I got the following question from a very experienced and intelligent reader, who after going over all my stuff, has recently been inspired to delve into Xingyi training:
Q: [From reading your books and blog and videos] I'm beginning to realize that I need to learn Xingyi, which will be very interesting after many years (on and off, mainly off) of Yiquan, given than Yiquan evolved from Xingyi, no? From what I've learned of Yiquan I can recognize similarities, e.g. in Zhan Zhuang, Shili, and Mocabu, in both, though Xingyi seems to have more attention to detail from what I can see, which I have to admit
does appeal to my rational mind. Do you know of any Xingyi teachers in [my area]?
A: Thank you for interesting and excellent 'trigger' question, offering this meat for me to riff on what might be a surprising answer. But the preface is that of course everybody should learn everything about anything, learn as much as we can in our very brief possession of a human body. So I hope you won't be freaked out by my possibly surprising answer about starting up a Xingyi training program. This is NOT 'the' answer, this is 'my' (weirdo) answer.
First of all, there are many great Xingyi teachers everywhere now. Unlike when I began the art there are fine teachers in every major USA metro area, no problem with searching those out. But here's the thing: clarify your goals before beginning any such program. Once you find a teacher and a school you'll be drawn into their program (NOT a bad thing, but stick with me here). You'll be interacting with the teacher, you'll meet your new classmates, you'll go to a studio of some kind, there'll be weapons on the wall, maybe a uniform or at least a t-shirt :)
You'll start to learn lots of new stances, movements, drill, techniques, two-man patterns, maybe use some kind of equipment like pads or bags or mitts or dummies could be almost anything these days. You'll learn Five Fists and Twelve (or more!) Animals and also linking forms, maybe warmups and stretching or supplemental conditioning calisthenics, probably some additional Qi Gong and breathwork will be thrown into the mix. You'll also be making friends, getting together after class, maybe organizing demonstrations for events or helping your teacher make videos, etc.
There is totally absolutely nothing wrong with all the above! In fact, it's good. The more learning the better. The only reason I'm making a thing out of this is to ask you to clarify your goals before beginning. Because you have asked me me me this question, coming from your interest my stuff.
I will tell you straight out that virtually no professional teacher of Xingyi (or Tai Chi for that matter) will talk about the arts the way that I do. Of course nobody is ever identical to anybody else and that's fine, but I'm making a practical point here, which is that you need to decide what your real interest is. My stuff is 1000% energy-centric. It seems like a subtle or maybe meaningless distinction, because after all, every teacher will mention the qi or internal power and kind of imply that it's out there somewhere or as we say in Ashtanga yoga "Practice and All is Coming". But it's vague and distant. You aren't quite ready to think about such things yet, Grasshopper - that's the unspoken vibe.
I repeat there's nothing at all wrong with that! Every teacher should do things his own way, that is their right and their responsibility. I am NOT trying by this post to gouge anybody's income or slam down their school. I wish everybody the best. But again, you have asked me. So here's the thing: all that above great stuff that I listed as what you'll be learning in your new Xingyi school is a distraction.
I keep my eyes on the prize at all times. This is going to vary with every individual. My goal is the universal energy and power. Nothing else. I care nothing, zero, zip, nada about any style or art or culture or practice. The conventional shapes the training takes mean absolutely totally less than zero to me. I pick up only the bare minimum of what I, after extensive experimentation with deep learning of dozens of arts and styles and teachers, bring on the juice. Nothing else means anything to me.
That of course does necessarily apply to you! So that's why I said you need to clarify your training goals. If you ask my absolutely unvarnished opinion, then I say that unless the reincarnation of Li Luoneng is offering private lessons in your area, then you should train on your own to the point of at least beginning to seriously feel the power in the ways I have described, using the extremely simple straight-forward practices I have provided in books and films.
I know that sounds so freaking arrogant and narrow and proprietary and everything. All the bad qualities that I constantly rave against. But again, you have asked me and this is my answer. The reason I say it is not because other programs offer too little. It's because they offer too much. There is basically no other teacher available to you who will talk about the energy as I do. It doesn't make me the best fighter or performer or Xingyi wizard, not by a long shot. But it does means that my stuff focuses you on yourself. On your own experience rather than outward to the art or some shape or movement or culture coming from outside. My stuff is radically internal to the bone in the deep sense of working with the sole and entire goal of getting you to feel, control and intensify your own power, within yourself.
