Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Nothing to be Found Outside of Training

Below is an excerpt from a post by Ian Cameron, a senior taijiquan teacher in Scotland. The full post my be read here.


In Tai Chi there is no such thing as an absolute, or any one answer, there is only continuous enquiry. 

So, in this context, don't try to solve Tai Chi, because you won’t, but you can keep on learning from it. This I think, is where the mistaken need to find 'THE Answer' occurs. This is looking for something that isn't there. It is not about getting an answer, but gaining understanding. Most arguments about who’s right or wrong are a waste of time.


Ultimately, training in any discipline is to see things as they are. Prolonged training will take you along a path, to the point where you come to the realization that nothing stands still, that there is no definitive answer. Once this is seen, there is then freedom to carry on without expectation.

Nothing is to be found outside of training. No so called secrets will improve the doing of Tai Chi Chuan. This is a myth, as knowing ‘secrets,” is a long way from having the skill to apply them. The great Judo 10th Dan Kyuzo Mifune once said, "Don't waste your time looking for the secret technique, just train hard." Trying to find 'answers' by relying upon someone else, is no use. You may 'have' an answer but it will be 'their' answer, and soon that will not be enough, it isn't a profound knowing, only information. Nor can you be given anything. What if you 'get The answer,' What then? 

Is that it, job done? Wouldn't that be great? At last everything perfect. Anyway, never mind the answer, what is the question, what is it we are so desperate to know?


I suspect it is to know ourselves better, but there is too much distraction available that stops us looking too closely. The real enquiry is inwards. Even the classics allude to this when they say: “You push hands to know others, you do the forms to know yourselves.”

There does still exist, the need to appear to be holding some mysterious knowledge no-one else has. This makes the custodian of these 'secrets' appear to be special. There is no questioning the origins of these secrets. My own teacher wrote a piece in which he mentioned the words: twist and vibrate. 

Apparently now, they are 'secret words.' The same is true of ‘hidden forms.‘ I knew them, before they were hidden. How did this come about? To what purpose?


Everyone knows that forms and fighting are not the same thing. That doesn’t stop the fruitless attempts at making the form fit a fighting situation. We have all seen photo’s of examples of the application of specific techniques. This is fine as far as it goes, but the ability to change is what is really necessary, something that will never be learned from a book. So, even here, there is no definitive answer. To master the principle gives freedom to change, to adapt to any situation. Any answer in this context has to be on the instant, without thought, as long as it is the principle that is used, it does not have to be a specific technique.



Saturday, April 25, 2020

Aikido, Daito Ryu and Money

Ellis Amdur wrote a very interesting piece on the relationship between Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba, and how the relationship may have had a lot to do with money. 

Below is an excerpt that was published at Guillame Erard blog. The full post may be read here.


Some might find this an essay on a trivial subject—a one-hundred-year old personal debt. How this debt is interpreted, however, defines the nature of the relationship of two men: Takeda Sokaku and Ueshiba Morihei. It is remarkable how an assertion, however small, can create—or at least confirm—a myth. In this case, the myth is the domineering relationship of Takeda Sokaku towards his student, Ueshiba Morihei, and that, even further, Sokaku was grasping, even greedy. The account of this allegedly unfair debt is used to buttress the claim that Takeda Sokaku intrusively, inescapably controlled Ueshiba’s life.  For partisans of Ueshiba, he is perceived to be somewhat of a victim, bound by honor and loyalty to a teacher who made surpassingly unreasonable demands upon him.

Takeda, sizzling and sparking, wandering throughout Japan like a tengu clipped of his wings, and Ueshiba, craving teachers to mentor him, all the while accumulating social capital amongst terrorists and budoka, military and nobility alike.
To merely recount a story of a man who found a teacher, studied various wrist-locks, throws and pins, and came up with some new interpretations on how to do the same techniques is all too mundane. 

