wait...it was 8 postures!!!!!
I do Taijiquan every day and last week, Thursday, something just did not feel right. It felt like I was missing something, that the form was to short, but I kept on doing the form, every day, even though it just felt wrong.
I chalked this feeling up to that fact that I have been dealing with some health issues (more on that later) and that my mind was not focused and elsewhere at times during the form and maybe in some places I was somewhere else and I simply missed them.
This morning I was once again doing the form and I once again felt something was wrong, but today it began gnawing at me while I was doing the form. I kept on pushing on, posture after posture, until I could go no further, I just had to stop, it was not right. I knew I was missing some kicks and I most certainly knew I was missing a downward punch. I also know I was very focused on the form, but I could not figure out exactly where the transition was that would get me to the 3 postures I knew I was missing.
I simply could no longer do the Yang long form, so I stopped and consulted a YouTube Video of Tung Hu Ling
I fast forwarded through to where I was certain the forms I was missing had to start and, low and behold, there they were. If you use the Yang family counting of the forms there are 103 postures in the long form, I was only doing 95. Therefore, it felt wrong and this is why it felt short. However, this also pointed out that I had only realized I had forgotten about 3 and completely missed 5. I was upset about missing 3 and now I find I totally forgot 5 postures, that I have likely done thousands of times.
Traditional Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan 103 Movement Hand Form
I had been missing all of these since last Thursday
37. 右分脚 Right Separation Kick
38. 左分脚 Left Separation Kick
39. 转身左蹬脚 Turn Body and Left Heel Kick
40. 左搂膝拗步 Left Brush Knee and Push
41. 右搂膝拗步 Right Brush Knee and Push
42. 进步栽锤 Step Forward and Punch Down
43. 转身撇身锤 Turn Body and Chop with Fist
44. 进步搬拦锤 Step Forward, Parry Block and Punch
However, on the Previous Wednesday I am certain I did the entire form (103 if using the Yang family way of counting). Why 24 hours later 8 postures vanished completely I still do not know.
I have been doing this form for almost 25 years, I have had breaks due to injury that lasted months, and I have always managed to remember the entire form. I might catch myself doing the form and it felt wrong, but it generally was simply a matter of going through the form in my head to figure out what was missing. But last week I forgot 8 forms and did not realize for certain, until this morning, that there was something wrong, something was actually missing, and what those postures, at least in part, might be.
I’m still going to chalk this up to being pre-occupied with heath issues, of course it could also be age too. And I also know that I was not as focused on the form Thursday of last week as I was Wednesday of last week. It is an interesting lesson in how things can be wrong, when you are sure you’re right, how easily it can be to be distracted, and a lesson on the importance of focusing and centering too.
However now, after typing this, I think I now know why Thursday was different and why Thursday I was distracted and it was the health issue that I am dealing with that was the cause. So it is the health issue afterall….or at least that is my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
Something came to my attention this past week that I am not all to happy about....
I have on a few occasions pointed people in the direction of the training they are looking for both on MT and off MT. Most times it is someone looking for a school in their geographical location and a simple web search produces a number of schools and I simply tell them to check them out, or I run into them someplace and the subject comes up and I can help them. But there have been two times, here on MT, that I regret. One person sent me a PM and ask if I knew anything about training Chen style Taijiquan in China. The other, it came up in conversation.
I should probably state right here that I am not going to name names, these folks know who they are.
Chen Taijiquan: When I first came to MT, I did have a connection in the Chen family in China, Chen Zhenglei. My wife had been his translator on a few occasions when he came to my area and we were even invited to visit him at his home when we were in China. I received a few PMs from another poster here on MT telling me about their dream of training Chen Taijiquan in China, so I contacted Chen Zhenglei and he wanted to talk to this person, so I set it up, and they did talk, via e-mail. Chen’s wife started the process to get this person to China to train and all seemed fine… and then after they did all the work they needed to do in the China side of the equation, the person here vanished….as did my connection to the Chen family.
I decided then I had learned my lesson and would not allow that to happen again and I stuck to that for many years. I would recommend schools in areas people were looking for, but not schools or a shifu I knew personally. At least not without a lot of questions and a face to face meeting. But it never got that far for many years.
