Sunday, October 16, 2011

Be Like Water?

Be like water? I’m sure many of you have heard the saying “Be like water” made famous by Bruce Lee. I’m here to tell you that using ambiguous statements such as “Be like water” can be very misleading and maybe not even be all that helpful.

Wujifa we say "Be like Li Bing"
Think about it for a moment… what does “Be like water” really mean? It’s like someone talking about achieving enlightenment, “Be like water,” most people misunderstand “Being” twisting the meaning ambiguously into something very different… fitting what they want into it’s meaning or bottling it up and selling their bottled flavored waters as some kind of method of special skill.

When I think of special skills I think of people like Li Bing. Be like water… this is why I say “Be like Li Bing!” If you have a few moments take the time to understand the practical application of Li Bing’s Dujiang Weir. Go ahead and google Li Bing and his Dujiang Weir if you will, you’ll find it interesting to say the least. 

"Dredge the riverbed when the water is deep and build low dykes when the water is low." - Li Bing

You see Li Bing constructed the Dujiang Weir to help the villagers and farmers living in Shu, Sichuan Province, China and shared his principles for the guidance of water “for the good of the people.” I recently watched a documentary about Li Bing and his weir and it dawned on me… “Be like water” or “Be like Li Bing” who applied his principles and used the water to both irrigate the fields and distracting the flood waters, protecting the people from disasters these waters can bring.

When the river flows in zigzags, cut a straight channel: when  the riverbed is wide and shallow, dig it deeper." - Li Bing

We need to recognize as human beings we have something very powerful that water doesn’t have and this power is in us, within our mind, our understanding, and our ability to apply function and principles to the real world.  You see, the human mind can be far more powerful than water. The human mind can also exist in a realm of possibilities and potentials, and as such it is not constrained in the way water is by habit and strict tendencies. It is this capability that can enable us, like Li Bing, to functionally harness the forces of nature... to create something new that has never been seen before and to apply it for the benefit of mankind.

Water may be able to wash over the mighty rocks with such power too wash them away. Li Bing was smart enough to understand how to apply this for the good of the people. Water may wear down even the hardest of rocks and Li Bing taught the people how they could maintain the Dujiang Weir for so many many years and making that area a cornucopia of food production.

“Be like water” Li Bing applied his principles to both allow and guide water flow. This is why I say “Be like Li Bing” and understand the concepts of principle and function, then apply your principles yourself to discovering how something can be influenced and used for the benefit of the people.

In Wujifa we aim to understand the “principle and function” of our art and then in applying ourselves to bring forth the expression of our understanding much like Li Bing shows us with his Dujiang Weir.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wujifa Zhan Zhuang: Relaxing the Belly

The area of the belly we are talking about is much lower and more specific than the bigger area many people think of as being the belly. Yes, you should relax your belly as a whole when standing and when practicing Wujifa Zhan Zhuang. Today the area I am talking about is located at and just above the pubic bone.

A straightforward and functional tip for improving your Wujifa zhan zhuang practice can be as simple as noticing and relaxing the belly. This article will address the opportunities that can be discovered in your zhan zhuang practice when you start to understand how much tension people carry in the lower abdominal or belly area. You see today’s blog posting all started the other day when working with some Wujifa beginners. These new practitioners started to notice how common it was and it is for many beginners to hold tension in the lower belly when practicing zhan zhuang.

You see the lower belly really is a very common area where people hold tension when practicing zhan zhuang and even in daily life. When people are able to relax this area, they discover that they can improve their practice by sinking more weight into their legs (which beginners sometimes experience as a burning sensation in the quads).

Stand up for a moment with your feet parallel, lined up under your hips and shoulders (More information on this see: Wujifa Zhan Zhuang Alignment). Now place your hand on your lower belly at the level of your pubic bone. Now, play with tightening the area of your lower belly underneath your hand.

Notice, how many different areas of the body are affected by this kind of tension. Now quickly relax this area as best you can and notice how much more space this creates and how this changes the feeling of the pelvic floor, hips, and thighs. Go ahead and try playing with this a few times. Also remember, relax is not limp, so try maintaining a good Wujifa structured stance.

If you took the time just now you might have notice how many other areas can be affected with tension and relaxation. The reason is there are so many different fascial interconnections that take place in the lower area of the pelvis / belly. If you want to read more about the fascial systems of the lower belly you can go to “The Muscles and Fasciae of the Abdomen - Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body - Yahoo Education”. Reading that might be fun for some people, but you really don’t need all that data to make some real progress in your zhan zhuang practice. For most people, simply playing with tightening and relaxing of the lower belly with the hand you placed over this area will give you some pretty good insights that you can apply to your Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practices.

Re-educating your body awareness takes due diligence. In the Wujifa Zhan Zhuang basic practices, relaxing the lower belly area is very important and is something many people can tend to overlook. Getting more weight to sink down into your legs is key. Troubleshooting and discovering this overlooked area of the lower belly will make all the difference in the world.

Again, the point we are making here is to remember in your standing practice is to relax the lower belly just above the pubic bone. As you do this, also remember that relaxed is not limp and strength is not tense. You can play with tightening and letting go as another “method” to give you insights on how to relax this area. After playing with this for a while, you may begin to notice how other areas of your body connect and move with this change. I want to repeat myself again and say, relax is not limp. Remember to be mindful of the Wujifa structural “methods” and to have fun.

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