why not just actually start with step 1?

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby Trick on Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:40 am

About Yang Chengfu. He himself didn’t write any books because he couldn’t write ? So could he even proofread “his” writings ? Maybe there is things misunderstood or deliberately added/altered by his coauthor(s).......Could that be possible?
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby middleway on Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:50 am

Firstly, i would suggest it is a mistake to make the assumption that those who value science and the scientific method are against traditional training methodologies and models.

This certianly isnt the case for me. In fact i wrote an article on why 'evidence based' or 'research' is often not the best way to varify something.

https://www.martialbody.com/Blog-Research/Blog/ArticleID/63/Where-does-%E2%80%98The-Research%E2%80%99-fit-in

On the topic of internal arts, Im with Bao here.

I think there is an un-necissary focus on 'doing something' that could be called sinking the qi. In fact, the 'Qi' sinking is a consiquence of correct basic training, rather than a goal. That is why the way the classics describe it is so important.

It is normally described as something that 'happens' rather than something you 'do'.

One of my teachers would call this sort of thing 'chasing ghosts'. People would feel this or that, percieve this or that ... then constantly chase that same thing mistaking it for a goal. In fact that thing they are chasing is just a consiquence of correct practice, and ultimately being stuck on those sensations haults your progress.

An example from my own trianing, many years ago when i was seriously training Xing yi (maybe 3 - 4 hours of solid training a day, every day) i began to develop the feeling of heat inside my body. It was very strong, like my body was puffing up from a furnace inside. I was sure i was onto something and kept dwelling in this sensation as i trained. When i spoke to a teacher i trust about it they simply said 'Yeh, ignor that and keep training'. I did as i was advised and soon after the sensation subsided but my power generation levels jumped up. I was stuck on this thing that i thought was something special and it haulted my progress.

We shouldnt mistake descriptions of the consiquence of correct practice, for the practice itself. That is part of the reason I am not particularly interested in 'Qi' as a term or subject ... correct practice is correct practice ...
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby Bao on Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:18 am

Trick wrote:About Yang Chengfu. He himself didn’t write any books because he couldn’t write ? So could he even proofread “his” writings ? Maybe there is things misunderstood or deliberately added/altered by his coauthor(s).......Could that be possible?


Some people say that it was a collaboration between a writer that was his students. What I’ve heard is that he sold his name to a person who had very little or any knowledge about Tai Chi. However, many things in that book match common knowledge in different styles. About “Qi sinks to the dantian” I am not very worried about as this phrase is constructed the same way as in the classics “Qi sinks, spirit raises” in the way that there is no “I” and the Qi is the subject. It’s the Qi that is doing the sinking. It’s a consequence of what you do, not something you personally actively “do”. This is from old Neidan practice and theory and matches what many Neidan and Tai Chi practitioners through the centuries have written about their own personal experiences.

middleway wrote:One of my teachers would call this sort of thing 'chasing ghosts'.
... ultimately being stuck on those sensations haults your progress.

We shouldnt mistake descriptions of the consiquence of correct practice, for the practice itself.


Exactly so. Agreed. My first teacher who I practiced with for approx 15 years over a 20 year period never spoke about qi or used any traditional term. Everything was about doing correctly and about feeling what you did. Always very simple, common language, and a very practical, no-nonsense, commonsensical approach. Maybe other people would enjoy more talk about qi and mysticism...
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby everything on Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:08 am

middleway wrote:
An example from my own trianing, many years ago when i was seriously training Xing yi (maybe 3 - 4 hours of solid training a day, every day) i began to develop the feeling of heat inside my body. It was very strong, like my body was puffing up from a furnace inside. I was sure i was onto something and kept dwelling in this sensation as i trained. When i spoke to a teacher i trust about it they simply said 'Yeh, ignor that and keep training'.


Definitely any feeling of energy can be distracting. I'm not aware that any of the advice is about chasing sensations. It seems much more common sense (except people are so caught up on the idea of "qi" as well as "science").

You sink or let sink the qi. Don't get caught up in this or pursue some kind of rainbow. At minimum, you feel better and literally more energetic. Go do your thing.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:05 am

Sink the qi to the Dantian is the physical feeling and mental state of mind when you’re in a fight or tense situation. Like when you’re driving fast down the highway and suddenly see brake lights and cars stopping in front of you.

When someone would ask my teacher, Dr. Xie, what sink the qi meant, he would charge at them and act like he was going to hit them, but stop inches from their face. Then he’d say “There. Now your qi is sunk to your Dantian.”

.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby everything on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:22 am

Lol. When you're tense, everything "rises", your shoulders get tense, you don't "sink" or relax anything. I've mentioned this example a lot. If I try to play goalkeeper (it's pretty scary), I get pretty tense. This is where zhan zhuang plus qigong become very practical for me. With some effort at it, you can both feel your "energy" calming down, not rising up, and you can try to be on the threshold of relaxed and ready to spring --- too tense and you cannot spring, too relaxed and you cannot spring.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:37 am

It’s not nervousness or tense. I don’t know about soccer, but for another example is when you’re playing billiards, if you’re good, you know how to ‘sink your qi to your Dantian’ when you’re taking your shot, especially when you’re making a break shot.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby oragami_itto on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:41 am

D_Glenn wrote:Sink the qi to the Dantian is the physical feeling and mental state of mind when you’re in a fight or tense situation. Like when you’re driving fast down the highway and suddenly see brake lights and cars stopping in front of you.

