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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Qi: One Energy - Two Expressions (3 of 3)

Qi Magazine - September 2007
By Adrian Chan-Whyles, PhD

Internal Force

Internal force - or that force which is cultivated and produced in the internal martial arts of China (Xingyi, Bagua and Taijiquan, etc.), has its basis (like external force) in the philosophy of ancient Chinese medicine and the science of Qi. Simply stated, internal force is that power which is produced within and around the bone.

The musculature, in this instance, becomes secondary as it is no longer required/used as a prime producer of energy but continues to fulfill its function for defense and mobility. Internal power generation is essentially dependent upon postural alignment. The basic Qigong exercise for the development of alignment trains both the body and mind. The bones must be anatomically placed so that they 'sit' squarely upon one another. The shoulder girdle sits squarely over the pelvic girdle and the pelvic girdle sits squarely over the ankles and heels. 

The hips and connected to the shoulders by a naturally 'S' shaped spine and connected to the feet by slightly springy knees. The feet are approximately shoulder width apart and the head sits squarely on the shoulders with the back of the neck extended and the chin tilted slightly forward. The mind focuses upon full, deep breathing, utilizing the full lung capacity. For this to occur, muscular tension in the torso and chest (which prevents full deep breathing) must be relaxed. Initially, tension is relaxed with the focus of the mind upon the tense area. 

Tension is acknowledged with the inward breath, and literally expelled from the muscle with the outward breath. An aligned posture does not require muscular tension to stay in place. With deep, full breathing, the heart beat slows down whilst having more oxygen available per breath, per beat of the heart. Tension would normally prevent oxygen transference around the body - but when tension is relaxed, oxygen and energy may flow freely.

When the skeleton is aligned, gravity acts upon the body mass - creating body weight which is pulled downward into the ground. The unhindered body weight travels downward through the center of the bone gently massaging the bone marrow. The bodyweight hits the ground - thus 'rooting' the practitioner like a tree. In this state, it is difficult for an external force to move the body. As the weight hits the ground, an opposite and equal rebound force is created, that travels back up the body, through the bone marrow, again massaging the bone marrow in the opposite direction.

This gentle massaging of the bone marrow, ensures that the bone is both robust and yet flexible, two essential components of a healthy bone structure. Over time the bones toughen. At this point it must be pointed out that an aligned posture is a rounded posture. The bones of the legs, torso and arms assume a rounded posture that forms what is known as 'Internal Iron Vest.' The rounded posture absorbs, deflects and reflects incoming power. As a blow strikes the aligned posture, the incoming power is automatically reflected back into the attacking limb, causing damage to that limb at the point of contact. With the concentration of the mind through deep breathing and postural alignment, the mind brought to a single point - concentrating and relaxing the energy of the mind. As the intellect relaxes, the intuition comes to the forefront and is experienced as an expansion of awareness that goes beyond the physical limitations of the body. Over the years, this expansion deepens and matures - this is Qigong of the mind. 

From this still position, the rudiments of internal power are both acquired and cultivated. The next stage is to be able to maintain and produce internal power whilst moving the physical body around through time and space. The structure of the sequential forms of the internal arts exist to exercise and manifest this internal force whilst on the move. 

The rebounding, upward force is used to emit energy from the center of the body outwards, whilst the dropping body weight force is used to absorb incoming power. As this force is not dependent upon the rules of muscular power immense force can be produced with virtually no movement as gravity is at work regardless as to whether one is moving or not. No single muscle group can produce the same amount of force created by the bodyweight. Also, muscles tire and need resting, whereas internal force is constant and never grows tired. On a genetic level, human beings are programmed to see muscular movement and prepare to counter it. However, the ability to produce substantial force with virtually no muscular involvement by-passes the natural human instinct for survival. An internal master literally exists and moves within a perceptual gap. If one is not of equal development, then it is very difficult fo confront and counter the internal.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yiquan Founder Wang Xiangzhai Poem

