Saturday, September 22, 2018

Momentum in Taiji

I am not a fan of trying to use modern science to explain taiji, but sometimes, it does make it easier for us (who have been taught modern science in school) to understand it better. Here is a video I found which tries to explain how the concept of momentum can be used to explain things in taiji.

If you want to know more about the Galilean cannon, you can also check out this video (not related to taiji):

So now we know the science behind "staying rooted".

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Little About Learning

Life is a learning journey that does not end, and taiji is part of that learning journey.

Since moving to Japan, I have not had many opportunities to train with my teacher, Mr Kwek, but I still try to find time to practise with him when I am back in Singapore. Today, I wish to share a bit about my attitude towards learning.

At class, I avoid sitting down. No matter how tired I may be, I do not sit down. I only sit when circumstances require me to sit, such as when I need to sit beside my teacher to share something (like a video) with him. To me, not sitting down is my way of saying "I am interested in learning, and I am always ready to get back to practice."

When I am doing forms for my teacher to check and comment on, he sometimes closes his eyes. But I do not stop. I do not think, "Why am I spending time practising if he is not looking?" Instead, I know he is probably tired (he teaches at many places, and gets home late). And I also know that if I am good, he will be interested in seeing. So the motivation for me when he does close his eyes is, "How do I up my taiji such that he will be so interested, he cannot look away?"

This is similar to when I am practising outdoors in public. Sometimes, people will stop to take a look. But most do not stay long. "How do I catch their interest?" That is the question I have at the back of my head which keeps me going. Maybe one day, someone will stop, and continue watching until I finish the entire form.

Related posts:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Taiji Fast, Taiji Slow

When people think of taiji, they think of slow movements. Which, in a way, is right. Taiji is practised slowly. Why? So that we get all the details right. So that we get used to moving in a specific way, such that this specific way of moving becomes muscle memory. And the way to do that is to keep practising, to take time telling your brain to move your muscles in that specific way. It is not a matter of how many times you repeat each movement; how long you spend on creating that "link" is more critical.

However, I think that does not preclude taiji being practised fast. Because actual application is fast, and your body must be able to move with that kind of speed to response to an actual attack. So there is an aspect of speed in taiji practice. In fact, Chen style taiji emphasizes fast and slow in practice. Even Yang style has a fast form developed by Dong Yingjie.

But slow is the basic. And slow is where you should start. Get the movements right. Create that "link" first. And make sure that you do it slowly so that the "link" is the correct one, that your brain instructs your muscles to move in that specific way correctly. Because when we move fast, we make mistakes. And if we keep making the same mistakes, that mistake becomes muscle memory, and it becomes hard to untrain. Only when you have formed that correct "link" can you start to take it to the next stage, which is to be able to move both fast and slow, correctly.

Sometimes, going slow is the faster way.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Inkling: Moving Gears

I was watching a video online, where a taiji master was explaining about his method. He touched on something about being a set of moving gears, like an engine gearbox.


I have recently been exploring electronics and motors and 3D printing, so gears are not entirely new to me. Coupled with this concept about moving gears, I kind of have a better understanding of how force is being transferred from the legs to the point of application. It is as if the joints are the places where gears are coupled. Broadly speaking, at the kua, one gear (leg) turns to drive another (hip). The other (hip) turns and brings the entire torso with it. This movement of the torso acts on the gears at the shoulders, which is again another set of gears, with one (shoulder) turning another (upper arm), in turn moving the arm.

Of course, this is a simplification. There are a lot more joints tracing the path from the ground to the point of application, and each is a set of gears being turned by the set before, and turning the next set. This also achieves "moving as a whole" and "top and bottom following each other" as well as the continuity of movement without stopping.

The muscles as pistons and actuators, and the joints as gears. An inkling for verification in training.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Inkling: Transferring Force

I think there are two aspects to force being generated from the legs.

One is using the force generated by the legs to move your own centre of gravity. Another is to use the force to turn your body (trunk), which in turn changes the direction of the force from the legs and applies it to another direction through the arms.

These two are non independent of each other. In fact, they are to be used in combination, so that you bring force to bear (by moving your centre of gravity) in the right direction (with your body as the axis).

And one of the best ways to train this is through basic exercises. There are basic exercises where the focus is on changing the direction of the force through the body, basic exercises on how to use the legs to move your centre of gravity, and basic exercises that combine both. I guess this will be the focus of my training for a while as I pursue this inkling.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Tracking My Training For 2018

Continuing the practice in 2015, carried onto 2016 and 2017, I have been tracking my training, and will also do so for 2018.

For 2017, I practised:
33 sets of Chen style Old Frame First Routine
48 sets of Yang style 108
64 sets of Sun style taijiquan
(total 145 sets of taijiquan in a year)

99 sets of Chen style taijijian
99 sets of Yang style taijijian
(total 198 sets of taijijian in a year)

165 sets of Yang style taijidao

And also many hours of basic exercises and single moves.

Total number of practice hours in 2017: 243 hours

I have not been as diligent in keeping my training log, though... 😅

Looking forward to increasing the amount of practice in 2018!