Recently I have been looking into a concept that Erle Montaigue called “the Post”. Erle described the Post as being an abstract way to learn very practical things. He as even gone as far as to say that the Post contains two exercises that give every thinkable internal body movement for self-defence without having to think too hard, and are probably one of the most valuable training aids ever. Certainly this apparently simple sequence has much greater depth than is first apparent. I am going to devote a few blogs to this topic and invite the reader to try it with me.
What Erle calls the Post is actually two sequences, one from Tai Chi and the other from Bagua. The Tai Chi one is called “Stepping over the Gate” and the Bagua “Cross Stepping Post”. Initially I am only going to deal with Cross Stepping Post.
If you dislike long complicated katas, you will be pleased to hear that Cross Stepping Post has only four different steps. These are mirrored on the left and right sides so there are actually eight steps and two linking sets to change sides. Complexity of the arm movements varies. Performing this exercise without the arm movements is very beneficial since it lets you concentrate on your balance and foot movements. You can go through the foot movements anytime that you are standing around, waiting for the bus etc. In his main video on the post (MTG54) Erle demonstrated a very simple set of arm movements. In MTG55 he also details the post and there demonstrated a more varied set of arm movements. On this video Erle points out that what is actually going on internally is actually more important than the actual physical movements. Bear this in mind as you practice.
Both videos are available as downloads or DVDs from http://www.taijiworld.com
I am going to introduce the Cross Stepping Post gradually. For this first blog I am going to suggest learning just two of the steps. They are similar, and once you have some grasp of these you will have learnt half the necessary moves. Just practicing these two steps will also probably reveal to you that your balance and stability is not what they might be.
The first move we will learn is actually the second move in the sequence. I call this the “Forward Foot Kick/Step”, although you must keep in mind that this foot action and the others have many other applications than the one immediately apparent. It is not just a kick!
Your feet are close together and your knees are probably brushing against each other. As the lead foot heel withdraws past the other heel the foot straightens up so the toes point forwards. The foot goes back about a foot length and swings in an arc to the forward position. Heel and toe are placed down at the same time and you should be in balance for the entire movement. Cross Stepping Post actions are performed without obvious shifts in weight such as leaning.
The second move is the fourth, a “Back Foot Kick/Step”. Position of the feet is similar but a little more natural in that there is some space between the forward and rear foot. The feet are close enough for the knees to brush. In all these moves the toes always point forward or to the outside. That is, if your right foot is pointing at an angle it is to the right, and to the left for your left foot.
The beginning of this step puts some torsion on your waist and hips. You utilize this by moving the back foot in an arc and placing it down. The toes of the forward foot point forward or inward. This is a very similar movement to the Forward Foot Kick but uses the rearward foot and has less initial backward movement.
No arm movements yet. Work on your balance and footwork Experiment with these two movements for a couple of days. See if you can improve your internal balance.