FREE SPARRING IN TAIJIQUAN
Congratulations to all participants of the UK Summer Camp Advanced Taijiquan Course. Although the class was small, you have done very well. (You, as well as many other people, may be surprised at my use of the word “although” because most people would consider themselves lucky when a class is small as they would have more personal attention from the teacher. While this is true, classes in Shaolin Wahnam are quite different. The bigger the class, the more lively it is, and the lively atmosphere contributes much to the students' progress.)
You have achieved in four days what many Taiji practitioners may not achieve in four years, or even in ten or twenty! Understandably many people not familiar with our Shaolin Wahnam teaching would consider us boastful. That is their business and we are not going to waste time arguing with them.
Yet, it is helpful for you to know what you have achieved in four days what many others may not achieve in four, ten or twenty years — of course, not for you to be vainglorious but for you to access your stock as foundation for your future training, much of which you would have to do on your own.
How many Taiji practitioners with more than four, or ten or twenty, years of experience you know who can have achieved the following, which are fundamental (meaning very important) skills in Taijiquan?
- Enter Tao
- Generate an energy flow
- Develop internal force
- Flow with an opponent's momentum and turn it back on him
- Use Taijquan patterns for sparring
- Be relaxed and calm yet powerful and fast in combat
- Spar for more than an hour without feeling tired or out of breath — and without sustaining any injury
Yet, you have learnt and achieved all of the above in just four days! Of course your skills in the above may not be high yet. After all, you have practiced them for just four days. But even if you were not going to learn anything more from Shaolin Wahnam, by practicing daily for a year what you have learnt in this course, you would have achieved reasonably high standards of Taijiquan. If you practice daily for three years, you would achieved what past masters called “a small success”, which is actually a big success in today's standards of Taijiquan.
As mentioned at the course, if you wish, you are free to teach what you have learnt to your own students in your own (non-Wahnam) style of Taijiquan. In fact you are encouraged to do so as you will help to preserve Taijiquan as it was traditionally practiced in the past.
Some Taiji practitioners may disagree with our view. They may argue that Taijiquan uses Kick-Boxing techniques for combat, weight-lifting for force training or Taijiquan is just a gentle exercise for health. Again, that is their business.
In this respect, you may be interested to know that the attitude we adopt was actually the one adopted by past masters. In the past, if a smart Alex (not the Alex in the photo above) were to tell a master that zhan zhuang was useless and that weight-lifting was better in developing force, the master might say, “You're right, smart Alex.” Indeed, my Wing Choon master, Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, often adopted this attitude to outsiders, though he was very open to inner-chamber disciples.
The video clips below were taken at random and released without editing according to the time they were taken, i.e. the first video clip was the earliest and the last the latest. They serve the following objectives:
- Enable you to see how you sparred. You might be inspired to note that even within the short period of an hour of the free sparring practice, you could see noticeable improvement.
- Enable you to find out your own mistakes as well as those of your sparring partners so that you can work on them. For example, after avoiding an opponent's attack, you might be too slow in counter-attacking.
- Enable other Shaolin Wahnam members to benefit from your experience.
- Hopefully inspire those who have faith in genuine, traditional Taijiquan that free sparring using Taijiquan techniques and skills is not only possible but can be fun and beneficial.
As usual, there are always skeptics who say that the free sparring shown in these video clips cannot be effective in real fighting. Their skepticism is due more to their lack of exposure and understanding than to mere fault finding. As some of you are already formidable fighters before joining this course, you know how mistaken these skeptics are. They don't understand, for example, that in many cases you purposely slowed down for learning purposes, or that you deliberately held your force so as not to hurt your sparring partners. They don't understand that free sparring in a learning environment is vastly different from actual fighting in real life.
You could also have realized that although you would probably be more effective in combat now had you used your own previous (and mostly Kick-Boxing-like) ways of sparring, the Taijiquan techniques learnt at the course were superior in many ways and if you spent some time developing the skills in using these Taijiquan techniques, your combat efficiency would have attained a level that continuing with Kick-Boxing-like techniques would not approach.
In other words and as an example, applying a Taijiquan technique to strike an opponent is technically superior to striking an opponent like a Boxer does. But if you are unskilled in using the Taijiquan technique, you will find using a Boxing technique more effective because you have been used to doing so. But if you spend time developing the skills to use the Taijiquan technique, you will find it surpass the Boxing technique in many ways. The analogy I used at the course, if I remember correctly, was a car and a bicycle.
Sifu.P.S. Looking at Heather sparring in the videos, it is easy for us to forget that Healther came with a walker on the first day. She could hardly walk, and was supposed only to watch. Yet the chi flow overcame her leg problem in just one day! Well done, Heather.
|1 Sean and Heather||2 Hubert and Heather||3 Paul and Alex|
|4 Sean and Celvin||5 Hubert and Alex||6 Hubert and Alex|
|7 Hubert and Alex||8 Sean and Paul||9 Sean and Paul|
|10 Sean and Paul||11 Sean and Paul||12 Sean and Paul|
|13 Sean and Paul||14 Heather and Paul||15 Heather and Paul|
|16 Celvin and Hubert||17 Celvin and Hubert||18 Paul and Alex|
|19 Paul and Alex||20 Sean and Celvin||21 Alex and Celvin|
|22 Sean and Paul||23 Sean and Paul||24 Alex and Celvin|