Recently, I let my guard down and got into a conversation with someone on MT. They were having a rough time with their current Shifu, who I know, and I mentioned another one in the area who I personally knew. I am not sure if they knew about him before I mentioned him or not, but I do know they went there. I also know there was trouble, not sure to what extent or what the result was since I currently have only one side, the person I recommended side, but I know there was a problem. And with what came to light this past week I now feel I need to make a call about to see what happened, apologize if needed and see where I now stand with these folks. However, before I became aware of the problem I pointed them in the direction of another school and they went there as well. I recently discovered there were problems there as well, from the shifu of that school.
I’m rather old school in my views of martial arts and very traditional in my views of Chinese marital arts. In my opinion, it is not cool, no matter what martial arts fantasy one is trying to fulfill, to go off and present things as your own, claim to have learned from folks you may have to may not have actually trained with and charge others for your alleged knowledge you don't have and add to that, do not have permission to teach. All while ruining the reputation of a very reputable and rather talented, martial artist and bad mouthing another every chance you get.
I have decided to talk to the various teachers in this recent equation about this situation to find out what is going on. I also cannot apologize enough to the one that is currently dealing with the fallout from this. Frankly I feel horrible and responsible for the entire debacle since I pointed this person to at least one school, possibly two.
All this has retaught me a rather powerful lesson, never again will I point anyone in the direction of a teacher I know, or recommend a school that I have any association with, to someone I have not, at least, meant face to face.
Fùhuó jié kuàilè
Xingyiqaun 5 elements, done by Hai Yang
Tried something today, which likely is far from original, and I am sure others have done it before, since Xingyiqyan has been around for over 200 years, but I was never shown it and I have never done it before today.
As far as Xingyi is concerned I am a proponent of standing in Santi Shi, just do not make it the focus of your training. It is important, it trains structure, but one should not forget, ultimately that structure has to move.
Also I believe that one should train all five postures of the 5 elements the same as Santi Shi, which is basically standing in piquan. Note, I also am only talking about the 5 elements, since this is all I really know.
Piquan, Zuanquan, Bengquan, Paoquan, Hengquan
I am also a proponent of training the 5 elements with reverse leg, at angles, straight, in reverse (backing up) and in circles, but that is not what this is about.
I have not done any Xingyiquan in a few months but today I was in my basement standing in Santi Shi when I had a thought, “go through all 5 elements slowly”. I have gone though the elements slowly before, much like a taijiquan form, but this was different with an added bit of breath focused meditation. This I had not thought of, or done, before.
Piquan; left, hold for 10 relaxed breathes
Piquan; right, hold for 10 relaxed breathes
Piquan; left, hold for 10 relaxed breathes
Piquan; right, hold for 10 relaxed breathes
Zuanquan; do the same as Piquan
Bengquan; 4 rounds left leg forward, same as Piquan
Bengquan; 4 rounds right leg forward, same as Piquan
Paoquan; same as Piquan
Hengquan; same as Piquan
Hengquan; reverse leg, same as Piquan
All stop and stand for 10 relaxed breathes, and all transitions from one posture to another were done at full speed. Now admittedly I have not done Xingyiquan in a few months and I am not in the greatest of shape, but at the end of this I was sweating a little bit, and I felt it in my thighs most.
What I did notice about the forms was that without the continuous movement, from one to the other, that the stop showed me rooting and alignment issues that I simply did not notice before due to the momentum of the 5 elements forms. As did the full speed transitions, knocked myself off balance more that once in Bengquan and Paoquan
Just wanted to share this, I imagine this could be done, and likely has been done before, with any form from any style.
I was reading through various philosophical quote this morning and these help with something I did not realize was even an issue until I read them. Just wanted to share them in case they may help others
Now I am off to exercise and train; Yoga, Total Gym, Treadmill, Taijiquan, and maybe even some Xingyiquan
Been awhile since I posted anything about Xingyiquan in the old blog. Considered giving it up, and so far, I have managed to not train it beyond the standing postures. However, it is always in the back of my mind and it is still my favorite of all martial arts I have trained or seen over the years. I only trained the 5 elements in any sort of depth, but over the years I have been shown Bear, Horse and Tiger, although I do not train them, nor have I ever seen the need, or had the desire to until recently. I saw a short sampler video of Wudang Xingyiquan 12 animals from Zhou Xuan Yun and for the first time I thought…”wow, I need to learn that” .
