Saturday, January 31, 2009

Becoming Complacent

Complacency is something to watch out for, and to guard against, because it is something that comes about easily with practice. The more you are used to doing something, the more likely you are to grow complacent while doing it. For example, if you are used to pushing hands with someone, and all the while you have been able to deflect away his force, you may end up being complacent when pushing hands with him, and end up being surprised when he manages to push you (because you are complacent). Or, you are so used to doing a form (after lots of practice) that you don't need to pay much attention to it and still can complete the set. It is easy to become complacent and miss out all the details when you are practising the familiar set.

The Japanese have a saying: 初心を忘れず, which means not to forget the basics. In order not to be complacent, you must treat each practice like the first one, paying attention to all the details just as if you were learning something for the first time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Practising and Thinking

Practising often means you are able to know what works and what doesn't.

Thinking often means you know why what works and what doesn't.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Learning Martial Arts

In my other blog, I have written an article on learning an art form, which I feel is just as applicable to learning martial arts as it is to learning the arts.

When we first start out, we learn the basic techniques, such as punching, hand forms, stances, leg movements, etc. Then we move on to the basic moves in a routine. We learn a basic routine, which is a string of moves. Once this is done, we then start to learn the tips and tricks to better perform these moves, as well as how to apply them in actual situations. Then, we learn about style by imitating our teacher's style, or the style of great masters. But over time, as we gain understanding of the martial art that we are learning, we are able to apply our understanding into practice, bringing our own unique style into play. This unique style is based on our own understanding of the martial art.

Like any art form, if we stick only to learning the techniques and tips and tricks, we will never get far. We will never be truly able to apply what we have learnt, as we are only sticking to doing what we have been taught, rather than making it a part of ourselves. If we only seek to imitate the styles of the great masters, we are copying rather than learning. Only when we have made our learning a part of ourselves, can we truly apply what we have learnt.

And to do that requires lots and lots of practice, as well as lots and lots of thinking.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sticking Like Glue

Just to share with everyone what I felt today during pushing hands with my teacher. One of the principles of taiji is to stick to an opponent. Well, I think my teacher does that very well... and has probably reached a new level with sticking. Why? Because the other day, when my arm came into contact with his arm, I tried to change the direction of his force (which was coming at me) by drawing it downwards. What I felt instead was that his arm was stuck to mine, and it was like trying to rip my skin away from superglue... PAINFUL!!! I wonder if anyone out there has similar experiences when pushing hands...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Watching Ip Man (the movie)

I caught Ip Man before I took my break, and here are some thoughts that I had after watching the movie.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Short Break

I took a short break (about 10 days) to visit my in-laws in Japan, during which I didn't practise at all. A short break is good in that it gives you time to reflect and absorb what you have learnt so far. But at the same time... I actually forgot my moves in the midst of doing Yang style 108 routine today! I guess it means that I still haven't been able to assimilate the moves such that they become second nature.