Sunday, December 30, 2012

How can I train Cheng Hsin Solo?


~~~~~~~~~~~~
George Porgist
Flattbush, NY
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
One thing I'd be interested in is direction in how some of your teachings/thoughts/topics could be studied in a solo environment.
George


George,
Without being aware of exactly which particular teachings/thoughts/topics you are referring to, I can say there is much that can be done in a solo environment. Relational interactive practice, however, ain't one of them. Yet we must remember, we are rarely out of relationship with other humans, even when we are by ourselves. If you are working on mental-emotional activities and the assumptions and challenges that relate to others, solo contemplation can be of great service, since you can delve into these things without hurry or reaction. Also, remember that the body is a functional event designed for interaction; training any bodily skill improves our ability to physically relate effectively. Further, reflecting on some interactive practice as if it is occurring presently, can be a powerful practice, and also one that can be improved with training. Hands-on interaction interspersed from time to time within your contemplation is necessary to improve the connection between the imagined event and the reality, and will strengthen your ability to train without physical interaction.

Beyond this, I'm afraid that my teachings/thoughts/topics is just too broad to address. Much is found in the solo environment. Since you are always there, study is always available.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Intrinsic Strength and Fa-Jing Comparison


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stephen Pallitino
Pacifica, CA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
What is the role of (or the difference between) intrinsic strength and fa-jing or  "whipping" the body? In my experience, it seems as if fa-jing relates to what many teachers consider "short energy" whereas intrinsic strength is required to demonstrate what is considered "long energy." Although the body can be whipped in any direction, I have difficulty compressing in any but one at a particular moment. Thoughts?
Stephen


Stephen,
Having listened in to my response to: Pat Fingers in "Systems of Thought Comparison."
I'm sure you get the picture. You must speak to me in terms of  your experience, not hearsay and terms that can change from teacher to teacher. Regarding whipping the body, it is not a method of using intrinsic strength that I teach. Whipping is not compression. It is a technique that can be used, but I prefer utilizing the whole body as one unit rather than send a wave passing through it. As a whole body moving in one direction, compression is more readily available.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Systems of Thought Comparison


~~~~~~~~~
Pat Finger
Tuscon, AZ
~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
In Principles of Effortless Power, you talk about Cheng's levels of t'ai chi ch'uan. . . . I looked back on notes that I have from your Art of Effortless Power from page 16: Feeling-attention "energy work."
You talk about Outreaching as being the bridge between Listening and Joining. Outreaching: Being 'in-touch' with the present and ever-shifting state of interaction; and "Psychic work: awareness beyond what is normally considered objective human perception"

... Are these two "principles" related?
And Is the "heaven level- Degrees 1, 2, and 3:
1. T'ing Chin (Listening Strength"),
2 Comprehension of Chin, and
3. Omnipotence Level, the same as this feeling-attention?
Pat


Pat,
My response to this and the next letter require I spend a moment promoting some clarity on our relationship with beliefs. Whenever we learn anything or hear about something, it is based in a structure of beliefs and assumptions. Any system that is created (and remember, all systems are inventions, not observations) must have a structure with particular distinctions that become its reality. This is what we learn. These almost always lead to a particular use of words; and labels and names peculiar to this system are assigned to the various aspects of the invented structure.

Are you following this so far? I imagine you'd rather hear an answer to the question, but as you will quickly find, that's not the way I work. I prefer to facilitate some real understanding and encourage a direction of authentic undertaking, rather than toss out handy information that will be taken pretty much at the same level of the request, as such we really won't progress in our dialogue, we'll simply banter.

To foreshorten a probably lengthier response, let me say that these words (heaven level, T'ing Chin, fajing, short energy, long energy, etc.) are pretty meaningless to me.

Do you understand why?

To what are they referring? And more importantly, what is YOUR experience regarding these words? We are programmed to think of systems of knowledge as something universally so. Unfortunately, I never got the Universal Text Book that the other masters must have gotten, so I have no ground from which to understand all hearsay. It is best to speak in terms of your own experience, as honestly as you can. What one teacher asserts another will not. And both may well be speaking of what they in turn heard from someone else. How can we progress in this way? Your questions are important to me, but I need to grasp what it is you're actually asking. For this, I need to know your experience (I don't mean how long you've studied, but what you see, feel, think is the case that leads to your question), and what it is you areactually wondering.

Now let me respond in some small way to the question asked.

Outreaching is simply feeling and being connected to another's whole body, so it seems to me that it can be seen as a bridge between listening and joining, since listening is perceiving what's there and joining is action taken in relation to what's there. When we join we want to join the whole body and action of the partner/opponent; ergo outreaching is a component of that effort.

