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.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Tai chi chuan in the home: simple steps to martial success

This might sound utterly mad, and in fact can look rather mad when caught in the act by those who share your home and/or workplace, but there's good training to be had in those everyday environments.
When doing washing up or cleaning teeth, I like to stand on one leg and practice balance, maybe even a bit of Kick Out Leg In A Curve. One can try climbing the stairs Nine Palace-style, and Seven Stars Stepping can be substituted for your regular technique of perambulation.
Your skills of control can be put to use when doing activities such as making tea or pouring cereal into your bowl, especially effective when you have a sleeping partner that won't appreciate being wakened. Catching closing doors with feet and hands is good for trapping-type practice (though watch your fingers and toes as screams aren't very ninja-like), whilst door handles, banisters and in fact anything solid make good targets for ultra-soft accurate punch/slap placement.
When bending low for pans in the kitchen or DVDs on the lower shelf, try a bit of Snake Creeps Down. Pencils, spatulas and any item of handy size can make a good sword, sabre or spear.
Lastly, upon proceeding through your homestead, it is possible to use all surfaces/objetcs in a kind of Wing Chun dummy way, with table legs becoming opponent's legs, banisters becoming arms and so on, so that you can thread a whole series of maneuvers together in a fluid way.

And,if you get caught doing it, I was never here and The Palace Guard Blog never existed...


Thursday 26 August 2010

Defending the No-Self; or keeping friends and others close...

"Self Defense": It so commonly slips off the tongue of the average martial artist, but what really does it mean? Survival is the key flavour here. Survival at a physiological level, with one eye on the march of time which carries the body with it. Survival at the social level, that our lives are not forfeit to the first forceful person we encounter, as Cheng Man -Ch'ing said "The difference between yoga and tai chi is that even if you get it studying yoga , there's nothing you can do if someone tries to knock you off your cushion." (pp 81 "There Are No Secrets")
If we look beyond the self, at the wider picture, what do we see? Ecology, simply put. Interconnectedness. That youth that feels aggressive towards me is carrying that feeling from elsewhere; that drunken man who shoulders me in the pub is that drunk because of circumstances leading up to the drunkenness.
Obviously we cannot control everything; we cannot control much at all if we are honest. So an attempt to stem all violence at the source is impossible. But we should be aware of how our every action, our every small aggression streams into the ether, to reappear who knows where...
By the time violence reaches our bodily person, often it is too late. But a really strategic approach would see that violence comes from general suffering and lack of attention to others, and before the trouble gets near, we might do well to redress the balance in our favour. As the inimitable TT Liang wrote: "Make one thousand friends, but don't make one enemy." (pp.126"Steal My Art")