Friday, 4 November 2011

Notes on Wushu Exercises

I've just returned from Chenjiagou with a group of students from our school, who spent a couple of weeks training with Chen Xiaoxing. Anyone who has trained with him will be aware of his penchant for simple, repetitive and excrutiating emphasis upon basic training. There is no truck paid to entertaining students. He offers what works and then it is up to you whether you stick to it. In a previous blog I mentioned his statement - "you know the law, now follow the law"! Simple, but not easy. Our group trained for 5 hours a day, divided into 2 2.5 hour sessions. Every session was the same. First standing for half an hour in the challenging position he put everyone into. Then 30-40 minutes unbroken training on a single reeling silk exercise. For the rest of the session training a short section of the form. I was in Chenjiagou earlier in the year training alongside a small group of Chinese students of Chen Xiaoxing, the programme was the same. One of them was still in the school during our latest visit. He said he had been there for 4 years following this same routine everyday.

We have been travelling to train Chen Xiaoxing since 2003 and leave the programme to him to decide. A common mistake is to go to the teacher and then say I want to do this, this and this.  Who would go to their maths teacher and say I'd like to do some algebra for 3 days and then some calculus for 2 days?   I've got a week - I'd like to do sword, spear and the erlu!!!

On the flight back to the UK I read a book - Chinese Kungfu: Masters, Schools and Combat by Wang Guangxi who died in 2008 shortly before the book was published. Wang was an academic and lifelong Chinese martial arts enthusiast. Throughout the book his love for Chinese martial arts, in their many diverse forms, was obvious. At the end he included some advice or "notes on wushu exercises" regardless of style.
These included among others:

1. Take it step by step. Rome wasn't built in a day
2. Never tire of it. The more often you clean the net, the more fish you will get.
3. Concentrate on the martial arts of one school. Do not always look to the grass on the other side of the hill.
4. Be good at the basic techniques, especially footwork and waist techniques.
5. Great importance should be given to position training, but avoid excessive training at the beginning.
6. Equal attention should be given to simple movements...
7. Do not seek highly difficult or impossible moves right away.
8. Concentrate, focus and pay close attention to learning every detal during practice.
9. Do not argue with superiors
10. Stay modest at all times and do not despise anyone at any time.
11. Do not practice martial arts when exhausted and do not practice internal martial arts when the mood      cannot remain calm from great sorrow, rage or joy.
And finally -
12. Assure enough sleep, increase nutrition and use hot water to wash your feet!!! 

2 comments:

  1. The training was an excellent experience on all levels. In addition to receiving corrections, I also learned an amazing amount from watching CXX correct everyone. All the corrections were the same for everyone, but exactly based on their level and exactly what they needed to advance from their level, one step by one step. This type of training: simple, direct and repetitive, was so valuable. Then, being in the Village and seeing everyone training in exactly the same way continued to reinforce the process. There is no flash, just simple deep repetition and gradual advancement. Back at home now into my own practice I am experiencing the joy of revisiting all the basics anew. It is as though I am meeting the basics for the first time again. Very inspiring! Thank you for the opportunity to train with CXX, you, Davidine & your wonderful students!

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