Are outreaching and "psychic" work related? Really depends on how we structure our cosmology. 
Regarding: Is the "heaven level - Degrees 1, 2, and 3:
1. T'ing Chin (Listening Strength),
2 Comprehension of Chin, and
3. Omnipotence Level, the same as this feeling-attention? 
I don't know. Have never really tried to match what I experience with what others say. Well, not much anyway. Grandiose titles don't mean squat; only an experience is important.

I'm not a fan of the way the Chinese tradition has made so much into important sounding names, for then people tend to fear soiling these lofty ideals with their bumbling ignorance and all too often prefer instead to build up a fantasy around them, and pretend to stand importantly on that fantasy as a "knower" of this thing. It is a damaging position to take. I'm not saying this is true of you, I simply support freedom from this entrapment; and since many teachers do not, preferring instead the above position, I feel for the students who are pressed into a role of believing and following dogma. Certainly there is value in what others can teach, especially the giants that have come before us. Our task, however, is to move beyond the giants, and in so doing, honor them. Reciting dogma does no one honor.

Another way of answering your question is, no. The feeling-attention is just that, a sense with which we have awareness and feeling. This sense-perception should not be confused with emotion, but is the stuff with which we move our feeling sense around. Or at least that's the way it seems to me. But this is not listening, compression, or Omnipotent anything. We use our feeling-attention to assist in all of these (well I'm not sure what the Omnipotent thing is about, except that it's not true. I've never met anyone who is actually omnipotent, so why would we use such a term?). Does that help?
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


The Effortless Punch


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Richard Allan
Southhampton, UK
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
First I would like to thank you again for all that I gained from the first weekend at Swansea and from your "Principles of Effortless Power" book. They have changed my practice for the better and what is more they are great fun. I hope to be able to train with you again in the future.
Secondly, I asked about the effortless application of jing and how it can be developed and applied through strike, throw, or the Shake maneuvers of Chen t'ai ji without recourse to muscular or energetic tension. You asked me first to state what my idea of fa jing is. My answer is probably pretty ropy but here goes:
Fa jing means transfer of power. The energy I'm specifically asking about isn't the long steady transfer of, say, the push form, but the short explosive releases. I think its basis is using alignment to
allow a path of pressure to travel from the earth to be released to the partner. The feet create the pressure and the relative position of the waist, spine and arms coupled with the mind/intention shape and direct the power. A whip like motion may be employed. Pressure is quickly passed from one hip to the other and down out through the legs and feet in very quick succession. The whole body is gently held in shape to allow the resulting opposite reaction from the ground to release. The use of spiral pressure and twisting of the limbs may be used to build pressure. Now this is just my conjecture: is there an interaction from pressure in the lungs "bouncing" downthe diaphragm, thus condensing the energy in the lower abdomen which can cause a sudden release of energy directed by mind and posture? Is this the meaning of "The internal energy should be extended, vibrated like the beat of a drum," the diaphragm being like the skin of a drum? Or is the internal energy itself "held taut" as the skin of a drum so it can somehow vibrate throughout the body?

Like I say I'm just fishing here as I'm not developed enough to play around with this yet, but some modicum of release can be expressed, just I'm not sure if I'm totally relaxed, hence effortless. Heck, I'm nowhere near totally relaxed anyway! In a nutshell, the stream of interaction is directed by relaxed posture, interaction with earth, relative position to partner and internal pressure, being given shape and direction by the mind/body. My question is: with mindfulness and expression of fundamental principles and proper alignments, how can sudden short releases be stored and released powerfully without being obvious in its set up or tense in its use? How can it be like your analogy of the archer who bends the bow but bow/arrow/target all interact with themselves and of themselves? Actually I'm getting ahead of myself. With what methods can I train for short power, make it useful yet effortless and avoid any major mistakes? I know there are no shortcuts, but an idea of a quick route for foundation in a broad base of applicationswould be most appreciated.
Once again thanks and gratitude,
Richard


Richard,
The fact of something isn't the same thing as people's understanding of it. It's what people think something is that's really at issue, and what we must address. What you describe is generally how those pursuing fa jing think on the matter. It is far too complicated. Remember these notions come from another culture and some aspects make reference to shared metaphor, and so collective understandings, that we do not share. It can be confusing and also made to seem more complicated than it is. We might also want to consider that the culture from which these notions came didn't view such pursuits as we would. They would do it a bit more through "imagination" and directed intent rather than factual or scientific understanding. So what was said doesn't have to have any real physical reference or basis in fact, it simply had to generate a desired result when the practitioner engaged in this method.

