Brennan Toh

Brennan Toh at the Vienna Workshop 2017

Brennan Toh at the Vienna Workshop 2017

Within Chen Style Taijiquan, an important aspect is that all our movements must be our own movements.  We never move as a result of an external stimuli.  This requires we bring extreme awareness to every body part – those which are moving and especially those which are non-moving.  When we go out with the hand, we must not forget about the elbow; as the torso closes the distance, the hands can’t also be moving forward, etc.  As soon as we engage with our opponent, we naturally want to fight power with power.  This immediate response is something we must eliminate through our training.  Learning to create a stretch within our body in the form and foundations, is to learn how to move past the point of contact.

To never lose control of our body, even when engaging with an opponent, is to change our responses from a reactionary response to an active response.

A reactionary response is to retreat back, and then move in; or to match their push directly with your own push.  A push from the opponent does not result in a fight, or a retreat backwards.  An active response it to decide where to move, and to go their of your own choice – not from the initiation of the opponent.  If we are pushed and the shoulder moves back, we move not because we are pushed, but because we decide to move there.

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Brennan Toh with Shawn Lee

We must change from following the pace of the opponent, to leading our own movements.  Within the rhythm of a fight, when you are able to dictate  your own moves, the opponent will then follow (fall into rhythm).  Movement is not a non-pressured release, but a pressured release like a hydraulic press where it must be evenly matched and paced (led).  The intent of the movement is therefore only indirectly related to the opponent, and the decided movement is not at all resultant from what the opponent chooses to do – they are only an obstacle in place to overcome.  This is a change from passive control over our body to active movement.

To train this, we must train to never close, and to continue to stretch and expand in every movement of the form.  As our understanding of Yilu deepens, body mechanics and details that we were previously unaware of become more and more important.  But before we can focus on the small details, our understanding of positioning of the ‘big pieces’ must be precise – which is why consistent training of the full form is required.  As we continue to train to open our joints, positions and movements that we were previously incapable of will allow us to improve our structure and power.

Video references:

http://practicalmethod.com/2011/07/shoulder-movements-in-positive-circle-online-video-trailer/

http://practicalmethod.com/2014/11/pressure-and-release-indirect-power-online-video-trailer/

On Speed 4

by Brennan Toh on 2017/04/04

Speed is not a function of how fast you can move, but of how quickly you can close distance. As such, speed is not a matter of agility, but of directness.

For example, if I can close the distance between myself and the opponent directly in a linear fashion, I can technically reach the opponent before they reach me. This is because if you can close distance with your whole body, it works as a force multiplier. Not only are you closing distance with one body part (the way an arm would be in a punch), but with multiple body parts. Your lower half is closing distance, your waist is moving closer, AND your arm is reaching out. All these movements together allow for a speed that is quicker than any individual slow or fast twitch muscles on their own. Of course, having quick movements is also of benefit and can work well in conjunction with the rest of the body moving forward.

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Brennan and Josh

Fetch water – the opposite vectors are at the front kua.  Six sealing four closing/seven inch knife – separates at the shoulder.

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  • 15069042_520948524777188_8933773412609238206_oDo the form. A lot. Do it so much you never have to think about the next move, until all the movements and transitions are fluent.  Only then can you work on a specific principle comfortably enough to improve.
  • Finish each move (in the form) and keep going.  Keep going into the next one.
  • We have to be capable of anchoring power on the outside, just as we have to be capable of anchoring power on the inside.  IE: body movement that anchors on the hand (hand doesn’t move), and hand movement that anchors on the body (centre line doesn’t move).  Maintain consistent power on the outside while the inside stays mobile.
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The difference in push hands 1.5 years training can make.