Thursday, December 01, 2005

Temple Style: A Tai Chi System Beyond The Form - Part 1

Published In Inside Kung Fu Magazine - April 1989

by Gary J. Clyman

The purpose of the article is "say more," to break the silence of tradition and "create hope" for the next generation of practitioners of the dying art of Tai Chi Ch'uan. What do I mean when I say for the "next generation?" Everyone knows Tai Chi is on the upswing, but what few realize is that with each new generation comes a further deterioration of details, essence, and the treasures the art previously possessed.

The original reason for organizing this information was to help improve a new student's Tai Chi practice. My friend had been in Tai Chi for nearly 14 years when he approached me for instruction. I accepted him as a private student/friend. His advanced level of Tai Chi compelled me to organize and prepare a curriculum of instruction for near-master level students.

This article represents that instructional organization. I have broken my system, Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan, into various categories and subsets with the intention that this material will enable you, regardless of your martial art persuasion, to improve and interpret your own system more fully.

Everyone assumes "length of time equals expertise," but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, time in the art is a factor, but there are other equally important factors.

These questions are important for understanding where you stand in relationship to your own art. Did your teacher know what he was doing? Did you understand what you were taught? What percentage of "the teaJings" did you comprehend and retain? Did you "practice" or just "run through" your material as a student? Did your teacher "care about you" when you were learning? Was your teacher trying to reproduce himself? Is your system "real," and yes, how many years have you been in the art? You might not be able to find the answers to all these questions, but you must look.

The answers to these questions will have an important influence on your level of achievement, now and in the future.


FIVE CATEGORIES OF TRAINING:

Each subset will fall under one primary grouping, listed first, and may also be a member of secondary groups.

THE MIND/BODY RELATIONSHIP - Concentrates on what the mind is doing. The body is secondary.

THE BODY/MIND RELATIONSHIP - Concentrates on what the body is doing. The mind is secondary.

ENDURANCE TRAINING - Very physically grueling, highly repetitious, simple and practical.

STRUCTURE TRAINING - Most forms practice with more gross or general details.

CORRECTIVE RESILIENCE TRAINING - Concentrates on more specific details using high repetitions, but not as grueling as Endurance Training, (i.e., proper positioning of the pelvis, pulling the support knee out, slightly bowing the spine, etc.)

SUBSETS AND SPECIALIZED PRACTICES

LOW-STANCE TRAINING - This particular practice is very important not in the beginning so much, but after a student has been in Tai Chi for over a year. There are specific forms that are more appropriate for Low-Stance Training, but in my opinion, the most valuable is practicing First Section by itself repeatedly.
Long-term implications: Low-Stance Training develops enormous strength in the lower body and is a primary component of Endurance Training. When you practice Low Stance, you will lose some of your details. That's okay: you give and take. You give up the details but you get added strength. A problem that many students have is they think they are supposed to practice correctly all the time. That's not important at this stage of your training. Low-Stance Training falls primarily into Endurance Training, but is also in The Body/Mind Relationship.

TAI CHI CONNECTIVE MEDITATIONS - These meditations incorporate condensing breathing into your ward off, roll back, press and push. Practicing these specific Tai Chi meditations is the first link to The Mind/Body Relationship. When practicing Tai Chi Connective Meditations, you will learn to focus with your mind sequentially on three or four specific areas in a row. Theses meditations are unique because they are halfway between doing forms and standing meditation. These are the most basic meditations in the system. Long-term implications: Great changes for the better will show up in your form after even a short period of practicing Tai Chi Connective Meditations. These Tai Chi Connective Meditations are prerequisites for Nei kung, which will be explained later. Tai Chi Connective Meditations falls into the categories of The Mind/Body Relationship and EnduranceTraining.

