Coming over from another style

Postby Audi » Sat Jan 25, 2003 7:35 pm

Hi Wushuer and Michael:

Michael, I also have enjoyed Wushuer's questions and comments. It forces one to think and compare. I think, however, my learning style has a perverse streak that you and Wushuer are lacking. Although I try to reserve final judgement on everything, I feel I have to take things in as a whole to understand even a little bit. This means that I have to deal with constantly adjusting my entire world view over what others might consider trivial things, but practice makes perfect.

One advantage in some perversity is that noticing a "trivial" thing like whether the heel or toe steps first can lead one to all sorts of interesting discoveries that might otherwise not present themselves.

Wushuer, what is the application you had envisioned from NAWS and what do you mean by "Na"?

Take care,
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Postby Michael » Sat Jan 25, 2003 11:58 pm


I share your "perversity". I approach the "small" to get to the "big"....and the "big" to approach the "small". And if you think "you" know anything---"you" know nothing. Constant adjusting.

There certainly is nothing that could be termed "trivial" in taijiquan.
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Postby Wushuer » Tue Jan 28, 2003 9:56 pm

Thank you for the fresh perspective.
Yes, I have much to compare. Many things that I was told were absolutely anethema in NAWS are coming in to play in YCFS.
I have to fight my prejudice against steps, arm movements, all kinds of stuff. Like the lean of NAWS vs. the upright postures of YCFS. I have to constantly remind myself not to lean into postures, not to let my shoulder lead the way instead of my dantien. These kinds of things that I have done, almost without thinking anymore, for over a decade and now I am learning a completely different approach.
It's fun, though.
As much as I would like to empty my mind and say "bring it on" I have too many years behind me in something slightly different NOT to have pre-conceived notions.
I do try to adopt the "just take it as it is" notion when in class. I have not always been succesful. I sometimes just can't help but look around and say "HUH?!!!" when presented with a move that my former Masters told me was wrong. What I have to force myself to remember is...
It's only wrong for THAT style of TCC, not ALL styles of TCC.

One quick aside for all and sundry,
I don't think it was on this thread, it was somewhere else on this discussion board, but I mentioned at one time that I did stair walking as a doctor ordered form of exercise to combat a rather serious medical problem I am recovering from (long story).
I also went on to describe Tai Chi stairwalking steps that I had invented to put Tai Chi Chuan into my daily exercise.
Well, I'm here to tell you, there is NOTHING better than this RM, step back to the toe, step to go BACKWARDS up the stairs.
It's incredible. Total balance. I absolutely love it.
Just a strange little aside for anyone who cares.

