I have been thinking a lot lately about one of my last seminars with Jan Nevelius in Trondheim. Jan is a great 6th dan from Vanadis dojo (Stockholm). Together with Jorma Lyly he has made my Aikido vision much richer, my technique much better, my way of teaching more structured and gave me lots of motivations in exploring new aspects of martial arts.
Now, in China, living in a city where there is no established Aikido club, I have started practicing Chinese martial arts, 武術 (wǔ shù). Yesterday I went to my first lesson of what we, Western people, call Tai Chi Chuan, but around here is 太极拳, tài jí quán, TaiJi, from now on :-)
In the Trondheim seminar, Nevelius worked a lot on circular movements and comparison between Aikido and Chinese forms called Bā guà zhǎng, 八卦掌, and Hsing I, more properly called Xíng yì quán, 形意拳. The first one is an external form, where the practitioner “walk the circle” stepping around the danger until suddenly the action takes him into dealing with the
treat threat (*), inside the imaginary circle he was walking around. Hsing I is on the other hand facing the treat threat (*) from an internal point of view, direction, position. But all my knowledge of these arts come from something Janne showed us and from reading.
Now I finally got a chance to try something for real, thanks to a friend who is practicing with the same master a form of Chinese sword wu shu, very interesting as well to watch, maybe learn one day. I decided though to ask the master (师傅, shī fu, equivalent of sensei in Japanese) to teach me TaiJi because I consider it one of the most complete form of martial arts and from the little I have seen and tried, I am confident it will help me to improve my Aikido as well! The master showed me some application of the basic 3 movements he taught me.. and my mind jumped to the extremely similar Aikido techniques.
Of course, now all the time it is me who heard from the teacher:
放松, fàng sōng – relax!
do not use force
let the movement start from the center
extend the arm
down on your knees
..in Chinese.. with my friend translating! I will buy her a couple of dinners ;-)
For now, the first day I learnt a couple of basic movements that will keep me busy for long in order to perform correctly, and a static position, similar to the one that some Norwegian Aikido practitioners, especially from the far north, call Qi Gong, 气功.. but when I asked the teacher if it was related he just laughed.. lost in translation effects :-)
I only know that watching the master moving is just great (60 years old chairman of kung fu teaching in one of the local universities!), and my knees and back today are a little sore!! Good sign! I lookk forward to mroe practice next week! Even if it is in the center in the evening, so 12 km. by bus and return by taxi, when no overtime at work required..