Recently some twit slammed my RXE book with idiotic charges about, of all crazy things, my Chinese language abilty. Jesus. Usually at least these haters do me the honor of asserting they could kick my ass and how I couldn't fight my way out of a paper napkin etc. This guy's really bizarro on the spectrum.
I've found that guys (it's always men) in this hater category invariably zero in on whatever aspect of me and/or my stuff is most unconsciously scary and frightening to their own self-image, and what they perceive as most threatening to that, thus revealing themselves nakedly. And in this guy's case... it was the Chinese thing. I give him a 10 for Originality score at least.
But none of that matters. All that matters is continuing to amp our internal energy and power. And in that regard, this twit can unwittingly do us a technical service. He brought up a common beginner misconception that I'd like to deconstruct and correct, thus recycling garbage into useful compost.
Skipping all the bullshit about my Chinese (like this twit is qualified to judge), here's a somewhat garbled technical point that his limited mentality struggled to load onto us:
It should be noted that blood rushing to the forearms is not necessarily proof of Qi. Qi follows the blood, Strong Qi leads the blood directed by mind.
The sad thing is, before I can even deconstruct this mess and correct/demolish it, seems that I, the victim of this ignorant driveby, must first re-formulate it coherently. As it is, I can't even critique it because it's pretty much incoherent. But in the service of making my educational point here, I'll undertake to do this twit's job for him.
As written, we've got a logical problem here.
Proposition 1: "Qi follows the blood"
Proposition 2: "Qi leads the blood"
Hmmm... strictly as written, either a contradiction or a useless tautology. But I'll give this twit the benefit of the doubt. Let's formulate a neutral rendition that generously covers both contradictory assertions above (and allows us to sidestep the weasel/wiggle qualifier 'strong' that I suppose the guy inserted to give himself an escape hatch in case anybody actually read his dumbass comments and noticed the discrepancy). So, my generous umbrella formulation will be as below:
Proposition 3: Qi and blood are absolutely correlated. Where you have a lot of one, you have a lot of the other.
For the remainder of this analysis, I'll work with P3 just above. Of course, under any of these formulations, it seems that "blood rushing to the forearms" would be "proof of Qi" (whatever that means), regardless of which one got there first (depending on P1 or P2 acceptance). Where you have one you have the other. But never mind, let's struggle onward.
Now that's it's at least formulated with minimal logical coherence, it doesn't seem so bad does it? And in fact it's not absolutely wrong. Various Chinese classical medical sources have mentioned some such correlation, it's a common enough observation.
So what's the problem? The problem is that this whole subject is completely irrelevant to any teaching or point I make about internal energy in any of my books or videos.
Let's get back to the original quote, where he references the forearms. Probably that's coming from my pointing to the centrality of what I call the cestus region (elbow to fingers actually) as a target concentration zone for Xingyi energy training.
Now again we have some ambiguity or vagueness issues with his original point. It's unclear whether he is stating:
(i) That though (he mistakenly believes that) I'm asserting that Xingyi training will "cause blood to rush to the forearms" nevertheless in his view such an idea is wrong or useless;
or, alternatively, he may be saying:
(ii) That I have neglected to mention, or denied, the important and correct teaching that blood should (be caused to) rush to the forearms? And this omission demonstrates my ignorance.
There are actually yet several additional interpretations but those two are the most likely. So again we have some intellectual and communicative failure here that I would need to clean up before I could even demolish it.
Fortunately though, I can basically just call in an airstrike here while Charlie's eating breakfast and take out the entire unit wholesale, without having to muddy my boots overmuch.
The fact is that though there is some mild correlation between the lowest level, most trivial, and absolutely uninteresting symptoms of qi activation and very slightly increased superficial blood suffusion, nowhere in my books do I talk about that as anything significant. That's mainly because it has no significance.
So in reference to (i) above, nowhere am I claiming that (correct) internal version of Xingyi training "causes blood to rush to the forearms". This one is trivially refuted just by taking the trouble to read the book or watch the vid. Case closed.
