Monday, December 26, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Most Wujifa practitioners practice their Zhan Zhuang training for an hour at a time at least once or twice a day. This does not include other Wujifa practices, only the standing or Zhan Zhuang practice(s). We will use this as a starting point for answering some “basic” questions about sex and Zhan Zhuang.
Becoming aroused while practicing
When we relax, the parasympathetic nervous system (the following is an oversimplification) we could say it kicks in to play. The parasympathetic nervous system is involved in the functions of salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion, defecation, and sexual arousal just to name a few of the systems involved. As you can tell many of these are also common so called qigong side effects.
When becoming aroused in your Zhan Zhuang practice the best answer for most people is to just recognize this as a sign of the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system and a good sign of health. Think to yourself, ‘Nice, a sign post of health’ and don’t get distracted from your purpose and training. Getting sexually stimulated while practicing isn’t abnormal and as we say in Wujifa, it is just one of many sign posts along different paths. If you are driving somewhere and you see a sign on the road saying 100 miles to where you are driving, you don’t stop at the sign, you keep driving. The same is true with signs that show up in practice.
Now that we have talked about sexual arousal the next question is often about how often can one have sex. This is a very good question and one we should take a look at.
Is having sex a good or bad thing when training?
First lets start by asking the question of purpose. If you understand your purpose and the principles then these kinds of questions become much clearer to the practitioner. If they are unclear to you from the level of basic common sense then you might want to simplify your purpose and goals or understand why you are making something so complicated.
Many qigong Masters and teachers suggest waiting a moon cycle (28 days) or at least two weeks (14 days) before engaging in sexual activity. Many of these schools of thought lean toward the right and see celibacy as a key to training. I’ve heard other teachers which suggest you wait 24 hours before engaging in sexual activity after Zhan Zhuang practices. Now if you practice every day or twice a day you are basically again choosing the path of the monk. Again if you choose to follow this kind of advise, simply understand how it aligns with your purpose and the principles of your training.
I’ve heard it said that girlfriends can be the biggest problem for those learning Gongfu. That a person will spend many years training and then meet a girl and forget about their practice. I believe some of the reasons behind limiting sexual activity given to students without functional explanations is aimed at solving this problem of losing students to relationships. It may be true that rules like this can help cage a student, then again if a person gets so easily distracted then they most likely will get distracted by other things over time and they may not really be cutout for deeper practices.
Personally I have found a good loving and supportive relationship can make your Gongfu training easier and better. Although finding a good woman is the key. If you take the time, allowing good people into your life and you will find them supportive and helpful to your Gongfu goals.
So when can I engage in sexual activity?
You understand your purpose and the principles of your personal practice. You have found a good girl and want to engage in sexual activity. Leaving all the cultural and morality issues aside for a moment as these could also be addressed under purpose and principles. When can you engage in sexual activity after practicing Zhan Zhuang. There are other high level practitioners that have expressed the fact that they are not monks and enjoy sex with their wife and they have shared a couple different opinions. One is to wait 4 or so hours before or after training, eat and relax and go about a normal day and then sex is fine. They explain that this is enough time for your body to rebalance.
Other advanced Wujifa practitioners have simply said it’s a good idea to wait an hour after or before engaging in sexual activity. They explain an hour is enough time to return to normal status, and that they would wait an hour or so after eating a big meal or after work as it just gives some space. I also know of some practitioners who practice and have sex when they feel like it after training. They have some martial skill and they say they don’t have sex every time after practicing Zhan Zhuang but if their girl is ready and the time feels right they haven’t had any problems.
So you can see there are many different answers to these questions. Are you engaged in Zuo Dao or tantric practices and the practice of Zhan Zhuang? Are you like some boxers and refraining from sexual activity until after the big fight? Are you doing a special qigong practice like Yijin Jing (Muscle/tendon Changing) and also practicing Wujifa Zhan Zhuang? If you understand your practice and you know the principles of your practice then you already know the answer. If you don’t know you are most likely playing with an advanced practice and you should seek some personal guidance and ask your senior school brothers or teacher.
If you just are beginning a Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice and you simply like doing the Zhan Zhuang practice, maybe just give yourself an hour before spilling your qi as they say. New lovers tend not to take much real advice anyway, they’re hopelessly in love don‘t you know. So some of this advice may be a mute subject, just use your common sense that's always best.
