Some of my former students in Portugal have been puzzled by one of Master Chen's trailers posted on the Facebook group run by Neil Morley for Tai Chi Chuan practitioners
They could not quite follow what he meant in his Ground Connection trailer ( find it on the group page above). So I have taken the unusual step (for me anyway) of responding with a video explanation.
'This question and response highlight a real issue for many modern Tai Chi practitioners, seeking to improve by virtue of You tube'
In my defence, I did try a brief written explanation on the group page first.
Like most teachers, Master Chen expresses fundamental TCC concepts in his own unique vernacular. Where he talks about 'Connecting through the ground', I talk about 'Grounding through a stable framework'. Where one teacher uses phrases such as Tung Jin, another says listening, both refer to proprioceptive skills, the term I prefer. This issue is simply one of terminology.
The demonstrations below were filmed without set up or rehearsal, just before one of our regular classes, hence the noise as students enter. I was assisted by Graham Bould and Gloria on camera duty.
The observant among you will see that my stance wobbles a bit every time Graham pushes, this is because my legs have not yet recovered from the extensive surgery a few months ago, following breaking both legs and requiring a hip replacement. Because of the noise levels there was an explanation for the last demonstration, I have not posted, If I can sort out the sound I may post it later. For now I have written the explanation at the end of this blog. the videos are as shot and unedited
All of the above work in a similar manner,
This question and response highlight a real issue for many modern Tai Chi practitioners, seeking to improve by virtue of You tube. A teachers terminology can be a barrier or an aide to learning, and we all use terminology of one sort or another.
If the seeker is unfamiliar with the phrases that regular students are introduced to they may be misled or at least puzzled. Chen Zhonghua gives a clear and useful demonstration. If you must seek knowledge at a distance, you can visit his site, and buy access to his training resources properly, and you will get further. Alternatively you could join the Golden Rooster School, and I will send you details of our live online courses.
Regarding questions about the alignment of the spine in Tai Chi, below is a statement taken from a longer article on my website.
Read the full article at http://www.keithroost.com/keiths-blog.html
In the Golden Rooster School, Wu Dang Tai Chi Chuan practice involves the correct alignment of the spine to facilitate the optimum bio- mechanical use of the body commensurate with the movement or action undertaken.
Therefore in Single Whip we move the hips to a mid position to lengthen the lower spine, facilitate opening the hips, and align the spine to support the rotation of the waist and issue and consequent absorption of forces through the use of Fa Jin.
Different movements may require different alignment or indeed several different alignments throughout the technique
"In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one's social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education ... but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one's development as a human being." Nelson Mandela.
So how did the great man manage his doubts and trepidations, how did he martial his energy, and keep the clarity of his vision?
You have no doubt heard the sad news that one of the worlds most charismatic and loved leaders Nelson Mandela has sadly passed over, our thoughts go to his family and a whole country in mourning for a father figure. Mandela faced more difficulty than most because of his chosen stand against apartheid, and campaign for democracy, no doubt his 27 year internment and subsequent role as president was not lacking in difficulty either. So how did the great man manage his doubts and trepidations, how did he martial his energy, and keep the clarity of his vision?
Nelson Mandela on Meditation!
"In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors
such as one's social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of
education ... but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one's
development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men - qualities within the reach of every soul - are the foundation of one's spiritual life ... Regular meditation, say of about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner
that keeps on trying."
- Nelson Mandela, excerpt from Mandela The Authorised Biography by Anthony Sampson - Thanks to Bill Douglas at World Tai Chi Day for drawing my attention to this.
Mandela used meditation as a tool to achieve great things, what will you do?
"You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards."
Find a comfortable position sitting or lying down. Begin with a few deep breaths, breathing deep into the belly, to help you relax and bring you to the present moment. Now close your eyes and simply be present . Notice how your body feels, as well as the activity of your mind and emotions. Experience without resisting or trying to change anything. Continue this for a minute or two.
Next, expand your awareness to everything in your surroundings. Feel the ebb and flow of the breeze, the warmth of the sun on your skin. Notice the sounds around you — bees, birds, grasshoppers, the sound of water flowing. . , For the rest of the meditation, continue to experience these feelings and sounds. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the experience of nature.
When you are ready to stop, simply rub your hands together until they are warm, then place your palms over your eyes for a few seconds, gently open your eyes and look at your palms, as you slowly move them away from you. take a few quick breaths, stamp your feet and rub or gently pat yourself on the arms and legs to ground and be fully aware again.
Mandela used meditation as a tool
to achieve great things,
what will you do?
Keith has studied the Chinese Internal arts for over 40 years. He lives in England and Portugal with artist, designer and writer Gloria Dean and teaches in Portugal and the UK.