INTERNAL POWER - FEET to HANDS
Tai Chi Single Leg Operations (SLO)
Training Video (2 hours; $12.95)
In my book PENG, I presented the Zhang Zhuang energy method, based on the Zheng/Lo Tai Chi poses (seven examples included in that book but any of the 37 work fine with it). That covered the most basis and physical obvious stage of the exercise, where you 'slump' your upper body, including arms and hands, then 'reactivate' everything back to the correct upright version of the pose. I pointed out that there are degrees of slump, from 20% down from the upright original to very subtle physical diminution of 5% or 1% or less, to the point that it's barely perceptible visually. As you rise and reactivate physically, the internal surge goes right along with that, and fills you up inside. An incredible, ground-breaking innovation for internal training if I do say so myself.
In my book SURGE, I presented the next, more advanced variation of the above, which I called Zhang Zhuang Pinned (ZZP). This is similar to Stage 1 above. The difference is in how you handle the arms. In Stage 1, the arms are losing their definition and proper shape, right along with the slump of the rest of the upper body. Then you refill everything as above. In Stage 2, a bit more subtle, need to learn to 'slump' your upper body minus your arms. I know it sound weird and difficult so most of you haven't even tried it. But it's an extremely powerful practice, if you want to let your conventions of propriety in Tai Chi hamstring you it's your business, but this is a rocket blast of a practice. It does take a few days of work to get the knack, as it can be a little hard to separate the two aspects: how to slump the major part of the upper body: abdomen, chest, neck, head, even shoulders just a little, yet at the same time maintain the full and correct arm shape only. It may help if you imagine a teacher or partner is actually holding and supporting your arms in place, as was shown in the Relaxation Protocol of the Peng book (another amazing innovation that nobody understands or has picked up on but that's ok :) Anyway, this Stage 2 is even more powerful and amazing than the basic.
In more recent blog posts, I've gone written up the next step, which I call Greaves Sequestration (I also now refer to the overall Zhang Zhuang suite of exercises as the PileDriver - macho marketing device!). This is even more subtle and difficult to catch the knack of yet even more powerful in the long run. I've written this up in exhaustive detail elsewhere so I don't think I should have to repeat it here. Basically it involves mind work of focusing on your feet and lower legs as you rise in the PileDriver exercise (any pose but 70/30's in general are best for this). I realize that 1% or less of readers here can even begin to approach it. Not that it's all that difficult that you have to be genius or something, none of this stuff is like that. But everybody is schackled by inertia, distractions, skepticism, irrelevant assumptions about me or my personality - all kinds of self-generated crap like that which blocks you from working with this stuff. I know it because to really even begin to get the full charge from the PileDriver work you need a good, decent, correct 70-30 mechanics in the stance. I teach that in detail on my long Vimeo movie (top of this post, sticky banner). But of my 625 or so YouTube subscribers, only 70 have stepped up to get that, so it's around 10% who even have a chance to work with this. But of those 70 I wonder how many actually work with it. I don't blame them though, because it's a vicious circle - you can't get motivated to you feel how incredible this stuff is, yet you can't feel it til practice it a fair (not extreme) amount but to do that you need to be motivated... arrrrrgh! So anyway I figure only 1% or fewer have the remotest idea what I'm talking about at this point in this post.
Despite what I just wrote, I'm going to continue and post up Stage 4. Reason being that from just a touch of I guess ego, if there are still people 100 years later or in the 22nd or 23rd century, and if they still have bodies, somebody bright is finally going to really notice how amazing this work is, from some old copy of SURGE they find in the Free Clearance bin of the local used bookshop and then, finally, some bright person with the advantage of another 200 years perspective is going to say HOLY FUCK! This guy's stuff was THE SHIT all along! I live in anticipation of that day. Now of course most of you will read that and think Oh there it is again, so full of himself. But it's not really that way. My writing seems arrogant but that's just stylistic. In person not so much. This energy doesn't belong to anybody, nobody has any special claim on it. It's just a matter of, as I say in the Singularity film, understanding some basics of Grounding, Relaxation, Extension, and Mind. Anybody can play with it, and I'm sure many of you all could do a lot more with it than I ever will. Only difference is that your bodies are a little too tense, and your minds are a little more shackled. But I'm well aware that many of you have energy and martial arts, healing whatever potential FAR beyond me. You just need a kick in the ass to get past your inertia and mental laziness, work on it the right way.
