Having studied a little XYQ later, I came to realize after I left Japan that the teacher was using the sword training to develop what the Chinese call YI, or intent. Using a real sword gave me the ability to focus in a way I’ve never experienced before. Every time I drew the sword, I was “on” and paying attention to every last detail. Failing to do so would have resulted in injury.
Wow.. this is really a great point and something I wanted to expand on and explore a bit on my own. I really like the connection of using a live blade and the development of yi.
Often times, I’ve been told to imagine an opponent when I do the form, but imagine no opponent during push hands. Personally, I’m still working on the form part. I think one of the precursors to this is to understand the application of each and every movement of the form. In my experience, I have not encountered the type of teaching where each and every posture is taught along with the application except in rare cases (it’s taught this way when I learned the 12 animals of liuhebafa, and also in the Chen Practical Method). I then start to wonder if a lot of teachers out there *know* the application for each and every move??
On the flip side, I’ve been told that learning the applications to each and every move can result in a blockage of higher level development due to focusing on the “physical” and not the energetic application. Energetic meaning, when given a peng, counter with a lu. When given a lu, counter with a ji and then try to break down the form into their energetic components.
Which is right? I’m not quite sure, though I think it’s probably something along the lines of the “middle road” and a bit of each.