Chao Chui Learning

When I was learning Wing Chun I did not like strikes that were big in movement and circular because being a Wing Chun guy I thought this type of striking is too slow.

But after many years of reflecting on Master Leong’s teaching I changed my mind and now I think circular strikes with big movement are powerful and fast as long as you understand how to minimize your exposure when you are using it.

In SKD after the Yum Chui which is a linear strike we next turn to Chao Chui which is a powerful circular strike. Here I highlight a few methods of keeping yourself covered when using it.

Relaxed Chain Punching

In our SKD Zoom training of 11 Jul 2020 I touched on how to be able to hit faster, even throwing chain punches, by using just the right amount of movement.

When we apply the principle of 2 4 points from Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Tai Chi we can actually whip off punches one after another very quickly while remaining relaxed and be able to turn the body to optimize momentum.

Moving Exactly

In SKD we don’t just become fajing crazy to the exclusion of everything else.

To us techniques are just as important. To make the techniques work we need to work on moving precisely so that we can be where we want to be when we want to be.

In this lesson from our Zoom session of 11 Jul 2020 I offer a correction to eliminate unnecessary body movement.

The topic of not wasting movement, not moving unnecessarily is one of the most difficult part of learning Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Tai Chi.

In SKD by learning to be precise with the assistance of a simple learning tool such as a tripod we can reap the benefit of what GM Wei’s style has to offer without having to go through the frustration that comes with learning his Uber complex 22 form.

Basic Stance Formation

Here’s another Tai Chi essential that is part of our SKD training that I covered in our Zoom online training on 11 Jul 2020.

I’ve talked about traceability in the past. In this instance when we do the salute we are not just doing a greeting.

In the salute there are a few things to learn including how to form a basic high horse stance with attendant structural arch.
This arch forms the two leg bows which provide the foundation for the type of power found in Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Tai Chi. In SKD I teach this concept as foundation habit.

With a proper leg structure we can move with proper upper body and lower body coordination, with good structural efficiency and economy of motion while keeping the body primed to generate power when required.

Resolving Double Weightedness

One of the topics from our SKD online lesson on 11 Jul 2020 is on the importance of not being double weighted.

In this clip you can see the principles of Tai Chi at play in SKD to solve the problem of double weightedness.

In this instance, I am explaining the application of the “2 4 points” in the use of footwork to illustrate why it is important to avoid double weightedness as it affects our ability to move.

One Peak, Many Paths

This week I got a pair of Bahi hardwood sticks that was brought in from Cebu for my iKali practice. They truly are a lovely pair of heavy and solidly hard sticks.

I got a lovely bonus from the seller in the form of an interesting introduction to the version of Filipino martial arts (FMA) that he practices. Let me start by saying that I can see from his movements that he is a very skilled practitioner.

If I did not know that he is an FMA player the stuff that he told me could well pass off as things we talk about in the Neijia arts. But as it is it is a pleasant surprise to hear of this aspect of FMA.

I find it interesting that their art is heavily concept based in that they don’t teach drills. Instead, they teach you to respond by giving you pressure to teach you to react properly.

When I listen to someone talk I try not to bring my own bias and knowledge into it. Instead, I try to keep an open mind. Let him tell it as it is. Then later after I have a chance to think it over properly then I can have a better opinion.

Though his art takes a radical approach to the training of FMA, on reflection it is similar to iKali in the teachings. I have outlined my impressions and conclusions below :-

1) Concept based – his art begins with a concept and keeps to this path instead of moving on into drills. In iKali we begin with a concept and use drills to learn how to use the concept

2) His art has no drills. In iKali we do have drills, lots of it. Their art looks upon drills as not realistic and in this I agree, that is, if drills are taught wrongly then they are next to useless. However, in iKali drills actually teach us usage. In fact, though I am only a month into it and I am still doing the most basic drills I am constantly amazed by what I discover.

Beginners keep working on the basic footwork and Open Series drills. Today I was out and for some reason my hands went to work on the salute. I mean the salute is the first thing we learn. We are told what it means and even about the hidden application inside. So what else is new?

Well, as it is I kept moving through the salute without a stick in hand but a machete in mind. I went through the movements and kept the application in mind. The more I did it the more the Open Series drills I have been practicing now came to make sense. I had also looked through a video from the Flow section particularly the Umbrella Series and now I get it, at least I think I did, the salute is an Umbrella movement followed by an Entry 4 cut.

