Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tai Chi and Karate – Part Two

Then living in New Hampshire my tai chi practice continued,

But it remained private.

I began my youth karate program at the Derry Boys and Girls Club,

This time including adult instruction.



One day prior to my regular early Morning Saturday Adult Class, my students watched me work on my tai chi.

Some of them were very interested,

And eventually asked if I could instruct them.


Just to make a point, the majority of students from Ernies schools

Did not have an interest to study tai chi,

Nor did most of my students have an interest.

Thus it was a small group who did.


I was driving a long way to work, every day, and did not believe I could do so on weekday evenings. So I countered yes I would, but only on Sunday mornings, on my driveway. Summer and winter.

Though not in rain, I explained why to them.

The Chinese practice in groups in China, outside,

in colder and hotter weather than we experience.


I did not want to take a step back from them. LOL.


So it began. When it was winter, we dressed accordingly.

When it was summer, we did the same.

And the rest of the year took care of itself.


One day in mid-winter my doctor asked to join the program.

He was studying a different form of karate.

As the group was quite small.


But the morning he arrived was a very frigid day,

with snow banks alongside the driveway/
He got out of the car and approached me.

“Victor, you must realize I am a surgeon

and cannot risk my hands in the cold.”

Where upon I responded with,

“That is ok, Doc, we have an answer for that ,

And it is called gloves!”


True story.


One morning it was -20f on my driveway.

We were doing some tai chi warm-up drills.

A police officer drove in front of my property,

Then he drove back in front of my property.

Then he walked down past my property,

then he walked back.


He obviously could not believe we were simply standing motionless

Outside in the cold.


I imagine he called it in, but the Police Chief knew who I was,

 As he was on the board of the boys club.


We were dressed for the weather,

And experienced how great after a tai chi workout you felt.


And in time they got it too.

It was most interesting to see their tai chi movement in action.


This went on for years, just doing Tai Chi.


One year in January, Ernie came to visit,

I invited him to join with us training.

He chose to remain inside, drinking coffee and watching us work outside.


There was a summer camp both Ernie and I attended, and taught at.

 For morning wake-up, I used to wake everyone up,

And then hold a tai chi class,

teaching a short version of the tai chi first row

 to allow them to experience, tai chi.



One day after I was doing Tai Chi for 10 years,

Ernie and I did half the Yang Long Fist Tai Chi Chaun form together

at a demonstration.

Most of it was filmed

 and I was amazed how after so many years of just self practice

I was doing mostly as he taught me.



One year I went to Pittsburgh

to share some of what I taught to Ernie’s students.

Out of the Blue Ernie decided to teach me more Yang Tai Chi straight sword.

It turns out what I was originally taught was just the first section of the form, So I worked, worked and worked again, He did film me doing the form.

Then I returned home to unending practice.


At another summer camp one evening,

Ernie asked me to go into an empty field with him.

There he asked me to do my Tai Chi,

I did so and he proceeded to tear apart everything I was doing wrong.

You end up feeling about 2 inches high.


But he used that experience to show how to move to a new layer of execution, explaining is own teacher also waited 15 years before he showed him.


So more things to learn.


When I studied Tai Chi, I wasn’t interested in the marital applications.

 Sure Ernie occasionally showed me some uses, but that was not our purpose.

Nor did I study move names,

Most of the instruction I received was non-verbal.


But in those years many things happened.


For one thing Ernie’s Eagle Claw instructor . Shum Leung

insisting Ernie learn his Wu Tai Chi Chaun style.

Which included the Wu Teaching form and the Wu Fast form.


Ernie’s own studies now included the Yang 24.

He had students in Pittsburgh now studying the 24

and the Yang Long Fist form.

He even prepared books for his students,

Ones with names for all the moves.


But I confess I am a poor student,

As I was not taught that way,

I didn’t start to memorize them.


Teaching Tai Chi at first,

I was just teaching the form as I was taught it.


