We had a great turnout of around 14 people at our two-day training workshop in Davenport, Iowa yesterday. It was great to see everyone and we spent about 5 hours training. We worked body mechanics, Hsing-I fist postures, a couple of Chen tai chi movements with a focus on body mechanics, and we finished shooting the next DVD on the fighting applications of the Five Fist Postures. Not pictured here is Chad Steinke.
The workshop started with standing and corrections on posture. We then took Buddha's Warrior and each person demonstrated it in front of the group and received feedback. Everyone seemed to learn by seeing other people move and seeing the corrections they received. We also worked Single Whip, focusing on whole-body movement and silk-reeling.
This workshop was intended to focus on fundamentals because when you learn the principles and you can apply them to one movement, you can then apply them to all movements. Often, we try to learn a lot of forms before we're able to move properly. The challenge in being Americans (and teaching Americans) is to get ourselves to slow down and be patient, working one form, one movement, a thousand times and trying to get the movement right. It takes so much time to develop these skills, that few of us have the patience to work hard enough in the tedious task of developing the skill. Learning the choreography is easy, but we often get deluded into thinking that just because we know a form, we're doing Tai Chi (or Hsing-I or Bagua). Without the internal body mechanics that come from years of practice, however, we're just dancing around.
One of the important basic skills you can achieve is to keep your internal strength from "breaking" as you move. Some people pick up bad habits over time. They go way too fast. Everyone needs to slow down. Also, you can tend to exaggerate movements, lift shoulders, insert little jerks and wiggles into movements that break the "chi flow", use shoulder and arm muscle and that sort of thing rather than letting the power come from the ground, through the body, using spiralling, without letting it break. This is one of the skills we worked the most in Day One of the workshop. It's one of the skills we go over in the Internal Strength DVD.
Day One focused a lot on the principles of movement. I could see improvement by the end of the day. Day Two will have a little more action. More about that in the next post.