Monday, November 29, 2010

The Kua More Methods For Developing The Inguinal Crease

The inguinal crease and developing the Kua are fundamental in our practice. Wujifa has a number of methods that are helpful for those just starting out and for those who have practiced different skill-sets for some time. The sitting practice is one of these practices. Different practices like the sitting practice are good for the beginner and actually have even more to offer to those who have practice the Wujifa standing side to side skill-sets. There is a saying about how deep the rabbit hole goes and I will say the depth is discovered by those willing to keep an open mind, explore, and do the work.

The body, more than skin & bones
In June of 2009 you may remember the Wujifa Standing side to side post and video. I would suggest reading this article first if you missed that one here is the link "Keys for Developing the Inguinal Crease aka Kua, with Wujifa Side to Side Practice" as this will be helpful. Those of you who remember that article may still want to go watch the Wujifa “Standing Side to Side” YouTube video again at this link: Wujifa “Side to Side” Inguinal Crease as the insights from watching that video again will aid in noticing more in the video you'll discover below.

Let me say up front that the Wujifa “Sitting Side to Side” skill-set isn’t really a beginners practice although I will say it is much easier for many Wujifa beginners to play with this skill-set as many times their legs may not be strong enough to do the standing Side to Side Kua practices. The reason I say that is beginner may find it very difficult to get the correct movement in the Kua while seated. In the video below you will notice that even for people who have practiced these Side to Side Wujifa Kua sill-sets discovering connected movement of the Kua or inguinal crease area while seated can be a bit of a puzzle. This is why I suggest that it is a much deeper practice. Also one shouldn’t avoid the standing practice as the standing practice helps develop the leg in a different and more direct way. The cool thing about this seated practice is the greater understanding one will gain from its practice over time. Both practices offer very different insights to these kinds of connected movement.

For those of you who watch on YouTube Click Here

I hope you enjoyed this video and have hopefully gained some insights from watching it. As with all forms of exercise one should always check with their doctor first before starting any practice. Those who do practice Wujifa hopeful this video will aid in helping your practice as you engage in the exploration of this skill-set and take the time to notice how deep the rabbit hole goes. What seems simple may actually be much more of a challenge than it might seem on the surface. In sharing this I am really thankful to have a space like this blog to share Wujifa and insights to aid in the discovery about these kinds of connected movement and some of the methods used for their development. Thanks again… and if you enjoyed these videos please feel free to leave comments below and/or at YouTube. Let us know what you think!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Methods for Understanding the Relaxed Shoulder or Song Jian 鬆肩

One of the common problems to development of connection with relaxed shoulders (song jian, 鬆肩) is having good methods to understanding the feel of this while moving. In many of the internal art understanding the relaxed or “song” shoulder is a very prevalent issue with many practitioners and the same is true in the practice of Wujifa.

Of course there are many tricks to relaxing the shoulders. Relaxing or dropping the elbows is very commonly talked about. Also, warm ups like turning or rotating the head, crossing one arm across the chest and stretching it with the other hand, tightening the shoulders pulling them up toward the ears, holding for them there for a count of 5 or 10 and then letting them drop and other such methods are seemingly customary. Personally I believe those maybe good for a beginner to get some hint of how tight their shoulders are, although may not be all that helpful at understanding how a relaxed shoulder feels and moves.

In the following video are a couple of “methods” which aim to give some insights to the practitioner and enthusiasts of how the relaxed shoulder feels is real time while moving.

Those who enjoy watching videos on YouTube: CLICK HERE

In the first example the hand are place on the “swing” and use the arcing of the swing to create a couple dimensions of movement to be explored. The movement is slightly down and forward as the practitioner moves forward and the opposite shifting back. This can be changed by where in the arch of the swing one chooses to practice. The key to this first method is allowing the shoulder joint to simply be a pivot point. There is a tendency for people to want to do more than needed and by simply allowing and noticing, many insights can be discovered in real time in repeated practice. Remember Wujifa aims at finding experiential understanding in doing. Now remember the saying “the method is not the truth” and this is true here as well. The key is to notice how freely the pivot points in the shoulders feel and move.

The second exercise is much more difficult and it is include here as a variations in this example of real time feedback. Again having an experiential understanding in doing with a form of simple bio-feed such as this can be very helpful in a very real and practical way.

