Altered Traits

I’ve learned a new term “altered traits” from reading a book on meditation. In Chinese martial arts we simply use the word “characteristics” to refer to altered traits when we ask if a practitioner is able to embody the characteristics of their chosen style.

I was teaching push hands to my student. I emphasized to him three general things he must have when doing push hands. Halfway through he wanted to ask a question. He showed the position his hands were in relative to the person he was doing it with. 

His question was how to avoid the other person applying a certain technique on him. I recognized the technique he described as a Wing Chun Lan Sau application. The first point I made was why did he stopped in that position thereby giving his partner a chance to apply Lan Sau.

OK, maybe he couldn’t help but stop there. Not a problem. The next obvious thing he should have done is simple. Actually, its ironic since its something I have mentioned many times and its one of the three things I brought up earlier in the lesson.

But then this is a common problem when students don’t pay attention and observe due diligence of key basics. It does not matter how many times I say it – if you do not ensure that you practice essential basics then you will never, ever get them. The root cause of many problems that arise in push hands and even application of techniques can be traced back to the absence or lack of key basics. Period.

Back to the second point. One of the three essential general things that we must observe is position, more particularly a way to have a good position, which I won’t mention specifically what it is but all of my students learn this in their form and push hands. Whether they can actually do it is another question but its one of those things I keep harping on.

A good position in this case makes it difficult for the other person to apply Lan Sau. Should the other person try to do so he will walk right into a trap. I showed my student the counter to Lan Sau, a counter that is difficult to run away from or block because of the way its applied. 

On the other side of the fence I showed him how a lapse in not keeping this one thing made it easy for me to apply a Lan Sau on him, followed up by a free knuckle sandwich.

This of course begs the question – how to learn key basics. The answer is easy – practice form over and over again, each time ensuring that you work to remember the essential requirements until one day they become a permanent part of you. Or to borrow the phrase your movements change permanently to altered traits.

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