A really great exercise
Now that we have explored the Thirteen Methods (Shi San Shi), it is time to start to put the practical philosophy into practice. I highly recommend giving this exercise a try.
The idea is to go through the Long Form (or whatever form you know) and examine each movement for one of the Bafa (Eight Energies). In class this week, we started out by looking for when Jou (Elbow) is, or can be, used. Remember the application sequence – outreach and connect, neutralize, control, and attack. All moves contain this sequence. What the students discovered is that more than one energy can be used in one movement, and the energies are determined by the distance between the partners at a given time. For instance, the application and energy expressed for the second move – Ward Off Left, is determined by the distance between the players. Toe to toe, I use a striking (Peng) energy, using the back of my left forearm. Closer, I would use Jou with left elbow. Stepping behind, I would use Kao with left shoulder. When doing the solo form, I can play with any of these energies, being sure I know which energy I am using.
Jou is a middle distance energy and therefore it can’t be used in the early stages of the movement, before stepping in. Not until you have stepped your foot so your knee will end up next to partner’s knee will the elbow be effective. As we went through the moves, students would call out whenever they thought Jou would be able to be used, not that it always was, but that it could be. As it turned out Jou was often expressed in the middle of a sequence. For instance, in the Stork Spreads It’s Wings that follows Raise Hands in the Short Form and also following Raise Hands in the second section of the Long Form.
The partner attacks your center with his left hand with his right foot forward. You outreach neutralizing down and in towards your left side with your right palm. As you do this, you step in the proper distance with your right foot. You then change hands so you are controlling him with your left hand, and attack under his left arm with your right elbow. This is followed with a slap backwards to his head with your right hand.
It didn’t take too long for the students to get in the mood and were deeply involved with looking closely at each part of each move. As it turned out there weren’t that many times elbow was the featured player, but quite a few times where it could be with a little adaption. It took around 30 minutes to go through the Long Form like this. Given we had more time left, we then went through the form again, looking for Kao (Shoulder Strike). It was a very informative session. I highly recommend it.
First Saturday Workshop – June 1, 1 to 4 PM Push Hands
All classes continue through June, except John’s Friday Senior Short Form switches to Wednesday 10:15-11:15.