The birth of aikido, viewed as an art of spiritual transformation, and an invincible, unique martial art, requires myth. Therefore, the fraught relationship between Ueshiba Morihei and his teacher, Takeda Sokaku alone, quite apart from any technical or psychological innovations, makes this story one of high drama. First is Takeda, a paranoid irascible man, who seems to have lived torn between a need to bond to disciples, one after another, whom he later rejected or more-or-less ignored, having found another. And there is Ueshiba, a man searching for something beyond flesh and blood existence, paradoxically striving find it within the world of violence, like a gnostic striving to liberate the sparks of divinity from the clutches of the muck of the material world. And then they meet: Takeda, sizzling and sparking, wandering throughout Japan like a tengu clipped of his wings, and Ueshiba, craving teachers to mentor him, all the while accumulating social capital amongst terrorists and budoka, military and nobility alike. Takeda was, paradoxically, a free man, self-created, linked to no living teacher nor lineage, yet ensnared within his own paranoid temperament—nothing is lonelier than living behind a wall of spears. Ueshiba was, for much of his life, anything but free–once he found his teachers, Takeda and Deguchi, he was trapped by obligations to two men who tied their followers within feudal rules that they never followed themselves. Takeda, in his own way, loved Ueshiba, the kind of love of a feral cat that will never leave, but will claw your face every time you let your guard down. Did Ueshiba love Takeda? Maybe in the way one loves a crazy girlfriend—she shivers your bones in ways you never imagined, but she tries to run you down with her Pontiac Firebird, all rust spots and primer paint, every time you suggest breaking up.
So, of course they got in a fight about money.
On September 15th, 1922, Takeda Sokaku awarded Ueshiba a kyoju dairi, an assistant instructor’s teaching license, which clearly states, “When instructing students, an initial payment of three yen should be made to Takeda Dai-Sensei as an enrollment fee.” Stanley Pranin wrote about this: “Later each accused the other of improprieties with regard to financial matters, and reports of their last meetings reveal the unresolved nature of the disagreements between them.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Just Sitting At My Desk

There I was, just sitting there at work (just before the lockdown), minding my own business and not bothering anyone when the phone rang. It was a recruiter whom I’ve known for over 25 years.

He said that he had an account manager position at a company whose product I was familiar with and would I like to talk to them about it. “Sure” I say. As a rule, I don’t like to turn down interviews because you will always learn something.

I walk in and talk to the hiring manager. It was like talking to an old friend. We’ve been in the same circles and have background and experiences. For example, I wrote the operating system for an engine controller back in the day and he actually worked on that controller when he was a software engineer a couple of years later. It’s a wonder we didn’t cross paths before.

A few days later I came back to talk to the other senior guy in the office, a field application engineer and again, it was like talking to an old friend. We also had similar backgrounds and experiences and knew many of the same people.

The long and short of it is that they made an offer, which I accepted, even in the midst of the lockdown. It’s a better job at a better company for a lot more money and benefits that are on a whole other level.

This is really shaking up the box. When making a big change like this, I am curious to see what the I Ching has to say about it: “What can I expect in making this change?” I came up with hexagram #16, Enthusiasm, with no changing lines, which says that the situation is relatively stable.

Onboarding is weird because no one is supposed to be in an office. Most of the forms are filled online, which helps. Initially, I can do a lot of product training from home and can get introduced to the accounts by phone or video conference.

Other than this, I had been working from home. I worked from home at a previous job, so it was no big deal.

I’ve been keeping the same routine that I had when I was going into the office. I get up quite early so that I can practice every day before the events of the day conspire to throw a monkey wrench into my otherwise well laid plans.

My practice has been flourishing. Our group class has been suspended during the lockdown, so I have really been focused on making the most of my home practice.

I have been losing weight. I’ve only been eating what my wife has been serving and while we are locked down, she’s been making a point of making our meals healthy. We get carryout less than once a week, so it’s all on us.

My goal for losing weight it to get just before the point where my family begins to complain that I’ve lost too much weight.

Between Lent, where I give up most of my activity on Facebook, except keeping up the Cook Ding’s Kitchen page, and searching on related pages and groups for suitable material ;the lockdown and the fact that spring hasn’t progressed far enough to really allow me to do much in the way of yardwork, I’ve been getting a ton of reading done.

