Singapore Tai Chi Chuan


The Why of Doing

Its a good video to watch if only to see what others are doing in terms of push hands. The video link is at The Why of Doing 2.

You can also learn by watching video either by doing or by clarifying your thinking in terms of your approach.

If you were on one side how would you approach the other person? Or if you were on the other side of the fence what would you have done?

Would you have followed the same or similar approach? Why yes? Why no?

I read a very good article today on the evolution of strategies in MMA on Flipboard which could well apply to this post. Unfortunately, for some reason the Windows version of Flipboard is not working and I can’t go in and retrieve the link.

To my students – how would what I teach you be applicable in such a situation? This will help you understand what we do. No point to learn blindly then go out and play with outsiders and get a rude shock.

 


Revisiting

My student told me that he revisited a video that he last saw two years ago. Now he can see things he had not noticed before. Whereas once he was impressed, now less so.

This is normal. To an uneducated eye everything looks good. But when you get the hang of things and you take another look your impression will change.

Speaking of which now is a good time for my student to revisit the video below :-

 

The video does not look impressive. One blogger even said its evidence that the art of GM Wei doesn’t work so well against a resisting opponent.

But there is a problem here. Sure, GM Wei doesn’t look like he could move the other master. However, the body language right at the end is interesting to say the least.

Now that my student has a better idea of what is going on this video will make sense to him, more so, since he probably had been in similar situations whenever we played push hands.

 


Unsweetened Coffee

I once worked for a lady who drank Nescafe black without creamer, sugar or milk. The taste sounded awful to me and I cannot imagine why anyone would drink coffee this way.

Fast forward two decades.

Starbucks. Expresso. Two shots. Yes, two shots.

First time I drank Expresso it tasted like medicine. Few more times of it and it didn’t taste so bad after all. Finally, I can understand why the lady boss would drink Nescafe that way. Nothing like a kick from the caffeine mule to wake the mind up. Particularly so in those years when I was learning Wing Chun in Hong Kong and lessons only started around midnight and would go on until dawn. Or those years of learning Tai Chi when morning lessons meant up to 2 hours of listening to talk of principles.

So when my student finally understood the taste of Tai Chi it was easy to explain to him how to use imagery to control the body. For example after the previous lesson he is still trying to get rid of the extra stress on his foot.

It was easy to know why he couldn’t get it. Its because his mind is still attached and fixated to his foot. The more he wanted to get rid of the problem the more it seemed to hang on. I had to let him mull over the problem and put in the practice, good or bad, because then he will have questions and doubts. With doubts its easier to jolt the mind into awakening.

So its back to the very first position but this time a method for not allowing the mind to be fixated. Cause and effect. Cause and effect. I explained the principles in a more detailed manner, adding a few more layers on top of what is already known. After adding this extra information into the practice and what was wrong became correct and the feeling of uncomfortable pressure was …………… gone.

This correctness has many more implications for the mastery of Tai Chi. A small step perhaps but potentially a giant leap once the principle becomes a natural habit.

 

 


Its Time

Learning Tai Chi is not a matter of do the relevant form, techniques and push hands at that particular level or rank and you automatically get it. I wish that its that easy and straightforward. But its not.

Mastering Tai Chi takes a lot of practice and fine tuning. Sometimes the only thing a teacher can do is to stand back and watch. Yeah, just stand back and let the student settle in. It will take time, some time, maybe even a lot of time but the student will get there as long as he keeps the practice going.

Yes, it is frustrating to watch Tai Chi incorrectly practice. But sometimes nothing much can be done. Its not just the student who must have patience to learn but the teacher too must have patience to wait for the right moment to take the student’s hand and lead him to the door that enters the hall of mastery.

My student commented that he has been doing everything wrong when I showed him a most defined and exact way of doing the same old movement he has been practicing for years. Yes, but without the wrong practice as a reference one has nothing to compare the correct movements against.

So after getting the movements correct you would think that the student can do it correctly from this point on. Yes, he can for about a few minutes and then slowly, one by one, the old habits come back. It really is a lot of work to teach a student but without this way of teaching he will never ever even has a sliver of hope of getting something, much less it.

But as long as there is a will, a teacher will show the way.

And then the day will come……….

