Sunday, July 26, 2009
Over the past few months I've hesitated to put other exercises on this blog and have been encouraged to do so. I also believe in these skill sets and practice them as well with my Wujifa and so I feel pretty good about sharing them here with all of you.
The first Video is called "Ban" which is one the the skill sets from the "10 Heavenly Stems" or "Tain Gan." Like silkreeling this exercise aims to engage full body movement and development.
From the Gao Bagua system:
YouTube link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnrSIcg8BQk for those who have iPhones or enjoy YouTube formats.
From the Gao Bagua System:
YouTube link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wZSLyVWNyI for those who have iPhones or enjoy YouTube formats.
I hope you enjoy these two Videos from Taipei,Tawain and the Gao Bagua system... Yes they are a bit rough and grainy, yet they are pretty darn functional to play with...
So, I'll end with simply saying... I hope you enjoy doing them as much as I have over the years. As you get a better feel for the Kua or inguinal creases these are two excellent methods to take things up another level or notch in your practice!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Here are more basic functional things to look for or a functional aim to understand while practicing your Zhan Zhuang (standing post practices), and for when you practices movement as viewed through the Wujifa system. Many people will find these helpful for other practices as well. Development and understanding of fascial connections or pathways are keys for strong powerful movement. Many internal arts like Taiji or other “internal martial arts” may also seek this kind of connection which links the body.
More on Zhan Zhuang and Movement
Standing Practice (Zhan Zhuang)
A. Beginner’s targets for functional standing practice and body awareness:
1. Learning to adjust structure and to discover relaxed balance. Remember “relaxed is not limp” although depending on the level you are at this can be understood in a number of ways.
2. Sinking the weight... As one starts to understand this first point they will feel an area in the quads about the size of an United States twenty-five cent piece or fifty cent sized area about 6 or 8 inches up from the top of the knee or almost half way up in the center of each quad get very warm, if the weight hits other places then something may be off in the structure and one structure should be adjusted accordingly. Although some people may feel general heaviness in the legs, as one learns to adjust their structure more clearly they may discover this smaller fifty cent sized area as they get a little more understanding. Many people will also get very warm and sweat a lot. This is just a sign post and this should be viewed as only one of the many "byproducts" of one's training. More important is that fifty cent sized area. If it gets too heavy one can adjust their stance a little higher, although it is possible to stand with legs almost completely straight and still get this weight down into the legs like this. A common mistake is the feeling hitting the knee area; this is commonly caused by holding in the pelvis or lower back, or even by tightness in the ankles.
3. Fascial connection… For most people (but not everyone) the next functional step is when they start to notice the feeling of fascial stretch in the lower back or the thoracolumbar fascia area of the body. This is another good sign in understanding. This means they have started to understand the correct way to widen the femoral heads by relaxing the glutes and relaxing the lower back while keeping the shoulders over the hips, etc. A few people will feel this fascial stretch in the upper back first, although if it’s the first or second thing noticed the key is to connect the whole back. It can take some time to develop the correct feeling. As one continues to develop, so too does the understanding of this suggested fascial stretch as just one of many ways to move as one connected whole.
B. Mental aspects of physical development
1. Development of neural connections both in the mind and body: as one practices, the neural pathways in the mind and the body also develop. As we understand the feeling of physical connections so do the pathways in the mind and body that send information. They also grow and develop and become more functional. Like a simple path in the woods that is traveled often becomes a road and then later a highway as they get used over time. Neural pathways develop in the same fashion.
2. Intention and how you notice is important as well. Learning to eat bitter is a common saying. What I mean by this is that some people will notice opportunity as they practice. This is a good method. Some may want to notice what is wrong, yet if you go one step deeper you can notice there is opportunity in there as well. This can even be suggested as a deeper understanding of being open. I will say at times it is good to be critical of what one is doing, although noticing opportunity in this is still possible. Imagine later if sparing the difference in noticing an opportunity or noticing what is wrong. Building in this kind of intention early on is a good idea.