Once you've at least begun to run the juice, on your own, in yourself, for yourself - then you will be in the best position to put your head up and put out your antenna and decide what kind of additional training program can help you to use, shape and direct this incredible energy toward your own specific application goal. Such application goal could be virtually anything, such as combative work of a huge variety of purposes, or healing self or others, or esoteric exploration of the higher non-physical realms, arts of motion or visual creativity such as calligraphy and painting, or just soaking in this amazing power like your own personal portable hot tub. Anything is possible.
But why cramp, and hobble yourself at the starting gate? As I said, every teacher will make some vague noises about Qi, but no other teacher is going to throw you back onto your own self, your own experience, your own reactions and perceptions, as my stuff does. That's just baked into the reality of present day life, their systems are and must be Procrustean Beds, in that they are forced by external pressures to work with the goal of conforming you to their system rather than nourishing and bringing out your own power to shine. It's not that they are 'evil' in any way, but the structure of our current economy and society makes it so. And the good news is: that's not bad at all. It's wonderful to have such a vast and colorful variety of training options.
All I'm saying here is two things:
(1) Clarify your actual goals. If you are primarily interested in the internal power, if you're ready to be truly energy centric at least for the moment, then see (2) below.
(2) Put off joining any Xingyi group or teacher or school just for now - until you have truly begun to experience the power from the very simple and focused drills, based on the simple energy model, that I have provided. Once you've at least gotten a taste of that you'll be in a far better position to choose a 'real' teacher, school, or program for yourself. Maybe not even Xingyi, maybe something totally different, or maybe a return to your prior system or program but seeing it with totally new eyes.
It's like somebody who has no actual operational experience of math, but the person hears about "calculus" and that just sounds cool to the ears, doesn't it? Calculus... such a power word. So the person gets all excited to learn "calculus". But what you realize later is that in practice, calculus operations are just 99% doing algebra. If you have no operational experience and proficiency with algebra, it's totally meaningless to think about calculus. The calculus is a particular application of algebra, it's a kind of organizing principle or coherent framework for thinking about certain kinds of problems and applying algebra to them in a creative way. But it's meaningless to try to get into calculus without having the power of algebra at your fingertips.
Most so-called internal martial arts training can be compared to a calculus teacher who, teaching a roomful of beginner students with no training at all in algebra, trig, or analytic geometry, might mention algebra once or twice in the introductory lecture, but the class time was actually filled with having you copy over and over and over the symbols for differentiation and integration and copying the fundamental theorem of the calculus over and over again and you never understand what the power is that animates the operations - that makes them come alive.
In the same way, it's meaningless to learn a big deal "style" of practice without having at least some command of the power. Though the style itself is usually advertised as being the means of developing that power in the first place, in practice it just doesn't work that way any more. Not because there's too little training offered but because there's too much offered. It's all just a big distraction, done for other purposes.
Li Luneng trained with the Dai brothers for years, practicing just a couple moves before they finally taught him the "full" art. At that point it wouldn't have mattered, as he got the essence from the initial bare bones work.
Frankly the very last or worst effect I would wish my books to have is to inspire a reader to jump right into any training program, before they have tasted the power for themselves and in themselves. Any conventional training program is working to produce something like this, through hobbling and forcing and clipping and binding:
When you understand and work the power in yourself, for yourself, it's more like this:
Some guidance but a whole different spirit.
There is nothing super magic in Xingyi per se, as a system. My energy model and principles are just using the drills and movements as a tempoary expedient vehicle. All conventional structure, any fixed pattern, is a limitation. I have quoted Ramana Maharish many times in my books: Walking in the jungle, if you get a thorn in your heel, you use another thorn to dig it out - then throw both away.
The spirit and purpose of my training is beautifully stated in the quote from Xingyi supermaster Zhe Yizhai, which can be read as the header panel in my Facebook group here.
That's all any particular style or pattern can ever be. Water has no prescribed shape, only certain aspects of its nature that enable it to do cool things. Be water.
