Last Saturday in Moline, Illinois, I conducted a four-hour workshop on the Chen Tai Chi Straight Sword Form. The form has 49 movements, so it was a challenge to teach each movement and include quality information about body mechanics and the applications for the movements. But with a hard-working group, we did it.
The sword form is a great Taiji form -- smooth and powerful, it can be done slowly or fast with fa-jing. Always, the internal body mechanics should be present:
- Establishing and maintaining the ground path
- Maintaining peng at all times
- Using whole-body movement
- Silk-Reeling energy
- Opening/closing the kua properly
- Dan T'ien rotation
The "intent" of each movement in a Tai Chi form is its fighting application and how you are using the body mechanics against an opponent. By utilizing the body mechanics listed above, you make the sword an extension of the body and you are able to use proper movement. In an abstract way, you could say you are "extending chi" through the sword, as long as you understand that there really isn't some mystical energy flowing out of your hands and across 4 feet of steel.
We videotaped the workshop and individual video lessons will be showing up this weekend on the online school. In a few weeks, it will become a DVD (and will be listed on the right side of this page with other DVDs).
One of the most satisfying things about doing a workshop like this is working with people from other styles of martial arts. Attendees had studied karate, Shaolin, and even some Filipino arts. The body mechanics of the internal arts were foreign, and it was fun seeing some of their reactions as it dawned on them. Most people don't understand internal body mechanics, even if they've studied arts such as Yang style Tai Chi. Seeing the light bulb turn on above their heads, and their eyes light up as they suddenly connect physically with concepts they've only heard about is satisfying as a teacher.
We had to rush just a bit to finish all the movements in four hours -- and there was a lot of sweating, groaning, and effort. It was an outstanding workout with an outstanding form.