Those of you who have seen some of the methods shared here on this blog will notice that what may seem very simple on the surface can and may have a very deep impact on practice. One of the keys is the willingness to experience simple methods such as these in the repeated doing. As one gains deeper and direct kinesthetic understanding of a practice the more that can be discovered over time in the practices. Like the finger pointing at the moon the key is to understand what your purpose is for doing something and then being open to what the practice is allowing you to explore. One of course should, as we said many times before, will need the help of senior school brothers and instructors as for 3rd party verification of your understanding. Remember, at the same time you are doing the work and being open and responsible for your own growth is also a real key to making progress.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wujifa: Mental and Physical Means for Discovery and Growth

“Different people learn different ways.” This is one of the most important sayings my teacher shared with me early on in my practice. Over the years, I’ve understood this to mean many different things. Working with other people, I’ve noticed how true this actually is.

Continuing on with this concept, one should learn to be open and develop the skill in exploring both practical methods and the meta aspects to paying conscious attention to input and how one engages with opportunities for input as well as managing input as one discovers how to focus one’s attention in connection with the targets aimed for.
In the beginning before 10,000 things

By “practical methods” I mean practicing repeated forms, or what we like to call “medicine” in Wujifa over and over again (whether they be standing, movements, working with tools or training aids, etc.) to develop a sense of feeling and connection. As we say in Wujifa, “the method is not the truth, once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.” We must have these practical methods though, because “we are where we are” and the methods give us a place to start practicing feeling and connecting more.

“Meta aspects” are noticing how you notice. The reasons you want to notice this are:

1. To notice and develop what you tend not to notice

2. To notice what ways of noticing work really well for you

What I mean by “input” is the way information comes into your conscious and subconscious experience, and the way we recognize it. For example, we have fingers with nerve endings that send signals to our brains. We have ears that pick up on the sounds of the voices of our teachers as we are taught. We have eyes to see the effects of what we are doing in the world. I say “input” to encompass all of these ways and the many others that exist though which we experience.

The reason I use the word “opportunities” is that it reframes the way we look at the world and how we engage with the world. Hence, it makes it possible to notice the information that’s coming to us in its various forms. What happens when we look at things in a frame other than opportunity is that there tends to be a lot of disconnection and forcing or manipulation of data, or even missing it all together. The reason I talk about how one engages with opportunities is more about “how”. If you can notice how you engage with opportunities, it takes you back to noticing the surface and meta levels of input. The learner learns about the way they learn.

What I mean by managing input is that people can become under or overwhelmed, and so understanding both the surface ways we learn and the deeper meta ways we learn can help us to relate to the input we’re receiving in a way that can be optimally explored, even if unfamiliar or uncomfortable and best facilitates our integration of that input. This is why in Wujifa we do certain exercises like side to side. Seemingly simple, but there’s lots of information to be integrated first before we can begin to notice deeper levels.

Noticing is seen as a complex process; how Wujifa enthusiasts and practitioners take in both the meaning and the form of the process. It takes time for those who engage with a practice to progress from first learning to recognize what it means and what it feels and looks like, to understanding and internalizing the basic underlying rules and methods, to subconsciously embodying the principles and philosophy.

Being willing, as a learner, to repeatedly explore the opportunities recurring with practice by noticing the types of questions asked and the types of results noticed, and to explore deeper what these practices mean and how they contribute functionally to the results expected at each level of practice helps in developing other and more effective means of noticing as one continues to evolve.

At the same time it’s important to keep these methods simple enough so the deeper understandings are not overlooked by the practitioner who would otherwise become overloaded with the intake of data.

For many people, understanding the meaning or result aimed for on a simple and basic level is useful before one can recognize and make sense of the different definitions various forms can take on.

