Internal Arts Training
1. Protect the centerline, locate your opponent’s centre of gravity; don’t let your opponent locate yours!
2. Adhere, stick, connect and follow (upwards, downwards, horizontally, in and out, backwards and forwards - offset and use correct footwork)
3. Keep the body upright, hips relaxed, and turn the waist separately from the hips.
4. Master the structure and dynamics of ward-off, roll-back, press and push (peng, lu, ji, an)
5. Train elbow stroke, shoulder press, split and pluck (pull down). (lai, li, jhou, kao)
6. The above qualities should be trained in isolation as qualities of movement and energy dynamics.
7. Train a powerful waist and understand the different ways the waist and hips can generate power.
8. Train spiraling, five bows, peng jing (ward off energy), fa jing (explosive power) ting jing (sensitivity), hua jing (neutralising) and the square and the circle (see Tai Chi Tips).
9. Train the movements of the forms in different ways. There are many ways to train internal arts strategies but they all have the same common root and all good practitioners should obey the same principles, though each style may emphasise different ones. Look at the roots, look at the branches and find a way that suits you.
10. Think about how you would use your martial art to defend yourself against different types of attack. How would you defend yourself against a professional boxer, a grappler, a wrestler, a ground fighter? How would you fight a psycho with no emotions or moral conscience?
11. Develop practice sessions where you have to defend yourself against different types of attack.
12. Train to get in close. As soon as you touch your opponent, your mind penetrates deep into their body. Keep relaxed and in control of the situation, following the opponent’s movements. “My opponent moves quickly, I move quickly; my opponent moves a little, I move first.” Surprise yourself with the relaxed speed and power of your attacks.
13. Train freestyle pushing hands against very fast and uncooperative partners until offsetting and splitting become natural and ting jing (interpreting strength) becomes second nature.
14. Aim to stay fit throughout your life, training stamina, endurance, speed, power, hardness, softness, fluidity and flexibility. However, as we get older our power wanes; we get slower, less flexible and our stamina and endurance diminishes. We have to make up for these natural changes by refining the other qualities, making our techniques more effective and our mind more receptive and responsive to arising situations.
15. Once you have trained diligently in the use of the body, you must look deeply and seriously at the way the mind works (see Mind Matters and The APET Model). Although your training from the beginning should include meditation and finding stillness within movement, all high level martial arts masters have a deep level of “spiritual awareness” which allows them to transcend mere fighting technique. This can happen after many years of hard training of the physical body, applying effective fighting principles and strategy, while at the same time perfecting the mind through meditation. Use a method which is natural, sensible and does not get you into any of the superficial distractions, blind alleys and whirlpools of illusion(messing with your mind) that abound in cults and other organisations whose main objective is to separate you from both your money and your wits.
16. Train the mind to be calm, with the Yi vast and the Chi continuous, keeping “the spirit raised and gathered within”. In other words: even in stillness, be primed and ready to pounce like a tiger or evade like a snake. In the internal arts, don’t grasp with the mind, rest in the stillness, waiting but ready, watchful and balanced, harmonizing internal and external, spirit and strength gathered within.
Colin Hamilton, Yiheyuan, 1999
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