Improve your practice

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Lockjaw, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Lockjaw

    Lockjaw Killing you softly

    Apply these to your form, your techniques, your applications and especially your drills & sparring.

    1. LOWER

    Everything you train today should be a little lower than it was yesterday. And make tomorrow a little lower than today.

    Keep at it until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

    Don’t compromise structure or softness.

    Once you can move as comfortably, easily and softly at thighs parallel as you you can standing up then your work here is done.

    2. SLOWER

    How slow can you train without stopping?

    Now work on going slower.

    Make sure to maintain constant, smooth movement the whole time.

    No starts and stops.

    This is especially important training for partner drills and sparring.

    3. SOFTER

    There’s no end to this one.

    Relax more and deeper and more completely.

    ...and then become even softer.

    Lower, Slower and Softer.

    These are not fun to work on.

    ...mostly because progress feels slow and the more you improve the more you realize how much more room for improvement you still have.

    Don’t get discouraged.

    Even a little bit, done consistently will produce great results...

    As long as you have good training methods to start with.

    Practice the material you’ll get a lot of great stuff out of it.

    But if you train that stuff AND apply Lower, Slower, Softer the benefits will be greatly enhanced.

    So, Why Lower?

    Well, your ability to relax and move well at ‘thighs parallel’ has a direct impact on your power and quality of movement when you are standing up.

    One aspect of this is that the stronger your legs are the less effort it takes to support & move your body weight. The less effort it takes to stand and move the more you can relax and be softer.

    The stronger your legs are, the softer you can be.

    So, even in arts like Tai Chi and Bagua that often (though not always) fight standing up, this low training will greatly improve your expression of the art.

    Also, as soon as you start working low, tension and structural errors stick out like sore thumb. Forcing you to correct them.

    Next, Low training allows you to use all 3 dimensions much more effectively.

    This freedom of movement not only adds a lot of power,

    - It also greatly increases your ability to use ALL the space around you,

    - It increases your reach,

    - It’s one way to say out of of your opponents reach but keep them within yours,

    - and it allows you to capitalize on any stiffness or hole in your opponents range of movement.

    Of course it takes time to build this kind of leg strength.

    So, you need to start training with things you can use right now.

    ...with things that work well with the strengths and weaknesses that you have at this very moment.

    You DON’T need to spend years training low postures BEFORE you can fight with the art.

    Why slower?

    So, first the training benefits of slower. (we’ll get the martial application in a minute.)

    Start slow to learn then speed it up.

    Obviously you need to train at medium and fast speeds on a regular basis.

    The thing with the Internal Martial Arts is that we're always adding layers of depth and refining to a higher level.

    You have 2 options.

    1) Slowly increase the speed until you can do this against a full speed attacker.


    2) Refine the skill.

    Stay slow or go even slower.Use less movement. Use more softness. While getting even better dissipation of the incoming force.

    Then there’s a third option.

    3) Combine.

    You take the power methods and the dissipation skill and you start combining them. So they all happen at once. Correctly.

    Then we’re back to the first two options... ...and of course we do both.

    It’s a never ending cycle of refining skills and combining skills.

    ...and so the ‘start slow to learn’ part of that first statement never ends.

    Now the martial benefit.

    We have to assume the attackers are faster than us. (yes, we’re assuming there’s more than one also.)

    If you don’t make this assumption you are in for a very unpleasant surprise if you ever have to use your art for survival.

    So, we must train to use Position, Timing to overcome faster opponents.

    (Of course we build speed too.)

    The good news is that not only will Position and Timing beat speed.

    Position and Timing will continually improve as long as you work on them. some point your speed will decline no matter what you do.

    So, if you move faster than your partner you are making a dangerous assumption and building bad habits.

    (Moving sooner than your partner is ok. Faster is not.)

    Moving at the same speed as your partner(s) is ok.

    Moving slower than your partner(s) (and learning to still completely dominate the situation) is better.

