Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Guang Ping Footwork

Not everyone knows that Tai Chi, specifically Guang Ping Tai Chi, originated as a martial art. Yang Lu Chan, influenced by the Chen Family Tai Chi, clearly demonstrated and taught the same postures to his son, Yang Pan Hou. Chen Style, being the earliest, clearly demonstrates its influence from the external style of Shao Lin, as well as many others. These styles and forms were created hundreds and even thousands of years ago. They were based on the imitation of animals and hold a variety of martial applications and health benefits.

Understanding Footwork
The first method of understanding any martial art is examining proper footwork, especially when practicing Tai Chi.

In Guang Ping Tai Chi, as for all kung fu styles, both right and left foot are intentionally positioned in certain directions to align the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and hands, thereby creating a structure similar to a house built with a strong foundation. These are the structures that enable one to move mountains.

Stance Consistency
The distance between the feet will remain consistent throughout the form. If you fail to pivot properly on your feet, the distance between your feet will be inconsistent, thereby dispersing energy, like liding on a patch of ice, and losing ground. As Grandmaster Peter Kwok would say "If you did not move your foot properly you have to start again from the beginning until you have it correct! Being only 1 inch off on each stance will bring you a mile off when you are done.

Feet Position
In positioning your feet in Guang Ping, your stances do not exceed a 90-degree angle; this way, you can efficiently transfer energy and power such as executing a push. Your feet should form an "L" shape or L Stance. This practice will give the practitioner a supreme awareness of his or her rooting.

Moving & Adjusting The Feet
Besides planting the feet in these specific directions, one must also know how to pivot on their feet to arrive with the same degree of power. Looking from an aerial view of each moving direction, from the direction you start, you will see an eight-point star. When in motion, practicing Tai Chi solo form or two-person sets (push hands), you become much stronger with the weight on the stationary leg while the other leg is passing that ankle. Not only will you be able to deliver a force devastating to your opponent, but you will also be able to maneuver and yield to any incoming force. When stepping in a direction within 90 degrees, your back foot should pivot on the ball of the foot, positioning your feet in a 90-degree angle.

When stepping in a direction beyond 90 degrees, you should pivot on your back heel so your feet end in a 90-degree angle, or "L" stance. This is so you do not dissipate energy off of the rear foot and so you allow correct alignment from the foot to the knee, the knee to the hip, from the hip up the back, through your shoulders, shoulders to the elbows, elbows to the wrist, and finally out through the palms. This allows the experience of correct movement and understanding of the articulation of the body so the mind (yi) can create the intent.

Ba Gua & Hsing Yi Elements In Guang Ping
The arms are used from the top of the shoulder to the tips of the fingers; in fact, "Fairy Lady Working The Shuttle" resembles the Single Change Palm from Ba Gua Chuan, and "Shoot The Canon In The Sky" resembles the element of Water from Hsing Yi Chuan.

Self Defense & Health Benefits
The choreographed postures of Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi are designed to develop coordination, balance, strength, and self-defense, as well as efficient motion, all of which give us a sense of control over our center. When moving with an opponent, this will position you in certain 45 degree angles when attacking, thereby throwing your opponent off balance.

It is only after we achieve this control we will have the ability to control someone else's center.