Monday, February 16, 2015

Practise Slowly

When practising routines, my teacher advocates the following:
At least 30 minutes for Yang Style 108.
At least 15 minutes for Chen Style Old Frame First Routine
At least 12 minutes for Sun Style.

Why? Because when you practise, it is important to practise slowly. Because when we first learn taiji, we still don't know how to relax. So when we move too fast, most of the time, we are not able to move in a relaxed manner. Moving slowly forces us to try to relax and gives us time to focus on the fundamentals, such as making sure the movement of the hand is linked to the legs.

Once you have reached a certain stage, you will be able to move in a relaxed manner fast or slow. It is still recommended to practise slowly though, so that you can constantly check your actions to make sure they are correct.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Inkling: The Line

Just an inkling I had today.

About this line that joins the point of contact (POC) to your opponent's centre of gravity (CG). When your force acts along this line, it will have an effect on your opponent. So when you are pushing hands, the trick is to utilise force along this imaginary line.

Similarly, your opponent will be able to move you if his force acts in the line that joins the POC with your CG. To neutralise his force means to shift either the direction of his force away from your CG, or to shift your CG away from the direction of his force.

The shorter this imaginary line, the easier it is for force to act from the POC towards the CG, due to the shorter distance the force has to act on. But it also means that it is easier to neutralise the force, since a small movement will result in the force no longer acting on the CG.

It's all about the line.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How I Learn

When I first started out training under my teacher, Mr Kwek, I was learning from him Chen style taijiquan. I had previously learnt this under my wushu coach, but I wanted to learn it properly from a taiji teacher. What I had previously been practising looks good to the untrained eye, but is worth nothing to someone who knows taiji.

My teacher would teach me the moves, one or a few. And then I would practise them. Again and again and again. Every session, I will keep practising the movements that I have been taught so far. I never asked him to teach me the next move. When he felt that I could learn more, he came over and taught me the next move.

That is faith. Faith in your teacher. Faith that he knows best (after all, my teacher has been teaching taiji for 40 years when I first met him) and knows when you are ready to move on to the next step.

Keep practising, ask questions, and then practise some more. Eventually, you will get there. There is no secret, no short cut, other than lots of practice. To think that you know more than your teacher, to think that you are ready for the next step when your teacher doesn't think so, that is your own self-conceitedness at work. And it is working against your progress.

Be humble, be patient.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Don't Teach, Don't Share, Until You Are Ready

Teaching taiji is a good way to improve at it.

Sharing with your fellow students is a good thing too.

But when we learn from a teacher, we are here to learn what the teacher has to teach. It may be good to share knowledge, but share what you have learnt from the teacher, not what you know. Because your own understanding may not be deep enough.

Teach what your teacher taught you, not what you are practising. Because what you are practising may not be right.

It takes a certain amount of time, effort and understanding before one is ready to help teach and share what he has learnt. To try and teach and share before that may end up impeding fellow students, rather than helping them.

So yes, by all means teach and share, but only when you are ready.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Safety Is Paramount

My teacher places a lot of emphasis on safety during lessons. After all, no one comes to class wanting to get injured.

When someone gets injured, three parties are at fault. The person who caused hurt, for not being able to control his own actions. The person who was injured, for not being more aware of what is going on and thus avoiding getting hurt. And the teacher, who failed to create an environment in which the students value the safety of each other.

When we started learning weapon forms, my teacher would stress on safety. How to hold the weapons, how to walk around and being aware, so that you don't hit other people or get cut by others. And when training in unison, he would emphasise that we move together, so that we don't end up getting in each other's way. Questions should be left to the end of the practice, not during, since the rest of the class is still moving even if you decide to stop and ask a question. And that is very dangerous.

And all the more in pushing hands, he stressed the importance of respecting your training partner. Causing hurt is not the aim of pushing hands. Learning from each other, learning about yourself, that is the reason why we push hands. Which was why he allowed himself to be pushed instead of causing harm to his opponent.

Be safe, stay safe. If you can't even stay safe in practice, how to stay safe in a real fight?