Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's All In The Practice

No matter what style you do, it is still about how much you practise. No matter how well you understand the principles of taiji, it is still about how much you practise. Understanding is useless if you don't practise it; you won't be able to internalise your understanding without practice. Knowing many styles is useless if you don't practise them; you won't be able to understand what the styles are about without practice.

At the end of the day, it's all in the practice.

Only with practice will you be able to relax your kua. Only with practice will you be able to move your body as a whole, to link the movement of your hands to your legs. Only with practice will you be able to understand the different ways to apply each move in each of the style that you practise. Only with practice can you use what you learn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Balloon, Not Concrete Ball

One of the principles of taiji is not to let your structure flatten, something which my teacher likes to refer to as "don't let your balloon flatten". But that doesn't mean you go all out to make sure that you maintain the structure as it is. If you do, it becomes a rigid structure, something very against the "relax" part of taiji.

So how do you relax, and yet don't let the structure flatten? Well, my teacher says it best. The structure is like a balloon! A balloon can be depressed, but it then bounces back into shape. So while you relax and allow the balloon to flatten a bit, you must then work towards "bouncing back into shape", regaining the original form.

So when your opponent's force comes, your structure may flatten a bit, but then you turn his force away, and while doing that, move your body to expand back the balloon into its original shape.

The thing is to be bouncy like a balloon, and not rigid like a concrete ball. With enough strength, you can push away a rigid concrete ball, but a bouncy balloon will deflect your force back towards you.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Catching Up

The end of the world (according to some...) saw me catching up with a fellow student of my teacher who has not been able to join us for practice due to personal commitments. It was great to be able to catch up, and instead of the usual practice (form practice), we did pushing hands practice instead. Great to be able to push hands again with someone who has been learning taiji from Mr Kwek much longer than I have. It reaffirmed the importance of a good foundation and learning the right things. Even though he hasn't been practising taiji for a while, because of his good foundation, he was still just as good at pushing hands as he used to be.

All the remains is for him to rejoin our practices!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Stand Closer

The other day, I noticed two of my fellow students pushing hands, but standing a bit further from each other than usual. My teacher advocates that we should stand such that our forward foot is side by side with our opponent's forward foot, at least that close to each other, if not closer. Instead, those two students were standing in such a way that their toes were in line instead.

End results? They can't really push at each other without leaning forward. Yes, standing further apart makes it harder for your opponent to push you, and gives you more space and time to react. But at the same time, your opponent will gain that same advantage (and disadvantage). In the end? You can't properly push each other, and thus you end up not learning how to properly neutralise your opponent's force too. You may not be pushed, but you end up not learning too.

So don't be afraid of being pushed. Stand closer, so that both you and your opponent can learn the right things and benefit from the practice.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Catching It... Again!

Just when I thought I was losing it, I think I have caught it again. All thanks to my teacher. No, he didn't actually answer my questions, but he was explaining something to someone else. And as I ponder over what he was explaining, and linked it with what I was thinking about, I started to see the link.

My problem is with single hand pushing hands. While I can neutralise my opponent's force so that he cannot push me, I have difficulty using his force against him. Just yesterday, my teacher was talking to another student about peng, then turn the forearm and push back. Very simple, very basic, in fact, something that I already know. Then I watched how he did it. He was drawing very small circles near the student, each moving progressively closer to the student. Yup, something that I have seen before. So I didn't think much about it.

Then today, while pushing hands with a fellow student, it came to me that progressively moving closer to the opponent is the key. The moment you sense your opponent's force, you need to peng to draw in his force and stick to it. Then, as you turn your forearm, it must move towards your opponent so that you are actually turning his force back towards him. This in effect is pushing him, but using his own force. And guess what? It actually works!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Catching It

Just when I thought I had made some progress, I again was made to feel that I hadn't.

The other day, while doing two hand pushing hands, I was able to relax, and my opponent bounced off when he tried to use a bit of strength. I was able to repeat this a few times. It seems I am getting somewhere with using my opponent's force against him.

But today, while doing single hand pushing hands, I was not able to do so... instead, while I was able to neutralise my opponent's force so that he couldn't push me, I was not able to use it to bounce him off. I was not able to use his force against him.

Back to the pondering and practice board...