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Old 07-17-2007, 05:43 PM   #1
Thomas Campbell
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Different training methods . . . same skills?

Please note the subject heading is a question.

Just some thoughts: in viewing demonstrations by Liu Chengde (Chen taijiquan) and Akuzawa Minoru (Aunkai), some similar skills seem apparent, yet their respective training methods seem pretty different.

First the skills demonstrated:

Liu Chengde

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB5B9flRvgg

Akuzawa Minoru

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snYlMC6gUoM

Now the training methods:

Liu Chengde's teacher, Hong Junsheng (a 15-plus-year disciple of Chen Fake)

Solo taolu (solo forms--Yi Lu/First Set, Er Lu/Second Set) and tuishou (push-hands):

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...975147&q=hong+ junsheng+push-hands&total=11&start=10&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
Tuishou

Akuzawa Minoru (xingyi, sanda, Sagawa-ha Daito-ryu aikijujutsu and possibly some Yagyu Shingan-ryu)

Basic exercises (only two of the many developed/evolved by Akuzawa)

Tenchijin

http://youtube.com/watch?v=MDoLKfxPXy4

Shintaijiku

http://youtube.com/watch?v=PrzLp0o0oGk

I trained for awhile in Chen taijiquan and enjoyed a (very) brief exposure to Aunkai basic exercises. The basic training seems very different.

Aunkai stresses systematic training of body axes and contradictory tensions to build internal lines of connection. The focus of training is much more on essential body conditioning.

There is much more movement in Chen taiji basic training through form sequences. Internal connection can be emphasized through repetitive practice of single movements from the solo form sequences, as well as "silk-reeling exercises" (essentially the same idea, but usually done on both sides of the body). Deliberate contradictory tension and compression/release appear at scattered points in the solo forms, more in the Er Lu. Training with the long pole (derived from spear training) develops coordinated power as well. The Chen taiji curriculum covers a wider variety of training practices compared with Aunkai, but does not focus quite as specifically on body conditioning.
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Old 07-18-2007, 11:37 AM   #2
Timothy WK
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

I may be corrected on this---but actually, it's my understanding that "traditional" taiji training puts more emphasis on standing postures and simple qigong-type exercises (including silk reeling). There's the stereotype (I'm not sure how realistic) that a new student just stands in wuji/zhan zhuang for the first year or so, and then begins qigong-type exercises for a couple years, so it's 3-5 years before the student is introduced to forms.

It seems to me that Chinese systems tend to emphasize discovering fascia connections through relaxing the body. Akuzawa's stuff seems to emphasize finding connections through movement.

--Timothy Kleinert

Aikido & Wujifa qigongs
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Old 07-19-2007, 12:36 PM   #3
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Zhan zhuang (standing) practice can be a component of well-taught taijiquan, Timothy. It's frequently not taught with taiji today, however. Actually, I'm not sure how much taijiquan today is taught "traditionally."

Could you elaborate on what you mean by ". . . Chinese systems tend to emphasize discovering fascia connections through relaxing the body"? If one simply relaxes, how does that help increase awareness of fascia connections?

Movement can help increase proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness. Tissue structures are involved when the body moves. One reason to train with slow movement, as taiji does in part with both single-movement drills and form sequences, is to increase awareness--and later control-- of the internal tissue movement and connection.

You're right, of course, about Akuzawa's drills involving movement. My comment about taiji was just meant to point out the greater variety of movements--long form sequences--involved in the taiji training curriculum.

Akuzawa's basic drills involve a heavy emphasis on contradictory tensions along specific planes, much more than any of the taijiquan styles I've been exposed to. Yiquan, a Chinese martial art involving a variety of standing practices as well as friction-stepping and postural strength testing, comes the closest (just my opinion) to the approach that Akuzawa's methods seem to emphasize. There are also basic practices from Shaolin and other arts and Chinese neigong systems (like the Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic) that feel in practice something like Akuzawa's basic exercises.

Some of the people contributing to this forum have experience with or have at least some knowledge of Chen taijiquan or Akuzawa's exercises. For example, Mike Sigman knows Chen taijiquan and has been introduced to Akuzawa's exercises when Rob John visited the D.C. area last spring.

I was just struck by at least superficial similarities in the demonstrations by Liu Chengde and Akuzawa Minoru in these clips:

Liu Chengde

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB5B9flRvgg

Akuzawa Minoru

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snYlMC6gUoM

and was hoping other people might have insights or comments on similarities and differences in the training methods.
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Old 07-19-2007, 07:10 PM   #4
DH
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Hi Tom

Since you have trained both- it would be interesting to hear your views on both the approach and the feel.

