Saturday, July 18, 2009

More on Zhan Zhuang and Movement

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 300px-Gray409body. 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 MRI_braingrow 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: Keys for Developing the Inguinal Crease, aka Kua, with Wujifa Side to Side Practice

Also check out: The Concept of "Sit Down" in Wujifa Standing...

31 comments:

  1. Really great stuff Rick! Endlessly beneficial reminders and notes for me as I try to get back into practice. (This is Andrew, btw) See you Sunday, I'll be there for sure!

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  2. Thanks Andrew

    The goal is to share as much useful content as possible. I personally enjoy the vaule of Zhan Zhang and other Wujifa skill-sets. My hope is that by putting some good functional information out there that "secrets" will become more like common understanding as people discover these kinds of practices. Also that many others share and jump in and post useful information like this as well.

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  3. Hi Rick,

    Thank you for a great article. As you know, I've had a smattering of teachers and trainers over the years. One fella who is a relative unknown, a few mid level guys, and even some direct training with Montaigue.

    Your gifts to me, both here and in person have given me the opportunity to expierence some huge shifts in my Tai Ji and Chi Kung practice.

    Before working with you, the errors I had been committing were according to my chiropractor, shearing me in half, at the base of my spine.

    Since adopting what you share in basic Wujifa Standing Practice (Zhang Zhang), and remembering the feeling of your "touches", I have to tell you that kung fu has improved visibly, and my current chiropractor tells me that my spine is in excellent health.

    Thanks my friend, keep up the good work, and sharing the solid gold.

    Twenty Twenty
    The Guy Who Really chnaged his name to the number of perfect vision, because you living yours matters!

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  4. Yeah, i like what you said about the neural pathways. When i really take my time to go through the proper way of doing a movement i learn so much more than 'skipping' the parts i dont know. Sometimes i have to take a half hour or more refining what looks like an inch or 2 on the outside to really get a feel for those areas i 'hold'.

    Noticing with attention as opposed to having a preset intention... i just posted something regarding this today coincidentally. Check it out.

    http://internalmartialartstraining.blogspot.com/2009/07/meditation-boredom-and-animals-mind.html

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  5. Rick,

    I know how passionate you are about Wuifa and particularly sharing your knowledge and helping others. You live it and are an example to follow. Thanks mate and keep taking it to the world.

    Tom

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  6. Rick you Rock
    This post Rocks
    It is an awesome and pretty comprehensive outline of basic Wujifa training and what to notice
    some great reminders in there for people who've been training a long time too

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  7. Zhan Zhuang is the number one fundational skill-set for me. The principles in Zhan Zhuang contribute to everything else. Moving and being still... I am so thankful for everything that I discover by taking the time to stand practices. It's funny because there are so many different ways people engage the Zhan Zuang practice(s) and for me the attention and intention "Methods" seem to bear much fruit... I'm looking forward to what new discoveries are ahead in my own practices. Thanks for the comments!

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  8. What an awesome post. There's so much information here, I'm sure I'll have to read it a few more times.

    This stuff is all good! For those of you who haven't seen Rick or a Wujifa teacher, it's really helpful to get some hands on physical experience. If you really want to gain some power in your internal martial arts, and enjoy having someone give you some straight answers about internal strength and movement, Wujifa is invaluable.

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  9. Keys to good basic alignment: 1) kua in. 2) lenghten back 3) allow rib heads to relax so chest can sink down 4) head back and up

    Getting the feel of one and two can take time to understand. A quick tip one can try is bow forward at the hip then slide the knees forward untill you are standing up right... This is just a little trick to help people start to get an idea of what the kua in and lower back down might feel like. Yes, there is more to it but sometime a little trick can give a little insight to where you are going toward.

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  10. Hey Rick,

    maybe this isn't the place exactly, but I would love to see a blog post about being alive / chi flowing stance vs. the standing like a dead post.

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  11. Hey John... I just put a little something up on the Dead Post Zhan Zhuang practice. You you haven't seen it already you can find it here:
    http://wujifaliangong.blogspot.com/2010/01/is-your-stance-practice-like-dead-post.html

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  12. is there a connection between practicing zhang zhuang and have a sex? sorry to ask just because i wanna know the correlation

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  13. Hey Anonymous,

    Did I read what you wrote correctly did you say "a sex?" Or do you mean to suggest "a sexy" correlation? There are all different kinds of people and what one person may find "a sex" or even a sexy correlation could be very different from one person to the next. Although I might guess that many people might like that the Qi should be centered and calm. What is Qi anyway?

