I travelled to Helsinki for a long weekend of training with master Lü Baochun. The training was planned mostly for getting new ideas for Baji, but also some time was spent to steer our Taiji training in the correct direction. There were experienced Baji practitioners from Sweden, UK, France, Tampere, Pori and of course the local Helsinki practitioners.

Friday morning we started with training Taiji. Most of the practitioners were beginners for Taiji, but with years of experience in Baji. We trained the first part of Chen Taijis Yi Lu form, applications and ideas how to train it to develop a functional Taiji body movement. The theme was posture and movement, checking the postures for good structure and proper form. Also doing movements in the form by accelerating certain points within the movements, to create a silk reeling type of movement energy to power the techniques. Doing the Yi Lu form in this manner made it physically more demanding, as opposed to doing it slower, softer and putting all of the attention to more subtle things. After lunch we continued with Baji and how it can relate to the internal skills also developed in Taiji. We did standing training, with ideas of how to use the breath to activate the bodys expanding and contracting, i.e. opening and closing. The expanding activated by the breath should be used in techniques to create the dan tien power that Baji is famous for. The sound of the outwards breath with the explosive power should be deep and needs to be developed through training. We ended the day with a relaxing visit to the legendary public sauna Harjunkadun sauna and a lovely meal at a lovely Ukrainian restaurant.

Saturday and Sunday were reserved for plunging into Baji and its usage in fighting. Saturday morning we headed towards our sifus home in Itäkeskus to train near his house. The sun was out and there was a lovely day ahead of us. The morning session we spent honing our form and power generation. After a quick lunch we headed to a grassy field nearby for sparring and technique practice. Training punching through and not stopping techniques, making techniques connect with each other, ending up putting the opponent on the ground. Bajis specialty is strong finish strikes that are trained from day one within the forms. These finishing techniques need strong combinations that open up the opponent for the powerful finisher. Combinations need seamless body movement, with no weak moments where the opponent has a chance to disrupt the movement that has strength and stability all through to the finishing movement. This kind of fighting is meant to stop the fight as early as possible. The day was finished a little earlier because we headed to Kallio Block Party in Helsinkis hip area Kallio for demonstrating our Baji and Taiji at the street festival. We gathered a nice crowd on our spot on Hämeentie, to which we demonstrated the systems that are trained in Baji Association. Forms, push hands, big spear and fighting was demonstrated, in the styles of Baji and Taiji. The day was ended by rewarding ourselves with once again great food and drinks.

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Sunday we continued on with the theme of Baji, its power and usage. Big form was trained along with the third small form. The main lesson for me was letting the grounding power go deeper. Baji body usage and power talks about three things that are developed through training; grounding power, crossing power (expanding power) and silk reeling power (twisting power). Grounding power makes the body stable and lets the movement get its power from the ground. The body needs a degree of relaxation within the moment of power issuing, without getting too loose, for it to work. Power needs to be issued without breaks, without saving something inside, letting it out fully. The power will be heavier and stronger with good grounding power. After lunch we headed again to the grass field for exchanging fists. The lessons of the day was stepping with the techniques, you should not plant yourself on the ground and swing your techniques at the opponent. Steps need to be lively and almost every technique is done with a step, especially the finishing strikes. Another old lesson that came up was the idea of defending and attacking immediately back with the same hand, making defense and attack work together to cut the opponents combination and open him uo for further administrations.

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Tired and exhausted I headed back up to the north, my head full of ideas and improvements. Thank you master Lü and the whole Helsinki crew, London crew, Tampere, Pori, Stockholm and France for a great weekend! And thank you Kwame for the photos!

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