As for (ii) above, the reason I never mention that idea is that it's totally irrelevant to my actual points. Only a person who has never experienced the real internal energy for himself could cling to this idea of blood/qi absolute correlation as anything interesting or important. And that I must sadly assume is the case with this twit.
Now it's very well known as a mild low level physiological phenomenon that concentrating on your hands, and especially doing something with them such as shaking etc. will bring some blood to them. So? That has about as much relevance to anything in my books as the observation that if you rub pepper on your nose you're likely to sneeze.
To the extent it's true, it's just a minor symptom of BRUTE qi (the buzzes, rushes, and tingles that result from your first 15 minutes of work at any weekend Qi Gong seminar, or from dynamic shaking a la Osho ashram, etc.) No relevance to any of my stuff whatsoever.
To understand the point more deeply, consider what it would mean for "blood to rush into the forearms". That would take time. The real internal energy movement is for all practical purposes instantaneous, as it would have to be to function in martial arts later (my stuff is more background attribute work but can be leveraged into combative training when combined with lots of other stuff.) When you've experienced the energy, you know that it either pulses or streams from feet or tanden (depending on your degree of mastery and your intent at that moment) almost instantaneously to your fingers (not just forearms).
The higher end forms of real internal power have no connection to engorgement or tumescence (vascular congestion in a restricted area). If said twit believes there is such a connection, he's wrong. Alternatively, if he does not believe in such a connection, but is asserting that I do believe it, that's also wrong. QED game over.
The whole criticism is both incoherent and ignorant, when it can be understood at all. It is the work of a person who may possibly be a kickass real world fighter, maybe this twit has a long real-world ring/cage record of multiple verified public wins over serious athletic fighters. If that's the case then I always salute a ring record of beating down tough competitors (not just LARPing one's own hapless students). But he doesn't know jack about real internal energy.
(BTW If you object to my characterization of this twit as such, consider that he publically accused me of plagiarism).
Though I've done limited ground and submission work, mainly my training with my pro MMA fighter friend here Kiuma Kunioku in newaza, and of course over my decade with Vlad there were always tons of BJJ guys cycling through and we did a lot of ground stuff with them but I don't claim to really know it at all.
However... that said... I had heard one great teaching slogan they have:
POSITION BEFORE SUBMISSION
I'm sure most readers are yawningly familiar with this simple yet powerful point, obvously it's better to work on the setup, if you get that nicely configured then the final crank and sub practically happens by itself. I'm sure if you search the web you'll find much deeper and very sophisticated explications of it but that's kind of the gist of it, for us amateurs.
And now I'm telling you the analogue slogan for Tai Chi push hands (at least my version) will be:
DETECTION BEFORE YINJECTION
That last word may be unfamiliar if you haven't read one of my books, Juice Radical Taiji Energetics. It's the practice of not using your own strength to move the guy, and not even the slightly more sophisticated idea of judo etc. of taking advantage of balance errors to leverage the guy using minimal strength. It's even deeper than that. It's that you use your internal energy from your hands to penetrate and trigger the parnter's deep unconscious tension and the resulting 'chain reaction' inside them is what moves them. Anyway too much to go into here, just read it if you're interested.
My point is that too many people rush things. Same as the BJJ idea though the method is totally different. People try to push based on strength, or on exploiting balance errors. But neither of those is the real thing. The thing is where either his tension "jumps to your hands" (yes that's a real phenomenon, don't diss it til it's happened to you) or else you've more pro-actively kind of probed with your energy (not physical), found the tension. DETECTED IT. Then is the time to trigger it with this yinjection thing, not before. If you attempt to trigger the guy when you haven't locked onto his tension yet, you may move him but it will be just an ordinary physical struggle.
Professor Zheng said basicaly this same thing in his book, I'll find the quote and paste it up here later.
Try, try, try to understand.
