Blogs:

Finally
by Meowaffles

Hi, I'm back... or as much "back" as I can be. I'll be resuming my slow and irregular posting schedule.

In any case, I finally found proper videos of the Tai Chi form I am learning. Wu Slow form (Part 1 & 2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqqkbetLPIk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-40n_syhMTQ

I believe she is my teacher's teacher's teacher.

 

Stand Like a Tree
by Meowaffles

Zhan Zhuang is a method of physical training using static postures most often promoted by teachers of internal chinese martial arts styles.

For the most part you hold a specific position. You "stand like a tree" (or a post, or another inanimate object for that matter), and if you're doing it right you will sweat, your muscles will be strained, and you will feel like parts your body are made of stone weights. If you keep at it long enough, you will likely go into an endorphin fueled euphoria.

After feeling considerable increase in strength and stamina from the practice of Zhan Zhuang, I tried to figure out how it actually works. This is what I came up with under a westernized framework of thought.

The Zhan Zhang postures distribute your body weight in such a manner that certain tendons and muscles strain against each other continuously for the duration of the exercise. This is kinda like using most of your skeleton and opposing muscles as some sort of big comprehensive exercise machine. Like lifting weights with most of your body but instead of lifting weights you are pulling against most of your own muscles just to keep standing, and you are training your muscles to do this for a relatively long time.

If properly done, it should strengthen the relevant muscle groups, increase patience, presumably strengthen tendons, and if done long enough possibly encourage your body to produce endorphins in response to going into stance. I'm not sure if it has any influence on bone mass but it might.

Anyway, I hope this helps answer the questions of those out there who wonder why a whole bunch of kung fu guys keep standing around like oddly posed statues.

Early Wu style Tai Chi
by Meowaffles

After months of searching this is the clearest and closest video to the style of tai chi I am learning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDaV9C0ERP8&feature=related

Got Zerged
by Meowaffles

I hereby blame a combination of work, Starcraft 2, Mass Effect, RPG gaming and Plants vs Zombies for my long hiatus from this comic.

I have a new computer, incidentally. It's not the latest in home computing hardware but it works really really well. (Thanks Maddie. Thanks Vicente) . What I thought would have me churning out comic pages at a prodigious rate instead got me stuck playing games and downloading a huge installer file from blizzard. Yes, I'm a Starcraft fan. I once played the 1st Starcraft game 48 hours straight and shattered the CD in the disc drive. I had a new disk the very next day. For those who are interested, I'm a Zerg player (actually I play Terran better but I have more fun with hordes of expendable creatures running amuck). I guess what'll really speed up my comic upload rate is a stylus, which I intend to get sometime soon... Unless I end up using it to play Starcraft 2 and Plants vs Zombies.

 

Secrets of the Form
by Meowaffles

I guess I really don't have as much comic-making time as I'd like but I'll continue releasing pages at whatever pace my work, training, and enjoyment of life allows. Though I'll stop worrying about it, I won't quit. 

Anyway, on other matters... I thought it would be a good time to make another martial arts article.

 

This time, I'd like to write about the Martial Arts Forms; those graceful (or not so graceful) movements used at some point in the training regimen of almost every traditional martial art. A lot of people question the purpose of these forms, some going so far as to assert that they are useless for actual combat training and detrimental to real-world application of the martial arts.

Well, fair enough, if you memorize a form without any understanding of what it really is then the form really would be useless to you. A form isn't meant to immediately make someone a better fighter.  Forms were originally invented as a memory aid for the preservation of a martial art, sort of like a kinesthetic text book. Forms are there to make certain that a martial style can be preserved for future reference without any loss of information. With the help of a teacher, forms are definitely better at helping a student along in the martial arts than a video or simple manual. Their main disadvantage is that people unfamiliar with the concepts behind a form just wouldn't get it. Without a competent instructor people can mimic a lot of the outward appearance of any form, but if careful attention isn't paid to the exact manner that each technique is really supposed to be used, then the form would eventually become empty and hollow after just a few generations of teaching it wrong. This has happened in several schools of martial arts. I feel though that any decent martial artist should be able to work out most of the real techniques contained within any but the most messed up of forms and revitalize these into something workable. They merely have to apply themselves and have some background as to the philosophy and martial art of the form's original creators.

Aside from being a memory aid that familiarizes a martial artist with various martial arts techniques and concepts, good forms prepare the physically prepare the practitioners mind and body for the rest of their martial arts training in the relevant style. Forms improve coordination and memory while conditioning the body in ways that would actually be relevant to the practice of the martial arts. Forms, however, are not the martial art itself. Once you've mastered a form, you are supposed to use it as your foundation and go about to begin your actual training. They are merely a gateway to higher learning.