NA is what I learned to call Chin-na. In the NAWS school I attended, it was only ever called Na. I had no idea what Chin-na was, until I started YCFS training. My instructor kept referring to it as Chin-na and I had to ask him what he was talking about.
There are differences, though I could not tell you what they are offhand. I'm not an expert on Na or Chin-na so I can't tell you exactly why or how. I have asociates who are Disciples of the Wu family and one is an expert on Na, he tells me there's a HUGE difference. I must bow to his wisdom without having any particulars to give.
I will ask him what, exactly, the difference is and will post that reply as soon as I have it.
As I understand it, and that's not much, the difference is mainly in the application. I can't say much more than that with any authority.
In NAWS the move is called: Step Back, Repulse Monkey.
I am starting to believe the differentiation between Step Back and Repulse Monkey is deliberate, almost like it is two moves in one. And it is, from a certain point of view.
You quite literaly step backwards, in a very straight line, with your retreating leg. That is one move, then you "repulse" with your yang arm like a monkey slapping forward, with a palm push while your yin arm is mostly for redirecting anything you may need to that is still coming your way. It is a very "curve in the straight" move, this push, as the energy is circular from the dantien but the push is forward.
When you combine these two moves, it is a very effective throw.
I have NO idea how to illustrate this for you in words. I could show you in seconds, but to explain it.....?
OK. Here goes.
I'll start with Step Back, Repulse Monkey right, as that's as good a place as any.
Facing East, left leg yang, solid, rooted, whatever. Right leg is yin, empty, toe up (heel on floor, toe literally up in the air, very important in NAWS). Arms open, rounded and extended (in a very NAWS, almost looks closed kind of way) in front of your body, on the center line, right arm forward (means it's farther ahead then the other one) and left arm slightly bent, fingertips lightly touching the right forearm just under the wrist.
Right leg steps straight, and I mean straight, back to the heel while the right arm comes back and gets set just above your right shoulder, left arm comes in a circular motion across your abdomen and rests just above your right hip.
All together now....
Step (lean) back into your right leg, keeping the knee at the exact same angle of bend, and push forward with your right arm while your left hand simply "brushes" across your abdomen in a very brush knee kind of way.
Staying with me? I hope so, cause I have no idea how to describe it any other way.
Now, picture this..
Opponent to your right, next to you and facing you. Your right arm comes back, gets him in the middle of his chest or his shoulder (either is good), your right leg coming back gets behind his legs (one is good, both is better), you lean back into your right leg and push away with your right arm.
Your opponent goes down like a stone.
Very, very effective. Especially once you practice it enough to get the kinks out of it and can apply it from odd angles and under pressure situations.
There are, of course, thousands of other apps for this move. But this is the primary one we practiced, over and over, until we got it right.
Now, just to let you know. This is my all time FAVORITE NAWS martial app. It is the one I've used most consistently in real, honest to goodness combat situations.
It's saved my life, quite literally, one time and and also came in very handy when I was forced to protect my wife from an attack by a temporarily insane (on drugs and alcohol) person at a rock concert.
So I'm VERY familiar with this app and it has a very dear spot in my heart.
The core dantien moves are the same between these two styles of mine, I've practiced them enough to find that finally, but the app seems to not correlate between the two.

That's the best I can do in trying to write down the nuances of a very subtle app., hope it's enough.
I will send an e-mail to my Disciple friend and see if he can illustrate the differences between Chin-na and Na.
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Postby Michael » Tue Jan 28, 2003 11:26 pm


Your approach is good. And you are correct learning a new way is "fun". As I found out in the Kuang Ping, what is appropriate for one is not for another, different structure, different "right and wrong".

I just played with your Step Back,... on my son. I have certainly have "kinks" in my actions. I am "pushing" away over my leg that I placed behind the opponents legs, correct? Seems awkward, but I tried it only twice. I found it easier to step past his legs (in front), arm making contact with the opponents arms, and wrapping it around to the backside and turning my waist sending him forward rather than backward...and then stepping around with my left leg to his rear. I expect I am missing something.

How you describe it reminds me of the Single Whip application (check for the thread) I have described several times here but while stepping backwards, and even more like the Carry Tiger application.

Will be most interesting to hear the difference between Na and chin-na.

Good Practice!

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Postby Wushuer » Wed Jan 29, 2003 4:45 pm

Sent the e-mail to my friend, but he is sometimes not punctual or speedy in his replies.
I have to apologise to you and everyone else on this site. I messed up, very, very badly on my description of NAWS SBRM.
I STARTED to describe it correctly, then I guess my brain was on other things (waiting for that guy to call me, I think) and I ran the two styles of RM together.
I hope you can forgive me.
Reading back over it, no wonder you are having problems with it. My description is grade B wrongo.
OK. Sorry. I'll try to get it right this time.

That said....
Start on your left leg, right leg in front of you facing forward totally yin, right toe up, arms like I described above, open and extended, fingers of your right arm touching your left wrist.
Pull your right arm back to beside your face (right next to your right shoulder but closer to your face than your shoulder), drop your left arm down in front of your abdomen and slightly on your right side in a circular motion to waist level, lean forward slightly from the waist while your right arm comes back to set just beside your face (remember, I am describing these events in a sequence, but this all happens at once). Step back with your right leg and push forward with your right arm at the same time, brushing your left knee with your left hand.
KEEP the weight on your left leg! DO NOT sit back at this time.
This is where I ran the two forms together guys, sorry.
AFTER you have thrown your opponent to the floor, THEN you sit back onto your right leg.
That's why I started to say, "they are seperate moves", then went nuts or something.
You Step Back, then you set up for the RM, do the RM, then SB, then RM, etc.
This is why it wasn't flowing for you, Micheal. I described half of the NAWS, then half the YCFS.
Sorry, again.
I went home this afternoon for lunch and popped a tape into my VCR, it is a tape made by Eddie Wu years and years ago, breaking down the Wu form minutely, detail by detail, including weight shifts, toe ups and downs, stepping patterns, dantien shifts, the whole nine yards, with Sifu Eddie demonstrating all the way along.
It was NOT released to the general public, only instructors received this tape. I went and watched it just to refresh my memory on this move and WHAM it hit me I had screwed up on my description. Re-reading it, I feel REALLY bad that I described it incorrectly.