Having had my hands on Lou Chengde and his hands all over me, (spare me the jokes people) and some serious lengthy questions and answers, then conversations and email with Rob I would draw similarities only on a certain levels. There is a use of the dantien and fascia that I have talked about with both and they are NOT, or at least -were not then- pursuing the same things in that department. There is a method involving the dantien that I train and have discussed with Rob. It is different, than what he and Ark do, (Caution; my opinion only here).
Lou Chengde is also a healer and does a lot of Chi work-no small wonder where his training for power ties together with his healing arts. FWIW his "spirit" and heart filled the room when I met him. I cannot describe it other than to say his heart was so big and sincere and his skills to match that if my interests were in taiji I would take him up on an offer he made to me. He was a truly magnificent man and at 70 years old had "nuts" power. What a load of fun. As an aside another thing I found quite fascinating is that he told me he had trained two of Sagawa's students when he taught in Japan. For whatever reason we hit it off, and he was open and willing to discuss "his ideas" in detail of the similarities and some differences in Daito ryu's use of the internals and the Chinese ones. Life is full of surprises. For me it was a brief but rather interesting experience.

Training methods and videos are not very meaningful without hands on time. Two groups can outwardly do the same thing-say shiko- and not be doing the same thing with it at all. And yet still be working and establishing connections in the body. They just may differ in focus and intent on some levels. Even simple cross-line work VS same-side work can be a substantial difference in how one would approach say..double weightedness. Anyway, everyone has their own approach as to how they accomplish things for themselves and also how they get others there.

Last edited by DH : 07-19-2007 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:55 AM   #5
Mike Sigman
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Thomas Campbell wrote: View Post
Akuzawa's basic drills involve a heavy emphasis on contradictory tensions along specific planes, much more than any of the taijiquan styles I've been exposed to. Yiquan, a Chinese martial art involving a variety of standing practices as well as friction-stepping and postural strength testing, comes the closest (just my opinion) to the approach that Akuzawa's methods seem to emphasize. There are also basic practices from Shaolin and other arts and Chinese neigong systems (like the Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic) that feel in practice something like Akuzawa's basic exercises.

Some of the people contributing to this forum have experience with or have at least some knowledge of Chen taijiquan or Akuzawa's exercises. For example, Mike Sigman knows Chen taijiquan and has been introduced to Akuzawa's exercises when Rob John visited the D.C. area last spring.

I was just struck by at least superficial similarities in the demonstrations by Liu Chengde and Akuzawa Minoru in these clips:
Actually, the similarities tend to permeate the Asian arts in an unmistakeable way. If I had to compare what Akuzawa does to any particular styles, it would be the southern Shaolin styles. Of course, they in turn derive from the Yi Jin Jing (what doesn't, for all practical purposes? The basics are always the same.) Akuzawa's exercises look to me to be most related to the "Dynamic Tension" exercises of many styles in the south.

There's a Bajiquan guy turned "Chen-style" guy (I don't consider Feng's Chen-style pure enough to comfortably credit what he does as truly representative of the Chen style) that Feng Zhiqiang uses (used?) to handle challenges. How does a Baji guy suddenly become a "top" guy in a purported Chen-style? The basics are close enough to fake it, even if the Baji guy is not really all that skilled in reeling-silk movement compared to a real Chen stylist.

What can an instructor like Ikeda Sensei learn from a karate instructor? My point is that even though there are notable differences at some levels in terms of training approach, philosophy, and so on, the core principles have to be the same.

I've seen videos of Liu Chengde before and his Taiji is different from what you'd normally see in Chen-style, IMO. But his basics are the same because the basics are spread all over Asia, albeit with many permutations. I'm assuming that Liu had some training in some other art, watching him move, and a Chen-style purist (not me) would object to a number of things, but what's important to the people who are just trying to get the basics? Just getting the basics. Until they do that, all they can do is an external parody of some internal-strength-based martial art. As Ushiro Sensei commented once: "No kokyu, no Aikido". That's true of most Asian arts, not just Aikido.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-20-2007, 11:39 AM   #6
Thomas Campbell
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Dan and Mike, thanks for commenting.

Mike, Chen Xiang is the former baji guy who is now a disciple of Feng Zhiqiang. CX put in 16 years or so of hard bajiquan training under Ma Yintu from Cangzhou. After that kind of training, one has to wonder how "former" his baji is. Feng himself put in some hard years of training in tongbeiquan and xingyiquan before becoming a disciple of Chen Fake. CX seemed very skilled and smooth in his chansi and application, but that's judging from my comparatively low level.

Feng definitely added in many basic training elements of his own in compiling his (still-evolving) Hunyuan derivation of Chen taijiquan. Just comparing Feng's silk-reeling exercises with Chen Xiaowang's silk-reeling drills, in my experience there is considerable difference. Feng's silk-reeling focuses on loosening the "18 balls" or major joints of the body. CXW's silk-reeling drills, fewer in number, train more of the movement of the whole frame, coordinated with weight shifting. It's easier to translate CXW's silk-reeling drills into the solo form sequences. It's easier to translate Feng's silk-reeling drills into individual applications.