So, finally, I reach the point of today's post which is just the little added bit for Stage 4 of PileDriver. But I'm warning you, if you haven't worked extensively with Stage 3 (Greaves Sequestration) and really, really felt it's power in your bones and learned how to perceive and separate the physical vs the mental vs the energetic angles of it, this will mean absolutely nothing. Worse than nothing, focusing on this now will just fuck up your basic PileDriver and delay you overall because you'll be doing it wrong, over focusing on the wrong things and generally tensing up. It's not that it's really so hard, if people would just bring the same degree of time and thought and work to this that they would to any ordinary thing like roller skating or break dancing they could easily do it. But everybody is mentally hamstrung, I understand. More's the pity.
Anyway what you do is, SAME as the GS work of Stage 3, except at the very end of the physical rise, while your mind is down in the feet and lower legs still, and the energy has risen past that, but not through any effort of yours, just the effect of the GS drill, your arms are totally PINNED in place, as you reach the end of the physical reactivation - mentally extend your fingertips.
Yes I said finger tips, just that very very last small section of each finger, past the last joint, where your fingerprints are. You just mentally and very very slightly physically (PLEASE don't go nuts on me and make this into yet another excuse for theatrical tension, just please... don't do that to me!) you have just a feeling of your fingertips only - as though they are separate from all the rest of your hands and your body, which stays rooted at the soles of your feet- only the fingertips are expanding. It's like the last joint of a tripod leg. Suppose you've extend all the other joints in that tripod leg, and you have only the very last tiny tip left to do. You don't need to pull on the entire tripod leg, you can just extend that last remaining piece without affecting or touching the remainder of that tripod leg in any way. A very subtle thing here! Your mind and energy remain totally rooted at the soles of your feet. Only your last finger joints are involved, learn to segregate physically in order to re-integrate at a higher level.
In a way it harks back to the most Basic PileDriver/Zhang Zhuang, except that instead of the macro/gross movement of reactivation, you refine it down to just your last finger joints. If you've seen how I teach the formation stages of Fair Lady's Hand (on the Singularity film), then you'll recognize that the hand reactivation part of this is a more refined version of the 3 movement of the FLH formation protocol shown there.
Anyway, it's only like 10% of your mind, at most, doing this fingertip work, while 90% of your mind and 100% of your physical feeling remains totally rooted, sunk solid into your feet. That's the slightly weird above and below feeling you need to learn. That is the full ARC. Of course, the PileDriver too, in any of its forms, it just another boat that you'll leave on the shore. When you have the full ARC running it will run continuously, won't matter whether you're doing Zhan Zhuang, or the full continuous form, or standing in line at the bank, or asleep. Or dead for that matter. It will always be running.
Oh well. I know what's going to happen. Even the best-intentioned people will jump on this and start jamming out their fingers like its some kind of iron sand or eagle claw exercise or something, tensing and reaching with their whole arm, breaking the energy connection with the soles of the feet, and missing the entire point. What can I do? This stuff isn't all that difficult and the resulting rush isn't at all subtle, but communicating the initial method seems to require a delicacy of pedagogical touch that I guess I just totally lack. Anyway, I'm documenting it here so when I'm dead and gone in a year, a month, a day the record will stand!
I can guarantee that 99.9% of you have excessive, unnecessary tension in your leg and most especially the foot of the light (forward) leg in the drill below.
