On Thursday I was the only student at chi kung and kung fu class again. If nothing else, I'm certainly getting my money's worth from Sifu just now lol.
For chi kung we spent more time on the art of flexibility. I definitely need to spend more time practicing dancing crane - my knees really don't like it much. We also did lifting the moon which we haven't done much recently. I still can't quite match the movements to my breathing.
We then segued straight into kung fu footwork. Sifu told me that at this stage it's ok to focus on linear movement. In solo practice I was really keen to change direction and move off at angles, but actually I don't need to worry about that too much yet.
We also worked open palm strikes from the front and rear hand. For a while I couldn't figure out the issue with the kinetic chain on this. I knew there was a problem with the way I was synching my waist movement - Thursday I cracked it! I've been using a silat style gelek movement which rotates (or maybe even chambers) the hips in one direction first then quickly moves in the other. In Shaolin kung fu, you don't need that first movement. Once I clocked what I was doing, it was way easier not to do it!
The other thing I'm working on is breathing. I'm used to a sharp exhalation through the teeth on striking, often with sound effects. In kung fu the exhale is there but it's chi kung in style, ie open mouthed and without the accompanying sound effects. Sometimes I'm so busy avoiding the sound effects I forget to breathe out altogether!
Basically, there's a lot to think about and co-ordinate in this style of kung fu. This is because it's taught as a holistic art. When I get it to work, it's great though.
Anyway. In striking practice we've started to work on speed as well. From open palm, we moved onto looking at front kick, moving forwards and backwards. Backwards is interesting. I don't like bow and arrow stance going backwards, esp for kicking. In this situation, I instinctively prefer the false leg stance where the weight is more on the back leg. Sifu says this isn't wrong. It's not what he asked for, but it's not wrong!
After some solo practice of defensive movements, we looked at integrating defensive parries with footwork and strikes. So we had retreating footwork along with brushing away a palm strike, folllowed by two attacking palm strikes. That made much more sense when practicing with a partner, although under pressure I always revert to previously learned footwork!
It was a good class, especially learning to integrate skills previously learned separately.