Monday, June 8, 2009

This Months Tai Chi Chuan In Port Townsend

Instructor Michael Gilman

It was another beautiful weekend to travel and visit our Tai Chi Chuan instructor, Michael Gilman. Port Townsend was in street-fair mode, celebrating the re-opening of a major bridge that brings in lots of Seattle visitors. There were at least three Bands playing in town, including one on a waterfront street where this picture was taken:

Several Beers Later...

This weekend's workshop focused on elbow and shoulder strikes in Tai Chi Chuan, but before that we reviewed "Chan Su Jin", or Spiral energy. In the above picture, on the back wall you see a banner with three versions of the Yin-Yang symbol. We first visualized the top symbol, attempting to move our internal organs in the direction indicated in the symbol. Then the pattern was reversed in the second symbol, and you alternate between the two in a continuous loop. For those of you who read my review of the book "The Wellspring", we know that there are more nerve endings in our gut (The enteric system) than there are in our brain. For those with digestive problems, this may cure any ailments you experiance. The Enteric system operates seperate but in conjunction with messages from the brain, and it is often called "the second brain". You know, "gut feelings".
Next, we had a training partner put hand pressure on our stomach and small of back, so when we rotated our organs in the yin/yang pattern there was a little resistance for us to feel. I was paired up with our instructor Michael Gilman, who has very strong Chi. I felt that as he pressed on me and I rotated my gut, there was a powerful energy exchange between his palms and my center or Dantien. This went on for a couple of minutes, and when he released his palms from my body there was a powerful rush, like a drug coursing through my body. It was an almost trance-like experiance.

The remainder of the class was on the use of the shoulder and elbow. Elbow strikes are somewhat obvious and need little explanation. But shoulder strikes are underestimated in my opinion. Given the correct angles and positioning, there is a tremendous amout of knock-down power with shoulder strikes. Additionally, pulling the opponents face, nose or jaw into your shoulder causes lots of damage to the opponent, while you hardly feel anything. It's like slamming the opponent into a wall. The key is to use the three harmonies of range: hand and foot; knee and elbow; and shoulder/hip. The opponent will present us with an opportunity to use a particulear weapon at a certain range; you can't pound nails with a screwdriver...

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