If practicing with your son (I do that too, because when he was VERY small, 2 to 8, he used to get one on one instruction from no less personages than Eddie Wu, Master Wu Ta Sin, and the late Master Wu Yin Hsia in push hands. They liked to push hands with the little guy and now, through no real application on his part because to him it was "playing", he's really very good at push hands, so I can't hurt him. Wish I'D have gotten that kind of one on one time with the masters! But he was little, they were bored at seminars and such and so "played" with him while the rest of us practiced) be VERY careful because when you do finally get this right he's gonna sail HARD straight to the floor, and if you do manage to do it right the part of his body that's going to hit first is the very back of his head.
I'm NOT kidding. Be CAREFUL. This is not a tame little app we're talking about here. I put a guy in a coma with this move after he attacked my wife. He recovered, thankfully.
Makes me wish I had the ability to post streaming video, 'cause if I showed you this you'd all go "Ooohhhhhh!!!!! I get it!"
It really is very easy. At least to me, because I practiced it for YEARS. It just sounds hard because I'M not describing it very well AND I think I'm leaving out a couple of the subtler aspects. Like the coiled energy required from your dantien, circular energy that must be expressed through your back, shoulder and arm in a straight line.
It's a paradox, but that's the only way I know to describe it.
Again, PLEASE be careful. This is a dangerous move.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 01-29-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Thu Jan 30, 2003 3:17 am


I have not been able to try your correction yet I think I have it but I am still a little confused. As in the original post, is the opponent in the same position--directly to your right side, facing you? Or is "he" actually somewhat to the rear, maybe at an angle? and when does your right make contact, and when does "it" push him out? I know from personal experience how hard it is to make clear these moves in print.

I am very careful with this type of practice, We do them verrrry slowwwly. My son is fifteen and a 2nd degree Black Belt (TDK). He has had some taiji training so knows what to expect. He has had to "suffer" many explorations of new ideas the "old man" gets in his head. He is rather amazed by what taiji can do.

Your son was a very lucky boy, does he still practice---besides push hands with dad?

Good Practice!


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 01-29-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Jan 30, 2003 2:27 pm

Glad to hear your son is up to the challenge. I was some worried.
Yes my son still practices. He is in YCF classes with me and we do some push hands together. He is pretty good at it, though not practiced enough by a long shot. He gets bored with it pretty quick because he too is fifteen and he wants excitement and adventure, this push hands stuff is OLD to him because he's done it all of his life.
What he's really very good at is corrections to push hands. He had some of the top masters in TCC teach him to push hands, he just "knows" how it's done and will stand there telling me:
"Dad, you're back heel's coming up again, get it down."
"Dad, you're not breathing right, your pattern is off. Breath out, breath in..."
"Dad, you're using force, stop that."
That kind of thing.
HE pushes too hard, using force, but his acceptance and redirection is peerless. You can't find his center very easily at all.
We are both having the same problems coming over. He didn't really learn the NAWS form very well. He got bored with it and wouldn't follow along. His stance is very good, his balance is incredible, his speed will match yours almost flawlessly, but he's just not into doing "boring FORMS".
So while he can do TCC style combat, he's not well versed in the forms.
So when I started taking YCFS, he shocked the heck out of me by asking if he could come too.
He is still not as dedicated as the old man would like, but he's applying himself rather well for a fifteen year old.
He wants, now, to learn the Wu forms as well. I have told him that if he learns the YCF forms and sticks with it, in a year or so I'll start him back on the Wu forms.

