“A boxing jab is more effective because it covers little distance, it’s quick, and it’s fundamentally sound…A critical challenge for all practical martial artists is to make their diverse techniques take on the efficiency of the jab…..It is rarely a mysterious technique that drives us to the top but rather a profound mastery of what may well be a basic skill set”
Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
“From very early on, I felt the moving meditation of Tai Chi Chuan has the primary martial purpose of allowing practitioners to refine certain fundamental principles. Many of them can be explored by standing up, taking a stance, and incrementally refining the simplest of movements—for example, pushing your hands six inches through the air. With the practice of this type of simplified motion you can feel the subtlest ripples inside the body. You become aware of all the tension that resides in your feet, legs, back, and shoulders. Then you release the tension, step by step, hour by hour, month by month, and with the fading of tension comes a whole new world of sensation. You learn to direct the awareness inside the body, and soon enough your fingers come alive with tingling, you feel heat surging up your back and through your arms. The Tai Chi system can be seen as a comprehensive laboratory for internalizing good fundamentals, releasing tension, and cultivating energetic awareness.”
This makes me want to get right up and do a half hour long Siu Lum Tao!
This is one of the things that separates the good from the great.
I remember one of my kung fu brothers (one of the best fighters) telling me how he had isolated the tap and jab of the pole form and was doing it hundreds of times in his living room.
He isolated this movement both because it could fit in his living room (unlike the entire form) and because it is the essence of martial arts to play with the motions and to do them many times with a keen internal focus, so that the practitioner is feeling the shifts of their center of balance, where they are tense or relaxed, where there are forces being generated with which they can “catch a ride” effortlessly for part of a motion.
People who become very good combine patience with a zeal for dissection.
What are all the parts of this action? When I break an action down to a smart element, such as the shifting of the weight while stepping, how is this part of the action supporting my goal? This little little part I am thinking about now?
Have you ever played with variations of the formation of the sunfist as it strikes the pad and made it very loose to very tight and everything in between, to see what formations allow you to hit the bag the hardest with the least trauma to the hand?
Have you ever trained with your partner, experimenting with trips and pushes, and experimented with taking away as much of your muscular effort as possible? How light can you go and still trip or push or hit effectively?
These are the sorts of experiments and thought processes that will help you make jumps in skill.