TAI CHI NOTES 3
Practise Diligently and Intelligently
NB: - Any mistakes or misinterpretations of what was trying to be taught to me are due to me! Basically I have left the notes as I wrote them at the time, there is a lot of repetition but generally a progression (sometimes, mainly due to me, a regression!). No doubt I've missed a lot too. Please refer to the Download section for documents and video that are not riddled with my interpretations.
Song=Relaxed/Soft/Release (pronounced Soo-ng), GMH=Grandmaster Huang, Mr F=Master Foong, HYZZ=Hun Yuan Zhan Zhuang (Song up/down exercise), SSWF=Song Shen Wu Fa (GMH's 5 Song exercises), HCC=Ho Ching Chi (stretching/expanding), PH=Push Hands.
Tenom March 2009
I dropped into Tenom for a week on the way to Sydney and joined in on the Shenzhen 4 week workshop. Training is 7-9am, 2-4pm, 7-9pm.
4-3-9. 'Snake creeps down' to 'Golden rooster on one foot'; from single whip position, Gung Tue (move forward) into left leg, turn waist to right, (with the waist) right foot turns on heel (1), then turns on ball (2) and then on heel again (3). Finger tips remain at same spot (arms Song so can move away from hands). Sit on right leg (hands still don't move), drop body and arms down (left arm comes back) left foot turns in slightly on heel, then forward (left foot turns back on heel) and up like a wave, then release hip. HCC 45°to left, left palm is facing up and right palm is parallel with left thigh. Move into right foot, left palm faces body. Turn left foot out on heel. Release into left leg and bring right foot on toes to front, left hand stays in same spot as body comes towards it. Release hip so facing front (instead of 45°), left hand turns down to form ball. Start to lift right leg and then arms start to move to Golden Rooster position. Right thigh is parallel to ground. Mr F teaching finer details of short form moves to the Shenzhen mob, told me not to worry about too many details at the moment, just work on basics and pick up a few moves. SSWF3; turn Qua down and arms follow Qua. SSWF5;
Song wei li down, knee naturally forward so movement becomes 'automatic'. HYZZ; align straight when going down, especially tailbone (wei li).
As Mr F mentioned in Shenzhen, body points pivot like a folding gate or car scissor jack; pivot at pin the cross, so that everything remains level and straight. Don't tilt, e.g. SSWF5; keep alignments, find Song in Qua.
- don't worry how you compare to others, just improve yourself. If the teacher points out mistakes it's not because you are worse than anyone else, it is because it is what you need to know to improve. Or if there are many corrections made on a student it doesn't mean they are not any good or not a good student. You must be humble, it's all part of losing your ego.
- bring together/co-ordinate correct posture and movements with Song and Yi to achieve desired result. For example, someone could have a lot of Song and little Yi but you need both. Keep refining to make better to improve ourselves. SONG-YI.
5-3-9 Kuntat; SSWF1 turn hips more. SSWF2 arms up, Song shoulders to drop elbows as hands still going up, arms move from legs. SSWF3 keep centre.
6-3-9 Mr F;
- after morning HYZZ and SSWF he said if you do this 3 or 4 times a day then there will be a big improvement.
- SSWF4 when bent over make sure weight is centred (forward more than you think). When coming up knee is past toes. Posture is not dead but alive, Qua is important, don't be tense in position, natural but with Song and Yi.
- SSWF3 don't lead with hands/arms, arms separate to give space but Yi is there. Careful not to throw arms up, get movement by Song-ing shoulders and chest and sides (same thing in SSWF4). Don't shift weight from leg to leg when turning, keep in centre.
- in Chinese Jing and force have the same meaning but in Tai Chi use live force, not dead or hard force.
- everything becomes natural
- don't think there is any secret
-SSWF1 turn left (Qua soft and going down), turn back to middle, HYZZ up, then turn right. Make sure arm/hand in line with shoulder (not forward). Song shoulders. When turning, leave hand - 'still there' - separate.
- success is not from intelligence but from hard work. You have no one to blame but yourself.
- don't under estimate (or over estimate) your self
- SSWF2 don't throw hand out, Song shoulders up and down
- being round there are unlimited triangles (vectors), always balanced
- 'Shoot Tiger' continuous movement
- WORK ON (tell Nick too); continuous movement and soften Qua, make sure don't lean, waist moves first. When moving in any direction or turning Qua moves in. Practise! Don't forget Tai Chi!
- movement eventually from Tan Tien but don't concentrate on this. Get movement from Qua and eventually it will naturally come from Tan Tien. Don't try and control abdominal muscles.
- forces (and movements) oppose and balance each other (Yin Yang) so always have CoG (Centre of Gravity).
- SSWF4; Hand goes slightly behind back, then Song shoulders, Song body down, arms and hands moving up, Song elbows to make hands come forward. Movements are consistent and body (eg hands) always end up in same place each time. HCC when opening hand 'to read book' don't raise hands too high. When bending down have legs straight then when touching toes unlock/bend knees to find centre. Knee goes forward when bending to centre weight.
- Form 2nd section -there are 2 HCCs when doing Diagonal Ward Off. After step to diagonal, Song weight to centre, (hands are starting to move) left foot turns in then HCC, hands come up to position, Song down and slightly forward and then HCC up and to the right.
9-3-9 Mr F;
- Every movement Song/HYZZ! Don't forget!
- he made a point of my wrist in HYZZ is locking. I asked again about making the movement fine but obviously there should be more movement than I thought. He said to make all movements big in Song down, including chest. Song wrist so that it bends, which seems different from what he showed me in Shenzhen. Maybe he wants us to work on big circular movements again. Keep upper body alive with Yi - chest expanding like a ballon. Maybe I can do like shown in Shenzhen but make sure my wrists are more Song, so not locked and moves slightly.
-very important: he pointed out my arm movement in SSWF2, it the same as SSWF1, keep chest flat (open it) so arms swing in line with shoulder, don't bring arms/hands forward. Make sure HYZZ is in all movements. Release down - feels like shoulders drop to drop hands down, then elbows straighten and arms start to swing up (shoulder seems to stretch out to raise arm, not lift shoulders up).
- get HYZZ in all movements and push hands will improve greatly; will be like a different person. Don't pull the body away or push, use HYZZ to follow partner's movements.
- if you are hard you don't know where your centre is, if you are soft you know where centre is. Qua is soft and folded in. If Qua is rounded it is not correct, your body will lean. If Qua is correct your joints move more to keep body better aligned, otherwise cannot push or pull properly.
-SSWF2; now seems very difficult as have to get HYZZ up and down separate from body up and down (eg if body going down need to HYZZ up and down twice to get arm movements). Obviously designed to separate HYZZ movement from body movement. And I thought this was the easiest SSWF!
- Form; Ward Off - there is some 'swing' in the arms when turning. Qua turns and slight delay in arm movements (ie arm disconnects for a brief moment) arm connects back on (stretch in ligaments?) but make sure shoulder is Song and body HYZZ (VERY IMPORTANT). In push hands this is used so that if someone is pressing in your arm is swinging one way but Qua starts to turn the other way.
- remember to keep space under arms, like holding hot bao or egg. This gives you space in push hands so that your arms don't get locked onto body.
- Mr F did demo of push hands while sitting in a chair. He showed that if he let force come on him then the chair would move. He does not let someone touch him but uses Yi and Chi to anticipate movement, even though the other person moves first Song makes him (Mr F) move faster and he arrives first. Showed open arms movement (after press in form) while seated, uses swing and big shoulder Song-down-movement to counter other's push.
- when in stance your body is like floating water, all the ligaments are stretched and you have natural 'bounce' or 'spring'. This does not come up from legs, can only achieve if whole body is 'Song-Yi'. The 'spring' is not force from ground. When you have reached this stage it becomes natural. Soles are still on ground with Yi but everything stretches with Song from ankles up.
- stretching; before you get out of bed pull knee to chest then stretch out leg with toes pulled in to stretch calf muscles, hold 30 seconds(important to do as in Tai Chi the knee is always slightly bent. Knee is locked in this exercise). Also do a couple of slow sit ups. When standing do front thigh stretch; one hand is supporting on wall, other is pulling ankle into back of leg, push knee out and behind (45°) so can feel front of thigh is stretching.
- I'm still finding that as I go up in HYZZ my legs get the shakes. Sometimes for the first or second up on HYZZ it feels okay, but then it becomes ragged probably due to alignment going out somewhere and there is a disconnection of my energy.
- Form; 'Four Corners' - from single whip Song down to turn right and turn left foot on heel 90°, left hand drops and right hand opens to form ball, turn right foot on toes and shift into left leg, put right heel where toe was, pointing 90° at wall, shift weight completely into right leg, hands drop into position at waist (palms up - right hand near hip fingers pointing forward, left hand fingers pointing to right), U-step to corner (not too wide), going down and to centre, corkscrew down to turn waist (left knee forward), make sure left Qua is in and upper body doesn't twist, Song calf, Song thigh, Song shoulder, then hands swing up easily, then HCC, right foot doesn't turn in any more (from initial move) so can Fa Jing quicker.
2nd position Four Corners - sit onto right leg, Song turn right, left foot moves 45° (face wall), shift into left leg, hands dropping into position, turn right leg facing back (moves 135° on toe), hands now at waist, step right foot so it is behind left and right toes in line with left heel, keep turning, left foot turns to 90° position (to wall) and then turn right foot to corner. Song down and when shoulders Song, swing arms up and HCC.
3rd position Four Corners - Song into left leg, turn left shifting weight into right leg(right foot doesn't move), left foot turns on toes, U-step to corner (stance not too wide), Song down turning waist and right foot on heel to wall, Song down and arms swing up, HCC.
4th position Four Corners - Song into right leg, turn waist left foot turns on heel about 60°, keep turning and Song into left leg, right foot turns to wall on toe tip. Turning to step right foot behind left, heel in line with right arch, right toes point to wall. Song weight into right leg, turn waist and left foot on heel tip to face wall (same as right), Song into left leg, turn waist and right foot on heel tip. Song down to raise hands, HCC.
Hand movements Four Corners; arms swing off shoulders.
- for the 'push' arm the forearm and wrist are relatively straight and at a slight angle forward. Song the shoulder and swing the arm off the shoulder so that fingers 'take off like a plane', fingers are slightly bent so that at end when doing HCC fingers stretch, palm start by facing up and as arm swings up, rotate forearm so that palm down.
- for the 'block' arm, same principle as other arm, swings off shoulder, movement from Song
- Arm position is; one palm out and at nose level and other in push position; but not too far forward, about hand span plus fist from chest. Arms come up because shoulders Song down)
- NB when turning on feet, use very end of heel or toes tips, don't do flat footed)
10-3-9 Mr F: - SSWF5 is most important. Both knees over toes, Song down, back knee bends and front knee goes forward. Rear leg Qua folds a lot so that body automatically moves forward
- when practising you work hard and get a small improvement, but you can put this small improvement in many areas. Make sure HYZZ in everything. You practise a move and then eventually the movement becomes natural. Practise a movement correctly and do on both sides. Pick one move in form and practise. Do next move and practise it, after 2 or 3 years can join together to get correct form.
-SSWF3 (Bernard) - do as arm exercise (not turning waist). Hands come up with shoulder, make sure go high enough. Song shoulder, elbow and wrist. Make sure don't push fingertips up, they go up from dropping wrist until wrist/fingers are flat (palm parallel to ground). Slide arm back (like in opening move of form), drop arm but Song wrist and fingertips stay so wrist is bent. Drop arm and then near straight at elbow to bring hand to side (wrist still bent), then Song wrist as hand swings behind. Don't make arm straight, it is bowed. Song shoulder, then elbow, then wrist, then fingertips drop.
- Form (Kuku): 'Retreat to ride Tiger', hand doesn't move into position, the body goes up and drops and hand just rotates on forearm; 'Push', hand goes forward but shoulder goes back, arm stretches, this disconnection doesn't allow opponent to sense your move as arm disconnects from body; 'Repulse Monkey', when stepping back make sure Qua is folded in back leg and weight is there before stepping. Don't make stance too wide, feet are about 1 foot length wide, toe level with other foot's heel and outside of feet parallel. Step using U-step. Can also practise going forward.
11-3-9Mr F: Everyone has improved but must get perfection. HYZZ when done by a beginner has no Song but with practise Song will come and eventually it will be natural.
- Form: with 360° turn make sure left arm doesn't move suddenly but it slightly stretches as turning and coming into position, there is more Song this way. Kick, fold hips a lot, left knee comes forward and right knee lifts (like folding gate or car scissor jack). Go down quite a lot.
Suan Mokkh, Surat Thani June 2009
Nick thought it would be good to do the meditation retreat at Suan Mokkh, to put us into the right frame of mind before heading to Tenom 2 weeks later. Some of the basic rules were no talking, no drugs, no sex and no killing; oh well, it was only for 10 days! About 50 people turned up, usually they get 100 plus. We had our own basic small rooms containing a raised platform and a mosquito net, men in one building and women in another. The thin wood ply 'mattress' on the concrete slab was a bit extreme but it was the wooden pillow that literally and figuratively did my head in. Some people brought mattresses and pillows, my neighbour did, which is probably why he snored throughout the nights! The food was simple but tasty, on day 9 they cut it down from 2 meals to 1, which was okay. The setting was very nice, a man-made pond with a little island and landscaped grounds was next to the open pavilion we used for meditation. The area around was farmland with karst hills littering the landscape. Usually there was a cool breeze for the 4.30am meditation with frogs croaking, robins singing and crickets cricketing; their occasional little cries of "Howzat" were only mildly disturbing. There was even a natural hot spring to soothe the aching muscles, but for me this was countered by the cold bucket bath afterwards! The meditation was very painful at first, sitting for about one hour at a time. At 5.15am was an exercise period, most people did yoga, but Nick and I found a quiet pavilion to do our Tai Chi. There was 2 45 minute sessions each day of walking meditation, which I really enjoyed and would try to concentrate on using Song and Yi. On day 4 I was doing some walking meditation when a 2 meter green snake fell out of a tree about 1 meter away from me. Luckily he was more stunned than I was, so I had time to step away. He shook his head and glided off to the reeds in the pond. We'd do a group 'walk' around the pond at night, the night sky was beautiful without any nearby lights and we were south enough to see the Southern Cross low on the horizon but clear.
I was still really struggling by day 6 and was tempted to skip a session of talks in the evening, the physical pain seemed unbearable, but that afternoon I had a little break through and was able to keep going. The dharma talks were given by a monk who was originally from England. He was very entertaining and it was good to have a laugh every now and then, but I did sometimes wonder where he was coming from; with his reminiscences about hanging out in India in the 1960s. By the middle of day 9 I wanted to leave, as I felt I wasn't going to get much more out of the retreat. I also realised that this could be another mind trick but I had thought it through carefully. The retreat was about letting go of desire, so wasn't it just a desire to make it to the end of the retreat and not lose face?! So I laughed at what a smartarse I was and stayed til the end. Unfortunately on day 10 they relaxed things a bit, just as I was starting to feel I was about to make some progress (yeah, sure!). It was good catching up with Nick but we didn't get much time to talk!
On day 11 we did a final session of meditation at 4.30am and then we could officially talk. We wandered down the road to the main temple grounds to have breakfast and have a look at the various sites there. My snoring neighbour said he was off to Samui Island and when someone else mentioned they were going too, he got into a detailed explanation of where to get the best drugs and the best bars with the best girls; we hadn't even left the temple! I was a bit disappointed with the way the retreat was run, it was a little slack in discipline and lacked direction. It seemed most of the people there were first timers and they need to be reminded to get back to the basics, otherwise beginners aim too high and get frustrated and give up, as many people did on this retreat. By the end about 25 people had left, apparently the month before 'the floodgates opened' and there was a mass exodus. At the airport chatting to my meditating neighbour for the first time, I wasn't sure whether I would ever do it again. Maybe I might do a course with a different Wat, the Vispassana courses run worldwide by dhamma.org seem to be better organised, and are free! Though it was refreshing to hear that the founding monk of Suan Mokkh, Buddhadasa, views on Buddhism was fairly down to earth.
Tenom June 2009
21-6-9. Up at 3.30am met Nick at airport. Bkk-KL, KL-KK with AirAsia, then long distance taxi to Tenom (3 hours, RM140). Arrived at Tenom at 6.30pm, just in time for training with the instructors from Tenom, Keningau and Beaufort. Jamie had flown in from Brisbane 2 days earlier.
- Song in a straight line is quicker than Song that waivers.
- what you learn and how you apply what you learn are 2 different things
-SSWF1 do the movement more slowly, make it continuous and fine, especially the turning, use Yi. Song arms/elbows and let swing, turn first, disconnect arms from body. Make sure knee movement is straight, not waivering. If can get turning slow, fine and continuous you can use in all SSWF and Forms - foundation.
- Song onto and from balls of feet
- Try to do Song 24hrs - in everything you do. "Shortcut!"
- first practise big movements and as you get more Song then movement becomes smaller and internal
- eventually no separation of Song up or Song down, it becomes one movement.
- soles soft on ground, Yi stays in ground as Song up - body stretches straight. Make sure ankles have Song otherwise soles will rock. Important that soles stay soft and Yi stays in ground at all times.
- slow, fine and non-stop (continuous) will make your movements/actions 'automatic' or natural. All the time Song, Song, Song. If your body is stiff you cannot achieve the target. Technique becomes skill then becomes natural - that is Tao
- because we have the desire o learn, Mr F has the responsibility to teach us Huang Tai Chi. Then we have the responsibility to learn. Not for money. If we learn we must learn Huang Tai Chi fully so that if you teach , the standard is the same and there are not any differences with what is taught. Otherwise it is not a good reflection on GMH. The method is standardised so that everyone can learn the same thing. You cannot learn Song in a hurry, movement you can learn quickly, but Song takes time and practise to learn. With practise it will come.
- Mr F said that both old (traditional) way and new (modern/western) way of teaching are good. If you teach in old way, you just give enough to pique interest and to keep interest. The new way is to give all the information, but this can lead people to misunderstand or think they know it all. It doesn't matter which way to teach, it is up to the person to have the desire to learn, you can't force them.
- Open and Close, as turn right foot out, go to centre and turn at same time
- Grasp Bird's Tail, arm at side is not straight at elbow but slightly bent and bowed
- point feet in direction that it will step in, make sure don't turn it too far or not turn enough, otherwise step will be wrong
- opening move in Open and Close after slide/step left foot, Song down (HYZZ) and turn right sitting fully onto left leg, when turn back make sure right foots lags slightly behind waist
- 'Ward Off Right', turn left foot 10°, Song down (HYZZ) and turn right sitting fully onto left leg, right foot lags slightly, right arm is detached, after fully turned then Song down and hands move to form a ball, with Song not from turning waist.
- 'No arms' - arms move from Song not from turning.
- do Open and Close very slowly!
- Yi stays in ground, even when Song up. Feet are light not fixed solid
-WORK ONLY ON THIS: everyday SSWF1 do very slowly for next 6 months concentrating on Song down, Song up and turning very slowly. Practise without arm movements, get movement continuous. Practise with arm movement, arm speed is same as waist speed. But do slow! Make sure soles are flat (ie knee not wandering, has to move slightly in) Qua on full leg should be folding in, as with empty leg to a lesser degree, so that pelvis doesn't tilt and is level. To turn back is automatic. Mr F demonstrated by twisting a curtain and then let it go and it went back 'automatically'
- in class or group you have to do movements at the speed of the class. By yourself you can do at own speed. If your movements don't feel comfortable with a group it is because your level is not good but eventually, due to training by yourself, you will be better with a class/group because you can match any speed.
- SSWF3, slow it down!
- ALSO WORK ON ONLY THIS!: just do stepping in form up to Ward Off . Work on Song down and eventually get internal Song in legs so that when stepping the body is still.
- use HYZZ to get Yi into body (ie awareness of how you introduce Song into your body - otherwise it's wasting time)
- Form, opening movement; do the 7 steps continuously and slowly. Preparation, thumb at side of thigh (make sure hands not forward), elbow bent and behind back (so that your other hand's forefinger can slide behind back and be at crook of elbow. Shoulders natural (I have rotate shoulders up and back and then drop them to get near right position). Stretch whole body slightly, including fingers (HCC), keep wrists straight.
1. mentally say yi (one) very slowly and Song down slightly, relax wrists etc, fingers bend slightly but not too much, hands drop. Like a balloon inflating and deflating.
2. say er (two) slowly. Arms come up 70% with Song. Wrists are relaxed causing fingers to point down, elbows are slightly bent. Hands about 8" apart in upper most position (i.e. hands come slightly in).
3. say san (three), body dropping (fold Qua deeply), finger tips stay at same spot, body drops a lot. It seems that hands come up to shoulder level but this is from arms disconnecting and body dropping to hand level.
4. say sii (four) slowly, Song shoulders so wrists straighten
5. say wu (five) slowly, very important to Song shoulders so that arms slide back (elbows behind back and slide slightly out). Don't pull elbows back - this is very important!
6. say leo (six), Song elbow so forearm drops down from bottom of wrist so wrist bends (fingertips initially pointing up), hands drop (with wrists bent) next to thighs
7. say qi (seven), Song arms and wrists so hands drop back to start position. Arms are rounded; on the inside of arms and on the front of arms (ie elbows slightly bent and dropped)
- beginner's movements are broken
- arms are a circle even when at your side
- after Grasp Bird's tail (left), as you turn right your hands form a ball, turn right for Ward Off, HCC, then turn further right (not HCC as turn right)
- Right style Grasp Tail make ball big (hand span plus fist) wide about 8" (hand span plus fist) away from body. Right hand is limp. Arms look stiff but are Song, disconnected from body but still move slightly when you go forward
- after turn left in Grasp Tail Left facing forward again, then Song down, right hand drops into position and left hand comes up slightly - like a see-saw
- at end of Open movement in form, when turn to the front again and bringing right foot in, hands turn out (palm facing back) and arms/elbows rounded. Do 'Fair Lady's Hands, not Monkey Claw! Make sure wrist and fingers are straight (start with thumb and fingers together at side).
- remember to fold Qua and soft when body going down
- when transferring from Ward Off to closing, body drops which makes arms level with ground. Don't stretch too far from fingertips, and turn when arms are extended
- SSWF4, when legs 90% up, hands are behind back and palms facing forward, drop body, arms come forward by Song-ing neck and shoulders (looks like chicken wing!). Make sure get a release of shoulders and neck using Song which will cause arms to come forward and hands to come together (shoulders stretch down to bring hands forward).
- Form; make continuous and slow, and have Song and Yi. Better to do 3 moves correctly than do the form 10 times incorrectly. At first it is impossible to do the whole form correctly because if you do correctly your legs will start to hurt and after a while will begin to shake. When Song becomes internal and natural then Yi will not affect it
- Sinking and Song are different. Sinking is weight down and will cause pain, but Song radiates out of whole body and means you are light on your feet.
- make pain your friend. Let it come and let it go. It is just the mind, release the pain.
- posture; stretch, chin tucked in and stomach too, need to really fold Qua to stop leaning. When posture is correct then legs hurt. So you know it is right! Make sure body comes slightly forward when going down and slightly back when going up, this keeps the weight/centre in ball of feet and with the Qua folding correctly and tailbone tucked in, you stay vertical and balanced.
-Tai Chi is only stretching and contracting, this is why practise of HYZZ is important. Can be whole body (like a balloon) and of course can be individual muscles. When it is internal you cannot see it unless you are told.
- Make sure in stances that weight is in ball of feet (I am slightly back).If weight is correct then can fold hips (Qua) properly without leaning.
- PRACTISE SLOWLY
- when following class doing SSWF, don't drop too low as will need to speed up. Song down but don't drop down too far so then can do movements more slowly
- standardise stepping/movements in form
- at Ward Off HCC before turning
- Song down before stepping
- If you have Yi but no Song then Chi will not follow. You can see Yi but you cannot see Chi. Chi automatically follows Yi if you have Song.
- make arms more circular
- fold hips
- fishing the rest of the day at Mr F coffee factory, for BBQ at Teak Wood Cabins tonight
- Jamie left this morning
- after press-forward (Roll back Press and Push), when going back and opening arms, get timing right so can Song shoulders; Song down and away from hands and drop shoulders as almost coming forward to open hands so hands 'rest on basket ball'.
- fixed push hands; remember to Song shoulders so arms are not stiff. Also keep arms round. Follow with waist not hands
- first have to get softness in body, then get Song in body, then Yi, then Spirit. Do HYZZ to get Song and Yi in up/down movement. If your HYZZ becomes very good with Song and Yi, when you move Song and Yi will diminish and be only a small percentage of what you achieved in HYZZ. So you practise SSWF to increase Song and Yi with movements. When you have some Song and Yi in SSWF and you do the form then you will lose most of the Song and Yi because movements in the form are more dynamic. Practise the form to develop Song and Yi, then when you do fixed push hands, again, there will be less Song and Yi because of other person touching. Basically if you have 100% Song and Yi in HYZZ (impossible) you will only have 10% in Push hands (due to movement). Keep practising all the various aspects to improve Song and Yi until movements become natural and automatic.
- keep breathing naturally, it is not good for your health to control it, if you concentrate on your breath then your movements become stiff. Eventually your breathing will be abdominal and natural.