It is important that one understand the difference between, on the one hand, methods used to define meaning of a practice and those that help one make sense of the connection and forms of the practice, and on the other hand, to cognitively understand what, why, and how at different levels of practice clearly as they begin and proceed with any Wujifa practice and developing the desired kinesthetic result. The reason it’s important to understand this difference is otherwise one may gloss over what it is that they are aiming to develop at any given stage. Understanding the difference creates a foundation for receiving and noticing, being receptive to processing the opportunities for growth with clear and defined mental and physical means for discovery and growth by process of engaging in these methods and practices.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Martial Arts and Purpose Wujifa System Talks #3

Reading at the tomb of Confucius
The big question in martial arts and of course in Wujifa is the one that people should explore and return to often is why am I doing this or what purpose or reason I am doing and practicing this. There are a number of chunk sizes one can ask this question at as well. One question could be about the smallest of movements or motivations. Another way to explore this question on the reason or purpose is what are you looking for and what are you willing to do to achieve your goals?

This of course is another Wujifa System Talks video which is here to help explore this very question of purpose at the larger chunk size "What are you willing to do to achieve your goals?" Now in this Wujifa System Talks which is the third so far in the series addresses this question. The answer really comes down to every person's willingness to explore and be honest with themselve. Hopefully this video recording will help spark a few questions you may want to explore more deeply. Personally one should return to these kinds of questions every so often to see if your still on the right track and more importantly to see if you really are living up to the goals you've been setting.

Click HERE to watch this video on YouTube

As you may notice that over time we can drift away from what we had been working so hard to achieve. Why we do this isn't as important as noticing this and making the adjustments that will aid in getting back into the habit. It's funny because no matter what we choose to do our action will become habits over time. Those who quit half way through a goal may notice that this pattern shows up in many other places in their life. Another pattern is never taking a good look at what they are avoiding and why. That person is always wondering why doesn't it ever work out, or how it ends up the other guys get somuch success. The interesting thing is that those that see things through are also most likely to develop the habit of seeing things though in other areas of life as well. The choices are before us every day and how make these choices are very important even when it come to very simple and basic things.

This is one of the aspects I like about Wujifa and different types of training, that is noticing the patterns that show up. In Wujifa stance training or Zhan Zhuang practice so often when people start out training they find after a certian point they feel like they are ready to jump out of their skin. Why should this be and how many other places does this show up? Another habit is they dance around in order to distract themselves so they don't have to deal with the issues at hand to get through to the other side of an issue. People who have really made the effort have found this to be one of the most important aspects to their training. Discovering how to follow through on one's intention is so key and such a wonderful thing to notice and develop and can be explored in the simple practice of standing still for example.

Please leave your comment below and let us know what you think. Also, let us know if there is any subject or questions you might want to see explored in future in our "Wujifa System Talks." Making a wonder day starts by noticing and developing those habits and practices that aid in you finding more about who you really are... as always the choice you make come down to what you choose.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wujifa System Talks More on Basic Stance or Zhan Zhuang Practices

Here is another Wujifa practices video on basic stance or Zhan Zhuang training. This series is called “Wujifa System Talks” that cover fundamental Wujifa or general practices as view through the Wujifa system frame work. In this series you will find more on the “Method” and practice as possibly helpful or even obtrusive to making real progress in you standing or Zhan Zhuang training.

Here is a link to YouTube for those who enjoy watching their videos there.

Principles are a deeper way of practicing as opposed to only training in basic methods that are all too commonly misused these days. Yet, as we say in Wujifa “You are where you are and that’s where you start.” All too often people start blindly following the methods of a system and fall asleep forgetting to probe further and asking themselves the harder questions. Methods you see are like drugs, they can be helpful if used with caution. All too often people end up becoming addicted to their methods and the depth in their training proceeds to stops right there. What are the basics, what are the basic principles? How can I refine and develop a deeper understanding in these elusive principles?

In Wujifa basic stance or Zhan Zhuang is a good place to start. Still you need to learn to eat bitter and seek validation from school brothers or others who are more skilled than you. Seek what you feel and what is at the edge of your understanding. Be willing to make mistakes and ask for help. Train often and focus and stay awake. Develop your intention and awareness in the process. These keys will help you find your way as you train and develop in your Wujifa training as you start on the path.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wujifa Basic Zhan Zhuang Practice and Models

The other day we recorded a little bit of audio as a senior school brother shares with another on the basic methods and practices or models for correct Zhan Zhuang practice in the Wujifa system. If you have been following this blog for a while then most likely you'll follow right along with what is being shared here. If your new here you might like to follow a couple suggested links starting with a this one Is your stance practice like a dead post?

