Overall methodology for martial art training

I’ve been taking classes from Carnegie Mellon’s graduate program in Software Engineering.  They’ve been very instructive.  A lot of approaches and methodologies are transferable to other areas of life.  Here with some minor modifications, I’m adapting the Capability Maturity Model to martial art (here Taiji Quan) training:

if we want to succeed at something, we must first know clearly a) what we’re trying to do, and b) how to do it:

1. first we must be clear on goals of the training – what is the ideal skill we’re trying to achieve? According to traditional teaching, the ideal skill should be like: don’t struggle against the enemy directly where he is strong, first follow him to see what his real intentions are, from following comes knowing (your enemy), then you use internal jins to redirect that force so it misses you (“lure your opponent to emptiness”), causing him to lose balance in the process, and finally finish him off with hard external jin.

2. from that goal, know what type of abilities are necessary for that process to work: to be able to detect (“listen”) what our opponent is trying to do, we need sensitivity skills. That means from one brief touch you can tell what your opponent wants to do, what type of force will he use, what angle, what timing, what duration, etc. To listen you need to follow first, to follow you need to relax…;

3. from knowing the abilities, know what are the various types of trained forces involved: internal, external, what are the characteristics of each, what are their strength and weaknesses, when it is appropriate to use them?

3. from knowing the abilities and jins you’re after, you need to know what methods are used to achieve those: form practice, push hands, sticking staff, single movement fa jin practice…

4. we need to know how to practice/use those methods: why do we emphasize “relax, slow, circular, agile” in forms training? what are the various stages of forms training, push hands, and sparring?

5. we need to know the logic and sequence of training, know the relationship and importance of various skills (what comes after what, what are the main things – the root and trunk, what are the ancillary, assisting skills – leaves and flowers). The answer to this question explains why some groups uses a “fast form”, why some of these “fighting forms” (ie Lao Jia Er Lu) is not really a more advanced than the primary long form.


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