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We’re baaack!

The COVID numbers here in Chester County are finally going down to early December levels (but are not yet great), so we’re coming back in person. We will still be maintaining physical* distancing this month because of this, and likewise we are asking that everyone keep wearing your N95 or equivalent masks when you show up. As per both our rules and West Chester Friends School rules, participants must be vaccinated. Since vaccinations are now available for everyone five years of age and older, we insist that your child be fully vaccinated before returning.

In order to maintain distancing in application class, we will be returning to staff this month. We spent a fair amount of time doing staff in November and December teaching both 16 staff and also teaching how to use the accompanying techniques. We’ll do a third pass on this content this month with the intention of wrapping up the topic by March. If you haven’t done any staff to this point, given that we’re three months in, it’s probably not a good time to get started. Rest assured, we’ll have ample opportunity in upcoming months to revisit these techniques. Our 16 Staff class where we focus on the form is on Wednesdays at 5pm, and our staff applications class is on Saturdays at 12pm.

Beginners

This month we have a number of beginners coming on board, so I wanted to include a few more beginner options in the lineup. On Wednesdays we will have a Chujiquan class at 6pm. While it is lovely if students can learn some Tan Tui and 16 Step ahead of time, the only thing that puts Chujiquan on level 3 instead of level 1 is its length since some students struggle with longer sequencing. In fact, in some Longfist schools, Chujiquan is the first form taught. ALL students are welcome to come to this class regardless of level. We’ll make it work. If you are more advanced, this class is still worth coming to as you can work your stances, flow, and intent.

As another beginner option, we also have bagwork and conditioning via Zoom on Fridays at 5pm. In this class, I illustrate the techniques we will practice, offer tips in execution, and then often give application advice. The class is half fitness, and half fine-tuning your basic striking and kicking techniques on the bag. While having a bag will certainly help, it will not preclude your participation. If you want a heavy bag and have yet to get one, here’s what most of us are using. Unfortunately the price has gone up by about $20-30 in the last year. You will probably also want to get some therabands, either the beginner set or the more advanced one which offers more resistance.

The third beginner option for the month is on Saturday morning when we offer a half-hour dedicated stretching class followed by a half hour of Tan Tui. Tan Tui are our basics, and once you are more experienced, you will start seeing portions of the Tan Tui sequences in your more advanced forms. All beginners should definitely make time to be at this class. And, as usual, more advanced students should consider attending to strengthen structure and gain conditioning. Here’s a quote from a post post on Tan Tui traning which you might find to be interesting:

“Bai remembers the end of the ’70s when traditional training was still essential…No one trains tantui for competitive wushu anymore.  Bai feels that the coaches don’t care anymore.  They want quick results.  To Bai, a stronger foundation means a longer competitive career.  He knew Zhao could last over a decade in the competitive circles because of his traditional building blocks.”
—Gene Ching, Kung Fu Magazine “Making the Grade”

All students are welcome to come to the beginning Taijiquan class on Saturdays at 1pm.

Intermediate and Advanced

Students at this level should consider coming to the beginner level classes, if only to work on conditioning. Just like a sprinter doesn’t just run 100m in training, but often lays down a distance base to begin with (trust me, I used to be a competitive runner), it’s impossible to have a good compulsory form (or any other advanced form) if that’s all you’re working on.

We are pulling back from compulsory this month to revisit some other content we’ve previously seen. On Sunday afternoons at 2pm we’ll have Meihua Dao (plumflower broadsword). Many of you have learned this last year. We will both be reviewing, but also teaching it anew. If you know it already, feel free to attend and warm up with us, and I’d be happy to put you and your classmates into a rotation for training. If you don’t know it at all, we’ll start up from scratch. I am presuming that anyone who is taking this class has learned either 16 or 32 daoshu previously. We will also take time to work on applications as time permits. There are a number of great basic flow and parry drills that can be implemented and which will teach you the meaning of the movements.

On Friday evenings, we will also do our online intermediate review. While the intent is to focus on this level form, and it’s nice to keep everyone together, if you do have specific questions about any form, this is a great time to show up and get your answer, regardless of level.

Use of Floorspace

We are incredibly lucky to be at West Chester Friends School as they have a fantastic gym. In general, we have ample extra space. If you are looking to have training space during our time there, but are not attending a class that is offered, we can usually array ourselves to give you your space simultaneously. So lower level students can be training while upper level classes are going on, and vice verca. My ability to answer your questions during these periods if you’re not in class is somewhat limited, but do come and use the space (at no extra charge).

So welcome back one and all, and happy Chinese Year of the Tiger!

Xin nian kuai le!
Sifu Tim

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