Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Four Levels of Attainment in Taijiquan

I would like to share this with you guys. Got it from the book Beyond Taijiquan - by Wong Choon Ching. Attainment can be classified into: 1) Hao Shou (good hand) 2) Qiang shou (Strong hand) 3) Kao Shou (Skilled hand) and 4) Miao shou (Wonder hand). What are the differences between the above?

When a punch is executed by an opponent... (I quote verbatim from the book):
All of them should be able to intercept the punch with their yi. But, the hao shou intercepts the punch after it is launched, the qiang shou does it just after it is thrown out. The gao shou senses it the moment it is launched, while the maio shou senses it before it is launched.

After sensing the punch:
The hao shou connects the punch with a heavy touch, being an act of the bones and muscles, which leaves an undesirable effect of alerting the opponent. The qiang shou's connecting is lighter while that of gao shou and miao shou is more insubstantial, being an act of the yi-qi energy. The moment the punch is connected at the hair level, their yi penetrates into the very bones of the opponent, the skill of adhering and following comes into play to sense the opponent's intentions and to keep his movements under control. The composed minds and dong jing (understanding one's jing or energy and the ability to act or react aptly in accordance with the yin-yang principle) reflexes of gao shou and miao shou enable them to do just the right thing intuitively. They can effectively hit their opponent the moment the latter moves to attack. If the opponent's punch is on the way, they will tap it and lead it into emptiness.

Note: above text in italics are my own addition.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

There's a saying in China: A good teacher is measured by how many masters he produces.

 I realized today why it is important that one should have a good teacher. Yesterday I attended a workshop which lasted from 10:30am in the morning to 9:00pm at night and 7 to 8 hours (minus lucnh, tea and dinner breaks) I have achieved what I could not achieve in two years of hard work on zhitui song yao. Here's my experience: -

From: Lim KIan Tee [mailto:kiantee.lim@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, 7 October, 2012 7:45 AM
To: 'Hoh Man Chai'
Subject: Workshop at Help University College of Art and Technology on October 6 and 7, 2012

Dear Mr. Hoh,
Regret to inform you that I will not be able to attend the second day workshop today due to personal reasons. However I am truly glad that I had made the decision to join the workshop for I discover this morning that the step by step zhi-tui songyao gong fa taught by Kong Xu laoshi yesterday has indeed given me the results that I have not attained in over two years of hard work on the same form. I woke up to find that my qi has definitely sunk to my dantian and I experienced the kind of ‘rooting’ into the earth I have never felt before. Even a very slight movement of my toes will send qi surging up my legs, spine and all the way up to my head! Excited, I immediately do form no. 9 (Tan Tui Qiao Zu Miao Tai Ji) of Xingshen Zhuang with my eyes closed. To my amazement I could do it with my eyes closed without losing my balance. This is something I could not have done before even though I have been a serious zhineng qigong practitioner for close to nine years. Please convey my heartfelt thanks to Kong Xu laoshi. He is truly a great teacher.
Warmest regards,
Lim Kian Tee

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Kung Fu Panda 2 Movie Clip "Inner Peace" Official (HD)

Inner peace - So how do we get this inner peace thing going for us in our practice? In an earlier post I had written about harmonizing our wisdom mind and emotional mind wherein we reach a state of deep relaxation during zhan zhuang. I guess this is the inner peace kungfu panda is talking about.

That was attaining inner peace while in static meditation. So how do we achieve inner peace while in motion? I found mine in my taiji practice:

In order to flow with the qi it is important for the practitioner to find his inner mind (inner peace) before he commences practice. From the moment of kai bu or legs apart we are in the state of wuji or without limit. In this state we are deeply rooted into the earth (a sense of firm connection of both feet with the ground below) while at the same time we feel extended: a conscious feeling that we are hung and pulled by an invisible thread up towards the sky. This gives rise to a feeling of being stretched on both ends leaving our body relaxed and free to move between these two anchors. At this moment we have not quite arrived at our destination of inner stillness or our inner mind (unmoving) mind. What is needed arrive at our destination is the connection of our mind with our breath. Focus our attention our breath (mindful breathing) and notice the in-breath penetrating deep from all directions into our dantian and our out-breath penetrating into every cells in our body before returning to the infinite. The connection of heaven-man-earth is now complete and we have found inner peace. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply and savour the serenity of inner peace. When you are ready to move (the beginning posture of taiji) the mind moves first sending a spiral of energy (taiji) to our muscles thus commencing motion from stillness. In motion yin-yang is manifested. This interplay of the yin and yang does not stop until our mind commands it to. That is when our minds sends a spiral of energy  to execute the closing posture and return to the state of wuji wherein the yin and yang anergies are reunited.

You will know that you have attained a good level of mind cultivation when you are able to maintain the heaven-man-earth connection throughout the entire duration of your taiji form execution. By this I mean maintaining the STILLNESS OF INNER MIND while doing your taiji.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bai Si Fang

I truly enjoy practicing taiji as it allows me to flow with the qi. Please view the short video above of me doing what is termed "Bai Si Fang" or pray in the four directions - a set of moves that allows a practitioner to polish up the basic moves of taijiquan.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Harmonizing your wisdom mind and emotional mind

Although all qigong practitioners are working with qi the path they walk can be different. Some use qigong for medical and health benefits like zhineng qigong, some use qigong for martial arts purposes, some use qigong to achieve a calm state of mind for deep and profound thinking e.g. scholars of confucianism, and some use qigong for spiritual enlightenment e.g. buddhist monks.

