We worked on tea-serving exercises at practice last night and how the spiraling and the movement translates into fighting applications. The tea-serving exercises show up in the forms and in self-defense.
The ultimate goal is to develop the ability to use the spiraling concept and movement to flow with an opponent depending on what he does.
A lot of people misunderstand push hands and other practice drills like this. You put something up and they dismiss it as "won't work in a fight." Usually, they have no experience in the art, but they also can't see far enough down the road to understand that a training tool in the internal arts has one goal -- to evolve into a creative ability to flow with your opponent and not be trapped into the mindset of "I will do this technique" or "if he does this I will do that."
When you do push hands, or tea-serving, or silk-reeling exercises, you need a road map that shows you where you eventually want to be. The drill is not the thing.
Push hands, for...
When I first began competing in tournament sparring, I was emotionally involved in every point. I would get upset if a judge missed a call. Not outwardly upset, other than a cocking of my head as if asking, "What?"
Mainly, I was inwardly upset. I wanted to win.
My opponents were often emotionally involved, too. Sometimes, I would stand across from a guy who was angry. And if I scored a point, he was angrier.
I kept careful track of the score. Am I winning? By how much? If I'm behind, how many points do I need?
And then one day, sometime in my forties, I got my ego and emotion out of the game. And I started winning more.
When I faced off against another black belt, I relaxed. When a point was scored, I didn't keep track. I stopped, let the judges call it, and then got back to the contest.
I stopped keeping track of who was winning.
If my opponent scored a point on me, I would congratulate him. "Good shot," I would say. Sometimes, I joked around, wobbling a bit on my rubbery...
I spent the weekend studying with Master Chen Huixian in Madison, Wisconsin. We worked through the entire Chen Straight Sword form in six hours of training on Saturday and six hours on Sunday. The workshop was sponsored by her student, Patrick Rogne, the owner and instructor at Ancient Root Taijiquan in Madison.
I have been practicing this form for 13 years, and I originally learned a different version, but except for a couple of major differences in the opening movements, most of the movements follow the same order. There are different angles and different flourishes and transitions, but essentially it is the same form.
Chen Huixian's form is similar to the form of her uncle and primary teacher, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. She is an "in-chamber" disciple.
Over two days, she demonstrated each movement a few times, then led the students through the movement, carefully explaining which leg is solid, where the weight is shifting, when you should sink, how to hold the sword,...
I'm training this weekend with Chen Huixian in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm looking forward to seeing how she teaches and performs the Chen straight sword form. That is the primary focus of the workshop, especially on Saturday and then Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon she will review and make corrections on Laojia Erlu, which she taught a year ago at her Madison workshop.
Preparing for workshops like this has reminded me how important it is to set goals. I have pushed myself a little harder as the workshop has drawn closer. These workshops are NOT easy. They are physically demanding, and at age 66, trying to cope with one lung and a heart issue, actually going through a 15-hour workshop in a weekend pushes me to the very limit of my capacity.
I usually come home and have to take a couple of days to recover.
Because I don't want to look weak in front of a workshop group, I push myself in the weeks leading up to the workshop to do a little more and try to strengthen my body a bit more....
The 45th edition of the Internal Fighting Arts podcast features an interview with Mark Chen about his new book, "Chen Style Taijiquan Collected Masterworks: The History of a Martial Art."
This is an important book for anyone who collects books on Taiji, particularly Chen style.
In this valuable book, Mark, who was a formal rumen disciple of the late Grandmaster Chen Qingzhou, translates key sections of Chen Zhaopi's book, published in 1935.
We talk about many issues during an hour and 37 minutes, including the challenges of translating Chinese to English, the origin of Taijiquan, the life of Chen Zhaopi, and how he helped boost the reputation of Chen Taiji during 17 days in Beijing, when he stood on a platform and took on all challengers.
That would be a great kung-fu film -- "17 Days in Beijing" -- the story of the rise of Chen Taijiquan, based on Chen Zhaopi on the platform.
Zhaopi was born three years before my own grandfather, and in China, Taiji fighters like Zhaopi were still...
I will be in Madison, Wisconsin starting this Friday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 3 to study with Chen Huixian. If you live within driving distance, I hope you'll join me and train with one of the best.
Chen Huixian is an in-door disciple of her uncle, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Other uncles include Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing.
She grew up in the Chen Village and is highly skilled. Each time I train with her, I come away with deeper insights because of the personal corrections and coaching that she gives me.
She is teaching a workshop that will include the following:
Friday Night 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
** Zhan Zhuang (Standing Stake)
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (with a 2-hour lunch break)
** Chen Straight Sword Form (1st half)
Sunday 9:00 a.m. to Noon
** Chen Straight Sword Form (1st half)
Sunday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Laojia Erlu ("Cannon Fist") Review and Corrections
Chen Huixian's workshops are punctuated with laughter. It is very refreshing to have an...
Chen Huixian will teach the Chen Taiji Straight Sword form at a workshop in Madison, Wisconsin on November 1-3, 2019. She will also review and do corrections for Zhan Zhuang, Silk-Reeling, and Laojia Erlu (Cannon Fist).
I will be there and I hope you'll join me to learn from a highly-skilled member of the Chen family.
Chen Huixian is a great teacher, an "in chamber" disciple of her uncle, Chen Zhenglei. Her other uncles include Chen Xiaowang and Chen Xiaoxing.
Her workshops are an outstanding experience. She gives a lot of personal attention to students, is actually interested in the people who attend, she answers questions, and she offers corrections and coaching that will move your skills forward. She speaks English, which means there is no need for an interpreter between what she says and what you hear.
Her workshops are traditional and serious. You will eat bitter. But she has a sense of humor that adds an element of fun that is lacking in some workshops. Laughter is not...
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