One day my older son had been playing his favorite team sport – basketball – and was complaining that no one was passing the ball to him. I tried to explain to him that he needs to get open and also look ready by having his hands up and his eyes looking toward the person with the ball. After he understood this idea, the funny thing is that he started holding his hands up in a sort of modified embrace the tree fashion – not really optimal for catching but not a bad general stance and better than having the hands down. His habit comes from “time outs” where I told him to do standing (now he’s probably done more short sessions of standing than I have). Of course he isn’t trying to develop hunyuanli or something. So it’s funny that just a little standing translates into being used in movement nevertheless. There must be something to those stories of the old masters telling you to stand with no explanation and if you heed the instruction you realize later you’ve strangely and paradoxically developed “kung fu”. I see that there is also something to this “formless” idea – there is no possible way he could practice catching or intercepting a pass at every single combination of ball speed, trajectory, angles between passer and receiver and defender and so on as a bunch of “forms”. However, having a few general postures or at least hand and arm shapes clearly helps – he automatically moved his hands to the right place depending on the specific situation at that specific moment of “free basketball” or “free practice”. 90% of the improvement probably came from the relatively static posture. Hmm….
In a later practice he and most of his teammates had their hands down again during some drills so weren’t catching some (bad) passes. I told him to hold one hand high and one low – san ti shi basically – he was then more ready to at least try to catch the stray passes. I’m amazed at how quickly once of his stances got so wired into his neural pathways and only from 30 – 60 second sessions. That has got me wondering about corrections to postures and postures that would be more suited for basketball – holding the hands high or out wide, dribbling while having the other arm out to both sense and keep someone away (“push hands” skills!), and so on. Geez. Endless “applications”. I don’t know all these basketball ready stances but we’ll see. Hmm, there are also a lot of circular running patterns and circular pivoting and spinning… ah who needs bagua when you have basketball? There is much more opportunity to use and develop various transferable skills… er, as long as they’re not punches, kicks, throws, locks, and so on… maybe a little kao from taijiquan, a little bagua footwork, circular movement, sensing, definitely a lot of body fakes and breaking of rhythm – off-balancing without even touching, constant movement, stillness in motion … all good body use. Imo, the harder parts of stand-up. Food for thought for my use of incorporating standing into various things. Also now I wish I could play basketball.