I have now had two training sessions in my home with Sifu Rob. Rob has decided to teach me primarily Chen taiji to start with, interspersed with some White Crane, then when that is all going nicely, we will probably progress to some weapons. I made poor progress in session one, managing a poor pass at one quarter of what Rob wanted to teach me. Still, I learned some new footwork warm ups, silk reeling and a tiny chunk of the Chen form. I practised this during the week and the in the next session, Rob reckoned I was looking a lot better at the end of the second session than I was at the first. This was because, like all good teachers, he was able to communicate where I was going wrong, and what to improve. My learning for the second session is…
- Keep moving, however slowly. Rob was amused because of my taekwondo history and clunky brain meant that i was performing elements of the form like a poomsae, with start and end points for each movement – for example, a front snap kick and a double punch is a pretty clearly defined sequence, and the end of the double punch defines the end of the combination. If I slow my form right down, it gives my poor noggin time to do its thing and for me to attempt to flow like treacle in to the correct shapes
- As always, movement of the arms is driven by movement of the hips. For some parts of the sequence, there is no arm movement, its a rotation of the hips that repositions your torso and the arms just follow
- Breathing is paramount – this is not a new lesson to me, of course, but when I spotted a section that was expansive, the expansion and correct movement comes from inflating, and it felt much more authentic
- In general, take a shorter-than-taekwondo-front-stance, and watch your knees aren’t projecting beyond your toes
This is all good stuff, and ties in exactly with what Liam, Mark and Tony have taught me in the past. Lets hope I can do all of my teachers proud at this year’s summer camp. I’ll post more about taiji as and when I learn something I can communicate.