Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Spring ILC Workshop

Last weekend, I went to an ILC workshop given by Sam Chin at Stillness in Motion in Oakland. Sifu Chin visits every six months to give a workshop and this is the third one I've been to - though the first one I've been to since I started practicing ILC seriously.

The workshop started on Friday (5/18) with a short evening session (6-9) for ILC members. At the beginning of every session, Sifu gives a lecture that addresses the concepts that we're going to be working on. In previous workshops, I found it difficult to make sense of the lectures much less make the connections with the subsequent exercises but, this time, I got a more out of the lectures - as part of my training, I've been studying the ILC principles and doing so added the context I had been missing. Friday evening's exercises really focused on the basic strategies - from the inside, open out and from the outside, close in.  The main takeaway I had from that session was how to move your arm in the frontal plane to neutralize a force coming in on the perpendicular - if you are neutral to begin with, instead of fighting that force, you can neutralize it either by closing (i.e. in and down) or opening (i.e. out and up) in the two dimensions of movement in the frontal plane.

On Saturday the workshop started at 10:30 and was scheduled to end at 6:00 but ended up going on until 9:30.  The main focus of this session was how to use the 3 planes of movement - horizontal, frontal, and sagittal - in order to neutralize external forces. It was an extension of the concepts we had gone over on Friday but with more depth. The particular exercise that I recall was using the horizontal circles to neutralize a force coming from the south - you really have to get all of the body mechanics correct for it to be effective but it gives you a clear idea of the way the horizontal circles work.

Finally, Sunday also started at 10:30 and was scheduled to end at 6:00 but I didn't leave until 7:30 and other folks were still going on with spinning hands practice. On that day, we practiced qin na - joint locking.  We spent a lot of the time going over the 8 different grabs that lead into the actual joint locks.  These grabs follow the basic circle and occur at the primary points (north/south/east/west) - you can grab such that you absorb with the yin muscles (yin grab) or such that you project with the yang muscles (yang grab). Qin na is a more advanced topic and I didn't get as much out of it as I did the first two days but the advanced students seemed to get a lot out of it.

It was a long weekend and I was pretty exhausted afterwards but it was worthwhile.  Just seeing someone of Sifu Chin's skill is inspiring - the first workshop I went to, he spun hands with me for a short time and I felt like I was in an earthquake. My skills have improved since then but, when I touched hands with him again on Saturday, it was still like being in an earthquake - though I am now more aware of where the forces are coming from (even if I can't do anything about them).


  1. You got him before we did - he was out here for the Memorial Day weekend workshop in Honolulu. Had a great time, he's got a nice delicate touch - take a look at for some photos of Sifu in Hawaii.

    1. In Oakland, we were all lamenting the fact that we couldn't go to the Honolulu workshop. Thanks for the photos link, looks like you had a nice group and a fun workshop.