Ad-Lib Swings 2

Free Sao Chui swinging here.

We train Sao Chui this way in order to generate a strong knockout power.

Imagine a conditioned forearm that swings like a base bat aimed at your head.

While I am not at the level of Master Leong this gives an idea of the potential power of this strike.

SKD Training Session 1

This morning we had the SKD online training on Zoom. I wanted to cover 3 topics but ended up covering only 1 topic.

Why this is so is because of our preferred method of teaching. Basically, there two ways to teach :-

a) Mass training – this way of teaching is more on getting everyone to do drills and having a fun time. If they really get it then its a bonus. If not, keep practicing

b) Focused training – this way is more for the serious, adult learner who knows what he is looking for. Its slower paced and the training is just as cerebral as it is physical.

In SKD we go for focused training. Its tougher to learn this way but you know exactly how to do it, why you are doing it and how you can use it.

Due to the massive amount of details it is not something you can latch onto right away. You still have to do your own training which is why we only have the training every two weeks to give you the time to practice.

To get the most out of the learning each participant should test their setup first. They should ensure that their entire body can be seen and give allowance for the ground in front to be captured in the frame as well. This allows me to check their stepping. I would recommend to use a webcam and a tripod to get the best angle.

The topic that I ended up covering today is the SKD salute. The salute is divided into three parts – opening movement, salute and closing. I had planned to run the class for 60 minutes but ended up doing it for 80 minutes and covering just the opening and salute.

Embedded in the SKD salute are the key principles that define the characteristics of Chinese martial art, at least the way I learned it from a few teachers.

From practicing the SKD salute we learned about efficiency of movement, the embedded possible applications, technique changes, setting up the body to generate power, etc. All this can be realized once the elements are adhered to and eventually put into play in subsequent practices.

The use of intent from understanding what we are doing can push us along the progress curve. Participants have seen for themselves that it is easy to just move the limbs but not so easy to move the limbs in a very precise and defined manner. This is why authentic Chinese martial arts can be said to be easy to learn but a bitch to train.

I missed out on recording the first half hour. However, I managed to record the last 53 minutes and have uploaded the video to the Slack workspace for The Tai Chi Solo Player.

The next training will be on 28 Jun 2020 at 8 am Singapore time. The full schedule is listed here.

Physical Intelligence

….rationalizing won’t get the job done.”

I love this sentence in the Introduction of the book “Physical Intelligence” by Scott Grafton. Similarly, I would say that the only way to master Tai Chi is to engage in things Tai Chi i.e. you gotta practice the form, gotta do push hands, gotta learn to apply the techniques, gotta do deep study.

Complaining about how difficult it is to master Tai Chi, how you can’t seem to understand it, how it seem unattainable, and other complaints will not get you anywhere. You just gotta do it.

Do it, do it, do it. No matter how difficult it may be.

The problem always starts when you want to master the elusive fajing. The more you yearn for it, the more elusive it gets. Hence, my teacher said it best when he said the objective is just to practice daily, not master fajing, not win medals, not get ranking promotions.

When you get your priorities right you begin to move forward. As Scott Grafton writes :-

Skills such as these are informed by “physical intelligence”: the components of the mind that allow anyone to engage with and change the world.

So don’t try to think your way to mastery. The thinking has already been done in the past (hint : Tai Chi Classics); if anything you have to do it, keep doing it, and do it some more. Otherwise, you will get stuck for a long, long time in Tai Chi non-mastery hell.

Do you know why you need to practice the solo form alone, without the joys of being part of group who share the same interests, engaging in banter, shared physical interactions?

Solo form training is a way of allowing yourself to find a way to be free of internal and external chatter, of the monkey brain and of friends. As Grafton pointed out :-

Rather, the solitude provides time for reflection and an opportunity to examine the kind of intelligence that informed human action as our species evolved.

Thus, solo training allows you to focus your mind, develop a better awareness and feel for what your body is doing. This familiarity deepens with the passage of time, that if you keep working on the same movement over and over again, using the same form so as to have a consistent frame of reference, will allow you to experience the insights hidden behind the principles of the Tai Chi Classics.

Grafton also mentioned :-

1) Physical intelligence is absolutely ruthless in requiring that knowledge be gained from direct physical experience.

2) …physical intelligence reflects learning processes that constantly tinker with a person’s performance. One never stops learning to cook, to drive, or even to walk, for that matter. It is also a knowledge that is lost from disuse; without practice you will fall on ice or off ladders.

3) …physical intelligence provides the means to establish a sense of control. Humans acquire their skills and learn to solve problems through constant experimentation.

4) There is no end to the sensing, adapting, anticipating, and accommodating that must take place for a person to act intelligently. It takes practice and know-how to do even the little things in life…

The funny thing is that I have been telling students to learn push hands as well as they study the form but most of them don’t want to do it. They don’t listen as they know what they want, or so they think. Points (3) and (4) is basically what push hands is teaching and I am glad that a scientist has pointed out the importance of such learning to acquire a skill.

Maybe now students will believe me, or maybe not. People can behave irrationally, they know that they have not mastered a skill and they seek out a person to teach them the skill and by extension how to master it, but they just don’t want to listen to how to master it. Strange behavior that I would like to see a scientist write a book on.

In the meantime, life goes on. Another lunar year, the beginning of a new lunar year cycle will soon begin. What will be, will be. What won’t be, won’t be.