Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Enjoying Practice

I aim to take at least 30 minutes to finish a set of Yang Style 108. In the past, I tried to practise as slowly as I can, and it felt slow. I knew I was deliberately trying to drag things out.

But recently, I tried something else. I just aimed to stay relaxed during the entire set. My mind was on staying relaxed, on linking my legs to my upper body so that I use the force generated by my legs to move the upper body instead of my muscular strength.

The practice didn't feel slow. In fact, it was an enjoyable pace. And I easily took more than 30 minutes to complete the set.

I will be trying this with Chen Style and Sun Style too, just to see how it affects my practice.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's The Basics That Are Important

I keep hearing this from my teacher, and it is also something that Matsuda Ryuchi (松田隆智) writes about. There may be many forms in a style, but it is the most basic that is most important. Because most of the time, that basic set embodies all the important things in that style. It is the essence of that style. It may be a few moves, but if you get it right, it is all you need.

My teacher teaches a way to practise 揽雀尾 in a never-ending manner as a warm-up and basic exercise for 杨氏太极拳, because this single move has 4 out of taiji's 8 forces.

Matsuda-sensei likes to stress the importance of 八极小架, and studies the variations amongst the various schools since it is the essence of 八极拳.

There is 四把 and 六大开 in 心意六合拳, 10 basic moves that forms the style's essence.

Similarly, 形意拳 has 五行拳, just 5 different moves but they form the core of 形意拳.

So as we practise the various forms, we must not forget that it is the basics that are important. Forms are just a way for us to string the practice of those basics together.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Inkling: Action Reaction

Just an inkling about force in taiji. How does one generate a large amount of force while staying relaxed? After all, we are used to generating force with our muscles. So how do we generate force without using those muscles?

I am still trying to figure it out, but I think it has to do with action reaction. Your weight sinking down into the ground when you relax your body is an action that generates a reaction. The action force is downwards, but we use our body to direct the reaction force towards the direction that we want.

Something like that.

So we are actually using nature's force (aka gravity) when we relax and push. A force that is much larger than whatever our muscles can generate.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Be Reactive, Not Proactive

A key principle of taiji is to follow the intention of your opponent (舍己从人), ie. to be reactive. I think it is linked to something that I wrote about before. When there is intention, when you deliberately want to do something, your force will take shape. And when that force takes shape, it can be sensed, and it can be used against you.

And that is why it is important to be reactive. When your opponent's intention forms, his force takes shape. Sense that force, and react to it. Use it back against him. React to how he moves (or not move).

For example, if all you are thinking is about how to push your opponent (or to use roll back and draw in your opponent), that intention actually will take form. Instead of being able to push (or draw in) your opponent, your opponent now has an opportunity to sense your force and use it against you, if he remains relax. The key, thus, is to remain in that relaxed state, between want and don't want. React to what he wants to do by stopping him in his tracks and turning his force back against him.

So don't try out new moves deliberately. Try them when opportunity presents itself. Such as when your opponent moves in such a way that you can use this new move you just learnt. To do otherwise is to become proactive, to let your intention take shape, to let your opponent use your own move against you. It is the road to defeat.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Passing of Matsuda Ryuchi (松田隆智)

I just found out that Matsuda Ryuchi (松田隆智) passed away in July last year. What a shock. He is not just a martial artist practising various forms of Chinese and Japanese martial arts, but also delves deep into researching these martial arts and their principles. He has written quite a number of books based on his research, and is also known for his martial arts comic series Kenji (拳兒).

His knowledge will live on through his works and the students that he had taught in the past.

Some videos on Youtube: