It’s funny, well, not really too funny but more kinda sad than funny. I seem to keep having this issue of wanting to jump from method to method, as noted in my previous post when I considered doing the form the CZL way even after I wrote a long and lengthy piece about how I’ve come to terms with my training. Uh.. sure.. that lasted long!
Why the hop? Why my need and desire to jump and switch? Before, my main reason for thinking of yang, was b/c I hit a hard plateau in my chen training and it was just easier to say there were inherent problems in chen. I recall direly avoiding doing single handed silk reeling exercises b/c I couldn’t get the body harmony though it felt fine for the double handed variant. To get over that plateau, I just basically stopped! I stopped doing single handed silk reeling all together until I had a rejuvination at the CXW silk reeling seminar.
So, what about now? Why the desire to switch now? I’m not exactly sure, maybe I’m just bored or I’m starting to question the path. I often wonder if the path I am taking is the most correct path b/c I don’t want to waste the little time that I do have one something that’s not going to get me anywhere. Ahh.. one person said this, but the other person said that. Which is better? I have the problem thinking too much but not doing. Don’t think, just do! But there are so many choices and options out there, it’s like a kid in the candystore, each new master/style can be learned for as little as $49.99 plus shipping and handling. It’s not like the old days when you were basically limited by proximity, but then again, in the old days when there was a question in regards to correctness, the answer was determined by a touch of hands. “What.. you say my taiji sucks! Damn, you.. I must warn you that once I begin the sequence of attack, the only end will be your demise!” heheheh..
So what’s all this rambling about anyways? Ultimately I’m trying to justify playing around with a new method. In a converation with a buddy yesterday, I was asked, “what is my reason for studying martial arts”? Utlimately, the answer is usually one of two things (1) Martial effectiveness or (2) Healthy activity. Wait.. actually add a third selection, (3) Moving meditation. Therefore it stems in either martial, physical, or spiritual. This got me to think about what I’ve heard coming from the Wai Lun Choi camp, that is: A by product of learning an art for it martial effectiveness is the health aspect, but the same thing may not be true for the opposite” or something along those lines. Learning for martial will result in health and mental benefits, if studied correctly. I also have this thing where I categorize even further, I want to learn and study a “martial art” as opposed to a “fighting art”. Things I consider fighting arts are like muay thai, brazilian jujitsu, etc, but they could be training in the “art” sense but often are not. But I don’t want to divulge into that tangent at this time.
So.. what is the martial effectiveness of what I’ve been studying? Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I’d say that 90% of the instruction I’ve received has mainly been in regards to body harmony and physical corrections. But those need to be correct before the application will work, right? Perhaps, but I do recall learning from the other direction. When I trained in liuhebafa the training consisted of, learn the sequence, work on the body harmony, then work on the app. Working on the app will tell you what is right and wrong with the body harmony. Instead of doing the iterative approach, working on the app and form result in a meshed learning in which the interconnections between the movement and the application are explored simultaneously. I’m not saying this is how all taiji is practice and trained, but it’s been my experience this is how things are done. Sure, some places will do push hands and get into the push hands patterns and such, but why not learn the applications for the individual movements? To me, that would seem logical or else what is the purpose of the form is the individual movements aren’t martially effective? I think this is one of the main pluses I encountered when I trained under the TT Liang camp. Learn the solo form, then learn the sanshou or the 2 person “dance” in which you learn the application for each movement of the long form. Why doesn’t chen have a similar thing?
I’ve actually only seen a similar thing via one camp, that is the Hong Junsheng camp or what he calls Chen Style Practical Method. Currently the main figure I’ve been exposed to via video and word of mouth accounts is Chen Zhonghua or Joseph Chen. One of the things that really caught my eye about this method is it’s practicality. I’ve seen his detailed yilu application dvd and it’s awesome. He basically goes through every movement and shows applications, sometime multiple variations, for each one. Not select movements, but EVERY MOVEMENT! Why do they do “pound mortar” as such, well watch the dvd and he’ll show you how it is applicable in a qinna scenario. Not just why you go down with the hand, but each angle, why the angle is as such, why the foot is as such, why turn the knee as such, where the power comes from and the best part is that he explains it all IN ENGLISH! I also watched some clips of a push hands camp he did and was really shocked by the application of wave hands like clouds how the angle of the hands is so important. Push the solar plex up while affecting the hip down results in the collapse of the body! That’s it.. I’ve never seen wave hands demonstrated as such and to me, it makes perfect sense.
So, am I jumping ship? I’m still debating but the evidence for the method is there. In fact, it was even noted that Chen Fake approved of the form and the applications as Hong wanted to do the form the way the application is done. I’m not sure if I’m gonna go full blown, but I think I’m willing to give it a chance and a try. I have the foundation exercises video in which he shows the basic exercises, similar to silk reeling but slightly different. I’d suggest anyone interested in checking his stuff out, check out the videos on his website as they are quite interesting.