Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Count of One

When we were learning applications to the form, John Kells broke down the movements so it was possible to work on the different components and energies of the technique.

So Step forward, deflect downwards,intercept and punch could consist in stages of a low kick to the shin of the attacker, followed by scraping down it and stepping on their foot. At the same time the right hand would arc up making a fist to meet an oncoming fist, draw it back and down whilst the left hand came up to trap the oncoming elbow. Finally the right hand could punch forwards as you stepped in. This is just a general idea as there are variations.

In this manner techniques were broken down into different counts. Whilst this was useful for learning what was going on, the application would eventually have to be done on the count of one, having absorbed the different stages to make it a whole. There can be no hesitation, no stopping to think about it. This is too slow.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Left Side

After we had finished the right side long form, John Kells taught us the mirror image form or left side.

At first this felt really strange. But after a while it felt more natural than the right side form. Some say you shouldn't do a left side or mirrror image form as it will make you Ch'i run backwards and you will die. I've never heard such a complete load of rubbish! Perhaps we should only walk leading with the right foot at all times.

I guess we all instinctively favour a particular side but working on the left side helps to develop your understanding of T'ai Chi principles further and  achieve a certain balance. This is my personal opinion. I'm sure practitioners with more experience than I can shed some light on working both sides of the body/brain.

The left side taught by John was also interesting in that it contained postures and variations not in the right side. Stupidly I never asked why. The idea was that we would put them into our right side form, which I did.

Anyone have any thoughts/comments on doing a mirror image form?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Fa Jin

Having fun looking at some methods for relasing energy to uproot my training partner. It's a demonstration so naturally he is compliant. Let's not get carried away!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

T'ai Chi Breathing

I have learnt 2 forms of T'ai Chi - one based mostly on Ch'eng Man Ch'ing and the other is traditional Sun style.

In Sun style there is no specific breathing in the postures except for the open/close movement, where we breathe in as the hands open and breathe out as they come back towards each other.

I asked John Kells, my main teacher for many years, about breathing in the form. Good idea was his answer.

Natural breathing was the advice given by both my teachers. By contrast others practise reverse breathing and coordinating the breath with the form. I have an open mind on this but find myself in sympathy with the following from " Imagination Becomes Reality " by Stuart Alve Olson, Dragon Door Publishing 1992 on the teachings of Master T.T. Liang ( one of John Kells' teachers).

The advice given is to forget the Breath and instead pay attention to the Mind - Intent, which is focused on the Spirit of Vitality. If we focus on the Breath we will have stagnation. The Breath and Ch'i will develop naturally.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Technique or Energy

John Kells told me there were two approaches to T'ai Chi.

Technique or Energy.

Technique in the sense of learning applications and perfecting them. This is a common approach and not to be slighted.

Energy in the sense of working with the Mind-Intent and joining in this special form of communication.

This doesn't mean we just wave our arms about. Working with Energy requires Technique.

It has taken me a long time to get just a little glimpse of this. It is out of time.

It is internal to the internal.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Sticking, joining, adhering are integral aspects of T'ai Chi.

On the physical level, we practised a simple partner work.  Pair up with a partner. Place your hand lightly on the back of their opposite hand. Don't cling to them as if they are a meathook. The touch should be light and sensitive. Close your eyes. Your partner then moves his hand around and you follow, maintaining a light touch. Listen with all your senses. You then swap to the other hand and after that change roles, in which you become the leader. There is to be no talking during this exercise.

This exerise builds up a familiarity with touch and develops listening and sensitivity. As with pushing hands you need to practise with lots of different people to appreciate the differing qualities of contact. This approach is then carried over into your pushing hands and also your form. Even though the form is a solo practise, you can listen to what is around you, imagine moving with a partner, be light, sensitive and spirited.

Then there is joining and sticking to the energy of another person. The process begins before the touch. You enter and join with their energy immediately. There must be no delay, no conscious deliberation. You become a part of them.

Sticking is active, not passive. Sticking becomes part of yielding. This is a deep topic and I will come back to some of my experiences in a future post.

Have fun!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

About Posture

The posture in Tai Chi, if executed correctly in accordance with the principles, is complete in and of itself.

There is no need to do something extra such as add in additional force.

The other is part of the process and is repelled or countered.

This is something we need to study deeply.