Sunday, January 16, 2011
Form Review at the Gilman Studio
Last weekend we went to visit and train with Michael Gilman, our Tai Chi Chuan instructor. For several sessions, we have been reviewing the 2-man 88-movement San Shou fighting form. This form takes nearly all the techniques from the Yang-style long form and pairs them up like pieces in a puzzle. The form is the most complex I have learned, with 44 movements for each side - and you have to learn both sides.
Here's us doing the form when we first were learning it, about three years ago:
It's fun to look back on this video, as we attempt to smooth it out and get the moves right. I think it took us three cuts to get it without mistakes. Still, our postures and intent are lacking and we have made many improvements with time.
We always have a great time with Michael. He's a truly great instructor, a push-hands champion who has worked with other famous masters. In fact, the San Shou form was taught to him by the late Jou Tsung Hwa. The form is very rare, seldom taught, and difficult to learn. But within it are arm breaks, pressure-point strikes and takedowns. Michael has thought through this form for many years, and has tweaked it here and there with improvements and alternative methods of application. I think one of the benefits of reviewing a form that we are already familiar with is in observing Michael's teaching method. Following a good teacher's methodology also allows us to teach others better.
Now, this form will certainly not transform the average Tai Chi Chuan student into a serious fighter. What it does however, is show how the often mysterious solo form techniques work in application. There is a strong emphasis on blending and continual motion, the quintessence of good Tai Chi Chuan.
It's probably time to film a new video so we can compare our current level of training to the stumble-bum video we shot several years back.
Goofing off after class
Here's a link to Michael Gilman's website, and "The Gilman Studio" in Port Townsend, Wa.