Monday, May 4, 2009

Tai Chi Chuan Training - Yang Applications And Sword Form

Two-Person Yang-Style Sabre Form

Ah, yes. We had another great training session with our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman this weekend. The studio was packed with a good turnout of Michael's local students, My fellow Dojo Rat Corey and I, and Terry and Alex from Dojo Rat Southern Division (Ok, Seattle).
Michael started us on "Chan Su Jin" which is a study of spiral energy. This is something he had introduced before, but is complex to internalize and will require some personal work.

To do this, we started by tracing the Taiji symbol as above with our palms, first vertically then horizontally in front of our body. This was followed by tracing the same patterns (right and left mirror images of the symbol above)with just our internal organs. Outwardly still but inwardly moving our guts around, shifting the Dantien. Finally, and most difficult was doing this as we were walking in a large group circle, tracing the yin-yang symbol with our palms (one direction, then reverse image) in unison with our footsteps. Not as easy as it seems.
With regard to stepping, Michael talked to us about "5-4", which refers to having all five dantiens lined up on the lead foot (lifting the rear foot heal and shifting to ball of foot) before taking the next step.
These drills seem may esoteric, but work directly into proper rooting in applications of push hands etc. These are the golden hints that make Tai Chi Chuan work correctly.
We also worked on the energy of split, or lieh, which I am working out ideas for a video on. And of course, some of us had a lively few minutes of push hands also.
As a little suprise to us, Terry had asked Michael to introduce us to the two-person Sabre form, which Terry had been working on from Michael's instructional DVD.
I had seen Michael demonstrate the form before, but this is the first time we have tried to learn it. Terry actually did very well, as he had been studying the form for several weeks. We all had a blast (weapons are fun!) and I think we will be spending a few minutes on this form every seminar we go to for a while.
Stay tuned for some ideas on "Split", coming up...

Here's the link to Michael Gilman, at "The Gilman Studio".
And here is a link to Michael's YouTube Page


RealTaiji said...

Thanks a great clip.

Wim Demeere said...

Looking forward to "split". Keep it coming !


JoseFreitas said...

Man, that was great!

When I see this clip, and when I see the ton of things your teacher put in his channel and website (I just went and looked at a lot of his movies) I am reminded of two things:

One, how much fun it is to just practice this stuff! Who cares about self-defense or fighting or whatever, we should just enjoy these exercises for all the fun they are. Not to mention they're pretty cool! I loved the Saber videos, and the form and apps look like they're a lot of fun to do and to practice in a class. Plus, it's the sort of thing you can teach to ANYONE regardless of their involvement with the fighting. Even little old ladies can practice this type of exercises and benefit from them, you don't have to go all out and pretend you're going to be this mega-killing-machine-with-a-saber-on-steroids!

Secondly, it's always a good surprise to find guys like your teacher, out there in the really back of the woods places, thinking for themselves, bringing their own contributions and understanding to the art. It means that Taiji is alive and well, and will survive as an interesting, viable practice for a long time when people are devoting their time and creativity to understand it and to make up new ways of training and of making the art relevant to us.

Finally, I'd be wary of explaining too much about "split", Wim who is a big, blonde, beer guzzling Belgian crazy, is simply looking to steal stuff from you! Their Wu style Taiji non-sense is sorely lacking and they copy and steal to make it at least acceptable (big joke! no offense meant!).


(Hi Wim!)

Wim Demeere said...

Lol! Should have figured the Portuguese commie bastard would stir the pot... :

But truthfully, us Neanderthal tai chi practitioners can't steal anything. We're too dumb and clumsy to make anything other than our own miserable crap work. Besides, all that Yang stuff is way too complicated for a blond idiot like me... :-)

(Hi Jose!)

Dojo Rat said...


You guys crack me up...
Jose; You are right about Michael teaching the sword form to all ages and skill - he told us that when he teaches a special kids class sometimes, he hands out the wooden practice swords to really get their intrest, and they learn this form in about an hour.
I like what you said about Michaels type of learning and teaching is helping Taiji grow, and I believe that is correct. He draws on both past masters and fresh inspiration, and is a wonderful teacher.

Wim; someday we shall drink a few beers!

Sean C. Ledig said...

Great clip. I've wanted to learn more about the Yang sabre.

This form is almost identical to a two-man tai chi straight sword set. The target areas and the sequence are exactly the same. The only difference is the moves are adapted for the sabre instead of the sword.

I'll have to practice this one, now.

Wim Demeere said...

Beer is always good! :-)


Jamey02 said...


Nice post. Tai chi is a combination of movement of yoga and meditation that is practiced in the west nowadays. A sequence of movements consist a number of sets or forms. Tai chi movement is performed in slow, graceful and smooth transitions between each movement.