Notes about the exercises and the various sections of the day

After the talk I suggest we break out into the day’s assigned teaching groups and the instructors assist the students experimenting with the following exercises with the main points from the talk in mind.  As usual, please use feedback to help raise understanding and sensitivity. I have put a few suggestions about what areas to cover. Please pick a few that feel pertinent rather than try to cover everything superficially.  A reminder of the points about structure from the last workshop might be worth mentioning if they have been lost. If you all agree, let’s follow our usual workshop pattern with a large group feedback to validate what was done and said in the small groups.

1.Unifying the three (circles or treasures)
 The first exercise after the talk to start us thinking about inner and outer function; please focus on accuracy of movement (function) with good alignment (the structure from the last workshop). Can we maintain our song? What does it feel like to co-ordinate breathing with accuracy of movement? Does one help the other or is it one task too much? Can we visualise or imagine moving Qi as we move our body? etc. If there is doubt about the details of this exercise, a demonstration by the small group instructor would be far better than a lengthy, clunky description here.

2.Particular focus on Carry the Moon / Salver during the preparatory exercises
I suggest we do the preparatory exercises in one large group with the small group members next to each other and the small group instructor nearby, giving advice to ensure we all do these exercises the same way. It would be helpful if all students Carry the Moon and focus on the application of the points raised during the talk. Is the waist in play of is the pelvis collapsing without the student realising?  Are the two components (weight transfer and waist turn) separate or merging? What do the students think is helping of hindering –Where is their Yi (focused attention)?  What does it feel like to empty and fill as weight transfers? Is there something special about the point of transfer from weight change to waist movement and vice versa?
3.Meditation In One large circle, with students near their instructor; as a prelude to meditation, I would like talk the students through an exercise to ensure and raise consciousness about alignment and working internally to find out if this has an effect on their experience. 

4.Pre walking exercise                                                                                                                                                                               Once again in a large group with students near their instructor; starting in bow stance with the front foot full, the exercise consists of stepping curving the empty foot forward as in the Dragon Walk until the heel lightly rests where it would be placed if walking on. Keep the weight on the full leg so that as soon as the heel has touched the ground it can remain empty and the movement reversed until it is behind the full leg in bow stance again. This can be very challenging so it would be thoughtful to advise frequent changes of the forward leg. Please explore such topics as control of when to place the empty leg and whether it gives students a choice about whether and when to touch the ground with the empty heel. A walk is planned to follow then a short feedback session to evaluate the experience.

5.Slow Set                                                                                                                                                                                               
Usual format of close but kindly observation followed by corrections. As well as picking up and mentioning things that occur at the time, please use as much time as is reasonable on applying the points made in the talk so the messages are not lost.

6.Push Hands 
Three preliminary exercises in small groups with instructors. Both in bow stance with hands in front at C17 height, arms as in the Heaven Posture but with palms touching and fingers pointing forward; work in twos facing each other (if possible).

a) Practice sitting back with weight transfer from front to back leg. Check that both feet stay rooted (grounded), the Kua is open, the head is facing comfortably forward, there is no bobbing and that movement is straight back (not ending over back foot). Each one in the pair is tasked with checking the other –and pointing out when they slip up.
b)  In the same posture, in pairs, turn the waist in the correct direction if pushing hands, first with weight forward  (front full leg) and then back (back full leg). As "Vital force comes from the waist" check that the waist is relaxed, knees don’t collapse, the Kua is maintained and the feet keep their firm base.
c) Now combine the two exercises and check that the function and structure are maintained.  Then Single and double push hands now in two lines, as softly as possible

7.Fast Set
Same format as slow set, observation followed by corrections; please concentrate on control, correct intent and smaller movements with some Yin softness so they can express fa jin. Once again, as well as picking up and mentioning things that occur at the time, please use as much time as is reasonable on applying the points made in the talk so the messages are not lost .

Peter Bennett
May 08