Sunday, November 23, 2008
Things are starting to come together.
I decided to start tai chi because I believed and hoped it would improve my aikido. The fact that I am starting to love it as a marvelous art in it's own right is a bonus.
Practically every day I'm gaining new insights into aikido from tai chi. Now that I'm starting to understand the kua (hip joint/region) a little and how to "energize" and "release" it, I am wasting no time putting this knowledge into aikido to the best of my ability.
This joint/area is not one we pay much attention to in the West. According to Rick Barrett, there are not many nerve receptors in this area so we may not be as aware of it as other joints. I also heard this area is not easily injured, making it even easier to ignore.
Releasing the kua occurs in the moments when one wants to send the ki/qi down. It's basically relaxing and closing the joint. Now that I'm looking for it, I'm finding lots of such moments in aikido -- and not just the obvious ones.
This is how the sempai are able to create that drawing power, I think. It's the kind of thing that, once you are caught in it, you can't get out. These moments are extremely brief and easy to miss, which is probably why I had missed them up until now. In tai chi, the time over these moves is expanded, which makes the subtle points easier to notice and focus on. (Note I didn't say easy.)
Energizing the kua is just the opposite. It is done in moments when the energy is activated (used, extended) in the body and technique. CC Chen says this starts from the toe. You know, it works in a kind of cool way? Thinking of a throw coming from the "center" certainly has helped me. But now, the energizing of the kua has begun to make it more powerful. It gives the throw a rotational quality that is pretty powerful. I think this is how guys like Luke Machado can throw with such explosive force with out much lateral movement, which had always stumped me. I'll be working with this more to find out for sure.
Speaking of CC Chen, he was explaining about switching the energy from the toe, energizing the kua at a point in the form, when he said, "Of course, this is how it looks in the form." Then he walked over to the wall. "On the street, it's like this," and he gave a vertical mat some pretty explosive punches -- fa jing, the explosive expression of energy. It would be impressive at any age, but I believe the man is 73. Wow.