Wujifa: Basic Models and Concepts is really a podcast with pictures. Hopefully the art work aids in the audio being shared. The information covers good grounded points and suggestion and by that I mean functional means for practice of Zhan Zhuang with in the Wujifa system.

For those of you on Iphones or enjoy YouTube formats: click here

Here is a little somthing from last year June 21, 2009 BasicTips for Zhan Zhuang and the pelvis
"When one simply relaxes more deeply or as one learns to relax the muscles of the lower back and supporting muscles and relax the glutes while practicing stance training then the back can lengthen and the femoral heads of the right and left legs can be allowed to widen. This gives more room for the pelvis to adjust on the hip joints and with the opening/lengthening of the spine “allows” the tailbone or sacrum to shift and drop downward in these practices. This is VERY different than tucking."

Hopefully you have found some of these bits, tips, and talks helpful to your Wujifa and/or Zhan Zuang practices. As always if you have a question feel free to ask. If people like these Podcast Video formats let us know and I will see what I can dig up. Thanks again in advance.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Over the years

When I think about the people I have met over the years I feel very lucky. To have had the chance to travel and meet, talk and spend time with different martial artists has been wonderful. I guess I have been a bit of a rouge wandering all over the world and having a lot of fun while doing it. I thought I would share just a few thoughts and some of the pictures I taken over the last few decades. Pictures of some wonderful people I have been lucky enough to have met and share a little time with...

I remember flying to Boston back in the 80's for a while to meet and spend some time with Yang Jwingming. He had started a series of qigong seminars and I remember reading a few of his books. I had a blast out in Boston and enjoyed spending time with Dr Yang Jwingming. I can't believe how different I looked back then.

Then I remember going to Chicago a couple years ago as Chen Xiaoxing was going to be there at a seminar Andy was hosting. I put a little video up on this blog you can click here to see the video of Chen Xiaoxing from this blog.

I have a couple friends in Cleveland Ohio and Chen Qingzhou was going to be doing a seminar there so road trip was in order. That was about 7 or so years ago and I really enjoyed meeting him.

One of the things I rememer most was when Chen Qingzhou did something called "Big Bird Feeds Baby Bird." This was some form of Qi teaching, those of you who know me know I don't like to talk about Qi very much as it can cause many people to imagine various thing and call them Qi feelings. When Chen Qingzhou finished I remember him telling me to go stand for a while... all I can say is it was very interesting stance that day indeed.

Back in 1999 I went to see Chen Xiaowang for the first time in New York city. I really like Master Chen and he has always been so very helpful and generous with me. Master Chen Xiaowang has always answered any of my questions so I would really understand the meaning in the sense of my body awareness which is so very important.

I remember one day a couple years ago that still really stands out for me even today. You see, I was asking Master Chen about some of the difficulties I was working with in the form of breaks in the connections while doing silk reeling and he look at me and smiled and he said "Me too... isn't it wonderful we can practice our whole life and never get it right... what a wonderful practice this is." Then he smiled again and said lets stand together and we practiced Zhan Zhuang together standing for a little over 90 minutes and then he said simply spoke and said while still standing "Are you hungry?" I said "Yes." Master Chen said "Let's eat" and he made some dumplings and tea and we talked for a good while. Sometimes it's the simplest things that can touch us in so many ways.

Over the years I have traveled to China a number of times. I have many friends in China and I really enjoy spending time there. I have never been to the great wall, or forbidden city or things like that. I have enjoyed meeting some wonderful people and made many friends.

One year around the year 2000 I met Yao Chegguang. Yao Chengguang was very friendly and helpful for sure! Me and my friend Victor Chao spent a number of hours with Yao Chengguang at his place going over the practices of Yiquan which was just great. Yao Chengguang is a fighter and you can see him instill this in his students. One day we went to the park where he meets with his students and you can see that they really enjoy the training! 

While in Beijing we got a great oppertunity to meet with  Bo Jiacong. When we first met him he asked "Are you hungry?" of course and so we went to lunch and talked for a few hours. Then Bo Jiacong said he need to meet some other people and if we would like he would meet with us tomorrow. The next day was so wonderful, Bo Jiacong spent a lot of time going over different important details and sharing stories about Wang Xiangzhai that he had shared with him. What he shared with me I hold dearly and is still a big part of my training today. I really like Bo Jiacong and his ability to share so much!