12 Animal Sampler (Master Zhou Xuan Yun)
I still feel the 5 elements is all you really need, but I do like the Wudang animal forms
The Xingyiquan I have trained is all Hebei style, with a slight dalliance in Wudang style, and to be honest I wish I could go much deeper into Wudang style, ironically Wudang style seems much more external to me than any of the Hebei I have trained, but I still like it…a lot... and I have not trained it enough to actually know much about the internal side of Wudang Xingyiquan
I am not going to go back into training Xingyiquan, at least not at this time. Before I do that I have some thinking to do as it applies to my good eye and he possible risks. However, I have not ruled it out entirely either. It is still a possibility come spring into summer, I have a few plans for my training this coming spring and summer…. but based on my past plans for such thing it is possible something will jump up and slap me in the face and say…”Oh no you don’t”. But ever since finding out about Wang Deshun I have been rethinking my idea about training and being too old. I will confess I was in contact with a person who is supposed to be an excellent Xingyiquan practitioner and teacher before winter, and I left it with “I will get back to you in the spring”…time will tell
Well that is all from me….. I will close with a link to an article from Liang, Shou-Yu, and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
Fundamental Moving Patterns of Xingyiquan by Liang, Shou-Yu, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, December 6, 2010
That is the excuse I have been using of late....although I still believe in the wisdom of Dirty Harry
I no longer think I can use age as an excuse
I came across Wang Deshun today, he is 80 and recently changed from actor (he was the Jade Emperor in "The Forbidden Kingdom" to Runway model.
Wang Deshun, The Man 80 year old on catwalk
So, now I am truly wondering if the whole I'm too old thing...., is an excuse..... I have no doubt there are limitations based in physical issues, but how much of a limitation are they really. Could it be that the age excuse influences those limitations as well.
Do I think I can do the same thing today, in my 50s as I could in my 20s...nope. But I think I can do a whole lot more than I am doing and much of that may be as dependent on attitude as it is on diet and physical activity
Have to meditate on this
Year of the Dog - Zodiac
Nowhere near as important, or well written as Charles Dickens’ book whose title I bastardized to title my post. And this is without a doubt, as advertised, the ramblings of a Neijia madman…..and the first post of 2018
Did something today I had never done in my over 25 year or training Taijiquan. I have, and had, more than one Dao, several actually
From the thin wobbly Modern Wushu variety (a friend of mine labelled “the boing boing flap flap sword”) to a real one that can be sharpened and used as a weapon. I even have a few wooden ones as well. The one I generally use is a bit stronger than the Modern Wushu version but not as strong (or heavy) as the actual Dao (weapon).
What I did today, that I have never done before, was to do the ‘Yang short dao form’ 2 times with different Dao. First with the heavier (weapon) dao and the second time with my usual practice Dao and I discovered a rather significant difference between the two. Obviously, one is heavier than the other and it is that extra weight that is likely the underlying reason for the difference, but the form itself must be performed a little differently depending on the Dao. The effect it has on concentration, rooting and how it effects keeping the lower dantian balanced is quite eye opening, or at least it was to me.
I have been told, and read, for many years that you need to extend your energy to the tip of the sword, be that Dao or Jian. This is referring to getting the energy from your root to the tip of the sword
And I believe that if you can get your energy (focus) to your wrist you can get it to the end of a Jian. For a Dao all you have to do is get it to your elbow and that works well to get the energy to the end of the Dao.
I did not figure that out all on my own, there an old saying goes, “the Jain comes from the wrist and the Dao comes from the elbow”, but it was incredibly clear that the elbow was important to the dao when working with the two dao, this morning, of very different weights.
Extending the energy is nothing new either, the distance it is to be extended is a bit different, but then it like the energy of a punch. You do not think I want to hit something when you train striking, you think I want to hit “Through” something. Same with the Dao and Jain.
But with the different weight dao; the rooting takes and immediate hit, you feel a big difference, and keeping the Dantian balance is also not the same. Combine problems rooting with problems balancing the dantian and you have balance issues too.
