What I learned at the 2019 Iowa Camp

by Steve Doob on 2019/08/06

Probably the biggest thing had to do with the learning process: The questions that arise in my mind are usually off topic and I think their purpose is to distract me from paying full attention to what Master Chen is teaching at the moment.  By asking them out loud I’m distracting everyone else too.  My mind doesn’t want to give up control.

I saw more clearly how the hand is supposed to follow a straight line that extends from one point to another point.  To keep the hand and arm from deviating from that line (tossing), they follow that line within a tube.  In fact, the whole body follows a line through a tube so that no joints toss (or “pop” as in the case of the shoulder rising).  If an octopus can do it I ought to be able to do it!

The lower body has to mirror the upper body.  Just as the shoulders can’t pop, the pelvis can’t either.  And the legs have to be confined within tubes as well.  There can be rotation within them, but the push to the floor can’t cause the legs to deviate from the line.

Saying aloud “In with elbow, turn the waist, out with hand,” as Master Chen instructed us to do, is annoying, but helpful to keep me focused on the exercise.

All the movements have to use all the joints and I haven’t been using my shoulder and shoulder blades correctly.  Neither of them can be allowed to pop.

I asked Master Chen if I should try to lure push hand opponents into making a mistake that I could capitalize on and he said I should just take care of myself.  I hope he didn’t say that just because I’m an old guy.  I’d rather think he meant that if I just make sure I’m always balanced and adhering to tai chi principles no one will be able to disrupt me.  That will take a lot of practice with a lot of partners, something I don’t have access to.  I should move to China.

As usual it was a great camp.  Great learning, great friends and great food.  Thank you John and Levi!  I’ll be back next year.  Steve Doob




About Steve Doob

Studied Kenpo Karate with Ralph Castro in San Francisco from 1963 to 1967. Studied Yang Style with Choy, Kam-Man in San Francisco in 1968. Moved to southern Oregon in 1973. Taught Yang Style and self defense at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, OR from 1978 to 1995. Brought George Xu (Xu, Guo-Min) to Grants Pass for weekend workshops from 1987 to 2005. Been to Shanghai with my wife four times where we studied martial arts with various people. Moved to Durango, CO in 2005 and lived in a large house shaped like a pyramid. In 2021 we moved to a lovely house surrounded by rhododendrons and old growth trees in Port Ludlow, WA. My wife practices "energy" tai chi and I've narrowed my efforts to Practical Method. First saw Chen, Zhonghua in online videos and am trying to learn his style, because I think its structural emphasis is correct.

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