Perfect Morning Practice
Went to the Park this morning, as it was raining lightly and I could practice in the Gazebo. I had an idea. It was to practice all the Tai Chi forms I know, as I have been focused on the Partner and Solo Forms, and haven’t put much time into weapons lately. It is always good to review forms regularly or they go stale. I gathered all my weapons and headed to the Park.
I did some warm ups (about 10 minutes), then dove right into the weapons. I like to do weapons before I do bare hand forms, so that by the time I get to solo forms, I am full of chi and can project this chi to a greater distance. That is one of the major benefits of weapons practice – training the ability to project chi.
I started with Partner Cane (San Tsai Tuan Kun), a form I learned from Andy Dale. The form has two 11 movement sides that fit together quite nicely. It is an easy form to learn, and can be learned from a video. This form is usually done at a quick pace – about a minute per side. There is a transition so the form can be practiced as a solo form. Interestingly, this is the only weapon one can carry in public, even on a plane. Useful. (I had a dog in my neighborhood who used to charge me as I walked by. One time I took my cane on the walk, and when he charged me. I pointed my stick at him with purpose, said “No, Sidney”. He backed off and never bothered me again). I did three run throughs for a total of about 5 minutes.
I then moved to the sword. I learned the traditional Yang double edge sword (Jian) form from Master Choy, but because I didn’t practice after learning, (I spent a couple of years traveling), I lost it. I relearned it from Sam Masich – that and the Partner Sword Form. It is said that this form is best expressed by women. The sword is light, moves quickly, is used for poking and slicing, and is intricate. This 54 movement form takes between 5 to 8 minutes depending on the speed. I did two sets – total time 13 minutes.
Next was Partner Sword. 32 moves on each side. It shows the applications for the solo form. It is very instructive. There is a transition so it can be practiced as a solo form. Usually practiced at a moderate speed, except when working a partner. Takes about 5 – 7 minutes each side. Two run throughs – total 14 minutes.
I then took up my saber (Dao). This is a heavy, single edged weapon used by big people in the front lines of combat. It is a slashing tool, and uses large, sweeping movesments. The traditional Yang saber form has always been one of my favorites. It was the first weapon form Master Choy taught me. It has 39 moves and is quite vigorous. I usually practice this form quickly, and on occasion, slow and steady. This form takes between 3 to 7 minutes. Twice through for 7 minutes total.
To explain the applications of the saber form, there is a Partner Saber Form, with 9 moves a side. It is simple, quick and easy to learn. This is another form I learned from Andy Dale. I usually start out weapon work by teaching this form. The high school Tai Chi class I used to teach loved this form. Takes around a minute a side. It has a transition so it can be practiced as a solo form. Two rounds – 2 minutes total.
The final weapon form, and my current favorite, is the spear. It is a long range weapon, used by the front lines of a battle (before guns). Spears, and staff (essentially the same weapon and form but without a sharp edge at the tip), can be quite long and heavy depending on the size and strength of the practitioner. This form I learned from a video (I’m living proof it can be done). This Yang Spear Form has 63 moves and takes about 10 to 15 minutes. It uses the legs, kua, and torso, while the arms are used mostly for aiming. There are some fun partner drills to work on applications. Once through – total 13 minutes.
I then moved to the solo forms. First 34 (6 minutes), then 54 (10 minutes) and 108 (20 minutes). These can be done more quickly or more slowly. For this workout I stuck to the regular pace. Total 36 minutes.
The final form was San Shou or Partner Form or 88 Form. It has two 44 movement sides. It is known as the King of forms, because of difficulty to learn and practice with a partner. This is usually the last form a student would learn, having proved him or herself worthy of the instructor’s time and energy. It can be performed quickly with lots of Fa Jin (explosive energy), or more meditative and easy. I chose a middle ground. Total time – 15 minutes.
By the time I fiddled with getting weapons in and out of my carrying case, etc. I had a lovely two hour workout. It felt good that I remembered all the forms, and had an enlightening experience. For those of you who don’t have an instructor nearby, you can learn from a video. But before you buy one, make sure it isn’t just a reference video of someone doing the form. It has to be broken down into little pieces for the ease of learning.
I wish you success and lots of enjoyment along the way.
Greetings. Got a lot of feedback on Robins from last weeks posting. Some people were confused about how to do it. I’ve included the YouTube video where you can see exactly how.
New Tai Chi classes at the Studio in Port Townsend start week of Feb.1. Short form Senior with John Considine – Fridays 12:30 to 1:30. Long Form with Stephanie – Thursdays 5:30 – 6:30 PM. Check out the web site – www.gilmanstudio.com
for full details.
Sequim Short Form Class with Kevin Pedrey – Tuesdays 8:30 AM. Starts Feb. 6:
Blue Mountain Yoga
803 Carlsborg Rd., Suite D
Sequim, WA 98382