Less is More..

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Less is More..

Postby MaartenSFS on Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:35 pm

I believe that one of the biggest problems with CMA these days (besides not sparring or training Gongfa hard enough) is that there is too much to train, especially forms. Taijiquan is a good example. It has it all - strikes, kicks, throws and joint-locks, weapons.. And yet people suck at it. It would be much better if people worked hard to excel at a portion of the curriculum before moving on to other things.

The curriculum, in turn, should reflect that and there should be a clear, goal-oriented progression to becoming proficient in that skill area. I think that we can broadly divide these skill areas as striking/kicking, throwing/take-downs/joint-locks and weapons (which could be further divided into short, long and flexible). Trying to do it all at once, especially whilst learning a myriad of forms, is a fool's errand and a certain path to failure.

If teachers focused on skill areas like this it wouldn't take ten years for a student to be able to use the art. Hell, some students may only want to learn that particular skill area because it suits them or that's what they are interested in or enjoy. We don't need every student to be a torch bearer, after all. Who knows, after they become proficient in one skill area and are confident in their ability to use it in sparring they may wish to progress into the others. It needs not be linear. It could be more like Venn Diagram with portions of the curriculum overlapping and other warm-ups, drills, techniques, forms etc. being specific to that skill area.

To those of you that actually train hard and spar (or have a lot of experience doing so), what do you think?
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Re: Less is More..

Postby Bao on Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:16 pm

Tai Chi is simplistic and pretty much scaled down compared to many other styles. Look at Hung Gar or Choy Li Fut.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby everything on Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:24 pm

I don't train hard or have that much experience but I'd have to agree that less is always more in almost every endeavor of life. When I went to judo, we mostly just did throws. But it's fun to learn about other things, and see how one thing fits into a bigger picture of other things you could maybe learn to do if you had 100 lifetimes.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby johnwang on Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:13 pm

If you want to be a

- teacher, you need to know everything.
- fighter, you need to master few things.

If you don't want your students to learn, you teach him 10 new skills everyday and never review it.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby Subitai on Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:02 pm

Dude...I've always been a fan of this concept!

My peeve has always been that simple and direct is better, but there are poeple who can't accept it.

You show people how it's done in the real world and you always get someone saying...."that's not internal or thats too external". Its as if thier minds cannot fathom that what they are studying could be that simple at times. They are always assuming that there is something more to a basic punch or lock or throw. Sometimes it is what it is.

*for example in another thread, someone said "johnwang was a master at external" or (something to that effect)... As if hes missing something.

Also...setting it up skill and wisdom in applications is different.

Anyway to your topic point...in teaching applications, i try to start off (regardless of style) with learning one major:

Strike
Throw or sweep
Lock
Or take down

Still teach the style methodically...but applications wise we want to make those 1st concepts like bread n butter ala easy. Always many ways to enter the SAME BASICS until your sick of it.

Then as yrs pass...you add more.

P.s. in this way hung gar, taiji or whatever style is not too complicated
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Re: Less is More..

Postby Walk the Torque on Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:51 pm

Hi MaartenSFS,

I understand your reasoning, however, it all depends on how one approaches things.

The way I was taught in a couple of styles was that the movements of the forms contained within them at least one application for each category. So say Wardoff Right and Roll-Back can be used as a block/deflect and strike, or a figure four take down or an entry and throw. The important thing is to be exposed to the potential applications, drill them until they are second nature and then fit them in to Push hands, Ta lu, one step attacks and then sparring.

In this methodology one starts to see what one of my teachers called the Black & Decker (DIY power tool) principle, where the tool may have more than one attachment to perform different jobs. A drill gun might have a drill bit, a sander or a saw attachment. As this principle becomes more readily apparent it becomes easier to apply to varying situations.

This applies to the movements and to the power generations behind them. In fact the cardinal "forces" are clearly stated in most of the classics and can be found in the beginning of the form and on which all subsequent movements and uses are based.

This may seem like a long way round to learning the skills but I'm not convinced that it isn't a little quicker due to it holistical nature.
Last edited by Walk the Torque on Wed Jul 03, 2019 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby johnwang on Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Walk the Torque wrote:So say Wardoff Right and Roll-Back can be used as a block/deflect and strike, or a figure four take down or an entry and throw.

If you can add in the "leg skill" into Taiji ward off, pull back, press forward, push, your Taiji skill can be more effective.

1. Front cut (1st side - attack outside of your opponent's right leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JL1Hw7M3cU

2. Scoop kick (2nd side - attack inside of your opponent's right leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9DnkH-2tGg

3. Inner hook (3rd side - attack inside of your opponent's left leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OxoWzpwezo

4. Outer hook (4th side - attack outside of your opponent's left leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izmwTg7m5Q4
Last edited by johnwang on Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby everything on Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:37 pm

I more or less think of all of this as an upper body twist "steering wheel" plus any leg trip available. I watched Jhoon Rhee explain a few moves = many combinations once.