I've been working on keeping weight in ball of feet. I can feel it moving into my heels if I'm not careful; even in Open and Close. Also have to make sure I have to fold hips (Qua); this seems the most important thing to concentrate on at the moment. With HYZZ I can now feel that left leg is more stiff than right leg, if I am not careful I start to lean to the right! Left shoulder and arm, including joints, are also stiff. At least I can feel it, but it does sometimes feel like I am going backwards! Open and Close feels like absolute crap at the moment, I just have to work through it and hope to get a bit more Song so it will come good. I really need to concentrate on making sure waist folds.
Mr F is keen to get a standardised Huang Short Form happening; getting correct stepping and movements. He has been working hard on this recently with Shenzhen and is now introducing it to Tenom, Keningau and Beaufort schools.
- SSWF1; I'm not getting Song in shoulders, not dropping them down far enough with body and not folding Qua enough. When arms up about 45° up, Song down, Song shoulders so that shoulders drop, elbows drop and come slightly in. Wrist should be level with shoulders and elbow 3 fingers down. Seems like the top and back of shoulders really stretch, but maybe because don't have much Song. Left shoulder is particularly bad. After 2 years concentrating on SSWF1 I was starting to think I was good at it but now starting to think that again I am useless at it. I suppose that it is times like these that there may be a breakthrough around the corner; I'll have to wait and see! The problem is I feel I have overtrained and am now feeling constantly tired. I just need to keep working on the basics; HYZZ and SSWF.
- Short Form; Ward Off, as turn back make sure hand is no too far away from chest (not straight but round, to guard), after roll back as left arm drops on right, right hand rotates from Song-ing shoulder joint.
- HYZZ; when Song down, wait before coming up (for Yi to come up). Make sure you Song ankles and calf muscles to Song up. Legs and Qua 90% at top.
- SSWF2; make sure hands come up higher; to shoulder level
- SSWF3; arm movement same as opening move in form, make sure wrist bends on way down
- SSWF4; don't bring arm and hands too far forward as will not enable to get much Song in shoulders. Basically hands go back and up and when level with sides, Song shoulders and elbows so that hands end up about hand span from chest.
- SSWF5; For forward movement, when Song down back knee starts to come forward and so does front knee so body automatically goes forward - fold the front Qua a lot. Weight centre 50-50. Go back by song down and back knee coming forward. Keep Song-ing down to go back, don't lean, don't sink too much as then cant Song Qua enough.
- Short Form; at Roll Back Press and Push try to get Song in shoulders to make arms move; very difficult!
- go back to basics; get Song in Qua and then shoulders will Song a bit better
NB:- Always work on folding Qua - even in 'non-Tai Chi' life; standing, walking, working - soften the Qua so you're not leaning back and make sure your weight is in the balls of your feet.
- Mr F said my shoulders not much Song, do HYZZ and make whole body Song, eventually shoulders will get better. All the time HYZZ in everything. My posture and stepping is okay. When Song-ing backwards and forward, make sure go straight back, not shift foot to foot.
- 3 things influence someone's Tai Chi:
1st biology - Sun Li
2nd physics - Oo Li
3rd psychology - Sing Li
-'You' in Chinese means 'yes, have' , in Tai Chi it means stretch
-'Mayo' in Chinese means 'no, not have' , in Tai Chi it means contract
- got a pep talk from Mr F. Obviously Bernard told him about my frustration this morning. Mr F said I am doing okay and sort of jokingly pointed too photo of GM and said "I guarantee in front of Grandmaster that you will achieve Song!" (obviously depending on me putting the efoort in and following what is taught!). Mr f then showed us applications and different sorts of Song. He got us to push when he had 'no Song'; I'd like to even have his level of 'no Song', it's become automatic for him so I reckon it is impossible to turn it off! Most of the applications went over my head, Mr F said we should not try to train the martial side of TC as it will come automatically if we practise correctly. He said that you have to do a lot of practise to get Song, but when you do have it tou don't have to practise so much because you can work on Song in everyday life. I joked to him "Work hard to get Song so that you can be lazy!" Now, if only there was a way to skip the practise part!! :-)
- work on releasing muscles at side of chest to let shoulders Song more. Also work on getting Song in calves and ankles. I am now finding that pain (or at least awareness of pain) has shifted from thighs to calf muscles. Of course you can work on Song whenever you can; it is good to constantly remind yourself to do Song.