TWO PERSON PRACTICE

These develop sensitivity to your partner. These act as the measuring devices to your Tai Chi progress. This is not competition like fighting, but can be used as a way of gauging how you compare to others. Long-term implications: Practicing these give your Tai Chi life and develop your communication and fighting skills. Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan is structured so you learn various Two Person Practices. This falls into the categories of Structure Training, Endurance Training and Corrective Resilience Training; they are not the same. In Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan, Two Person Practices start early in the system. Completing The Long Form or even First Section is not necessary or a prerequisite for learning the Two Person Practices. The Foundation Fundamentals have to be practiced and absorbed, but that only takes about 5 to 7 months.

CONDENSING BREATHING This teaches you how to convert coal into diamonds. This is the single most important factor related to improving your Tai Chi. As far as I know, Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan is the only system that contains this practice. Learning Condensing Breathing by itself without learning the rest of the system will enormously help your Tai Chi. Condensing Breathing is one of the first things I teach in The Personal Power Trainingx and on my Tidal Wavex Chi Kung video program. Long-term implications: This will always be practiced and should be treated as a single unit. Even after 20 years, Condensing Breathing still remains an important piece of my daily practice. Condensing Breathing falls into the categories of The Mind/Body Relationship, Endurance Training and Structure Training (See IKF Magazine April 87 article #1 for detailed instruction in Condensing Breathing).


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS TRAINING

I created this out of the need for students to learn how to use Tai Chi fighting applications. This is all practical. Some might say it looks like street fighting. I teach Close Encounters Trainingx in my Tai Chi fighting workshops and on video. Long-term implications: This improves and leads to good fighting skills. Smoothness in changes, timing and practicality are obtained through practicing Close Encounters Trainingx. This falls into the category of The Body/Mind Relationship, The Mind/Body Relationship and Endurance Training.

GOLD BELL TRAINING

This is often talked about but rarely taught by anybody in Tai Chi. Gold Bell Training develops the ability to take a punch, diffuse the energy, and bounce the punch off without being hurt. This is very simple but you need good Condensing Breathing, great timing, courage and the desire to learn. It is not dangerous - it tends to be on the rough side because it is accelerated. It starts off relatively gentle and progresses to full contact over a period of time.

Long-term implications: Gold Bell Training is the practice of repulsing incoming forces or attacks. Practicing Gold Bell Training helps prevent injuries while practicing or fighting. In the order of preference when fighting and being hit are: 1) deflect, not block; 2) neutralize or evade; and 3) absorb or repulse. You do not want to use your Gold Bell Training unless it is absolutely necessary. Gold Bell Training falls into the categories of Endurance Training and The Mind/Body Relationship.


FAH JING TRAINING

Fah Jing Training is where you release your condensing, contracting and sucking meditation practices. Fah Jing Training can be practiced by practicing in any individual Tai Chi forms, such as ward off, roll back, press, push, elbow, shoulder, roll pull, and split. Each Fah Jing Training practice is done differently. These lead to improved fighting skills, but are reliant on your Condensing Breathing ability. There is no Fah Jing Training without first learning how to suck, draw in, condense, and store your internal energy. Long-term implications: Learning Fah Jing Training will give you a technical release of energy in your forms and applications. This falls into The Mind/Body Relationship and Endurance Training categories.

5 STYLE STEPS, ATTACHING STEPS AND CHANGE DOOR PRACTICE

This is very specific Tai Chi footwork and can be performed on top of five patio stones. Long-term implications: This practice will give you versatility in spacing, the ability to match your opponent, and the ability to create false openings for your opponent to fall into. Categories: Endurance Training, The Body/Mind Relationship and Structure Training.

INDIVIDUAL FORMS PRACTICE

Most Tai Chi classes are not systems and only teach "The Long Form." In Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan, each student first learns individual pieces, which later will be constructed into sequences. This characteristic makes Style Tai Chi Ch'uan unique and better than most other Tai Chi systems. Long-term implications: This is the basis of your Tai Chi practice. Categories: Individual Forms Practice fall into Structure Training, Corrective Resilience Training and The Body/Mind Relationship.

