Saturday, May 14, 2011

Breaking things apart...

I have been working heavily on breaking down the different houtian forms lately. There are going to be several posts on this blog as each piece is part of the whole, but can easily by isolated for training purposes.

From my experience, we can break each houtian up in the following ways:
1. Form
2. Shou Fa - Hand Methods - solo
3. Shen Fa - Body Methods - solo
4. Drills - two person exercises designed to train a specific principle/method.
5. Rou Shou - how to apply from a point of contact
6. Application - how to apply from a point of no contact.

For those of you that do not know what the houtian are; there are 64 forms in the Gao style Bagua system, each form is a method for training a specific principle. There are eight different houtian lines and each one contains eight forms, making up the 64. Each one of the lines is more specific to a type of usage than another; ex - hitting, kicking, elbows, subtlety, cleverness... Okay, now that we have that laid out we can move on...

1. Form

I have been breaking things up in the following way so I can try and extrapolate as much as possible. First I look at the form as a whole and see which parts are the focal points. I call this the step by step or one movement one count. These can be considered as change points or as Luo Dexiu likes to call them, "photo by photo". One of the ways that I learned to do forms was to work on making a relaxed and stable structure in all of these change points and then carry that relaxed and stable structure through each transition to the next change point. Much easier said than done! 
As your body and mind relax and get used to the different postures you need to put it all back together. This is where we begin seeing two movements in one count; smoothing things out. Once you have sewn all the pieces back together you can do all of the movements in one count.  This is teaching the body to move as a whole unit and changing with structure and power; training to move with efficiency and power.  The key thing is to do the forms in a relaxed and stable manner and really play with them in order to make them yours!
Once you are able to do a form with good structure and relaxation you should then seek to play with all the different aspects of body usage that are contained within the form.  Isolating specific movements in the form and training them as isolated exercises is a good method for training specific aspects of body usage.This is where I will pick up next time...

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