I attended the Sam Chin seminar in Santa Ana last weekend.
This was my first Chinese martial art seminar.
First part was Sifu Sam Chin discussing his philosophy and concepts for about 45 minutes. He had very detailed explanations for everything.
He has these 13 points (Knees aligned with big toe, head positions so the crown is suspended, etc) that you need to maintain in order to have the right alignment. Keeping all of those straight in your head while moving is a bit of a challenge, when you are new to it like I was.
Spent time moving our hands in different planes and trying to develop a connection with our centers. Then we moved onto "spinning" where partners face each other and spun our hands against each other in circles while trying to maintain the hand-body connection we were working on before. That is really challenging. I was trying to move with my center, but under pressure, my shoulders kept turning back on. It is way easier staying relaxed spinning my hands in empty air, but when I actually had to apply the movements in a very limited and controlled setting one-on-one, not so successful. Keeping the 13 points straight was really difficult, but you got immediate feedback when you were doing one of them wrong, especially when we started to push and pull on each other.
Now that we had feedback working under pressure, we went back to moving our hands in the different planes solo, then we went back to paired partner practice. Overall it is not a bad strategy. Learn a concept, try the movements solo, then apply them with a partner dealing with actually forces, get the feedback on what you are doing, then back to solo work for retuning. Rinse lather repeat.
During a break, Sifu Chin asked me if a concept that he demonstrated was similar to anything in Aikido. I then showed him a copy of Endo's "Atari and Musubi" DVD that I had on my Kindle Fire. After watching for a few minutes, he said "Yes, we do the same thing" and then bounced me around for a while to demonstrate. It was fun.
I had a reasonable amount of one-on-one time with him. I just could not penetrate his defenses. He was always able to get to my center, even when it looked mechanically like I had the advantage.
The terms like condense, dissolve and expand from the back were rather new to me. So was the concept that each point of contact had a circle (or sphere) that had a center and therefore a cross in it. Each quarter of the circle, as divided by the cross, required a different type of movement to transverse. Although it made things seem complicated a first, it actually made it simpler since all the movements were described in detail.
Sifu Chin developed a system, put a lot of work into it. Deconstructed and then reconstructed it for the masses. He is also a likeable guy, approachable, interested in our feedback and opinions, tried to answer our questions and gave everyone some one-on-one time.
Two of the senior students gave an informal demo of advanced spinning, which looked like high speed paired tai chi. It was actually quite impressive since when I worked with them one-on-one in class, they were pretty solid and I could not get them to move during our push-pull exercises.
Summary: I need to wait a few months to see how my Aikido will changed based on this exposure. It was definitely worth while and I recommend it to anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of how the martial arts body works.