Back to SBRM.
Yes, your opponent would ideally be standing next to you as I described. However, in real life "ideally" never happens. So I have practiced this move with my opponent in front of me, the push is still valid and it CAN be turned into a devastating palm strike if you wish. Also somewhat behind me as the leg move will take them down by itself if timed correctly.
You can use your left arm to catch someone who you don't really want to drop that hard, also. Or you can also use it to help them hit the floor harder.
Just depends on what you want to do with it.
You apply the fajing through your right arm and right leg at the same time. Co-ordination of the fajing is key to actually dropping your opponent smoothly. It takes timing and lots and lots of practice.
Gotta trot for now.
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Postby Michael » Thu Jan 30, 2003 3:20 pm


Thanks, that helped. Now I understand the coordination better.

I guess fifteen year olds are the same all over. My son tried learning taiji but as you said, is looking for a bit more "excitement"---girls and guitars! We do some "sticky hands" and occasional push hands. I try not to influence him directly on doing taiji (they just don't like practice much!). He is so impressed by the some of the techniques that down the line he may want to try it again. He certainly never learned those kind of things in TKD!


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Postby Audi » Thu Jan 30, 2003 10:43 pm

Hi Wushuer,

Up above, you made the following remark:

<<I have to constantly remind myself not to lean into postures, not to let my shoulder lead the way instead of my dantien.>>

Are you saying that NAWS teaches to lead with the shoulder? I find this surprising, since I thought all Taiji styles were united in agreeing on leading with the "waist."

By the way, you may want to know that talking about leading with the Dantian may also indicate a different approach. As I understand it, the Yangs talk about leading with the "waist," although there are some subtle translation problems with translating "yao" as "waist", as I mentioned a month or two back on one of the threads.

Because of the translation problems or to make other subtle points, some people talk about the Dantian. In a similar vein, I have recently resorted to talking about the "lumbar spine" or the "navel," without intending to promote a new theory.

There are other Yang Stylists, however, who place particular emphasis on movement in the Dantian. I believe this is because of influence, either historical or contemporary, from Chen Style. As I understand it, the Yangs talk only about sinking Qi to the Dantian and then deliberately leave it at that in the name of doing things "simply" and "naturally." I do not believe they talk about rotating the Dantian or moving it in or out, as some Yang Stylists do.

Take care,
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Postby Wushuer » Thu Jan 30, 2003 11:17 pm

In some postures in the form you do lead with the shoulder in NAWS. Others the "waist" or dantien. I know, my YCFS instructor was pretty incredulous about this at first, but it's the way I was trained.
ALL movements are DIRECTED or DRIVEN by the waist (dantien, cinnabar field, you say tomatoe, I say tomato), however some postures are "lead" by the shoulder.
Slant Flying is lead by the shoulder in NAWS. This has very little resemblance to YCFS Slanting (Diagonal) Flying, so the correlation is not there between the two. NAWS Slant Flying (the first iteration of it anyway) is probably the shortest, subtlest posture in the Wu form I learned. The first Slant Flying in the Wu form I have learned comes right after White Crane Spreads Wings and if you blink, you'll completely miss it.
This motion is another one of those "leaning postures" I carry on about. You turn your left palm from a forward facing palm strike at the end of WCSWs to an upward facing palm, then lean your body slightly to the left, leading with your shoulder, driving the lean from your dantien, and extend the left hand slightly while the right hand opens from that crazy curly fist the Wu guys do (name of that fist completely escapes me, picture the YCFS fist from WCLWs and then extend your right finger downward) to a downward facing level palm.
That's it. The whole move.
This "lean" is very uncomfortable for beginners. I recall clearly the first time I tried to do it. My Sifu walked up behind me and said "You're going to hate this, but trust me" and proceeded to pull my shoulder to the left until I was about to fall right onto my side, then he said, "There! That's about right. When you do this, reach for this point and you're almost there. Eventually you'll get there and it will feel natural."
He was right. I hated it at first, and did until I finally "felt" the correct point to go to. Now it is very comfortable and natural.
So while for training purposes you say "Lead with your shoulder" this is always prefaced with "drive (direct) this motion from the dantien.
Another "verbiage" problem between the styles.
The waist is the commander, at all times, but the shoulder leads the way" was quoted to me by quite a few instructors.
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Postby Audi » Sun Feb 02, 2003 1:55 pm

Hi Wushuer,

Thanks for the additional information. I think I see what you are talking about based on seeing some videos of Wu stylists.