One of my daughters was in Europe just as the virus was breaking out. When she was getting ready to go, she had been receiving notifications from the State Department warning her that Italy wasn’t looking good. She was supposed to visit Italy, among other countries and as the trip got closer, made the decision to skip Italy and go somewhere else instead.

On a Wednesday the President announced that flights were going to be suspended from Europe at midnight on Friday. She returned from Europe to NYC on that Thursday and came home on the Friday; then self -isolated herself for two weeks.

Well, that about wraps it up. Funny bounces indeed.



Sunday, April 19, 2020

The 300 Tang Dynasty Poems, #75, An Old War Song

The Tang Dynasty was a high point of culture in ancient China. Especially esteemed were poems. There was no home coming or leave taking; no event too small to not be commemorated with a poem.

Some of the best poems of that period have been collected into an anthology known as The 300 Tang Dynasty Poems. A online version of the anthology may be found here. Today we have #75, An Old War Song.


AN OLD WAR-SONG
Through the bright day up the mountain, we scan the sky for a war-torch;
At yellow dusk we water our horses in the boundaryriver;
And when the throb of watch-drums hangs in the sandy wind,
We hear the guitar of the Chinese Princess telling her endless woe....
Three thousand miles without a town, nothing but camps,
Till the heavy sky joins the wide desert in snow.
With their plaintive calls, barbarian wildgeese fly from night to night,
And children of the Tartars have many tears to shed;
But we hear that the Jade Pass is still under siege,
And soon we stake our lives upon our light warchariots.
Each year we bury in the desert bones unnumbered,
Yet we only watch for grape-vines coming into China.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

What is Kata

What is kata? It's an athletic  training method at a minimum. One works on balance and agility, develops strength and exercises the development of power. 

Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared at The Shotokan Times which explains kata practice as a movement based learning approach. The full article may be read here.



Before you do a kata, ask yourself what you can learn from the kata.
Manabu Murakami
This quote was published on The Shotokan Times a while ago with the friendly permission of Jeff Christian. So, let us take it seriously and ask: What can we learn from kata? Before we give an answer let us assume that most people (Karate practitioners, too) are average Joe´s rather than top-athletes. They won’t become highly trained experts in utilizing kata because they have daily jobs, families, and other duties. However, they like to train. To be beneficial for them, one must reduce complexity, build focal points, and find a practicable approach to use kata as a learning tool. For me this works best by understanding kata as universal movement principles about how to generate power and to organize one’s body. This leads to more efficient movements and a better utilization of the body. Especially, efficiency cannot be stressed enough. Because it is the foundation for any martial application.[1]


What Kata for Movement means and what it not means

“Kata for movement” does not mean to stand in deep kiba dachi to build up leg muscles. It also does not mean doing kata with maximum kime for developing a strong punch. To become strong, it is better to punch a heavy bag or makiwara. Fighting off air will not create the same results.[2]

The movement-based approach of kata is a holistic way to train the whole-body movement and the underlying movement principles.[3] The following quote by Dr. Perry Nickelston expresses that idea very well:
“The goal is not to learn a movement; the goal is to become a mover”[4]
Dr. Perry Nickelston
Power generation, aligning and connecting your body, structure and how to manipulate it – these elements are key in martial arts training. Kata proves to be an excellent tool for experiencing and developing that in a structured way. From kata can be learnt:
  • whole body movement and re-positioning,
  • transitional movements,
  • initiating movements,
  • shifting your center of gravity,
  • adjusting your posture,
  • connecting your joints,
  • harnessing certain muscle groups,
  • experiencing different ways of generating power,
  • motion economy etc.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Correct Body Positioning in the Yang 37 Form

In the following video, Cheng Man Ching shows correct body positioning in the short 37 Yang form.

This is an excerpt from "The Master Tapes" a 4 DVD set of Professor Cheng teaching form, push hands, sword and Chi from http://www.chengmanching.com -


Friday, April 10, 2020

Being Hyper Competitive is a Mixed Blessing

Dr AnnMaria De Mars is a former world champion judoka as well as being the mother of Ronda Roussey. At her blog, The Business/Judo of Life, she had a post about the cost of having the competitive spirit which propelled her to a world championship. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here.

