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ralph haenel, hänelwingtsun, wing tsun kung fu instructor, author, publisher, self-defense expert Sifu Ralph Haenel, learning and teaching Wing Tsun Kung Fu since 1984
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Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
A few words about our ChiKung classes
April 16th was the date of yet another one of our WingTsun-ChiKung classes. This evening featured the Cham-Kiu form, often neglected but once discovered or better re-discovered a form invaluable to the progress of one's Wing Tsun skills.
You will, even in the Wing Tsun system by different representatives, often notice personal interpretations, as for example the repetition of the last kick on the right side.
Many have asked the question over the years addressing several of Yip Man's senior students, as to why the kick is typically performed only once to the left, without a truly satisfying answer.
If you check youtube or google video for other (Wing Tsun, WT!) Cham-Kiu forms, you will always notice a few interpretations here and there. Video clips are merely intended to show you the general order of movements. Everything else has to be trained in class, live! ;-)
Once again note, Wing Chun or Ving Tsun forms are often trained with a very different focus.
I mentioned in class a few general training methods. For the idea or meaning of "fast", "regular" or "slow" please refer to our classes, it is very difficult to describe with words.
- regular speed with focus on technical aspects, complete form under 2 minutes
- fast and powerful, accelerated punches, palm strikes, kicks, etc., 1 minute+
- very slow, focus on breathing and body posture, less attention to angles and positions
- very slow, focus on stretching between opposing joints, working all points of attention, often 10 to 15 points, at the same time
- very slow, focus on "working the Chi", I have mentioned several ideas or better visualizations as being used in traditional ChiKung styles
Very slow can mean anything from 20 minutes to three hours or longer to finish the form once!
We have also talked about the fact, that the effects you might feel can differ very much from week to week. Many who train consistently and progress oriented, experience step by step changes as to what muscles will be involved, how ligaments and tendons are being accessed.
You have to watch your form (in a mirror), FEEL your progress and try to push yourself every time a little bit further, move a little bit slower, pay a bit more attention to details, hold positions while stretching a bit longer.
Videotape yourself and then really try to watch it. :-)
Remember, we want to progress from short-term stretching towards long-term lengthening of muscles.
View the kicks of the Cham-Kiu form as slow and detailed exercises for stretching, posture, positioning, and foremost as balance exercise.
Experiment during the stance turning exercises with the involvement of your ankles, knees, hips and the positioning of your spine/neck vs. shoulders and "open" chest.
We have talked about the idea of the "power of the seven joints" as being an abstract picture/visualization to involve increasingly the continuous and progressive stretching between ALL opposing joints.
We eventually want to be able to generate power via connected muscle groups throughout the body, perform truly whiplash like motion that can be viewed as fluid and elegant, kind of like a ripple effect after throwing a rock into a lake. Or in one word: Elasticity. Once again it becomes apparent why we call our ChiKung/form classes 'CorePower in Motion!'
Recently a Tai Chi expert watched our Chi-Sau training and asked me about how long (as in decades) I am practicing a particular Tai Chi style. I have never done Tai-Chi. The not so secret revelation is that styles considered to be 'inner styles' or 'internal styles' must move, must be performed in a somewhat similar way. That is why you will discover certain (limited) similarities in Wing Tsun, Tai Chi*, Hsing-I* (or Hsing-Yi), Pakua Chang*, or even Aikido and Judo.
* or T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Xíngyìquán and Baguazhang, the neijia arts.
Everything has its limitations, never get taken by circus tricks, the no-touch knockouts, etc. supposedly demonstrating internal power, Chi-Power. As much as those video clips can be found at youtube, stay real.
The dates of our upcoming ChiKung classes will be listed at the following link:

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:27 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007 12:38 PM PDT

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