    The way we often determine speed on slow drills & sparring is:

    Go as fast as you can while still being able to see EVERYTHING you and your partner are doing from head to toe. Training this way will rapidly increase the speed at which you perceive everything that is happening around you.

    When you start to get good at moving slowly your partners will begin to walk right into things because your position is smarter and they are moving faster than what they can effectively perceive.

    So, take all the different push hands games and drills, and spend time training them at an excruciatingly slow speed.

    If you put in the time to do that, you’ll find your skill actually increases faster.

    One last thing, instead of starting slow and speeding up. Try starting slow and slowing down. This will magnify the benefits discussed above and you'll get other things out of it as well.
  2. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I don't like "slow" training. When you train "slow", you will develop many bad habits. It's better to train fast and correct your mistake along your training than to train slow and be perfect all the time.

    A good product is not a product that has 0 defect. A good product is a product that has the least amount defects but most affordable.

    A good MA skill is not a skill that's 100% perfect. A good MA skill is a skill that can work in combat with less errors.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  3. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    I sometimes need to slow something down, before I can get all the steps perfect and perform a technique speedily. It can highlight weaknesses and gaps in your technique that your gym mates might not normally exploit, but a competitor might. Kind of like playing a song at a slower tempo to practice playing it quickly.
  4. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    i'm with you. doesn't work in reality. fighting doesn't happen an 1/4 speed.
  5. Dave76

    Dave76 Valued Member

    As the thread title states this is about "improve your practice" not, how to fight
  6. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    did you miss the parts of the post that mentioned "application", "fight"-ing and "sparring"?


    just so there's no misunderstanding....i'm not trolling the tai chi forum. and i'm not saying that you should do bjj or mma or boxing or whatever. i was just reacting to the fighting part of the post. sure, going slower, lower, etc. could certainly help your tai chi form. but you know, the op mentions fighting and sparring in his post. just doesn't follow to fight slower. that's all i'm saying, with all due respect.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  7. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    If your goal is not fighting then why do you want to "improve your practice" for? Improve for what?

    Of course you can practice for:

    - health,
    - self-cultivation,
    - inner peace,
    - performance,
    - ...

    If that's the case then you can train "slow" for the rest of your life. You don't even need to "improve anything".
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  8. Dave76

    Dave76 Valued Member

    I didn't take this article to be saying only train slow. Maybe that is our difference. Only training slow would be silly(assuming the goal is learning to fight better).
  9. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    to put things in context
    YKW comes from a CMA background where people practice to fight.
  10. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    We are discussing which of the following approaches is better:

    1. Train slow to get perfect technique and speed up later.
    2. Train fast and correct your technique when you move fast.

    Most Taiji systems take the 1st apporach. Some system such as longfist and Chinese wrestling take the 2nd approach. Since Taiji was my 1st style (I learned it when I was 7), I'm quite familiar the PRO and CON of the slow training. I personal like the 2nd approach better because it maps much closer to the true combat.

    Here is a clip. The coach gave order of "1,2". When the coach said "1", the opponent attacks. When the coach gave order "2", the other applied technique. The "1,2" will get faster and faster day by day. The day that "1,2" can become just one move, the day that students may develop some useful skill.

    Will your move be perfect when you move fast? Of course not. If that's how fast that your opponent may attack you, that will be the best you can do. You just don't have the luxury in any speed slower than that.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  11. Dave76

    Dave76 Valued Member

    These are the things in the op that made me think slow wasn't being recomended as a constant training or as a way to fight.

    1. Train slow to get perfect technique and speed up later.
    2. Train fast and correct your technique when you move fast.

    why does it need to be either/or is there something preventing some alternation of these methods? As I think about my past training it was generaly a combination of both.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  12. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Can you ask a football player to tackle you in slow speed? Without speed, there is no momentum. Without momentum, many techniques just won't work.

