morsla: (mantis04)
One thing that we discussed in last night's workshop was the underlying philosophy of each martial tradition taught in the school. Each Chinese martial art begins with a central principle that defines it and shapes how each technique is developed for, or incorporated into it. It also provides a statement that is essentially a victory condition: we will win by achieving X.

For Wing Chun, that principle is controlling the centreline. Vulnerable points (throat, solar plexus, groin) fall along that line, so you want to protect them and also attack along it. The footwork helps you manoeuvre so you can strike directly towards the target, while the opponent must turn to attack you. Straight lines are fast and efficient.

Lung Ying and Choy Lay Fut, though vastly different in their application, both seek to take the upper position. If your opponent's hands are trapped below yours, you have the fastest route to strike at their head.

For Tai Chi, the principle is destabilising the opponent's stance. Absorb and redirect strength, letting your opponent overextend while pushing you into a stronger stance. The core and legs are strong but flexible and relaxed, minimising unnecessary force: don't resist opposing force directly; let it guide you in which direction you should be pushing in.

Liu He Ba Fa seeks to control the inside position. It looks superficially similar to Tai Chi, but those soft and relaxed arm techniques are there to help you get inside the opponent's guard. Once there, you can strike unimpeded. It has far more subtle variations than the other styles, and the choice of technique (even more than usual!) is determined by what you can feel your opponent doing. Wing Chun and Lung Ying can both take more simplistic approaches if needed: strong and fast practitioners can bulldoze the centreline or lunge forwards with the powerful Dragon Shape punches and palm strikes. Liu He Ba Fa helps to provide answers when those approaches fail: when locked up or out-manoeuvred in very close quarters fighting.

It's an extremely technical style, and one that I think Anne has been steadily unpacking and analysing over the years. The 2013 workshops are quite different to those from the camp in 2001: not necessarily slower (I remember two hours spent gradually lowering into stance, and then gradually standing back up again), but more meticulous in their detail. Last night I found two groups of core muscles that I hadn't known how to articulate before, and I can see where an additional range of movement should be in my shoulders. Poor posture and days in front of a computer have reduced movement in there, but I have some exercises to help fix that.

I'm fascinated by the ways the different styles combine together: each new development feels like it's shedding a bit more light on a much larger and more complex martial art than I realised, as a great deal of thought has gone into selecting the elements that make up the whole.
morsla: (cthonian elephant)
It's funny how traditions develop. We're surrounded by one-off occurrences all the time. If something is repeated, it might be coincidence - a little less random than the rest of our lives, but the pattern is still only half formed. Three times seems to be the magic number: it reinforces the repetition and confirms a pattern; not just for the event, but for the separation between it. And then the tradition is born.

Eight years ago, I started a tradition of pausing for a moment at this particular point in our orbit. Once more around the sun, a week and a half before the equinox. Mostly relevant to the large group of New Year's babies out there, of whom I've met many over the years.

I've doubled in age five times since I first celebrated one of these.

I got to work early today, hoping to get some writing done. This time next year, I'd like to have my thesis submitted and accepted - and be well on my way towards RMIT's giant whole-university graduation in November. In about half an hour, I'll wander over to the GSBL 'Shut up and write' group. That ought to get me started for the day, carving out another section of writing to work on this week.

After that, I'm going home to paint. I don't paint nearly as often as I would like to, these days. It's a combination of things - the PhD has eaten up my free time, and Mochason causes havoc if he gets into the study. I can paint in the evenings with the door closed, but that means not spending time with [ profile] aeliel after work. So, dust (and cat fur) builds up on my desk, and the pile of unpainted figures mock me. Not today, though.

Following a theme of "start as you mean to go on," I'll be spending a couple of hours at Kung Fu tonight. I think the rest of the class are getting ready for a grading next month, but I need to (re)learn a lot more before I'm ready to grade again. I'm not in any particular hurry. After all, it's been eleven years since my last grading...
morsla: (mantis03)
Lots of things have been happening lately. My ICWSM paper has been approved! Though it needs to be re-written as a short-format paper, before the end of the week. That means that I will be able to attend the conference in Barcelona (mid July), and meet a bunch of interesting people working in the social media field. This makes me happy :)

In less happy news, Melbourne Uni Sports continues to be crap. They appeared in an article in The Age yesterday, as the university has decided to cut support for venue hire, for the clubs that aren't involved in regular competitions.

The Melbourne Uni Kung Fu club has been running since 1977, and may not make it through the current year. As there are no competitions available to them, they are now required to pay regular hire costs for all their venue use, in addition to hiring instructors (which is traditionally covered by membership fees). For a "sports and recreation" body, MUSA doesn't do much to support recreation groups any more. However, the university is still happy to market itself on having an active student community, full of sports and general interest clubs and societies...

I've been told that venue hire will only be covered for three sessions per competition event that a club competes in. That's fine for a football club that plays a 16-week season, but not for martial arts groups that may only have one or two events available for the year. Clubs that don't "fit the mould" of a western sporting team are effectively being cut from the university.

At least RMIT is (currently) still in the habit of supporting its student groups, even when there's no space on campus to put them. RMIT Kung Fu is training in the appropriately named "multicultural hub" next to the Queen Vic market. It's a world of difference from the Melbourne Uni training area - which has been relocated outside, to the concrete lawns.

September 2014

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