Visiting the OSU Tai-chi class
For shits and giggles I decided to try out the Tai-chi class here at OSU. As I've had really almost no experience with softer styles, I suppose I honestly had nothing to go on but what I read here; so yeah, real expert here.
Anyways, I came in with my bag full of crap (MMA and TKD classes immediatly following this one), but chose to stay in my shorts and shirt: just look like everyone else. The instructor came in, short Japanese guy with a beard and pony tail, white tai-chi suit, his English isn't too good, but he's real relaxed and everyone's at ease a very informal situation which is good as far as I'm concerned.
Warm up conssisted of moving our arms in various circles, circling our knees, etc. Didn't particularly get all that stretched or warm under such low impact stuff, but turns out I wouldn't really need to be all that warmed up or stretched out. Perhaps the single oddest thing of the whole class was said during the warm up "concentrate on your finger tips, feel your chi in each individual finger tip starting in yur index and working your way down. Each finger corresponds with an internal organ".... I could feel the "chi" in my fingers but that was mostly because I've managed to focus and feel a sort of, uh, tingling, throughout my body since I was a kid, I can think of a spot and just feel something.... yeah, make bad jokes, I would.
Alright, so we warmed up and he began running us through the first form. I was a little lost at the back of the class, not being able to see him clearly at all as he was at the front of the room (15 feet away), but I guess my coordination and balance shined through. After a while of working on the form he decided it was time to start to demonstrate the self defense application of the form.... guess who he chose to use?
He was speaking about the importance of posture- keeping your spine in a straight line, don't stick the butt out during your turn, etc- and as he spoke he walked closer and closer to me. He asked me if I had any sort of injuries or anything, I told him that I didn't and he asked me to come at him. So I played ong with the tai-chi and just went with a vague sort of shove, he spun through and did a very aikido sort of arm lock out (you all would know it if you saw it, I just don't want to explain it). At first I just went as I should, and then he had me go again, this time he went for a sort of wrist/arm lock that is very easy for a rwestler to roll out of, I just sort of turned with it and was at his legs, very ready to ankle pick him or go for a low single- I didn't. He also demonstrated that the posture was important for generating force, he just placed his fist flush against my sternum and did a pretty strong no distance hit, and it was the only one I'd ever felt that amounted to anything, certainly no knock out blow, but then he wasn't really going for the gusto. I ahve to give him credit for that. Anywho, he pulled one of his senior students over and demonstrated push hands and we all partnered off and went for it.
I'd done a drill like push hands before, a little more eneergetically though. Anywho, my partner was a very large 30 something guy with no MA experience. Needless to say he didn't get the whole "no muscle" aspect of the exercise, but I dumped him plenty of times. Worked with the sifu when he came by, good guy, it was a little awkward for me, but he could certainly win his own game and felt real enough to me.
So after a little bit of that we all circled up and he singled me out again, "you've done some martial arts before?"
"Well, what all have you done?" As i wasn't entirely expecting to be singled out so much, let alone haev to speak in front of all these people I just kinda blanked for a seocond.
"uh.... wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, Brazillian Jujitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo. I keep busy." This got a kind of positive reaction from the crowd, so, hey, yippee.
So he asked me how I would attack him. I was tempted to just throw a leg kick, but rather than be a smart ass I figured I should do something that tied into the whole "balance, proper posture" lesson thing. So I went for a single leg, first I just stopped when I grabbed his leg, he hadn't sprawled or really based out or tried to take his leg away, and he jsut sort of talked to his students a bit then told me "go ahead and take it all the way." So I got up, shot again, and put him down lightly enough- it was a really hard floor, didn't want to dump him on his face- take tight side control and all he does is stiffen up like a board and put his elbow into my ribs. He talks to them again about maintaining good psutre and and keep the elbow in to keep me from going for his throat. Something like "and even if he goes for my throat-" so i took the hint and shifted to full mount and just put on a forearm choke, lightly.... he really didn't seem to have any kind of response to it, though he did say "it's ok, you can use more forcefully." I wasn't particularly impressed with this, but kept it to myself.
We got up and he asked me to demonstrate another common attack. I decided to give him something a little more common and just fed him a right cross. To this he told his students to just keep your hands up to intercept the punch, he brought his hands up with his fingrs all splayed out to kind of block my punch right in front of his face. While that might defflect a little..... uh, broken fingers, right? That's what he'd get? Oh, and the fist would still get through.
