Singapore Tai Chi Chuan


Kit Kat Moment

Taking a break now after releasing 2 Dots – Six Learning Steps to Mastering Wing Chun’s Kicking Model.

This is a useful primer for those who want to learn how to be able to kick without telegraphing as well as deliver penetrating power. Its not so much a book on how to perform kicks as what are the essential principles; the so-called body knowledge, that must be acquired in order to do kicks in a more optimized manner.

Students have asked and I have demonstrated how I can get my foot off the ground slowly and then suddenly whipped out power through the foot. Just last week I gave a student a tap on the stomach with my foot that bounced him off his feet. Too bad it was impromptu and hence wasn’t filmed.

The key to kicking is balance. If you don’t have balance you can’t get into a position to kick as and when you need to do it.

Also, if you don’t have balance you can’t generate the power.

Learning to kick the Tai Chi way is difficult due to the subtlety of the body movements involved which is largely governed by how the mind directs the body to move. However, if one understands the Wing Chun way of kicking it may well kick start one’s ability to kick. It won’t replace the Tai Chi method, just act as a short term solution for those who don’t want to wait to long to be able to do kicks.


Access

I am getting some messages from WordPress on folks who want to gain access to my private blog Mushin’s Thinking eBooks.

As mentioned before, this blog is for those who have purchased access to read any of my eBooks.

If you don’t get a reply from me when trying to request access its because I have no idea how to reply to such requests. WordPress basically gives me two options for such requests -ignore them or give access. If you have purchased an eBook you will have been invited to join. If not, the only thing I can do is do nothing. Sorry about it.

 


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Habanero

I looked at the packet of habanero chili. It’s not that big and ugly. Despite reading about its reputation for heat the actual habanero chilies before me didn’t faze me.

That is until I actually tried one and yikes!!!

Once upon a time my schoolmate saw Master Leong demonstrate a low side kick on me from afar. He said it didn’t look impressive.

I said why not go and try it for himself. He walked over to Master Leong. He came back and said that standing on the receiving end the kick was faster than when he was looking at it from the sidelines.

Moral of the story – don’t jump to any conclusions before actually trying something out.

Yesterday someone commented that a particular master didn’t look impressive. Now I know this master from way back and saw him gain control of another local master who had 10 years on him in Wing Chun. So I would not say he is not impressive.

But I can understand the sentiment when looking at this master’s more recent videos and comparing them with the private footage that I have. There could be reasons for this change but I am not going to speculate.

Again, like eating the habanero one might not be able to stand the spiciness whilst another may find it tame. So sometimes it’s pointless to pass judgement on people or things we have not tried before.


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Importance

Which is more important – speed, power or the ability to change?

Actually, this is like asking which of the three hand shapes are more important in the game of paper, scissors, rock.

Actually, all are important against the correctly guessed hand shape that the opponent assumes.

Thus, a good kicker can nail you before you can get close but a good wrestler can close in quick and take the kicker to the ground. However, a good boxer can prevent a wrestler from coming near enough to use his takedown techniques.

Similarly, you can blitz your opponent with your fast techniques. But if you fail to finish the job quickly you may run out if stamina. Or you can go the distance but still lose because your body cannot handle the hardened limbs of the opponent.

You can also throw 5 fast punches at the opponent but if not backed by power then that one retaliatory punch from the opponent backed by strong penetrating power can stop you in your track.

This is why in training Tai Chi we should not focus on one thing at the expense if another.


Clean Power

It’s the second time I heard it from this student though another new student also mentioned it.

Clean power.

What?

Clean power.

This is the term my student used to describe our fajing process because of its minimalist characteristics which makes it difficult to see or feel what exactly is happening even when it’s performed slowly.

This was when I said that fajing is not an accurate term to describe the process.

Why?

The typical fajing process is exemplified by fast, sudden and jerky motions. There is a short period in which there is a void before the explosive power happens. This is also the time that the power sudden grows very fast and overpowers the opponent before he can react to it. Most of the time you can see what is happening though it is still common for a lot of people to be unable to see what is actually occurring. I believe the scientific term is inattentional blindness.

But clean power method of fajing or to use the term toujing does not look like or feel as similar to fajing. Instead toujing is more like the haze from Indonesia that silently moves across the water and envelopes Singapore with little advance warning.

