Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Martial Connections

Tuesday night is my Tai Chi class at the gym. Tuesday is a karate night at the dojo. Last night before I left for Tai Chi, I was popping in and out of the dojo. I was checking our computer and running the latest virus scan due to impending release of the conficker worm. This worm was first seen November 2008 but the payload is scheduled for April 1st.

In karate class, the group was sparring. The focus of the first part of class was sparring footwork. The group kept asking me to join in but I was getting ready to leave for Tai Chi. I told the group that we will work on sparring again tonight. I was about to leave and a drill caught my attention. We usually start sparring with two feet of space between opponents and each person in his or her fighting stance. The class instructor was having the students begin their exchanges in a different way. They were starting close together, two hands up on guard and connected. I can see this drill progressing to grabs and take downs from this position. I wanted to give this a try but I glanced at the clock and it was time for me to leave.

Twenty minutes later...I was at Tai Chi class. There were two new students in class. The instructor reviewed the basics and had us go through the first section of the Yang long form. It was a great class because in the first section, I can focus more on moving from the dantien which is the physical center of gravity. The class has been working on the second and third section of the form. I am happy when I can just follow along in sections two and three. At the end of class, we worked on pushing hands. I watched the instructor and the senior student push hands. As they moved, there was a moment when their body position looked similar to the karate students at the dojo. Their hands were up and connected.

After class, I talked to the Tai Chi instructor about the karate drill. (I am fortunate because the Tai Chi instructor has training in Kenpo and Tai Kwon Do. Every once in a while, he will talk about his martial arts background. I found out that a major influence in his Tai Chi was Grandmaster Jou Tsung Hwa. My instructor attended seminars held at the Tai Chi Farm in Warwick, NY.) I mentioned that I saw similarities in the body position but remarkable differences in the approach. In the karate students, the weight distribution was heavy on the back foot. The students would cut angles and execute their technique. In Tai Chi class, I saw the instructor redirect the force and sink his weight. Both approaches were effective...but different.

Very cool!!! Of course, I had to try this at home. I worked on the technique with my husband. It is nice to be able to walk up to someone and say "Can I borrow your arm?" and they know exactly what I mean.


Krista de Castella said...

It's interesting to hear you talk about moving from the dantien.

Higaonna Sensei frequently talks about the importance of this part of the body for initiating movement in karate. I recently also wrote a post on the topic. It's really interesting hearing about it's connection with other martial arts styles.

child in bloom said...

(( i updated, finally))
you'll see why it took me so long, ive been busy.

hope all is well.
im proud of e for sticking up for herself!!!<3

Michele said...

Krista: Thanks for sharing the link to your post. I think the similarties between martial arts styles are just as interesting as the differences.

CIB: Finally. :)

S.Smith said...

Michele, thanks for visiting RealTaiji today. I put you on my blogroll (thanks for having me on yours).

Regarding the article...I like your sense of how the arts tie together. And I like that moment where you're drawn to play in the new way.

I inevitably see the moment, the reflex stimulation point, where one is blindsided and attacked without provocation, as a pivotal point. Surviving that attack is where I often orientate RealTaiji.

Michele said...

Steven: Thank you for visiting my blog and including me on your blogroll. Examining similarties and differences between styles has been a useful learning tool for me.