Become aware of it and get rid of it, while fulfilling all the other conditions taught in the video. Just touching the tip of your shoe, lightly softly to the ground. Admit that you have this unneeded foot tension, resolve to just hunt it down and eliminate. It's there but you aren't aware of it yet. When you become aware of it, and relax it out, while still fulfilling the other requirements of the drill, this simple posture-based little drill is truly awesome.
One of the most advanced/difficult of all the SLO training methods is the Fen Jiao ( 分腳 'Separate Foot'). If you haven't felt moon-launch energy from the Basic X-Hands drill then don't even bother with this. But for the 1% here's a further tidbit.
I show the postural mechanics of this on the long Vimeo film. Although it's a kick in the form, and by definition dynamic, in SLO mode we're going to work it as a static standing thing, zhan zhuang mode. Today's S-Foot drill is the immediate follow-on move in the real ZMQ sequence, and it also leverages and extends the energy of the X-Hands thing.
I don't want to replicate everything on the Vimeo film, but just summarize the basics and the effect. For the posture, just copy the Tai Chi girl above. Pay attention! Notice the kicking thigh is trying to be parallel to the floor, the arms are in a line, Fair Lady Hand, all that stuff. Relax!
The energy is the amazing thing here. I assume that most of you, if you're doing this pose at all in the form or singleton) just breeze past this kick. Big mistake. This is a huge one, but a little hard to get the knack at first. Key ideas:
1. You must empty the upper body (waist and all above waist) of tension completely. Be an empty, mindful shape alone.
2. Be very aware of the solid, engaged, firm support of the strong leg.
3. Raise the light leg from the femoral head ('Crack Step' in the Singularity film). Keep all joints and muscles of the light leg as relaxed as possible while doing so: thigh, knee joint, calf and shin, ankle, instep, toes sole.
4. As you reach the high point of your kick, mentally extend your leg/foot very slight. It's 99% mental with just the merest gentle touch of physical extension at the very end of the move.
5. Then hold the kick as in the pic, keep walking right on the line between extension vs. relaxation. You can cycle it at first, with brief extensions followed by very slight relaxations (though that's not quite the word as you were supposed to be relaxed all along) then re-extend. An observer would hardly notice these cycles they are so subtle, it's internal.
6. As you 'extend' (mainly mental see above) on each cycle, eventually you will notice a veritable torrent of pure electrical energy cascading down the light leg from the hip attachment area. THIS IS THE MING JING (明勁), applied through leg. Don't know the fuck this asshole talking, 'ming jing'!? In that case hit my book Radical Xingyi Energetics (skip the most recent review where the moron didn't even read the title, and blasts me for not covering Xingyi applications in silk road caravan defense - yo, I named it Radical Xingyi ENERGETICS for a reason, dipshit! Guy blames me for his sub-4th-Grade reading comprehension that couldn't process a perfectly accurate 3-word book title. I even say in the amazon listing DON'T BUY THIS BOOK if you want anything beyond simple energetic foundation stuff. Idiot! Fuck right I'm "defensive" when I'm surrounded by such clowns. Oh well, when you're getting lots of flak it means you're right over the target.). In that book, I describe the ming jing phenomenon in detail, but it's for the arms there. Here is where you get it - exactly the same thing - for the legs and it's really a blast. But not so easy at first. Keep working it!
7. Then, once you're able to generate the fully palpable, non-imaginary true ming jing in every extension cycle, use your mind alone to stop the extensions suddenly - just hold on an extension (not physical tension!!) Then BLAMMO the ming jing will level up into the an jing which you'll perceive as an unbroken stream of pure internal power from both feet all the way through your entire body ending at the arms. But you don't do anything with your arms, don't flap and stretch and spiral and generally act like a nut. Step aside from yourself and simply allow your arms to fill. Try to maintain the pure stream state as long as possible before tension starts to creep in and ruin it. This is true zhan zhuang.
