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
I am not suggesting any type of training on heavy bags or for palm and knuckle strengthening but I had something happen that I thought would have worked the other way around.
I have been punching a heavy bag for over 40 years. There were many times I trained using walls as well. Then went to trees and walls a few years back, and not once did I ever use anything but my fist
I did on occasion hurt my hand, but it was rare, but I never hurt my wrist. I also use to did palm strike training on trees and walls as well
As a matter of fact, I had some problems with my fingers when I started training palm strikes, for Sanda, by hitting trees those problems cleared up and I never hurt my hand or my wrist.
But then when I went back to working the heavy bag my hands, knuckles, had gotten much softer so I decided, within the last 5 years to buy some gloves, they were like these
And I rather liked them, did not hurt my hand or my wrist. They worked great, that was until the padding over the knuckles got hard and then it was like hitting a wall again. So, I went back to no gloves, but I do rather like those so eventually I will replace them.
But then I needed to buy a full-on pair of boxing gloves so I went and got some like these
At first, they were kind of cool to work with, but then one day I hit the heavy bag with the left and hurt my wrist. And then a week later I did it again. I don't know if it is the angle I am hitting with the extra padding or if it is I am hitting harder because of the extra padding, but it was the first time I ever hurt my wrist.
Things are getting better slowly, but I am going to go back and buy another set of the MMA gloves to use on the heavy bag from now on. I actually liked the boxing gloves, but I don't like hurting my wrist so it is back to the fingerless gloves.
Been wearing a wrist brace for the past few days and getting acupuncture too and it seems to be clearing up slowly but it is not yet 100%
My recommendation, when training with something new or in a new way, start lighter, don't go full on until you get used to it. I went full tilt with the gloves thinking the padding protect me more, and it does, But I did not consider that it also can be at a different angle, also due to the extra padding. Or that I may be hitting to hard because subconsciously I thought, due to the increased padding I was protected.... or then again...it could also be that I am getting old.....
Well that is enough from me...
David Bowie - Scary Monsters
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
Alice cooper - Keepin’ Halloween Alive
Wang Qing Yu, student of Fu Zhong Wen
Wang Qing Yu - Traditional Yang Tai Chi Chuan
太极大师崔毅士拳照 Cui YiShi Yang Style TaiChi Form Pics
Cui YiShi Push Hands Precious Video
Full Article > Tung Ying-chieh and the Public Perception of Chinese Martial Arts in Post War Hong Kong
Tung Ying Chieh (1898 - 1961)
And one even older
1939 Chinese Sword Forms -Tai Miao -Beijing -China
1938 Chinese Martial Art Forms, Weapons & Exercises –Beijing –China
This is Chinese Opera Martial Arts
1936 Chinese Martial Art Forms -Shantung & Nanking -China
1934 Chinese Sabre versus Bayonet Fencing - Nanjing -China
1934 Tai Chi Demonstration Using Special Apparatus – Nanjing -China
1930 Children Demonstrate Martial Arts - Chinatown -New York
Rare Chinese Martial Arts Footage from 1930's
1909 - 1915 Double Chinese Sabre Exercise- Street Performance-China
Going to give JKD a try again.
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