* * *
I want to emphasize, one more time before I take off for a while, how powerful the Phase 2 thing is for 大刀 (yesterday's tutorial post). This drill done in this mode will link your cestus zone energy to the waist. I know most people have heard 'power comes from the waist' (or feet, we'll get to that in a minute).
Like it's ordinary baseball pitching or, I don't know, maybe lacross or something? Put your waist/hips/back into it!
Listen up: that is NOT what I'm talking about here! That is physical, athletic, kinetic.
What will happen if you pursue the Phase 2 thing observing all the strictures I outlined (hey it isn't really all that hard is it) then you'll start to feel the power consolidating at the waist and feeding the cestus zone directly.
It isn't physical in the ordinary sense. How could it be? This isn't one of the ever-popular waist turning warmup type drills. Can you see that? There only a small amount of physical waist turning in this drill. Overt waist movement in the Phase 2 protocol is mostly in the transition from S3 to S4, maybe a bit in S2 to S3, but even those are fairly restricted.
You have to take off the physical blinders and feel it. After you've done this even just a few days, you should feel, right from picking up the dao into S1 - *SNAP* - the waist to cestus connective feed clicks into place immediately. Then after running through the Phase 2, the final S1 at the end will pulse it 10 times stronger. Then you'll have it in subsequent quiet standing, and eventually all the time.
Later I will write about feet link but basically that's the same thing. For now, try to understand the waist thing. Not crude physical turning or twisting. And not just the dantian as a point. It's the entire waist/hip/lower abdomen/pelvic area NOT PHYSICALLY (as you all want to suppose), but acting as a pure energetic source. You got to feel it to know it.
This energetic link is called old ox power by Chen Weiming (for Tai Chi but it's all the same at this point): 俗亦謂之老牛勁
- Noam Chomsky
* * *
He's right, people. HE'S SO FUCKING RIGHT.
Hasn't ANYBODY other than me read Barefoot Gen?!! Jesus H Christ what's fucking wrong with us???
Use the sword to draw forth your internal energy, concentrating all your mind and spirit power into the point of the blade. The energy works as molten metal or like mercury soaking through your body and blade. You control this power by first extending it to the point, then retracting it to the grip. In past times, the Yang family masters used a sword weighing over five pounds. The weight of the sword triggered the internal power to issue from their body.
[The quotation above is half the story. The yang half of my teacher's method. With his liang yi dao you also get the yin side, from the grip protocol and the two sword sequence - double the fun]
* * *
Now that some people have tried the Da Dao protocol and kind of felt the point of it (no pun intended), it's time for Phase 2. You'll be glad to hear that Phase 2 is trivially easy to learn and do. Basically its just a more organized way to perform what I showed in Phase 1 video below, which you've already seen.
Phase 2 is so simple we don't even need a new video. In Phase 2, we assume that you are able to generate and feel the surge energy in cestus region of both arms, and that you recognize that every surge is not only 'just passing through' but actually every cycle is leaving a residue in cestus zone, thus 'charging' or 'packing' it. If you understand and have felt what I just said, please continue. If not, please leave now because otherwise you'll turn what I'm about to present into yet another pointless pseudo-combative LARP-ing experience and you'll hate yourself and me for the empty idiocy of it all. I'm talking something real here. Wait til you've experienced it as such before fiddling with what will otherwise be just another pointless little dance step routine. I'm sure you've learned enough of those in your time.
So here's the thing: we have 5 stances, with associated sword positions, as shown. They are:
I'll just call them S1 to S5 for short. In Phase 1, we assume a stance, perform the 5-stage gripping protocol (GP), hold for a short while (don't count breath but just to give you an estimate, 5 to 10 breaths worth of time is fine), lay down sword, quiet standing for a minute or two, resume with next stance. That's the method of Phase 1.
In Phase 2, it's all the same contents, nothing new. But now, you will continuously cycle through the stances S1 to S5 and end at S1 again, then put down the sword, quiet standing, contiue with more of that or do something else.
Here's the full protocol. The key point is, your left heel never moves. You pivot on the left heel but you never move it off its starting place.