Wang Xiangzhai Poem

Wang Xiangzhai
Integrated with spirit and mind,
With plain truth easy to understand,
It is both interesting and enlightening.
It has no method yet every method,
for in boxing all methods are of no avail.
With profound knowledge it helps you to mold your temperment,
Cultivating you in faithfulness, sense of justice, benevolence and bravery.
Propelled by natural strength,
you are as strong as a dragon.
Inhaling and exhaling naturally and quietly,
You perceive the mechanism of all movements.
Be neither too familiar nor too distant towards others,
Show them courtesy, modesty, and respect.
Avail yourself of the force of the universe,
And bring your instinctive ability into full play.
Stand at the center holding the key,
Act according to circumstances without trace.
Eyes seeing nothing and ears hearing only your breathing sound,
You train your mind and regulate your nervous system.
In motion you are like the angry tiger,
In quietness you are like the hibernating dragon.
Your expression is as awesome as that of a leopard,
Your strength is as powerful as that of a rhino.
Preserving the heavenly wisdom and maintaining the state of meditation,
You are ready to act in response to all possible situations.
Wang Xiangzhai
Thank you to http://daoyinchuan.com for posting this on their site!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Qi: One Energy - Two Expressions (2 of 3)

Qi Magazine - September 2007
By Adrian Chan-Whyles, PhD

External Training
In Chinese medical thinking, any movement that has its origins of power generation on the outside of the bone, i.e. through the muscles, ligaments and tendons, is termed external in nature. This is important and the main way that human beings produce power from an early age.

It is as if we are genetically pre-programmed to produce power only from the musculature, even in our untrained state. External training then harnesses this power in a systematic manner. A practitioner will learn how to control their bodies via their musculature in a well co-ordinated and will timed series of martial exercises. The basic power for this expression is essentially forward or backward motion with an un-dropped bodyweight (i.e. when muscular tension is used to 'suspend' the body structure in a solid sheet, in one orientation, to protect against incoming blows). The 'weight' of the practitioner, (using the body joints as levers), propels the weight forward, through an arm or a leg, in a fast ripple-like fashion.

The hip and shoulder joints are used as a 'hinge' mechanism, as if one were slamming a door. As the muscles tire, so does the power output, and blows start to lose their effectiveness. This is why external styels emphasize muscular development through the practice of external Qigong, or in other words training the musculature to store Qi. This makes the musculature hard and robust when tensed for combat. This is called external 'iron vest' training (Hard Qigong), whereby the musculature acts as a barrier to the possible harmful effects of incoming, external blows.

External training prepares the mind and body for a journey toward transformation. Slowly, over time, the practitioner will develop an ever-increasing awareness of his/her mind and body. The older traditional styles usually have a clear external component, and a clear internal component. However, as the soft and gentle (i.e. Yin) cannot exist without the hard unyielding force (i.e. Yang), we must acknowledge that any style that conforms to ancient Chinese scientific thinking must fully embrace both aspects of the energy spectrum and training will reflect this.

Generally speaking, at the start of the journey, the human body is overly tense and hard. The external training harnesses this state. As the practitioner progresses, the musculature begins to relax. This process may be observed with the analysis of technique. Initially, if a punch was observed, the arm would be extended forward, with much thrusting force and in order to prevent injury, the muscles of the hand would be tensed throughout the entire process, to protect the fist structure from the re-coil of impact.

This tension would also exist in the arm and throughout the body. Any other observed technique would reveal the same dynamic of movement. As the practitioner progresses - tension recedes and more and more of the technique starts to be performed in a relaxed manner. This is the slow path toward the internal from the perspective of the external. Eventually, the practitioner is able to punch with a relaxed hand at the point of contact. How this happens can be understood by the clear investigation of what it means to produce internal force.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yik Kam Wing Chun - Part 2: Enter the Siu Lin Tau

"Sifu Yik Kam’s Siu Lin Tau is a long set that has four parts 

and many sections in each part. The set is equal to the 

common three Wing Chun sets combined. In fact, the first 

part is very similar to that of other lineages. Basically, the 

four sections relate to Standing (part one), Shift & Move (part 

two), Rotate & Move (part three) and lastly Walking (part four)."