Mr F, Bernard, Kun Tat, Kuku, Mr Lim and Alex hang around all morning while we waited for the long distance taxi to pick us up at 11am. It really is amazing how well they look after us, all the time and training they give us even though they have work and families, and always taking us out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Especially since they have all just come back from 2 weeks in Taiwan. I think for my own training I have to do short practise sessions several times a day rather than one long session. I have to keep trying to get finer details in HYZZ and then SSWF until I have Song working better. It is incredible the amount of depth of detail I keep seeing in these simple exercises. I suppose besides being frustrated with my health there is also some frustration in whether I'll ever know fully these exercises. Of course I will never be able to know them completely but it would be nice to at least do them reasonably proficiently!
We even got to swim in the public pool across the road a few times. I'm not a keen swimmer but I love to have a dip in the Tenom pool looking up at the green hill tops and huge cumulous clouds with the blue sky as a back drop.
KL and Jerantut August 2009
18-8-9. Nick and I met at Bangkok airport arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 3pm. Len Lee Nam was there to greet us. A little while later the Tenom guys turned up and we hung around for 2 hours for the Shenzhen crew. Shared a room with Nick and Suman, quick dinner and then straight to a school hall for the first session of the KL workshop.
19-8-9. 7-9am workshop, 9-10am Breakfast, 10am-Noon Workshop, 12-2pm Lunch (Michael Woo took us to his clinic and for lunch near the famous Caves). 2-4pm Workshop, 4-8pm Break/Dinner, 8-10pm Workshop. SSWF3: Slow it down. Song up in central position, then right hand comes up (left hand comes slightly up behind the body), soften Qua to turn right and down at same time leaving right hand in same spot (disconnect), right hand slides back (elbow slightly out), left Qua slides back and down so turn back to centre, Song up and repeat for left side. Mr F said this was more advanced. I'm guessing it's probably designed to show that the up movement of the arm is from Song/HCC rather than swing of the waist.
20-8-9. Timetable same as yesterday. HCC is not body or leg going up, it is stretching up. Sort of slight compression before and then a release to stretch or 'spring'. SSWF4: when touching ground with fingers, then knuckles then palms - release the stomach more each time, to go down further. SSWF1; start to make shoulder movement finer/internal, not so big externally. Song body down 50/50 first, then turn waist, then drop arms. Don't twist upper body. Yi 70/30 - 70% into forward leg. When ready to go up or down at centre point make sure weight is 50/50 first and slightly Song down. Even when going up, when at centre weight 50/50 and slightly Song sown before going up.
With arm movements back to centre I am starting to drop them before turning back to centre; I could be wrong (again!) but seems logical to apply the same principle of Song initiating the movement Mr F showed us in SSWF1 yesterday. No doubt I will be corrected if wrong!
21-8-9. Timetable same as yesterday.
TO WORK ON: Make movements with Song, like a see-saw. E.g.; to step forward, Song down in other leg, make movement fine and precise. The body and head should not move at all when stepping. Then you can shift weight and body moves.
22-8-9. Morning workshop, then rest of morning off to get ready to leave for Jerantut. 4 hour bus trip to Jerantut Hill Resort. Nick and I got a nice big bungalow.
8th International Huang TC Tournament. Went into town to register for the tourno. Next 2 days were speeches, big meals and lots of watching and waiting around. Even though Nick and I were officially entered under Tenom, we had to do everything as 'Australia'! I was dismal in the push-hands comp again; serves me right as the last few months I haven't been doing any Tai Chi practise. Haven't done any push hands for the last 2 years (the problem with not having a training partner close by), anyway I have lots of great excuses but the reality is my Song sucks! Nick did well in the push hands getting a 3rd, he was beaten by the guy that came first by only one point. In the short form comp Barry from Keningau got 1st, Mr Lim got 3rd and Suman 4th; so a nice result for the Sabah guys. At the closing dinner Mr F did a push-hands demo, first standing and then seated in a chair. It was a bit dangerous on the stage, as it was concrete and was littered with popped balloons, plastic straws and toothpicks. It was a balancing act between being careful with his throws in case we fell incorrectly and putting on a good show for the audience of 1200. The next comp is Shenzhen in 2011, which means I will have to go, and humiliate myself again! (-: Had to get up at 4am on the 25th to get bus to KL airport with the Sabah guys, many people went to Genting for a workshop with Master Yek Giong. After saying farewell to Mr & Mrs F and the guys, Nick and I grabbed some breakfast before our flight. We were puzzled by an item on the café menu, something called 'Dog foot sandwich', until we worked out they meant a 12" hotdog; I wonder how many they sold!