Impermanence

Impermanence.

This is the fate that waits a living art. This is why I started taping some lessons to allow students to see better where they are lacking.

Some things you can see and some things you can’t. A video gives you a third party perspective of what you are doing.

I taped this fajing demo as part of a lesson. Even with explanation I noticed that some movements can’t be captured on video.

And even with explanation certain things are best felt rather than heard. This is why to learn Tai Chi you need to see it, hear it and feel it.

What can’t be seen clearly in how to neutralize the pressure by grounding it. You can only see the issuing movement. That’s like reading half the story.

Perhaps one day VR can be used to enhance distance learning. Until then treat our art as impermanent and pass it on to as many as possible to ensure its continuing existence.

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24-Blocks

The SKD syllabus is expanding to include a mid-range repertoire of movements which is taught through a simple form. Below is one way to practice this form :-

This form has 24 blocking movements (I am using the term block loosely here) plus 3 attacks. As such, I call it the 24-Blocks form.

The 24-Blocks form is built on my insights, practice and research into the Southern Shaolin arts. The practice is focused on the following skills :-

a) Soft but heavy whole body power using classical power generation principle of Swallow, Spit, Float, Sink

b) Relaxed arms that can yield to pressure yet adhere to detect openings

c) Use of change to control a position

The 24-Blocks form will be offered to students who are in SKD Level 2.

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Single Whip Learning

Learning Tai Chi is fun. As for practice…….. yeah, it can be a bitch.

Here’s CG trying to implement what he learned about the 5 bows in Single Whip. He is working on one of the bows.

Looks kinda difficult to learn, right?

Difficult to learn, yes, but not impossible to master. Just gotta work on them details.

Below is my demo :-

Once you understand the 5 bows you can use the bows more flexibly. Below are some example :-

This example uses the bow of the striking hand to generate. Since the technique here is Push which uses two arms, we can then apply the lesson learned from the hook hand as well.

The video below shows the learning of the striking arm bow :-

When learning fajing do not overlook other important points because ultimately opponent is not going to stand there and take it. He will fight back. He will try to hit you.

So you better learn the technique side of Single Whip as well and not just become fixated with the fajing.

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Rubber Power

The ability to visualize and feel is important to learn how to use Tai Chi as an internal art as shown below :-

Imagination without a sense of qualia, of feeling of what is in the mind as real is the secret here. The use of an imaginary rubber band is incidental and a convenient reference tool.

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Musical Intention

CG learning how to use the Play Pipa application to learn about fajing.

As its his first attempt it is only natural that he moved more than necessary. But its a good attempt.

Below is example of how to do the Play Pipa fajing :-

The key point is where to put the intention so that you can minimize the effort and outer movements.

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Minimizing Training Problems

I wrote this post after reading a posting from SKD learning group member, AY, today.

Apparently, he is hurting his thumb and feeling uncomfortable from rebound shock when striking a pad (thanks to Sir Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion).

As usual, the same problem he faces applies to my Tai Chi students also.

The root cause of most training problems can be attributed to :-

a) Weak foundation in basics

b) Overdoing a movement to compensate for a weakness

c) Misunderstanding the principles

What the above means :-

a) Each style is configured to work a certain way in line with the way the style is designed.

If your basics is not performed properly then you would not be able to work and apply the techniques in the way it is intended to.

In SKD the way we hold the thumb minimizes injury when striking not just the pad but when playing with a live opponent. I’ve had my share of painful reminders why the traditional way of placing the thumb does not work.

For example, when we train moving at a faster pace such as shown in the video below we can end up bumping our thumb accidentally against the training partner’s arm especially when we strike and he blocks. When this happens the impact will jar our thumb from its holding position and this hurts.

b) When you are not ready to do something and you try to do it and you can’t get the result you may try to force your way through. You might then get the result but there will be a cost.

As an example, if you hit a pad you should be using whole body, relaxed movement. However, you may find that it is difficult to punch harder yet be relaxed at the same time. Yet, you desperately want to punch harder even though you are not ready.

But what the hell, you go ahead and do it anyway, thinking you know better. Your enthusiasm and eagerness is re-paid with rebound shocks that can give you headaches cause not correct is not correct no matter how you cut it. More so if you are punching a pad that is tied in front of a solid, unyielding post.

c) Paying close attention to basics, principles and core requirements can reap positive dividends. If you rush through the learning you can end up misunderstanding vital information.

For example, in SKD we say that the basic linear strike is like releasing an arrow? Why do we say this? When you examine all the information out there you will start to understand why the analogy of an arrow in flight is appropriate.

 

Summary – when your basics are in place some of the things that look inaccessible when you first started will become doable.

For example, some will claim that it takes a decade of study to be able to do Tai Chi fajing. I don’t think this is true. If it is true it is due to a number of factors, some of which is due to the student and some due to the teacher.

However, if both parties are willing to work towards it then there is no reason why the ability to fajing cannot be achieved earlier. In the video below the student has only learned for 3 years and he is attaining slowly but surely the ability to fajing.

Even then this is not as impressive. Some other students can do it after a few months of learning. They might not be as impressive but they can do it.

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Geyser Force

When you fajing do you truly connect to the ground and let it does its job?

Or do you use leg muscle to push against the ground to generate the power?

Below is a video showing how we train to connect to the ground without having to straighten the back leg to thrust against the ground to generate power.

Our rationale for this is that when you push your leg against the ground you are trying to use a stronger strength against a weaker strength. This does not fit the profile of Tai Chi as an art of using the soft to overcome hard.

Our reading of the principles of the Tai Chi Classics require us to let the opponent apply pressure on us so that we can borrow his power.

We then allow his power to connect to the ground at which point Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion comes into play, causing the opponent’s power to rebound back at him.

To allow this to happen we must relax so that the rebound force can move through our body swiftly with minimal impediment and maximum flow.

In this way when the force comes out it will be strong like a geyser discharging water forcefully into the air.

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