People think my emphasis on SLO is for lower body development but actually it's for charging your arms. Power above comes from below.
So have the Classics written.
So must it come to pass.
Meanwhile, the more you hold this S-Foot pose with relaxation, the stronger your legs will get overall and that feels great all by itself - but it isn't the point.
I've put out some radically powerful practices lately, for example:
1. Counter-Sink Duplex mode
2. Basic SLO Preparation pose (100/0 X-Hands)
3. Greaves Sequestration Practice (GSP for PileDriver in 70/30)
If you don't know what any of that is you haven't been reading here this past week.
Anyway it's radically powerful stuff. If you haven't had your world rocked by those I can only troubleshoot it back to two possible causes:
a. You haven't put in the time
b. Your Zheng/Lo fundamentals (Principles, Mechanics, Poses) aren't complete or accurate enough yet.
But it's high octane stuff, so if you're having any experience (good, bad, ugly) feel free to write it up into the comments here.
Later you can begin work on the horizontal axis, across the waist which is sometimes analogized as a wheel. This is called out in the Tai Chi Classics, for example:
upright like a balance; active like a wheel
the internal power is like a wheel
the energy starts at the feet, is commanded by the waist
The downside in my even bringing up this topic is that many of you will assume I'm talking about one or the other of the following things that I am not talking about:
1. Physical 'loosening': yes you have to be relaxed, that goes without saying. There are lots of exercises now that promote waist twisting and arm swinging and all the supposed loosening that goes along with that. That is all physical and I'm NOT talking about any of that stuff.
2. Alternatively you may assume this is just another generalization about some abstract energy that may or may not exist and if it does you may or may not taste it in another 40 years if you keep at it. It's energy alright but there's nothing vague or mystical or abstract about it in the least.
There is a minor physical component, the gentle waist turn found in every move of the Zheng/Lo form and, if you don't know the whole form, then in the sword and cloud exercises detailed in my book PENG Root Power Rising. But the physical part of it isn't really the point. If you keep working on 'the drill formerly known as ZZP' (now the PileDriver) the energy will begin to accumulate in a thick belt around your waist. You'll actually feel it as such, amazing. I am NOT talking about any kind of physical weight gain. You can see I'm skinny enough right?
I'm talking about a thick layer of invisible energy that will pack around your waist, fitting your torso snug like a collar. When you do the form or the sword/cloud work, you're going to be explicitly moving and feeling this collar. You physical body just goes along because it's tightly fitted and tucked inside that wheel. Over time, this band will both thicken and also lengthen to cover your torso from groin to collarbone, from sacrum to shoulder blades.
You don't need to obsess about this, but one day as you're doing the form (or sword/cloud for those who don't know the whole form) at some moment you'll realize that your arms are too tense, that you're moving from your arms and not letting the waist command. Then you drop some arm tension and suddenly you'll become acutely aware of your (physical) waist area. Then following immediately on that, you'll feel this collar/wheel thing, banded around you and you'll begin to play with always moving that, instead of your arms or even your physical waist. Those just need to come along for the ride, is all.
Well, don't force anything just giving you a heads up here on the horizontal dimension, equally important and just as specific, real, concrete an experience as the vertical but a little harder to feel at first.
Now I'm going to bring up something very difficult to do, but extremely effective when you catch the knack. Trouble is the method while simple enough in the end, in the beginning requires so many pre-requisites of understanding and experience. But I'll try.
If you haven't read Peng and Surge and watched the long Vimeo SINGULARITY movie, I would advise you to skip this post. Find something better to do with your time, you'll never get it back again. Lord knows I'm not gonna reimburse you so don't come complaining to me.
