A thinking, tailored and radical approach to mastering Tai Chi.
What has building construction, physics, mechanical engineering, diving, biomechanics of animal movements and the use of the long pole got to do with each other?
Probably nothing at quick thought. Or probably a lot more than appears at first glance.
Learning from inter disciplines from science and art is not really new but no one has really formalized this type of learning as a method of learning how to master a discipline from apprentice to journeyman to master until Roger Kneebone.
And yes, you can learn a lot about how to use a long pole from other disciplines. You just have to open up your mind, read and let the possibilities come to you. Then you can see the common threads between the disciplines.
For example, what has the use of the Chinese rope dart got to do with the Angle 1 strike in iKali. Probably nothing. But then in looking for a way to hit faster and harder while using less effort I thought of the rope dart not at first but as I was executing the Angle 1 strike faster and faster the thought of the resemblance of what I was doing to how the dart is unleashed in the rope dart kept coming to mind.
I think the connection is probably spurious or maybe its the way I was doing it that threw up the idea (disclaimer – I have never learned the rope dart though I have looked at it at one time). I wasn’t just looking at the resemblance but at the principles of how to move a stick from zero velocity to maximum speed in the shortest time possible which calls for a way to maximize acceleration.
This in turn calls for a way to trigger the starting movement from inertia which as Newton’s first law tells us that an object at rest tends to stay at rest until we move it. We also have to examine how to project power to the tip of the stick whether through acceleration, momentum or an optimal mix of both whilst ensuring that the strength of materials (or limbs) are able to take the forces acting on them or suffer injury.
Looking at how to swing a bat in baseball is also very enlightening as shown below :-
Since I am but an apprentice in Kali I am probably mistaken but this is how building a database of information over the years can throw up surprising connections along the way.
Finally, how does an FMA expert do an Angle 1 strike? Instead of looking for a clip of my teacher doing it let’s take a look at another expert. Interesting, no? Hint – watch how the body moves in rope dart, baseball and the art of pakamut.
Part of a discussion on how to train softness of the hands in SKD.
This type of training can enable anyone to attain softness in a matter of days, or at worst weeks. All it requires is commitment to train daily.
We can also learn lessons in being quick on the feet and being elusive from the use of the butterfly knives.
Useful lessons in moving the body can be extracted from how we handle the long pole. Shown here are a few moves from Master Leong’s long pole form.
Today’s SKD session focussed on refining the Yum Chui. This meant we not just looked at the basic processes but also deeper into how we can use the principles of physics.
Here I am explaining a countering movement found in Sao Chui.
This counter is derived from the hook hand movement from Single Whip.
If you learn the form normally you might not see this connection due to the timing of how this movement is taught.
It is when we change the timing that this appliction becomes obvious.
Sometime ago in the pre-COVID 19 era (man, was it that long ago?) someone asked me about kicking in Tai Chi.
I am not demonstrating a Tai Chi kick here. This is also not an SKD kick. Its a kick I modified from one of the eight kicks in the Wing Chun dummy.
In SKD we use Tai Chi body structure.
One of the principles of Tai Chi body structure is 含胸拔背 commonly translated as contain the chest, raise the back.
Here I give a demonstration of what this means and the implication in power generation.
I didn’t hit the dummy harder as I didn’t want it to fall over in case you are thinking that the power is not that strong.
I also kept the demo to this principle instead of involving the other principles so that we can view in isolation the workings of this principle.
Here I am explaining the connecting between the first part of the footwork we learn in SKD and the similarity in the footwork of the dummy.
The short talk on the Wing Chun dummy continued with explanation on how to use the neutralization principles in Wing Chun itself.
We then move into how to apply these principles to SKD itself with some examples.