In my time training Chen taijiquan, though, I didn't encounter basic training making systematic use of contradictory tensions like Aunkai does. I'd have to agree that there does seem to be a closer similarity in training method between Aunkai and some southern CMA methods like Hunggar's Iron Wire set (cf. http://youtube.com/watch?v=M02E5hXLmeI) or the Yijinjing mentioned earlier (cf. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y72-29g7Tes) than between Aunkai and Chen taiji training methods.

At a basic level, the "cross" and other lines of tension trained in the handful of Aunkai basic exercises I was introduced to are not found in Chen taiji. Likewise, chansi training is not found in the little bit of Aunkai I've been exposed to. The training and use of the dantien area is different as well, as Dan noted earlier.

Externally, training methods may differ but still make use of the same internal elements--fascia, breathing, etc.--and perhaps wind up supporting some of the same skill sets. Chris Moses reflected on the "Baseline Skillset" thread how, after some months training with Aunkai basic exercises, he could intuitively understand or feel the internal movement that a local Chen taiji teacher was showing his aikijujutsu group.

On the other hand, an external training drill may resemble an exercise in another art but internally be quite different. As Dan noted, that's where the hands-on experience and training time come in. Video clips and detailed descriptions may point the way or mislead . . . it's the limits of the medium.

Thanks for contributing to the thread.
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Old 07-20-2007, 11:59 AM   #7
Mike Sigman
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

It's a complex topic, but not something worth going into on this forum where only a few people are really interested. The basics are the same. Still, some attention has to be paid to the differences. A baji guy (this is just an example) may have *some* silk-reeling skills, but actually may have trained so long in silk-pulling that that's what he actually uses. But if he's smoothe enough and powerful enough to impress some people, they'll take it at face value that he's doing what he says he's doing. We see that all the time when e.g. some White Crane guy comes to the US and tells the natives that he's teaching Taiji and they don't know enough to realize that's not true.

Regardless, when you boil it down to the absolute basics, it's all the same thing. Look for the commonalities, not the differences.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 07-22-2007, 07:06 AM   #8
Timothy WK
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Thomas Campbell wrote: View Post
Zhan zhuang (standing) practice can be a component of well-taught taijiquan, Timothy. It's frequently not taught with taiji today, however. Actually, I'm not sure how much taijiquan today is taught "traditionally."

Could you elaborate on what you mean by ". . . Chinese systems tend to emphasize discovering fascia connections through relaxing the body"? If one simply relaxes, how does that help increase awareness of fascia connections?
I know mainstream American taiji doesn't place much emphasis on standing postures and qigong type exercises. It's my teacher's argument that mainstream American taiji places too much emphasis on form work, to the detriment of the art. So that's where I'm coming from.

However, real quick, check out [this video]. Just note that the Chinese teacher tells the American student he has to practice qigong for 3 years before he will formally teach him. Sure, some of this is probably testing the dedication of the student. But some of it---I think---is also about giving the student the opportunity to build a foundation before he gets into more advanced training.

I can't say for sure how relaxation leads to the manifestation of fascia connections, other than to say it does. I can make a guess.

Remember that if you're standing in zhan zhuang or whatever, it's not about standing there limp. You're trying to hold a pose. As you learn to relax the muscles, the body compensates by engaging the fascia (I think). But to make it work, you have to try and keep the feeling of... um, holding the body while simultaneously letting go of tension... that's not quite right, but hopefully you get the picture. In the beginning I tried to hold the posture with as little muscle as possible. After I started manifesting connections, I learned which sensations were my muscle and which were caused by the fascia. If you kinda focus on the "good" sensations, the connections grows.

I also wonder... exercises like zhan zhuang seem to "heat up" the body and increase blood flow. I think this phenomenon is related to relaxation (I also get hot doing meditation). I wonder if that blood flow might stimulate the fascia, which gets the whole ball rolling. I should ask my teacher about all this.

--Timothy Kleinert

Aikido & Wujifa qigongs
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Old 07-22-2007, 10:15 AM   #9
DH
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
I can't say for sure how relaxation leads to the manifestation of fascia connections, other than to say it does. I can make a guess.
I also wonder... exercises like zhan zhuang seem to "heat up" the body and increase blood flow. I think this phenomenon is related to relaxation (I also get hot doing meditation). I wonder if that blood flow might stimulate the fascia, which gets the whole ball rolling. I should ask my teacher about all this.
Hi Timothy
I'd say relaxation in standing doesn't neccesarily lead to fascial connections. Hard work-that requires -muscle- relaxation and serious mental concentration does. Our saying is "The mind gives out before the body." And the more in tune you get mentally with the body the MORE your mind is working. But there are many things you could, or could NOT be doing. So, I wouldn't say that "standing leads to fascial control." I've met more than a few people who can do the former yet exhibit little to nothing of the later. And worse still couldn't really do jack under any kind of moving and actve fighting pressure. It was all talk.

