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Got a grip?

January 25th, 2010 1 comment

I like it when East meets West. Or when squash meets Tai Chi.

Here’s a description of the squash grip, from Smart Squash, by Austin M. Francis: “My first squash coach used to quote one of the great French masters of the foil (as in fencing) who said he held his instrument like “un petit oiseau” — firmly enough so it couldn’t fly away but gently so he wouldn’t crush it The lesson my coach conveyed was how important it is to begin the point with a firm but relaxed connection between you and your racquet “.

And for the East, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, in his book¬†Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style writes: If the grip is too tight, you will lose flexibility and inhibit energy flow. If the grip is too loose, you will not be able to wield the sword swiftly … The sword should be held like an egg, neither broken nor dropped. The grip should be alive.”

Interesting.

Categories: East meets West, squash, Tai Chi Tags:

The best technique is no technique.

January 12th, 2010 2 comments

Another squash lesson, another blog post. This time Barb was trying to teach me how to swing the racquet properly so I wouldn’t hit anybody. Haven’t done that yet, so this is a preemptive¬†stroke, as it were.

Once Barb got my swing in the ballpark (or in the court), she basically asked me to relax, use a delicate touch, do less, and just chill. I thought I was relaxed. Go figure. But she was right of course, and the swing improved to the point where I got some nice, relaxed swings out of the lesson. It seems that I get stressed out over doing things right, and that makes me tighten up. So some technique needs to be applied to correct that and bring me back to a natural state. Once in the natural state, everything flows, and no technique is required. Now I don’t have to put my racquet back to a specific position, I should just get it back to a position where it would do some good. And that’s different for each shot, high, low, volley, whatever.

Once reaching that state, the reaction seems to be “oh, is that all? That’s not so hard.” But I need to apply technique to bring me to the state of no technique.

I think this is very “Yiquan”. And very “Alexander” … right, Caprice?

(update: The characters represent “wu wei”, or “non-doing”: an important concept of Taoism.)