So, I hope this sheds a little light on the question of sexual engagement and Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practices. Remember in Wujifa the simple and deep practices are the real key to success. Don’t complicate your practice. You are where you are and that’s where you start. It may take work but it should also make sense. If it doesn’t your doing something wrong or you need to ask more questions before training mindlessly and losing your way.
Friday, November 11, 2011
The Confucian classic Xiào 孝 Jing (Filial Piety) aims at building the foundations stones of how one should set up an honorable and functional society. In Wujifa we believe we should always take a closer look at the principles and so let’s take a look at this concept here. Filial piety means to honor and be good to your parents, to take care of your parents, to conduct yourself both publicly and privately in respect to the good name of one’s parent’s, ancestors, those who came before you.
"Now xiao is the principle of Heaven, the righteousness of Earth, and the (proper) conduct of people. The principle of Heaven and Earth - people's affairs should follow that principle. We should study Heaven's brilliance and take advantage of Earth's bounties in order to bring harmony to the world; that way the teaching is not stern and yet it is successful, the governing is not severe and yet good order reigns."
|Do you practice filial piety in your gongfu practice?|
In Wujifa our ancestors, our parents, are our foundational “principles” of practice. In Wujifa we say “you are where you are and that’s where you start” and so we start with our body, our mind, and our spirit in how we practice and train. The first and basic foundational principle in Wujifa is that of developing connection(s). We develop this in our basic practices Zhan Zhuang and side to side for an example. We pay close attention to our alignment and structure which is the first of the three points in the Wujifa triangle of Balance, Structure and Relax.
The way you engage in your Gongfu practice is though Xiào 孝 or Filial Piety to the principles. In Wujifa we seek that of the principle of connection(s). Every great Gongfu practitioner has had filial piety for his training in his heart. If he can not train his Gongfu with Xiào 孝 or Filial Piety then what does it matter the name of his style of practice? If one does not train with passion in his heart to adhere and refine the principles of his practice what does it matter who his master’s name is?
Respect for the principles of our Gongfu are fundamental and starts within ones heart. Each person must truly look deeply into his heart first and examine him or herself and then take responsibility for bringing the principles of their training into reality through their practice.
It is only “Make Believe” to say you honor your style, or your teacher, or you school of practice and not put in the time it takes to eat the bitter of personal examination and bring about real transformation of yourself though your training. This is real honor, this is real filial piety, this is the real meaning of Xiào 孝. In our Wujifa practice this is what we mean by Xiào 孝 or filial piety.
Personally I have made mistakes and have fallen short in my training many times over the years. I have overlook principles and cut short my training when I knew I should have. I have fallen asleep by simply following the Wujifa methods without holding dear our principles of our practice in my heart and within my mind. I share these things here as my hope is each of you may also look deeply into your actions and see where you may have fallen short and where you can make real improvements in your practice. Please take the time to make your practices functional and real.
Willingness to admit and even more important make the corrections to one's mind and heart to truly keep to the principles and filial piety in respect to these principles in all of our gongfu practices.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
|Wujifa we say "Be like Li Bing"|
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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.
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.
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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Saturday, September 10, 2011
A couple days later on that Sunday our guests show up after hearing about our Wujifa practice they had lots of questions. A great exchange about martial arts principles and practice took place. Later we went out to dinner and continued the exchange of thoughts and we had an all around good time, of course. ;^)
The following is written by a Ph.D. student majoring in Chinese Traditional Martial Arts who was visiting the U.S. to do research for his dissertation from a well known sports university in China. Shared this with us after his recent visit to The School of Cultivation and Practice where Wujifa is trained and practiced.
This following article is shared as received. Thank goodness for Google translator, enjoy.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The question came up about how one stays curious while they study the ordinary in Wujifa. As we have said before there are many different keys one can use that can help them understand the practice of Wujifa. Curiosity and the ordinary are two of the keys we can use to explore the practices and to aid one in making progress within the Wujifa practices. First of all, thank you Dan for asking this question in the comments to the post ‘Ordinary and Extra-ordinary’. Second, are you curious about what the answer might be to this question? Good, let’s see what we can find here.
Heraclitus the Greek philosopher said, “From out of all the many particulars comes oneness, out of oneness come all the many particulars.” In Wujifa we seek to understand the connections that lead to oneness and the more connected we become the more ability we have to engage with many different situations. You could say the singularity is what everything has in common. Then again, this whole concept could be just a little too much on the ‘woo-woo’ side of the fence.