Posted at 09:16 AM | Permalink
Below is one of the best student descriptions of a good level of intermediate attainment of the practices and energetic results I've been writing about in my books. This man has been a long-time veteran student of both Tai Chi and Xing Yi, with several other teachers for some decades, and a hardcore fighter type also. By his report, he had no experience or understanding of internal power in my sense before happening onto my book Juice and subsequently taking some in-person training with me. This is his recent report. 'DT', in his way of writing, is dantian (丹田).
Posted at 11:04 PM | Permalink
I wrote earlier about Continuous Cestus Combustion. That's when you can consciously turn on the entire cestus area of both arms, which extends from (and includes) the inner elbow, full forearm, inner wrist, palm heels and backs of hands, hands, knuckles, fingers, fingertips. Everything from elbow to fingertips is LIT UP and PACKED OUT with internal power.
Internally you should feel kind of like this (no physical tension though please!!):
Your cestus should feel literally electrified, packed full with a radioactive plutonium charge.
I know there's a lot of misunderstanding about this, because most people (no matter if they've been teaching Tai Chi for 25 years or if they are Aikido yuudansha or whatever) simply do not feel it. Thus it cannot be understood. So my description above will be taken (on the high end) as some kind of metaphor or image or philosophy or concept - or else, on the low end, as a muddled semblance of an attempt to describe a purely phyiological something or other.
Often somehow at this point "blood" gets dragged onto the table as a red herring. Nope, not blood, the light up of the real internal power is like 10x or 100x faster than any blood pressure and/or circulation reaction. Besides what would having a little extra blood in your hands do for the great ancient fighting masters? Not that I stress combative applications, but the methods in my books are derived from combative regimens of the masters.
But even though most will not have the slightest idea what I'm really talking about here, I know from personal correspondence that there are something like a baker's dozen out there who have somehow worked through enough of the drills to actually begin to experience this Continuous Cestus Combustion tangibly. Those are the ones I'm talking to here, everybody else should stop reading now so you don't get all irritated and befuddled and offended and get your dander up. That wouldn't be good for your blood pressure.
I'm not going to repeat all the drills that get you to that point. For that either get my books or if you are all horrified at my SEO/shilling, read prior blog posts and check my free Youtube channel. What I'm talking about today is a way to intensify your practice, a way the goes beyond or maybe I should say goes "around" the drills or forms or standing or whatever you do in your internal practice sessions.
Think of a typical practice session. Maybe you do some joint rotations or shakeouts, something not really "internal", then maybe you do the Cat Step Shiko or the Constant Bear or the Inner Activation Santishi or maybe all of those and more. Then maybe you do other drills, like staff or technique stuff like Xingyi 5/12. Then maybe you do a Tai Chi form hopefully ZMQ37 but whatever. So in other words, you have a "practice" that you typically do, maybe anywhere from 30 mins to an hour or more per session. If the details above don't fit you that doesn't matter you get the idea. You have a certain time and place blocked out for this general kind of work.
So here's the thing, at the very beginning of the session, no actually before the beginning of the session, just before you even enter the practice space, I want you to TURN ON the Continuous Cestus Combustion. This may be hard for many of you because even if you've experienced it a few times, you may be thinking of it more as the final output of a session more than the starting condition. But try. If you cannot do that right at the start, then these posts are just too advanced for you, forget this for now and continue as you have been. But if you try and you find: Whoa! You are able to light it up! Then good, you can continue reading here.
So you light up the whole area from inner elbow to fingertips, sparking this very specific, tangible and unmistakable condition there. Now, let's consider your overall session. The meat of the session may be your actual performance of whatever drills, standing, technique(s), form(s), etc. But "in between" those "serious" actions, you have to move around a little, right? Like, you walk over to turn on the light, reach out to the switch. Or you move a towel from a chair to a table. You pick up a stick, staff or sword. You put down or move a stick, staff or sword. You might change clothes or shoes at some point.
The key thing is, for every single action you take, using either hand or both hands together, you consciously maintain the C3 stage in your cestus (everything from elbows to fingertips, all inclusive). Hold that charge, keep the combustion perking, even while you tie your shoes or anything else with your arms, hands or fingers. Yes, you mind will need to partly focus on the activity you are performing. That's why this is good training because despite that you must somehow keep the current, the charge, alive. This training is like the mortar between the bricks of your warmup, drills, technique, or forms in a session.
