…you’ll never improve.”
This past week, we did a demonstration for Mei-Ling and her family members who were visiting the Center. I chose Taijiquan because I really enjoy training it and performing it in front of an audience makes me uncomfortable.
If there is something that makes me uncomfortable, I’ll usually do it as long as it’s relatively safe and builds a skill I want to have.
This is especially important for Taijiquan because I should be as soft and relaxed as possible and performing can bring me to the opposite state. I have to be physically soft and mentally centered not just for performances, but also if I’m ever in a situation where I have to use it.
I performed Shuang Jian (Double Short Rods) first and after 2 sequences, I was up again. (I planned the order so I’m not complaining. I guess I wanted it to be more challenging.) My body had to go from a very Yang state to a calm Yin state, which didn’t really happen. That’s okay, I would’ve been nervous and tense no matter what. At least my hands weren’t shaking as badly as during previous tests.
- Too tense/stiff
- Not enough Fa Jing (發勁) – strikes don’t extend or pull back enough or in a straight line (thus reducing whatever little soft and soft-hard power I could have generated)
- Not enough Hua Jing (化勁)
- Not enough Yi (意)
- Not enough root
- Alignment is off
- Not enough power generation using the entire body (ground to feet, legs, waist turn, spine and chest bows, arms, hands)
- Need to have postures checked for accuracy
It was my first demo with Fa Jing and at a slightly-faster-than-slow speed. It was pretty much a blur and there are many other corrections if I want to think about them.
Dr. Yang later said I “improved by not a small amount.” I hope he never says, “It’s good.” From a story he told us, if a teacher says that to you, it means don’t intend to teach you. From my experience as a Chinese-American, the best compliment you can hope for is, “It’s improved” or “Not bad.” The phrasing is very specific and reflects the sometimes humble culture. If I hear anything more positive than that, I usually innately shut it out.
Dr. Yang’s correction (which he’s said before and will continue to say forever):
- My Fa Jing isn’t crisp. I need to pull back more to get that soft penetrating power.
He could have mentioned all the other corrections, but I’ll take that as the most important one to work on for now.
I thanked him and acknowledged that I have ways to go. That’s when he smiled and said, “Good. If you can’t recognize your faults, you’ll never improve.”
White Crane Taijiquan
I am aware that our style of Taijiquan is mixed with our White Crane training and looks different from other practitioners’ forms. Why?
“Once in motion, every part of the body is light and agile and must be threaded together.” – Taijiquan Classic by Zhang, San-Feng (張三丰)
Dr. Yang’s interpretation: “The body should be a coherent whole, with all of its parts connected and unified by the energy (Qi) moving within them, like ancient Chinese coins connected by a string.”
In other words, use the spine wave. Without it, it’s very difficult to fully manifest Jing.
That’s his interpretation. He’s my teacher. This is my explanation and it doesn’t mean our training is the only “correct” way. I’m not here to start any arguments.
This is a snapshot of my training for all to see. Onward we go. Thanks for reading.