Sometimes I get a bright idea and think “Yeah! That’s the ticket!” Today’s idea was “Tai Chi Golf” — incorporating the principles and techniques of taijiquan into the game of golf. I didn’t think anyone had really put it out there yet. Then I found a series of videos by Jake Mace demonstrating something of a technique bridge between Yang style taijiquan and various aspects of the golf swing. It looks like Jake Mace gets some pretty impressive results. For me, a recent golf enthusiast, it affirms the value of my time spent training in both, and the real pleasure of observing the crossover between the two. You can check out Jake Mace’s published videos HERE.
This past Saturday my kung fu teacher David Wong taught his first class since returning from his visit to Hong Kong and China. I was conscious of how much I had missed his personal flair, humor and guidance in my life. My morning thoughts on the way home were about my estimation that I could never learn and be as skilled at kung fu as much as my teacher. I fear that I could ever learn only a fraction of what he has learned in his lifetime. If I ever became a kung fu teacher, everything I know would only be a snapshot, a sample of what my teacher knows. Thinking about it as I drove, these thoughts came to my mind: You might think to yourself, “I will never be great. At best I can only hope to be a small vessel.” But it is important to remember that even a single drop of water contains the essence of all water. Small things contain the essence of great things. Conduct yourself accordingly.
Came across this excellent video depicting applications of movements similar (if not the same as) the style of taijiquan I study with Sifu David Wong. Interestingly the title refers to “northern school.” Sharing this here, as I plan to study it with greater attention when I get a chance at home.
Yesterday I purchased a copy of Chan Heart, Chan Mind by contemporary Chinese Buddhist monk Guo Jun. The book begins with Guo Jun’s account of his first teacher Songnian. As Guo Jun described the rough personality and teaching style of Songnian, it reminded me a great deal of my own kung fu teacher. More importantly, as Songnian taught the principles of grinding ink for use in calligraphy (shu fa), the essential principles reminded me of the important lessons my own teacher imparted to me especially with regard to the “pushing hands” exercises (tui shou) of taijiquan. Luckily, this chapter is also available online as a publication of Tricycle magazine, and I am able to share it here: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/calligrapher%E2%80%99s-apprentice.
Based on the close connection to Taiji Quan that Lu Shengli describes, I am integrating some Xingyi Quan practice into my training program. Specifically, I am working on santi shi (“three bodies alignment”) and will be doing some flexing exercises with the 84″ staff. In this video clip from Kung Fu Quest 2, both of these exercises are explained by venerable master Song Guanghua. I have to say that the initial scene of Guanghua practicing shufa (Chinese calligraphy) in his shadowy is also pretty inspiring to me.
I have been talking about this instructional video in baguazhang (“eight trigrams palm”) for a few weeks now with a couple of my fellow gongfu students, and decided I should post it up. The instructor is Yu Hongqin, and it is a very good demonstration of basic and core techniques in the martial arts style of baguazhang. The video does not demonstrate any combat applications, but I have found it useful to compare what I am learning in taijiquan and consider integrating a few techniques from baguazhang.
The oncoming of winter finds me reinspired to sit by my kitchen window with a good cup of tea, and practice my Chinese calligraphy (shufa) again. In this video clip, shufa master Qianshen Bai discusses the similarity of calligraphy brush movements and dynamics with taijiquan and other martial arts. He makes an interesting point how everything in taijiquan is about making a circle, and to go left you first go right, and to go up you first go down, such as in the movement of circles. Conicidentally, I was just this morning having a good laugh with a friend as I explained how that for any shufa brush stroke you frequently have to begin and end in the opposite direction of your intended stroke, in order to begin well and finish well. When I heard Qianshen Bai describe this, I also thought of the circle walking of baguazhang, which Lu Shengli describes so eloquently in Combat Techniques of Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua:
“Because bagua is about change, the main idea of Bagua Zhang is bian or changing. It is said that wherever there is movement, there is change that never ceases. Change in this context refers to the changes of yin and yang. Physically, all change is said to come from and return to the crossing of the arms or the walking of the circle.”
Qianshen Bai goes on to talk about movement with a natural opening, and always followed by a return. He adds that movement should be efficient, meaning that it should be logical and consistent. No less importantly, he describes that movement should also be organic and treated as a whole. He goes on to provide some some good pointers on shufa brush technique.
I found it paradoxical to learn from watching Qianshen Bai as he practiced on a newspaper article entitled “Teaching by initimidation,” which has been the opposite of my experience in learning shufa. The only initimidation I have felt studying shufa always arises from within my own mind, in the challenge to overcome self-doubt and boldly press the brush to the blank paper in front of me.