Let’s clarify a few things first. The first is the question of what is one willing to do to create change? How much faith and will power does one have? Many people who talk about wanting change, if they are really honest with themselves, may only wish for change and aren’t willing to do the work that is involved to engage change.
Another common problem that many people have is they believe they can’t do it, so their truth is they don’t do it or only half heartedly try. They believe in their limitations. There is another set of people who believe it may be possible, and then it seems they find every way possible to distract themselves from doing the real work. They believe "it’s not their fault". Another type of person simply makes up stories about how they just need to put the time in. They believe simply practicing a specific type of Zhan Zhuang or practicing some special secret tai chi form or qigong for 10 or more years they will automatically get it only to be disappointed. These people overlooked critical benchmarks, tests, or verified results and applied analytical thinking to their theories. Many may have even worked very hard toward achieving their goals. Missing the opportunities to adjust and correct themselves by simply missing practical and verifiable benchmarks they could have applied along the way.
Questioning, testing, being open to the possibilities yet remaining grounded in where they are in the moment; this we could call being functionally curious. The functionally curious are testing and verifying and exploring the possibilities. This is the real key. Most people are curious for a moment and then close their eyes and fall asleep following without thinking. Remember the kind of curious I’m talking about is more like an explorer or a scientist. The kind of explorers who have “passion” and the kind of scientists who are willing to “test” it out and look for the facts and not simply believing in fairy tales and stories told by others. The kind of curiosity that drives people forward to do the “work” with the satisfaction of finding out for themselves
Aristotle said “Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your means permit.” In Wujifa we say “You are where you are and that’s where you start.”
Maybe I side-tracked a bit from Dan’s question; although hopefully there are some insights above that may be helpful. Here is the bottom line; people become “bored” when they aren’t being congruent.
People give up, quit, make up stories, become distracted when they are afraid to look, really look, at where the incongruence lies. They hide in their stories, emotions, their understandings and beliefs. The ordinary isn’t really all that ordinary when you stay open and awake, testing and exploring. The ordinary is something that only seems common when one falls into a trance. While practicing the basic and the ordinary there are many thing to be noticed along the way.
I’ll end here with a quote from Heraclitus the Greek philosopher also said something like “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Notice the river and the man for what they are these are the secrets to the common and ordinary.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
1. Collapsing / Hunching over - The structural problem of hunching is so very common and this habit can take a long time to correct so it’s at the top of the list. I have seen people really make amazing changes in their body over time to the point that they don’t even look like the same person. I’ve heard people say they can breathe better when they lose their hunch. I will say they look much younger and alive after they spent the time to correct this. So, what causes this problem? This problem is often caused by a daily life of working over a keyboard, planting rice, or by keeping your eyes down and not looking into the eyes of the king depending where you live and life style. Being aware and adjusting your posture really helps with bringing about long term change. Like any habit that took years to develop, it may also take a long time to change. Make it one of the things you check often.
2. Ankle alignment - Ankle alignment is so overlooked and is a root cause to many other problems. When people overlook ankle alignment in Zhan Zhuang and Wujifa practices, they end up making a number of other structural adjustments to their posture and that‘s why it’s second on the list of bad habits. There are many causes of poor ankle alignment such as wearing poor fitting shoes over many years to inactivity so that the resulting connective tissues in the foot and ankle become more and more distorted. Many times knee pain is caused by poor ankle alignment and trying to correct it with the hip creates a torque in the knee area as people try to re-align themselves. The best practice is to start with the feet and align them as best as possible (which again can take years, again, if ever). There are some tricks that some people have used. See Wujifa Zhan Zhuang Practice: Tight Calves and Ankles. Also seeing a qualified teacher who understands these things can really help as well.
