Displaying posts filed under

Training

May
1
2019

INB: Instructor’s Notebook—A “Perfect” Lesson

Layers of Teaching Martial arts hands us examples of the close relationship between what we teach and the way we teach it. As a sifu, I have experimented with many approaches. Years ago, when I opened my martial arts studio, I tried to orchestrate topics as best I could. Each class was planned like a […]

Mar
27
2019

Framed!

What is “frame?” If the answer doesn’t come immediately, don’t worry—this is a concept that confuses a good segment of the martial student body. At first glance, it simply consists of standing a certain way and holding your limbs in an agreed upon configuration. Of course, people assume different shapes—but sometimes what they think of […]

Mar
24
2019

How to Make Friends With 60:40 Stance

We have been practicing and discussing how to make friends with 60:40 stance in our recent community classes. This is where 60% of the weight is on the back leg, and 40% is on the front leg. Often the most uncomfortable or difficult to understand stance, where many students are just bearing it until they […]

Mar
18
2019

Teach Your Students Well

As we previously mentioned, we are working on the production of Sifu Adam Hsu’s newest book in English—we hope to have it out by mid-year. Since Hsu Shifu is in Taipei and we are in California, a lot of our communication over the fine details happens through email, so we were particularly happy to get […]

Jan
19
2019

Speed and…uh…Timing

I tell my students over and over to “go fast, but don’t hurry.” In the martial world, too early can be as bad as too late. After all, how long do you want to wait for the plane to land? On the other hand, who wants it to arrive maddeningly early? Timing is a necessity. […]

Dec
23
2018

Personal Practice

What is a practice? What can it do? Practice is not just a workout. It is a recognition of engagement at that moment. It records, immediately, every nuance expressed in your story, laying those tiles piece by piece. Often, workouts sidestep the mind and can barely be remembered by dinnertime. From practice we recall the […]

Nov
27
2018

The Sophistication of Simplicity

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to work with a group of beginning Tai Chi students. A few hours later, I met with another group of students in my advanced Tai Chi class. Now, relaxing at the dusty end of the day, I realize that what I had taught to these two classes was essentially […]

Nov
23
2018

Q & A: Yi (意-Intention) and the Levels of Tai Chi

I have been told that tai chi can be done on three levels: up high and lightly for stress relief, down low working the muscles for health, and in the middle for combat. But as I was drawing a diagram for my students, it didn’t seem complete. The more I looked at it the more […]

Oct
24
2018

The Lightest Touch, the Heaviest Load

Kung Fu hides many of its secrets in terms of opposite qualities such as fast/slow, open/close, light and heavy. But don’t let the words obscure the story. The names are significant, but it’s their entwined relationship that holds the real stash. Take heavy and light. In the martial arts community, especially the Chinese branch, there […]

Sep
9
2018

Speed: Unpunch & Unkick

The following simple techniques will drastically improve your martial speed. My confidence in this teaching tip stems from the fact I have used it so many times and it always delivers.  It is based on a key concept in what people call “reptile response,” or conditioned reflex; in other words, actions that are hard-wired to […]

Aug
28
2018

Listening to the Wind: On Internal Practice

About a week ago I asked my Tai Chi class if they ever get bored doing the form. They unanimously answered “No,” their explanation being that the form always provides new material to concentrate on, things to master. This suggests that the act of repetition can be either boring or freeing, and leads me to […]

Jul
7
2018

Principle-Driven Skill Development

A book like Principle-Driven Skill Development was inevitable. The western attraction to de-construction can be highly functional and, as demonstrated here, is particularly applicable to martial principles. In this book, teacher Russ Smith not only presents solid information but dissects years of experience to show the foundational principles of martial studies. He really thinks about […]

Jun
18
2018

Triple Irony

Martial artists always have something to do. In my case I have been reconstructing and improving my weapons skills—at least, I hope so, considering the practice put in. It can be a slow process. It’s tough enough to fight through the quirks of each weapon. You also have to overcome the tendency for former ghostly […]

Apr
5
2018

Four Things Hard to Believe

At the start of your training, if you’d asked: “What do I need to be a good martial artist?” you might have gotten a list which included strength, endurance, patience, humility, Ben-Gay, and a good pair of shoes. What would probably have been missing is the word “faith.” But anyone who’s done any kind of long-term […]

Mar
27
2018

Tutorial: Tai Chi Tips, Stepping

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at Plum, you know how highly we prize basics as the foundation of good movement. ‘Stepping’ in Tai Chi, is one of those fundamentals that you might learn on the first day of class, and which you might be refining well into your advanced practice. We prepared a […]

Jan
15
2018

Being Off Balance, For All It’s Worth

When you lose your balance, you can also lose orientation. When you don’t know which direction to turn, can’t determine the ceiling from floor, feel as though your are on a mile-long fall, you are disoriented. We are told, from the earliest lessons, to keep our balance and preserve our orientation. We do forms that […]

Jan
7
2018

Gary Shapiro: Looking Back

In the past, I’ve written some articles for Plum detailing my Tai Chi adventures on cruise vacations. After nearly 40 years of work as a physical therapist, I decided that it was the right time to take a permanent vacation. On Aug 4, 2017, I made my last patient visit, went to the “big” office, […]

Nov
29
2017

The Teacher’s Teacher

Last Sunday, I got a double-treat: my teacher, Adam Hsu, is in town for a couple of weeks and I had the opportunity to not only see and spend time with him, but to make his Long Fist Kung Fu class available to my own students, most of whom had never met him. Of course, […]

Nov
27
2017

Caylor Adkin’s Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands Training

Caylor Adkins is a well-known instructor, recognized even outside his art of Shotokan. His contribution, “Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands: Understanding Structure, Flow and Maneuver is Martial Arts,” is a well laid-out book of methods utilizing these traditionally used kung fu training aides. More and more we see cross-training and instrument exercise as important […]

Nov
20
2017

Evolution of Wing Chun Kicking Techniques

Happy to announce the arrival of an important new text in the Wing Chun canon: The Evolution of Wing Chun Kung Fu Kicking Techniques.  Osmond Lam’s beautiful book not only shows us some of the principles behind Wing Chun’s special and only sporadically known kicking methods, but adds a good portion of background technique on […]