All that being said, we don't do this kind of training in Cheng Hsin. It isn't that it is bad or wrong, it simply isn't our way. Since we focus on unification, the method of whipping and snapping things is frowned upon since it creates separation. The action isn't actually unified as one whole since the end movement occurs after the source movement has finished. Our method is far simpler in reality, even if perhaps more difficult to accomplish. We simply compress from target to ground. It is no more than that. This is true of sudden power such as striking, as well as projections like uprooting. It is the same power, no whipping or complications are undertaken. Punching isn't uprooting but the difference is alignment and delivery, not method.

I'd stay away from the idea that something must be done to generate another thing that is also done. This is a confusion. The idea of "store" and "release" is misleading. There are not two actions, only one. And the power of this one isn't even something you can do anything about. It's intrinsic. Meaning you don't "do" it. Really.

Also, when we say the power comes from the ground, is directed by the pelvis and comes out the hands, this can also be misleading. In what you are talking about that's exactly how it goes. For using intrinsic strength, this statement appears backwards, and so is misunderstood. In Cheng Hsin the power is actually generated through the compression of the intrinsic strength of the body tissue, and this starts with the hands and goes down to the ground, not vice versa. Putting your mind the other way will only demand that you use strength since that's all you can do that way.

The pursuit of "fa jing" as you've described is more popular than using intrinsic strength because it gives you something to "do," and the focus is on trying to generate power through your doing -- your actions and use of movement and strength. Although the use of intrinsic strength requires movement and correct alignment, the power is not something you "do." It is something that happens to you, and this can be very difficult to allow since we aren't used to letting go that much.

It may be possible to take on the complications you mention and still manage to use intrinsic strength, given that you relax and become unified and, at some point in the movements, give up trying to "do" and allow yourself to be compressed. But why go through all the complications and segmentation? Effortless power is difficult enough to accomplish without making it more so. This will become more clear as you study with me.
Meanwhile, I hope this helps.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


How do I overcome Fear of Meeting an Agressive Opponent?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tzachi Lavy
Jerusalem, Israel
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Sensei,
How are you? First of all, I want to tell you that I'm so glad that I know you. Second, I hope that I don't bother you with my questions (it's just that I appreciate your opinion very much and it helped me in the past very much). So, I practiced today with two people from my dojo, that practiced in the past in ju-jitsu, kung-fu and karate, and you know, it's very weird, because for the first time in my life I began to understand what you mean in your book (The Principle of the Effortless Power) about needing to be free of fear, because in our dojo, as I understood from the practice of today, the orientation is more technical art and less martial.
In short, what I'm trying to say is that in spite of what you say in your book about studying, practicing and contemplation, I can't succeed in jumping beyond the fence of the Kyu [brown belt] (I'm now in level Ikkyu in Aikido) and make my Shodan [black belt]. I figured it out today, when I practiced with those two men that were practicing hard, that the reason for this stems from fear -- when I felt them grab me/attack me I was so terrified of being hurt by them that I didn't do the techniques in the way that I studied and practiced in the last 6 years. So, maybe you have some advice for me, sensei. And again, I'm sorry if it bothers you that I ask your advice, it just I like to ask the expert and not the amateurs!
Tzachi

Tzachi,
As you may know from my books, fear is a function of the future. Your mind is focused on something bad happening in the next moment and you aren't relating to what is actually happening in this. You are mentally thrown off balance by the strength and aggressiveness of these attackers and you doubt your ability to handle such force. When you fear or resist anything about your opponent, you are not being present with what's actually there. This is something you have to overcome in yourself.

Concentrate on that force -- contemplate the aggressiveness of it, the power of it, the reality of it -- until you can accept it, be familiar with it, and allow it to be exactly as it is. Work hard to make it very real in your imagination and spend some time feeling this force that scared you. Test it out with these guys again and make sure your contemplation is based on reality so that you indeed are becoming comfortable with their aggressiveness. Once this is so, you can shift from letting the force scare you (putting your mind into the fear of what's going to happen and your sense of being incapable of dealing with it) to just being present with the force, accepting it, and blending with it, using it to do your techniques. You need to join what's there, even if it is aggressive (especially if it's aggressive!). Enter into it with your feeling-attention, rather than pull away from it. At first you may not be able to do your techniques as you want, but you won't be afraid, and eventually will be able to work out how to do the technique.
Hope this helps.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Monday, December 17, 2012