Today's practice insight is based on concept of 'greaves'. Before I get to that let me list all the prerequisites for today's work:
1. 70/30 pose basics: You MUST understand all the fundamental mechanics of Zheng/Lo based 70/30 'front' or 'bow' pose. That is all covered in horrific detail in the first several chapters of the long SINGULARITY video. I'm seriously telling you that if you cannot make a near perfect basic, upright, relaxed and correct ZMQ 70/30 pose (in any of the hands shapes - Single Whip, Left Peng, whatever that doesn't matter) then you have no chance of getting any benefit from what I'm going to describe today. Seriously. If you don't know exactly what I'm talking about here, you don't have the pre-requisites to get any benefit from this post so please stop reading now. I'm referring not only to the usual '5 Principles' that I cover at the start of the SINGULARITY movie, but in addition all the details in the following section that pertain specifically to the 70/30 stance per se. Absolute pre-requisite that you are doing this right. Don't fool yourself. I try to show this pose in the classes and I tell people 'front foot straight', 'front knee over toe', 'waist facing forward', 'no forward lean / body upright', 'rear foot flat', etc. and I see everybody's doing it wrong in all kinds of crazy ways, but they don't seem to be aware of what their own bodies are doing. What's up with that? Every regular reader here should know that I'm not any kind of physical fetishist at all, the energy is the point, but c'mon. We're talking pretty straight-forward stuff here, WHY is it so hard for people?? Maybe I just suck as a teacher. (Although hmmm come to think of it, Ben always said the same exact thing about all of us in the day ahahaha!) Maybe they just need a better visual model than I can provide. OK fine then please order my teacher's DVD (info all over the web just google it). The Tai Chi girl in my books is also doing this stance correctly. And I show all kinds of details and hints on it in the SINGULARITY movie. Just get it right before going any further into this post! It's all covered in two sections of the film: Ben Lo Mechanics and Ben Lo Mechanics: Details.
2. 80/20 weighting concept: I'm not going to repeat all this from my books Peng and Surge but you need to understand the differential weighting that makes the experience of the above 70/30 pose feel more like 80/20. I have spent reams of pages on this in my books Peng and Surge and also beat it to death on the SINGULARITY video. You absolutely must not only understand this concept but be able to create this experience in your practice, the right feeling.
3. PileDriver/ZZP: Now the water gets even deeper. In addition to all the above, again before we even get to the point of today's advanced exercise, you need to know what I mean when I refer to 'the exercise formerly known as Zhang Zhuang / Pinned'. If that phase leaves you absolutely mystified then you absolutely are not ready for the work in today's post, ok? I now call this exercise the PileDriver (marketing!) but it's the single most advanced ZMQ energy practice. You need to have worked with it, felt the internal surge that it generates, and begun to have some understanding and appreciate of it in daily practice. Most people as far as I can tell do not fit this requirement because they have a lot of resistance to working this way. So be it, your loss. Please move on somewhere now, the rest of this post is not for you.
4. Greaves Sequestration: Now I can finally get to the point of this post, if there's anybody left reading. Which there really should not be, because as far as I can tell just about nobody fulfills all the prerequisites above. I may be wrong, just my impression. Anyway I have to just document this because in 50 years when this is widely known and practiced I want to get the posthumous credit :)
Remember the cestus concept from the Xingyi book? Yep that another 'pre-requisite' for understanding this. We aren't going to work directly with that concept here but it's an analogous thing. The cestus is my name for the entire unit of elbow to fingertips, forearm, wrist, and hand - all that. Just a convenient term for several connected parts that don't have a better inclusive word in English. If you don't like my word find your own. It's a unit where the internal energy very palpably concentrates in Xingyi practice, a very useful image in many Xingyi exercise to concentrate the mind easily after which the energy follows.
For today's Tai Chi work, I'm introducing an analogous thing - but for the legs. There's no easy short term for the zone from knee to sole of the foot, the area that would be covered completely by a high boot. I'm going to use the term greaves for that.
That should evoke an image something like this:
Yes, that's what we need to work with. The practice finally, is very simple. Laughably so. When doing the PileDriver ('the drill formerly known as Zhang Zhuang / Pinned') you keep your mind in the greaves area of both legs.
