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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Fajing Glimpse

Here’s a clip from a training session on 17 Sep 2018.

The question here is what do you do when your opponent relaxes his arms so that you cannot use his resistance against him.

You will find that its not easy to use the common method of fajing such an opponent unless you can get close enough to push his body instead of his arms.

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Begin to Learn Push Hands 4

This is the final video :-

Going a bit deeper into the nature of change depending on what the opponent gives you.

Below is a video I took years ago. This gives a demonstration of the various changes from the use of a basic push hands position.

This was taken on the fly in that we didn’t do any rehearsal or agreed on a fixed response. I just went with what was given to me by my student and thanks to him this came off well for a demo clip.

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Begin to Learn Push Hands 3

This is the third video :-

Some explanation on how to use the horizontal circle for application of techniques using Grasp Sparrow’s Tail as example.

In our push hands the understanding of change is important because we never know how the opponent will react. So it is important to us to really understand the various positions we find ourselves in when playing push hands.

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Stupid is the New Smart

I was writing this for the SKD learning group but this can be applied to my other students so here it is.

I was thinking of why some students make good progress and some don’t. The ones that don’t make good progress typically over-think something. Instead of doing it they like to make theories.

And when they finally get around to doing it they do it wrong and then they wonder why they didn’t get it. They may think that knowledge is being withheld from them when the reason is so much more straightforward.

The ones that do make faster progress tends to do more than think too much. With doing they have feedback that can be used to make improvements and progress. Without the doing, without the feedback you will veer off the path too easily.

Some things don’t look right to the “normal” thinking mind because they are not able to see far or deep enough to know better. This is where the not so smart student will be stupid enough to actually try it and in the process make discoveries and attain insights.

Asking too many questions too early is another way not to make progress because too much information is confusing. The student who makes progress is the one that asks the right question after putting in practice and reflection on his practice. Of course, this begs the question – what is the right question?

A subject can be broad and deep. Many techniques make for a broad subject. The details that make a technique work is defined by its depth. If you don’t know what you are looking at then you end up fooling yourself because then you think in one direction while failing to consider another direction. Its what I call solve one problem but create a few more problems.

So for example, when you swing your hand in a certain way to slap your body you may think it would be better to say slap the shoulders because it makes sense to you for whatever reason. But you missed out on another crucial point, one that tells you why you should not aim at the shoulders. If you can’t figure this out then you don’t know enough to make assumptions of what is right and what is wrong.

Finally, don’t look for praise when learning. This is what I call an American entertainment disease. I see it all the time on reality TV. Someone fails but told he should be proud of what he has achieved. Seriously, what has he achieved? He failed. What is there to be proud of? Instead, he should just get up and go back to basics. I don’t know about the entertainment field but that’s how you make progress in learning CMA.

A traditional teacher doesn’t praise the student much not because he does not want to but because he knows that too much praise is detrimental to learning. Praise can make a student stop or slow down his learning since he thought that he has already achieved it when the truth is he has just scratched the surface and that the real journey is from that point on. In not receiving the praise the serious student then works harder because he is looking for approval.

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