Welcome to The Palace Guard, the tai chi chuan and martial arts blog for intelligent martial practitioners. As the blog develops, I hope to feature other writers with a fresh take on the martial arts and related subjects. For now, I hope you enjoy my posts: feel free to leave comments, or email me at the address available on the profile.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Time machine needed

I am a sucker for a sword-fighting film, always have been, and so the sword form has always been one of my favourite bits of tai chi chuan. When it comes to the actual use of the things, we have so many questions. Was the double-edged sword merely a duelling weapon, or did it see use on the battlefield? If the former, then how was victory decided, was it to the death or first blood or what? The typical sword applications that we are taught are so flashy, and involve such large movements that they can only be appropriate to battlefield use, but such a relatively delicate, double-edged number wouldn't have lasted long with hordes of hoi-polloi constantly trying to hew bits from one's aristocratic frame...The thing is that we'll never really know. If we  could just see one real chinese sword encounter, it would all make sense...all power to the reconstructionists I say. Sword geek out.

Thursday 13 May 2010

It was nothing like The Warriors

I have just returned from New York,a place which I was expecting to be intimidating, full of street gangs looking to relieve an Englishman of his hard-earned wages, and muggers on the prowl between the skyrises. Of course, it turned out to be one of the most affable and pleasant places that I have yet visited. I have always been a little paranoid , and training in the martial arts I think can really compound this (having been assaulted not so long ago probably doesn't help either...) I am always keen to stay aware in all situations, but I realise that, recently, I have been allowing this to get in the way of my enjoyment of things. I don't want to turn out to be like the fearful old gunslinger, back to the wall and one finger on the trigger: where's the fun in that? It's a question of trusting in your training, if only because when trouble comes, it will be your instincts that respond rather than your steely-eyed attempt at awareness. On the occasion when trouble came for me, I was totally off-guard, yet I responded in an appropriate way. You would think, being a tai chi afficionado, that I would have learnt the lessons of relaxation long ago, but I'm only just beginning. It's good to be back.