That's it. Begin the rise-up ('micro-reactivation') with your mind in the soles of both feet. Of course you need to insure all the differential weighting stuff that is fundamental to the vanilla PileDriver, nothing different there. Review the relevant section of SINGULARITY film if unsure. But that's basically a physical sensing of differential workload. Beyond that, as you rise, you need to keep your mind sequestered strictly to the greaves zone of both legs. Start with your mind in the soles of both feet, as you straighten your upper body, let the mind/energy rise a little bit - but not beyond the knee. Conceive of the greaves area as a unit on each leg, and keep the energy and attention there.
Begin with your mind in the soles, then gradually, as you rise, use your mind to concentrate and 'fill' every area: soles, toes, instep, whole foot, ankle, calf/shin, lower knee. It's like compressing a spring (the energy of the entire body) into a very tight space, which produces huge reactive power response.
It's a little difficult at first because obviously you need some 'mind' and physical action to go into the mechanics of the straightening motion. But if you work with it you'll catch the knack of sequestering the energy down there while still being able to correctly perform the full straightening.
Of course the energy won't 'stay' there, it's only that you make a mental effort to feel and it control it there. In actuality, without your making any conscious effort to raise the power, it will 'overflow' and stream upward on it's own through your entire body. That's what you want, the energy intensified to such an extreme that it rises by itself without your conscious mental/physical effort.
This may sound so subtle that you'll think I'm just describing some very idiosyncratic personal 'impression' or individual 1-time experience. Nope! Not at all. This is a real training thing, that anybody can catch the knack of and work with. It makes the already best-of-breed PileDriver work just that much more super-effective.
Got some interesting comments/questions from a long-time kung fu guy who has taken up my approach with excellent results. He asks about a topic that I don't really obsess over but which I admit to a passing interest in, I'll let him pose it:
Why are people so hesitant [to get into your internal training]? Any clues?? I keep harping on energy and everyone keeps responding with fascia/alignment and think I am nuts! Any ideas?? Is the idea of energy just so strange???
Yes it's true that a large number of people who you'd otherwise expect to have a deep interest in my approach and even welcome it with open arms are absolutely and resolutely turned off by any mention of either the overall idea (of energy centricity) or if not that, then by my presentation of it.
Why is that? Before we get into my analysis, I have to emphasize that there are thousands of internal teachers and authors out there offering hundreds of different methods related in some way to the energies that I also present. Of course many, perhaps most, of their students are having and reporting amazing experiences with energy, including: 'pizza dough between palms', prickly heat, Rocky Mountain High types of good vibrations, and so on. So it's not like it's any big secret that these forces are at work in the human body. But in my (limited) view and experience, what most people report is orders of magnitude less of a 'rock your world' effect than is actually possible.
So then why would many people, again a target audience of those with some degree of pre-declared interest in the field, be so very resistant to my particular approach?
I boil it down to three specific categories of response to my stuff:
1. Personality reaction
2. Combative fantasy
3. Haven't tried it
Let's go over each in turn.