If I can impose further, your description reminds me of an aspect of Wu forms that has always puzzled me. I recall a move that I thought resembled the Yang Style Parting Wild Horses Mane (Flying Diagonal is also a possibility) that seemed to be repeated quite a number of times. It had a lot more shoulder orientation than I am used to.

I also recall a video performance by a fairly young lady on one of the Treasures of China (?) series doing a fast form that also seemed to repeat this posture several times. The way she did her fajing was also quite distinctive. If memory serves, she did lead with her shoulder and had much straighter arm movements than what seem to be similar Yang Style postures.

Do you know what I am talking about; and if so, do you know why this move seems to have such importance in Wu Style?

Thanks in advance,
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Feb 03, 2003 3:28 pm

Yes, leading with the shoulder but directing from the dantien is common in NAWS.
As I have not learned Parting Wild Horses Mane in YCFS, I really can't say.
I have not seen the Treasuers of China tapes, though I did learn Wu Chien Chuans fast form, so I don't know what this move could be. I tried to do a fast form after reading your post and found myself forgetting about halfway through where to go next. The "fast form" at least the way I learned it, is not very different from the "slow" or "normal" form but there are some minor difference, mostly in transitional moves, just enough to throw me off of a form I haven't tried to do in about oh.... at least seven years. I'll have to break out my tapes and re-learn it.
What does YCFS PWHM look like? I know I won't get pictures, but a verbal description may trigger my memory.
To let you know, there is a form called Wild Horse Seperate Mane, both left and right. These are in the "fast" form and may be what you're seeing. If memory serves, there is WHSM right, Play Guitar, then WHSM left, PG, WHSM right again, then a couple of Fair Lady Works at Shuttles', then a WHSM no right or left and it's slightly different then the others, but similar.
I don't believe the sequence changes in the "fast" form, so this is likely what you're seeing.

Yes, arms are much straighter. "Open, rounded and extended" has a different meaning. NAWS seems to be taught with a lot more subtlety to it. Many more "hidden" postures and much more "infighting" type of techniques.
Does anyone still practice "small frame" in the Yang family as represented on this site? In other words, does this branch of the Yang family (YZD, YJ) still practice what some call the "fighting frame" of the Yang family, the "small frame" of Yang Banhou and Yang Luchan?
I have read articles and interviews about Yang Zhenji, and it appears that his theories, at least, are a bit closer to what I have learned from the Wu family.
The "not stepping to center before stepping out", a bit more "straight but not straight" through the arms, less "flowery" or "showy" circular motions around the back when doing Brush Knee.
Also, I have heard it said that you practice with Large Frame, but get closer and smaller while actually in combat. This is slightly confusing to me, since I learned only small frame previously and learned it with a 100% emphasis on combat with no alterations for combat, since none were necessary.
Just one of those things that is currently making me go "Hmmmmm.....?". So I thought I'd ask.
I need to practice the new forms I learned in my last class. I must admit to being some lost on them. We covered a lot in a very short time, but most of what we covered was repetition. That left me a bit bewildered about the new forms we learned. They were sandwiched between forms we allready learned, like WCLW's, Brush Knees, and such. I find myself doing the new forms, and forgetting the ones we learned previously, but then not knowing when or where to do the new ones.
Just my old brain, I guess. My son doesn't seem to be having that problem.

"I'm not good yet, I need more practice."
Yang Chengfu.

[This message has been edited by Wushuer (edited 02-03-2003).]
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Postby Michael » Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:59 am


First, I think that large frame approach has several ideas behind it, but I only intend to speak to one. Practicing "large" serves to allow easier recognition of what is happening in the body, linkage, "energy" movement, and in developing the extension in the joints to aid in delivering power. As one progresses in understnding (physically esp), and has a martial interest one will find that the movements will grow smaller in ones own personal practice. This is ONE way of teaching. But it is not the only way. Some feel it can speed understanding. Many find this system to fit their learning style very well.

