"Tom Cannon and John Zietlow (City of Lakes Tai Chi) perform 2 person Yang style Tai Chi sword form as developed by Sam Masich. Performance as part of Chinese New Year Celebration at St. Paul Student Center."
Saturday we traveled to train with our Tai Chi Chuan instructor Michael Gilman in Port Townsend. On the agenda this time was to begin learning the above two-person sword form. The form was created by Sam Masich, a great instructor we had met in the past.
Like the two-person San Shou fighting form, this one will be tricky to learn. Lots of subtleties and a blade involved. Most of the students were using wooden training swords, but I did get my hair parted by the metal sword of one student.
Got to be careful...
The method of learning is first doing a few moves on the "A" side, then a few on "B". Finally you partner up and combine the two, and progress from there.
If you watch the video above, they start out slow and then reverse rolls and do the form again fast. These partner forms are said to demonstrate the highest levels of Tai Chi Chuan as an art.
Nobody fights with swords anymore.
That's why we consider this training "Art". It's about self-cultivation and stretching your mind to perform in unison with a partner. In learning a form like this, you actually learn two solo forms and put them together.
Before beginning this, I reflected on the over thirty years I have been cramming martial arts forms into my head. Learning a new, complex form is a daunting task.
In Tae Kwon Do I probably learned about twenty forms and twice that number of one-step fighting techniques (Kibone).
When I started Kenpo Karate, I had to toss out the TKD forms and replace them with the same number of Kenpo forms.
Then I moved into the Chinese Internal arts of Taiji, Bagua and Xingyi.
Yup, I tossed out all the Kenpo forms to learn the Chinese arts.
So why go through this?
Well, times change. Our bodies change. Hard-style martial arts are very stressful on the body and injuries occur. I know I caused some hip damage in Tae Kwon Do with extreme kicking techniques. Very bad as you get older.
But also, various friends of mine that used to practice with us have dropped out now. They hit a plateau and never found something of interest to pursue in martial arts.
For me, it's like playing music; there's always another song or chord riff to learn.
So here we go, down another rabbit-hole in the quest for a higher level of martial skill and knowledge. I know some of you are also on the same path.