Activities may include (but NOT limited to) things like these:
The above is just the tiniest sampling of the possibilities. And obviously, the above are things you may do throughout your day anyway, even when not engaged in a training session. So clearly you can at some point begin to generalize into the common cliche of "training in daily life". But please be a little thoughtful as you begin to generalize.
I say that because everywhere you look these days, the terms "mindfulness" and "awareness" pop in your face as big fat profitable cliches. There are whole sections of bookstores and online lists and blogs and just no end of vague amorphous blather on this topic. I don't know how to say this strongly enough, and I know it won't be strong enough to counter the wave of mindfulness sludge, but anyway here goes: I am not talking about 'mindfulness' in the "bestseller list" sense. Make no mistake. I am talking here about a very specific energetic condition and phenomenon. Of course, you need some degree of awareness and concentration on what you're doing to achieve and maintain that condition (the Continuous Cestus Combustion), but it's not a cultic zombie thing like the Zen retreats where I've seen people all stoned out on making awareness every step or living each breath or whatever goop. THIS IS NOT THAT.
There's also a related fashionable thing these days, what we might call physicalized mindfulness training. This emphasis has crept into many systems via the influence of Yi Quan, where they want you to mentally track every little change in your position and condition, every little twitch or tremor, as you stand or move, every little muscle entrainment or release, every mental touch on a nerve fiber.
This of course sounds very cool and attractive but I'm sorry to tell you that what I'm talking about here isn't this either. Most people doing this kind of work still haven't experienced the actual power because not matter how subtle and sophisticated, it's still physically focused. And, how many times do I gotta say it, the internal power though associated with the body isn't really physical, even in the above sophisticated sense. Furthermore, this kind of physicalized micro-awareness protocol is really more like the bricks than the mortar, in the sense that if done right it requires your full mental and physical engagement. But the work I'm talking about here. "Holding the charge" of Continuous Cestus Combustion is more like turning on the ignition in your car (and of course noticing and re-starting if the engine dies).
You spark it up with just a mental touch on your inner elbow, inner wrist, maybe a brief mental brush on your palms and a very slight/light finger extension. Then BLAMMO it lights up. It's not such a mental big hairy deal as the full physicalized micro-awareness protocols, and anyway it's a totally different, very specific and very tangible phenomenon.
Yes, some focus is needed, but some minimal focus is needed to drive or do anything. Nobody makes an all-absorbing cultic philosophy around driving as a spiritual practice (no jokes please). It's just a specific thing that you do. It is specific, tangible, real and clear. This CCC thing is the same. If you haven't got the ability to engage this way yet, don't jump the gun and assume I'm talking about the general cult of mindfulness. I am not.
On a practical level, it is true that you will probably need to move a bit slower than normal as you do things from the list above in your training session, just to keep the charge. There is after all a mental component to this. But at the same time, your mind is also a little bit engaged in the task itself. Learn to hold that charge no matter what. And don't worry too much about the rest of your daily life until you're able to do what's described in this post. This is a little hothouse test thing. It will get you ready for wider scope later, but for now there's no need to go around all zoned out trying to do this consciously all the time. It will be amazing and gonzo enough simply to realize the reality of this, even within the limited confines of your training session.
Now, another question that may come up for you: why cestus (forearms and hands) engagement, specifically? What about the rest of your body? After all, if we think in combative application terms, then any body part should be good and useful for whacking the enemy: shoulders, head, chest, hips, knees, feet - anything goes in a fight right? That's true, but this is more like background training, we are training the energy attribute. And the key feature of the ARC (Accumulate, Rebound, Catch) energy architecture of the human body is that the cestus area is the terminus. Of course not really the final terminus because the power flows in circulation. But the hands are the final and farthest extent, then it turns around. So here's the key point: if you can keep the charge in your cestus (forearms and hands) at some stage you'll realize that your entire energy body is engaged in feeding or supplying that farthest terminus.
So the reason this practice focuses on the hands is not necessarily that we prefer to whack people with our hands, but because it is the way to guarantee that all points on the energy track feeding up to the hands are all clear. This practice calls the power up and out from your dantian and feet and routes it through everything into that last segment. This this work has more bang for buck than focusing on other parts. Of course in your more formal training you can work the energy into and through any area, as described in many sections of my books.