Personality Reactive: You see things scattered around the web reacting to my stuff negatively on the basis of simple personality aversion. There's a certain kind of guy, usually (always) male, who is just viscerally irritated by any hint, no matter how tongue in cheek, that some other male "thinks he's better than me". Look, I don't have a graduate degree in Field Primatology so I can't really address the roots of this. But it's a very strong effect. The 'who do you think you are' syndrome. But don't confuse this with Missouri 'show me' or Doubting Thomas type, which is a more rational and reasonable, even healthy skepticism. In this first 'personality aversion' category, I'm talking about something much more primal, that would prevent anybody from even reaching the point of rational evaluation, as they can't approach something so psychologically radioactive to them. There's a certain kind of guy who's "this guy is so full of himself" red flag goes up instantly, blocking any further interaction. They think I'm so arrogant and proud and egotistical and all that. What they usually (always) fail to notice is that 99% of my preening and boasting and swaggering is totally tongue-in-cheek and satirical, and that if you read between the lines, I'm actually extremely modest (if a claim like that doesn't contradict itself AHAHAHA!) But if you've read my stuff carefully you know what I mean. I really try to point more to the moon than to myself, in a 'let's do the work' mindset. I don't try to run a cult, or have uniforms or rituals, or title or ranks or any bullshit whatsoever. I just present myself as a weird guy who's found something interesting, take it or leave it. 99% of my apparent boasting and preening is purely satirical entertainment. But this type of guy (the 'personality reactive' type) these guys are extremely literal-minded. They have very little sense of humor, whimsy, play. They also hate with a passion the weirdo/playful attitude I take. They can't accept the notion that anything of value could be offered by such a goofball character as me. They are extremely serious and have a kind of cop's mentality: on patrol to protect the rest of you from guys like me who in their view are "so full of himself". It's just an instant visceral flareup that a certain type of guy will have to my stuff, and it cannot be reasoned with or reversed. So I totally accept that, understood, I move on. Eventually if they discover on their own even a fraction of what I've openly and plainly put out on this stuff, they will crow to the skies and forget that a long time before, I handed it out freely (but with an irritating smirk GRRRRR ! :)
2. Combative fantasy: This next category, though it overlaps at the edges with the previous bunch, is more rational, and they're coming from a place that I do understand and respect and partially even adopt myself. This next group is grudgingly open to considering energy centricity, but they have a huge barrier to really starting to work on it deeply. That barrier is their idea that this stuff is presented traditionally in a 'martial arts' context and therefore the results of the training need fit into their idea of fight. So what is their idea of 'fight training'? Frankly it's usually something either unrealistic, irrelevant, unattainable, or pointless. But the mentality serves as a very real blocking factor. Mostly such people aren't any kind of pro sports fighter, as a real sport guy would never have the slightest interest in getting close enough to my stuff to even have an opinion about it. But these Combative Fantasy guys do realistically see the world as a tough place where you may be jumped at any moment and they want to work only with methods and persons that show credible evidence of being able to up their game in that respect. I'm not that guy. I openly admit it. I'm not a credible fighter or martial arts type in any way and that's that. I'm not going to even try to defend myself on this point. I'm not an MMA guy, I'm not a push hands champion, I'm just not into any of it. I used to have some interest in that side of things, but (oddly) working with the best real martial artist on the planet (Vladimir Vasiliev) has strangely cured me of most of my original interest in "fantasy face-off" martial arts. I'm sympathetic though, in that it would be nice to have just a little bit more objective evidence that all this stuff is 'real' and kicking ass might be seen as a proxy for that evidence. I will say that I do not bring all of Tai Chi attributes to bear in every normal push hands interaction, and maybe some people get the wrong idea from my restraint, and my courtesy in (over) praising some people I've met up with. They may think that's all I've got. But I won't blame them for thinking so. If their low estimation of my fight ability is going to block them from the incredible experience of this energy-centric training, then so be it. Pseudo conflict games just aren't my major talent. I've never called myself a master or a shifu or anything like that. I'm just a Tai Chi instructor. I will say that I think a lot of people who take push hands seriously as a fight indicator are wildly deluding themselves, but I've already covered all that in my books. I don't want to excuse myself or let myself off the hook here: Although I've had fun boxing over the years, tagged some good guys pretty fast and hard, still at the end of the day I'm not really a good fighter and that's the end of it. So be it. Those who require evidence of serious combative ability before jumping into the energy pool should leave this blog now and never come back :)
3. Just Never Tried It: These are the people who actually do interest me. This is kind of a grab bag for all resisters :) who don't fall into the more explicit bins above. I can only repeat the tired old saw that applies to any critic of my stuff: if you can get past me, forget the personalities here, and work with the methods you'll be blown away. But I do understand that people have a wide range of 'contaminants' I use the word advisedly because I realize many of those contaminants and blockers are great in their own space. I mean things like interest in physical conditioning, cultural awe of Chinese artifacts and decoration, metaphysical obsession with the supposed web of acupoints and meridians and methods built overmuch on all that, love of theatrics and performance and costumes - those things are great but irrelevant to what I'm doing. But to most people, that kind of stuff is the art, what more is there to say? So they can't even get to the starting gate. Also my stuff seems too simple, people adore complexity, lots of points and concepts and things. Though my books do use some humorously oddball acronyms, people have failed to see that those terms are pointing to very real and straightforward phenomena. My fault for trying to have too much fun with it all. More deeply, I think even just the idea of these energies is actually scary to people on some level. For some people it would really rock their idea of the world, bring up too much responsibility for questioning a lot of the crap they've been taught and accepted all their lives about what is reality.
