Today is the last day of 2013. After today I am no longer posting here. I will keep the blog open until the evening of 1 Jan 2014 Singapore time.
In its place I will have two new blogs as follows :-
Why am I closing this blog? If you know me you would know that I do not like to hang on too much to the past. Zen is about the present, now, today. The past can be excess baggage. I am not one of those who keep worshipping the past, harping on greatness that no longer matters, adoring the dead for the sake of propping up a lineage or because a style has suddenly become trendy due to movies, etc.
My aim has been more towards discovering that which defines the style as outlined in their principles. If the principles are not present in one’s hands then what are you really practicing? Some may live a lie but I rather confront the fact that I do not know and work towards knowing than pretending to know but never really knowing. This is one of the biggest challenges facing traditional Chinese martial arts today. I can’t change others but I can change myself.
When you are young the future seems so distant but when you arrive at a certain threshold you know that suddenly the sands of time are slowly but surely running out. For some the end can be sudden. So before time runs out steps should be taken to ensure that the living art continues on. Tick, tock, tick, tock, the Grim Reaper awaits.
The straight sword is an extension of the hand.
In the study of Taiji we need to learn the principles particularly that of the 3-Count and 5-Count properly. Otherwise, when we learn the straight sword we will have a hard time catching the proper timing required to move the straight sword in tandem with the body.
When I see my student play the straight sword form I see this problem so it bears repeating the importance of correct learning. In the initial stages of wielding the straight sword the student would normally not feel anything is off and wrong.
But when he has worked on it for some months he will start to have doubts on certain movements and the changes. If he has learned the 3-Count and 5-Count properly in the long form then he will make the connection between the empty hand and the straight sword as an extension of it. Subsequently, he will be able to apply the lessons previously to solving the problems of the straight sword.
Otherwise, he will have a hard time figuring things out especially when some of the changes in the movements of the straight sword can be very subtle and without the means to control the timing the movement would look off and the power will not come. Sometimes, one can cheat by doing the movements quickly to cover up but at the end of the day wrong is wrong and one will still not be able to control the straight sword.
The taping of my student on two previous occasions had helped him to understand how he was inefficiently moving his legs in push hands. This is why I keep telling him to practice the form to acquire the correct habits.
This week the topic of doing form in a certain manner moved on to its role in fajing. After playing push hands for a while I decided to tape the last part of the training as my student couldn’t see clearly what was happening on my side.
To summarize :-
i) Practicing the form properly is the key to mastering the principles of fajing. Example of how to do form with the required nuances at 6:23-6:50.
ii) To do fajing one must be connected to the ground. The stronger the connection the better one is able to issue force like shooting an arrow from a bow.
iii) In combat one must have a reasonable amount of balance and mobility. If we sacrifice mobility in our quest to root strongly to the ground by using a wide base and bending the knees a lot then we will have a problem dealing with opponents who are good at striking. The question to ask is how to optimize balance and mobility.
iv) One needs to acquire small circle movements in the form in order to be able to adapt quickly to an opponent who will keep moving to take away your ability to connect correctly to him in order to issue your power to bounce him.
v) To use Taiji as an internal art we must conceal how we move our body to issue power. Even if our training partner were to touch our dantian they cannot feel any rotation; in fact they cannot feel anything yet they can feel our force acting on them. This is our definition of what internal is.
A short clip for my student to study his own movement. In case you noticed and wonder, yes, I was doing the striking and defending with eyes closed. Despite looking intense it still came off as fun training as you can see from the laughter.
Part of the explanation to my friend back in 2007. Check out my Youtube channel as there are 6 more of the clips there on this friend who incidentally was learning Chen style Taiji back then. If you want to know how the Wing Chun in The Ip Man Questions would look like you can take this as an example.