Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chasing Another Dragon

Ha, ha...
To those who have written in before about this; the Dragon I am chasing does not come in the form of white powder...
It is, rather, a very difficult posture in our Xingyi system. Yesterday I trained with Jake Burroughs again in Seattle. This time we concentrated on the form and application of the Dragon and the Tiger. First, the Dragon:
As you can see above, it is an extremely low posture - much like "Snake Creeps down" in Yang Taiji. Except there is an extreme twist in the torso. The form rises up with a drilling fist, followed by a low stomping kick, returning to the mirror side low posture as you move across the room. My Xingyi brother Terry warned me about this form, saying it was a "doosey". My instructor Jake Burroughs joked (I think) that it was to weed out people who weren't dedicated to the system. This will either cure my stiffening 50-year-old knees and hips or destroy them forever. Fortunatly, there is no ballistic movement in Li Gui Chang's Xingyi, so it will train my strength, flexability and patience.
Attributes and application include Pi Chuan, metal "splitting fist", the stomping kick which is aimed at knee level, and an alternative leg-trapping take-down The energy of the Dragon is rising and falling, the form moves in a straight line.

Tiger Form

A seemingly simpler form in action, the Tiger has many structural principles that must be adhered to. It moves in a zig-zag pattern with powerful palm striking or push that has the power of the follow-step for deep penetration.
Versions of these forms have take downs, which typically entangle an opponents leg and off-balance him for "a knockdown" This is different than conventional Judo-type throws which tend to lift an opponent. As Xingyi was a battlefield art, a soldier could be facing a very large and heavily armored opponent, so tripping, sweeping and knockdowns were the preferred method of downing an opponent.
Attributes resemble a Tiger leaping on it's prey, energy is horizontal.
Now is the stage of my training in this art where Jake is working with me on entries. These are particular to internal arts systems as opposed to the Karate sparring I did for so many years. The range is closer, Kicks low, pre-clinch to closing with take downs. We spent a fair amount of time reviewing something Jake and Tim Cartmell have demonstrated in past training sessions: finding the "dead angle". For any strike, push or take down to be achieved with the minimum effort, the physics of angles must be completely understood. The hallmark of Xingyi is that it seeks the smallest entry angle to exploit the opponent's "dead angle".
-We'll revisit this theme later.

If you are in the Seattle area and are interested in studying Chinese Martial Arts, You can contact Jake Burroughs at his Three Harmonies Martial Arts website and read his Blog "The Ground Never Misses".