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  14. Hi Mary,

    Yes, what i mentioned is "a sex". I wanna know about people opinions. Because, from what i heard, when you do some "s**" (sorry, i don't mean to vulgar).you must stop train zhan zhuang for certain days. why? because the Dan Tien is closed.

    and i wanna know about peoples opinions.


    from my side, Qi is something that give living creatures a life.

    Yes, i Agree when you develop Qi, you must be calm and have a centered mind. otherwise the Qi cannot be full

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  15. Hello Anonymous,

    This is Rick from the blog here. I wish I knew your name as it just feels a little weird calling you Anonymous as other have. That's besides the point Anonymous... Let me see if I can share a good opinion.

    Where the mind goes the qi follow... Or so they say... There are right handed methods and left handed methods (some that believe sex is a good way to train on the other hand those that believe one should hold on to the jing in other ways by not having sex when training.)

    Where the mind goes the qi follow... And if you follow me... I might say to you that "If you set your mind and intention on someting you tend to notice it more and will act according." Saying it this way feels less mystical for me... You following me...

    So it depends on what your training. That is the simple answer! And, Depends on what your training. This is the deep answer. Follow me... What I a suggesting is intention has a large role in train. Zhan Zhuang is done so differently by different arts and even different schools.

    If your still following me... You may notice there is very little or no talk about qi... This is because Wujifa trains fascial connection and then moving while maintaining these connections. The mind and awareness is on developing these physical aspects... So the question is dies your mind get to weak when you have sex? In that case you might want to rest after and eat "half a chicken" as they say and not drive a car or go to work if sex drains a person to that level. Follow me and what I'm saying Right...

    So it depends on what you are doing... In you are doing grand circulation and walking the stars of the big dipper and standing on the north star (these are slightly more advanced qigong practices where some engage Zhan Zhuang training) I would suggest talking to your instructor one on one. But since you asked some schools suggest no sex for two weeks before or after. Other schools say 24 hour before or after. I know other schools that say if you are not a monk the 4 hours before and after. And even othercschools that say one hour is enough.

    Now if your still following me... I believe people should know what they are training and the principles that aid one in their training so a person can start to take responsibility for themselves. Saying that and all the other points this could be very different for different schools of thought.

    As for Wujifa practice... The principle is to understand your body. In understanding you body you will naturally know how long it takes you to recover. If you legs are wobbly then you won't be able to stand very well. If your mind is overwhelmed with thoughts of sex you won't be able to focus or stay aware of what is going on...

    What is the saying about drinking and driving... If your drunk don't drive. Same here if you recover quickly then find... If you actually feel more energy and awake GREAT... If you feel weak and tired then rest.

    Common sense... If you're following me. Know what your practice is about and ask you teacher if you are practicing some advanced qigong as each school has different rules. If you practice Wujifa common sense and understanding simply principle like undestanding your body will help guide you.

    Does this help answer your question? I know I can get long winded sometimes... If you're following me and what I'm saying.

    Rick

    PS - I'm writting this on my iPhone on the fly so forgive me if I have a lot of typos and such... I just thought I'd share what I thought on the subject. I like good question... They get me thinking and connecting and sharing... If you're following me...

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  16. Hi RIck,

    JUst call my nickname as Lee.

    OKay your answer has good for me to know what wujifa is.

    thx anyways

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  17. Thank you Mr Lee

    As you most likely know Fa is principle and Wuji directly means non-rigid pole. Stand and relax is the simplest and deepest meaning... Relaxed is not limp is a good thing to note.

    Zhan Zhuang is an universal practice they say. So many schools if practice have added in their view onto Zhan Zhuang training. This is important to remember.

    In Wujifa the principles are keys. Do there are two questions I offer here. The first one I like the best but there is no real order to them. The first question is "How do you know?" This is a GREAT question and should be visited often. The second question is "What do you want?" this is a very deep question. Many just look at the surface and hence this is what they'll discover.

    The third point to remember "You are where you are and that's where you start." Take a good look around, look inside and what you can do right now, this is called being honest with your self. This is a great way to grow and develop. Many people get stuck in rigid rules this is not the principles of wujifa.

