Knights Without Armour

Is your armour slowing you down?


Knights Without Armour
Everyday experiences leave their traces. Have you ever noticed, whenever you get stressed out, your body may go tense without conscious effort. You find your fists clenched, your shoulders raised, your abdomen compressed and your breath up in your chest.
Even after you think you’ve calmed down, you will still be carrying this tension with you. Tightness in your shoulders, in your back, your arms, your neck. You become rigid, as if wearing a suit of armour.
The same happens when practicing martial arts – especially with partner work. It’s a defence mechanism. You tense up, ready to repel injury. However, this tenseness will slow you down, and sap you of your power. Your own armour will prevent you from vanquishing your enemy.
So how do you become a Knight without armour?
In our school, we use several exercises and drills – both solo and partnered – to rid ourselves of this tension.
We practice Zhan Zhuang, standing postures, to align the structure and correct the posture.
We practice Qigong, breath work, to release the breath and align it with our movements.
Taijiquan form, ingraining the correct shenfa, or body method, into our movements to generate power and maintain structure.
Tuishou, or Pushing Hands, to learn how we interact with an opponent’s energy and intention.
Of course, the process is simple enough: know your body in stillness, know your body in movement, know your body in interplay with another – however simple the process may be, it is certainly not ‘easy’! The key lies in practicing these fundamentals over and over, and ingraining the shenfa into your everyday being. As one Taiji instructor said “if you spend 1 hour a day practicing, and 23 hours a day un-practicing, how can you expect to progress?”
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ashley's picture

I can definitely relate to this. In particular our 'fight or flight' responses certainly do me no good. They are there to protect me, but actually result in a poorer performance. I need to learn how I can control the release of adrenaline...
delta's picture

this might sound like a stupid question but what is Tuishou? ive never heard of it
Medway Tai Chi Society's picture

TuiShou is 'Push Hands' - an exercise found in the Chinese internal martial arts, particularly Tai Chi. The method develops sensitivity, relaxation, redirection, power-discharge and many other attributes neceassary to make the art 'work'.