The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2006 Training Plans

A lot of people are starting out with new training plans to accompany the new year, and I'm one of them. My approach to making plans for my training is to approach it from the view point of what can I reasonably get done?

As a normal family man with a demanding job and a social life, I can reasonably expect to train about five hours a week. Sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. I live in suburban Detroit, and the closest I would come to training like a Shaolin monk would be to try and pick up my barbeque with my forearms, branding "WEBER" into my flesh, to dump out the charcoal.

I can use five 1 hour blocks as a model, but I will also state up front that this is only a model and will be subject to change on the fly. There will be somedays that I won't have that full hour, and there will be others where I'll have more time on my hands than I'd be able to fill constructively. There will also be brief blocks of time that I'll be able to make use of here and there if I'm both opportunistic and vigilant.

My training plans revolve around the concept of doing a few things well, where I get the biggest return for my investment in time and energy.

What I've settled on for now is to basically break my one hour block into two halves (excluding for discussion some warmups and a few supplementary exercises). The first half I dedicate to the standing practice, which I simply get a lot out of; and the other half to "everything else."

A lot goes on with the standing practice. There are a lot of different postures used in YiQuan, which can be practiced using different methods, for different purposes. There are "health postures" and "combat postures." There is standing to relax, there are a variety of visualizations used for different purposes, and there are different methods of breathing.

I've decided to settle on two postures. The first is the "embracing" posture that is the familiar one that comes to mind whenever anyone thinks of standing for health. The other one is the classic santi posture from XingYiQuan; that is the foundational posture of the martial art that was the main influence on the creation of YiQuan.

Again, each of these postures have many visualizations that accompany them, and the two of them can cover a pretty fair range of the standing practices associated with YiQuan.

Now the "other stuff." In YiQuan this would include "testing strength" where basically the visualizations which were applied to the stationary postures are applied to some simple to complex movements, various stepping drills (where you can either just move the feet as a more basic exercise, then later with the "testing strength" movements to see if you can keep "whole body strength") using the "friction step," "snake step," "bear step," and the footwork of XingYiQuan forms. Then there are "fighting drills" which are sort of like shadow boxing, and "issuing force" drills, and on and on.

I'm still sorting this out, but I've found that if I use a TaiJiQuan form that I learned years ago, and adapt it to use a long continuous "testing strength" exercise (rather than the way I was taught), I can get a lot of practice with a wide variety of movements in a fairly concise format.

I'm also seeing that if I practice some of the basic XingYiQuan forms in a variety of ways, I can cover a lot of ground regarding the "other stuff."

Mostly I have to keep a clear idea in my head of what it is I'm practicing and why, and not get caught up in the forms themselves.

My ideas may change as the year passes, and I expect them to. The point is that I'm setting myself up to get something done, rather than have a task ahead of me that I'd probably beat my head against, fail, and feel miserable about.

It's a pretty common failing to set up lofty goals at the beginning of the year, and be hopelessly offtrack before January is out. The stricter and more ambitious the schedule, the less likely you are to achieve it because life has a nasty way of intruding upon our best laid plans. I think it's more effective to be both flexible and realistic.


CARDINAL009 said...

My only suggestion to your training is : drink heavy while standing.

Rick said...

Ha! I'd be more rooted that way.

CARDINAL009 said...

Drink heavy, relax, sink, stand root, and let gravity will take its place.

This's the Dao of "integrity of being".