Sunday, April 8, 2007
South Bronx Bagua
Here's another video from the brothers over at "Black Taoist" and their student Lance "Hispanic Palm" from an apartment deep in the South Bronx.
While these guys may at times lack polished perfection, they more than make up for it in street practicality. The internal arts are often esoteric, with instructors coaxing students into "feeling the attacker's energy" and such. What it often boils down to is, in western terms, "muscle memory".
As I've suggested before, I am dissapointed with students (and their instructors) that are competent at doing their forms but have no clue how to apply those skills demonstrated in the forms. One high level Tai Chi instructor I know has told myself and other students that; (A)"just do it for many years and you will understand it, and (B) you have to be Chinese to understand it". Another told me "There is no application, it's all circles".
Screw that. I realize that the western mind has an overuse of mechanistic analysis, but that's how we "Get'er done". When a student sees application for an obscure technique in a form it re-wires that same technique through the brain in a seperate path to the same end goal. When the end goal is viewed in different ways we all have a deeper understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.
With that in mind, aside from my regular Monday-Wednesday workouts with the Dojo Rats, I've been teaching a beginning Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan class on Thursday nights for over a year now. Several of the students (of which there are usually six to eight) have had previous but limited Tai Chi practice. The rest are middle aged adults with no training. The group is diverse and new people drop in all the time, so I have to balence the training so nobody feels left behind. Most of the group has a good handle on the long form now, and as things have progressed I have brought the partner training up to 50% of class time now. For instance, I've been starting each class with the long form, for the calming meditative qualities. Then we go into form correction and problems people are having. The last half of class is push hands. Now they are familiar with the basic rooting and yielding drills and have moved on to the Yang-style push hands pattern. Like a lightbulb going off in their heads, they now see how ward-off,push, press, rollback, rooting and yielding from the form really work.
Last class I took it further and demonstrated some joint-locking techniques that can be integrated with push hands training, but they're not quite ready for it yet.
The point is, they now have a much better understanding of their form since they have viewed applications, which gives them incentive to go further.
That's why I love the guys at Black Taoist; they try to get down to what will work on the street...