Friday, May 01, 2009

day 227: preconditions for chen

  • stomping
  • whipping
  • footwork
  • chen tai chi
  • jian shu
this Sunday covered both tai chi and jian shu, with the bulk of time on chen tai chi.

chen tai chi

Sifu continued with the lesson plan he mentioned last time, having us work on some basic movements he considered preconditions before learning chen pao quan. today, he has us work on stomping, except that we were stomping while moving our hands and progressing along a line.

the movements we did today utilized the random circle movements we've learned before for the upper body, moving forward and backwards along a line. however, Sifu had us add the following:
  1. while moving the arms and hands, we were to stomp with the forward foot. in terms of timing, this meant that the front foot would stomp down as the front hand reached its furthest point forward. if we were moving forward while we were stomping, this meant that the whipping motion involved the front hand whipping forward and down. if we were moving backwards, this meant the whipping hand motion going forward and up (Sifu said we'd be making a beckoning motion towards ourselves).
  2. the arms and hands--not just the hands alone--were to be moving with a whipping motion, so that the greatest speed would be when they were moving forward, and the lowest speed when they were moving back.
Sifu said we could do these drills with variations, so that we could be stomping forwards as the whipping arm moved forward and up and stomping backwards as the whipping arm moved forward and down. for today, however, he wanted us to just concentrate as whipping forward and down as we stomped forward, and vice versa.

we did this for a while. it took a little time to get the timing right and the power apparent in the movements.

jian shu

jian shu dealt with more footwork elements. last time we'd covered 3 different footwork elements to add to sword techniques. today we added 2 more:
  • triangle step (forward and back)
  • angle step (forward and back)
i recognized these (as well as 2 of the 3 from before) to be the same footwork that we've learned before from the summer training sessions for sparring. this makes sense, since i remember we've had conversations before saying that many hand-to-hand combat methods in TCMA actually come from weapons methods.

Sifu had us do drills with the above footwork, holding the sword steady in right or left hands.

after we worked on this for awhile, he then discussed the general outline of sword movements, saying that they could be interpreted as 4 categories (note: my memory is a little rusty here, so it's entirely possible i'm referencing the wrong terms): jo (thrusting), suei (slashing), bai (parrying), guen (circular). he noted that all the 15 sword techniques (5 offensive, 10 defensive) could be viewed as belonging to any of these 4 categories.

we ended up talking about this classification system for awhile, and then reviewed the footwork drills a few more times before going home.

day 226: exploring the form

  • transitions
  • bagua fist form
the form is not the form. the way is not the way. or something like that. i've been juggling school/work (for me the same thing), recovering from the flu (no longer contagious!), and coming back on the conditioning trail. i had to miss kyudo again this week to deal with the start of some on-line classes i'm teaching--this is getting on a little longer than i'd like, but i've become of the opinion certain confluences of events are usually indicative of certain destinies in outcomes, that this may be a reflection of what was meant to be at this point in time...but i expect things to return here eventually, as they always do (just like in surfing...the waves come in sets, and if miss the break between sets, it's better to wait for the next one before paddling out into the ocean, or otherwise you'll find yourself fighting a long procession of smack-downs with nothing to show for it except a lot of water).

bagua fist form

Sifu told us today that he wanted us to begin thinking more deeply about the bagua fist form. he's shown us the applications up to now, but this time he says he wanted us to see all the variations in applications--except that he not only wants us to not only develop understanding of the applications, but also to develop the ability to see the variations of applications for ourselves. he noted that it's important to be able to figure things out on your own, and that this is a skill that requires practice.

to accomplish this objective, Sifu ran class as a pop quiz. he told us to try and figure out the differing applications in the form on our own, and he'd return to check and see what we'd found. he asked us to emphasize applications coming out of the transitions between techniques, so that we could see that the transitions are more than just transitions, but actually fighting tools in themselves. for now, he told us to just concentrate on the first 18-20 movements of the form.

we spent the bulk of the remaining class time working on this, trying to interpret the movements in the form into different applications. Sifu came back a few times to check on our progress, correcting things that he thought were misinterpretations or identifying applications that wouldn't work. i won't go through them all here, since there were too many and everything was largely speculative.

this session was useful, in terms of learning how to see the potential applications of movements and understanding what they showed regarding the underlying nature of the fist form. beyond this, it was also good in that it showed that the form is not just a form, but a library of hints regarding differing interpretations in the movements of the form.