Fly on Wall

I wish I was that fly on the wall.

Or maybe there was no fly at all.

A few years back, how long(?), I have forgotten, a student touched hands with a friend and videod it.

Before the event I gave him some advice on what he could try. However, as the video showed he practically couldn’t carry out any of what I suggested.

Cut to 2019. He had another encounter. More time passed since then. Wiser, more prepared to listen to my advice not to over focus on power. And I made him do some simple techniques.

Actually, those weren’t simple techniques. They are part of our 5 Tigers expression of techniques transmitted by Master Leong. I just taught them in a simpler, accessible manner so that they are easier to pick up.

He said, he claimed he had a much easier going this time around. I was tempted to say, yes, but where is the video evidence.

OK, maybe he didn’t made any. It would have been nice to see if he actually did what he said. Not so much as to cast doubt but to see how well he did it, and to spot room for improvement.

No matter. I showed him where he could improve further. The techniques may be external but underneath are the principles culled from what I learned in Dong style Tai Chi and the style of Grandmaster Wei Shuren.

Yeah, he had to bring up the power thing again. My point again – power is useless without the means of delivering it. So the technique matters. Speed matters. Then when all are in place deliver the power.

Power. Forget internal, forget external. Go with what works in that split second that you have to issue it. Don’t do anything fanciful. Quick, just do it.

How? Use simple, proven biomechanics that is backed by principles of our Tai Chi approach. The method looks external but feels internal. Few tweaks here and there to get the power out in a penetrating and strong manner.

When the time comes I will introduce him to a more focused method of training the power. Just appetizer for now, something to get started. Small bites.

Another Pole Exercise 2

Last week I got my student to do a new pole solo drill. Here he is starting off :-

With some practice he at least nailed some semblance of what the movement should be like.

Why I got him to work on this new exercise? Its because its a great training method to develop quick wrist turning that is vital to generating power in a short burst. When you do it quickly this is what it would look like :-

The movements can be applied in push hands and last night I provided examples of how to use small circles and spirals in quick counters and attacks.

When done fast the techniques should be like a swift torrent of movements overwhelming the visual and tactile senses, confusing the opponent’s reaction, slowing him down, making it easier for you to apply your techniques. I didn’t film any of this as its one of those 1-to-1 transmissions thingy.

Lessons of the Pole

Its nearly 3 weeks since my last post. I thought the economy is not doing that well, not that I can tell with all the work activity.

Started a third student on learning the pole that is from my first Tai Chi teacher. Its a basic Sao Lim pole but there are useful lessons to be learned.

Lesson 1 – as with solo form we must develop awareness. The length of the pole helps to expand the awareness space.

Lesson 2 – learn the meaning of the saying when young fear the fist, when old fear the pole.

Lesson 3 – again stop being obsessed with power. In using the pole power is useless if you fail to hit your opponent. Instead, if he hits you, especially with a solid pole, the pain and damage is much worse than getting hit by a fist or palm strike. So pay attention to the movement process to understand how to use the pole properly.

Lesson 4 – though the pole is heavy you must also learn to use it as if it is light. To do this you must learn the trick of manipulating the pole using proper biomechanics.

Lesson 5 – as with pole, so be with the fist. This means that the way you learn to handle the pole can be transferred across to the way you apply empty hand techniques in push hands.

Lesson 6 – don’t be long winded when using the pole. Learn to decisively move, hit and finish the opponent in 1-2 moves. Then apply the same to empty hand techniques.

Lesson 7 – enhance your body movement from learning the pole. Learn to move quickly, precisely and control the striking zone through stepping and body angling.

Lesson 8 – understand how to extend power further. Playing the pole a lot can develop wrist and arm strength. This can boost the striking techniques that is from Master Leong’s PKK arsenal.

Contact Training 6

In this clip after we got into the groove we let our body moved a little more, gyrating and bouncing gently to an inner rhythm, akin to a dance.

But not for long because as soon as my student couldn’t keep up with the rhythm he started opening up his spaces unknowingly to attack.

In the following clip we change focus to small, tight circles before letting it morph into freer circles. This inevitably led back to the pattern of movements in the clips shown in the earlier posts in this series.

Many times how your opponent responds to your movements is how your technique will turn out. You can dictate how the movements can be but it takes less effort if you just enjoy the moment and go with the flow. Then your body will respond automatically with the pattern of movements that you have etched into your body from the form training.

Contact Training 5

We can create an opening to attack or we can wait until an opening presents itself.

In the clip below my student presented a good flow with strong, sticky movements so unless I purposely created an opening there was no getting through his defence.

But as we flowed and flowed, a slight deviation in his movement flow was detected and I seized the opportunity to attack. This is why when we play hands we put 110% awareness into it.

The clip below presents a different take on how to attack. This time instead of letting the flow of movements open up the space to attack, I used pressure to crowd in, wedge and attack.

Thereafter, I used the same attack over and over again. I didn’t need to change the technique because my student could not solve the technique.

Contact Training 4

Circle, spiral, twist, turn, come in, escort out, snare, trap, lock. A round of push hands can provide us training in these various movements of the arm.

When you can movement seemingly free, yet adhering to a fuzzy pattern of movements you can begin to use it to find and create an opening for your attack.

In the second part of the clip I go through a few patterns of movements using them to probe until I found the opening.

Though we are playing movement patterns we should be careful not to become fixated with only one set of movements. Let the movements flow freely, yet find the pattern in the movements.

Then you can change at will in response to a stimulus. So if in the midst of movement my student tried coming too close and pressuring my arm against my body, I kept my awareness and moved from inside to outside while neutralizing his attack and returning a counter.

Contact Training 3

Why we do form training so much?

This is because this is one way to train ourselves to be familiar with our own movements.

In the beginning of the clip my student is attempting to apply a technique but his movement is not filled with confidence hence the uncertain feel I was getting.

When you know the movement really well you can move so much better. It is not unusual for a student to think that a lacklustre technique is acceptable. It might be when he is training with another student but it will not be if he is doing it with someone at a higher level.

When you know your movement it is like a highly tuned and sensitive instrument, so much so that a slight deviation will set off an instant response.

Otherwise, you can run round and round in circles and still cannot find the opening for your attack.

Contact Training 2

During push hands training we train the automation of our responses by learning about patterns of movements.

In form training we learn movement patterns. Through push hands training we learn how to reconcile what we learned in the form and the application of those movement patterns in push hands.

In the earlier part of this clip I highlighted a movement pattern to my student. This is a frequently used pattern in our push hands. Because he has not assimilated the lessons of the form in his mind he is not able to recognize the patterns amidst the chaos of free movement.

In the last part of the clip I showed an extension of the same movement pattern. This came about because his response triggered my counter to his movement.

Contact Training

The fun about push hands training is that there are so many ways to work it.

One aspect that we work on is how to keep flowing amidst pressure. However, we don’t just flow for the sake of it. We flow like water seeking an opening.

When we find the opening we then go through it. But not before ensuring that there is healthy compliance to the principles like don’t let the elbows fly in the air, don’t use excessive strength, don’t expose yourself to strikes and so on.

An example is working on keeping the centre, and not just the centreline. This aspect of training calls for us to protect an imaginary sphere in front of our body, making the opponent run around it.

Another aspect is how to recover the centre the moment the opponent’s hand comes through. The solution is easy enough, let it come, harmonize and guide it back out.

And if the opponent’s arms were to crumble, quickly change to push and pull to uproot and send off.