Complement of yin and yang

Stand and Deliver

Standing postureThe first I-Liq Chuan basic exercise is stance training.  It is the first thing new students learn and a topic that more advanced students will revisit regularly.  Most of my classes even start off training stance with the rocking exercise.  Everyone from beginner to advanced student begins class with balance and stance training.  Why do we spend so much time emphasizing stance training when it's something so basic and easy?  Can't everyone stand already?  Well, yes and no.  Standing may be something that almost everyone can do without conscious effort, but not everyone stands with optimal body alignment and balance.

One Brick at a Time

"You don't try to build a wall.  You don't set out to build a wall.  You don't say 'I'm going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that's ever been built.'  You don't start there.  You say 'I'm going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be layed.'  You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall." - Will Smith


Phases of Learning

A common method of explaining the process of learning a skill is the four phases of learning:

  1. Unconscious incompetence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence

The model is a good launching point for understanding the progress to learning physical and movement based skills. 

Thoughts on Training

ThinkerKey to Success

Eighty percent of success is showing up --Woody Allen

You want to train to improve your skill level and your understanding.  What is the single most important thing you can do to succeed?  It's not train hard, devote X number of hours a week to practice, getting the best gear, or having access to the best teachers.  Before any of that other stuff matters, you have to do one crucial thing: just show up.

Horizontal Plane in Action

The horizontal plane encompasses movements primarily in the forward-back and right-left directions.  When the body is unified, movements in the horizontal plane also manifest a downward grinding force.  To understand the downward grinding, we can draw specific points from the 13 Points: suction on the dantian and sternum, tucking of the ribs, and wrapping the elbows to the ground.  Maintaining these points engages the muscles of the shoulder girdle and abdominal muscles; the end result is stabilization of the arms

Strength Training

For some strange reason, strength training is a controversial issue in many martial arts. This seems particularly true with many Chinese martial arts, and even more so with internal martial arts. There are several arguments both for the pro and con sides of the debate. Which side is right? Well, let's take a look at the reasons for being for or against strength training as part of martial arts development.

The Martial Arts Triumvirate

Martial arts really boil down to three governing essentials: offense, defense, and generating force.  The offense and defense parts tie more into what people typically imagine with martial arts training.  They include the training of movements and techniques, i.e. the blocks, strikes, locks, throws, footwork, etc.  Generating force is more related to the physical conditioning necessary for using an art, and usually includes training strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, mobility, etc.  It's difficult (if not impossible) to be martially proficient without training all three facets.

The training process

What is it that you are trying to achieve with your training?  Is it simply to accomplish a goal or to manifest an improvement?  Those are certainly valid reason to train.  Repeated practice (drilling) of movements develops neuromuscular control, improves coordination, helps develop proper movement patterns, and can improve muscle conditioning.  The movement repetition improves the body and establishes a physical foundation on which to build.  However, mere repetition doesn't in itself bring improvement.  If that were the case, all we'd have to do is just put in <

Interview with Master Sam F.S. Chin

I'm borrowing content from the Russian ILC group (obviously, since the videos are largely in Russian).  The parts where Sifu Chin is speaking are in English.  I've made a partial transcription of the English portions.  I'll fill in more of the transcription as I get more free time.


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