Opening and closing the gates

I haven’t written much about the yiquan lately, but I’m still going. In recent lessons, I’ve been concentrating on the kua a great deal.

Master Yao has called me out a few times in the tui shou practice for relying on strength too much, as opposed to technique – and he’s right, of course.

I’m doing quite well in terms of using core muscle strength rather than arms and shoulder – though even there, a stiffness is creeping back in, as I haven’t been doing sufficient solo zhan zhuang practice recently. This isn’t enough: I’m pretty good at sensing my opponent’s force, but not fast or powerful enough to properly use technique to uproot them. I also tend to be too passive, not attacking often enough when a gap opens up in my opponent’s posture.

Speed will have to come through more practice, for which I need to start attending the large-group classes – which is where tui shou is practiced more.

In terms of power – as opposed to strength – I’ve been improving a lot at using my kua as the gates that instigate movement in the whole body. It took me a long time to get the muscle movement right, so that the kua could open and close without straining my knees, but I think I’ve got more or less got it now. In the testing-force exercises and mo ca bu stepping it seems to be effective at getting more power into my moves, but I’m not succeeding in using this in tui shou. Well, as always, more practice is needed…

After class last Saturday, I cycled down to Zhongshan Park again, where I took these pictures. I worked on my ZMQ-37 and taiji xuanxuan dao forms; I’m slowly making progress with the latter! I concentrated on the kua again in these forms and it seemed to help. I attracted the attention of a very short and very sweet Chinese lady, who came over to watch for a while. She wanted to know all about me, and how long I’d been studying taiji. She said she was in her fifties and had been studying taiji for a few years; she found it very good for her health. She was studying the jian, and hadn’t seen a dao form before. Quite rightly, she told me off for forgetting it!

A friend sent me a link to a bagua school I hadn’t heard of before: Small Steps Neijia. They have some clips on YouTube, and I thought it might be worth checking them out as the integrated qigong is relatively unusual and the lineage is uncommon. I called the contact, a Serbian woman, but she turned out to be in Europe – with call-forwarding on, so I reached her but it was 5am there. Ooops!

More on the tuina soon.

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