Sonntag, 12. April 2015

Article: Agilty

By Martin Boedicker

In Tai Chi Chuan there are, besides the slow form, a series of weapon forms and the fast form. These forms are conducted dynamically with many changes in pace.

According to Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang, in the slow form the aspects stillness (jing), lightness (qing), slowness (man), conscientiousness (qie) and perseverance (heng) need to be taken into account. The dynamic forms are different from the slow form with regard to the third aspect, slowness. Slowness means that the movements are conducted in a controlled manner, yet lightly, evenly and flowing smoothly without any interruptions. (see Ma Jiangbao, p. 41)

In the dynamic forms the aspect of slowness is substituted by agility (ling). Agility manifests itself in four different characteristics, which must be taken into account during training. Only then can the qualities of the slow form translate into the mastery of fast movements. Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang write:

“In order to develop lightness, agility, suppleness (yuanhua) and dexterity (ziru), one has to heed four characteristics:

1. Break and turn alternate (duncuo xiangjian)
2. Hard and soft support each other (gangrou xiangji)
3. Fast and slow are in harmony (kuaiman xianghe)
4. The front and the back are connected. (qianhou xianglian)
(Wu, Ma, p. 2)

For Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang the break, dun, manifests itself in central equilibrium (zhongding) and cuo, the turn, in the movements of jumping.

Ma Jiangbao explains that most movements in the dynamic forms end with a quick movement, which are accentuated by a brief break after them. The next movement always begins with a change in direction, which is often accompanied by a jump (which can also be a long sliding step). A jump or change of direction is cuo, the turn. Expounding on their explanation of the four characteristics, Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang write:

“The hard power (gangjin) uses strong fajin. The principle of softness (rouze) uses soft movements. This means that the hard power is followed by softness. The turn has to be quick. As far as the quickness is concerned: in it lies the turn. In the slowness is the stretching. The positions of the form have to be exact. From its very beginning all of the form has to be conducted naturally, the last movements have to be calm. They must not be neglected. This is the connection of the front and the back.”
(Wu, Ma, p. 2)

Ma Jiangbao explains that in the dynamic forms, individual positions are more stretched than in the slow form. Quite often this leads to a lower position. In spite of that, agility must not suffer.

· Ma Jiangbao, Tai Chi Chuan, Mach:Art, Ratingen 1998.
· Wu Yinghua, Ma Yueliang, Wushi Taijikuaiquan, Henan Kexue Jishu Chubanshi 1988.

Sonntag, 29. März 2015

Film: Needle Through Brick

A documentary about the struggle for survival of traditional art and culture in the face of a rapidly changing and modernizing world told from the perspective of time-honored Chinese Kung Fu masters. The story explores the history, the art of Kung Fu and asks important questions about how the cultural heritage can be kept alive in a world that prefers to forget about its origins. The sadness and tragedy conveyed in the personal stories and anecdotes of today's last surviving traditional Kung Fu masters, along with the majesty and beauty of their skills, serve as reminders of the frailty of even the deadliest of arts.

Samstag, 21. März 2015

Freitag, 20. März 2015

Article: General Teaching Concepts for Tai Chi Chuan

by Martin Boedicker

taken from the book:

Once the goals and content for a Tai Chi lesson have been determined, one should opt for a general teaching concept.
Two fundamental concepts are on offer:

1. The closed concept (deductive instruction)

A deductive approach to instruction is a teacher centred approach, i.e. the student gets clear and concise instructions from the teacher for learning a movement.

This approach is often used for basic material and ensures that the student quickly reaches a certain goal by specific instruction. After a short time a new movement can be practised. For students who arrive exhausted from daily life, this type of teaching is felt as quite relaxing.

However, the closed concept involves one way communication, encourages passiveness, can restrict the student and he/she can develop a shallow movement experience. Little attention is paid to methods of problem-solving.

2. The open concept (inductive instruction)

The open concept is student-centred. It imposes more responsibility on students for their own learning. The student works and solves problems independently. This stimulates thinking and interest. The teacher has a supportive role only.

In the open concept the student has a greater opportunity of acquiring experience with the movements, which can result in a more permanent learning.

On the other hand he/she has to make the effort of taking the initiative and the whole process consumes time. Further on there is the risk that he/she will establish incorrect movement patterns. However, the aspect of self-reliance is an important issue and should not be underestimated.

- Which concept suits my teaching best?
- Which concept suits the needs of the group?
- Does it make sense to vary the concepts within the course or will this unsettle the students?
- Can I imagine a hybrid of the concepts?

Dienstag, 3. März 2015

Review: Optimal Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong Teaching

Should be the first book for new martial arts teachers:

In this small booklet, which is very simple to read and quite short, are contained MANY important lessons. These lessons are mostly relevant for people who teach martial arts, and though the booklet was written by a Tai Chi teacher, any martial artist would benefit from reading it (!). It is a book about teaching pedagogy, as relevant to the martial arts - something the majority of martial arts instructors do not learn in an orderly fashion.

Buy: here

What this book teaches the reader is how to pay attention to the wants and needs of the beginner student, whoever he or she might be. By the time we become teachers ourselves, we have usually drifted away from many of these, and have forgotten some altogether. This is of great value for augmenting and improving one's teaching, and even for marketing purposes. I have personally used the concept and ideas outlined in this booklet to improve the way in which I describe my arts to newcomers and on my website.

Most importantly the author, who is a teacher himself of course, ask you, a fellow teacher, some very tough questions on the nature of what you teach, and how you choose to do it. This booklet forces you to tackle aspects of your teachings which you may have neglected, perhaps not purposely, but often because you wanted to avoid them. These kinds of harsh yet important reminders is something that the teacher is unlikely to get from anywhere else, apart from bitter experience.

Though the booklet is a very quick read overall, it took me much longer than expected, because I had to sit down and think matters through every 2-3 pages. The book really grabs your core conceptions of what you do and gives you a friendly shaking so you can re-sort them in your mind.

For one who is open to receive sound and very helpful advice on teaching, whose cup is not full, this book will prove a most useful and honest addition to his library.

Jonathan Bluestein
Author of best-seller Research of Martial Arts
Head of Tianjin Martial Arts Academy

Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015

New Workbbook: Chinese Characters for the Tai Chi-friends

Dear Tai Chi-friends,

this workbook comes in response to my students lively interest in Chinese characters and will familiarise you with the way they work by practical example and exercises. The characters used for the exercises are often taken from Tai Chi-technical terms.

Having works through this book you will be able to recognise the structure of Chinese characters independently and to look up characters new to you in a Chinese dictionary.

Order: here


- Strokes in Chinese Characters
- Structure of Chinese Characters
- Radicals
- Using a Chinese Dictionary

Here an example for an exercise:

For those of you who want to start to learn Chinese or just play around with the beautiful characters, this might be interesting.

All the best