Singapore Tai Chi Chuan


Quiet at Night

Earlier, when I was out at Ipoh Station 18 it was teeming with people preparing for the coming holiday on Monday. But now at home the night is quiet and a good time for reflection.

Over at my Wing Chun blog I had written about meeting a Wing Chun friend earlier on Tuesday. One comment he made was interesting.

Back in 1984 when I was training Chu style Wing Chun we made a big deal about elbow force. So for a long time it was a whole lotta elbow force and forward pressure in contact training. However, at a certain state in my training when I realized that this preoccupation with forward pressure was wrong I changed focus.

By the time I learned Grandmaster Wei’s transmitted version of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan I had lost the habit of using elbow force. If there were any traces left it was eradicated by the after more than a decade of practicing Tai Chi.

So it was interesting when my friend, X, said that he could feel a very strong force coming from my elbows. Yet, if that were true the moment he took his arm off quickly my arm would shoot forward automatically. But that is not the case and whether my arm remained or shoot forward upon disengagement is a choice I made and not a habitual reaction.

I told X that this was not elbow force but an offshoot of my Tai Chi training. I know what it was that X felt but if I took off on this tangent to explain to him we would not be able to focus on the purpose of his visit which was to fix his Wing Chun problems.

So what was it that X felt?

To provide a simple answer which is useful to readers of TaijiKinesis Vol 2 I will say that its the application of 3-Count + 2-Count. I know 3 + 2 = 5 and in that sense I should say 5-Count. But no, this is how I teach this type of power using the movement of Push from the 13-Movement form.

Is there a higher level, more complicated answer?

Yes, there is. I could also explain this in another way. However, I feel that its just basically but a different way of looking at the same thing so there is really no need to made complex what is ultimately simple.

Simple.

Indeed, Tai Chi is simple. At the higher levels Tai Chi is very simple and straightforward, in fact much more simpler than even Wing Chun. In this sense, much of nature is intuitively simple but the scientific models to explain it would be complex and non-sufficient due to the inherent complexity. This is why we can have complex models of Tai Chi. But for it to be successful as a combat art it has to be simple and direct in movements.

This sounds counter-intuitive but if you think about it perfectly logical. This is why I tell students not to be long-winded when playing forms. Instead, seek movements which can do the job in the fastest, most direct manner whilst retaining power and ability to discharge injurious force. Just pushing each other around like two bulls in a contest of muscular strength is not Tai Chi the combat art but Tai Chi the non-combat sport.

Sometimes, in the quiet of the night one can think and see things clearer. To keep our eyes on the Tai Chi martial path we need to retain our clear mind and not allow our ego to engage in non-productive training methods.

 


Seeing

Someone posted this video link to a FB group and asked “what do you see“?

 

I wonder if the person asking wants to know what readers can see or he is testing to see if they caught on to the method of doing the fajing.

Capturing the movements in slow motion is good because it makes it so much easier to see what is happening.

When you see the fajing performed at normal speed it might seem like a high level skill but at a slower speed its obvious that its nothing but speed, timing, opportunity and implementation.

What this means is that you must find the opportunity to do the fajing. If you cannot find the opportunity then create it.

Once the opportunity is there you must next catch the opponent’s timing. When you get the timing you must be able to quickly apply the biomechanics of fajing.

All these factors working together makes fajing seem effortless.

Take a look at the first fajing at 0:09. Seemed so effortless that its unbelievable. But take a look again at it in slow motion and you can see the following happening :-

i) 0:28 – can you see how the partner’s force is decelerated rendering it weak when the master sinks his body slantingly downwards?

ii) 0:29 – observe how once the partner’s force is diminished the master’s his body forward to join himself to the partner

iii) 0:30 – the master then slided his right foot forward to bring momentum into play

iv) 0:31 – the master planted his right leg down to suddenly stop his body, allowing the momentum to be transferred into the partner sending him off balance. The master used his hands to assist the partner to fly off

 

After reading the above do you still think that fajing is difficult or a mysterious skill? Fajing is basically applied physics. The only thing is that the very skillful masters can do it so easily and subtly that our eyes cannot catch what is happening and we therefore think its something beyond us.

Thanks to this video we can now see that its not. Fajing can be mastered by anybody, well, at least by those who are willing to put in the effort and time to train the skill.

 

 

 


Faith

Sometimes I have no words to say other than if you want to master Tai Chi the easiest thing is just to try it out. If you don’t get it the first time have some faith and try again and again. Some things are not easy to explain and even if explained would still be difficult to understand.

For example in a previous post I mentioned about this particular shaking ruler method from the Tai Chi Ruler style. I told my student that the principle of fajing here is that you shake the ruler to vibrate the dan tian.