In 2004 I spent some time with Di Guoyong. We when over a number of basics about Xingyi and Bagua. A few months ago I posted a couple videos I filmed back then.

The first video I put up here on the blog was Bagua Stepping and Tang Ne Bu (Sliding in the mud) which was a lot of fun and he went into a lot of detail which I hope comes through in some of the clips I put up. The second video was with the post was called Bagua Tai Dao or Large Saber which was filmed when it came time to take a break. Di Guoyong really enjoyed sharing this which I think comes across in the video as well. I will say he really liked to work work people hard. He would go over a number of pointers although as you know martial arts is about doing and Di Guoyong would do correction after seeing you do it a number of times.

A few year later in one of many trips to China I got to visit Jinan and visit with Li Enjiu for a few days. Li Enjiu has a wonderful school there although we went to local park to train. We went through some of the pointers of Taiji practice and then how this applied to push hands. It was a wonderful outside and Li Enjiu was very helpful and willing to share so much wonderful information.

These are just a few of the wonderful memories I have had over the years. I have been blessed with the friend I have met and the lessons I have learned. So much of what I have learned has contributed to my Wujifa practice as well and so I am thankful. I started this blog almost one year ago and I have had a lot of fun posting various things here.

Today it is nice to look back at a few different moments in time... there is more video to edit and stories to share. I also look forward to sharing more about various Wujifa practices and skill sets and a few new videos and posts coming about Wujifa. Thanks again for allowing me to share a few memories today. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A video of a lecture on internal martial arts

Here is an interesting lecture on internal martial arts in the form a video given by Victor Chao. Victor Chao is originally from Taipia,Taiwan and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Victor teaches Gao style Bagua and also practices Zhan Zhuang or standing meditation.

This lecture was recorded in December of 2009 on the spur of the moment with a cell phone. A number of short audio clips were recorded, and have been strung together to make this video. Also, a number of pictures that were taken on that day, as well as a few that have been taken over the years that have been added for good measure.

This is the YouTube link for those who enjoy watching there.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as the people present enjoy hearing it.

I wanted to get this up quickly so I will come back and add some more after the super bowl.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is your stance practice like a dead post?

What is your zhan zhuang practice becoming? The number one problem people have practicing zhan zhuang is dead-post standing. This means being rigid and non-living, doing the practice as if one has a stick stuck you know where.

The second big mistake in dead post standing is when the mind over thinks and over controls instead of simply guiding growth, development, and understanding as one practices.

The post turtle could be a symbol for both of these problems. Just look at the picture above. A stiff rigid pole with all the life stuck on top, over thinking and trying to figure it out. As we say in Wujifa, "the method is not the truth."

Like the punch line to the joke about the post turtle:

The old man says, "When you're driving down a country road and you see a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know he didn't get up there by himself. He doesn't belong there; he can't get anything done while he's up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down."

The post-turtle is further explained: He did not get there by himself. He cannot get down. And he can only see in the direction he has been turned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Video of Master Chen Xiao Xing

Here is some video of Master Chen Xiao Xing taken back in 2007. I thought it would be nice to start off this New Year with some Chen Style Taijiquan. In the following video of Master Chen Xiao Xing 陳小星 are from the "Cannon Fist" or "Er Lu" Chen Style Taiji form and were recorded in Chicago at a wonderful seminar. There are some nice fajin clips in this short video and some clips shown in slow and extra slow motion as well. Chen Xiao Xing was born in 1952, 3rd son of Chen Zhao Xu and brother of Chen Xiao Wang.

Here is the YouTube link for those of you that enjoy watching videos there.

I really enjoyed shooting this back then and now putting this video together this week. I hope that showng Master Chen Xiao Xing doing some of the fajin (to issue or discharge power explosively) of "Cannon fist" in this video at various speeds of slow motion and at normal speed is helpful and enjoyable for you as well. It's pretty rare to be able to shoot video while a seminar is "in progress" and I'm happy to be able to share these clips here with all of you.

Let me know what you think of this video of Master Chen Xiao Xing in the comment area. There are more internal martial arts videos in the works as I am always weeding back through footage I have taken over the years. Also more articles and videos on Wujifa in the works as well.

Happy New Year everyone!