And once the butt of the stick or should I say the butt of the machete handle comes to the heart I can have possibilities of continuing on with the attack, perhaps a jab then Entry 6 cut (or even disarm using Sagang Labo), or a hip load into a cut to the knee (and change into Entry 6), or even a tap (feint) and change to a horizontal cut. I have seen Tuhon Apolo explain these things in different videos but seeing is seeing, and experiencing for myself is a different thing.

3) He mentioned that when striking the other non-striking hand is important. I won’t mention that this is a common knowledge in Chinese martial arts. Certainly, I had learned this in the early teachings in iKali when I learned about the shoulder loading position. Tuhon Apolo also pointed this out in the teaching about the use of the blade specifically the importance of learning to check.

4) He pointed out that a concept can be expressed many ways by illustrating different ways to attack Number 12. Interestingly, I had seen an earlier video of Tuhon Apolo explaining the concept of Meet and Merge in the Flow section.

Here Tuhon Apolo demonstrated a few ways that Meet and Merge can be applied conceptually instead of as a fixed technique. When I think of it a number of the techniques in the Wing Chun Bart Jam Dao that I know are essentially ways to apply Meet and Merge.

5) Feeder – this was the term he used to describe how they used pressure to teach students. Tuhon Apolo has also said that iKali is a feeder art. But then so is any Chinese martial art that trains sensitivity drills.

Sometimes the teaching can also begin from the other end of the spectrum. When I learned Tai Chi push hands my teacher didn’t try to feed me energy first. Instead, he had me attack him any way I like so that I can learn how he responded. It was only after some time had passed that I reached the stage of him attacking me, feeding me the energy to train my reaction.

By this time and in this manner I had learned to control my reaction and so is in a better position to learn how to use techniques to respond instead of panicking and twisting and turning to get away from the feeding attacking.

A different art can sound different, look different at first glance. However, when you get into it you may realize that different styles are essentially many paths to lead to the same peak even as the flavors taste different. So diversity is the spice of life.

Time Paradox

Reading widely is important because it helps us to reconcile traditional teachings to new discoveries in science that can help us to explain what we do to today’s practitioners who lack the imagination to learn abstract concepts.

The Greatest: The Quest for Sporting Perfection by Matthew Sayed has some information that helps us to explain what we do in Tai Chi.

One of them can be found in under the chapter The Paradox of Time. Sayed wrote :-

Psychologists talk about the time paradox. This is the well-versed observation that the greatest of performers seem to play at a different tempo to everyone else….. In the latest rounds of his bout with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard was fighting at what seemed like half-speed.

This paradox has been well studied by cognitive psychologists and there is nothing mystical about it. It emerges from a highly sophisticated form of perceptual awareness. Great sports-people are able to ‘read’ the subtle cues of their opponents, extracting information about their intentions through early-warning signals (postural orientation, tiny alterations in body language, etc). When you know what an opponent is going to do before he actually does it, you have all the time in the world.

Pretty amazing skill wouldn’t you say. Many masters display such skill. In Tai Chi there are two ways to learn this :-

a) The easiest way to do so is by pushing hands. In this context I am not referring to the competitive type of shoving, wrestling type of push hands that is popular today.

Instead, I am referring to the use of pushing to develop a sensitive feel as to what the opponent is doing. At a certain stage the opponent may feel as if you are reading their mind.

However, I would postulate that it is more of the case of your hand acting as a 6-axis accelerometer ( that is sensitive to how fast your opponent is moving, where he is moving towards, how much strength he is using, when he is speeding up, changing direction, and so on.

b) The more difficult way is to study is by training the solo form. Form training requires us to achieve a certain level of sung. The more sung we are the more we can feel even a very light amount of pressure acting on us.

At another stage when you have developed the use of intention to map out mental grids in front of you as you are performing the techniques it becomes possible to use them to predict the movements of the opponent.

This is something we study in our Push Hands Game. As Sayed mentioned this is not mystical, rather it is how you apply principles to your training. On the same page Sayed also wrote the following which is highly similar to what we do in Tai Chi :-

Messi has started basking in this capacity during this World Cup. He takes the ball, and literally stops. He stands there, like a mongoose facing a snake, daring his opponent to take a bite. These are fascinating moments in the game because they demonstrate that almost all the important action is going on not in the feet, but in the brain. The ball is stationary, the players are stationary; Messi’s eyes are trained on his opponent, scanning and rescanning, picking up on clues that nobody in the world football is able to see. Then his opponent lunges at the empty space where the ball used to be. It is beautiful and revelatory.