My practice this morning has been pretty much all sword work, with some stretching thrown in.
I started to learn the Cheng Hsin sword set yesterday, and while I've done the 32 step sword form for many years, I prefer the Cheng Hsin sets (It was the 32 that I demonstrated at the U3A@30 Anniversary last month)
As with much of the Cheng Hsin work, there's a great deal of focus on 'how' rather than what, which makes it double the fun really. Not only do I have to remember the moves but I have to perform them correctly (or as near as I can at present)
This is what I've covered so far:
- Step Up To Close The Sword
- God Directs The Beginning Of The Road
- Big Star
- Swallow Tips The Water 1
- Swallow Tips The Water 2
- Swallow Tips The Water 3
- Little Star
Not much, I know, but plenty to be going on with especially as I'm training for skill with the sword not just learning choreography.
And on the subject of skill, one thing that's come up recently in many classes in the point of "Rotating The Weighted Hip"
Allow me to explain a little more…
In taiji you have a full leg (with most weight on) and an empty leg (least weight). The hip of the the 'full' leg is what we call the weighted hip. 'Cos it's the hip with most weight in ;-)
In Cheng Hsin taiji, rotating the weighted hip allows for us to move the whole body either in space or through space, while staying relaxed and just operating one hip joint.
Think of the weighted hip joint as like the hinge on a door, and the weighted side of your body is like the door frame - stable and fixed.
Next become aware that your pelvis is like a mini-door that can swing easily on the hinge (hip). Got that?
Good. Now consider that as your pelvis swings through space the rest of your body that isn't anchored like the door frame (the empty side, if you will) is connected to this mini door. So, as you swing your pelvis, the free side of your body can be moved with it, as it's connected to the free side of the pelvis.
I'll try and make that a little clearer. If your right leg is weighted then your right hip is the hinge. You can swing your pelvis from this side so that the left side of your pelvis and all that's attached to it (i.e. the left leg below and the rest of the body and left arm above) can swing freely and easily in or through space.
Make some sense? So I can move my left leg, arm, and whole body just by rotating the right weighted hip. Rather than moving all of those independently and disconnected.
I suggest you give this a try in your practice (if you're not already doing it) but one thing to point out…
When you start, you may not be clear in feeling your hip joints so you may need a little time to get in touch with them and feel the horizontal rotations. You can open or close the hip. Start with this, then expand your feeling to include the rest of your body and discover how you can move your whole body from opening or closing your hip joint.
If you have any problems, don't worry, just drop me a line or better still ask me in a class and I'll demonstrate for you and help you feel it yourself.
This point features quite often in the taiji sets (including the sword) so it's worthwhile getting to grips with it and gaining some skill. It's also very useful in a martial context too.
If you'd like to find out more about the martial side of taiji (t'ai chi) then consider coming along to the Cheng Hsin Open Class (CHOC) on August 20th. It's a free session where you'll safely explore some of the martial aspects of taiji and a cross section of basic skills for martial arts.
If you're already booked into the CHOC, you don't have to contact me again, your place is secure.