Once the dan tian is awakened and shaking it should take over the shaking motion used initially by the arms. You can say that when you started the external shakes the internal. Now that the internal is there the case becomes the internal shakes the external.

As you keep shaking the ruler there are more interesting effects that can be observed. One of them is how the shaking of the dan tian can produce fast and powerful fajing like movements that seems out of your control. The arms will shake violently for some time before it slows down and stops.

Over the years, the practice will allow you to internalize the shaking. Now even if you want to shake your arms violently like previously you won’t be able to do it. At this point you have movement within stillness. If you test your fajing now your partner will feel a strong vibrating force coming from your arms to throw him off balance.

How to explain this scientifically? I have no idea other than the Tai Chi Ruler shaking has somehow enabled the body to release the force in a rapid, short span sinuous wave-like manner that approximates the feeling of being shaken suddenly and violently felt by the partner.

 

P.S.- I tried to find a video on Youtube that shows this ruler shaking exercise but cannot find one. I came across a number of clips on Tai Chi Ruler basic circling exercise and they look more like normal physical exercise whilst holding a gadget rather than use the gadget (the ruler) to engage the intention to train the body’s internal force. This is why the Tai Chi Ruler is also known as Steady Intention Needle. In this case the word “needle” means indicator. Thus, it is a gadget that indicates to you how to train your intention to be usable by focusing it (i.e. keeping it steady).

 

 


Feel

Did I detect a note of skepticism in my student’s question?

If there was a hint it would not be out of the ordinary. After all if you were to tell me that your arm and thigh muscles would relax instead of tensing up when you apply power I would be very skeptical.

But there is nothing like feeling for oneself to see if this was just a BS claim or for real.

Checklist 1 – his right hand pushes my right arm whilst his left hand is placed on my upper arm to feel if there is tensing of the muscles as he applies force and I send him off balance

Checklist 2 – his right hand pushes my right arm and at the same time he places his left hand on my right thigh to check for tensing of thigh muscle

 

(Note – the above checklist is from the draft of “The Mind & The Power : An Introduction to the Intention Method of Generating Force from Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan“)

 

Afterwards he can only shake his head and wonder how this is possible. Yes I know that despite all the talk of relaxation if you actually touch the thighs of many famous masters you would feel the muscle tense up. Case of say one thing but do another. Not to mention that its going against the principles.

However, if you persist in training relaxation in line with the principles you will find that when you receive and apply force you will relax even more instead of starting to tense up. Just because the majority can’t do it does not mean it cannot be done.

 


MRT Fajing Practice

I have been taking public transportation for many months now.

The advantage is that I can use the time spent doing nothing while in the train to research fajing. One simple but powerful method of fajing that can be practiced on an MRT in full view of passengers is one which involves the force model explained on Page 101 in TaijiKinesis Vol 2. Whether the train is crowded or not as long as I get to stand in my normal spot I can do the practice.

In the event, I cannot stand in my normal spot then I will practice another method which is similar to the White Crane Spreads Wings posture from Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s style. The posture may be different but the same model from Page 101 can be used.

There is another lesson that can be learned here and that is how to receive power and return it in conformance to the principle of receiving force do not use wrists, releasing force send it out at once.

Since my student drives, I mentioned about using the steering wheel as an aid in understanding how to generate power.

The key above, as always, is to use the intention to teach the body how to move accurately.


1 Comment

Tai Chi Ruler

2 + 2 = 4.

Earlier in the training session I got around to mentioning about the fajing effect of Tai Chi Ruler system to my student. This is a very little known method of doing Tai Chi. But after knowing it for a long time, I have discovered what those Tai Chi Ruler methods of using training implements and solo exercises mean in terms of fajing.

The method of the long ruler partner exercise is good for focusing the intention and transmitting power over an extended range whilst the shaking ruler method is great for issuing a sudden, vibrating force with an effect as if the person demonstrated on has been given a sudden electrical shock.

After the lesson I heard a tale of sickness and later in the night I remembered that my teacher, Master Leong, mentioning once that Tai Chi Ruler can also help in curing illnesses. True or not, I have no idea as I did not learn it for health reasons.

However, it is my opinion that for those whose health is partly caused by stress doing Tai Chi can be helpful because it calms the mind, massages the internal organs and provides gentle exercise for those whom hard, sweaty and high impact exercises may aggravate rather than help the health.


Wind of Change

Today I should have been enjoying some Ipoh food but a sudden screw-up at work put my holiday plan on hold and I am instead having the same old, same old in SG.

When you think that everything is good to go, there will always be some hiccups; in this case a huge cough.

So the wind that should have blown me north has kept me south instead. Guess I will use this opportunity to continue working on Internal Power of Wing Chun.

 

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