Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turning My Kua 2

I have written about this before, but after looking at what my teacher was trying to show me, I think I have a better understanding of how to turn my kua.

The kua (both of them) are supposed to be turning inward circles (or outward circles). Just that they are starting at different points on the circle. For example, if the left side starts at the top and turns anticlockwise in, the right side should be starting at the bottom turning clockwise away.

The key to getting this done properly is to relax the kua, such that it is turning as smoothly as possible. At first, because you are not used to it, the circles will be very small (if they can be called circles at all) but after a while, once you have gotten used to relaxing your kua and turning it, the circles will get bigger (or so my teacher told me). This will be the new focus when I do my basic silk reeling exercises.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moving the Joints

My teacher was talking about peng being turning the wrist and not the whole forearm yesterday, which led to the inkling. I thought a bit about it again today, and remember something that my teacher said before about moving the joints independent of each other. That is, when I want to move my wrist, I don't move my elbow. When I want to move my elbow, I don't move my wrist or my shoulder. Each joint should not move because another joint is moving. That is what relaxing the joints mean. They move independent of each other.

This is important because otherwise, when your opponent is able to move one of your joints, he is able to control the rest of your body. He becomes able to use an action at one part of your body to affect you as a whole, to cause you to move as he wants. If you are able to relax all your joints, when he acts upon a single joint, the action is restricted to that joint and you are still able to control the rest of your body. This is easier said than done, so I guess that is what practice is all about.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Inkling

Just an inkling... my teacher keeps talking about getting the opponent's force onto the screwthread. Just what is this screwthread? Could it just be the successive turning of the wrist, forearm and then upper arm? Leading to the turning of the torso, kua, knee and ankle? Just a thought that I wanted to keep alive, as I ponder over it in the days to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Up Against The Wall

I think everyone has this feeling once in a while. Sometimes, we just run up against a wall. We may start to ask why are we doing this. Or where are things headed.

I try to practise taiji daily, yet I don't seem to be improving. I tell myself to relax when pushing hands, yet when I push hands with my teacher, my arms still get tired easily (which means I am using brute force still). Is all that practice really helping?

A totally unrelated blog (somewhere, forgot where...) helped me to think things through. Sometimes, when we go up against a wall, we should stop and not try to push on. It is time to review what has been done so far, to work on other things, before coming back to the wall and try to get past it.

In taiji terms, if I come up against a wall, it doesn't mean I stop practising. But maybe it is time to change the focus of practice (work on single moves, work on basics, etc.) before coming back to work on the full routine? Maybe it is time to focus on relaxing the kua rather than trying to discern the opponent's force?

Sometimes, the answer is not in answering the question. Because there may not be an answer. Just the question and the process of answering it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Learning Self-Defence

A fellow pushing hands student was telling me that he intends to take up aikido to learn some grappling/chin-na techniques, so that he can deal with drunks (he comes across them once in a while in the course of his work). Although he has learnt some martial arts before, he tells me that everytime he encounters a drunk, he feels fear and doesn't dare to do anything. I don't understand his intention for learning aikido, but I think he is trying to get some experience and confidence in using grappling/locks/throws/etc against a partner before trying it out for real.

What I fear is that he will still find himself at square one. Fear.

At the end of the day, using martial arts in self-defence is very different from sparring with a partner in a controlled environment. I have written about learning self-defence (or rather, not being able to learn) through pushing hands. In self-defence, there are no rules. You may have all the confidence gained sparring with a partner, but once the rules change (or disappear, for that matter), how confident can you be that you will come out the winner?

What we learn in class improves our techniques. But to counter fear, to gain that confidence needed to face a real opponent in self-defence, you need more than technique. You need the right mentality.

Before you commit to the fight, ask yourself, are you willing to lose (and either end up hurt or worse)? If not, it is better to avoid the fight (which may mean "Run!") But sometimes, we cannot avoid a fight. That is when our daily life will determine if we can counter our fear. If we live each day to the fullest with no regrets, we can then enter the fight knowing that if we die, we die with no regrets.

Thus, we practise the techniques of self-defence in the classroom/dojo, but we practise the mentality of self-defence through our daily lives.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Performance at 慈济

We put up a performance today at Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Singapore. It started with a group performance of an excerpt of Yang style taijiquan.
Followed by a performance of Chen style taiji sword.
I think the takeaway from the performance is not the performance itself (though it did give all of us experience in performing in front of an audience), but the additional practice that we went through, which helped us to correct some of our mistakes. Another important takeaway is the ability to practise as a group, so that we follow each other rather than keep to our own individual rhythms.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How to Neutralise Force

A hint provided by my teacher on how to neutralise your opponent's force. You must not resist his force (that has been said so many times before that it is obvious) and you know that you have neutralised his force when you no longer feel it.

Of course, the next thing to do after neutralising his force, is what to do with it. How do you then deflect it away from you, and then back towards your opponent, or use it against him?