Foundation is the Key

When you learn a martial art you must always pay heed to the foundation. Which begs the question – what is the foundation?

Let’s take a simple example – BojiLite – my compact online learning for three basic strikes from the style of Pok Khek Kuen. In BojiLite we have three simple foundation which underlie the three strikes. They are :-

1) Basic posture (Siu Sei Ping Ma)

2) In-situ body turning (Leung Yi Ma)

3) Zigzag stepping (Leung Yi Bo)

The learning of the first strike, Yum Chui, involves all three of the above. We would begin with the simple basic posture to develop a static foundation.

This foundation is then rotated and shifted for the purpose of mobilizing the Yum Chui strike and generating the power required.

This learning is extended by studying how to strike as we step in a zigzag pattern.

When we study the second strike, Chau Chui, we use back the same basics which greatly simplifies the learning. The only difference now is how do we do the Chau Chui strike.

Now, the Yum Chui is a straight forward linear strike with a horizontal fist. It seems like a normal straight punch. However, we do have some differences, some might call these details the trade secrets of the style, yeah why not, in how we throw the fist out, small details to help us shoot the punch out real quick and powerful to boot using certain tricks of the mind and body. Without knowing the details you will end up doing Yum Chui like a normal punch sans the tricks that make it what it is.

Chau Chui is a different animal. It is not a longer range strike like Yum Chui. However, we can apply Chau Chui at a longer range, just not necessarily as long a range as Yum Chui. The second strike is better served as a medium to short range strike as shown below :-

Based on the principle a common foundation for all three strikes it should be straightforward to perform Chau Chui once you have studied Yum Chui for a while. What you need to pay heed to is how to hit the intended target precisely with power.

I know, I know, a circular movement is not easy to handle. If you are hitting a strike pad with Chau Chui its not too bad. Its when you are hitting air that you encounter the problem of how to stop the punch and quickly switch to strike with the other arm.

The difficulty with stopping the Chau Chui is due to the path the arm takes. Typically, we tend to view Chau Chui as an upward movement. So when you want to stop it you have to brake hard on your arm movement before you can switch to the other arm to strike. Now an arm moving with momentum is not easy to stop.

If you have driven a motorcycle fast and tried stopping within a shorter distance you would have to pump the brakes, let go and pump again a few more times before you can stop. If you depress the brakes really hard you would end up skidding. So trying to stop a power-laden and speeding Chau Chui is something similar to this.

So how do we solve this problem?

By thinking outside the box! Of course! Well, actually we don’t really have to do so. But when you can’t see the issue clearly then why not?

The word “Chau” is referring to an action that is akin to snatching an object and tossing it forcefully. Well, lucky for us there is a sport that comes with a movement that is similar to “Chau”. This would the sport of cornhole tossing. Take a look for yourself below :-

So there you have it. A solution to how to switch between the arms to strike hard and continuously. Hope you can see the key in the video on cornhole tossing.

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Sample BojiLite Corrective Video 3

The main topic of this video is the quality of the parries demonstrated by members of the Facebook BojiLite Learning Group.

In a nutshell – they lack the short and sharp quality that brings with it a shocking power when the parry slams into the opponent’s arm.

But then hold on, what if the opponent throws a fast jab. Can you still use the parries?

Good question – there is a secondary lesson here which I will reveal to members in the future about this point.

NCF7

Sample BojiLite Corrective Video 2

The second video is on the disease of going for a powerful but slower Yum Chui.

This internal-like habit is prevalent among those who have learned Tai Chi before. It is not a good habit to have. Granted, it might look nice in a public demonstration, vowing those who don’t understand what combat is about.

However, in combat if you can’t get your strike in quickly when the opponent is in your sight then chances are you will not be able to hit him. This video is meant to eradicate unnecessary punching movements in favor of a lean, minimal, straight to the point movement.

NCF7

Sample BojiLite Corrective Video 1

I have uploaded a few videos to the BojiLite Learning Group on Facebook.

These videos are mainly aimed at correcting common problems which I have observed in members’ practice. I have uploaded three of these videos to share to this blog.

The first video in on how to perform the first punch, Yum Chui, properly.

A very common problem is to punch in an unbalanced manner, resulting in lopsided energy, loopy, even flaccid-like flicking punches. A good Bojiquan punch should not be like this.

Instead, the Yum Chui should fly like an arrow released from a high strung bow. The power should be mighty and penetrating. This video highlights a key factor which is lacking in member’s Yum Chui.

NCF7

 

Wrong Question, Wrong Answer

Here is a post I wrote today on the BojiLite Learning Group. It may be about Pok Khek Kuen but the general thrust of the message can be applied to the learning of Tai Chi. I have modified it slightly to conceal the member’s identity.

Post of 12 May 2018 (BojiLite Learning Group)

Ask wrong question, get wrong answer.

Ask right question, may still get wrong answer but at least the investigation is on the right track.

Vague ideas like too tight or too loose only work if you have hands on guidance. Also, its not easy to teach vague concepts. Instead, a more logically approach works better.

However, outlining everything clearly promotes laziness in thinking for oneself so I prefer to outline the issues and let each one think through the issues, analyze it and learn from the exercise in thinking.

What’s X’s problems? Anyway, not important because anyone else could end up with the same problems as follows :-

1) Unable to punch fast with optimal coordination

2) Unable to punch at a fast speed without instability

 

There are different ways to punch. Every teacher will give you a reason why they follow a particular method. It is up to you to decide if it is a method you want to go with after you practice and apply it.