So then he says "well, if you know he's a boxer, and boxers punch very fast-" I fired off a quick jab cross hook, the jab and the cross sort of glanced on his guard, but I stopped the hook right next to his jaw. "So, don't try to punch with him if you know he's a boxer, step back further, don't even bring your hands up, just kick to the ball." I frowned a little but let it go; the students loved it.
So he decided we should do a little roleplay for self defense and says "Ok, now ask me out." I just kind of blinked.
"Uh..... would you like to have coffe some time, ya kn ow, if you aren't busy?"
"Oh no, no be aggressive, violent, attack me." I was at a loss. How exactly would I forcefully grab a woman and ask her to go out with me? It just didn't make sense to me, but I chalked it up to his trouble with English. So, thoroughly confused I jsut went for a stupid, canned self-defense classic: the wrist grab! This worked out well for the application of the form and he had everyone practice that.
It was all very odd, but he was such a nice guy I just decided not to make a fuss and jsut try things his way. Some of it worked out, finding the force and going against it and all, but then that was really nothing I didn't already know.
We practiced that for a bit, then lined back up and practiced the form some more. All in all, not a bad experience, just awkward.
He seems like a nice guy and all, and he has something goiong for him MA wise, but I think he was as confused as I was when he asked me to just attack him. His advice on being taken down was just abyssmal, but he was able to generate some good force on a zero distance punch and he could get out of varius grabs and flow quickly into wristlocks and arm locks, nothign spectacular, but solid enough.
At the end of the class I introduced myself, thanked him for the class and made my way off to MMA to work my ass of. Good practices there and in TKD.
Like I said, no experience with tai-chi till today (that stupid black belt magazine video I borrowed from a friend doesn't count). He was great, very friendly, relaxed, good atmosphere and he seems to know his style. The only thing that bothered me was his weird "fingers correspond with organs" thing and the complete lack of take down defense and no idea what to do on the ground- oh yeah, and the splayed fingers to guard against punches thing, and that awkward tai-chi kick.
Cheers for the write up, I wish my uni had more MA clubs.
Tough is not how you act, tough is how you train.
Wow a taichi class that wasn't complete arse. That's a first for me. The ones here are horrible.
Dai, he seemed a decent enough guy. While some may believe that smashing him through the ground is a good wake up call to the realities of self defence, that you were polite and behaved well is no bad thing.
I must say though that if he had invited you to attack him, you should have been a little more active. Double leg => GnP => submit, would have been nice. Do it gently of course, but you can still make a point.
You get to experience some of his style, he tastes some of yours. It's a fair trade, and hopefully with no injuries to body or ego.
Just a question, this might sound a bit weird, but I'm thinking about seeing a tai chi class some time in the future. Is it considered impolite to double leg the intructor if he claims his grounding to be good?
Impolite maybe...but worth it if its to prove bullshido.:p
Sounds like an average Tai Chi class. The only thing I'd have done differently might have been to go ahead and give him more force when he wanted it. It actually makes it easier to demonstrate some of the techniques. In our class, when my teacher asks for it, I give it to him. (I usually end up inspecting the floor for my efforts, but that's another matter.) For your first experience with Tai Chi, it sounds like you handled yourself well.
As far as the internal organs thing, that's more of an internal medicine than a Tai Chi thing. The whole concept of Chi, IMO, is about focus. You feel something in your fingers because that's where you're focusing your attention. That ends up playing out a lot in Tai Chi, just like in other MA's. The splayed fingers thing? Not sure. I've had my teacher block my strikes with one finger. And I don't strike softly. It may seem unlikely, but it's possible.
Oh, and all Tai Chi kicks are awkward. Can't help you there. :-)
My only questions to you would be, did you learn anything and/or did you enjoy it?
If you ever practise with him again, right cross the finger that corresponds with his kidneys, it may be good for a laugh. Just kidding.
Just as long as he isn't charging obsene amounts of money for people to practise it, and it's getting people into martial arts, it sounds good to me.
It could be a heckuvalot worse for sure.
You conducted your self well I think and thanks for the write up.
That was a good write up. I had to contain my laughter at the 'Ask me out' part since I'm at work.
A Japanese guy teaching TC eh?
You don't need to "visualize" or tell your body what it should be feeling if you're doing things right. This guy sounds like a C minus in tai chi. I'm guessing it was Yang or Wu style, and not the ultra-cool Chen.
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