During a conversation with my coworker, I told him I was practicing some taiji last night and to my surprise he said he did some taiji practice last night too! He said he was doing positive/negative circles and a couple movements of the Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method (CSTPM) Yilu during commercials while watching basketball. THIS IS GREAT!
Our last lunch time session must have really rubbed off on him. The beginning of the session was focused on doing 3 count positive and negative circles. During this time, I gave the following pointer:
Elbow in, no hand in. Hand out, no elbow out
To further elaborate on this point, I asked my coworker to grab my wrist. Then, I demonstrated what it felt like if I pulled in with my hand versus pulling in with my elbow. He said he felt more power when I pulled in with my elbow. Additionally, he noticed that when pulling in with the elbow, there is a slight outward twist of the forearm that affects the attacker’s grip. This was a great observation and something I had not thought about.
Next, I stood in a position where my elbow was “in” and had my coworker apply some resistance to my shoulder and elbow. I demonstrated that if I try to do “elbow out” that I would be basically trying to put my force against his. However, when I did “hand out”, I was able to mitigate his force as it felt like he just slid down my arm and had nothing to push against. Right now, I know this works, but still trying to figure out in my mind fully why and how this works.. 😉
Next, I taught the first couple of movements of the Yilu form up to buddha warrior pounds mortar. My coworker likes to ask “why” so this gives me an opportunity to understand the practicality of the movements I am teaching. He asked about the first movement of the form where the body turns to the right and you step out with the left leg. I explained the reason for forming a vertical knife hand with the right hand at solar plexus height and how combined with a turning of the body to the right, could be used to deflect a punch. My coworker was surprised how little movement and effort was required to deflect a punch in this manner. Additionally, I explained the importance of sensitivity and timing and how it these are applied in the punch deflection.
I then showed a couple more applications following the sequence of the buddha warrior pounds mortar movement. This included using some leg qinna, elbow qinna, noting the 2 point contact of wrist and elbow to control shoulder, etc etc. He was thoroughly shocked and surprised at how many applications could be extracted from a couple of very simple looking movements.
As we walked back to work, I explained to him how little movement could cause big movement or big reaction. The analogy I used was that of kids playing with sparklers on the 4th of July. Holding a sparkler, small movement in the wrist causes big movement at the tip of the sparkler. We could then connect this by noting that small movement in our own body can cause big movement in our opponent’s body. In a practical martial sense, the hard part is identifying the point of origination for this rotational movement.
My coworker asked me how I came to know these applications I showed him and I disclosed to him that I am learning right along with him. I explained to him that special nature of the Hong Junsheng Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method is that execution of the application is exactly how the form is trained. All I had to focus on was doing the form correctly and the applications worked. In other words:
Hong’s system amalgamated gong and fa. This means the form that is learned can be directly applied in push hands or real fighting situations. Students no longer need to practice Gong for dozens of years in order to extrapolate the fa from these gongs.