1. Take S1, do GP to get surge/stream going in cestus. Hold a few beats that way. Now, without losing the surge/stream, the cestus charge of pure energy, just step your right foot straight sideways into a nice wide deep mabu. Don't worry about the no-weight cat step thing from Lo/Zheng Tai Chi, today's post is Xingyi. Just plunk it gently but firmly down without losing your arm charge (that's the key to all of Phase 2).
2. Hold in S2 for a few beats, feeling the charge in cestus to sword point. The first few times you run through this, I can guarantee you'll find you're gripping the sword too tight at this point. Recognize that whenever it happens in Phase 2 and back off it, either direclty or using the full GP again, what it takes to re-establish the surge/stream. Now, put some weigth into left leg so that you can push off it a little to step the right foot backwards into S3. The sword position is high guard and the legs are basically santishi. Your left toes pivot inwards a little like santishi, but your left heel has never moved so far, you've just pivoted the foot.
3. Hold in S3 for a few beats, feeling then charge in cestus-to-sword. Check for over-tight gripping as above. Then, put weight into left foot but without changing its position, just step the right foot sideways into low guard S4, while lowering the word as required. Again, maintain the charge throughout the move. It's not a super fast combative type move but not super slow motion, just daily life normal speed type of thing, feeling the charge all the way through. You have not moved your left foot at all for this change.
4. Hold in S4 for a few beats, feeling the charge in cestus-to-sword. Check for over-tight gripping as above. Then, push forward off left foot into S5, adjusting sword for low chop, keeping the charge. It's kind of a heavy, stable 40-60 version of gongbu.
[NOTE: For actual Phase 2 sequence, the figure above would be rotated almost 90 degrees to his right, so basically sideways as in the previous photo. From S4 to S5 is basically just shifting your weight forward while chopping low/sideways. ]
5. Hold in S5 for a few beats, feeling the charge in cestus-to-sword. Check for over-tight gripping as above. Then, briefly shifting weight to right, pivot left foot all the way to front as it was for P1 in beginning, then shift weight leftward as you bring sword straight across your front torso, as through doing a kind of sideways sweeping parry or block of an incoming weapon. Don't lose the charge. End up in a good S1 again, same as start. Hold and feel in P1 for a few beats.
It's a chore to read, but trivial to do if you already know the stances and their numbering and sword positions from the earlier work. Then put down the sword and do quiet standing WOW you'll be amazed.
RIP the beautiful, beautiful Mary Travers. Won't ever see her like again in this world. You don't need million dollar sound machines and laser light shows and circus makeup to get blown away with a wall of sheer emotional power and have your heart broken wide open.
Now: probably the last little bit on this UTP line thing for a while.
I've reviewed the outer energy little finger line, the crossover your hand in various shapes, and the auto-return function. That has included:
1. The basic full return idea.
2. Working that in Xingyi Quiet Standing mode.
3. Working that in soft fist mode (extension of GP section of RXE book)
4. Working that in Santishi mode.
Now as a (semi!) final twist, if you have really got it going, in ALL the above modes, you can play with it in the Da Dao gripping protocol. This is what I'd call advanced work because you reallly need control over not only all the above, but in the Saber grip thing itself, you need to really understand and feel the basic protocol and also the 'hard wave' mode of it that I've written about.
But anyway, for whoever wants to work it yes the return line can be applied to the Saber protocol. Just be super sensitive. You do the normal grip protocol then after stage 5 you start to
a. activate the outer foream to little finger line of energy - even while softly gripping the saber.
b. do the cross-over from little finger/hand edge to inner 'Tiger Mouth' - even while continuing to softly grip the saber. Keep it unmoving. Don't tense up your grip or let it go slack either.
c. feel the amazing return and recharge, right down to the soles of feet and back again.
Over time when you really get to understand it, this will blow you away like nothing else ever. This energy will also hugely carry over into your subsequent session of fists or form practice or whatever you do. In daily life your foot soles will begin to vibrate with energy like radioactive turbines even when just standing around.