Learn Tai Chi Yang Style

Featured

Welcome to Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style.

FB-9

a) Style

Our method of Tai Chi is known as TaijiKinesis and is based on the key elements from three Yang style lineages made famous respectively by Grandmaster Wei Shuren, Grandmaster Dong Huling and Grandmaster Nip Chee Fei.

3-GM

b) Learning

What we offer to the serious Tai Chi student :-

a) A defined method of practicing Tai Chi involving forms and push hands

b) Analysis of the root causes hindering your progress; how to fix them to master Tai Chi

c) A no BS learning path. Know what, why and how to master Tai Chi

ezgif-com-crop2

c) Lessons

Teaching approach :-

a) 1-to-1 private lessons, minimum once per week

b) Conducted in English

c) Learn form, do non-cooperative, resisting push hands

 

LogoBegin your journey to master Tai Chi by clicking here.

 

Advertisements

Odd Strikes

What is odd to one is normal to another.

I have learned different styles and also examined many more styles. Among those styles I have learned I have picked up different ways of skinning the same cat. By spending years to practice the same form I have also discovered a lot more details such as non-obvious techniques and hidden techniques  than is apparent at first glance. And if you happen to have a good teacher you will also learn a lot of stuff you will never discover on your own.

Over the years as these movements become natural to me they start to manifest themselves in how I use techniques. In this way what is not normal becomes natural to me. However, to my student who has never learned broadly or taught to look beyond the obvious what I do seems odd to him.

If I apply the art shallowly without referencing the full range of techniques that is found in forms then it is easy for my student to catch up to my skill. With a huge repertoire it is more difficult for him to catch up, which is why I kept reminding them to practice forms.

For example, in the straight sword form we have a movement called Wind Sweeping the Lotus Leaves (風捲荷葉). Though it is a weapon technique it can be readily used for emptyhand striking in line with the principle of hand is the sword, sword is the hand. So when I use this in push hands my student is suddenly confronted with a technique he has not seen before. But if he had been diligently training the straight sword he might have made the mental connection right away when he saw the waving, side-to-side movements.

This is why when we study any art we should first study it in depth. After we reach a certain level of competence we can begin working on acquiring breath of knowledge. In this way a simple technique can conceal a certain level of sophistication that allows you to keep using it despite your training partner’s efforts to resist it.

When he finally manages to overcome it he will find that this simple technique can become something else and continue to go through his defense. This is one of the key teachings I picked up from Master Leong and a reason why I finally used his Pok Khek techniques even though I didn’t really like it in the beginning.

In this sense, Pok Khek seemed odd to me at first but given enough time it has become natural and it is actually quite practical and handy.

Logo

Timing in Striking

I was explaining to my student about the use of timing to render strikes workable during push hands. The issue is this – in push hands because your arms are in contact with your opponent every move you make can be felt and read by him. Move fast, move slow, use more strength, use less strength, and so on can be detected by each other.

This means that its difficult to strike your opponent in push hands because each time you try to do so he can feel it. Unless he is slow to react most of your strikes will not land. Chances are after a while you end up disengaging arms before you throw a strike because this is the only way you can prevent him from reading you.

It is not wrong to use this method to stall your opponent’s reaction. However, it then defeats the purpose of training your ability to listen and understand through the sense of touch. This means that at some point you should still learn how to use contact to overcome your opponent’s ability to read your moves.

When we train push hands we do not only go faster to try to beat the opponent’s reaction. This is too easy. To challenge ourselves we make it a point to go slower and still be able to prevent the opponent from reading our moves and land our strike where we want it to land.

To up the challenge you can tell your training partner where you want to hit so that he can make it harder for you to do so now that he knows where you are going to hit. This is to train a traditional martial arts principle of hitting where the defense is the strongest as opposed to going for the weakest defense.

One of the key factors in being able to land a strike whether slow or fast is through the use of timing. The olden principle of timing is associated with keywords to teach you how to do the strike properly. Actually, if you train forms a lot you will be able to understand this at some point.

Sometimes when you cannot “see” the timing it may help to hear it. Listen from 0:00 to 1:10 in the video below.

This is an example of the use of odd time signatures in music. If you are my student and you can remember what I have told you about striking timing I would recommend to listen to this part of the music and you slowly think through what I said. At some point you will get what I mean about timing. This is one way to examine the topic from another angle.

Logo

Ngok Gar Kuen Technique Practice 3

Here’s another confounding technique from Ngok Gar Kuen “-

It took me a long time before I can use it comfortably. Once I got it I understand why this is a trademark technique of the style.

My teachers in Ngok Gar Kuen (yes, I have three) likened this movement to driving a car and I am sure you can see why.

Again, without context it goes not look practical. Once I had a first hand feel of how it is applied I knew I had to master its use by hook or by crook.

 

Ngok Gar Kuen Technique Practice 2

Here’s another technique from Ngok Gar Kuen.

I still remember seeing this technique the first time and I went What??? Here’s what I probably looked like when I first learned to do it.

