In what turned out to be a fantastic early birthday present to myself, I attended Mr. Richard Clear’s free tai chi seminar in Peoria last Friday night.
While I did not attend his paid sessions due to other commitments, I found the free session enlightening. I was asked if I’d learned anything during the session, and I said I’d have to let Mr. Clear’s ideas marinate.
The main point I picked up was how calm Mr. Clear and his students were. We were working on a drill where we were trying to root our bodies in order to push somebody else away in an effort to use our entire body and not just our arm/elbow/shoulder. I felt like I was beginning to understand this drill when one of Mr. Clear’s students, Ben, told me I was too tense. He slapped my shoulder a few times to relieve the tension, I tried the move again, and it seemed to work better.
Another drill consisted of partners putting at least one hand on their partner’s hip and the other either on the other hip or the arm. The partners would try to find each other’s center and push the other person off-balance once he/she found it. I was surprised at how easy my partner was able to gently push me away. This type of pushing hands drill is more complicated than how my tai chi chuan instructor teaches it – not that it’s right or wrong, just different. After watching me lose my balance several times, another one of Mr. Clear’s students approached. Not the typical, athletically built martial artist you might think of, Mr. Kerr (I believe) advised I “hang” my entire body from my skull, like a puppet. Let everything dangle from that point. I tried it, and though I was still pushed off balance, I was able to spend more time actually trying to practice the drill.
Much of the seminar can be seen in this video. Skip to about 38:00 and you’ll see me.