FOUNDATION FUNDAMENTALS

This is the first five to seven months of basic training. This is where you develop your various stances, preliminary movements and structure. The rest of the Tai Chi forms are built on this material. Work hard here, it will pay off forever. Long-term implications: At a certain point these basics do not have to be practiced because they are contained in all the material that follows, but that is only if you have worked hard through this stage. Categories: Structure Training, Corrective Resilience Training and The Body/Mind Relationship.

FIRST SECTION ONLY

This is learned after you have gone through and allowed your body to absorb each movement in First Section. When you learn First Section, if you have practiced correctly, you can almost be talked through it without losing the details. Long-term implications: First Section will always be practiced as a single unit with different flavors and attitudes. Categories: Structure Training, The Body/Mind Relationship, Corrective Resilience Training and Endurance Training.

FIRST SECTION REPETITION

This is an important piece in your Tai Chi big picture. While practicing First Section in repetition, you can train many different ways. You can concentrate on continuity, you can concentrate on details, you can concentrate on lengthening and lowering you stance and you can also track your concentration abilities. First Section will remain important throughout your entire Tai Chi career. First Section Repetition falls into many categories, primarily Endurance Training and all the others because of the versatility that can be applied to practicing it separately. Long-term implications: First Section is possibly the most versatile tool in your Tai Chi arsenal. It can be used for anything.

THE LONG FORM

People who say "all things come from just practicing The Long Form" are either dreamers or liars. Most teachers don't know much else besides The Long Form, but when you have a greater overview and perspective of Tai Chi, The Long Form is simply one single tool, one thing, but all most other Tai Chi teachers have is the form and nothing beyond the form. To become a master or to become a professional, you have got to learn from a professional. You have to know more than just The Long Form.
In Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan, The Long Form is merely a beginning phase of your Tai Chi practice and does not represent a majority or even a large piece. In Temple Style there are three sections, as is other Yang styles. Long-term implications: For the first ten years, the framework of your Tai Chi will be based around your practice of The Long Form. At more advanced levels, The Long Form is a minor category, but what's very important to understand is at no time are any of these steps to be skipped, neglected, under practiced or disregarded. Category: Like First Section, The Long Form has many uses.


CHI IN VOICE AND ACTION

This is important in advanced training. This practice helps each cell in your body communicate and transmit to every other cell, very similar to Condensing Breathing. However, Chi In Voice And Action is more advanced than Condensing Breathing, not more important.

Chi In Voice And Action trains your body and is a precursor to Gold Bell Training. This practice teaches you how to take your voice and effect energy. Coordination is developed in the mind. This practice relates to Gold Bell Training as a solo exercise prior to being stimulated or punched by a practice partner. Long-term implications: This practice brings your spirit up to the surface and contributes to your physical presence, awareness and helps develop your "speed of the mind" for advanced Tai Chi practice. Categories: Chi In Voice And Action falls primarily into The Mind/Body Relationship category. It's not hard to do; it's just specific.


FLOATING AND SINKING

The practice of Floating And Sinking is done in basic Tai Chi postures. You train your mind to accelerate up or down, at a very high velocity, but you move very little. This practice is tied into Still Power. It's sort of the Condensing Breathing of the body as opposed to stillness. This is a single direction meditation acceleration practice. This will improve you Pushing Hands and all other Two Person Practices including fighting. Long-term implications: This is an advanced practice but applies everywhere. Categories: Floating And Sinking falls into the category of The Mind/ Body Relationship.

ROLLING HANDS PARTS/INDIVIDUAL FORMS PRACTICE WITH MEDITATIONS AND APPLICATIONS INCLUDING TWO PERSON PRACTICE

This is the single most important part of the advanced Tai Chi Two Person Practice. Learning this material will immediately improve your fighting skills and these individual forms are the reasons for you to excel in Two Person Practice. Very few people know this material.

