Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hung Up on Speed

How fast should we do our Form? How long should it take?

This can in part,depend on the style of Tai Chi and the length of the form. The short form and long form I learned from John Kells took me about 8 and 20 minutes respectively. John said our long form should be performed a bit slower, taking up to 30 minutes. My Sun style teacher, Dave Martin, told me that Sun Jian Yun said the Sun form should take about 8 minutes.

The danger is that we get hung up on how long it has taken us to do our form. Instead we should be focusing on the principles. Regardless of whether we are moving quickly or slowly.  Each posture has a beginning and end which, without fudging,smoothly connect to the next posture. Are we relaxed and alert? Did the waist position the steps?

There is an internal flow, an aliveness to our form. It is possible to move too slowly and you end up practising being dull. Equally it can all go out the window in trying to move too fast.

We need to explore how slow/fast we can move and still remain in accordance with principles. Only then will it be correct.

Have fun!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Yiquan Poem 3

Number 3 in the series, translated by Professor Chang Shao Quan and Heron Beecham. Reproduced with permission.


Let principles and techniques be combined and coordinated with the body;
Be in harmony with a million creations and blend with all things under the sun.

A thousand generations after the teaching has been handed down;
Who will be capable of breaking through the original mould?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Cheng Hsin: Peter Ralston

Not long after I started learning Tai Chi with John Kells, I came across Peter Ralston's book " Cheng Hsin - Principles of Effortless Power".

It contained lots of useful insights and investigation of principles. My first copy is so battered I've had to buy another one. The clip below is superb.


It is essential, in my view, to develop a daily stretching routine.

It doesn't have to be complicated or involve the range of movement seen in Yoga for it to have benefits.

There are a lot of useful books available. My favourite is Structural Fitness by John Stirk. I'm not sure if it still in print.

Another good one is Xingyi Neigong by Tim Cartmell and Dan Miller. Their translation is priceless.

People often overlook ancillary exercises, not realising just how important they can be. Energy likes to flow through a relaxed body, which stretching can significantly contribute to.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Yiquan Poem 2

Here is the next Yiquan Poem

Copyright as before by Professor Chang Shao Quan and Heron Beecham, reproduced with permission.


The summit is far and high in Chinese martial study;
The achievement depends upon the practice of a lifetime.

Deft movement appears beyond normal shape;
Good applications are performed without specific intent.

May practitioners study and seek a profound level of Kung-fu;
Be continuously careful, making use of false and empty.

Mind one's own actions cautiously as a cat watches over a rat;
But deal with enemies fiercely as a tiger captures a sheep.

Both spirit and energy spring up from the dan tian;
The strength is better drawn through smoothly and deeply.

Do not draw too near the enemy, nor separate from him too much;
One will achieve success in the pursuit of skill after being forged over many years.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Resistance is Futile

John Kells taught Pushing Hands right from the beginning. Sometimes you will not do that until you have learnt the Form.

Having experienced different approaches to Pushing Hands with practitioners of other styles, I value John's approach even more today.

Most seem to involve resistance at some point, then trying to force your push to one side. That is the point at which they become exposed. It becomes a game all about "winning" that can rapidly degenerate into a show of strength and little more than a wrestling match.

Pushing Hands is a training method. What are we training to do?


This does not mean weakness. Acceptance means not to resist, especially in the Mind. In the beginning our training focused on taking in the other person's push as far as possible to empty it, making a "hole" and then turning. It is interesting to see how far each person will accept and at what point this all goes out of the window and stiff force is used. I include myself, using feedback from pushing with others.

At the point at which it becomes uncomfortable and we are going to lose our balance, we should still accept.

This is not about winning or losing, because that is missing the point.

It is a training method to work on a principle.