    Sometime you don't feel like to work out, should you just take a break, or should you just train slow?

    I can only speak for myself. I prefer not to work out than to work out in slow speed. The reason is simple. I don't want my body to get used to the slow speed. When my body get use to it, I may never be able to get ride of it.

    I just saw a movie "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" not too long ago. In that movie, his teacher wanted him to chop down a tree with just one swing. It's the "spirit" that you want to develop. If you chop a tree down by 10 swings, you will develop different "spirit". If you train your move in slow speed, you will not be able to develop that aggressive "spirit". Without aggressive spirit, that's bad habit by my definition.

    At 1.01 in this clip. You can see "explosive power" in that single axe swing. There is no way that you can develop that spirit in slow speed.

    [ame=""]Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Featurette (HD) - YouTube[/ame]
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  13. Dave76

    Dave76 Valued Member

    I'm sure when you were learning, you went slow. Imagine learning parries at full speed! :D
  14. Dave76

    Dave76 Valued Member

    Just to be clear, I originaly posted because I thought the OP was misunderstood, rather than to take a stance on his advise. I do however think everyone learns by moving slow at the beggining. I think the only way I've been trained was go slow to get the form down, once form is established increase speed while keeping form.
  15. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    I think that's the issue being discussed.
    Sure, practice slow in the beginning to get a 'feel' - but you need to start notching it up pretty quick, otherwise you're not practice a fighting technique, but a slow-mo choreography. As YKW says, it's about the spirit/life behind the practice.
    What the OP is suggesting is the reverse, instead of speeding up, to get closer to 'real' speed, slow down further and further.
  16. Lockjaw

    Lockjaw Killing you softly

    Practice is all speeds of form, and movement, and I'm sorry if anyone misunderstood, as slow movements are used to help with balance, and understanding the form, and allowing you to break down the movement for a better understanding of your rooting, posture, and stance.

    This post is just a guide on how you could think about practice, don't get hung up on just the slow movements, but look at it as a suggestion of how to train.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  17. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    People said, "If you train slow, you will move fast later." I have seen people who trained slow when he was young. he still trained slow when he was old. :(

    [ame=""]Chen Man-Ch'ing Short Tai Chi Form - YouTube[/ame]
  18. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    It's just a discussion. There is no right or wrong there but discussion on the PRO and CON for both approaches.

    Old TCMA saying said, "If you think about speed, it's not your true speed. If you think about power, it's not your true power." It can also apply to:

    If you think about your:

    - rooting, it's not your true rooting.
    - posture, it's not your true posture.
    - stance, it's not your true stance.

    When your body move in combat speed, whether you are doing 100% correct, 70% correct, or even 50% correct, that will be the "true you". If you train in slow speed, that will be the "fake you" and not the "true you".

    When you take your TOEFL, SAT, or GRE exam, you will have time limitation. You have to answer each question within 1 minute timeframe. If you have to use 2 minutes to answer each question, you may get your answer 100% correct but you won't be able to have time to finish all your questions. Your final score will not be high.

    If you take your IQ test, you have to take it within a certain amount of time. If you take more time than the requirement, that will not be your true IQ score. MA training is the same. You always want to know your true ability and not your fake ability.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  19. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    As far as your 1. LOWER and 3. SOFTER, I agree with you 100% there. There is nothing to discuss about. It's so funny that the only interest online discussion always start from certain subjects that different opinions may exist.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  20. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    I think you've misunderstood the original post. It doesn't tell people to fight slowly (!) it suggests that you practise your form (and your push hands) lower, slower and softer - in order to achieve greater benefits if you did have to use your Taiji in a real fight.

    You don't practise the slow forms slowly so that you can fight slowly. That would be ridiculous. You practise them slowly for a variety of reasons, including learning correct posture and learning to relax as you move. This is a lot easier to do in a slow form. Only when you have learned the slow form well can you progress to the fast form.

Share This Page