Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thoughts on Structuring Solo Training

One of the changes I've made based on working with Sifu Wu is how I structure my solo training. I've tried various approaches to solo training and have generally followed the format used by most of the classes I've attended - start with a bit of warm-up, followed by doing the form, and then practice whatever new thing I'm working on.

In August, I started taking a 24-Form class with Sifu Wu and discussed with her how to practice. She mentioned that in her classes she always starts with an extensive warm-up so that by the time she gets to the form, the students are both physically and mentally prepared to focus on the form.

She recommended that I structure my practice in a similar way - start with Zhan Zhuang training (open stance, empty stance, leg lifts), followed by basic stepping (twist step, back step, side step), and only then go on to practice the form.

My current practice schedule is shown below (updated here as it evolves). I now only spend about 30% of my time on the form as opposed to about 80% that I used to spend.

Working through the basic mechanics first gives you time to build strength, improve balance, and refine the movements. When you finally get to the form, you are warmed up and have gone through the fundamental movements, which has prepared you to do the form.

Current Solo Training
  • 8 Minutes - Open Stance
    • 4 minutes - hold the ball
    • 2 minutes - twist while holding the ball
    • 1 minute - rise and lower
    • 1 minute - open and close
  • 6 Minutes - Empty Stance/Bow Stance
    • 3 minutes - left leg
    • 3 minutes - right leg
  • 6 Minutes - Standing on One Leg
    • 3 minutes - raise empty leg, hold for 30 seconds, switch to other leg
    • 3 minutes - raise empty leg, lower empty leg onto heel, raise empty leg, switch to other leg
  • 20 Minutes - Stepping
    • 5 minutes - twist-step w/hands behind back
    • 5 minutes - twist-step w/brush knee and press
    • 5 minutes - step-back w/hands in front
    • 5 minutes - side-step w/hands behind back
  • 20 Minutes - 24 Form Practice