Why all your moves are wrong (it's not your fault)

I was listening to some tunes the other day, and realised that the old ones are much better. For example, take these lyrics from a very popular 1978 film:

"We go together, like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong"

Then the emotion building:

"Remembered forever, as shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom"

And finally, the coup de gras:

"Chang chang changitty chang shoobop

That's the way it should be, whaa ooohhh, yeah"

Which finally proves my point. They don't write 'em like they used to.

I rest my case, M'Lud. (Guessed the film yet?)

Ok, I don't know much about designing a song, but I do know a little about designing your body movements and how they're influenced by others.

So with that in mind, let me tell you a story…

Back in 2005, I was having dinner with Peter Ralston. He'd invited me to eat with him to discuss the future of the UK Cheng Hsin camps. Once we'd discussed that, he looked around the room and said "How many people wearing the black t-shirts come along to the Cheng Hsin classes?"

At the time, all my students wore black embroidered polo shirts with the Chanquanshu logo.

I said "All of them."

And Ralston replied, "Hmmm. One thing I will say is that they all need to relax and open up their bodies much more."

"Would that apply to me too?", I asked (stupidly, really)

And Ralston hit me with "Well, they probably got it from you"

Oof. Right. That's me told then.

But it made me realise that the teacher will influence his students' movements and not always for the better. So I began to look more closely at the way I moved and what state or condition my body was currently in. Anything that didn't match the Cheng Hsin Principles and Structures was changed as much as possible.

And that work still continues today. No mindless repetition, just an honest investigation into what is so about my body and mind.

Thankfully, I move somewhat better today than I did back then but there's another huge secret I'll share with you that made me more effective in my chosen art(s).

Not today though, 'cos I've run out of time, but very soon…

In the meantime, if you wanna do t'ai chi like "dip da dip da dip doowop da doobee doo", you may want to boogie on over to the classes page and shimmy along to a class..

Theres only one thing left to say after all that:

A wop baba lumop a wap bam boom!!

Best wishes,

Mike

PS Don't forget, the brand new Port Tennant beginners class starts tomorrow evening, be there or be square. If you haven't been to a class before, you really don't know what your missing. Apart from my bad jokes, that is ;-)
PPS If you haven't booked for the Summer Social yet on July 30th, please let me know as soon as you can

 

I Could Silently Kill A Sentry At The Age Of 7

I guess you could describe my maternal grandfather as a man's man.

I can tell you some rather interesting stories about Ernest James Davies. Some'll make your hair curl, some'll make you laugh out loud.

He was what you'd call 'a character'.

It was Ernest James who first introduced me to the world of 'unarmed combat', having been an instructor in the army. 'Course, it was a little more brutal then, being wartime and all.

By the time I was 7 I knew how to kill a sentry silently, rip someone's ear off and win a fight before the other guy even knew he was in it. All true by the way. My grandfather was a meticulous teacher, even for me at such a young age.

By 7, I could also tie a bowline, sheep shank, lorryman's hitch and reef knot with practiced ease. He even taught me how to back splice rope before I was 10. Having gone to sea when he was 14, he was well versed in knots and basic seamanship skills. To that end he also took me through his world atlas and showed me how to search for far off places via the latitude and longitude readings listed in the index.

Very interesting times.

By the time I was 12, I was fed up of football and was drawn into the world of martial arts. And like reading the longitude and latitude on a map, precision was important if you wanted to get to your destination without getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

The same is true of your daily practice as well. To be skilful in movement and effective in interaction demands that you design and execute your moves with precision and depth.

To be effective, pay close attention to every part of your body (including your mind). If your goal is to become elegant, graceful and powerful, ask yourself if what you're doing is achieving that goal. Is it?

If not, then you're not being effective and you'll need to change what you're doing to realise your goal.

For you martial artists out there, when you fight or spar, are you effective? Do you realise the goal of "To Hit and not Be Hit"? Or does your partner / opponent keep catching you with the same moves, time after time? If they do then you're not effective, right?

Whether your goal is health or martial, pay attention to the small details, leave nothing out…

… and, realise your goals…

Best,

Mike

PS The new beginners class starts next week in Port Tennant and there are officially only 3 places left. If you've been leaving it till the last minute, you're gonna miss out. And I don't want to see you disappointed :-(

Best hit reply and book your place now, before it goes…


PPS Don't forget about the Summer Social on 30th July in the Shang restaurant at Swansea Marina. I'll need to let them know numbers soon so let me know if you're in or you want more details. Everyone's welcome and partners are invited!

 

He refused to teach me any more stuff

I was in a Kung Fu class back in 1980.

I'd been doing kung fu for just over a year and had taken to it like the proverbial duck to water.

Training with my partner, doing wrist locks, we'd come to the end of our repertoire, if you like, that is, we'd run through all the locks we knew a couple of times.

What to do now, we thought.

So I asked my teacher Martin, if he'd show me another wrist lock (observing all the protocols of respect and politeness, as you do).

His response?

“Show me the locks you know.”

So I did.

Then he said, “When you can do those properly, I'll show you another one.”