"You must let go of this to take hold of that." The Dao De Jing


Being Hyper-competitive is a mixed blessing



Few things are an unmixed blessing.

I’m a hyper-competitive person. That has helped me in many ways my whole life but it’s also cost me in ways I am just now coming to realize. I have beaten a lot of people who had superior technical skills because I trained harder and was willing to put up with more pain both in practice and in a match.

After seeing a demonstration at a clinic of a  technique that the coach said,


“This will be so painful, your opponent will turn over to avoid it,”

I went up to him and said,


“I’m sure that will work with a lot of people. For me, and for the people who really want to win, they won’t move to a position that’s a disadvantage for them. They’ll endure it and make you pay for it later. Those are the people you really need to figure out a way to beat.”

Being hyper-competitive has helped me in business, too.

I learned from sports that you don’t win long-term by cheating but rather by working harder and learning more than the competition. I’ve applied that to my career as well. That’s one reason I have four degrees. I always find time to learn new programming languages, new technologies, read up on the latest marketing trends, even if it’s only a few hours a week. I put in my hours on the job, travel more miles than our competition. My former teammates from judo know this because I only see them every year or so.

What could possibly be wrong with being hyper-competitive?

It took me a long time to learn this - if you are hyper-competitive, you look at almost everyone and everything through the lens of "Will this help me win or not?"

 I have far fewer friends in judo than most people who have been in the sport for almost 50 years. Whether it was for a spot on a team or as a member of a board promoting policies that I really believed would help grow the sport, I looked at most people as competitors or “team mates”. Competitors keep you from winning and team mates help you win. I never had a single friend who was in my division. There was one gold medal and I wanted it.

Now, there is nothing wrong with looking at a person as someone who helps you win, since it can go both ways. It’s the same as looking at someone as a customer. I get their money but they get software that helps them or their children learn and do better in school. They don’t have to fight about doing homework to learn fractions. The same with a team mate. I get a good work out, the other person gets a good work out and we both leave the gym better.

The point I missed is that I ONLY looked at most people as helping me win or keeping me from winning. If I met someone who knew a lot about teaching counters or organizing a tournament I tried to learn everything possible that would help me win. To be fair, I would make sure they got paid or show up at their next event or whatever I could do to pay them back. Hyper-competitive doesn’t mean you have to be a selfish jerk.

What I realized, sometimes years later, was that a lot of those people had qualities and life histories that were far more fascinating than just judo or business. Some of them had careers in special forces in the military (hello, Roy Hash) or had been doing stunts for decades (Gene Lebell) or where working in civil rights law (Karen Mackey).

I think it might be necessary when you are competing to only focus on winning if you really want to be number one. Some people are there for the experience and that is fine, but that was not me.


Confession:


That line about “In the Olympics, the important thing is not to win but taking part”

I never believed that for a minute. 


 

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed almost every minute of judo practice. I even liked the cross-training in running and weightlifting - except sprints. I hated sprints and I hated getting up in the morning to run them twice as much because morning was involved. Still, the important thing to me was winning.

When I was done competing, I had put so many other things on hold, I just switched from competing in judo to competing in my doctoral program, in my career.

If I hadn’t been so busy trying to be the smartest person in the room with the most degrees, most publications and highest salary, I probably would have made more friends in graduate school and early in my career, too.

Gradually, eventually, I learned that not everything was a competition. This may seem like I am a slow learner but I am writing this because I know plenty of people who are still competing every minute and need to hear this. They’re trying to be the one with the most money, most awards and frankly, it’s just silly.

You can have friends who are not fans or potential customers. They can just be interesting people who know things you don’t or who make you laugh until you fall out of your chair or who help the community in ways you admire . 

People can be customers or colleagues and still have  interesting lives outside of your business.

 

 

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The Economic Value of Traditional Weapons

There are quite a few people who have  been around martial arts for a while who have become weapons collectors. People have been collecting weapons for ages, and you must wonder what is their worth?

Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared at Kung Fu Tea on the economic value of traditional weapons. The full post may be read here.

