Sunday, 25 March 2012

Flowing Form

Upon seeing Tai Chi, I was attracted to the flowing nature of the movements. And there is a flow.

But how do we flow? A tradtional method of learning would be to learn one posture at a time and understand the movement, energy and application. Then move on to the next posture and so forth. This could take several years. There would be no emphasis on the linking and flow between postures until much later.

I don't think I could teach like that as most students just want to be able to do the Form.Like me, they were attracted by the flow and the softness.

John Kells taught that each posture has a beginning and end. We must not rush or fudge these stages in order to "flow", which produces an empty mishmash. Neither should we linger in our movements.

The mind connects the postures into a form. We need to pay attention to the beginning and end of a posture so there there is no hesitation or stagnation, yet the posture has been fully completed. One method is to visualise the next movement slightly ahead of the physical follow through. It's like having a film running in your mind, with the body following.

This is really hard work but if you are sincere in your investigation of tai chi principles it is well worth it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


When there is no time for Fear, there is no Fear.

Enter without hesitation.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Going Low

John Kells was teaching in the basement "mirror room" (had lots of mirrors).

Suddenly he went really low in the posture "Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain".  I mean really low!

Most of the time we were in a much higher stance. He explained to me that in order to develop my tai chi I needed to sink lower.

This should not be forced, however. I had one student who thought he was being more martial by taking a lower stance but his problem is that he was using force and remained stiff.

In order to sink lower we must first relax. As the hips and sacral area open/release and the legs strengthen the body can gradually go lower. This process takes time and cannot be forced.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Being Double Weighted

Being double weighted is supposed to be a cardinal sin in T'ai Chi.

Don't have the weight equally divided over both feet, we are told.

You can read amazing debates on internet forums about this topic, where people quote chinese words, theory and phrases from books. I rarely see anything from a personal standpoint.

I think it's pretty simple. Don't get caught flat footed. You can have your weight equally distributed on both feet but the mind / intent needs to be single focused. Furthermore the mind must not be rigidly fixed becuase ultimately it is a double weighted mind that gets caught.

Read Takuans' "Unfettered Mind" for a better explanation.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Heart Work

" Work of sight is done

  now do Heart Work

on the pictures within you "

Rainer Maria Rilke

Ta Lu

John Kells taught a number of small, moving sets called Ta Lu. I think there were 6 or 7 of them.

I learned 2 of them and in later years there was mostly a focus on the first one. Ta Lu means Large Rollback or Great Pulling. The first Ta Lu encompassed roll back, slap, press, shoulder and elbow. It's on my earlier post on Push Hands and Stuff.

Ta Lu involves stepping, being mobile. It teaches you not to be stuck in your feet, to listen, stick and follow. It is a prelude to learning the two person fighting set, which was called the Dance by John.

The first Ta Lu is fairly easy to learn and also a great way to practise being lively with a partner.