Mind the Gap

Why do we train Tai Chi Ch’uan at such a low rate of speed?  The answer I give is the answer given by Grand Master Wm C.C. Chen, “We move so slowly because we only allow ourselves to be moved by the forces and pressures around us.  When we do form by ourselves all we have is the wind and gravity to move us”. If you haven’t guessed it by now, I want to look at speed and focus in this post.

There is another answer that is given when people ask why Tai Chi Ch’uan is done at such a low rate of speed.  That answer details that the form is done slowly because there are so many different movements to consider, from the position of the toes to the alignment of the spine and skull.  Now not that it isn’t true; however, in my studies, I have found that true for every martial art not just Tai Chi Ch’uan.  And also, it brings up a good point.  There are so many things going on at any given point in time while doing a form, any form, that we have to mind what is going on at all times or it is possible that something will be missed while doing a form and we may miss a step.   Where you are standing is just as important as where you are going.  If you are unsure if the footing around you is stable or not then you have no solid foundation of knowledge that can lead you to a fully solid and developed step. 

“Mind the Gap”, watch your step; this is a saying that I take to heart when doing the Yang Styled Tai Chi Ch’uan form I was taught.  “Watch your feet” is how I define it.  Throughout my training I have come to find that a vast majority of the people starting out in the martial arts, and many others that have been doing it for years, concern themselves far too much with hand, kicking, trapping, locking and throwing  techniques.  They look at the flare and flash that they see with hand movements, kicking, and jumps and rolls, and want to do that first.  It always strikes new students of mine when I say, “If you have a problem with any technique you want to do, look at your feet first and see what they are doing before, during and after the technique; after that, look at your leg positions, then hips, then spine and skull, then your chest and back, and then your arms and hands.  No matter how good everything else is, if you have bad feet the technique will be bad”.  This is, sometimes, their first entry to understanding that speed and focus go hand-and-hand when training.  There is nothing wrong with doing a technique quickly, as long as you do everything well while doing it quick.  If not, relax; slow down your thought process so that you can better focus on the task at hand.  Also note, just because you do something quickly doesn’t mean you can do it well, and the same goes for going slowly.  So many people get too into the slow movements and lose the development gained by understanding movements at a quicker pace. Note how I use the term quick and not fast; timing is just as, if not more so, important than what many call being fast.  You can be as fast as you want, without proper timing you are less likely to land where you want.

So main point of the day, Mind the Gap; watch your feet, understand where your focus needs to be to lay solid steps, and generate an appropriately focused pace, in doing so you will gain a greater understanding of how to increase your efficiency, in life and in the martial arts.

 For more information Winston’s his martial arts academy please visit Internal Magnification.  

Winston Price, Executive Producer, has over a decade and a half of marketing, advertising and public relations experience. He began his business career in 1995 and is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington. Winston also is a master martial artist and personal trainer with over 2 decades of knowledge and experience. Winston runs his own school, Internal Magnification Martial Arts, where he focuses on helping people reach their personal goals of health and fitness via At-Home personal training with martial foci of Taekwondo, Tai Chi Ch’uan, Hapkido and Ba Gua Zhang. As an executive producer for VoiceAmerica, Winston utilizes his skills in business and personal training to help new and existing hosts maximize their opportunity with the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network by supporting his hosts with the business and personal aspects of creating and developing their show. Winston believes that each host brings their own flavor to the Network. By properly coaching and motivating his hosts, they are able to produce THEIR show with THEIR style and THEIR passion being at the forefront of every broadcast.