Having Ada in my garage teaching pole and knife movements was about as surreal for me as coming home and finding Mark Hamill in you house with a light sabre. When I first met Chu Shong Tin in 2008 it felt like meeting a celebrity, I had to stop myself from saying ‘I’ve seen all your films a million times’. Fortunately I have met Ada and chi saued on many occasions over the years and she is a good friend of my friend Kris Collins, so we fell into cheeky banter and good humoured conversation from the moment I met in Manchester. She is so warm and friendly, you would have no idea of what ability she hides.
There is a video on our youtube channel which has a short clip of me rolling with Ada in 2011. At that point she needed either physical or eye contact with CST to consistently sing up her spine and activate nim tao. Whilst on the train to Sheffield I asked her if this was still the case and she replied ‘no, I am doing it right now’. Wow, straight after a long haul flight I can barely stand up.
There was no doubt of Ada’s ability once the seminars started, although she was nervous at first and asked Mark to translate, when she started she was straight in her element and able to demonstrate many of the skills that made CST famous. She explained that there are three levels of skill, the first is copying movement, the second is structural and the third is internal. To obtain the higher level you have to go through the series in sequence and for most people the second level may take a lifetime to get to a good level. In fact for most of us mortals level two is a respectable aim with occasional glimpses of level three (maybe think of it as level 2.5). Those people who trick themselves that they are at ‘level 3’, are not only kidding themselves they are likely to be misleading others as they are attempting to avoid the work needed on the fundamentals. As Mark always says ‘the advanced stuff is just the basics done better’. The great thing about Ada is that like CST she knows your level straight away, there is no hiding, and on contact you can feel your tension as reliable feedback as to where you are going wrong. She is also kind enough to help you back on track.
I could try to give tips here about all the info she shared and things she showed, but it all comes down to experience. It is just words until you feel it and no amount of blogs or videos let you know what you are doing wrong. This was the whole point of asking Ada to come to us, to let our students feel the ability in its purest form. She is not a fighter, not interested in winning in the abstract art of chi sau, she is a specialist in the one ability which set CST apart from every other living person I have seen. She can release her spine to such an extent that even holding her tight you feel nothing whilst she can move and hit. All done with a smile, ala CST.
The lessons I took from the seminars and three private sessions with Ada are still floating around my brain trying to connect and establish a stronger idea. I really should have known them already, I did know the words, but experiencing the how and why is the most powerful lesson. Stop thinking too much, you drive like you are hungry (relax and be present), don’t use forearm force, let go of your shoulders, soften your knees etc, I know this but she read me like a cheap book, but she also with a smile and a touch let me really know it. Something I will be eternally grateful for.
Hopefully she had a great time, we did our best to lure her back in the future, posh hotel, meals out, ice creams in the country and shopping (she brought 3 empty suitcases) but if that does not work then after I have tried to take on board her advice I will head to Hong Kong at some point to be reminded again. This stuff takes a lot of reminding.
One of our students asked how to improve, Ada said you need to train more with your teachers. That is great advice to start off with.
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