Anyway if you are able to generate the charge I'm talking about, try this at least a little bit next session. If like most readers you are not yet able to generate (much less sustain) the charge, don't fret it just keep on with the basic drills.
Posted at 05:31 PM | Permalink
Draupadi, we are now on the wheel of life that turns and turns, we wander forever from one birth to another. Here we are kings, there we live out all our life as an insect on the tip of a blade of grass. But we always live. Nothing can stop that wheel. Nothing and no one can take that life from us, whatever happens.
Posted at 01:50 PM | Permalink
Please bear with me as I flog the horse of internal long staff drilling just one more time. I have written about using the Yi Quan long staff drills for pure internal energy centric work many times. I do understand that for most readers, these drills simply are not practical either due to equipment and space issues or just because they assume it's too hard to learn the mechanics from a book, film, or blog post. I very much understand that reaction, in fact it's probably correct.
And yet just for the record, I need to make sure I've made every effort to convey the coolness of it. Again I understand that another weird feature of my harping on this is the particular (simple) long staff drill set used comes from the hard-ass branch of Yi Quan, which at least in my own Yi Quan teacher's presentation views the entire topic of traditional internal energy concept as a complete fraud and waste of time. Yet I have extracted this one thing from their vast. self-consistent and comprehensive art, and re-purposed it as a delivery vehicle for my own model.
In fact, I have my own separate authentic Xing Yi staff work from my teacher, which fully develops and applies the exact internal concept that I have been talking about all along and which now, in this post, I will call Continuous Cestus Combustion (C3). But since even the bare bones, baby-simple Yi Quan staff work is too much for most people, I estimate that, a fortiori, the chance of anybody even attempting, much less achieving liftoff, on the real Xing Yi staff drills and techniques is vanishingly small, not gonna happen.
But the good thing is that you can achieve 80% of the same cool result using the kind of dumbed-down (I mean that in the nicest way :) Yi Quan version of long staff. But Caveat Emptor - I am not in any way claiming that any Yi Quan teacher alive has this interpretation, understanding or experience of their own staff work. This is my leveraging over of real Xing Yi deep internals to a simpler more apporachable practice framework and nothing more. There is no Yi Quan master anywhere who's going to talk to you about this C3 thing so don't bother asking them. As always if you are interested in the actual art of Yi Quan for it's own sake, please google the topic, you'll find you have dozens of great books and videos to choose from, plus a plethora of traveling seminar teacher events all over the USA and Europe, not to mention dozens or perhaps hundreds of schools teaching the full art all over China, where you can arrange a period of in-depth residential study. However, none of that has the slightest relevance for the work discussed in this post. If you have trouble understanding this point PLEASE LEAVE NOW.
Since I've written about this so many times, I don't want to have to go over the basic mechanics of the movements yet again. I have written this up in detail in my book PACKING SUPERCHARGE YOUR HANDS. Please pick up a copy. Or if you are one of my many haters who for whatever mysterious reason(s) nevertheless reads this blog, and you're mentally screeching to yourself right now about "shill!" and "SEO!" and all those tedious accusations, I say unto you: Do NOT buy the above book, for you can get the full mechanics also from my free article here:
And/or the free video tutorial here:
OK? Are we good on the mechanics? Great because I want to devote this post to an advanced aspect of this which is implicit in all the above materials, but which doesn't become fully relevant til you've gone pretty deeply into the ARC internal experience, which I feel a few baker's dozen of readers here has begun to do.
So you know how to hold the staff correctly, and you know the four dimensions of movement (up/down, in/out, side-to-side, and rotation), you know the major/minor technique model that gives you a primary emphasis and three subsidiary emphases on each technique, you know the legwork and stance changes, etc. You know it all.
Now here's the thing: for a long time, no matter how relaxed you try to be, concentrating, doing everything right, you may not feel much from this work. But if you've been doing the other, foundational work from all the books for triggering, intensifying, and controlling the ARC waves, flows, and states then at some point you'll begin to understand that as you very slowly move the staff in the mechanical way taught (above) that the internal power is building, concentrating, humming and buzzing in both your forearms as you move through the range (out and back) on each rep.
