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  • Skill is not automatic

    Submitted by Qiang on Fri, 09/16/2011 - 03:14

    Achieving proficiency in a martial art requires certain abilities.  However, the abilities themselves do not equate to high level proficiency.  To achieve mastery of an art requires developing skill.  Skill and ability are related concepts, but are distinct.  The difference between the two is subtle, and I have not always had the best explanation to distinguish them when I get into a discussion with others.  But after reading through Geoff Colvin's "Talent is Overrated," I see that the difference between the two can be succintly stated: skill is not automatic.

  • Physics of Fajin, Pt. 2

    Submitted by Qiang on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 02:30

    You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out fajin, but you might want to use a little rocket math to understand it. The force equation is a fundamental relationship for understanding how rockets get off the ground.  In the last blog post, we left off mentioning how we need acceleration to generate enough momentum over short distances.  For our purposes, we can use the force equation to analyze how it is possible to generate enough velocity and momentum for a short distance attack.


    Rocket Science


  • Physics of Fajin, Pt. 1

    Submitted by Qiang on Thu, 09/01/2011 - 22:10

    Being a science sort of guy, I like understanding mechanisms of how things work. Tying in concepts from biology, physics, and neuroscience into martial arts training is something I can totally geek out to. In my mind, demystifying martial arts esoterica using science is a good thing. However, science is sometimes used incorrectly to justify certain principles and phenomena  Fajin--the issuing of power--can be understood within the framework of sound science; it does not have to reside solely in the realm of qi, magic, superhuman abilities, or hand waved pseudo-science. 

    Here’s my attempt to properly apply classical physics to the often mysticized fajin.

  • Tiger Above, Tiger Below

    Submitted by Ashe Higgs on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 14:16
    Ashe Higgs's picture

    The real trick of pursuing a martial art like I Liq Chuan over the long term is recognizing the end of the duality of "on the mat" and "off the mat", so that one is always training.
    The I Liq Chuan system guide opens with the following;

  • Horizontal Control and the Four Strategies

    Submitted by Qiang on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 22:33

    When gaining the upper hand position, getting to the horizontal usually works to your advantage. Dropping your opponents into the horizontal plane in effect closes them in the up-down dimension. This makes it much more difficult for them to project force against you and is getting the upper hand into position to attack. From the lower hand horizontal position, it is tougher to achieve the spacing necessary to strike in. To strike from the lower hand position, the elbow extends and the shoulder flexes to straighten the arm. If this starts from the horizontal, the point of contact quickly rolls to the outside the sphere of defense of the upper hand defender. In effect, it's not possible to just slip through when the upper hand has established horizontal control.

  • NC March 2011 Workshop Recap

    Submitted by Qiang on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 10:41

    Last weekend, I made my regularly planned trip down to NC to train with Sifu at the NC ILC workshop.  As always, I left with a lot of stuff to work on.  I find going to workshops to be highly informative.  This is not just because of the knowledge that gets presented, but also because I get feedback from touching hands with more and different people than I normally would.  Interacting with different people gives me access to people with different feels, which is invaluable for learning to put principles into action.

    This workshop focused a bit more on spinning hands and the five elements.  I have to go back and review my video footage to fully summarize what was taught, but here are some of the things that I personally got out of the workshop:

  • Blink and the Power of Words

    Submitted by Qiang on Thu, 03/10/2011 - 23:20

    I recently read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and found the book to be quite enjoyable. The premise of how the mind can perceive things in an instant has parallels to the mental aspects of I-Liq Chuan training. We train the mind to remain attentive to the moment such that we can truly perceive and flow with the present conditions.  One section of the book I found particularly interesting was the description of professional tasters.  Developing a highly refined sense of taste has mental training aspects of which I was unaware.  I had an interesting insight after reading Gladwell's description of how professional tasters develop their skill.

  • The Body Line

    Submitted by Qiang on Thu, 02/17/2011 - 20:21

    After the center of the feet, usually the first "easy" idea I teach to new students is paying attention to the body line. When the hand (or more precisely, the point of contact) is inside the body line, it is easier to absorb. Conversely, when the hand crosses outside of the body line, it is easier to project force. The body line is an important transition point which needs to be recognized to maintain unification with an opponent's force.

  • Repetition

    Submitted by Qiang on Mon, 12/20/2010 - 17:35



    Practice makes perfect, or so the saying goes. But what are you actually accomplishing from repetitive practice? Hours of drills are necessary to achieve mastery of any skill, yet the hours of practice do not necessarily lead to proficiency.

    According to Malcolm Gladwell, most masters of their craft have put in roughly 10000 hours of practice prior to mastery. However, those 10000 hours can't be mindless, rote repetition. What separates the amateur from the expert is the thousands of hours of mindful training--it's 10000 hours of focused attention to perfect practice that develops highly refined skill.

  • Martial "skills"?

    Submitted by Qiang on Thu, 11/25/2010 - 18:40

    A few months ago, I did a post on questionable body conditioning practices.  So, for your entertainment, here's a followup post about questionable martial skills.  Some of them are impressive, but none of them really pass my personal test for general sanity.

    Finger strikes through coconuts. Sure, I'd never want to get in a fight with him as he might put a hole in my skull with his conditioned fingers. But take a look at those gnarly fingers.  I think I'd prefer full function and fine motor control of my digits instead of the ability to pierce a coconut.