So toujing is a method not just of suddenly increasing your power and jerking it out. On the contrary you can slowly increase it and permeate the opponent’s body before he realizes it. In fact, most of the time the feeling would be like being draped by a force field with no apparent point of origin. When the force grows denser you will feel as if your feet is floating up and about to be shot like an arrow from a strongly primed bow.

As I was explaining to my student it requires a high level of sung to do toujing. The normal type of floppy sung is not sufficient to enable this skill which is encapsulated in the 4 key words of Grandmaster Wang Yongquan’s style as transmitted to Grandmaster Wei Shuren.

A very high degree of awareness is required to meet the conditions that will enable you to toujing. Again like Zen enlightenment you can either miss the mark after decades of study or you can instantly get it after a shorter period of training. However, this does not mean you don’t need to train. On the contrary you need to train even more and be very open in your outlook if you want to be able to achieve that click moment.

The keys to toujing can be found in the Beginning Posture as described in TaijiKinesis Vol 2.


Kai He Conceptually

A little while back I saw a posting on Kai-He on a Tai Chi group in FB. While it’s an interesting attempt to explain KH I could not help but feel that they are off the mark.

Kai-He or Open-Close is a training principle in Tai Chi. Though you can say that all styles of Tai Chi have it, however, it is best encapsulated by the Wu-Hao style, hence the version of Wu style form in Dong style Tai Chi is also known as Kai He because this training principle runs like a thread through the entire form.

IMO a principle like Kai-He cannot be grasped easily without mastering the 5 points movement principle. This is because we can think of Kai-He as an extension of the 5 points principle. In TaijiKinesis, we don’t have to keep adding more and more to the art. Instead, we just need to have a few key principles which can flexibly translate into different things. Then we can master more by learning less.

Kai-He is training to actualize the principle of using the body as a bow. The body has 5 conceptual bows. Thus, Kai-He provides the training for accessing the 5 bows and not just opening and closing the arms as commonly seen when practitioners go through this form.

A powerful bow has high tensile strength and difficult to bend. Hence, when playing the form we exhibit minimal outer movements in tandem with the principle of a strong relatively inflexible bow.

When applying the bow principle in push hands we have to adhere rigorously to it. This is why your training partner will find himself launched backwards strongly, suddenly and quickly despite seeing little movement on your part.

I am just giving a simple explanation of what Kai-He is about here. The actual principle is a bit more complex. Many of the keys to making Kai-He work are also found in the Yang style long form. Hence, do not disregard its training.


Training Small Frame

From big to small.

In the beginning students need to work on moving in the manner of a big frame. This is to make it easier for the student to feel what his body is doing. It is only after he really can feel his body’s movements and can control the way his body moves via the method of the 5 points that he should start to refine his movements to fit in with the requirements of moving using the small frame method.

In TaijiKinesis Vol 2 I have explained certain key principles that are frequently used in push hands. However, principles such as how the triangle rotates to create the circle, how a circle rotates in reference via a fixed point in a spiral motion to create a conical shape etc can really only be implemented into one’s movements in form play and push hands after reaching the small frame stage.

The easiest way to make the transition from big to small frame is via the method of 5 points. Thinking that one is doing it is not enough. You really must do it. The better you can do it, the better is your control and by extension your ability to actually apply core strategies such as how to use grasp sparrow’s tail to control your training partner’s movements during push hands.

Grasp sparrow’s tail or GST for short is both a training principle and application strategy. To be able to deftly handle something soft, nimble and fast moving like a metaphorical sparrow’s tail requires you to be able to have dexterous control of your own movements in addition to being able to move fast in response to an opponent’s quick, resisting reactions to throw off your attempts to control him.

In the form the principle of GST is trained through the movements of ward-off, rollback, press and push. Skillful application of GST requires you to control the opponent such that he cannot feel your strength clearly and hence cannot formulate a clear solution to it. When the opponent tries to move away he is unable to as he feels as if he will be thrown off were he to do so. But if he were to resist by rooting down strongly he should feel as if his strength is falling onto a ground that is giving way.

I spent the time this morning teaching my student how to refine his movements to be able to train GST better. Then we also worked on using GST in push hands to control and overcome strong resistance. Once he can apply GST consistently he can try doing push hands with strangers to test his skill.