Comments on the North American Practical Method Training Camp 2019

by Paul Carlson on 2019/08/06

Comments on 2019 North American Practical Method training camp

From my perspective, this year’s training camp was outstanding! I came with the thought that I had progressed a lot but after a short time I realized (as usual) I have so much to learn. I am basically a very beginner but I can see that each time I attend a function with Master Chen I can get a little better grasp of what he is teaching.

The focus of my learning since I started Practical Method is learning and improving the foundations and also the first form although I am also interested in learning applications and push hands. This training camp gave me a tremendous amount of information on both foundations and forms. This is what I feel I really need.

I found the corrections on the foundations especially valuable although at times a full understanding escaped me. Sometimes I wondered if what I though I understood before was completely wrong or were the new instructions providing a deeper understanding of the movements.

When we are doing circles, Master Chen expected us to say out loud, “elbow in,” “turn with the waist,” “hand out.” Now in my daily foundations, I am saying those words out loud. He impressed on us the three lines created when we do a positive circle. Master Chen commented that after every movement there is a reset. I am a little unsure about this. One place I feel this was clear to me was after the “hand out” in the positive circle. The reset is returning the waist back to the starting point. The reset that I didn’t understand was after the “elbow in.” He mentioned this briefly and I didn’t get a good handle on it. I am making an effort to have an understanding of the three lines created when doing the circle. The positive circle produces three lines independently.

The private lessons correcting the first form were also very helpful. I feel that I need to review these lessons regularly to help improve my form. With regard to yilu, I found that I couldn’t keep up when doing it with the group and then I would get lost. When I do yilu by myself I make an effort to concentrate on the details of the form and do them as correctly as I am able to. Recently I reread a portion of Grand Master Hong’s book. I noted that he said we should vary the speed when we do the form (the whole form either fast or slow not slow and fast within the form). I decided that I should do the form faster sometimes so that next time when I am with the group I can do it with them. Now I started alternating slow and fast. When doing the form slowly I can concentrate of the details of each movement, as best as I know, being very precise. When I realize that I didn’t do it to the best of my knowledge, I stop and do that particular movement one or more times before I continue. When doing the form quickly, I need to continue to pay attention to the details but not be too critical of myself when I know I didn’t do it to the best of my capability.

Certain foundational or fundamental things must be accepted without question. From there we build. There are building blocks that we use to build on the foundations.

I feel that having some idea of the applications is helpful in improving the performance of the form. In this regard not tossing the torso (don’t move), rotating about an axis, finding/creating the line, and fixing a point are things that I need to work on. Also, a move is only with the feet and the upper body only adjusts/adapts.

I feel that not only do I need to work on the stationary foundations but I also need to practice the stepping foundations. Doing just stepping drills will also be helpful.

Master Chen covered many many more topics during the camp. At this point I have no way to incorporate them into my training. I believe that as time goes on I will be able to understand and add them into my taijiquan training.

At times during the camp and also since I have been home I have wondered what my goals are in practicing Practical Method. At my stage in life a goal of becoming a champion push hands competitor is not reasonable or attainable. Improving my taijiquan skills day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year is attainable but I am not sure how to measure that. I think that I want to have another goal. That goal is to be authorized by Master Chen to teach Practical Method. I have no idea how long that will take but I have that as a goal.

Many many thanks to Master Chen for providing detailed instruction during the camp. Also, thanks to Levi Sowers and John Upshaw for coordinating and sponsoring the training camp and thanks to all the disciples and other students for the wonderful experience.

If you made it through all my comments, thank you. If I have said some things that you disagree with or are completely wrong, please provide your comments.




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