Pat the horse high and spread the hand

Pat the horse high

This is part of the form. It is near the beginning of the short form, after we have done cloud hands and before the section with the kicks. In long form, pat the horse high is done several times and not always followed with spread the hands.

As an application it has to be set up. You would need to enter with something like spread the hands and then pat the horse high. Pat the horse high is a very effective move. It can be used to trip or throw your opponent.

For health you are stretching or opening up then contracting or closing in. This movement is good for open and closing the chest area. The knees and arms get a good work out too.

Spreading the hands, the focus should be on the striking hand. Opening the chest area. You are coming from being small to being large.

I like these two moves because they are very effective and relatively simple to execute.

Pat the horse high must be an important move because it features often in the long form. Other styles of tai chi also have these moves in their forms.

Wu wei, Not much going on

Last few weeks have been quiet on the tai chi front. The uk has been in a national lockdown due to high COVID 19 infection rates. We have continued with personal training and hopefully as the roll out of the vaccines takes affect we will be able to get back to some sort of normal.

Wu wei literally means ‘no action’ – http://www.britanica.com

In tai chi there is a bit more to it. The most obvious place Wu wei is, is at the beginning and end of form. We stand there just before you perform the first movement and when you come to rest at the end. The moment you can relax. There is a moment, could be milliseconds or several seconds and then you move into the first movement beginning style.

In everyday life we can use Wu wei, before doing a task at work or home. We may have to wait to pay for shopping and standing there we can Wu wei. In modern life we tend to cram so much into our day and be busy tapping on our phones, looking on social media or news items. This can stress us out, I have found Wu wei a useful tool to trying to keep my head in a crazy world. Having a sit down for 5 minutes and doing nothing may seem unproductive but it can help with stress level and also give you time to reflect.

Wu wei even though it may seem you are doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something.

Not just unique to tai chi, other martial arts have exercises and theories that incorporate Wu wei.

Enjoy doing nothing and see you next time.

Introduction to Qigong

Qigong and tai chi have a connection, both are heavily influenced by Daoism. The practice of qigong can be traced back to ancient China, some say its origins go back five thousand years but more likely 2 or 3 thousand years.

Qigong exercises can be moving and fixed. The moving exercises are where parts of body such as the arms or waist is moving. Fixed is holding a position or posture.

Qigong when learnt correctly can be very beneficial for health. If incorrectly taught can cause physical and mental health problems. Always seek a trained and experienced practitioner. If you have problems, STOP.

There are many resources for qigong exercises the internet and books to buy showing qigong. This is no substitute for a teacher as they can spot things that aren’t correct such as incorrect posture or breathing.

I practice a qigong set called Baduanjin (Eight brocades of the immortal family) as taught by my Teacher and their teacher before them. The exercises are based on those taught by General Yue Fei. Legend states he taught these exercises to his troops to keep them fit and healthy. Ready for battle.

There are many versions of baduanjin and is a subject in itself.

Qigong can be practiced sitting or lying in bed. This makes it practical for those who are recovering from illness, have difficulty standing and elderly people.

Many of the qigong exercises have many benefits such as improving balance and breathing.

You can find more information on the NHS website and TCUGB in the UK.

First tai chi workshop since Covid-19 lockdown

Small group of PTCCI students of Dan met up near Northampton at the weekend for some socially distance instruction from Dan Docherty.

There around 12 of us in attendance. It was a bit awkward at first, remembering to keep our distance and wearing masks when necessary.

Arranged by Caroline, everything was in place to make it as safe as possible and limit the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.

Dan went through the first section of the long form and explained some of the applications. We opened with exercises such as pillar support the sky, tiger embrace head, cloud hands and retrieve the moon from the bottom of the sea. These exercises are really good for the spine.

Later he went through the Spear form, giving us much needed corrections and more in depth explanation of what we are doing in respect to applications.

I think everyone benefited greatly on Sunday from Dan Docherty instruction.

It was nice to see some old friends, some who have recently recovered from the COVID-19 and others who have been in many months of self isolation.

Hopefully another workshop will be around corner.

Bare feet or shoes

Training in bare feet is so much better. This depends on the circumstances and environment that you are practicing in.

On the grass, Sandy beach or in the comfort of your home, bare feet is practical and very beneficial for building up strength in the feet. Feeling more connected to the ground, the feel of grass or sand between the toes is a nice experience.

On concrete or rough floor I prefer to train in wide fitting pumps, I avoid narrow fitting trainers and running shoes with a spongy sole. Flat soles are proven to relieve back pressure and improve posture over time.

Kung fu style shoes

Shoes for tai chi are inexpensive, I think I brought these off Amazon for about fifteen pounds. You can get pumps from the supermarket or local shoe shop.

The important thing is to feel comfortable and enjoy your tai chi

Three amigos go training

Three of us were able to meet up in a suitable location while adhering to social distancing rules. It was nice to meet up for a couple of hours. Having a catch up and remembering to keep our distance. We had plenty to do practicing our forms and having a brief discussion to see what we’ve forgotten, what we have discovered while training alone and sharing these ideas and giving feedback on how each of us can improve. We went through our short and long form a few times while a storm was brewing in the distance. With a rumble of thunder we thought we leave the running thunder hands till next week.

Big stone hands in Lake District

Single whip

Single whip as demonstrated by jon
Single whip

Single whip is common in most styles of tai chi. It appears several times in the forms and is a good posture to hold for qigong practice. Single whip appears early in the form and repeated throughout.

Single whip is a useful self defence move and has multiple variations. Defending from a punch, grabbing the arm and striking their head can be quite effective.

The arms being raised and standing in a horse riding stance can provide health benefits to the heart and groin area.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and you should always consult your doctor before undertaking any exercises.