Sunday, March 23, 2008

Back To School With Tim Cartmell

Sun Lu Tang

Tim Cartmell was in Seattle Saturday for his continuing series of seminars on Sun-style Bagua, as well as two other sessions on Xing Yi and a clinch clinic.
I had spent the last three days traveling to Oregon and back but was able to attend the afternoon session on Bagua before racing to catch the ferry back to the islands.
This time Tim focused on the Snake and Hawk forms, both unique and powerful in their applications. And when I say powerful, remember we are talking about Tim Cartmell, author of "Effortless Combat Throws" and other books on Chinese Internal Arts. Check out Tim's bio on Wikipedia Here. Tim has an incredible ability to take these obscure forms and pull out the joint locking, grappling and takedowns hidden within them, all from an internal martial arts perspective. After a review on the fan-jang hand techniques, with one he hadn't shown us last time (snake hands) we ran through the circle-walking before heading into a study of the Snake and Hawk forms. We practiced them in a linear way at first, just to understand them before moving into applications.
As you can imagine, the snake form tends to rely on tighter coiling movements, "snaking" around an opponents guard or torso. Applications included passing under the opponents arm into a hammer-lock with choke, with alternate San-kyo type lock. Another was from both opponents in an overhook-underhook wrestling posture. The technique was to keep the overhook very tight, snake the underhook arm across the opponents chest and down to the thigh on the side you have the overhook on. The palm turns against the opponents thigh as a fulcrum as you have stepped deeply into his dead angle to pivot him down for the takedown. There were several variations of this.
The Hawk form is more extended, with a piercing palm in one portion, turning with a chopping motion and a knee lift (similar to golden rooster stands on one leg in Tai Chi). The piercing palm application led into a over-the-shoulder arm bar, which could transition into a top wristlock. This is a grappling technique we practice at our Dojo, but bringing it out of the Hawk form application was fascinating. Here's what was really cool about the next part of the Hawk form: the knee lift after the turn is not a knee strike, because you are pulling the knee back and up, not foward as in a knee strike. Instead, you press against the opponents chest with one palm while pulling on his arm with the other, forcing him back on his heels. Then, you use YOUR lead foot to scoop his unweighted leg up, catch his heel and now you have his leg pulled up and extended where you can easily sweep the other leg or use any number of techniques for a powerful takedown. This is an application I had not seen or thought of before.
As always, the seminar was generously hosted by Jake Burroughs of "Three Harmonies Chinese Martial Arts Center". For further information, here's the link for Jake's website and contact info for upcoming events.-- Now I'm off to practice what we learned and nurse a few sore muscles...

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