Intensive Courses and Regular Classes

Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course 2009

"Threading" is an excellent way to deflect an powerful attack

Zhang Wuji

Sifu Zhang Wuji - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Singapore

19th October 2009

Intensive Courses and Regular Classes

I will now go on to the second session of Day 1. Like I said, the events kind of merged into one another, and Day 1 was a 8-hour session, so I may have mixed up certain sequences (yes, even my combat sequences).

We continued with our review of the basics. As Sifu said at the beginning, these are all things we already know, but he has improved his methodology and we would be approaching the familiar ground in a different fashion.

And so, we went on to the rest of the combat sequences, where Sifu emphasised the importance of complete movements. For example, students may get lazy and not move into their proper stances at each stage of the sequence. Without paying attention to this and other essential details, the foundation of one's skill would be severely undermined. I had to re-do a sequence several times, as Sifu corrected the placing of my Hand Sweep. A few of us, including myself, found ourselves resorting to hard force when dealing with very powerful attacks when the correct way is to thread away with minimal force and follow the momentum, as taught in the sequence.

Sifu next reminded me of something I first learnt in my last Special Course, that each sequence is built on the previous ones and reflect a progression in skills. I had a tendency to see some sequences as distinct from the other, when upon closer reflection, they are intimately linked. For example, Sequences 5 to 8 show all the possible ways of dealing with an out-gate and in-gate attack, in a right Bow Arrow. When asked about the relative advantages of an in-gate strike/counter versus an out-gate one, Sifu posed the question back to us for us to work out. I won't write about the discussion here because it would be more beneficial for the reader to go through the same thought and experiential process on his/her own.

He also stressed the importance of defence or safety when attacking, which has also been a recurring theme in Sifu's webpages and video clips. He then took us through two areas which were not specially highlighted in courses until the Jan 2009 intensive course — flowery hand and surprised counters. It was interesting to see many initiators fall prey to the occasional surprised counter, which underlines the importance of proper coverage or taming when initiating a strike. But the moment we were aware of our weaknesses and were prepared, the surprises became “expected" counters.

Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course 2009

What about kicks and felling?

We then went through the same sparring progression that an intensive course or a regular class participant would go through, using addition, subtraction, modification, and also “follow through”, which had hitherto only been mentioned in passing. The difference is that we went through the entire process in under an hour, which would be taught in a full day in an intensive course and over many months in regular classes. For most of the participants, the sequences are very familiar so it was not difficult to add one sequence after another and for the responder to counter.

So, some instructors heavily modified Sequences 1 - 8 with leg sweeps and more “exotic” strikes. One memorable occasion for me was being swept to the ground by one of our most accomplished fighters. I hit my head on the floor and immediately, it was like a dam had burst in my head. A blockage that had been bothering me for weeks suddenly dissolved at the sudden impact, and I had to run to the toilet to continue clearing the um, outpouring. My mind felt clearer after the rubbish was out.

At the end of the session, Sifu said that some participants may be asking, “but what about kicks and felling?” Then Sifu paused dramaticaly, and replied to his own question, “But this is only the first day!” And indeed, it was a very intensive first day, with bruises already beginning to form for some people. And off we went for dinner, which was a really cosy affair. For the first time in memory, all of us were at the same table with Sifu, in a small room reserved for us. And questions flew fast and furious throughout the dinner. I liked the one about one's last thought before death. I am not that well-versed on Buddhist teachings so I will leave my fellow participants to share some of their questions and the answers from Sifu.

Persevere in correct practice
Qigong and Shaolinquan classes in Singapore

The above discussion is reproduced from the thread “ 2009 Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course ” started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 6th October 2009.



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