Thursday, July 20, 2017

Correct Alignment

Long ago checking out the alignment of Young Lee.
I had been doing Yang Tai Chi Chaun for 15 years, then one day at a summer camp my instructor asked to see my form, It was 3pm and we went out in a dark field, where I began the form.
Now I lived a great distance from my instructor, and I know I was worried what he would think. But I entered the Yang form.
He stopped me a short while later and informed me I had a great deal to learn about tai chi. Then he placed his hand lightly on my chest and barely pressed and I fell down. Time and again he did the same to me, and I kept falling. It certainly did not do much for my confidence.

Then he told me his instructor had done the same thing to him after 15 years and he too fell.
What was wrong was not that I forgot the movements,  rather that I was not properly aligning my body during those movements, placing myself off balance ready to be dropped.
What he showed me was a system to look at how I was aligned during my movements. The adjustments were simple, then when he touched me the same way I did not fall.
The other benefit was there was increased power in my movements when I was properly aligned.
And nothing special was involved, just a way to look at what I was originally shown.
I also realized had I been training regularly with my instructor he would have shown my errors sooner in a hands on fashion.
Still knowledge learned is knowledge gained.
The next week I was back teaching karate and tai chi. Putting one and one together, I realized that the answer was two.
If it worked for my tai chi why would it not work for my students karate. So I started observing my senior students more closely. And I saw a times their movements were improperly aligned as the did their kata.
So, I shouted stop, walked over and touched their chest, and they lost balance and started to fall causing them to step swiftly.
The another and another, enough to form a pattern.
A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight (yea Bubushi, and the Isshinryu Code of Karate).
At core nothing different from making sure things are being done correctly, But small things often go wrong and this shows a methodology to realize what is wrong and understand why a change must be made.
An added plus, with kobudo kata, the weapon made the imbalance if present easier to find, because of the line of the weapon handling.
So a touch at the right spot exposes the students (and our own) unbalance. A teaching tool.
There is another point to make, gaining such knowledge allows one to see when an opponent is also unbalanced and where to attack that unbalance most successfully. That is a real plus, knowledge that is most useful.
Being able to find when an opponent is open to attack.
At the time I learned this, in 1993, I was no longer interested in tournaments. Coming to realize that I was really judging what other instructors were teaching most of the time.
But the thing is this new knowledge now gave a new tool to objectively score even forms I did not know from systems I did not understand.
An example, a student competitor, does a custom made form showing there gymnastic abilities. If their alignment during movement is off, their technique is less effective. So a way to objectively explain the scores I give.
Another example a strike in a form which is done just for the movement continunity, and not for power, is likely hiding improper alignment behind the strike, It then is weaker, less effective, a lower score then is more reasonable.
It the early 1980s I literally had a whole load of the nations best kata and kobudo competitors on the floor to compete against. A large part of their success went to their great alignment ability in their forms.
Let me use one example, I always could tell when the students of Ron Martin were competing. They always had superior alignment in their forms.
So it was a tool, a way to see what you are facing, a method to direct your attack, too.
Alignment, the gift that keeps on giving.

Teaching my advanced class, as time passed I became flawed, I used the time for my own training. Then not paying close attention to what the other advanced students were doing, over time there were often imperfection which became ingrained in their movements.
They were correctly practicing and at the same time deviations were occurring.
What I found when I understood the power of Energy Point Alignment, it placed a powerful tool at my disposal. It was no longer enough to just tell someone they had to make a correction. They could experience the weakness they were causing, how they were unbalanced. And the lesser power they were creating.
It gave them a reason to correct themselves. And that is power.
This works regardless of the system, for all systems of movement have their own unique alignment points.
And as you learn how to use this tool to understand what you are actually doing, you then begin to learn how to read others alignment in turn. Understanding what weaknesses they have presented to attack.

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