Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 268
Adapt form to environment
An important lesson I learned in my Tai Chi practice is to adapt my form to the environment. I learned not to get stuck doing moves in places that might cause structural problems to the body just because it is part of the form as learned. An example.
There is a person who is doing very well with her studies. She attended all the classes at the Studio and came to the park most Saturdays, but since we have moved full time to the park, she hasn’t been coming. I contacted her and she shared with me that she is giving up the park practice because she stressed a knee in the park and was going to wait to attend classes when we get back to a solid, smooth surface of an indoor space. There are other students, mostly older, who don’t come to the park for the same sorts of reasons. I decided to make some changes to encourage them to come.
Through the years, I have made many changes to the form, but not to the philosophy or principles. I refined the applications which slightly affected the structure of the form. So this morning I once again made the form simpler and adapted to the less than level and smooth grass of the park.
There are two moves that are especially difficult for everyone on a less than ideal surface – the Long Form moves #54 (Turn Around and Right Foot Kick with Heel), and #104 (Turn Around and Kick Horizontally). The spin around is always tricky but especially on wet grass. So I decided to leave out the turn around and just use a step to the left side and kick. I had already eliminated that turn around in the short form. It was fun this morning to have the group excited and involved in figuring out how to make an application that explained the step instead of the spin. It was a positive learning experience for all involved.
Note: A list of the names was sent out in Tip # 266 and also it is on my web site under Tips.
#54 is a side thrust kick with the sole of the right foot, meaning that the body faces almost a right angle to the target. #104 is a horizontal kick using the side of the right foot.
In #54, the kicker faces the right shoulder towards the opponent, joining right wrist with the opponent. He then lifts the right leg and kicks with the right foot, aiming primarily towards the opponent’s knee. The toes face upward.
In #104, the kicker is faces slightly to the left of the opponent, joins the right hand with the partner’s hand, pulls somewhat to the left to make the opponent put more weight on the forward foot, and swings the right leg around on the horizontal plane, also aiming for the knee. When I was younger, I could kick the opponent’s head, but older folks can’t usually do this so lower kicks are fine. Higher kicks are easier to block, but fun to practice if you can.
Note: Don’t speed up the kicks. Do them in the same slow and steady rhythm. Also, next week we will look more closely at kicks, the various types and where they occur. Stay tuned. I recommend you go to my web site and check out the article on Footwork: then click on Articles, then scroll down to Comprehensive Guide to Yang Style Footwork.