my knees and then they straightened.


  26. Dear Sifu
    When I first practised ‘Sit ye..’ on Sat 23/3, I kept over-balancing backwards. At first I thought it was because I was trying “too hard” , but even when I stopped trying I still went backwards.
    Then I practised at home, going back to the start of this series of steps and the over-balancing stopped.
    When practising the step after being able to observe you on Tue 2/4 and be guided by your explanation on Wed 3/4, I felt the sense of being on a track and all I had to do was let the track guide me – a bit like being on a roller coaster – just hang on for the ride. Like previous steps, it is very simple when you know how – the difference with Tai Chi Chuan is the knowing isn’t just mental knowledge, it is a physical and emotional knowledge that we gain by doing and feeling the moves, not just thinking about them or describing them in words.

  27. Dear Sifu
    Push Hands (6/3): I found Rodney’s observations interesting after he had watched and been asked to compare me, Andrew and Sara. During the class, I was conscious of trying to remain light and open, similar to the feeling that I had gained last week after the “spinning” sensation, so I was surprised to hear Rodney say that he could see “resistance” when I was feeling “responsiveness”. Perhaps I was focussing too much on avoiding compression… so an observer would have seen me as being stiff.

    Class (12/3): This was my first opportunity to practise my new step. Once you explained that I didn’t need to worry about “verticality” I found it a lot easier. The strain on my thighs was intense, particularly doing the CMC squat, and I fully expected to be really sore and stiff the next day. Instead, I could feel the muscles that had done the work, both in my thighs and bottom, but not in a painful way.

    Push Hands (13/3): it was interesting working with Andrew – he seemed to be pushing me away when I thought I should be pushing him. At first I tried to follow the sequence as if I were doing it with you or Danya or Ray, but then realised I was resisting too much, and followed Andrew’s push. This led to a very different sequence of movements, but I just kept following to see where it would end. Danya observed some of this and asked what was going on. My response was “A battle of wills!” – mine as much as Andrew’s.

    Class (16/3): I practised my step again and found it a lot easier. I explained to Danya and Ray that what was helpful for me in this step was visualizing that I was doing Push Hands and doing nothing but responding, in this case allowing myself[?] to respond to gravity without changing its size or shape or tension. Since Saturday, I have practised further and it is getting easier, particularly the CMC squat where I now have much more weight on my right leg when easing down (however, I need both legs to get back up!)

    • Dear Magda,
      Thanks again for your report.
      May I suggest that the ‘resistance’ is the beginning of ‘responsiveness’?
      “The TAOist is more care-free than care-full?”

  28. Dear Sifu
    Push Hands (27/2/13): When I started Push hands with you, after you said to Danya to watch me and Andrew to see how we “die”, I felt the same way as I had felt during the session so far – ok, but feeling a bit heavy and muddy. As I progressed, I felt like, all of a sudden, I had been spun around really fast and I felt light-headed but also clearer, like the mud had settled and I could follow the energy more clearly. I actually felt a bit dizzy and the feeling lasted beyond the class, but not in a bad way.

  29. What I felt during the Dance on Saturday (9/2/13) was that my body and my weight shifted because of an inner movement, in contrast to previously feeling inner movement because my weight was shifting. The internal movement had its own pace which.. was more subtle than what I described for the previous week, but also more persistent through the whole Dance.

  30. Dear Sifu
    If I think about “Continuity” I think about enjoying the effortless flow not just during class, but also that it continues in my daily activities whatever they are. Sometimes, when I am doing something it feels really easy and enjoyable, but it’s not something that I am doing consciously.
    If I think about “Enjoy” I think about feeling something that is doing me good, giving me pleasure, and helping me. When that happens, then whatever it is feels effortless – I don’t have to think about it and time doesn’t drag.
    Putting all this together, It feels like I am coming to a stage of integration because I have been practising physically at the muscular level and now I am starting to move deeper, and it is about integration / continuity between the muscular physical level and the “spiritual” level.
    I am interested in what you think about this – there is so much new to learn!

  31. Diary note for Tuesday 22/1/13:
    – While I was instructing Tasha, I was also practising my step. This week it felt different – my belly area felt expanded and firm, but not in a hard or rigid way. There was a small amount of movement but very minimal compared to last week. However, I felt my gluteal muscles flexing and moving, similar to what I had felt in the belly area last week. (see note for Wed)
    Diary note for Wednesday 23/1/13:
    – As I was walking to the class, I could feel my gluteal muscles – like they had been through a workout, they were a bit “sore” but not painfully so; like they had a good workout and were a little bit stiff afterwards.

