Monday, February 28, 2011

Real Gongfu Training Partners

Simply finding people to practice with maybe one thing and then again, finding a real training partner or partners maybe very much another. What I’m saying is that it might not be as easy as you might think. I remember a very skilled martial artist saying “that finding a good training partner could be harder than finding a good wife.” Now that maybe overstating the point although over the years I have seen the results of two or three people who really take the time to explore and lift one another up toward each other’s collective goals.

One of the things that often come into play is the level of dedication involved in the types of trainings that are required. I’m not talking about simply practicing your Wujifa Zhan Zhuang or simple moving sets like “side to side” or other practices. What I am talking is when practicing two person skill sets like point and off point (fundamental micro movement two person grounding drills) as just example.

There is a level of support and cooperation that is needed and, a level of challenge… that drives all partners forward. There needs to be openness and honest to call each other out on their bull crap, to eat bitter as they say and balancing this with an understanding of when backing off for a bit is a good idea. To be honest I watch many married couple having issues with this one.

Then there is always the issue of timing. “Timing is everything” they say, and finding the time to get together to train can be a whole other issue. The amounts of time required for serious training can be overwhelming when seen from the outside. Many of those outside influences like work and other relationship (wife, children, or girlfriends, etc) seem to require attention as well.

When you are really serious about making progress think about training partners. Think about what it takes and what you are willing to invest. Personally I have been very lucky and “time and conditions” were such that I could train and lucky enough to have others who were willing to, and were in the right space too.

Make sure you take the time to notice, mentor, and help others out too. Understand it may take time to find those key people and time when depth of gongfu with others can be explore.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wujifa Two Feet and What Does This Mean?

Beginning Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice starts with a basic foot alignment

In Wujifa our feet are shoulder width apart and parallel. What does this mean in our standing or basic Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice? They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so I spent some time here drawing a picture for you. I hope this clears up a few questions. Yes in the beginning you might stray as your personal body may not allow this placement, yet you can allow yourself to slow discover how you can adjust toward the intention of this picture.

A helpful thing to start with when aligning the feet is to imagine a line that travels from the center of your heel to the second or third toe. Due to the types of shoes people grow up wearing there can be some deformity of people’s feet and so there can be some variation to proper foot alignment. It’s a good idea to take a little time and to get to understand your own feet as they are a foundation to you standing practices.

Shoulder width - Once you have a good idea of the vector that travels from the heel to that second or third toe you want to get both feet in proper alignment with each other as well. Proper alignment in our basic Wujifa Zhan Zhuang standing practice is to have the feet shoulder width apart from each other (see picture above). Many people practicing Zhan Zhuang standing with their feet to far apart. The feet should be under the hips and under the shoulders. That would mean the distance between the second or third toe of each foot would typically be slightly less than foot apart (approximately eleven or so inches) depending on your body type and size.

Feet parallel – This would mean that the line you imagine being drawn between the center of the heel to that second or third toe of each foot would be parallel with each other. Look at the picture above to get a good idea of what feet parallel means. Remember that many people’s feet are mis-shapen and allowances can vary. Also many people carry a lot of stress in the glutes and lower back. You can read more about this in the blog post here call Basic Tips for Zhan Zhang and Pelvis

The feet are the foundation of your Zhan Zhuang and basic Wujifa standing practice. Taking the time to get in touch with this concept of the placement of the feet will change and help you as you explore the wonders of the powerful practice.

Also see the blog post: Zhan Zhaung Alignment