Then at the end of each technique's range (on both extending and retracting) the power will feel particularly intense and will buzz right through your hands in to the staff. This can be felt at first if you pause very briefly at the end point of each motion (extension and retraction both). During that very brief pause, you'll feel the gigantic surge from your forearms through your hands and into the staff. This assumes your entire upper body is relaxed enough, which I constantly harp on but I don't think anybody really takes very seriously, especially when they got a real weapon in hand! Be that as it may, you are only blocking yourself by tensing up your arms and hands in this. Hold the staff as you might hold a multi-million dollar Faberge Easter Egg if the curator of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg gave you one to hold above a concrete floor. That is: you must not drop it but also you must not damage it in the slightest with the slightest excess pressure.
BTW nothing in this post is even remotely related to the goofy-ass pole-shaking and tip-waggling thing. Yeah. Yeah that's a thing. Nothing to do with this. If you fiddle with that at this stage you're just reinforcing in body and mind the same old stupid physical tension and force paradigm.
Anyway, the forearms activation thing: it may start very faint and sporadic, or occur only at certain points or endpoints of the range of motion and not in other phases of the strikes. All kinds of variation at first. But over time you'll realize that the forearms are so 'full' that you can MAINTAIN THE CHARGE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE RANGE OF MOTION. Yes even at the endpoints, do NOT fully discharge it (so that you'd need to re-amp it from below again), just MAINTAIN THE CHARGE fully and continuously no matter how many reps you do. At first (if you can even get to the point of understanding what I mean by the forearm charge) you will feel the power 'break' off after maybe a rep or two but over time you can extend the charge longer and longer.
It's as though your forearms act as a propane tank on a welding gun, continuously supplying the fuel to your hands, and the staff, regardless of the position and orientation of target or flame.
For those who have watched my Vimeo tutorial on the 12 classical Xingyi Animals, you'll recognize this concept which is emphasized there. However, this stuff work is (possibly) the simplest and most direct way for at least some people to get a taste of what I'm really talking about, not just words and philosophy, after which it can be carried over to the Animals, to all of Xingyi and to Tai Chi.
This is really a fantastic internal training method, because from this you can begin to understand the classical training adage: 內外相合 meaning to harmonize internal and external. Most people's understanding of this line, at least most modern hip teachers, seem to take it as meaning that we need to somehow blend relaxation with tension. Use tension and structure as needed for practical purposes. Basically it's treated as a free license to use physical force as needed/desire, a Get Out of Jail card to discard the internal (which is secretly felt to be weak and ineffective).
But there is a deeper interpretation of this line. For purpose of this post, what it really means is that no matter what you hands and harms are doing with the staff mechanics (and those motions are all relaxed, so already departing from the standard interpretation of the teaching summarized just above) nevertheless your forearms, inner wrist point, palms and fingers are maintaining the charge at all times.
So harmonizing internal and external does not mean judicious use of physical strength when required, it means that no matter what (relaxed!) physical motions you are performing, you never lose the cestus charge.
I will call the experience of having your forearms continuously fully charged throughout entire range of motion with no breaks Continuous Cestus Combustion. May sound goofy to you now but when you experience it I doubt you'll come up with any better name for it.
Posted at 08:05 PM | Permalink
[UPDATED 1:10 PM PST Re-read toward bottom half for more drill explanation]
I have gotten a bunch of questions from people who are kind of intrigued by the whole internal power ARC thing as presented in the books. But they say they have trouble feeling the dantian, like what's up with the dantian. Lots of those questions. People don't feel it yet.
First of all, just to clarify terms, there are two ways the term dantian is used in these kinds of discussions. I'm not going to get into the actual Chinese etymology because that's abstract. Look that up on your own, I'm a practical guy and I care only about the actual energetic experience. That's all I want to convey. So I'm not going to blather the various textual definitions of the Chinese term that any blogger will spout to you. I just want to point out that in practical, experiential terms, dantian can refer to two distinct but related phenomena.
First it is sometimes used to refer to the power locus and storage battery constituted by the entire hip, waist, lower abdominal, and pelvic bones assembly. This is a valid way of thinking in the sense that eventually that entire area (including the base perienal zone called muladhara in yoga) bones, tissues, guts - everything - will light up like radioactive Vegas strip signage. Quite amazing. Nothing abstract about it. Then you can Rebound it off the feet, re-fill the dantian on the way back up, blast it through your upper body, and Catch it in your hands. So dantian is sometimes used in reference to that macro zone of origination and activation, which might also be covered by the traditional term 氣海 or even just 腰. In this sense, the ARC can be slightly tweaked as: Activate, Rebound, Catch.
