Due to some recent shifts in our schedules, decided to break up the training session a bit. Last night I did 15 mins of zhan zhuang and it was pretty good. It felt as if I was holding a bit too much tension in my thighs.. AGAIN… but I guess that’s a good thing. Not really sure but I’m enduring and pushing through it. To compensate, I brought my stance up a bit higher. I then started getting visions of Fong Ha doing the stand and his posture is quite high. I was playing around a bit with the shifting of left to right as my right hip was feeling tense again. My thoughts started to race so I closed my eyes and focused internally. Thought about my breathing while listening behind. The listening behind actually helps quite a bit and it’s also mentioned in the recent issue of Tai Chi Magazine.
Woke up early this morning (around 4:30am) and did some zhan zhuang for a couple of mins to get my body and mind adjusted from being asleep and then went into some short forms. Lately, I’ve mostly been concentrating on the long forms but if I’m short on time, then I only get through the first section or so of the form and I miss out on all the other fun moves! This morning I decided to do the 24 short form for kicks. It has been such a long time since I went through this form but at the same time it felt kinda nice. I could really feel my “chen creep” when I was doing the repluse monkeys and had to really make an effort not to let the chen style take over. Then when I go to the grasps swallows sequence, I debated a bit on whether to do the sequence the wushutaiji way (initial ward off with one hand at side) or the more traditional way (initial ward off with both hands up, kinda like a double press). I did the first set the modern way and did the other side the more traditional way. Personally, I prefer the more traditional way as it makes the rollback feel much more connected. It was fun doing the kicks in the form though I stumbled a bit when I made the transition to snake creeps down. I didn’t go too low in the snakes creep as I really wanted to maintain my structure and not let my knee go beyond my instep, or point behind the balls of the feet. Overall, it was pretty interesting and I may do it again though I wasn’t too fond of all the repititions of ward off and brush knees in the beginning. I actually prefer doing the 1st section of the long form as a replacement.. who knows.. we’ll see how I feel tomorrow
I then felt the urge to do the chen 38 set for comparison. This set was developed by Chen Xiao Wang (CXW) and is said to contain elements of the old frame (laojia) and new frame (xinjia) though I really can’t distinguish on a per movement basis what frame each posture comes from. I have a rough idea of the key postures but that’s about it. The form started off nice and felt a really good flow from the beginning. I stumbled a bit on the transition between brush knees and cover puch as I hadn’t really done the whole “lift leg up and push” in quite some time. When I got to the “step back whirl arms” (aka repluse monkey) sequence in chen, I started to question the execution a bit. In the chen set, I was taught the palm aligns horizontally. In doing it this way, I felt as if my elbow could easily be compromised and someone could perform the basic elbow/arm qinna on me. In the yang set, the palm aligns vertically and is more of a “push and pull” while I felt the chen way was more of a “split”. I’ve actually seen CXW doing this both way, palm vertical and horizontal. I like the flow and energy of the vertical palm way as well as liking the hand positions of the yang set.
To me, the yang set felt more like a “seizing” movement whereas the chen felt more like a deflect/attack movement. The main reason I felt this way is due to the position of the yin hand. For the repulse monkey set, the yang hand is the “forward” hand and the yin set is the “rear” hand. In the yang, the rear hand is palm up and at the side of the waist. From my trainings in liuhebafa (LHBF) (for more, see Wai Lun Choi’s LHBF Site) I was taught the most efficient way to grab and pull someone in is to use your body and to be able to fully use your body, the pulling hand cannot go beyond the body. This is a big reason why the hand stops either before or at the side of the waist as more power can be generated. To me, this is a much better alignment to do the seizing application of repluse monkey. Due to the location of the rear hand in chen, it appears to me and was shown to me as a deflect application where the rear hand deflects to the side while the forward hand strikes the exposed body. Note, these are not the be all and end all applications for these moves, just ones that came to my mind when comparing.
Overall, without going too indepth, the chen form felt nice but I’m starting to feel a disconnect in more and more places in the set. Again, this could be due to lack of my own experience. One of the places is during the heel kick squences. Before the kicks, the is sort of an opening seqences of the arms that’s mostly a “side attack” kind of thing. To me, the while side attack and motion of arm is a bit disconnected. I think this may have a lot to do with many of the chen applications use the back and side. From what I learned in LHBF and yang, most of the attacks are focused on front as you never want to turn your back to your opponent so the goal is to keep your opponent in your center line. hmm….