I'd wonder if standing, done by most, is more of structure, and frame work. "Standing through gravity"-as bone/ tendon. I think there are better ways to strengthen connections in moving, to burn -in tendon/ fascia connections. Then, go on to better ways to do even that -some involving standing, chiefly involving breath/fascia work. Which coincidentally makes me hot as well. The old addage of training in the snow is very real. But there you are actively moving things in and out while standing still.
Taken as a whole I think bodywork is best done as a combination of solo-not-moving, then solo-actively-moving.
What I mean is
1. Still, learning pathways and framework
2. Moving, doing connection exercises
3. Moving, with load resisitence from a helper
Then
1. Still, learning breath/ fascia work
2. Moving, doing breathwork in motion
3. Moving, with load resistence from a helper
Then
Freestyle,

But training never goes away and never stops. You can train anywhere, doing anything 24/7. Its the greatest spine/ head-rush during "the act" you'll ever get. and will keep you awake while driving long distances, or better still one very tough customer in jujutsu.

Last edited by DH : 07-22-2007 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 07-22-2007, 12:13 PM   #10
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Here is an article written by my very close friend and training mate, Jim Mullen. He and I exchange principles, talk about our relationships to Ai Ki and Tai Chi, and often help each other complete and innovate our curriculums. What is significant is how much we help each other teach the same principles in our independent schools and how close the practices are in application.
I hope you take the time and enjoy.
www.reelingsilk.com/content/int_mullen.htm

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-22-2007, 02:04 PM   #11
DH
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Seems like a bunch of B.S. to me.
Feeling his "energy" shooting past, 50' feet away? I thought this was a serious thread not some Guru , shaman, crap.
I'd be happy to volunteer to land him on his ass for ya if that will help put his ass/ feet back on the ground and smell real, fresh air.though.
Sounds llike a bunch of reiki slurping nonsense to me.
Sorry.
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Old 07-26-2007, 02:08 PM   #12
Jim Sorrentino
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
But training never goes away and never stops. You can train anywhere, doing anything 24/7. Its the greatest spine/ head-rush during "the act" you'll ever get.
Finally, a post from Dan in which there is too much information!

Smarmily ,

Jim
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Old 07-29-2007, 02:27 AM   #13
Lee Salzman
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
It seems to me that Chinese systems tend to emphasize discovering fascia connections through relaxing the body.
One idea I have heard on that: lacking the machinery to deal with actual tension, and observing that when they used tension they became stiff, they sought to remove tension. I got to practice this idea for some months. Stand there, relax, and... something.

Opposite idea presented to me was: learn to become fluid and mobile under all levels of tension, and especially under maximal tensions of the body, and at all timescales, at all places that are practically useful. That if only relaxation is practiced, when confronted with tension, you will stiffen and become unresponsive, because you never actually trained directly at overcoming it. So you must, in fact, quickly move past training relaxation and spend the majority of your time on tension, first statically, then in movement, then in explosive movement. If you train in one position, or one movement, you become good at... one position, or one movement, so it must be extended everywhere, striking, clinching, pressure/escaping on the ground, etc. (Note, not my ideas, I am still paraphrasing what was presented to me)

Ironically, both ideas came from the same Chinese "art", albeit different lineages. Both talked about developing "whole body power" and the like. What they *wanted* to achieve was the same. But, uh, long story short, I am not sure there is any consistent party line among the Chinese about how best to actually develop power. Similarity of goals, maybe, but major dissimilarity of results.
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Old 08-01-2007, 07:50 AM   #14
Mike Sigman
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Re: Different training methods . . . same skills?

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Both talked about developing "whole body power" and the like. What they *wanted* to achieve was the same. But, uh, long story short, I am not sure there is any consistent party line among the Chinese about how best to actually develop power. Similarity of goals, maybe, but major dissimilarity of results.
Just a note to point out that pretty much everything about training ki/qi skills is codified and has spread out not only through Chinese martial arts, but through Japanese (look at the available koryu literature), Indonesioan, and so forth. There are different approaches that different factions feel is the "best" or "most productive", but the basics are always the same and the literature is consistent. Even O-Sensei's douka borrow from the standard literature and sayings that can be found in Chinese traditional writings. The big mistake most people make is that they don't know enough to see how overwhelming the similarities are... they tend to only see the differences.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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