    The method is not the truth. Methods are like medicine and may be helpful
    but one does not become naturally heathy this way. Understanding the questions "How do you know?" and "What do you want?" plus understanding "You are where you are and that's where you start." These are real keys to development and understanding the principles. Wujifa is a wonderful practice for this very reason. Your question about sexual release closing the tan-tien is a good one. I would as your purpose for training Zhan Zhuang and or any Wujifa skill set. As noted before because each person is where they are when they train and a deeper understanding is more important than a simple rule. What, why, and how can depend on the person.

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  18. Hi Rick,

    I like to quote your words "You are where you are and that's where you start.".

    that is a good one.

    About the question "how Do you Know?" i'm still looking at it with myself experienced.


    Anyway thanks for your explanation Rick.

    my quote today is:

    " Proper Practice and proper repetition make perfect. Improper practice makes improper results. Improper repetition perfects our mistakes."

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  19. What an interesting discussion!

    I've done stance under a lot of different conditions: after a hard day's work, after sex, after sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours, after a couple beers, when I'm sick, when I'm tired, after waking up in the middle of the night.

    I'm not a monk, I'm just a regular dude, and Zhan Zhuang makes my life better when I practice.

    Sure, 2-beer-stance or post-thanksgiving dinner-stance, or after-sex stance might not be the best stance but I still am getting benefits. I'm training my intention to practice, I'm training regularity, I'm developing my body, I'm developing my mind, I'm getting curious and noticing what's going on. I'm developing my relationship with myself.

    I'm not (right now) living off of dew in the high mountains, I'm in the rigors of a modern life, and sometimes the only time I have for sex is right before my evening stance sessions, and I'm not going to give up the chance to connect with the person I love OR practicing one of the pursuits that gives my life meaning, so I do both. I find my stance isn't affected too much by this.

    Maybe it's a little harder to focus, or I'm a little less motivated, but that's a chance to develop my focus and motivation more.

    I'm not a purist. I just have found an exercise that helps me develop as a person and adds value to my life.

    I agree with Rick... Knowing where you are and what you want is the best place to start, and then experiment and get some results!

    They say not to go swimming for 30 minutes after you eat, but when I go to the beach, I dive in right after lunch. I've never gotten a cramp. Sometimes I wonder who makes up all these rules :P

    Lee, what's your opinion on Zhan Zhuang and sex? How do you practice? What results are you getting? If some really cool stuff is happening for you from not doing stance after sex, I might have to change my practice!

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  20. Hi Todi,

    Hmm from what i know maybe it's little bit different. but like Rick said. every principle has many ways to do.

    I'm glad you are good with the result bro. JUst continue your practicing in wujifa. i think that suits on you.

    The Best things is what ever you do if that really has give a value added into your life for a long time. just go with it.


    i don't know how to message people.just already message you.

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  21. Lee, You asked if there is a connection between practicing zhang zhuang and having sex.

    I would say, ‘Definitely. Yes!” Zhan Zhuang is Sex and Sex is Zhan Zhuang Why? Because I show up in being exactly who I am at the time. I show up in the level of feeling or lack thereof. I show up in the level of pre-conceived ideas or lack thereof. I show up in the rules I adhere to or lack thereof. I show up in the connection and intimacy or lack thereof.

    Zhan Zhuang and sex are activities which are a smaller chunk size of Life itself.

    Zhan Zhuang is Life and Life is Zhan Zhuang. Why? Because I show up in both. I show up in the level of feeling or lack thereof. I show up in the level of pre-conceived ideas or lack thereof. I show up in the rules I adhere to or lack thereof. I show up in the connection and intimacy or lack thereof.

    I ask you, How is your sex? Full of pre-conceived, ‘boy-talk’ ideas about sex? Full of rules like do this first, then this, then this? Full of disembodied, mechanical, rigid activity? If so, I bet your Zhan Zhuang is the same way.

    I ask you, How is your sex? Full of innocent, child-like curiosity, playfulness and amazement? Full of vulnerability, of not knowing what and who you will discover? Full of feeling and connection and intimacy? If so, I bet your Zhan Zhuang is the same way.

    If you look to “ancient” Taoist rules about sex and meditation, then you found yourself. You are stuck in the rule level of life. What a wonderful discovery! How others' rules rule your sex, Zhan Zhuang and your life !