In "street soccer" we do a lot of "ground moves" which look fancy but are just combining a small number of simple moves creatively and then speeding them up. This is sort of like stringing together a long form of your own. You would never actually do that super long form in practice, but doing a few moves is then easier and practical, but more importantly, you're better at the basics. So you do "more" as practice but in application you do "less".
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Re: Less is More..

Postby Trick on Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:50 am

MaartenSFS wrote:I believe that one of the biggest problems with CMA these days (besides not sparring or training Gongfa hard enough) is that there is too much to train, especially forms. Taijiquan is a good example. It has it all - strikes, kicks, throws and joint-locks, weapons.. And yet people suck at it. It would be much better if people worked hard to excel at a portion of the curriculum before moving on to other things.


Taijiquan is slightly different(as far as i see it). Yes there’s seemingly “many”combat methods presented in the form, as you say striking, kicking ,joint locking and throwing. But these are actually not the primary aspects of TJQ, the main purpose is to build the “frame” a “Taiji body”.
Probably in the old days, people who became students of TJQ already had the “rough” tools such as striking/punching skill but understood TJQ had something “deeper” to offer.
But yes I’m all into the “less is more” despite I’ve studied fencing, JiuJitsu, Karate, Aikido, YiQuan, Taijiquan, Xingyiquan. Tongbeiquan and currently learning XYLHQ 8-)
But I have learned to see commons between most of them, I try to keep it as simple as possible, and that’s actually quite simple to do 8-)
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Re: Less is More..

Postby GrahamB on Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:54 am

Yes, breaking things down into little boxes and classifying everything is clearly the way forward.

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Re: Less is More..

Postby edededed on Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:44 am

johnwang wrote:
Walk the Torque wrote:So say Wardoff Right and Roll-Back can be used as a block/deflect and strike, or a figure four take down or an entry and throw.

If you can add in the "leg skill" into Taiji ward off, pull back, press forward, push, your Taiji skill can be more effective.

1. Front cut (1st side - attack outside of your opponent's right leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JL1Hw7M3cU

2. Scoop kick (2nd side - attack inside of your opponent's right leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9DnkH-2tGg

3. Inner hook (3rd side - attack inside of your opponent's left leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OxoWzpwezo

4. Outer hook (4th side - attack outside of your opponent's left leg):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izmwTg7m5Q4


This is very helpful to understand, thanks!

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Re: Less is More..

Postby northern_mantis on Thu Jul 04, 2019 5:18 am

I generally agree with you Maarten. Many of these systems are the sports science of their day and could do with a bit of well informed reconsideration.

However I wouldn't want to chuck the baby out with the bath water because the internal methods are often solid gold and have been abandoned in other cultures so worthy of hard study. It's just down to deciding which is which. For example, forms as conditioning is really inefficient and holding low stances as leg strength training is really inefficient and can potentially cause injury.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby suckinlhbf on Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:42 am

one of the biggest problems with CMA these days (besides not sparring or training Gongfa hard enough) is that there is too much to train, especially forms

CMA has too much to train. The same happens in the past and nowadays. In the past, the "too much to train" is so much to master on the quality of a move, and nowadays is the too much moves and forms to work on. Xinyi and XYLH starts with three moves, and have developed into many forms. I even heard a guy saying he had learnt 64 XYLH short forms. Yichuen started from 2 standing postures, and developed into more than 125 postures. Some styles proud of having more than 100 forms. If narrow down, they actually have less than 12 moves at six different directions.
When a student cannot grasp a move, the teacher may change the move a bit to help him understand. And it gets into many many variations from one simple moves. It keeps on going and going so develops into so many forms.
Problems these days are students look for moves and techniques other than the quality in a move. There is nothing wrong with many forms as long as the students know what they are going for.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby johnwang on Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:04 pm

1. One has 7.9 in form competition but gets knock down within 10 seconds in tournament.
2. One has 7.4 score in form competition but has 20-4 under his belt.

IMO, 2 > 1.

The best product is not a product that's expensive and without defect. The best product is the product that is affordable with the least amount of defects.

Do you want to stay in your grade school and won't graduate until you can have A in all classes (learn 10 CMA forms until there are all perfect)? You can always learn from your daily job (improve your foundation through sparring/ wrestling).

In jacket wrestling, when you get hold on your opponent, if your opponent can't break your hold, and cannot apply his MA skill, your simple skill "monster grip" just defeat all his MA training.

With only 1 good skill, you can defeat the whole world.
Last edited by johnwang on Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Less is More..

Postby Trick on Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:18 am

suckinlhbf wrote: Yichuen started from 2 standing postures, and developed into more than 125 postures..

I assume you mean YiQuan? Which linage practice 125 postures ? Some years ago my teacher in Beijing said that YiQuan might go down the road TJQ has, and teachers might begin develope YiQuan Taolu, I told him that I’ve the other day seen an DVD teaching YiQuan Taolu. This was 13 years ago, so I’m not really surprised if there is an YQ method of 125 postures.
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