But at that time,

I was beginning my own efforts of kata application possibility.


A number of valuable books started appearing.

Among them Dr. Yang’s Advanced Tai Chi,

Which looked at a variety of methods to apply the movements of Tai Chi.



They were very useful to my understanding what application potential

Could be.


In time at the conclusion of the Tai Chi class,

I would often work on some kata applications with the guys,

Inevitably hurting them in the process.


Then at the conclusion of karate class,

I would work some tai chi applications with the guys.

Again inevitably hurting them.


They approached me with an idea,


No more karate application studies after tai chi.

And no more tai chi application studies after karate.


What was occurring I realized in time,

That the tai chi was making me realize the power with karate,

Using the soft application of technique.


As my studies in application potential of movement continues,

for karate and for tai chi,

a difference was happening.


The manner of drinking and spitting is hard and soft.


I was understanding new ways this could be so.


Eventually I came to see my Tai Chi a different way,

It was not as moves to complete,

Rather it was a flow to enter and in time leave.


Part of that was an outgrowth of realizing application potential

Resides with different start points and different end points.

Tai Chi or Karate.


I also experienced learning the relation between tai chi for me,

When explaining how to shape a movement within tai chi,

I would find the same movement touching a karate application.


Just a brief touch in a technique.

One day I showed the movement to the guy’s,

 The next weekend with Sherman Harrill,

 They saw the same movement touch a karate application he was doing.


Watching the look on their faces,

As the realized that was what I had been showing them previously,

Was priceless.


It was in this I made the link between Tai Chi and Karate.

Something most insubstantial, but also very real.


I dove into my own practice with greater diligence.


The one weekend Ernie came again to visit.

This time he began teaching me the Wu Teaching Form, Tai Chi Chaun.

The movements came from the Yang form originally,

So I understood them a bit.


Once again his training pulled a single muscle,

in the middle of my right quadriceps muscle.


I guess that became a sort of tradition.


Then he left and I again had to practice.

Of course I had Shum Leung’s book on the form,

and a also a video tape of Shum doing the form.



Over the next few years I would visit him,

Or he would visit me.

I had the obligatory 5 lessons, and I also had the form.

Rather I had whatever I had of the form.


And more practice.

 Not to teach it but to learn more.



I did get several things out of it.


First many of the movements are near the Yang movements,

With techniques exaggerated that are later discarded in the Wu Fast Form.

Where the techniques become much smaller and more internalized.

This did help my own Yang practice.


The other thing is the hand formation used in the Wu form,

Definitely improved my own tai chi palm technique.

When I noticed that I remember calling Ernie,

And him explaining he experienced the same thing.


About that time one of our members died,

It was John Dinger, and of course he was too young.

That proved a catalyst for the other members

to decide that it was time for other things in their life.


Class goes on,

Class Ends.

That is life.


So my study continued by myself.

And that was ok.


Then in time I realized I really could not spend enough time

Practicing two different tai chi practices.

Reluctantly I set the Wu practice aside,

My link to the Yang was stronger.


So my practice continues,

I entered the flow,

And then I would leave the flow.


Working to understand karate application potential remained a focus.

Finding how the soft intertwined with the hard a passion,


Realizing that the study of application potential was just the beginning,

Then learning how to teach application realization,

For Karate and Tai Chi another mission.


Time passed,

I learned I had to contend with Diabeties Type 2,

Then I had to contest with Colon cancer.


I won both those challenges

with life changes definitely a part of the process.


But a new challenge, a series of disabilities,

Ones making most of my studies difficult to say the least.


I am weaker,

I have almost no small motor control.

Speech is difficult as my facial muscles are too week.

Then to top that off almost no balance left.


I found I could work on my kata, abet more slowly.

But my tai chi with it’s turning movements and stepping,

Was just to difficult.


It took a year, I worked out a different way to continue to practice a bit.


Karate of Tai Chi,

There is no distinguishable difference to me these day.



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