When someone would ask my teacher, Dr. Xie, what sink the qi meant, he would charge at them and act like he was going to hit them, but stop inches from their face. Then he’d say “There. Now your qi is sunk to your Dantian.”

.


It could be he meant something different?

For me, that sort of fight response is what I'm training out. Untrained, when a threat presents, your qi is much more likely to rise. In english we even have an idiom describing the sensation e.g "my heart was in my throat", it's thoroughly and completely a tension filled rising to the chest and throat area.

Personally, I'm trying to train away the "fight or flight" response entirely, in favor of "remain and respond", calmly, sunken, with clarity and mindfulness.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:47 am

I think maybe you guys grew up with a different experience of fighting, or never walked down an alley where you’re playing out scenarios in your mind.
Maybe the billiards analogy would be better for you two.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby everything on Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:50 am

Oh man I was only good at pool for a few months of my first year in college (so much wasted (fun) time that year). Any talk of qi would've seemed too weird to me, but I can kind of imagine your example.

Staying calm is pretty difficult. For my specific example (GK), I think it's really just 1000s of hours more experience rather than zhan zhuang or qigong that's needed (but those last two are still good things).
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:05 am

气沉丹田 (Qi chen Dantian), is a very basic requirement in martial arts. The Western expectations and connotations with the word 气 Qi, is the problem. It’s a very simple thing to do, but it’s hard to maintain it and make it habit. But that’s how all the basic requirements of Chinese internal martial arts are. They’re the equivalent of the Bandhas (locks) in yoga. The basic work in ZZ is just going over the mental checklist of these requirements to eventually make them more habitual. In Baguazhang they’re condensed into 8 requirements.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby oragami_itto on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:10 am

D_Glenn wrote:I think maybe you guys grew up with a different experience of fighting, or never walked down an alley where you’re playing out scenarios in your mind.
Maybe the billiards analogy would be better for you two.


Actually, I grew up fighting all the time. I've been attacked with bats and chains. I've got knife scars from schoolyard fights. The biggest auto theft ring in South Florida was based out of my high school. I was a security professional working night clubs and arenas. My last street fight was in my 30s, though admittedly it was more to show the guy threatening my family that I could crush him than an actual struggle, but I digress. I've been in a lot of real world self defense situations. Without serious training the natural response to a threat is to tense up and do the opposite of "sink the qi". So maybe when your teacher did it he had faith in what he'd trained into you, but using that explanation to communicate with someone who hasn't had any of that training doesn't seem to make much sense to me as it's identifying the wrong phenomenon.

My old teacher said that, regarding Wai Lun Choi, the calmer he got the more scared you should be. Again, the opposite of what is "natural", where threats are loud and puffed up. I've worked hard to emulate that quality.

Again, though, your teacher's idea of Taijiquan may have little or nothing to do with what I practice, YMMV.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:11 am

If you are good at pool, then you have instinctively learned how to do the requirement. It’s a natural thing that all mammals are capable of doing. You don’t have to know anything about ‘Qi’ to do it. Everyone already knows how to do it. They just aren’t aware that it is a thing. Let alone a thing that can be given a sort of name.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby Giles on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:17 am

D_Glenn wrote:I think maybe you guys grew up with a different experience of fighting, or never walked down an alley where you’re playing out scenarios in your mind.


I’m with Origami (and Bao and Middleway) on this.

Walking down an alley? OK, true story, no exaggeration (or paranoia) I promise: A few years ago in Berlin I was walking through a fairly narrow passage next to a kind of local railway station very early one Saturday morning, no-one else around, wearing a largish rucksack because I was starting a journey. Suddenly round the corner came 5 young men walking towards me who had obviously been up all night. As they walked towards me they started spreading out into ‘attack formation’, i.e. filling the space right across the alley and creating enough room between each other so they wouldn’t get in each other’s way when they kicked off. I had no space to dodge out, couldn’t run fast with the rucksack and I knew I was in their sights. In the 4 or 5 seconds before we would meet, I intuitively “sank my Qi”, meaning, I’ll say, that I relaxed my core muscles without letting my skeleton or structure collapse, which caused my centre of gravity to drop, my arms felt like they extended a little downward with gravity, and mentally I prepared to move fast and defend if necessary. I know my facial expression didn't change. This while still walking forwards toward them. A second later something in their energy/focus changed, a kind of ‘voltage drop’, and they just walked past me left and right and continued on. I went up to the platform. End of story.
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Re: why not just actually start with step 1?

Postby D_Glenn on Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:19 am

I think I forget that Dr. Xie was extraordinary, so that might not be good explanation for someone who never met him. I think the other analogies are good though. Especially the billiards one because it ties into calming the breath. Archery is another one where in order to be good you have to 气沉丹田 (Qi chen Dantian).
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