I have not been a fan of the jian, and although I enjoy the Dao and working with its applications, I never really got the importance of the Dao form until this morning. And the explanations I have received when I asked generally left me with the question… “Why is extending the energy so important”. So, the explanations did not convince me of the importance of these weapons, especially in the 21st century, when the likelihood of getting into a sword fight is next to none.
However, from my point of view, at the moment, and maybe this is just me, and/or possibly I am completely missing the point. Extending the energy helps with rooting and balance, in the empty had forms, since it is extending thinking beyond yourself and changing your center of gravity. Also, think of combat; if you are not able to change your balance points, your center of gravity and maintain a root you will be rather easily uprooted and/or knocked over and you will have no power to execute any technique/application at all if you cannot extend your energy while maintaining your root and balance.
It is also good to look at things, especially things you have trained hundreds, if not thousands of times, from a different point of view. It is a fantastic way to learn something new about something old. I also find, that for the first time in many years, I actually want to go back and work on the Jian to see how this effects that form and how that form effects my other forms. Bottomline it is good to keep learning, even learning about things you have been doing for years that you thought you know most of what there was to know about. Things look new again and get very interesting all over again.
Well, like I said, ramblings of a Neijia Madman….. but before I stop, one last old Chinese saying
“The Jian is the weapon of the gentleman. The Dao is the weapon of the butcher”
My favorite is the dao…what does that say about me…..enough…I’m done
Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.' - Alfred Lord Tennyson
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.- Benjamin Franklin
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein
Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.- William Shakespeare
The dantian (丹田) Literal meaning; cinnabar or red field.
The are 3 main Dantians in Chinese Medicine and in Internal Chinese martial
However, what I am going to mainly talk about here is centering while moving in Taijiquan focusing on the Lower Dantian.
One of the practices while standing in wuji
Yang Chengfu (杨澄甫) 1883 - 1936
Standing in Yang style wuji
or any number of qigong forms is to focus on the dantian. You also need to think about this point while practicing taijiquan, but generally not until after you are comfortable and confident with the forms. Not that is cannot be done prior to that, it is just my opinion that you would be over complicating things if you did.
The idea is to think of your center, the lower dantian, and keep it balanced and small. Not leaning to the right or the left and not too far forward or backward, just keep it centered/balanced. This is not all that difficult while standing still. It can take some time and practice to learn how to relax in to a posture. But once you can relax, staying focused on the lower dantian and maintaining balance is not all that hard to do.
However, the difficulty may occur when you try and move it and maintain balance while focusing on the dantian. For me I found that I could maintain that balance in one posture like grasp the birds tail
Yang Chengfu (杨澄甫) 1883 - 1936
And in single whip
Tung Ying Chieh (董英杰) 1898 – 1961
But I realized I was not maintaining my center and keeping the dantian balanced while transitioning from one form to the other. I was sometimes so focused on maintain balance in one posture that I held onto that focus until I got to the next posture. The problem being that I was focusing on and maintaining balance at a point that was sometimes a foot or more away. And then once I got to the next posture moving that focal point to where I was at that moment. This works as an anchor to the previous posture and not is maintaining your center and keeping it balanced. It also does not help with balance while transitioning from one posture to the next and can make it “feel” hard to move.
You have to maintain that center, that balance throughout the entire form, and that center/balance moves. It is not stationary
Tung Hu Ling 1917-1992
This means not anchoring your thinking/focus to any one stationary point. It means when you get to the posture grasp the birds tail you are focused on ‘your’ dantian. It is a point inside you and that point is moving. It is not a fixed point you are looking to meet or several fixed points you are moving between, it is one point that moves with you. So, as you move from grasp the birds tail to single whip or while doing wave hands or going from needle at the sea bottom to fan through back, that you need to keep the dantian balanced at ever point throughout the movement because it moves with you.
Think of a number line
And the main points are the postures, but there are numbers/points between the postures and you are moving along that line at every single point on it. You do not focus on point 1 and then jump to point 2, you hit every point between 1 and 2 as well.
