Chesapeake Kung Fu & Tai Chi

Chinese Martial Arts At Its Best!

December 2019

"Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort and intelligent execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives.

Choice, Not Chance, Determines Your Destiny."

                    - Aristotle

Rhythm in Kung Fu

Rhythm is one of the most important features of kung fu. The past masters described figuratively the rhythm of movements as twelve patterns: move like waves, be still like a mountain, rise like a monkey, fall like a sparrow, turn like a wheel, stretch like a bow, stand like a rooster, be stable like a pines, be light like leaves, be heavy like iron, be sharp like an eagle, be fast like the wind.

When practicing your form, every move, its combination, and the transition between each move must be executed appropriately, demonstrating clearly the dynamic changes in your rhythm. A form should be performed not only with fast pace, but also with varying speeds in order to balance the rhythmic changes of the techniques, such as moving and standing still, hard and soft, fast and slow.

During the form, how to balance correctly these contradictory and inter-connected relationships will directly affect the right rhythm and quality of your kung fu. A form with wrong rhythm appears dull and tasteless. For example, in a form, if there are no soft movements as a contrast to hard movements the form will appear stiff and rigid. Thus, it is essential to apply the principle of contradictions— hard and soft, fast and slow— in the practice of forms. Therefore, a student must study and try to understand how to apply the twelve patterns into their forms along with good solid basics, in order to achieve the correct rhythm in their kung fu.

Tai Chi Self Defense

There are other training methods within Tai Chi for those who wish to take it to its secondary level, a self defense art. The slow moving form is designed to give you the three main prerequisites for self defense: perfect balance, coordination, and, above all, timing. Once you have gained these prerequisites, you are able to go on to the more advanced techniques like push hands. Push hands is where a student starts to learn about the self defense aspects of Tai Chi. By joining hands with a partner, you learn to "feel" another person's movements. You learn to know about the center—where it is and how to find it. In this way, the whole body becomes highly sensitized, and you know intuitively just where and when an attack will occur. There is nothing supernatural about this. Through working with other people you begin to know how to distinguish between Yin and Yang and just how much power is needed to re-direct an on-coming force. You learn to yield to an attack rather than meet it head on. This doesn't mean that you give in to the attacker, you will still use Yang energy to up-root him. Yielding doesn't mean dead. Yin energy is very powerful and still contains some Yang energy. The sort of power that is used in push hands is like the power in a metal spring, it yields to the force but as it is pushed more it builds up it's potential energy and all of a sudden it bounces back with great force.

Push hands is an accumulation of all of your Tai Chi techniques and it is where you learn to turn the Chi you gained through form practice into jing. During push hands you learn to distinguish between different energies and when and where to use them. As the external body becomes more and more sensitive, so too does the mind and internal workings. When the mind becomes more sensitive so too does the external body become more sensitive and so on.

Students start with the basic single handed push hands, and once the basics of that have been learned they go on to the more complicated double push hands which involves two handed attacks. Once the basic double push hands has been learned, they then go back to the single push hands and introduce some more techniques. Many people dis-regard single push hands and try to go on to the more complicated double push hands too soon. Single push has so many subtleties that you should never get tired of practicing it, for you will find something new every time it is practiced.