But anyway, if I can just get bare knuckle for a moment here, in closing, let me just say that: I pity the fool! Yes, I pity the fool who lets any of the above considerations keep him/her from experiencing what really is the most fun you can have in a human body.
In Astral Advice Animal, otherworldly advice columnist and genuine ghostwriter Tabby Cat has paw-picked over 45 letters from eons worth of his no-holds-barred syndicated incarnational-advice column. Tabby’s the only spook who has the courage to lift the veil and answer the mail. Welcome to the hot new wave of bare-knuckle pounding on the Big Questions: Life! Afterlife! Incubus, succubus, soul sex, poltergeist infestation, inter-carnational love affairs (one’s in body, one’s out) – nothing’s taboo, nothing’s too hot for Tabby’s straight-shooting counsel and feline tough love. The Earth Plane is a rough neighborhood. Human incarnation is no cakewalk. Ask yourself: Do I feel lucky? You can be coached by Tabby or skooled by The System – your choice. Learn how the eternal revolving door of ectoplasm-to-protoplasm really swings. Tabby bats back questions from humans and spooks alike, stressing over everything from fashion dilemmas (“Dear Tabby, which body goes best with my Akashic Records?”) to deeply existential angst (“You need a human incarnation like a giraffe needs a sore throat.”). Tune in as Tabby Cat lays bare what even your own personal Spirit Guides will never tell, in his signature irreverent and spiritually spunky style.
Master William Chen isn't so much known for directly and openly referring to "metaphysical" aspects of Tai Chi energy. He's uses engineering imagery and his teaching are usually interpreted in physical/mechanical terms. Nevertheless it's obvious he understands the real internal and maybe he just felt that the Western structured mind would be resistant to direct presentation of the real shit.
Therefore he couched things oddly but the insight is there, and I equate it more or less to the ARC process described in explicitly internal terms in my book Juice. You can be the judge, buy into my interpretation or not, I don't care whether you do or don't, it's just a passing cloud of possible interest.
(From an interview with William Chen)
WC: The mind leads the energy. The mind has to go with the compressor and lead the energy, connect the roots to the other end.
Interviewer: Your mind leads all the way from the bubbling well to your hand?
WC: Right. The reason is the compressor is in your dantian. You have to let the compression settle in the ground, ground meaning floor or foot. you have to place your hydraulics into the ground before the piston comes out. If you say "bubbling well" it means ground. Hydraulics means you have to place it solidly in the ground first. Whenever you pump out energy the first thing is to go to the ground.
Interviewer: You first push down, then you bring the energy out?
Of course most people at present would interpret the above comments in the usual "skeletal framing" kind of way, establishing a physical (supposedly relaxed) mechanical "ground path" to support the bracing type of peng where a big bear of a guy flips a smaller guy around easily. That's actually not at all what we're talking about, but to each his own. The above quotes are a good presentation of the energy ARC described in Juice (Accumulate, Rebound, Catch).