Could also be another reason why you practice taiji forms slowly at first and why fast forms are considered advanced. You need to maintain balance in your dantian throughout the entire form. And learning that was easier for me going slow that jumping into fast at the beginning. And once you have this, moving, and balance become much easier and your movements between postures is much lighter.
Corelli Christmas Concerto; Op.68 -- Freiburger Barockorchester
Frank Sinatra - Christmas Songs
I came across this on the "Tai Chi Fighter's Blog"
Talks on Yang Family Taijiquan with Fu Zhongwen and James Fu from 1994
Short Videos from 1994 of Fu Zhongwen talking about various topics in Yang Taijiquan as well as some form and posture videos of Fu Zhongwen, Fu Shengyuan (Fu Zhongwen's son) and James Fu (Grandson)
Fu Zhongwen (1903–1994)
Well, had a scare this past week, was at.a routine eye appointment and had the doctor tell me he thought he saw a retina detachment in my good eye. I had 2 detachment incidents in the other eye, one was full and they are surprised I can see out of the eye as good as I do, and the second was not so bad, but still required surgery and I was out of work for a couple weeks.
The first one, the worst, occurred right after I got accidentally hit in the eye (right in the eye) while training a bit of Wing Chun. The second one occured while I was standing in the Bergen Aquarium in Norway.
Well, after the discovery of the good eye having a retinal detachment I was immediately sent to the specialists office where 2 retina specialists took turns shinning very bright lights in my eye and making me look in multiple directions. Happily, they both agreed it was not a detachment. However it was a pigment change and a thinning which does not mean it will detach but does mean it is more likely to detach than a normal retina. I left the office with a lot to think about, went to Mrs Xue's office where she declared I was not to ever lift anything heavy again.... this is her panicking by the way... after she calmed down we agree that I can still lift stuff....but I took the rest of the day off to think.
I had returned to training harder martial arts and was back to training JKD and thinking I was going to see how far an old arthritic guy, over half a century old, could go in JKD. But this had me thinking, and I kept thinking about a quote from Bruce Lee
And I kept thinking I should not let this stop me, should I let this limit me? Or should I just keep at it and see how far I would get. But then I had another thought; this was said by a man in top physical condition who was no older than his early 30s..... and he died young.
Then another thought popped into y head from a Clint Eastwood movie
After a couple days thinking about it, and taking my, Wing Chun, hit in the eye experience under consideration, I decided I had to stop. It was not fair. to my family for me to take the risk, and if the good eye ever got as bad as the bad eye, my career was over. Still can't look at a computer screen with the bad eye open so 2 like that, and I can't work with computers at all.
Had a blast training JKD for the all of 2 classes I got, have a great teacher and a great place to train (anyone in upstate NY looking for a JKD school I have one I would highly recommend). But now with this thinning retina and the fact that there is a 100% chance of getting hit training JKD I had to stop.
As for Xingyiquan, well to really train xingyi has the same risks as Wing Chun and JKD so that too is likely done, but then I have said that before, but I was not thinking about the possibility of losing my vision before when I said that.... time will tell
However I am not done with martial arts, I am working to set up regular meetings with my Yang taijiquan shifu so I can get much deeper in the taiji and try and get all I can from him. He is one of the last (or few) of the old school, out of China, Taiji people who know the entire art with the marital side intact and how it works and how to apply it. And per his statement, I am his last serious student. I do realize that I am lucky to have access to his teaching. I am also still toying with Sun style too, but time will tell how far that goes. And I returned to training more Qigong which has brought with it one rather surprising benefit, that happened much quicker than I expected, my old arthritic hips are feeling much better. And it has only been a few days that.I have been back regularly training Baduanjin, the last 2 days twice a day
So, I am, from this point on a taijiquan, qigong guy and to be honest I feel a lot more relaxed and it has even found that I am thinking more deeply and much more focused on my Total Gym Workout.
So all this time training other arts while training taijiquan, I did enjoy, but it seems my eyes decided what I have to do now at over a half century old
Enough of my whining...time to go do Baduanjin
Here’s to enjoying the company of good friends and family. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving!
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.” -Henry David Thoreau
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” -Cicero
Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” -Theodore Roosevelt
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John F. Kennedy
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” -Dalai Lama
Separate names with a comma.