Fighting Skill and Being In Relationship

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pieter Vaartjes
Groningen, Holland
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Respected Peter Ralston,
By coincidence I have visited some years ago one of your boxing intensives in the Netherlands. I was amazed and impressed by your performance. I have a ju jitsu background and I have always known that if there is a secret in the (eastern) martial arts it is to be found in relaxation. So for about four years Itry to visit one of your workshops in the Netherlands each year. From the start of this year 2002 I practice every day your push with what you told and what you have written about in your books. And sometimes I get the feeling that I start to learn it a little. Often I hardly feel what I do or it feels awkward and strange. But comparing with my jujitsu history I see that as a sign that I am actually beginning to learn the push (a little). What I really would like to know is how you deliver your punch(es)? How do they work physically? And what kind of exercises do you recommend to me?
Pieter Vaartjes

Pieter,
Simply: stay relaxed, use your whole body and use your whole arm back into the shoulder and chest and spine. Train to move your arms with your hips, don't use the arm muscles themselves. Press down on one foot, usually the front foot, to get your grounding to move your center and hips. Allow the back heel to come off the ground and rotate with the punch, at the very end of the punch let the back foot slide forward a bit. Mostly, stay relaxed. When you finish training your punching, you should be more relaxed than when you started. And train to use your whole body as one unit. This should give you something to work on.
See you in Holland next year.
Peter Ralston

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What of FA-JING?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mike Hart
Swansea, Wales
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
I know this question has much to do with my attachment to other practices I have done in the past. Specifically, when I trained in a system designed by a guy called Erle Montaigue from Australia (Fa-Jing Ch'uan). His whole focus was (is) on fa-jing, not surprisingly. But I remember asking you in London last year on the boxing day about that, because I was "flicking" the waist, and you asked me to try to guide all of my body, even the rear hip into the punch -- every part of the body should focus toward the target, I believe you said.
About fa-jing, you said: some people do it that way, but you don't, and that you'd stop talking while you were still gracious about the subject. What has maybe revived my interest is what you said in Holland about a push being one movement, not two. While I'm asking this question of you I also realize that, for me, this is an ontological issue of how I hold or perceive "the world" to be, or at least "my world."
OK, enough preamble. I am surrounded in Swansea by people who profess FA-JING to be the ultimate force known to man (their ideas not mine). Also, Erle is moving to Wales in a couple of weeks so that obviously this will give them more leverage in their arguments because the guy is on their doorstep. I was an instructor in his system before switching over to Cheng Hsin. I have no doubt that Cheng Hsin is a superior and more intelligent art than anything that Erle teaches -- I can feel that. In fact I am confident in my ability to take any challenges up from local instructors, T'ai Chi or otherwise. What I seek, is to understand why. I'm sorry, I just realized this is more about an ontological issue than a fa-jing vs. intrinsic strength one. I suppose I'm just looking for justification and support to what I already feel is true for me. All their fajing and dim mak means nothing with the effortless movement and intrinsic strength capabilities that I am currently developing. Their fajing is anything but effortless, in fact, it's downright hard work which wastes more energy than it applies. Still although I usually don't bother emailing you when I work things out, I thought I'd send this one because of the strangely uneasy feeling I have, even though I've worked through it somewhat. I know it's a fear deep down. But I'm unsure of how to "handle" it. It feel's like I'm in a dilemma within myself, like I want to go to Erle when he comes over and say "Hey, try me for size buddy" (if that doesn't work maybe I should say Yo' Mamma!) I feel I can't beat him yet, but there's something inside me that almost screams that. Could you help with any views at all please Peter?
Regards
Mike Hart

Mike,
For one thing you are confusing psychological with ontological. Ontology is the study of "what is," the true nature of existence, of Being. Psychology is the study of mind, the emotional makeup and mental structure of an individual. Your challenge is psychological, not ontological. If we were to make it ontological (which we could do) we would look at what it "is" that is there. What "is" the drive and fear? What are their natures, how did they come to exist?

But that's not your challenge. Sounds like you are working out the relationship between "fa-jing" (for our folks who don't know what this is, it is a method to generate power, usually practiced by whipping the whole body to snap out the hand into a target -- methods vary, but that seems the general course) and intrinsic strength. You are right, fajing is not intrinsic strength. It is not even using the whole body. Since the starting place of the whip is done before the end of the whip arrives. This is a wave, but it is not using the whole body as one unit. It is NOT compression.

