Taiji with Jan Diepersloot
I had the opportunity to visit Jan Diepersloot during a trip to the San Fransisco Bay area. Jan has, like my teacher Torben, been a student of master Sam Tam for many years and it was exiting to have an opportunity to parttake in a class and particularly to have a private pushing hands lesson with Jan.
I partook in a Saturday class and was surprised by the large repetoire the group was doing. Where we in Copenhagen usually focus on a few Qigong sets and the hand form, Jans groups was practicing all 5 animal styles, all 5 floating crane sets, fan form, stick form and sword form in addition to Sams hand form.
We also did a few partner exercises, focused on listening and connecting to the other, which seemed to be a central aspect of Jans teaching – at least it was this particular day, in our private lesson as well. I particularly was inspired by thinking about listening as an important element in sticking both when yielding and issuing, inspiring me to work more with my sensitivity while pushing hands.
The central pointers that I brought with me from the experience was firstly that you should never “push blindly”, meaning that pushing without having connected to the opponent and felt his center will only rely on luck (or force), as you wont actually know where the opponent is. Secondly Jan clearly demonstrated how a very gentle touch without force will not trigger the opponents feeling of being threathened, allowing you to get him. On the other hand Jan also demonstrated how you can lead your opponent by letting them feel you.
It seems to me that if you are sensible enough, you will be able to feel whatever move the opponent is trying to do and repond to it before it has been finished, thus disabling him. Or if you work in a more Yi Chuan inspired direction, to feel the center of the opponent and them move first.
All in all it was a very powerfull experience which inspired me to work more with my taiji.It was nice to get into the hands of someone who can demonstrate yielding and internal power at a high level again after a couple of months of solo practice. Also it seems to be time that i read Jans books soon.