Doing forms is quiet at first. You move through your counts carefully, ticking off each part as you do it, counting them down, moving yourself through them. It’s casual at first. Like you could do this in a field full of butterflies and California poppies spreading open sleepily and your muscles are relaxed and maybe a little arrogant, as though you’ve just asked them to do nothing more strenuous than a breezy morning stretch.
Then it deepens and grows weighty. Your muscles aren’t laughing anymore because while they were making fun of your light demands they are caught off guard by how deeply you’re sinking into each move, your knees bending more, your back getting straighter, and to keep doing the moves your head must now focus on what it’s asking your muscles to do. They must coordinate, something they do all day every day but now it’s different. It’s different because you’re asking your body to become equine in strength.
It isn’t enough to coordinate your mind to your muscles and bring your focus into your core, you have to breathe. Something you do every single day all day long without cessation and you might think you’re pretty good at it. But you’re not. So you have to focus on your breathing being even and deep and in a rhythm with your movements which are beginning to make you sweat and you will find you need more oxygen than you thought.
Then you become a body of water held together tenuously by your skin and the water is rushing and fighting to break the tension that holds it in. Maybe it’s because you start to feel your own blood pumping through your body, like a roar in your ears, and you push it and push it and push it some more. You have to keep it as directed as possible while pushing it. It feels like you have become a mad river heading for your origin. The burning you feel as your muscles try to follow the water is like light. Everything is connected. Everything is fluid.
That’s when you stop fighting. You become bones, blood, oxygen, and muscle moving together in a shared language. It’s power choreographed to look like water.