I probably have read many of the same articles as you concerning Yang Zhenji and how he does his set. Soon I hope to get a video of him doing it so I can compare. His is said to be more "straight forward" or at least...let's say less "pretty" than his younger brothers set. Yang Jun's set, from what I have seen is "smaller" than his Grandfathers, and maybe in some ways more like Yang Zhenji's. This caused just a little frustration as I had to relearn many, many individual forms. I have to say that Yang Juns methods fit me very well and look forward to how Yang style evolves under his direction. I have noticed great differences in YZD's movements and Yang Juns. I have also seen YZD smile broadly while watching his grandson teaching something different than what he himself does. I watched this very intently and saw nothing but approval. Age, personality and intent determines how the set is performed.

If one practices "small" or "large" in many ways does not matter much. It is true that certain techniques are favored in one maybe more than in another. But combat, as you well know has more to do with one's understanding or better yet, the "embodiment " of the priciples, and the actions of an opponent rather than "frame". Small, large---it all about the principles. It is all about one heck of a lot of time devoted to single minded practice. If one is lucky enough to have teachers like you had for your Wu training , so much the better as you have an understanding of "combat". It comes a little faster. You will find that the training you had will aid you greatly once you "understand" Yang style.

One last note. "hidden postures"? "Infighting techniques"? When you learn this style and begin to refine it, you are going to begin to see more stuff "hidden" than you thought was possible. Believe me. After a year or two I looked for what may have been an older, more "martial" taiji method than my YCF taiji. I began to study Guang Ping Yang style or the "Ban Hou style". There is some pretty nasty stuff there. I was impressed with it's techniques and the beauty of the set. But the more I studied it, the more things I recognized in the YCF style. One difference was that many things emphasized in the GPYS was hidden in the YCF. It was "smaller" but not "more" effective. I actually found that the YCF style is maybe richer in possibilities. Older may not be "better".

Practice Hard!

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Postby Wushuer » Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:26 pm

Well, I am finding all kinds of hidden things in the YCFS form already. However a lot of the single forms in NAWS have some very, very subtle stuff in them. I guess I may not be getting the "subtle" stuff from the YCF form yet so will keep my peace until I do start to get some acumen in them.
I'm not denigrating YCF forms in any way, I just don't know them as well yet so don't have the same insights.
Yes, the training in NAWS is 100% oriented in martiality (is that a word?). Thier theory, at least as explained to me, is that you can only get health benefit from the form if you are doing it correctly. To know if you're doing the forms correctly you must "prove" them by being able to do actual combat with the principals of each form.
Once you can effectively bring the principals of your form to combat you have "proven" that you are doing it correctly and so your health benefit is assured.
It was stressed that "proving" the martial aspect "proved" you were receiving the whole benefits to your health from the form.
This makes perfect sense to me.

I'm not too worried about "frame" either. I understand completely that "frame" isn't an indicator of fighting ability or martial superiority. I prefer small frame for combat, because in combat one tends to be right up close to his opponent. At least I do. Those TKD guys can kick you upside the head from half way across the room! I know, I used to be one! So I like to get right up next to him, taking away his favorite weapons. Same theory applies to good old duh-merican style karate or even boxing. These guys like to get back a couple of feet away from you and hammer on your, hard. When I get right up close to them, I can use very small, circular techiniques to counter their straight line punches or even thier round house kicks. If I'm back a bit, like it seems I would be in "large" frame, I find their weapons can come to bear and I am much harder pressed to defend than if I was right up in their faces.
Just a purely personal preference, again based on over a decade of infighting techniques being drilled into my head.
There ARE, of course, techniques inherent in NAWS that enable you to face an opponent from farther away. One of my favorites being the oldest defense known to man. Simply leave. If you're that far away, you have room to run. That is, however, only one technique out of thousands. But the most effective stuff I learned, I learned right up next to my opponent.
This also has the psychological effect of freaking most people out. They tend to back away from you when you march right up into their personal space, so you have allready begun the process of moving them in a direction you wish them to go. And as we all should be aware, an object in motion has no weight. An opponent moving away from you is half the battle! The entire battle, if they then take the opportunity to leave.

Isn't this stuff infinitely fun?
I thinks so.
I'm really looking forward to the sparring aspects of YCFS. I have a long way to go, but I am patient.
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Postby Michael » Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:43 pm


Keep your eyes open!

I couldn't agree with you more.
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