Summary of the Taiji Camp 18th to 24th October 2021 By Paul Fretter

The camp was conducted in the Wee Kee Jin system of Taijiquan and I endeavoured to impart my current understanding of the system as faithfully as I could.  Subsequent camps will build on the material delivered this year, so that we can develop our practice over time in a systematic manner.


To assist with your recollections from the camp, and your subsequent practice, below is a summary of the main topics we covered, although these are not intended to be a substitute for your own notes.  I encourage you to make written or recorded verbal notes of your own experiences and understanding, as this will assist with your thinking process as well as cementing important points into your memory.  Throughout the week I made many references to the Taiji Classics and I encourage you to re-read them frequently.

Using the Short Form as a tool to cultivate qualities needed in partner training

a.   When problems or questions arise in the partner training, first you should identify the issue. Then, work on your own using movements from the form as a ‘place’ to practice corrections and new or better habits.

b.     Recognise the importance of accuracy of position, and accuracy in transition (timing).

c.     When cultivating the Taiji principles in the form, recognise the importance of reducing and simplifying the number of movements you practice until you have a ‘slice’ thin enough that you can work on it clearly.

d.     Recognise the importance of mindful repetition to train new and better habits.

e.     The importance of ‘hygiene’ in your mind; to be thinking and feeling clearly what you are working on, and not other things.  The nature of being mindful is not to hold your awareness in the present, as this is probably impossible, but instead begin to recognise when your awareness drifts and then calmly bring it back to the present, and the matter at hand.

f.      Developing internal (muscular) ‘connection’ by softening under the feet and feeling the body and arm muscles all being ‘drawn’. 

g.     Feel how the process of ‘connecting’ under the feet stimulates a small muscle change (movement) in the whole body.  Let this movement grow to become a bigger and continued movement, under the direction of your mind intention.

h.     Use pauses in the form to give you time to deepen the feeling of internal ‘connection’.

i.      Using pauses in the form to slow down your pace of movement and give you time to identify inaccuracies and then adjust.

j.      Practicing a small section of the Form and use a partner to test your connectedness by pushing lightly on your body each time you arrive in position, without leaning on you.   This method of a partner pushing lightly and steadily until them push themselves away is called ‘feeding the force’.  At this stage of practice you should only work with a very light force.  Developing the ability to handle a stronger force will require subsequent work on sinking and receiving, which is a separate exercise not covered at this camp.

 

Partner training (a.k.a. ‘push hands’)

a.     The importance of being connected before and during first contact.

b.     Using the feeling of ‘connection’ to create the movement that makes contact with the other person.

c.     Understand the difference between yielding and neutralising.

d.     ‘Double-push’ fixed two-person exercise.

e.     Eight set-piece issuing of relaxed force exercises (from double-push).

f.      Semi-free and Free pushing.

 Beginning with the Taiji Sword

a.     Holding and moving with the sword (from the base!).

b.     Practicing safely.

c.     Solo exercises

                                               i.     Little Dipper Stars with forward step.

                                             ii.     Continuous cutting in two vertical circles from the Little Dipper stars; stepping forwards as well as backwards.

                                            iii.     Lion shakes its head. Horizontal cutting from side to side, stepping to the corners.

                                            iv.     Circling the doorknob.  Use the hip and shoulder joints to turn the body while minimising disturbance of the tip of the blade and keeping the hilt of the sword in your centreline.

d.     Learn the choreography of the first section of the Sword Form, up to the Little Dipper Stars.

e.     Partner training

                                               i.     A basic application to give you a feel for how the sword actually ‘works’.  Attacker steps forward with thrust to the throat, while defender responds with Little Dipper Stars to intercept sword arm, then run through to cut the abdomen.

                                             ii.     Introduction to moving while sticking with the sword.

Beginning with White Crane

a.     Three breathing exercises – rough movement

                                               i.     Swallow and Spit – complete in and out breathing

                                             ii.     Swallow (4 sniffs) – emphasises control of the in-breath

                                            iii.     Spit – emphasise explosive out-breath and then removal of the ‘bridge’

b.     Shins inward intention, and the lower thigh(knee) outward intention

c.     Corners of the mouth drawn lightly back, to correct the alignment of the neck

d.     Explanation of the meaning of the ‘bridge’, and the need to remove it as soon as it is not required.

e.     Learn the choreography of the First Form (Ba Bu Lian) up to the San Chin

f.      Partner training

                                               i.     Drawing down (partner supports elbows)

                                             ii.     Releasing through both arms (partner holds wrists with finger and thumb)

 

Copyright © Paul Fretter