Saturday, September 20, 2008

Low Stance Pushing Hands

My teacher mentioned that in the past, when he was learning pushing hands, they used to adopt very very low stances. He always likes to tell us that we are standing up too tall, that we need to "sit lower".

But adopting a low stance is not necessarily correct. The important thing about taiji is being able to relax and turn your kua. So even when adopting a low stance, you must not do so at the expense of not being able to relax and turn your kua. So while you may need to open your legs a little further apart to adopt a low stance, you must not open your legs so wide that you cannot move your kua at all. In fact, to correctly adopt a low stance, you space your legs just wide enough, and it is through relaxing your kua and thus sinking it down, are you able to adopt a low stance. And in doing so, you will find that you can turn your kua as well, instead of having a low stance but being unable to move much.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mongolian Bowl Dance and Taiji

Today, we went to watch a concert featuring drums and dance. I have talked about how drums and taiji are alike in the past. Looking at the Mongolian bowl dance (see the Youtube example I found below), I was impressed with how the dancer could actually keep the bowl on top of her head, balance it so well and yet still move so freely. In fact, she was able to walk straight and level, not the bobbing up and down that we usually walk. And it brings us back to taiji, in which when we shift our weight from leg to leg, we need to avoid bobbing up and down. We need to move like the Mongolian bowl dancer, keeping our head at the same level all the time.

Relax Your Arms

Besides relaxing your kua, which is very important, one more mistake that I commonly make is to use my arms' muscular strength to move my arms when I am practising my forms. Strength should come from the legs, and through turning your kua, the strength gets transferred to the arms to move them. And in order for that to happen, you need to relax your arms (shoulder, elbow, wrist) as well.

So while you concentrate on relaxing you kua and turning your kua using your legs (see pushing with your legs), you must also remember to relax your whole upper body, so that the strength generated from your legs can actually get through to your hands.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Relaxing Your Kua

This is a lesson relearnt. Obviously, I have yet to realise how wrong I have been practising my moves. Even though my teacher has pointed out that I need to relax my kua, and not just sink it, I still have not been able to grasp what it means. Last night, after another practice session, I am beginning to grasp a little of what my teacher meant.

I had thought that using my kua means sinking it, and then turning it. Well, I was half right, and thus half wrong. Sinking my kua and being able to turn it should not be the focus of my training. Instead, I should focus on relaxing my kua, such that it is not tense, such that I don't focus solely on sinking my kua and trying to turn it, and end up tensing my whole body. If I am able to relax my kua, I will find that it will sink down naturally, and it becomes possible to turn it. It is the key to both form practice, as well as pushing hands.

Laughing At Myself

Sometimes, when I managed to push someone, I smile at myself. Not because I am happy. Not because I am conceited. But because I am laughing at myself. I am laughing at myself for being so eager to win, even though I know that I should not be so, even though I know that I should be ready to lose. It means I have a long way to go, before I can clear my desire to win, and truly master the spirit of taiji.