3. Moving Practices
A. Learning to move and maintain a functional structure and to relax and balance: remember relaxed is not limp. Maintaining a good structure will help one understand this idea of not being limp better as well.
1. As you develop those good fascial connections made in doing a good stance practice movement can be very helpful as well. As you start to move these fascial connections and pathways also come into play here. Your understanding of the feeling will be very helpful as you start to move. Also, movement can help you gain a greater understanding of these connections as you continue to do your Zhan Zhuang or standing.
2. The feeling of movement is a wonderful way to notice breaks in fascial connections and pathways. Sometimes people will believe they have them so getting good verification of proper movement is necessary when you start out on this path. Although if you can discover some of these while standing you can simply stop moving and double check to see if the connections you’ve discovered in standing are still there. As I said before, there are a number of pathways in the body, so different movement may take some time to understand.
B. Continuing to understand the feeling which is different than understanding the method of movement:
1. Method can be looked at like a medicine, although the drug is not the answer. There is a feeling that one is seeking to understand and explore and in Wujifa we believe this is how progress is made. Understanding the feeling of movement while maintaining fascial connections is one of these.
2. Development of neural pathways is also key. There can be many many pathways that one can explore here as well. There can be the intention of movement. There can be the intention of what the movement is for or what the movement is doing. Either way, noticing the feel of how the body moves brings awareness. I’m not sure how many will understand what I said here. Attention is different than intention. “Noticing” the feelings while practicing is what I’m getting at. This is a very deep subject and as one understands attention and intention even more neural connections can be developed and explored.
C. Learning to maintain the weight being sunk down and moving while maintaining facial connections:
1. Learning to move while keeping the weight in the legs is key here. When you move, the same principle applies here. I’ve seen people who have gotten the feeling of sinking the weight have a hard time at first just doing a few movements. As you develop, this will get easier. At the same time, don’t short change yourself when you train.
2. Remember the neural pathways; what you do to compensate also builds different pathways in the mind and neural connections to the body than when you choose to practice correctly. Always seek the opportunity to grow and develop as you practice. Yes, there is always opportunity and that is what you should seek. Notice when you choose to compensate and when you choose to explore more. This should give you insights to where there can be some nice opportunities for future growth.
D. Developing how intention and feeling connect with movement and furthering the development of neural connection in the mind and body.
1. Opportunity is in the noticing. Noticing the feelings and connections while moving is so very important as we have said before. Paying “attention” by noticing is a big key here.
2. Intention,” what are you doing and why…” There are many levels of engaging this depending on what and where you are and your skill level. Make sure you are clear on what the intention is while moving and paying attention to the fascial connections and the feeling. Remember, what you do is what you are building in and that is one reason the Chinese call this kind of deep training gongfu even if your gongfu is making tea.
Also check out: Basic Tips for Zhan Zhuang and the pelvis
Also check out: The Concept of "Sit Down" in Wujifa Standing...
Sunday, July 12, 2009
So feel free to join up and comment at these other places. We can now be found on:
Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/cultivationandpractice
Facebook at the Wujifa fan page
We will be posting a few new Gao style Bagua Videos recorded back in 2000 from Taipai, Some Bagua videos from 2006 in Beijing, and of course some more Wujifa basic trainings and Kau development practices videos and Zhan Zhuang pointers in the next few weeks.
Please feel free to post comments and or questions or suggestion. You can post them here in the comment area or at any of these other places...
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The following 45 functional points are some of many statements used and remembered, as one trains in their Wujifa and gongfu practices. These hints and pointers are commonly returned to, referred to, and explored as lessons or as simple puzzles to aid one in discovering the deeper meaning(s) that one seeks to explore with their Wujifa, qigong, gongfu, and/or their internal martial arts practices. As in many internal martial arts, gong fu, qigongs, or other practices of these types, it’s commonly found that these saying that are frequently used in Wujifa are aimed toward providing the opportunity to explore the depth that can be discovered in one’s own trainings, skill sets, and even in daily life. Take some time and explore these for yourself as you may discover the deeper understandings of these may change as one’s level of understand develops with time.
