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 ~

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Best Practices in Martial Arts Training

Below is an excerpt from an article appearing in the online magazine, Jade Dragon. The topic is best practices in martial arts training. Whether you agree or disagree with the article, you have to stop and take a look at one's own training. The full article may be read here.

Best Practices of Internal Martial Arts

The following internal martial arts best practices can be useful for strategists:
  • Practice the various internal martial exercises before the sun rises
  • The key to internal martial arts is to develop the skill of feeling
  • When practicing, focus on feeling your entire body and your settings in terms of yin and yang
  • Practice the alignment of your whole body in terms of center, relax, ground, calm and whole
  • Where the attention goes, the energy flow
  • When exercising, revel in the process not the pace. Indirectly, it is also a test of your concentration
  • Always quietly practice your exercises at the same place and at the same time. Silence is golden. Positive consistency and continuity is important to the mind and body.
  • The quiet practicing of stances allows you to gain the feeling of stillness
  • Understand the practice of stillness to gain insights
  • When training, ensure that one of your ligaments is always connected to the ground
  • There is greater value in the practicing of a single- to double-motion exercise than in the practicing of multiple-motions exercise
  • Begin all practices with a series of deep breathing and stretching exercises without stressing the body
  • Start the stretching process by using low-level and deep stances. Continue by focusing on one-legged stances.
  • Wear a weighted vest while practicing (a training tradition of some Cheng Ting Hua’s Bagua players)
  • You should always stand than to sit.  We recommend the use of the standing table for work
  • Learning Yi Quan is a good way to gain a grand insight into the benefits of standing and stilling the body
  • "When one is relaxed, the body comes flexible (lively), the qi circulates throughout the body, and the body now becomes whole. ..." (Yi Quan training quote)
  • Practice within the training stages of static, active, and changing
  • When practicing Taijiquan, Baguazhang, or other forms of internal art systems, learning and practicing Push Hands (or similar "one on one" sparring exercises) is very important in the development of body sensitivity
  • Always have a good "above-average" skilled training partner to practice the "Push Hands" exercises
  • Practice circle walking everyday (a training tradition of Baguazhang players)
  • Focus on evading, encircling, and entrapping your opposition (a practice of Baguazhang players)
  • Understand the quintessence of Yang Taijiquan through the practice of the Yang Taiji 13 postures
  • Perform the Taiji long form with a fast rhythm. Then practice the Taiji short form with a slow rhythm.  While the practice of the long form in a quick rhythm develops aerobic and endurance, the pace of the short form develops the feeling of patience and steadiness (a training tradition of Taiji players)
  • The circular motion of the moving body should never break. (One should always deploy the circular motion before implementing a linear motion.)
  • Never practice internal martial arts exercises in a cold, windy and noisy area
  • Unless it is absolutely necessary, never travel in an extremely cold and windy area without the proper clothing. If possible, avoid those areas
  • Serious martial art players should have at least one high-quality, customized implement. The customization of your implement enables you to develop a bond with it
  • Never be the martial art player who has the best gear without the skill and the drive to practice with it


Steven Smith said...

That's a hearty list.

Before sunrise often eludes me, unless you'd count 2am before bedtime...

There are many places that own no quiet. So one must make do with personal quiet, while the sounds of cities whir and whir. I lived in Salt Lake City for some time and the deeper my quiet, the louder the world. My building radiated tinny sounds.

Some internal arts rules have never made sense to (inner rebel) avoiding harsh wind, driving sleet, and deep snow. I must wonder if those rules are intended to help keep the Prince inside the castle, safe and sound, rather than rules to help progress the people's internal arts.

So, riding on my rebellion, I've staged a number of great Taijiquan classes in cold rain and others in driving sleet, and the hot tea in my living room was always a just dessert for practitioners dedicated enough to soften and relax in the midst of storms.

While it's too burly (even for me) to seek such things, when they come along, they test the spirit. I'd rather not give that up.

(It's a great posting for my eyes...thus the long response. Thanks.)

Rick said...

For me, it's about finding the fit.

Right now I'm concentrating on the Wu style square form.

I stand in the wuji stance in preparation to begin the form. Sometimes I stand very briefly, and sometimes I could stand forever.

Then I practice the form. I don't think so much about being slow, I am simply not in a hurry to finish.

Then at the end, I simply stand as long as I feel like standing there. I received the instructions to "allow yourself to cook" (as you've just heated up your internal organs) and to "Feel what you feel." It seemed like good advice.

That's plenty enough for me right now.

Compass360 Consulting Group said...

>avoiding harsh wind, driving sleet, and deep snow.
> So, riding on my rebellion, I've staged a number of great Taijiquan classes in cold rain and others in driving sleet, and the hot tea in my living room was always a just dessert for practitioners dedicated enough to soften and relax in the midst of storms.

Some parts of the list came from Taiji players who are TCM specialists and western medicine doctors. Their experience is that the people who do that consistently without any regard to the extremity of the weather and terrain, will falter health- wise. The key is knowing when to do it and when to exit before the weather gets extreme.

My TCM medical friends love patients who think that they can play and prevail the extreme game with the elements.

It doubles their daily pay check. It also help the investment of various biotech/health science funds. (Hint. Hint. Hint)

Unless you are equipped properly, shape the body (shen) and have good qi and shen (through the proper practice of IMA principles), I do not recommend the consistence of practicing under the elements. At the end, nature wins.