One of the most notable trends over the last decade has been the rapid appreciation of prices for antique Chinese weapons.  There is more variability in markets for antique objects than one might think.  Simply being rare was does not make something valuable.  Antique Chinese blades in good condition have always been somewhat hard to find.  But when I first became interested in them, serious collectors seemed to only be interested in Japanese arms. Their main piece of advice was to avoid Chinese weapons all together.

Needless to say, things are quite different now.  As China’s status as a global power has risen the domestic market for its own antiques has exploded, and the competition for those pieces that reside outside the country has likewise increased.  I have recently been wondering if changes in the prices of certain types of antique ethnographic objects (including weapons) might not correlate with shifts in China’s soft power position more generally.  Might it be possible to construct some sort of measurable “soft power index?”

It’s a question that deserves some study.  Though it is also interesting to note that the social status of the traditional Chinese martial arts has been falling at exactly the same time that the price of antiques associated with these practices have skyrocketed. It seems that it is the image of China itself, as either an entitiy to be feared or desired, which is the critical factor here.  The performance of TCMA practitioners “in the octagon” seems to be less of an issue.  At least in the short run.

I began to think about shifts in the antique market after running across the postcard at the top of this post.  In some ways it makes a nice companion piece to our last entry in this series. That also featured traditional Chinese weapons.  But in that case the weapons were displayed in a prominent location in their homeland and in a traditional way.

This photograph features what appears to be the collection of a European official or military officer.  I suspect that he was an administrator of some sort as his own pith helmet, displayed in the upped right hand corner of the image, is purposively contrasted with the traditional feathered hat of a Qing official on the other side of the display.  One is thus forced to conclude that the collection of these weapons represents, at least on a visual level, the spoils of China’s transformation from a traditional Empire to a modern nation in close communication with outside powers.

The most interesting items are all displayed in the central part of the image. Readers will immediately identify two sabers that both appear to be well made but of a civilian rather than military pattern.  Along with these we find a single hooked sword and a broad, flat, guard-less blade that resembles some sort of machete.  Whether this specimen is actually Chinese in origin is an interesting question.

Beneath the swords we find a collection of ancient Chinese coins, juxtaposed with what appears to be old style black powder rifle cartridges.  The lower half of the display keeps with the martial theme, but leaves the Chinese cultural sphere.  We now find a collection of arrows that appear to be from Papua New Guinea and which have nothing to do with the Chinese style bow at the very top of the display.  These are accompanied by a traditional paddle from the area, as well as a banner of some sort.  Unfortunately, this postcard is badly faded and I can’t quite make out the image on the cloth. One wonders if the machete grouped with the swords originated with this part of the collection.  The scene is then rounded off with a collection of musical instruments, pipes, a bamboo umbrella and a rustic bench.

Again, one strongly suspects that this collection represents the curios brought home by an official stationed first in China and then in New Guinea in either the late 19th or early 20th century.  Such an individual may have been German, British or something else.  If a sharper image of this postcard ever surfaces, perhaps the pith helmet (which seems to have some sort of insignia) will yield additional clues.

Still, I would expect that a German collector is probably a good bet.  Prior to WWI the Germans held colonies in Shandong (areas that saw a good deal of violence during the Boxer Uprising), and they also colonized much of Papua New Guinea.  Thus a bureaucrat’s or military officer’s career trajectory might very well connect these two otherwise distant places.  Further, the specimen has an early divided back indicating that it was likely printed in Germany sometime prior to WWI (between 1907 and 1914), when they lost their monopoly on the export of high-quality photographic postcards.

Sadly this postcard is not labeled in any way. We don’t even know who actually printed it.  But it seems likely that it was printed in the pre-WWI period using an early 20thcentury (or late 19thcentury) image.

How much did our unknown collector pay for these trophies?  Luckily we have a wonderful, if often overlooked, source on what was happening in the market for antique Chinese weapons as the nation’s military rushed to modernize.  Dr. Edward Bedloe, who was the US Consul in Xiamen from 1890-93, wrote a very interesting article documenting how the bottom fell out of the market for antique Chinese swords and other arms in the last two decades of the 19th century. Of course these were also years when China’s status as a major power were in decline, coming to a head with Japan’s defeat of the larger empire during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).