…… when the chips will fall into place and a leg gingerly steps over the threshold into the door of mastery.

 


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Book Cover

Had a funny conversation this afternoon at a work site.

My customer said he saw my FB page and asked about what I did.

Then he said I didn’t look strong so he was curious if I had the power.

Ha, ha…. muscular power no but force….

I banged my forearm against the metal railing a few times to demonstrate what I meant as it was a noisy environment.

Then I asked him for his arm and gave it a light tap with my forearm and he yelped in pain. He was surprised that I could dish out that type of hurt.

Moral of the lesson – never judge a book by its cover.


Old & Soft

Its an odd question.

Over the past month at least two students have asked me for my age. They have this doubt that mastery of Tai Chi can only be by old people. Just because I didn’t quite look like my age they are skeptical and so had to confirm that I am indeed old.

One student commented that he noticed that a number of masters seem a lot stiffer in their latest videos as compared to that taken a few years back. So when I didn’t feel stiff or look rundown to him he had this doubt that I am not older.

The thing about the practice of Tai Chi is that it should rejuvenate you rather than sap your energy and wear you down. This is what being pre-heaven is about. If you look haggard and tired from Tai Chi practice then you are practicing it the post-heaven way.

Lately, I saw some Tai Chi push hands practiced in the post heaven manner on the page of a Facebook group. You can see the practitioner try so very hard to push his training partner out. He nearly fully extended his arms, leaned forward at a steep angle, the forward leg’s knees went beyond the toe line, the rear leg thrusting straight and hard against the ground. You can see which video I am referring to in the second post Old & Soft 2.

If you do Tai Chi in this manner you are going against the principle of using 4 ounces to overcome 1000 pounds. Not only that but you are also not applying science to what you do. It seems odd to me that for the claims of secret movements what the practitioner demonstrated was anything but worthy to be termed secret. It fell short of even the most rudimentary model of force which you can read about in any physics textbook.

To practice Tai Chi in a way that conserves your strength and leaves you rejuvenated with energy and cultivate soft hands you have to rigorously apply the models of physics that relate to the generation of force. I am very surprised that for all the talk of being scientific less than 1% of the Tai Chi I have seen are truly scientific. Most of them are downright crude or pseudo-scientific with models and methods full of holes in their arguments. This is why I tell students to do themselves a favor and buy a good physics textbook to read. How many will really listen I have no idea. I can only bring a horse to water but not force it to drink.

When you do push hands in a strong manner in the mistaken notion that to do so is building a good and strong structure of 1000 pounds that can withstand 1000 pounds then I can only shake my head. The undisputed truth is that you may be able to build 1000 pounds but if your opponent is say 2000 pounds you will still be crushed by him. Due to size differential it may be impossible for you to develop 2000 pounds of resistance. So following this logic you will always lose to the 2000 pounds force person.

The principles of Tai Chi exhorts us to borrow the strength of the opponent to defeat him. If you work on the idea of developing 1000 lbs of force then you will fail to understand or even use the model of borrowing strength to defeat strength. So the practitioner that I observed in the video is from a school that advocates this approach of developing 1000 pounds. If you see the video I think you too will sigh and be surprised that bulldozing can be considered good Tai Chi.

To develop the model of borrowing strength you need good and sensitive structure, something along the lines of a geodesic dome but much more simpler in order to maintain its practicality. This is not something I made up. If you read the Tai Chi Classics carefully you will find the information there. This type of model enables you to be soft yet robust and can withstand strong pressure without collapsing or having to resist it. Any resistance is for the purpose of borrowing the opponent’s strength and when the necessary and sufficient conditions are in place you can fajing with minimal effort, the 4 ounces to overcome 1000 pounds principle literally coming alive.

Because you use little strength you won’t wear yourself down and actually feel invigorated after practice. I cannot say for others but this is what I have discovered after practicing the Tai Chi method that is handed down from Grandmaster Wei Shuren to my teacher.

 

 


When the Time is Right

When the time is right its easy to get it.

If you try to do it too early on fajing is difficult to do.

However, when the principles are in place, voila, the fajing comes easily and it seems almost unbelievable that one can do it.

The next step then is to make it naturally part of one’s movement, just like talking, eating, walking etc.

 

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