  32. Dear Sifu
    Firstly, I would like to share my experience doing Jade Maiden during the dance last Saturday. As we progressed through the style, I had the feeling that on the surface nothing much seemed to be happening – to an observer, it would appear that I was just moving through the various “slalom posts” for the style; whereas internally I felt a pressure or force building up in the belly region – it felt very powerful, but in a comfortable and controlled way, and it was accompanied by a heightened sense of awareness. As we finished Jade Maiden, the force disappeared but the awareness lingered.
    The arrival and departure of this force was spontaneous – I didn’t make it happen, I didn’t try to hang on to it, I didn’t make it go away. My awareness made me think that there was a connection with what I had experienced earlier in the week and I also think there is a connection with this next step.
    I perceive “attention…” as being focused on the coils… Which means my awareness and my attention is going deeper than the structure of my body (hands, feet, knees, belly) into the essence of my body, into that which is not visible or tangible, but which nevertheless exists – similar to the “force” that I have already briefly felt.

  33. Dear Sifu,

    Wed 12/12/12: When I was doing Push hands with you, I felt like I was dancing with a Master Dancer, and all I had to do was follow the energy which made me feel like I was really dancing too, even though I wasn’t “doing” anything.

    Report from the Dance on Sat 15/12/12: When we started, I felt like we were going quite fast and I was trying to slow down. Once I did slow down, I felt very attuned to Danya’s pace and it felt really effortless. What I also felt was something akin to what I reported above from Push hands on Wed – for the first time it really felt like a dance where I didn’t have to do anything. I just followed the energy and I can truly say that it is the first time I have had such a sustained experience of “not moving, yet being moved.” What was nice was that I retained that experience even while instructing Chris II and Rodney, so it felt really easy to be instructing them.

    After the dance Danya asked Tyrone to organise the group and do Section 3 while we observed. I watched Tyrone and he seemed to be “in the zone” – his flow was very fluid and effortless, and this is the first time I have really seen it in him like that.
    Tyrone assisted me in instructing Chris II and Rodney up to Turn around, wave lotus AND Bend bow, shoot tiger.


  34. Subject:Push Hands
    Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2012 14:33:15 +1000

    The feeling that I had today was that I was not pushing, nor was I being pushed. What I felt was that my body was like a channel through which the chi was flowing back and forth between myself and my partner, and I could feel the ripples of movement through my body and limbs…

  35. Subject: Surrender II
    Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2012 09:07:48 +1000

    From Sat 7 April 2012, when we were doing the dance, I was conscious of your words from the previous day about keeping the two forms separate.
    Nonetheless, the concept of “Surrender” was present in my mind, as was the image of an hourglass with sand running through it back and forth and the thought that you can’t make the sand run faster by pushing it or compressing it.

  36. Subject: Surrender
    Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2011 09:33:41 +1100

    You asked us to observe how your weight related to Mother Earth. When you demonstrated the styles that we had learnt this morning in S.3 of Cheng Man-Cheng form,
    you appeared to be floating on Mother Earth.

  37. *Sent*: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 6:13 PM
    Subject:notes from last week

    _Wed 22 Sep._
    I went through Sections 1 and 2. With the majority of the styles, they didn’t feel that much different, I just felt stronger and more firmly planted.
    However, with “Repulse Monkey” and “Left Part Foot, Right Part Foot”, the styles felt very different in that there was a lot more movement through my body as I seemed to rotate around a central core.

    _Sat 25 Sep.
    _Observing you last Saturday, the lesson became about using the eyes and hands as landmarks for the body to follow.
    However, as I write this, what I think of is that the eyes and hands are tracing the flow of Chi.

  38. *Sent*: Saturday, July 11, 2009 7:07 PM

    At first, I thought it was about moving through the form at a constant rate and that was what my mind was focusing on when Danya was in the lead. But I found it really hard to do when Andrew was in the lead and I felt jagged and bumpy. Then, when Gregor was in the lead, I seemed to be moving quite effortlessly, especially compared to the previous round, and felt like I was following my heartbeat and pulse.
    For the next two rounds when I led and then Miranda led, the feeling was just a faint echo of what I had felt previously, and I didn’t try to hang on to it.
    So for me it means about being able to achieve a constant heartbeat and pulse rate which will then be like a metronome that provides the underlying rate for the form.

  39. *Sent*: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:23 PM
    Subject: “soft feet”

    This morning Master Ric asked us to look while he demonstrated something. Before he started he said “it’s all about Single Whip” and when he ended he asked us what we saw.
    My immediate response was that it was like variations on a theme of music, with the movement of Single Whip being the underlying melody and the different styles from Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3 being an overlay of different notes which changed the the theme in subtle ways but still made it clear that the melody was Single Whip.
    My second response was that this was the first time I had seen such a clear connection between the two hands when they moved through all the variations of Single Whip. This was linked to how I had felt
    earlier in the session, when we were practising with a new student – my whole body felt connected and was moving as one, rather than thinking about arms and legs moving.

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