45 Gongfu Hints and Pointers
When we think of “intention” we might notice this word suggests an aim or goal, a target or an objective, even a purpose or a meaning and a plan. When we think of “order” we might think of a command or request, a sequence or an arrangement or even a harmony. When we notice the word “direction” we might notice a directive or direction as a means of regulating or focusing, to supervise, manage, or lead. Direction can be a way or a heading, a bearing, a target or to govern.
In many deeper teachings the goal can sometimes be to understand the real meaning of simply one or a few words. That is to understand the feeling of the word or idea more than to simple just know the word.
- You are where you are, and that’s where you start.
- Relaxed is not limp.
- Relaxing in one area will aid relaxation in another area. The body is connected.
- Connected is not locked.
- Connected is not stiff.
- Structure is not rigid.
- Easy isn’t necessarily ease.
- Ease isn't necessarily easy.
- Don't rush it, it'll happen faster.
- Your strength is your weakness.
- Your strong point is your weak point, your weak point is your strong point.
- Attention is different than focus.
- Noticing changes everything.
- It’s better to fall down than quit.
- How would a baby learn?
- Now I know what the "Chi" is? (Laughing)
- Match is not living.
- Pay attention to the minutest details for the largest gains.
- Your questions reveal where you are, your experience, and what you’re working on.
- Practice a pattern until the feeling reveals itself to you. Pay attention. Notice.
- What's your purpose?
- Why are you doing this?
- If you can’t feel your body, then what’s the point of having a body?
- The purpose of the method is to feel.
- Feeling is a key, as kinesthetic is to foundation.
- Feeling is a key. Grounded is foundation.
- How do you know?
- There is no end to feeling, understanding, and being aware.
- The method is not the truth, once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.
- Once you get the feeling, principle is second nature.
- The method is not the truth.
- The method is a medicine.
- The various (suggested chi flow) feelings are signposts. Don’t confuse the signpost for the actual destination.
- Using imagery is a trick (a method, a medicine) to get the intention to move.
- Monkey mind and stallion – keep the monkey busy so the stallion runs freely.
- A small step, no matter how small, starts the momentum. Keep taking small steps. Many small steps will take you a long way.
- One small step for “a man,” a giant leap for most of mankind!
- Practice the ordinary until it becomes extra-ordinary.
- Technique -> Form -> Principle -> Philosophy
- Three Rules: 1. Be responsible for your own development – be, response-able 2. Be rational and functional 3. Experiment, try, feel, get results
- A good lesson teaches to where the student is. A not so good teacher teaches where the teacher is.
- Different People learn in different ways.
- Once you get the feeling, the principle is second nature.
- Going to McDonald's
There are many more of these enlightening saying used in the Wujifa system and throughout many different styles of internal martial arts, Taijiquan, Qigong and Taoist and philosophical practices as well. I would like to end this article on helpful gongfu hints and pointers with something written by Jurgen Habermas in his Theory of Rational Reconstruction and explored by Lawrence Kohlberg’s system of Morality.
"The model of “rational reconstructions” represents the main thread of the surveys about the “structures” of the world of life (“culture”, “society” and “personality”) and their respective “functions” (cultural reproductions, social integrations and socialization). For this purpose, the dialectics between “symbolic representation” of “the structures subordinated to all worlds of life” (“internal relationships”) and the “material reproduction” of the social systems in their complex (“external relationships” between social systems and environment) has to be considered." Jurgen Habermas Theory of Rational Reconstruction
“…a rational person, one has an insight into the validity of the underlying principles and has committed oneself to them.” Lawrence Kohlberg’s system of Morality page 71