Some context may be necessary before we can interpret the prices in Bedloe’s article. He notes that Chinese swords could be had for $1 or less, with good condition Qing military sabers selling for about $5.  To put this in perspective, a plain double barrel shotgun in the Sears Catalog for 1892 sold for $7, and a Winchester repeating rifle went for $14.  Most sportsmen in the US could afford the former firearm, but not the latter.  New Winchesters were always something of a luxury.  Perhaps those benchmarks will be useful when evaluating the perceived cultural value of a “$10 halberd” or a “$25 suit of armor.”  While you could buy a good sword for less than $50 in today’s money, the very best antiques might still cost between $500-$2000.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A Wrestler Studies Judo

Below is an excerpt from an interesting post at Brooklyn Monk in Asia about a wrestler, who studies Shuai Jaio while he is in China, comparing and contrasting Judo; which is research he is conducting for a PhD. The full post may be read here. I am looking forward to reading the whole series.

Sensei Gary Rasanen, an 8th degree grand master of judo grabs my sleeve and my lapel, similar to a grip used in Chinese shuai jiao wrestling. He pulls me into his hip, sits down slightly, while pulling my arm across his chest, and suddenly, I am airborne. I slam, hard on the mat, as his body crashes down on top of me. Careful to maintain control of my arm, he rotates his hip toward me and widens his legs, in order to drop more weight on my chest, making it hard for me to breath. Maintaining his balance, and careful to keep his weight on me, his legs walk around my head. As he goes, I am slowly being choked with my own arm. Because of my MMA training, I can survive the oxygen deprivation without taping. But this is judo. Sensei Gary only needs to hold me in this position for twenty-five seconds. Then he will be declared the winner of the bout.
And this was my introduction to judo. 

But why was I here, lying on the mat in Port Jefferson Station, at Long Island Judo & Martial Arts, with an eighth degree master choking me? The answer is, it was part of my school homework.
My PhD dissertation research, at Shanghai University of Sport, where I live and train, is a comparison between Chinese traditional shuai jiao wrestling and modern freestyle wrestling. Additionally, I also study san da, as many of the san da throws come directly from Chinese shuai jiao. 

Because of obvious similarities between judo and shuai jiao, I am interested in more deeply studying the art of judo. Hopefully, I will continue with this series, as I come to know more about judo.
Grand Master Gary Rasanen started training in 1968, at age 11, in New York’s oldest dojo, in Brooklyn. He once trained with the Korean Olympic team and is versed in jujitsu and shotokan karate. “It was all part of the budokan system of martial arts.” Explained Sensei Gary. “To be proficient in that style, you have to be versed in those three arts.” Keeping with this spirit of being an all-around fighter, sensei Gary’s judo school is located inside of United Studios, Progressive Martial Arts center where students were learning a variety of martial arts under the direction of Renshi Enzo Aliotta.
The reason I sought out a judo master, during one of my brief trips to the United States, was because the Chinese claim that judo and Chinese shuai jiao share a common origin. Not only did I not care if that was true, but as a doctoral candidate at a Chinese university, I wanted to steer as clear of that sensitive issue as I could. As both, a martial artist, and a guy from Brooklyn, however, it was obvious to see that there were some clear similarities between the arts. First off, we both wore heavy white jackets and belts around our waist, which could be used for gripping, controlling and throwing.
 

