Friday, June 30, 2017

An overwhelming majority of people I meet are learning Tai Chi for something other than serious understanding of martial arts. This is a good discussion on martial arts, ballet, dance, walking dogs and more from a student Barbara R :"I found Master Hwa's discussion of YI (martial intent) and cold hands and dancers' problems in taking up tai chi interesting because of my own experience. When I used to do ballet, the palm side of my hands and fingers would get very warm and flushed and so would my teacher's. As she was older and had high blood pressure and none of the other students seemed bothered by "hot hands," it really kind of worried me a little. When I started doing tai chi and found out warmth and flush and tingling in the hands could all be signs of chi flowing correctly ( Very true- Master Hwa), I was relieved in retrospect, but disappointed, because I didn't have any of those experiences playing the form. I thought maybe it was because of so much keyboarding in the years between—enough to cause some carpal tunnel syndrome problems.
Then, in the last few months, I began to have some color and tingling while practicing and hoped it was some healing effect taking place, although I still have to use wrist braces now and then and curtail my activities a little. Master Hwa's piece offers another explanation. When I first started doing tai chi, I had no idea what most of the motions were for. Since then, I've learned a good bit more about applications and now often play the form to an audience of imaginary opponents "walking the circle" around me like ba gua players. (That is the way to practice- Master Hwa) This is actually much nearer the way I used to practice ballet--with the intent of expressing to an audience, real or imaginary, whatever character or emotion the dance I was doing was supposed to represent.
The "yi" in ballet--mind intent if not martial intent--seems to come in with the desire to project ( “To Project” is the key- Master Hwa); so maybe it is learning about the martial applications that's making my tai chi playing better for me, whether it looks better or not. Actually, I've gotten so I rather like catching a glimpse of myself in the "on guard" position (lute hands, or long arm and short arm, or even grasping the bird's tail), whereas I used to feel ridiculous doing it, particularly in exercises like "walking in the presence of the enemy." I think that women in the west even today often have a problem in perceiving fighting skills as being "artistic" enough to be appropriate for them because of the way they are often depicted in our culture and because of a tendency in the culture itself to label "art" as being more of a woman's thing than a man's and "defending" as being a masculine prerogative. That attitude may make it more difficult for women who are attracted to tai chi because of its graceful movements to see that there is any martial aspect to it. I can't think of any fighting skill in western culture that has anything like the same cachet of art and beauty about it except mayb swordsmanship--as it has come down in fencing………………
Maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to Wu style was Wu Ying Hua and Wu Yan Hsia, although I'm not sure I knew about them until I got into it, just as I didn't know about Master Young's daughter until I found your website.The only difference any of this makes is that it can create a kind of little barrier that you've got to get over in your own mind. Punches still feel quite alien to me, although a "one inch" punch is certainly an improvement over a haymaker. I think the biggest help is to find something in the martial essence of tai chi that you can relate to and use it as a bridge to the rest. For me, maybe one of the best is something I read recently about peng ( I think you mean ting jin, which means listening to opponent’s jin(power). I will talk about this laterMaster Hwa) or which mean as an attitude that permeates tai chi and almost incorporates the "audible force" rather than as any specific action. I certainly ought to be able to relate to that, after spending so much time walking herding breed dogs off leash and having to "listen" to their muscle tension and for anything about to come our way so as to be able to "ward off" their attacks on cars and cats before they start. That may sound bizarre, but just as you mentioned applying the principles of tai chi to everyday life, I think you have to find your point of entry to a martial arts mindset,if it seems alien to you, wherever you can."
Master Hwa’s reply:
I enjoy reading your piece very much, many good insights!.....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Concerning integration of internal discipline into Round Form

Concerning the integration of Internal Discipline into Form Play. This cloudhands exercise just done on the heels is a great precursor to eventual integration of internal discipline with round form cloudhands... IF and WHEN there is good quality of round form. Students may be making good progress in the class but need to keep in mind there is a qualitative minimum before we worry about quantities. If we have good quality in our form and it is the standard, then moving often with internal discipline is within reach. This is why it is so important to do internal movements, quarter body, upper body turn, etc. separate from form practice, LITERALLY ANY CHANCE YOU HAVE ANYTIME. Too often I see students attempting in vain to do internal in the form when they are constantly corrected for making mistakes like "wrong direction", "incorrect position of hands", "bad timing of movements".  I understand this day and age is impatient for results but find a teacher that can  thoroughly immerse you in the principles and explain those same principles behind all of this in Classical Tai Chi.  Please keep all of these principles in mind and catch yourself when you try to force internal on a movement that is wrong in so many other ways.