Lou Sacharske

During a meal at the latest Iowa training camp, I was speaking to Mater Chen about an event that happened a couple years ago at a workshop in Phoenix. That chat prompted me to retell the anecdote now.

Master Chen was demonstrating a Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method counter-attack from a right strike/right foot forward. I asked him how he would counter a right cross strike (with the left foot forward). As I would find out later, he wasn’t familiar with the term “right cross” so he simply asked me to execute one at him.

With my left fist protecting my chin, I began to throw the right. Before I was able to issue the punch, Master Chen was inches away from me, the fingers of his left hand grabbing my throat and his right hand had my left in a joint lock. I was tapping-out, as the pain from the joint lock was debilitating.

I did not telegraph the strike, did not blink and did it at full speed. I could not understand how a moment of time was seemingly lost – between me initiating and him arriving. It wasn’t just speed: I’ve sparred with professional fighters and know even very fast movements can be tracked with the eye.

Having thought about this event many times since, a video with Master Chen discussing “indirect movements” caught my attention. He said Practical Method indirect movements cannot be easily detected by an opponent. It’s all in the training: do not move.

This morning was my first post-training camp workout, and it was awesome. My mind was flooded with all the great corrections and insights Master Chen gave us. There was a virtual wooden TV tray on my head during the yilus (private lesson reference).
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Yilu Record Tab i

by Lou Sacharske on 2019/07/15


During a workshop earlier this year, Master Chen recommended that we utilize the “Yilu Record” tab to track our practice. As a result of starting this, I have found that it motivates me to basically do more, and to practice more consistently. Recording progress provides definitive feedback on effort and accomplishment. I have found it to be a very positive tool and extremely easy to use.

During the last Toronto workshop, Master Chen mentioned some common sense guidelines for asking questions at live workshops with him. He said there are only really three valid questions while he is instructing:

  1. Mater Chen, I did not *see* that clearly, can you please show me again?
  2. Master Chen, I did not *hear* you clearly, can you please repeat that again?
  3. Master Chen, I did not *feel* that clearly, can you please do that again?

At another previous workshop he instructed not to rephrase his words, (e.g. “so you’re saying…”). He uses very specific words and they should not be changed.

At the Phoenix workshop Master Chen had someone place a pole from his hand to the arch of his back foot. In w/ elbow his and and forearm slid along the pole. He has a shorter pole placed by his front kua a slightly upward angle. His elbow followed the 2nd pole while the hand stayed on the 1st pole. He then said, it’s actually “out w/ foot” as the hand only guides the direction.
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