Saturday, December 31, 2016

RIP Alphonse Mouzon

Some tracks featuring the great drummer Alphonse Mouzon, who passed away December 26, 2016.

Weather Report - Tears
Weather Report 1971 "1"

Tribute article:

Six Harmony basics

The Six Harmonies are the principles of body structure and movement that are characteristic of the Chinese internal martial arts.  Soon after I first heard of the so-called "internal" martial arts, I learned that there is an "engine" that drives movement in the "internal" arts that Mike Sigman and others had started referring to as "internal strength".  Unfortunately, the word "internal" is kind of vague and confusing, so these days some have preferred to use the term "six harmonies" or 6H to describe this "engine".

My understanding so far is that developing 6H skills will inevitably lead using one's body with the greatest possible efficiency, along with the least amount of effort.  This is because a 6H-trained body utilizes the muscle-tendon channels so that all body movement is driven from the "dantien" (aka "the center") - the hands are connected through the dantien to the feet.  The connections are generally through muscle-tendon channels that run all over the body.  In addition, this trained body takes advantage of two basic forces that are constant and in opposition to each other in the human body - Ground (aka "Up") which we all naturally use to stand and not lie flat on the ground, and Gravity ("Down") which is, well, the force that pulls is towards the ground.  These are two force vectors (jin) that the 6H newbie learns to use first.  Later on, he/she learns how to use the others.

With this type of connected body, one can hit harder and do other things with more force - but that's not all.  A 6H-trained person can also "connect" to another person's body through a physical, body-to-body contact point.   I have only a tiny bit of experience with this type of connection, and so have only had a tiny glimpse of the possibilities - I just know there are people out there who can cause a "connected" person to lose balance through the point of contact.   I have had a 6H-skilled person put his hands on me, and through my body,  issue force vectors into a 3rd person with whom I had body contact (one hand on his shoulder, the other on the elbow of the opposite arm).  Sounds like some esoteric/occult thing, but 6H skills can be learned and practiced.

Definition of Six Harmonies by Mike Sigman:

Alternate definition, which might be a bit of an easier read:

Below are some basic exercises for training 6H skills, from the 6H discussion group.

Basic jin operations:

Basic reverse breathing - needed before silk reeling can be done:

Qi breathing exercise - great exercise for feeling how reverse-breathing, especially the inhalation, can pull the front of the body or the back:

Shoulder-bypass exercises.  These are exercises for training the movement of the arms by reverse-breathing, thus bypassing most of the shoulder musculature.  As with the basic qi-breathing exercise, these are for developing the muscle-tendon channels, for better silk-reeling performance :

Basic silk reeling exercise.  Close position should have thumb to big toe connection. Open position should have little finger to little toes connection.

Basic silk reeling Pt. 2

Basic explanation of how the "dantien" should pull the arms and legs:

Basic training progression from the 6H discussion group:

"1. Learn and develop jin skills
2. Then begin practicing and coordinating body-winding skills with reverse breathing, dantian, and so on.
3. Begin strengthening the winding and dantian skills via some exercises like Cando Flexbar, pole-shaking, and so on."

A recommended store for nylon poles to use for pole-shaking.  Ask that the pole be left at the full length and not be cut down into smaller pieces.  Beginner spec is min. 6.8 feet, 1.25-1.375 inch diameter. Spec for experienced trainees is 8 feet, 1.50 inch.
Nylon pole sources and specs for U.S., E.U., and U.K.
U.S. (Courtesy of Tom V.)
Recommended specs:
1. 8' long, 1.5" diameter (Mike S., Alfonso, Tin, Jang, Tom V., Budd). This is like a yellow or green cando.
2. 6'8" long, 1.25" diameter
3. 6'8" long, 1.375" diameter. This is a good one for newer folks. Think of it like a tan cando.
Europe (courtesy of Dirk)
U.K. (courtesy of John Burn)
IMPORTANT: Remember to tell company *DO NOT CUT* your pole down to smaller pieces for ease of shipping.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

GMB Rating System (Quick Reference)

For easier reference, this is the rating system used by GMB for all their programs.  The below is copied and pasted from P1...

The 4 Quality Ratings

If you haven’t noticed by now, quality is our main goal in any movement practice. You can’t good at anything by practicing it poorly.
  • Broken = This exercise as you are currently performing it is too much for you and needs to be dropped down at least one level of difficulty. Alternatively, you’re still learning it, so the pieces might not fit together yet.
  • Rough = You aren’t hurting yourself, but this exercise is likely better done with fewer reps and more rest in between sets so you can concentrate on improving your form. Slow down and work on smoothing out the rough edges.
  • Smooth = The exercise is being done with a nice groove in your movement and your control can lead you to work hard at it without a break in form. This is where you can begin trying to do more.
  • Snappy = You got this. Your technique is stellar and you can control the exercise movement at any speed. It simply looks pretty. Every part of your body snaps into place like a well-oiled machine.

The 4 Ease Ratings

Instead of measuring your effort, we flip it around and focus on seeing how easily you can perform each movement.
  • Max Effort = A struggle to move and your form isn’t on your mind since you are simply trying to survive the exercise. We wouldn’t advise this as a regular state of being.
  • Challenging = The exercise feels pretty difficult but not killing you. You can feel fatigue building up but it’s still manageable. But if you force more repetitions you may end up having a bad time. You’ll often find that you’re holding your breath at this stage.
  • Solid = An enjoyable sensation of effort, your movement feels strong and steady and can be maintained with this sense of ease for a good amount of time. Your breathing is steady.
  • Relaxed = Starting to feel as if this is not exercise, but rather just a normal way to move and play. You can laugh and move at the same time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tai Chi Documentary, mostly featuring Wu family style (Hong Kong branch)

A documentary on Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan), mostly featuring the Hong Kong branch of Wu family style Taiji (there are multiple "Wu" styles of Taijiquan, which can be confusing).  "Eddie" Wu Kuangyu, the current headmaster/gatekeeper of that family style, is featured, along with other teachers:

Tai Chi Documentary

Today's Musical Discoveries

Lakota Dream Song

Kevin Ayers - Song for Insane Times

Olivier Messiaen - Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) [Matthew Schellhorn]
Revelations: Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

Basiani Ensemble - live performance, Grand Hall Tbilisi State Conservatoire