Note that, much as you might like to interpret this as some kind of mechanical/structural leverage thing, it has nothing to do with any physical kinetics like that, this activation is a purely energetic phenomena, not be confused with the common athletic advice to 'move from your hips' or 'put your hips (waist) into it' )
But this term dantian is also sometimes used more in the sense of a particular small-ish point within the macro 'dantian' zone as defined above. This is also valid and important, just very slightly confusing if you haven't learned to actually experience and intensity these things for yourself, if you're still just reading and researching. So that sense (again I am not going into all the actual historical, cultural, medical, etymological and philosophical goop surrounding this term dantian, OK? Don't waste keystrokes trying to ding me on that, I know classical Chinese probably a lot better than you do, but I am writing here for my people who care about personal reality and experience on the ground, not empty egghead bantering.) This what I will call 'narrow' sense of the usage of term dantian refers to a particular small point that might be called a 穴脈 roughly in the sense of an energetic node, acupuncture point, or chakra. This is also an available real-world experience, related to, but not the same as, the full-pelvis lightup thing described in the macro dantian paragraph above.
The two senses of dantian covered here are related in experiential and energetic terms. The more you can learn to mentally isolate, engage, and anneal the narrow dantian 'point', the more power will begin to permeate entire macro dantian 'zone' as described. (It also works vice versa but this post is long enough as it is. I'm basically giving away free books or book chapters in these blog essays).
The macro pelvic light up thing will be developed by your working on the inner-activated Santishi, the Cat Step shiko A & B, the Repulse Monkey, and other things covered in book: The Aiki Singularity.
So in this post, the question I'm focusing on for now is: how to learn to identify, sense, engage and activate the narrow spot of dantian, micro zone version, as a point?
Basically people love physicality. Even in yoga people want to do reverse breathing, nauli suckup the belly, breath of fire, vayu siddhi - people want to work mechanically at all times. There can be validity to that but for God's sake, don't be so crude about it. The internal power is humongous but it starts very small and delicate, like a tiny dinky-ass redwood sprout that grows to the size of a blue whale. Can you understand that? The work begins with some delicacy and politesse, not the rough, physical, forceful, mechanical breath and muscle focused stuff. You have to work gently, with precision and delicacy at first. Oh well probably my saying all this is just pissing into the wind. I'll just get on with it, there's little hope anybody will really get the point anyway.
Look at this illustration from my book SURGE Radical ZMQ Energetics:
If the basketball is your lower abdomen/belly, then a bit below navel (air jack in pic) where inward curve begins, where the dime is taped - the dime is your dantian. Normally it's also described as being "inside" the abdomen a few inches and that's fine for later but for this post, think of it as depicted above.
So anyway, all this has been preface to saying, the best way to begin to sense and identify the narrow dantian source is through the simple drill from my Xingyi teacher, taught in the video above. Basically the pole is braced lightly right at the "dime" and you have to keep the pole in place, don't let it slip away at all, yet at the same time you are continually trying to "get away" from the pole, to make the contact as absolutely light as possible. It's another of those internal training paradoxes, where the power line is the razor's edge between two contradictory goals.
This will exponentially heighten your awareness, and thus ignition, of the dantian. You have to work within yourself. I know 99% of you will be turned off that it's just too simple for you, isn't it? No water-wheel Daoist fairy maidens bathing your kidney meridians with mercury elixir on the fifth full moon or whatever the fuck. Sorry. But this is the way to work, in the beginning. Once you learn to sense and control and activate, ignite and engage the point, a new world will open up to your practice.
Posted at 10:20 AM | Permalink
I recently wrote about High End Snake for upgrade of Xing Yi experience. Honestly I'm not sure if many of my readers here are really ready to grok that, not meaning to disparage anybody but if you are not yet able to instantly generate, extend, and maintain the full ARC flow on mental command, this High Intensity Snake Strike (HISS) thing might be still slightly above pay grade. No problem just keep working the basics.