As an MMA fighter I had been exposed to Brazilian Jujitsu and was always fascinated to research the Japanese origins of that art. As jujitsu and judo are related, I was also very curious to find out about the ground fighting aspects of judo. If you ask the average person on the streets, they have most likely heard of judo. But if you asked them what it was, they would most likely say something about takedowns and throws, rather than joint locks and submissions.
“Judo has grappling, submissions, choking, arm-bars, joint manipulations… There’s a lot more to it than throwing someone to the ground.” Explained Sensei Gary. “A few years ago, 70% of fights were won on the ground.” I was wondering how it worked that some fights were won by throwing and some by submission. “If I take you down in half throw, wazari, I have to hold you on the ground for 25 seconds to get the win.”
Apparently, a Wazari is a half a point throw, which differs from an Ippon, which is a full throw, which ends a match. To end a judo match with a throw, the opponent must land flat on his back. If not, you have to go to the ground and control him for 25 seconds. Or, after the wazari, the match can end on the ground, by choke or submission, like in jujitsu or MMA.
In MMA and in freestyle wrestling, you are generally just looking for a win, by any legal means. But when you start practicing a specific art, such as judo or shuai jiao, the question always arises “Do you just want to win? Or do you want to use the art?” For example, my shuai jiao team at the university is complete made up of former Greco Roman competitor, except me, I come from an MMA background. If we wrestle just for the win or just or the takedown, I would generally put my money on my teammates vs. nearly any club team in Shanghai. But, having said that, this year, 2014, my team pulled out of the national shuai jiao championships, because they were afraid they would be disqualified or penalized for not using proper shuai jiao techniques.
I asked Sensei Gary if there was some similar situation in judo. He explained, “There are three types of judo instructors: technically sound, but no competition, or someone who loves competition, but whose techniques are not on par with a technically sound black belt, or others who can teach you to compete on Olympic level.”


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Cheng Man Ching on Qi

Below is an excerpt from the entry at the Qi Enclyclopedia which is a collection of the words and thoughts of Cheng Man Ching on Qi. The full entry may be read here.

Qi and Cheng Man-ching

Compiled from Various Sources

What follows are the words and thoughts about Qi from one of the leading taijiquan masters of the twentieth century, Cheng Man-ching, who is believed by many to be the major influence for the growth of taijiquan (t'ai chi) in the United States.


Training the Qi in Taijiquan - an Overview

"Relax completely. The aim is to throw every bone and muscle of the body wide open so that the qi may travel unobstructed. Once this is done, the chest must be further relaxed and the qi made to sink to the navel. After a time the qi will be felt accumulating for mass integration in the navel, from where it will begin to circulate throughout the body…. Later the student will be able to direct the qi instantaneously to any part of the his body by means of the mind….The movement deriving from this internal generation and circulation of qi we call 'propelled' movement [when the] limbs and other body components are moved…by the force of the qi. In the next, more advanced stage, the qi is absorbed by and stored in the marrow, causing the bones to become steel hard and essentially indestructible." T'ai-Chi, p. 5-6

Moving the Qi in the Body

This is a beginning of awareness of Qi in Taijiquan. Sink the Qi to the dantian[1] and concentrate it there for softness. Second: The Qi reaches the yongquan, [the "bubbling well," at the center of the balls of the feet]. Here you can "tap into the earth's qi and provide you with rooting strength." Qi rises to the soft spot at the top of the head, the ni-wan (or "clay pill" ). Here you "can receive heaven's qi and thus stimulate your sensitive qi." Master Cheng's New Method of T'ai Chi Self-cultivation, p. 15.

Mobilizing the Qi - qi reaches the four limbs

"After the qi sinks to the dantian, the xin [heart-mind][2] acts to dispatch it. Thus sending the qi to the leg, then the knee, then the heel. This is similar to the saying "the authentic person breathes with the heel." Doing the same, send qi to the shoulder, then the elbow, then the wrist. The joints and gates in the four limbs are all open. Thus, going down, the qi can reach the yongquan (bubbling well). Going up, the qi can reach the laogong (heart of the palm), and arrive at the tip of the middle finger. This is what the Boxing Manual[3] describes as, 'With the xin [heart-mind] moving the qi; with the qi mobilizing the body.' In this way, the business gets done!" Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ching)/Lee Fife, Distinct Sequence of the Journey.

Health:

"Every aspect of Professor Cheng's Tai Chi Chuan is to develop the flow and accumulation of one's qi. Concentrating one's qi for the resilience of a small child is his definition of good health, the benefit from which all the benefits of T'ai Chi are gained." Gateway to the Miraculous, p. 124.

Holding your posture and head erect, "Swallow and sink heaven's qi to your dantian." "This energy has tremendous health benefits…. "The waist becomes lively which enriches our urogenital qi, which bestows longevity." Master Cheng's New Method of T'ai Chi Self-cultivation, p. 15