Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Words are just words...

Chenjiagou Taijiquan GB's Mary McGregor feeling the correction

During his seminar at our school recently Chen Xiaoxing said that one of his aims is to train students not to be dependant. He would demonstrate a movement and then expect everyone to train themselves. People often like to have the teacher leading them all the time. And if he is not leading then many people soon stop practicing and start to talk instead. Chen Xiaoxing's approach is that if you want to get the skill yourself then talking and just following him is not the way to do it. Don't be so quick to ask questions - "watch carefully and then practice yourself". His brother Chen Xioawang, similarly often says to "practice more and a question may not be a question any more". During one of his workshops Wang Haijun said simply - "beginners ask too many questions"! Of course sometimes we have a real question, but what we are talking about here is the learner who asks question after question, often barely pausing for breath after one question has been answered to ask the next... In The Tao of Zen Ray Grigg put it nicely when he said: "Look in mind to find mind; look in things to find things; look in words to find words. But words chase themselves in circles trying to explain things that are not words". If a teacher corrects your posture then the most appropriate thing to do is to train and try to replicate the corrections he has just made. Unlike the modern "Zumba-world" - with the ever-changing fitness classes as entertainment model; running on treadmills with tv screens and book-holders - progress in Taijiquan is built upon careful study, introspective training and perseverance. As it has always been!!!!
CTGB's Adrian Murray - after seeing then training hard!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Follow the Rules!

Got a great few weeks coming up!- Just picked up GM Chen Xiaoxing from the airport. He returns to our school to do a week-long seminar on the traditional Chen Village staples - Standing Pole/Reeling Silk, Laojia Yilu and Erlu. Then for the next few weeks we'll be accompanying him to the South of England and then to Poland, to my pals Ben Milton (Bristol School of Taijiquan) and Marek Balinski's Chen Academy in Warsaw. In both places covering these same fundamentals. One of my earlier postings highlighted Chen Xiaoxing's "village style" training and his simple advice to anyone trying to emulate the skills handed down by successive generations of Chenjiagou practitioners -  "Know the law" and then  "follow the law".

Two generations earlier his illustrious grandfather Chen Fake divided the training process into three stages:

1. Learn the basic movements correctly

2. Become proficient in practising the form ACCORDING TO THE RULES

3. Thorough familiarity WITH THE RULES and understand clearly why there are THESE RULES

It's funny how different people percieve this kind of approach to training. In the world of traditional Chen Taijiquan there really is no other way.  One of my long-time students who has trained in China and attended many seminars happily anticipated Chen Xiaoxing's basic training workshop calling it the "torture session". Others are looking for new exciting things all the time. I guess you take your pick.

Back From the USA

Just got back last week from a great visit to the West Coast of America where we did some really enjoyable sessions at two fine schools - Bill & Allison Helm's Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego (below) and  Kim Ivy's Embrace the Moon Taijiquan and Qigong School in Seattle (left). Thanks for making us feel so welcomed guys and looking forward to our next visit!!