I actually wrote that originally as private email targeted to one of my students in San Francisco Chinatown school and he is very well-situated to get into it. But as I wrote I thought what the hell maybe it's of some general interest if nothing else as a negative example of how the truly fascinating advanced stuff is often too tedious or simple to attract the mind. As Siddhartha Gautama said "the eyes hunger for color, the ears hunger for sound" meaning that in our childish orientation, boring stuff just doesn't turn us on. As Shakespeare wrote:
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted
IOW we ain't all that deep.
But anyway, I thought I'd just quickly respond to all the inquiry mails in bulk with the following simple points, which are just repeating and summarizing the original post:
Posted at 08:11 PM | Permalink
I get up to 100 pieces of email from blog and book readers per day so please never assume anything here is "about you" unless I specifically cite you by name. Don't be conceited like the cute Carly Simon song:
You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you. Don't you? Don't you?
LOL. Anyway, I got an interesting email from a very nice reader today asking a very charming and touching question. It seems his dentist has advised that two diseased teeth must be immediately removed, and he's concerned that teeth in general may be acting beneficially in his recent internal power development, perhaps teeth are some sort of assistive "antenna" in the work?
So interesting! He's read my stuff carefully because he prefaced his question as below:
I feel that those people who believe that the energy has to flow through certain tissues are wrong. But I still wonder if the energy might get stronger through the antenna [formed by the teeth].
As they say, the only dumb question is the one that is never asked. I'm actually glad to get this because it's a chance to once again reinforce my Prime Directive which is that this energy is inherently non-physical. So I wrote that back to him, but that seemed a bit dry and I wanted to make the point more forceful so I reminded him as follows:
Please do not be concerned at all. Remember that one of the greatest of all internal masters, Sokaku Takeda, had NO TEETH AT ALL. They had all been knocked out by an enemy spear attack in his youth. So please take care of your dental needs appropriately without the slightest concern.
[PS: For those of you who hate me and think I'm such a faker and a villain &c&c (yes I get a lot of those too), you can verify this fact for yourself in any Japanese book about Takeda, please refer to the comprehensive bibliography included in my latest voume: The Aiki Singularity]
Posted at 07:26 PM | Permalink
Somebody asked me why I took down my recent anti-war post 'Only the Dead'. It's because I was concern-trolled by some random smart-ass guy who claimed I am "anti-Chinese".
What a joke. I repeatedly said I was not playing the blame game and the point of the post was that ALL humans are mad (witness my own cantankerous interaction with said smart-ass guy!) and that the CCP in China probably will at some point feel itself intolerably provoked by the USA (their own generals have repeatedly said so) and launch a pre-emptive strike. If not them, then Russia or whoever, or the USA will do so on its own.
But anyway, though I loathe concern trolls like that smart-ass guy, he made a possibly sensible point. I am not anti- or pro- any racial or cultural group and don't want to appear as though I am. So I took it down. Yay he won!
If this guy starts spreading stuff about me on the net, please refer to this post. It's not much less stupid than him saying that because I wrote about the Kurkshetra War in my novel Nagendra that therefore I'm saying Indians are bloodthirsty maniacs. Truly I give up on the human race, I'm just running out the clock down here.
It's not any one race, country or culture that is insane with war lust. It is HUMANITY AS A WHOLE. I thought that point was clear but this smartass guy's personal/cultural chauvinism was so thick he could not take that idea on board. I notice my reference to the manga Barefoot Gen, which horrifically details the monstrous effects of the Hiroshima nuke on women and children, did not trigger this guy's chauvinistic sensibilities in the least. No complaint about me being "anti USA" in referring to that book. Nor the least squeak or squawk about my listing of the Smedley Butler article which is all about USA depredation of Central America, nor the Chris Heges book which is half at least deploring the Vietnam War. Guess the guy's not very well read.
The guy was totally unaware of the Thucydides Trap which does not take any sides in the conflicts analyzed.
But, in my spirit of (grudging!) fairness, I took his point on board thus I have deleted the post. I have repeatedly spoken out forcefully about USA aggression, our invasion and decimation of South Vietnam and Iraq, that 9/11 was an obvious inside job, etc. All this kind of post ever brings me is grief and garbage in response.
If these concern trolls could read, they would have noticed my main point was the William Blake poem "Lullaby" where is says:
Who can answer at the thone of God?
Kings and the nobles of the land have done it!
Nothing about China. Even if they can't read, they should have watched the video.
Posted at 01:52 PM | Permalink