Improve your practice


Yellow Belt
Mar 1, 2013
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Apply these to your form, your techniques, your applications and especially your drills & sparring.


Everything you train today should be a little lower than it was yesterday. And make tomorrow a little lower than today.

Keep at it until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Don’t compromise structure or softness.

Once you can move as comfortably, easily and softly at thighs parallel as you you can standing up then your work here is done.


How slow can you train without stopping?

Now work on going slower.

Make sure to maintain constant, smooth movement the whole time.

No starts and stops.

This is especially important training for partner drills and sparring.


There’s no end to this one.

Relax more and deeper and more completely.

...and then become even softer.

Lower, Slower and Softer.

These are not fun to work on.

...mostly because progress feels slow and the more you improve the more you realize how much more room for improvement you still have.

Don’t get discouraged.

Even a little bit, done consistently will produce great results...

As long as you have good training methods to start with.

Practice the material you’ll get a lot of great stuff out of it.

But if you train that stuff AND apply Lower, Slower, Softer the benefits will be greatly enhanced.

So, Why Lower?

Well, your ability to relax and move well at ‘thighs parallel’ has a direct impact on your power and quality of movement when you are standing up.

One aspect of this is that the stronger your legs are the less effort it takes to support & move your body weight. The less effort it takes to stand and move the more you can relax and be softer.

The stronger your legs are, the softer you can be.

So, even in arts like Tai Chi and Bagua that often (though not always) fight standing up, this low training will greatly improve your expression of the art.

Also, as soon as you start working low, tension and structural errors stick out like sore thumb. Forcing you to correct them.

Next, Low training allows you to use all 3 dimensions much more effectively.

This freedom of movement not only adds a lot of power,

- It also greatly increases your ability to use ALL the space around you,

- It increases your reach,

- It’s one way to say out of of your opponents reach but keep them within yours,

- and it allows you to capitalize on any stiffness or hole in your opponents range of movement.

Of course it takes time to build this kind of leg strength.

So, you need to start training with things you can use right now.

...with things that work well with the strengths and weaknesses that you have at this very moment.

You DON’T need to spend years training low postures BEFORE you can fight with the art.

Why slower?

So, first the training benefits of slower. (we’ll get the martial application in a minute.)

Start slow to learn then speed it up.

Obviously you need to train at medium and fast speeds on a regular basis.

The thing with the Internal Martial Arts is that we're always adding layers of depth and refining to a higher level.

You have 2 options.

1) Slowly increase the speed until you can do this against a full speed attacker.


2) Refine the skill.

Stay slow or go even slower.Use less movement. Use more softness. While getting even better dissipation of the incoming force.

Then there’s a third option.

3) Combine.

You take the power methods and the dissipation skill and you start combining them. So they all happen at once. Correctly.

Then we’re back to the first two options... ...and of course we do both.

It’s a never ending cycle of refining skills and combining skills.

...and so the ‘start slow to learn’ part of that first statement never ends.

Now the martial benefit.

We have to assume the attackers are faster than us. (yes, we’re assuming there’s more than one also.)

If you don’t make this assumption you are in for a very unpleasant surprise if you ever have to use your art for survival.

So, we must train to use Position, Timing to overcome faster opponents.

(Of course we build speed too.)

The good news is that not only will Position and Timing beat speed.

Position and Timing will continually improve as long as you work on them. some point your speed will decline no matter what you do.

So, if you move faster than your partner you are making a dangerous assumption and building bad habits.

(Moving sooner than your partner is ok. Faster is not.)

Moving at the same speed as your partner(s) is ok.

Moving slower than your partner(s) (and learning to still completely dominate the situation) is better.

The way we often determine speed on slow drills & sparring is:

Go as fast as you can while still being able to see EVERYTHING you and your partner are doing from head to toe. Training this way will rapidly increase the speed at which you perceive everything that is happening around you.

When you start to get good at moving slowly your partners will begin to walk right into things because your position is smarter and they are moving faster than what they can effectively perceive.

So, take all the different push hands games and drills, and spend time training them at an excruciatingly slow speed.

If you put in the time to do that, you’ll find your skill actually increases faster.

One last thing, instead of starting slow and speeding up. Try starting slow and slowing down. This will magnify the benefits discussed above and you'll get other things out of it as well.


MT Mentor
Dec 17, 2008
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Welcome to MT. Was there a reason for the link to MAP where it seems you are banned? Just asking. :wavey:


Yellow Belt
Mar 1, 2013
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Thanks for the welcome, the links were not intensional, and I was only temp banned for disagreeing with a Mods actions.