Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting Serious about I Liq Chuan

In mid-February, I added practicing the first five ILC basic exercises to my morning Taiji practice. Up to that point, my only ILC practice was in our Monday class and, while I had made some progress, much of my improvement in ILC had come via the work I had done in Taiji, both in the form and the four energy pattern (i.e. push hands).

The current training system for ILC is relatively new and still being refined and I had been hesitant to add the ILC basic exercises to my routine because I wasn't sure that I wanted to get up a half hour earlier every day to practice something that might not be of any benefit, particularly when I could spend that time practicing Taiji, which I knew would give me benefit. In the end, I decided to give it a try for a couple of months and then evaluate my progress and their utility.

The first couple of weeks of practice sessions were pretty rough. I really didn't know what I was doing so practice was both frustrating, because I couldn't do the exercises well, and boring, because it was just a repetition of the same thing over and over (and over ...).  When I started, I focused primarily on absorb/project and, over the last several weeks, have been working my way thorough the exercises of the horizontal plane.  Working through the exercises raised a lot of questions that Mike and Keith - and Sam's video - have helped me work through. I have improved, albeit slowly, and actually come to find practice more interesting.

At this point, I can't say that practicing the first five basic exercises has actually improved my push-hands or spinning-hands ability. Still, it was practicing these exercises that gave me the insights into the 'wrecking ball', which has noticeably improved my Taiji and, as I've started focusing on the frontal plane, I have gotten some insights on the four energy pattern. With this in mind, I have decided to continue my morning practice of the exercises and expand them over time to include the first ten basic exercises. In November, I plan to take the ILC student level 1 test at which point I will revisit the utility of daily ILC practice. For the curious, I have laid out a schedule of practice leading up to the test and added it as a page on this site.

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