Banana milkshake isn’t the secret to winning

I’ve always enjoyed competing and it really focuses my training.

One particular competition in London, I’d spent a few months training. We’d regularly practice pushing hands few times a week, neigong (internal training) and conditioning exercises every day. I’d say I was pretty well prepared.

As with large competition events there is a lot of waiting around till you get your time to perform, you get time to watch other participants and have a catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while.

At this venue they do excellent milkshakes and thought I’d have plenty of time to try one and have some lunch. Sitting in the cafe relaxing I can see my fellow competitors getting ready for the next round. At this point it suddenly dawns on me that they are calling my name to the floor.

Oh man. I rushed down and made myself known. I thought I’ve got this. Took my position. Pushing hands at these competitions are short 30 second rounds, each hand. Start left hand then right hand or is it the other way round. Anyway as one takes points from a stumble or touching the floor with a hand or pushed out the ring they stop the clock. A round in reality lasts 5 minutes or an eternity.

After a couple of minutes I can feel the milkshake mixing around in my dantian, na it was in my tummy and I thought I’m going to be sick. I managed to keep my it together and finish the rounds.

Got a couple of medals that day, but my biggest lesson was don’t lose focus, drink banana milkshake and don’t drink banana milkshake.

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.