    What I like about the Wujifa approach to Zhan Zhuang is its emphasis on feeling and connecting. This approach, to me, is closer to the Tao than all the Taoist rules. Now there’s an oxymoron for you, “Taoist rules”!

    Tao Te Ching: Chapter 38
    If the Tao is lost, Virtue appears.
    If Virtue is lost, humanism appears.
    If humanism is lost, (rules of) justice appear.
    If justice is lost, (rules of) etiquette appear.

    **
    What I'm discovering about the TTC is that it is both a description of what is AND a guidebook. So let's walk this verse "backwards": discover the rules, discover feeling, discover connection, discover freedom, regain Tao.

    Mike from http://www.internalgongfu.blogspot.com/

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  22. Helo Mike,

    Woow this blog suddenly become busy :)

    Noted if the correlation like you described it.

    I wanna know about some effect after doing sex. certain old gongfu said that after sex the mingmen and the dantien is shut down. so after sex there is certain time to wait until it's open again.

    But, Rick has answered that in wujifa system. i'm thanks to rick that he want to explained that although not in very details.

    thx anyway for your opinions :)

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  23. Hi Lee,
    Question back to you. What do YOU notice? What do YOU feel? Does YOUR mingmen and dantien "shut down" after sex? How would YOU describe this kinesthetic feeling? When does YOUR mingmen and dantien open again (after being shut) and how would you describe this kinesthetic feeling?

    Through noticing and feeling, you become your own authority.

    When you care what someone else says THEY noticed/felt in THEIR body when it's YOUR practice (which I assume you really care about), then you expose where you are on that "Tao to Rules" continuum.

    Which is really cool thing to notice!

    The way I would use the "what they say" is to treat it as a signpost on the path pointing to... - when I develop my ability to notice and feel within my own body to a certain level, then this is one feeling I might notice (because someone else did). The signpost is not the goal.

    If I treat the signpost as a rule, then my practice gains nothing from that. I've only fed my addiction to rules, and maybe my ego because I'm following some "special" rules. But they're still rules.

    Hope you don't feel that I'm picking on you. You're actually hitting on a topic very close to home.

    If you want to know the effect, then go have sex and notice what happens afterward. Then you have your answer. Pretty simple.

    You could probably even build an entire practice around having sex because it's not the sex you are interested in but noticing if and when you can notice/feel your mingmen closing and opening AFTER sex. :)

    Mike from http://www.internalgongfu.blogspot.com/

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  24. Hi Mike,


    It's okay :). The Answer is YES, I noticed already.

    Mail me if wanna discussed further more.

    Sorry, this is Rick blog. i don't feel good if i'm discussing on other's blog


    from
    Lee.hahayan@gmail.com

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  25. lee.hahayana@gmail.comMarch 30, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    lee.hahayana@gmail.com (the correct one)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Confucian "To govern by virtue, let us compare it to the north star: it stays in it's place, while the myriad of stars wait upon it." analects II, 2

    The real secert is one must first be able to govern oneself... When developed sufficiently this virtue will benifit and spread throughout the land.

    Now the real question one should ask is who is the governer... The mind or the monkey mind, the heart or the fire, the sex organs or the breath?

    If one answers this question in a functional way then the rules and laws are not the answer. Finding ones path is learned and discovered through one action and deeds. It's easy to see the results if one eyes and intention are clear.

    There is something very interesting between the eyes and ones intention. Leading by being honest about who you are helps a leader understand what is real and what is simply a rule.

    Once one understands the role of the leader everything else falls inplace.

    Rick

    PS - I hope this is helpful and clear. I am enjoying the sharing here as well! It is nice to notice there are many different ways as well. Would one feed a pig and a horse the same food?

    PPS - As my one teacher said "We all learn in our own way" and as a different teach of mine said "there are many ways or paths up the mountian. Once there the Imortals laugh and sing and argue about who's way was best!"

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  27. Hi Rick,

    Agree with you.

    thx to having a good sharing with all of you..

    "empty the cup, so we can get more knowledge"

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  28. I've heard that those movements are not only good for the body but also for brain because while exercising the body you strengthen the mind.

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  29. This is so good because it's really interesting seeing how our body can work with those activities and that's perfect in order to get a perfect balance.

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  30. Man I thought I was doing good this morning when I felt the heat an inch or two above the knees. Guess my standing is not quite there yet.

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