Nothing new under the sun...

Nothing new under the sun...

Postby Bob Ashmore » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:37 pm

Sadly I have had to take a brief hiatus from teaching Tai Chi Chuan. A lot of things came together that lead to that, none of which are particularly germane to this topic, but by taking that time off I was lead to a pretty big "Aha moment" that I experienced this past weekend when I finally did teach again.
For those not familiar with the term, an "Aha moment" is one in which something that should have been patently obvious for a while now suddenly becomes clear to you.
For the first time since March I was finally able to attend the Saturday morning class/group practice that ETC holds weekly and since it was my first time there in nearly forever I took the reins and taught the class to give Jim a bit of a rest.
Since I hadn't made any kind of lesson plan, and had no clear idea what has been being taught there recently, I simply asked, "Does anyone have any questions?"
I was asked to break down Single Whip from the end of Grasp the Bird's Tail through to the very end of the posture, including the big transition that we sometimes do previous to it.
I won't bore anyone with that break down, you've all heard it before since I basically stole it word for word from GM Yang Jun's hand form DVD. If by some chance you haven't heard it before then I recommend viewing it highly, though doing so won't really help you with this posting it's still worth a watch.
As I was teaching the bit during the transition right where we begin the "turn back" prior to making the hook hand I actually stopped dead in what I was doing as my "aha moment" hit me.
Mostly because I felt so incredibly stupid for not seeing this before...
I guess I should explain.
Just before my "Aha" process started I had already demonstrated the turn back and gone over some points of it when the same student who asked me the original question had asked yet another question, to whit; "During this part of the transition, what energy are you expressing?"
Which is a really good question, by the way.
I answered it from the hip without really thinking about it since Yang Jun is fairly clear and the energy has also been clear to me for some time, I simply replied, "This is a Push" then went on to demonstrate it.
Which is right when it hit me...
OK, more explanation...
I also practice the Wu Chien Chuan style of Tai Chi Chuan, though my time at the Wu school is LONG past I still train what I learned there and practice that form.
At the end of what the Yang Family Association group would call "Section 1" (roughly analogous forms, very nearly the same posture names but with slight variations and different physical movements) in the Wu CC forms right after their version of "Apparent Closing Up" they do a full on downward Push movement that extends the hands all the way to nearly their full extension, then they execute a turn to the right and perform "Cross Hands".
This bit doesn't exist in the Yang Family long form...
Of so I've thought for quite some time now.
Guess what I'd just found?
Yep, there it is.
It's the same thing, a little bit differently executed but...
Same thing.
Same energy, same feeling.
I was pretty stunned, to say the least.
I thought I'd found most of these already.
That's what I get for thinking!

Nothing earth shattering or game changing by any stretch of the imagination.
But at least to me it was really, really interesting.

Anyone else had an "Aha moment" recently?
We've been a bit quiet here lately, so I'm hoping to get the discussion going again.
Bob Ashmore
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Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: Nothing new under the sun...

Postby fchai » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:37 am

Okay, here is a recent 'Aha' moment I had. I now and then do the mirror image of the long form. While doing the form it suddenly dawned on me that for someone to be able to do the mirror image of the long form with confidence and correctly, the person has to be confident with the standard long form in its entirety. By this I mean having clarity in the martial application of the form and how to smoothly transition through the form with martial intent, purpose and function. Then, there is no uncertainty or doubt about executing the form either in the standard or mirror image. The movements feel natural either way. All is in balance. It is actually a good method to assess if someone has a high level of proficiency and fully understands, at least in their own interpretation, the essence of the form. This is an epiphany that I will have to give further thought to and develop it further.
Take care,
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Joined: Sun May 31, 2015 6:11 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Nothing new under the sun...

Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:04 pm

That's something I had not really considered before.
At the Wu school we trained the form in both directions as a matter of course. In fact we once trained doing so as a group, one half doing the form in mirror image while the other half did so normally. It looked great on stage and we did it at quite a few demonstrations. I was one of the mirror performers, I learned their entire 108 hand form in mirror image and was able to do it while others were doing it in the traditional direction at the same time.
It wasn't easy, I can tell you that.
The Yang group doesn't seem to do so as a uniform thing, more like some of the teachers think it worthwhile while others do not.
I haven't gone through the entire Yang family 103 in mirror image. I have done it as sections in mirror but don't recall that I've ever done the entire 103 that way. No, I don't believe I have.
Not sure if I could do so at this point. I haven't practiced that way in years.
I do view it as being a meaningful practice, it's just one that I've dropped as a personal goal as I've progressed into other aspects of the art.
What I still do that I also learned to do at the Wu school is to perform weapons forms with both hands. This is a form of "mirror" performance, I suppose, however for me it is more of a necessity than an esoteric practice.
Very early in my weapons training at the Wu school I was taking a weekend workshop saber class with Si Kung Wu at which he directed us all to go home and practice what we had learned with our left arm as well as our right arm.
When I asked Si Kung why he would want us to do that I expected get a flowery sounding lecture on balancing chi or some such thing (what can I say? It was really early on in my time at the Wu school and I didn't know Si Kung very well yet, as time went on I definitely learned to never expect a flowery sounding explanation of balancing chi from him) he asked me to come up to him at the front of the class.
I approached him and he asked me to hold my saber (we used wooden sabers for class training for safety) in my right hand.
I did so.
He then reached out his wooden saber and lightly smacked the back of my hand (or possibly my forearm, I don't recall exactly after nearly thirty years) with the blade (remember, wooden saber, I was totally unharmed).
After he did so he said to me, "You can't use that hand anymore. Now what are you going to do?"
I was pretty floored. It stayed with me, that's for sure, and I've practiced my weapons equally both left and right handed ever since.
And I am always smiling when I do because...
"I know something you don't know..."
Yeah, it's a Princess Bride reference.
So sue me. :)
Bob Ashmore
Posts: 723
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

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