A thinking, tailored and radical approach to mastering Tai Chi.
It was a cold day yesterday as is today.
I stood on the balcony, going through moves from the single stick and double sticks. Somehow the swings got faster and faster, and before I knew it I was taking moves from here and there and just making up the sequences as I went along.
Tuhon said that the basics for flowing freely resides in drills such as the angles of attack, the loading positions, the single stick vs double sticks drills, etc. This is why we are urged to drill them by the thousands.
I don’t really know how many times I have practiced the drills. I just practice them.
When you have practiced arm swinging for a few months your arms will become relaxed, like a whip.
When your arm is relaxed you can move it like a fish moving its tail as it swims. Apply the principle to the use of a straight sword and you have a flowing cut.
When we swing our arms as part of a strike there is a method behind the madness.
You don’t anyhow swing your arms because you risk hitting yourself if you swing it wrongly as Paul did when he hit himself in the groin.
We have a way to prevent accidental hits to the groin as explained in Clip 15. That’s why its important to pay attention to the basic processes of each strike so that we don’t hit ourselves especially when the hands are swinging fast.
The basics of arm swinging is used in punching.
It takes a bit of getting used to. That’s why its important to practice the arm swinging exercises daily.
Aside from arm swinging we learn about body angling in SKD.
Couple body angling with footwork and you have a method for not fighting the opponent’s strength head on.
There is a logic and strategy behind arm swinging as the foundation for learning how to strike.
Swinging the arm is natural for most people. All it takes is a shift in paradigm and anyone can use arm swinging as the foundation for developing circular strikes.
Arm swinging is an exercise commonly seen in parks.
Arm swinging is also part of SKD basics. However, our arm swinging is not just swinging for the sake of swinging.
Today I took my iKali progress check with two fellow students on Zoom. Reflections of my experience :-
a) Just because its through Zoom doesn’t make it any less easy
b) You can never prepare enough. With this in mind I prepared for L1M1 and L1M2 flows. Better to over prepare than under prepare but even then be prepared to be surprised.
For example, I learned the L1M2 flow one way then later a slightly different version was presented. So I focused on the 2nd version as that was the one that was covered in the live Zoom progress check.
Today we did the 1st version. Fortunately, I had done the 1st version before. The difference was that in the 1st version the EH part came first but in the 2nd version the Blade X-factor came first. It was good that we didn’t do it as a continuous flow so it wasn’t much of a problem.
c) Watch the feeder!!! This is a very important part for doing progress check. In the Zoom class our flow always started by stepping to the right then left. For some reason when it came to DS X-factor we started with high X-factor on the left then on the right. Later this version was changed to right high X-factor then left X-factor which made it consistent with the other drills.
Because I watched the videos for the Zoom classes so I did two versions and settled on the 2nd version. Today out of habit I did the 2nd version when the feed was for the 1st version. In retrospect it didn’t really matter because the DS X-factor can work whether I stepped to the right or left. Only thing is when the 2nd high strike came I wouldn’t need to step.
All I had to do was slow down, listen, watched and respond accordingly. Because I didn’t slow down enough when we went through the SS counters the timing threw me off at first. I normally would practice as each counter do once. The first sequence we did today called for 2 reps each time.
Yes, watch the feeder, watch the feeder. You react the way you train. If today’s progress check had been a live situation instead of a test I might have been hit more than necessary because I didn’t always react as I should by watching the feeder.
d) One thing I have never really prepared for was to train with sweat on the sticks. Normally I would wipe the sweat off. Today I was momentarily caught with sweat on the sticks and the flow started so I had to carry on with the possibility of the sticks flying off my slippery hands. I adapted by slowing a bit and not hitting too hard but I still had to follow the feeder’s pace.
This is what I like about the iKali class. Nothing is dumbed down. We are held to a high standard even though its virtual learning. The content could have been lesser to make it easier but no, we have a good balance of content, quite a lot actually as Master Ace pointed out at one time, but it makes for a good push to make us learn better.
The Zoom classes for L1M3 begins next week and I will join in. Fortunately, Eastern Standard time is 13 hours behind so the class will only begin at 6.30 am.
Training in iKali : Art of Blade
I am offering to share my knowledge of iKali free to anyone who is interested to pick it up. The learning will be focused on gaining functionality via mutual beneficial (spirit of bayanihan) training to elevate each other’s skill. iKali training is especially suitable for kids and mature adults.
In general four areas will be covered :-
a) Double sticks
b) Single stick
d) Empty Hand
Training duration 1.5 hours in the south west area (near Yew Tee MRT) every Friday night 7 to 8.30 pm.
Requirement – bring a pair of rattan sticks (contact me for info on where to buy), water, wear a mask and comfortable clothing.
As per COIVD-19 Phase III requirements not more than 8 participants will be allowed. A physical distancing of 2m (i.e. 2 arms-length) between individuals should be maintained at all times.
If interested contact me via PM or leave a comment here.
Another interesting info from “The Power of Not Thinking” :-….. imagining an action without executing it activates the same neural pathways.
Simply put, thinking of performing an action shows up in the brain as if the action had actually been performed.
I first read about this in a book, I think it was called Mind Gym. This explains why sometimes a good way to train arts such as Tai Chi is by sitting there and going through the movements mentally.
By constraining your outer physical movements you are forced to feel your inner physical movements. For example, the concept of Jing Yuen (劲源) is not easy to understand mentally but by stilling your body and using your imagination to do the movement process you can easily feel the Jing Yuen move and voila! suddenly a few more insights will come to mind.
I carefully observed Tuhon when I first learned iKali because certain things are different from what I had learned in CMA. I could ask questions but it would be more interesting not to ask and tried to learn by observing.
This book validated this learning approach in the story of how apprentices learn to build a minaret in Yemen without formal instructions or allowed to ask questions freely. One anthropologist called this “stealing knowledge with their eyes”. Tuhon Apolo said something similar about his learning from Grand-Tuhon.