Long-term implications: You will always be practicing this subset as a single, self-contained unit. First you learn the forms in this part, then you learn the Two Person Practice forms. Last comes the meditations. Categories: Rolling Hands Parts falls into the primary category of The Body/Mind Relationship at the first level of details. At a more advanced stage when the physical forms are perfected, the category changes to Endurance Training and The Mind/Body Relationship. This subset is really cool. The importance of this subset cannot be overemphasized.


HIGH REPS/LOW VARIATIONS TRAINING

Many practices fall into this category, including change door, individual martial art forms, and almost unconscious forms practice. High Reps/Low Variations Training is used to develop instinct and precision in your Tai Chi applications. My favorite forms for this practice are: fist under elbow, long and short hand, fan through back, turn and chop opponent with fist, and fire flame hand. These forms are done while performing change door or 5 style steps. Long-term implications: Fighting skills, sensitivity, improved natural human response and reliability are developed through this practice. Category: Usually this kind of practice is an equal mix among Endurance Training, The Body/Mind Relationship and Corrective Resilience Training.

CHI KUNG

There are too many Chi Kung techniques. What is important to understand here is that the positions and/or movements the body appears to be using are not important. What is important here is what the mind is doing. Do not forget this.

There are four basic categories into which each individual chi king technique falls. Many techniques do indeed fall into multiple categories, but all are clearly members of one primary type. I have put this section at the end, so you can more fully understand this article.

The following is a list and explanation of the four basic categories in the Chi Kung system I teach. These are my classifications:


* THE CONDENSING PRINCIPLE

- This is the single most important ingredient and the first principle to understand. Condensing Breathing is the source of all the energy cultivation exercises. Without practicing this, there will be no "alchemical agent" or "essence" to be circulated. Practicing Condensing Breathing is a meditation that will cause consolidation on all levels. This practice can and will aid in the transformation of one's constitutional properties.

* TORSO CIRCULATION

- The Micro Cosmic Orbit or The 10 Point Cycle: This principle is used in regard to chi circulations limited only to the torso.

* MACRO COSMIC CIRCULATION

- This combines the whole body as a single unit. Each body part is in communication with each other body part. This term is used when relating the extremities to the torso as a single unit with intimate communication.

a. Mother Meditation
b. The Macro Cosmic Orbit
c. The Tai Chi Connective Meditations

* PROJECTING/IMPREGNATING THE UNIVERSE

- Using this is sending your spirit out into the world. Practicing the following exercises in the prescribed order will produce immediate profound results. These practices are distinctly different from other affirmations and visualizations in that they are performed after practicing Condensing Breathing. They are linked to your body and will manifest in a very real, physical, and obvious way.

NEI KUNG

It is rare to find anybody who knows anything about this practice. Nei Kung is clearly different than Chi Kung in that it speeds up the frequency of the mind faster than the body can possibly move. It is as if it changes your metabolism and the speed at which you think. Nei Kung creates excitement in all your practices. When you learn Nei Kung, your Tai Chi will never be the same again. Results will show up immediately.

Nei Kung is like doing the form with your mind and body struggling to keep up. This is an advanced practice and should be learned only after you are very experienced. This will keep improving year after year and will never get boring. Long-term implications: Nei Kung can be used as a self contained system; it does not rely on forms. Nei Kung can be added to other kung-fu systems and will automatically improve your martial art skills. Categories: It falls equally into The Mind/Body Relationship and Endurance Training.

To order videos: FOUNDATION FUNDAMENTALS - Temple Style Tai Chi Ch'uan and/or TIDAL WAVE CHI KUNG by credit card, use the order form on my home page or call my 24 Hour Voice Mail Energy Hot Line at (800) 7 TAI-CHI = (800) 782-4244 and I will call you back to confirm your order information.

c 1989 Gary J. Clyman

1 Comments:

Blogger Erik Mann said...

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12:58 PM  

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