Training Progression

blueprintThe I-Liq Chuan system has a carefully thought out curriculum to advance the student's understanding and skill level. Having a systematized plan for transmitting the art is a boon for instructors and helpful for students to see a defined path for skill progression. Admittedly, I was initially a skeptic of a standardized curriculum for teaching a concept based art. But as I start teaching more students and deepening my own understanding, I am beginning to appreciate the wisdom of having a carefully laid out plan for skill advancement.


kaizen - noun
Continuous and incremental improvement.

Originally a Japanese term roughly meaning "change for better", kaizen has been adopted as a principle for improving manufacturing efficiency, business practices, and life in general.  The concept of kaizen is useful for approaching general improvement processe, including one's training.

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.

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