Postby global village idiot » Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:43 pm

If I ever need to use tai chi, I'll need to use it right where I'm at, wherever "right there where I'm at" happens to be.

It could be...
o concrete or asphalt
o the vinyl-tiled floor of a quickie-mart or other business
o the commercial-carpeted floor of my bank
o a marble floor such as in a museum or older train station
o grass
o rocky or gravelly terrain
o sandy or loamy soil
o wet or muddy ground
o sloped ground
o stairs

Most of these are easy to adapt to - just find the area you want to learn about and practice there, to get a feel for the difference in "resistance" of the ground to your weight, and the difference in friction as with wet and muddy ground or tile vs. concrete.

I'm a Flatlander, but I live in one of the few areas of my state with more than a couple contour lines on its maps. I live near Lake Michigan on what is known as the "Valparaiso Moraine." It's not "hilly" by comparison to, say, the Blue Ridge Mountains and it's boring as all heck compared to most of the West Coast, so my inquiry is relatively academic in my case.

But you never know...

What do we do about sloping terrain or stairs? I've never read anything about it in the Classics. But what the heck - they have hills in China too, or else I've been deceived ;) And I know darned well they have stairs there too - I've seen 'em on videos for real and everything!

How do the forms and their use change when going uphill/downhill or when moving "along a contour line;" that is, perpendicular to a slope? How do they change on stairs?

I'd love to know your thoughts.


[edited to add] I should probably think about snow and ice as well, since I'm a pale Yankee from the Great White North. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these as well.
global village idiot
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Re: Terrain...

Postby fchai » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:54 am

Greetings GVI,

You do come up with some quite peculiar questions. Lol. If you practice, find a nice flat area and maybe not too 'sticky'. Why? Because you want to focus on the manifold aspects of Taiji and you do not want to tear a ligament, or something, when doing it. Especially when doing spins! Once you are confident in your form, you might wish to test your balance, stability and 'rooting' on uneven ground. Like any good golfer, you endeavor to practice recovery shots from various terrain types. However, it really depends on what your objective is. As some on this forum have previously mentioned, they have practiced in a swimming pool to develop their 'rooting' ability. When water makes you buoyant, trying to get your feet to stay 'rooted' is a tad difficult.
However, I suspect you are thinking about the use of Taiji as a martial skill and wish to be able to face any opponent under various terrain scenarios. The only comment I can make in this case is that. a Taiji exponent would generally have better balance, stability, rooting, etc., than your average Joe. Taiji is also about being adaptable to circumstances, so all things being equal, should be less intimidated by uneven terrain. However, as my previous comment about a good golfer, you might like to test it out yourself. Other folks on the forum might have better advice on this matter.
Take care.
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Re: Terrain...

Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:38 pm

Fchai gives good advice in his reply.
I'll go a tad further.
First: Learn TCC well from a qualified instructor while in a controlled environment and on a level surface that is not too hard to learn the spins on.
Second: Start to throw in varying terrain as you and your teacher feel you are able to handle it. Go slowly, be careful.

I live in the foothills of Kentucky, it's a tad bumpy around here.
Because of that I have taken the time to familiarize myself with performing TCC on very uneven ground.
It is what I am likely to be fighting on if I ever find myself in that situation again so it seemed prudent to me to do so.
There isn't a level bit of ground in sight around here, so it just makes sense.
I have also spent a LOT of time training on stairs.
I teach my students who are interested in learning the martial aspects to do this as well.
Why? Good question! I'm glad you asked.
There is simply no better way to learn the correct use of the hips and legs for the martial applications in TCC then to train doing them on stairs.
Again, simply my personal and not so humble opinion. It is worth what you paid for it.

Bob Ashmore
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Re: Terrain...

Postby global village idiot » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:52 pm

As I advance, I find that what happens at the belt line and below is at least as critical - perhaps even more - as that which happens above it.

I've learned that I am much weaker vis-a-vis balance on my left leg. I was injured a long time ago and this is one of the "gifts" I've had to deal with. If I want to do anything where I'm standing on one leg for a spell - the kicks, repulse-monkey, etc. - I can only do them well if I'm focusing primarily on what's happening with my left leg.

This post is really looking forward for me. It's not something I mean to spend any time on now, but in the future.

The other day at class I asked the senior student the same question I asked here and, frankly, it sent him head-scratching. He asked the instructor who said "Oh yes. Master Liang [his principal instructor] did the forms all the time on the stairs, or on hills with gravel. Makes it really challenging."

I suppose it's something no one talks about because few people ever get that focused on "what if" beyond the studio. This is true in all different activities, not just martial arts. We learn to change tires on dry pavement during daylight, for example, and not at 0300 on a muddy embankment while it's raining, and we learn to do First Aid and medical procedures in a classroom - never in the back of a bumpy, dusty Humvee running down a rutted road at 40 mph - also at 0300.

As for me, I have long lived by the motto, "If you haven't tested it, it doesn't work," which applies here in that if I haven't worked the form under a given condition, I can't say I'm any good with it in that given condition.

global village idiot
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Re: Terrain...

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Jul 08, 2016 2:02 pm

I highly recommend to all of my students who are learning the art as a martial art as opposed to a health regimen to train in every environment that they can do so in safely.
How else are you going to learn to deal with less than perfect conditions when you find yourself in them?
And you will find yourself in less than perfect situations a hell of a lot more often than you will find yourself in perfect situations when "fight time" is thrust upon you.
I tell you that from personal experience.
One of my favorite places to train is at the beach.
Sand is a great teacher.

Bob Ashmore
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Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

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