Whatever path we are taking, in order to excel in what we are trying achieve we must be able to achieve deep relaxation of mind or "to enter qigong state". To enter qigong state we have to be able to harmonise our wisdom mind and our emotional mind. In this blog entry I would like to describe my own personal experience of harmonizing my wisdom and emotional mind.

The Chinese equate our wisdom mind to a horse - big and strong; and our emotional mind is likened to a monkey - small and weak. Before you start thinking that monkey being small and weak will be of no match to Mr. Horse, bear in mind that monkey though small and weak has the capability to disorientate you from your focus, weaken your will and make you uncertain and fearful. Let us look at the following life situation:

You are caught in a traffic jam moving only a meter or so only after staying stationary for more than five minutes. To make matters worse you have this very important meeting with your client to explain your proposal on this project that will have a very important impact on the bottom line of your company. At the rate the traffic is flowing there will be no way you could make it on time for the meeting. Mr. Monkey immediately judged that you will be doomed and that you will be killed by your boss for failing to secure this very important deal. You become fearful and prayed hard to God that some miracle will happen to take you out of this misery. Your pray quietly... but nothing happened. In the meantime Mr. Monkey chattered on incessantly: " Why is this happening to me! Oh no someone please help me. (Horn loudly at the car in front that is slow to move when those in front has already inched forward) Next Mr. Monkey seems to insist that he can do something and asked you to try to overtake this annoying car in front. Your are flustered. Sweating, heart beating faster... At certain stage Mr. Horse decided that enough is enough and decided to speak up. Mr. Horse said to Mr. Monkey: "Will you stop your incessant chattering and calm down? Trying to overtake this car in front; is it going to help you get out of this traffic jam?" Mr. Monkey realized his mistake and replied, "No". "Good that you know this," says Mr. horse. "Now, why don't we just put on some nice music and relax while we wait for the traffic to clear." Monkey agreed that it is a good idea. When horse and monkey agrees we have harmony of the two.

I love to do a lot of "San xing ping zhanzhuang" or 3 centers Merge as it is very effective in helping us achieve loosening of our lower back as well as our sacro-illiac joint (the joint between our pelvic bone and the tail bone). My wisdom mind tells me that I should make it a point to do 1 hour per day without fail while Mr. Monkey may tell me to give it a miss today as I am a little bit lazy. Fortunately Mr. horse is very firm and I managed to put in 1 hour of zhan zhuang everyday for more than a month now. Getting monkey to cooperate is one thing. During the session, monkey tries to to wander all over the world making me lose focus on the lower dantian. Monkey will also complain of discomfort here and there: forever trying to stray my focus away from the lower dantian. This is where we have an opportunity to exercise our free will: (1) We can walk away and do something more interesting instead of having to put up with annoying monkey. (2) We persevere and use Mr. horse's strength to rein in restless monkey.

If we succeed to rein in monkey, the two will be in harmony and we will begin to feel a full and profound focus on lower dantian resulting in our consciousness being connected with qi. This comes as a feeling of "bai hui" (accupoint at top of head), "lao gong" ( point in center of palm), and "yong quan" (accupoint at our feet) being simultaneously connected by five streams of qi terminating at our lower dantian. Feeling a ball of qi in our palms all the way into the center between navel and "mingmen". A deep relaxation start to spread from the lower dantian and eventually you will experience a relaxation so deep that it seems that you are in the center of this great ball of brilliant qi which envelops you. At this state of consciousness you can even move without losing connection with qi. What you will feel when you move is like you are a sea weed deeply rooted in the sea bed and sway gently about as the currents moves around you. The longer you stand in meditation, the more relaxed you will feel... HUNYUAN LINGTONG!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Deep into my being - 2

It has taken close to a year before I am able to write about deep into my being 2...

I used to think that cultivation of the mind is more effective than cultivation of the body. But now I find myself placing more emphasis on xingshen zhuang as I realize that without a strong and healthy body it will be difficult to truly relax.

Cultivating our body
The first step in cultivating the body is to learn to introspect your mind to 'listen' to our body. When we listen to our body we are actually placing our 'yi' (our wisdom mind) and 'xin' (our emotional mind) within ourselves. That way we can achieve body and mind harmony and we will be fully focused in the moment of what we are doing. A deep relaxation will follow and you will find doing the forms of xingshen zhuang easy and relaxing. More so it will become a wholesome and harmonious experience of body and mind unity meaning you can execute the forms easily and without the aches and pain to distract you from what you are doing.

Cultivating our breath
With our mind and body working together harmoniously we naturally become aware of our breathing. Regulating our breathing will lead to an even deeper relaxation which will liberate our 'shen' (spirit) to express itself as a keen awareness of not only our being but also all that is around us. Regulating our breath is done by natural abdominal breathing wherein on inhalation our stomach rises and expands outwards and on exhalation our stomach contract towards our 'mingmen' (life gate - located directly behind our navel and just inside our spinal column). The breathing is done deeply and evenly without even a hint of pause in the transition from inhalation to exhalation and vice versa.

Realizing smooth flow of 'qi'
The emotional mind and wisdom are in harmony, the body is relaxed and the breath penetrates deep in our inner being... our qi flow becomes smooth and a deep and warm feeling permeates throughout our entire body.

Expression of the 'shen'
I often am confused by the interchangeable usage of the words 'mind' and 'spirit' in literature that I read. I now understand that 'shen' is a state of consciousness wherein we become deeply peaceful and aware of not only our being but also all that is around us. Shen expresses itself when we are able to achieve body, mind, breath and qi harmony.

Each little realization and understanding is an enlightenment.
Hunyuan lingtong.