There's some valuable lessons there. First, he was letting me know that he was in charge and he decided when I learnt new things. Wasn't my place to pick what and when to learn. That's why you start at say, white belt before progressing to the next colour, then the next.

You can't jump the queue in this stuff, it's structured that way for a reason, like you can't start sprinting before you've even learned to crawl. That's like trying to do full contact fighting before you've learned to punch and kick, or trying to do more advanced moves without the basic flexibility and strength needed to do them.

Then he was letting me know that quality is better than quantity. Being excellent at a few wrist locks is preferable to being mediocre at dozens. In the same way that having a few good stretches, breathing exercises or t’ai chi moves is better than knowing umpty-bazillion moves but not being up to much at any of them.

Quality and skill gained in just a few exercises or movements will transfer to every single thing you learn later. You're building a powerful foundation for everything to come. And with those foundational skills, you'll learn all subsequent material much faster.

And finally, he was teaching me to be patient. It'll come to you, don't worry, just keep doing what you're doing kinda thing.

Something I'd thought you'd benefit from me sharing. And I like the term “umpty-bazillion”, too. I'm going to use that whenever I can, methinks ;-)

So start with some simple, quality moves that you can learn to perform well, and become skilful. There's your foundation.

By the way, I recommend these.

Eight exercises which will gently stretch your body out and get you moving well, while reducing stress and balancing your internal systems. It takes me 2 hours to show you those eight exercises, in-depth.

That's some quality moving on which to build your foundation...

Ok, have a great day

Later,
Mike

Zen and the Art of Car Maintenance

I got into the car to go to work this morning and...

... nothing. Nada. Dead as a door nail.

Flat battery. I know what you're thinking. What shape’s the battery supposed to be then, right?

Ok... I'll get my coat.

Last night I went to pick up tickets for an event I'm attending this weekend. It's called “Adrenalin Blizzard” and its a fight night in Swansea.

But when I was chatting to my mate, Ric, I'd left the lights on on the car and it obviously drained the battery. Which left me at 6:50 this morning, just sitting there. Thankfully I'm with the AA so they came along and sorted the problem out.

And I was thinking, wouldn't it be great if someone could just come along and give you a much needed boost of energy to get you through the day?

That someone does exist. And it's you.

Just doing a little qigong, tai chi or meditation each day can recharge your battery, balance your energy and calm the nervous system, and you don't need much.

Around 10-15 minutes is great. That's all you need to give yourself a boost.

A little practice every day, is like putting down fine layers of rice paper, one on top of the other. It takes a while to build up a stack, but as long as you put a piece down every day you'll get there.

And you'll be constantly building energy, each day adding a bit more to the battery, so it never runs down.

Rather than expending more and more energy every day, you put your battery on a ’trickle’ charge with your practice, keeping it topped up.

Does that make some sense?

Great. Probably a good idea to have a practice now.

What? You don't know what to practice?

Happily, I can help you there, check this out:

http://www.swanseataichi.co.uk/stress-prevention-dvd


And, if you get it now, there’s a hefty 25% discount and free postage. But that offer won't be there forever...

Later,

How I can fix your practice, just like Mr. Kaplan

If you watch the TV series The Blacklist, you'll already know who Mr Kaplan is.

"Mr Kaplan" is a fixer for the main character Raymond 'Red' Reddington.

And he is a she. When Mr Kaplan was first called to clean up a crime scene, (or was it to make a body disappear? Probably both) I was amazed to see this woman turn up. A good disguise though, no one's expecting a female when you call for a Mr.

And Mr Kaplan is the perfect way to describe Adele today. See, my eldest daughter had her works do last night and Lisa's not too good after a party (seriously, I could tell you some stories)

So it was no surprise this morning that Adele gets a message saying "Mam, help me!"

Because Adele is the fixer when it comes to the girls being hungover, and naturally enough of course. The first person they turn to is Mam :-)

So as I'm writing this Adele is with Lisa, helping her out with the kids, food, washing and cleaning.

And the good news is, I'll be taking on the role of fixer for you, very soon.

As there's a new qigong DVD due to be delivered in the next two days (I should get my grubby little mitts on the first copies by Tuesday)

In the DVD I'll be taking care of your qigong needs by running through the whole of the Stress Prevention Qigong Set. That's the one we do right after the warm up in the classes. And if that's not enough...

It's 2 hours long. That's a whole bunch of in-depth info.

And it's suitable for stand alone study, so if you can't get to any classes, for any reason, you can use the DVD to increase your skills and knowledge. Then you've got no excuse not to practice and I can happily nag away at you =)

Want to find out more?

Get the skinny on the new DVD here

And I don't mind if you call me Mr. Kaplan either. But I don't make bodies 'disappear', and neither does Adele, just in case you were thinking of asking...

Bye for now

Mike

PS A huge shout out to all of you who've contacted me saying how much you enjoy the emails / blog posts, it's fantastic that you've taken time out of your day to let me know and it's very much appreciated.

I think I've managed to reply to you all personally so far, but just in case some of you slipped through the net, Thank You!