Looks odd, right? Doesn’t look practical; at least not when I first saw it. One thing I learned from learning movements like this is to never judge a book by its cover. Just because something does not fit our idea of what practical is does not mean its not practical.

Here’s how I do it nowadays :-

This rendition is focused more on working the snappy power which is a by-product of practicing the Series 1 static postures. The movements are clearer but unless you learn traditional Chinese martial arts I doubt you can make much sense of how it is used.

I know that as a learner of Wing Chun I didn’t know what to make of it until I was shown and then I saw the light!

Anyway, enjoy this little detour into a little seen art.

 

 

 

Impermanence

Last week was a long week. A sudden visit from the Grim Reaper led to days of mourning and tears for those who suffered the loss. My takeaway from this is that never take your health for granted, never overwork yourself and do what you want to do NOW.

You can seem to have it all. Until the day the blue crab comes crawling into a nook in your body and digs its claws in. If you make the wrong decision you will pay for it down the road. By then it is no use lamenting the wrong decision.

If in doubt, seek a second opinion. Certain illness can be cured or contained for a long time. If you fail to check around for more information you can end up making the wrong decision, one that leads to your early demise. Don’t believe everything people tell you even if they are close to you and appear to have your interests at heart. Check for yourself and decide.

Life is impermanent. We all have to go some time. But if you have a choice wouldn’t you want to be able to enjoy life a little longer? Do what you like, achieve whatever goals you set for yourself before you lay to rest or nowadays be sent into the incinerator to be turned into ashes.

I know what I am setting out to do. Do you? Don’t wait till your time runs out before you do it.

Logo

7 Minutes

It took a 7 minutes and few seconds video to bring together most of what I had said before in learning push hands.

Backtrack – at various times when teaching push hands I would bring up different points, basically stuff to understand how to use push hands as a training platform for understanding how to use the emptyhand form, essentially a means to test your knowledge and skill in using the techniques in the form freely.

One day my student said he would be meeting his senior from another style, someone bigger and taller. It was an excellent chance to check his progress. I suggested things he could try on top of those he had learned before, not to mention taping it for his own analysis of his performance.

So I saw the video and yup, basically he didn’t use the stuff I had taught; not even remotely tried. It was as if he had not learned anything. To me it looked like giving the game away too easily.

The video I saw may be a short 7 minutes plus but I pointed out the many things I had taught before that was useful in his encounter. That he didn’t use any of them was like a baby offering candy to an adult. Yeah, it was worse than an adult trying to take candy from a baby.

This was a good learning moment, for me to say again the importance of knowing how to play push hands like a game, how what I taught him fitted in.

For example, when we play push hands the way we configure our posture dictates our strengths and weaknesses, informing ourselves and perhaps the opponent what could be exploited and used against us. When beginning push hands all students have this habit of inadvertently giving a free pass for a knowing opponent to open the door and come right in.

I would think having done this many times keeping the door closed would have become second nature. But no, I saw it, once, twice and each time his senior moved forward to enter. I didn’t say this in hindsight but in foresight having brought it up ages ago. Like I said the first step to master Tai Chi is know yourself.

I also pointed how that he did not follow our method of engaging. What he did was basically giving up candy without a fight. The way we play push hands follows a certain approach, the first amongst many is to carefully and knowingly guard our space. If you do not do so then your opponent can just enter easily without you being able to offer much resistance even if you wanted to.

I saw his senior used a Biu Jee escape technique. To me this was a bad technique, easily exploited but if one failed to pay heed to the details then this was another giveaway technique.

When we practice push hands we are very careful how we position ourselves, how we yield, how we set up a response, and so on. This would enable us to play different games of strategy to capitalize on what our opponent is giving us. A strong person is formidable but amidst the strength there are weak spots. What are they? Learning push hands is a way of understanding our own strengths and how to use it against the opponent’s weaknesses.

Lastly, we always remember that the opponent is not stupid. What you can think of he can too and then some. You want to beat him you have to use a different set of tools. If you use the same tools then apply with a new twist so that your opponent cannot anticipate it. Remember combat is a game of wits too, not just strength. Otherwise, we might as well pack it in and call it a day.

Logo

Ding!

Ding!…………

That’s how I imagined it must have sounded when my student said there was a noise in his head right after I flicked the back of my palm against the side of his head. The weird part was I had tapped the right side of his head but the noise was heard in his left ear!

I didn’t know what to make of it except to assume in hindsight that the tap must have rung his head like a bell and projected the sound to the other side. To me the more interesting reaction was how the tap caused him to stop immediately. Though, I did not intend to actually made contact, that it did inadvertently yielded this observation.

So if you ever wonder if a flick of the wrist is effective this anecdote suggests that it is. Of course, the other question would be how would it be if the target struck had been the face head-on. Silly question. A tap to the face can stun and with a bit more force can break the nose.

Fun fact to know. Just be careful when practicing this way.

Logo