Fairfield Workshop Review
Posted by Editor on December 10, 2007
Gene Hess attended the Fairfield workshop, and collaborated with the organizers to compile a detailed summary of the weekend’s activities:
The November 10 & 11 workshop, in Fairfield, Iowa was a huge success. The workshop was hosted and organized by John Brown. Assisting Master Chen during the workshop were John Brown, Tim Duehring, and Bill Krumm. Participants came from as far away as Puerto Rico.
The weekend was jam-packed with Taiji instruction by Master Chen.
Saturday included Silk Reeling exercises, including applications of the movements for counters to joint locks. Part of each day was spent working on the Practical Method Yilu, and applications of this form. Moves were broken down, step by step, and emphasis was stressed on key structural points. The first section was repeated many times, with counting applied, for precise recognition of each segment of movement and its corresponding non moving counterpart.
Many different drills were taught to develop skills needed to improve Taiji performance in push hands and applications. Master Chen demonstrated drills in depth, and then followed with discussions of each drill’s intent and purpose. Then he helped each student with individual corrections so that the student’s performance of the drills quickly showed improvement. Focus on the correct usage of the feet and waist was emphasized.
As always great attention was given to fixity of non movement at the point of contact, with attachment as the basis for appropriate alignment of structure. Some of the floor drills were taught to demonstrate how the hands are used to attach to the opponent and then the correct action of the body, to bounce or move the opponent. Training to find the sweet spot on an opponent, (where they are double-heavy) was also taught. This included learning points to aim a push from, and where to aim on the opponent’s body for maximum results. Some of these drills are found on the Foundations 3 Advanced Movements and Applications DVD that has recently been released.
Sunday morning, Master Chen taught Hunyuan Qigong. After a vigorous workout on Saturday, this was the perfect way to start Sunday’s training. Part of the day was then spent training with rubber tubing. There were several different ways of using the rubber tubing as a training tool. One of the drills involved tying two opponents together with the tubing. The tubing bound the upper arms and elbows to each player’s respective torso, so that they had to “keep their elbows in”, and rely on rotation. The players then did push hands. The drills were extremely effective in teaching the participants about of the role of the waist, rotation, and movement of the feet, as well as the obvious value for clarifying what it means, and why it is so crucial to “not move the hand.”
The rubber tubing was also used to practice circles. Many principles and structural requirements were revealed in these drills. The pulling force of the tubing helped train the arm to stay “in the tube”. The resistance was instructive in quickly exposing any incorrect alignment of structure, and pointed the way to adjust the body for better alignment. The practice also served to refine the precision of turning the torso for better flow of movement in each segment of the inward and outward circles. One drill was especially valuable for training the exact positioning of folding the front kua, in coordination with the withdrawal of the front foot on the inward pull. Another drill addressed the sensation of being double heavy and training the body to use the pumping action of the two knees, in an alternating method, while maintaining proper structure and balance, to overcome being double heavy. These drills were really appreciated by everyone there. It was a lot of fun, while inspiring everyone to practice this at home.
Later Sunday, Master Chen performed the Cannon Fist Form and Straight Sword Form. Then Tim Duehring gave a performance of the Hunyuan 24 form as well as the Chen Broadsword form. Xavier Santiago, from Puerto Rico, demonstrated Hunyuan 48. Paul Fabek of Fairfield demonstrated Shaolin Broadsword. Chris Dusek of Des Moines demonstrated Wu style straight sword. Sunday ended with a discussion on the theory and practice of Qigong, and other questions and answers on a wide range of topics.
Spirits and energy were high from the beginning till the end of the workshop. Everyone enjoyed a sense of camaraderie and excitement as they learned more about the art of Chen Taiji from Master Chen Zhonghua. Everyone expressed their zeal and great appreciation, along with an eagerness to see Master Chen again soon.