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.

Circling Pole Gung

Introduced a third pole exercise – circling – last night to my student as part of his gung lik development.

In this case, a big circle. The type used to deflect opponent’s pole whilst advancing, kinda like a spinning horizontal tornado.

A snippet of the practice :-

What we are working on is to find the right size circle that can deflect and knock opponent off balance such as illustrated below :-

The circling below is a clockwise circle. In this example, the applied circle technique is more or less straight out of our Ngok Gar 5-Tip Pole technique.

Once the opponent’s pole is swept aside you can move in for the kill.

The actual circling technique is shown above from the manual on the 5-Tip Pole.

Finally, when doing partner practice care must be taken not to accidentally hit the partner in the hand or body. This can be done by maintaining a longer distance.

Basic Pole Gung 3

The third principle we can learn from the Arrow Pole posture is how to get the power from the ground to the tip of the pole via the use of concentric spirals.

OK, I know the lines shown are not spirals. No matter how I draw the spirals they will not be a good representation of what I want to convey across.

I shouldn’t even mention counter-spirals cause that would be even more confusing without some basic understanding of the Tao, physics and the workings of Nature.

Even then its much easier to just do it, feel it and understand it. Some things are just meant to be felt rather than puzzle over intellectually.

That’s why students who are learning the pole will need to keep practicing the Arrow Pole posture over and over again. Then the gung lik of the pole will manifest in the hand.

Basic Pole Gung 2

The second thing we can learn from the Arrow Pole posture is the use of triangulation to focus our power when handling the pole.

I have added a few lines above to give a basic idea of what this means. This is not exhaustive. The actual triangulation is more complicated than this.

A series of principles are applied in order to triangulate properly. For example, we can use a body closing movement to triangulate.

Add to this the principle of the six harmonies and the plot quickly becomes complex. This is why we must drill Arrow Pole a lot so that we can add in the principles layer by layer.

If we try to dump all the principles in at one go the information will overwhelm and confuse rather than enlighten.

Basic Pole Gung 1

The Arrow Pole posture can teach us a thing or two about power.

A simple but important principle is that of perpendicularity.

Perpendicularity calls for our body to be at right angle to the pole when it is held horizontally in the striking motion known as Arrow Pole.

Perpendicularity enables us to position the pole in a stable manner. This in turn allows us to line up the body behind the pole properly to deliver a powerful thrust.

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.

Another Pole Exercise

This week my student began another solo drill to develop an essential attack and defense technique.

This is basically a covering and uncovering motion. The drill is also good for developing whole body power to generate power through a sudden, small movement.

Below are some key pointers when doing the drill :-

The Killing Gung 2

Two weeks later from my last post The Killing Gung I still have my student working on the basics except this time he is down to doing just the 1-2 sequence of Spear-Kill.

Kill –> Spear –> Kill –> Spear

Like a train he chugged up and down linearly along the corridor connecting the two blocks.

I turned a more critical eye to his progress. This week I picked on his grip. A proper grip lends itself to a more solid structure leading to more power.

I had him spear the stack of chairs to understand how to position the pole properly in reference to the position of the body.

We ended with applying the lesson of the pole to the use of emptyhand techniques, particularly the advanced technique that Master Leong taught. This is the “one technique, many changes” movement of our number one fist technique.

Grind on.

The Killing Gung

I think my student has not expected the recent hard training.

Up, down, up down he wielded the mighty pole trying to nail the basics. One, two, one, two. Spear, slam, spear, slam.

Training to acquire power through pole training is basically persistence and prolonged training in mastering the basics. Whether we do a 1-2 or 1-2-3 sequence does not matter. Just keep on working at it.

Get the sequence down, familiarize with it, when the basics look set, refine it, repeat basics + corrections, nail them, refine again. Again and again.

Its still not bad yet as he is still using a light white wax pole. Using a wooden pole will be more tiring. Still its nothing as compared to using a 9-foot pole much later.

Basic familiarity. Basic process. Basic biomechanics. Add the small details. Find the spiral motions. Find the right timing for triggering sudden acceleration and sudden braking to create shock on impact.

As with the weapon, so it is with the body. The pole biomechanics transfer across to use of empty hand techniques. Basic techniques like straight punch is transformed with the body integration and gearing coordination of the entire body movement. Shoulder stroke becomes so much more forceful.