The problems of combat are simple :-

a) How do you not get hit?

b) How do you hit back?

c) How fast can you hit back?

d) How powerful can you hit back?

e) How can you hit back and not get hit?

 

In Pok Khek we have our methods to address these questions. The practice of combat can be divided into :-

a) Solo – get things right on your own, first in form, then when hitting a static target

b) Partner – practice against a partner to check and verify your ability to implement the method

 

In Pok Khek the solo training is meant to learn and solve the following problems :-

a) What is a good structure that allows you to be rooted whether momentarily in-place or when moving?

b) How do you generate power?

c) How do you deliver power?

d) How do you bring the power to hit the target quickly in an optimal manner?

e) How do you avoid the opponent’s techniques?

 

To this end, we study the following :-

a) Basic posture to understand what a good structure is

b) In-situ body turning to generate power

c) The arm pulley model to deliver power

d) The Yum Chui to hit the target

e) The body turning and parries to avoid the opponent’s techniques

 

A good technique, in this case Yum Chui, must enable you to strike quickly, with penetrating power while allowing you to avoid getting hit.

X’s problem areas :-

a) Punching arm movement – unnecessary pulsation movement; mind you its not totally wrong because you see Chen style Tai Chi doing it, but its not the Pok Khek way because we want to hit the target quickly

b) Body turning – inherent instability during turning that affects ability to deliver chain strikes

c) Extraneous movements that can potentially affect stability during execution of Yum Chui

 

Now that we have a list of problem areas how do we solve them. Let’s just focus on the first two items :-

a) Study carefully how we move the arms when doing Yum Chui. There is a scientific concept here which I have mentioned before – the pulley. This is just the base concept but its good enough for now.

Investigate how to do the arm movements without body turning. Just stand in basic posture. No doubt your body will turn a bit, let it be.

As you become more familiar go read my post of 2 May again (this is referring to a post in the BojiLite Learning Group). This time a certain passage may stand out and should a light bulb go off in your head then you will be like Mahākāśyapa when Buddha held up the lotus flower to test his understanding……

b) The problem of instability is the same as when driving and cornering. How do you prevent the car from turning too fast, resulting in loss of control and flipping over. By using the brakes, of course.

But what if you don’t want to use the brakes? What do you do then? Solve this analogy and you have solved the problem in instability during in-situ body turning……..

And when all else fails, eat more fish cause as mothers would say its good for your brain…..

 

NCF7

1st BojiLite Training Challenge Completion

Yesterday was the last day of the first BojiLite training challenge.

Participating members did their best to keep up even though life and work intruded on their busy schedule.

As I expected, those who took part showed improvements even though no member managed to complete all 7 days. The nearest was 6 days. Previously, when they did sporadic practice over the last 6 weeks or so minimal improvements were the result and sometimes problem areas could still not be improved even after 2 weeks.

I am happy to report that a number of these problem areas have been addressed and improved upon. In some cases the improvements came 2 days after members took the advice on where to improve and worked on them.

Below is a sampling of the practice. I have selected three drills to highlight.

a) Drill No. 1 – in-situ body turning
This drill trains basic body movement, torque and foundation for power generation

 

b) Drill No. 2 – side parry
This drill builts on Drill No. 2 by adding in a defensive movement, the side parry, to train how to intercept and divert an opponent’s straight punch

 

c) Drill No. 3 – Yum Chui
The third drill adds to the first two drills. The member is taught to deliver a counter-attack in the form of a straight punch after neutralizing the opponent’s attack

 

This challenge is a good example of the importance of daily practice. The average challenge video is 10 minutes per clip per day. Members probably spent more time trying to understand my comments and thought through what they needed to do to address the areas that needed correction, putting in some practice before filming their challenge video. And the result of their effort shows.

I only hope that after the challenge ends they will keep up the practice. I will continue putting up training material and perhaps the next challenge will be on improving on stepping and speed of punching. Some members are already able to put some snap into their punches. They just need an extra push to become better.

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Inaugural BojiLite Training Challenge

Next week, 30 Mar, is Good Friday. I am taking this opportunity to challenge the members of the Facebook BojiLite study group to a 7 days training challenge called BojiLite Good!!! Friday.

The objective of this challenge is to get members to put themselves through some consistent, serious training for 7 days and hopefully, transform their understanding and skills.

I know members typically put in very little practice so this challenge is an initiative to move things along, especially for those who are serious about mastery. Seven consecutive days is very little time investment to gain some skills in return.

This challenge will also separate those who are really serious from those who want to play, play and pray, pray they gain some skills. This is a chance to feel first hand what serious training is like.

At the end of 7 days the member who goes all the way to do each training sequence would have achieved the following statistics :-

a) In-situ body turning 110 turns each side / day X 7 days = 770 turns

b) Side Parry (20 parries each hand / day X 7 days = 140 parries per hand)

c) Upward Parry (20 parries each hand / day X 7 days = 140 parries per hand)

d) Yum Chui (40 Yum Chui each hand / day X 7 days = 280 punches per hand)

e) Forearm conditioning (5 rolls per arm X 9 breaks / day X 7 days = 315 rolls per arm)

The participating member should be able to move up the skill level after this challenge. If he can keep up with this level of training mastery will be within his grasp.

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