3. Holding in the lower back and pelvis - Both the lower back and pelvis are included together here as they are rarely seen alone. When holding is found in only one of these two areas, a common response for example to relaxing the pelvis will be to tighten the lower back or vice versa, relaxing the lower back and tightening the pelvic area. Relaxing both are key for better Wujifa Zhan Zhuang practice. One of the big problems is people often store a lot of tension in the lower back and pelvis when they push themselves to hard. Simply taking a break and noticing and stretching throughout the day helps. Over at Internal Gong Fu Blogspot there is a long post about relaxing different areas of the pelvis (See: Relaxing the Pelvic Floor for Tai Chi and Zhan Zhuang). Taking a deep breath and exhale while relaxing those areas while practicing your Zhan Zhuang can help too. I’ll repeat, a simple stretch can aid in making progress and there are a lot of good YouTube videos you can look up (see comment area for suggestions). When practicing Zhan Zhuang, notice the habits of "tightening" and let yourself relax. It will take time to change a habit but it can be achieved pretty quickly (weeks or months) if you take the time and stay with it.
Is Your Stance Like a Dead Post) to take the weight out of their legs or to make it more tolerable by slightly torque-ing the knees in or out. The answer is to "slowly" build up to standing longer periods of time and change this habit of torque-ing the knee. Also over time the I.T. bands can be shortened and this can cause problems with the knees as well. Hip and lower back alignment as well as ankle alignment are common problems that contribute to knee torque in Zhan Zhuang practices. This is another case where a qualified instructor can really help you notice and make the changes you need to make with changing the habit of knee torque.
5. Chest/upper back and shoulder tension – Chest and shoulder tension are so common that for many it is the number one bad habit of people who practice Zhan Zhuang. You may be asking yourself why chest and shoulder tension/tightness is listed as number five on this list? This issue is listed as number five because many people who train Zhan Zhuang practices know they have this issue. If you visit or train with any high level masters or go to high-quality seminars you will see kind of adjustment being shared over and over again. It is the kind of habit that people change and keep picking back up and so it takes diligent practice to change this habit. If the muscles are chronically tense you may need to stretch often and get some bodywork like Rolfing to help speed you along the way. Most people simply need to pay attention and correct the situation and develop new habits.
I know of some instructors that will adjust the arms to a higher level for tense shoulders. This will cause the shoulder muscles to feel like they are on fire. Please don’t do this at home because you want to wait until the shoulder muscles give up, drop and relax and most people will give up way before that and develop more tightening in the shoulder muscles. A better way is to let the arms drop a little lower so the shoulders don’t have to work so hard to try to support the arms until you can understand what connection is, what relaxed is. Remember in Wujifa we say "Relaxed is not limp" and it may take some people awhile to understand what that means.
Another suggestion for the chest is to breathe deeply and exhale and simply "let the chest fall". Both this and the suggestion above don’t create a long term change directly. Only really paying attention and changing your habits over time will do that. What these two suggestions will do is give you some awareness of what a more relaxed chest and shoulders feel like.
Five Common Bad Zhan Zhuang Structural Habits - Conclusions -
I hope this was helpful and a reminder to pay close attention to correcting any bad Zhan Zhuang habits you may have. One more quick suggestion that people sometimes find helpful, and please don’t make it a habit, is to tighten a tense area and then relax it quickly. This will also bring some awareness to the possibilities of structural change. Also, remember one of the best pieces of advice I can share, that is see a qualified instructor for assistance and verification. Many of these types of corrections can only really be made in person and hands on.
There are many more bad Zhan Zhuang habits we could add to a list like this such as: zoning out, practicing dead post, letting the mind wander, check the clock every couple minutes, and the worst of the bad habits that didn’t make the Zhan Zhuang bad habits list is not practicing at all! Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions or if I missed any other bad habits you’d like to see included in this or future list. Have a great day!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Personally I believe that every serious practitioner spends much of their time working and training to kinesthetically solve or resolve issues with the answer to this equation as set forth by the tolerances of the principles of their art form to the compliance tensor equation in real time.
Solving the compliance tensor equations in real time requires you to leave the present moment and this is exactly my point. Yin and Yang, Five Element Theory, so on and so forth are simply gross ambiguities that may only make sense when applied to a very “specific equation” relative to a snap shot in time, I say that because the reality is constantly changing as you move and train.
Yes we can apply a Qin-na technique to a joint and watch it dislocate that joint in real time and say here is your real time answer to the compliance tensor for that joint of that person with that movement. At the same time as a practitioner, how do you notice, develop, refine, and train to make real and reproducible results at the highest level?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
A Buddhist friend tells me “leave them alone, its fine as it is…” The meaning being that there is a lesson to be taught in what there is to experience. Take away the experience and the perfect lesson may also be lost. Understand that your quest may take you years to uncover, and the pointlessness only understood once you wash the mud off of your feet.