But it is a method some people train. Your challenge, it sounds, is an emotional one with other martial artists in your area. And it sounds like you are actually unsure of your new found abilities and understanding in Cheng Hsin, otherwise why would their bluster bother you so much? Simply shakehands and say, thank you for sharing. Unless they view the principles of interaction and power differently, then Cheng Hsin methods won't mean a thing to them. Share your view, and offer yourself as one trying to follow this view. Let them know why you chose this method as opposed that one. If anyone is open they'll hear what you have to say, and maybe consider it further. You can always invite them all up to visit me in London or Holland next time, and I can "explain" it further.
Good luck, and peace.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Saturday, November 24, 2012

How do I utilize power? Who is responsible for learning?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jesse Marandino
Austin, Texas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
Question 1: How can I make my internal strength useful against unwilling (or more likely free willing) opponents that are not constrained to the traditions of my chosen system? Question 2: Is the ability to change structured knowledge into free-form usable skill something that can and should be taught to you or is it the responsibility of the student?
Jesse


Jesse,
About Q1:
The first thing, of course, is to find and develop such strength. There is a lot of talk about "internal" strength but very little clarity. Clarity regarding what it is you're trying to develop is necessary for its development. We use "intrinsic strength" yet this isn't necessarily what you mean by internal strength.

In any case, power, regardless of form, is not the main factor--skill is. Handling unwilling partners is a complex matter and you need to develop the skill and understanding necessary to do so. It isn't a matter of just having some form of power, although a healthy degree of power is necessary. As Ku Yu Cheong (greatest "iron palm" master -- able to break thirteen large stone bricks at once, all resting flat on a slab) said to a man who demonstrated he could break five: "That's good, but now try to use it against me." The man couldn't and Ku pointed out that power alone is worthless without boxing skill.

To interact effectively with an unwilling opponent, one must first fully acknowledge his unwillingness, which from his point of view is merely the desire to win, and you should remember: that's his job! He's doing what in his mind is appropriate. Let it be that way and join it, don't fight it or resist it. Use what he is doing against him. This of course requires skill, and therefore proper training. It is not done simply by having the idea--you must take this idea into effective action. Once again, this is not something that can be accomplished by reading about it.

About Q2:
Both. It must be taught by someone who understands what it is, but it must also be taken on by the student -- researched, contemplated, tried out, etc.. As you play with people, commit yourself to working on some principle such as staying relaxed, using the whole body, moving from the center, joining, etc. whether you win or lose, and see what you discover. It is of much greater value to investigate these principles than to concentrate on winning or losing. But like I said, you will gain so much by some hands on work with us here. It will make a 100% difference in your practice and play.

Good luck, hope to see you in the near future.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Do Boxers use Good Mechanics?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Christian Campfield
New York, NY
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
It seems to me that western boxing is totally off when it comes to proper mechanics in punching.
For example, the power comes from strong muscular efforts from the arm and the shoulder instead of
sinking and springing up from the legs. Am I correct?
Christian


Christian,
No, you are not. Boxers actually hit harder than most martial artists, and generally fight much better (since they actually practice fighting). I trained with professional boxers for some time. They do hit from the legs, using the whole body. But they use the muscles and push the body into the target, and we compress, letting the target push us into the ground. Yet most of them try to relax. They do this not because of a belief system, but because it works in the ring. Most martial artists only follow a belief system and are too abstracted from the reality to understand what's what.
Hope this helps.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Martial Arts vs. Real Fighting


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Seungyup Paek
New York, New York
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter Ralston,
May I ask a small question? There seems to be a large number of 'no-holds barred' fighting tournaments in the world today. Are these similar to the world championship tournament that you competed in? I believe that this is not the case. Could you please explain the dynamics of the current 'ultimate fighting championships' and how they are similar or different from the tournament that you fought in? Somehow, the winners in these ultimate fighting championships seem to be the antithesis of the principles of cheng hsin. Why is it that they look more like animals fighting in a cage than martial artists? I greatly look forward to hearing from you sir.
Respectfully,
Seungyup Paek


Seungyup,
When people fight, even trained martial artists, it rarely appears as though an art is being performed. On the one hand, we shouldn't assume that because they don't look like what we see in choreographed routines from the movies that there is something lacking. On the other, there is something more to grace than artful dance. When we look at professional fighters, such as Muay Thai or Western Boxers, we see much more grace is possible and usually present in the better fighters. This is because the art they are
doing is the same as what they train. In most martial arts, the practices are not at all the same as what is confronted in a real fight. It is very difficult to look good in such circumstances. In simple, it is unfamiliar and unpracticed. When one has more experience relating to the situations that come up in fighting, then this relationship can take on a much more graceful appearance.

In no-holds-barred competitions, winning in the simplest way possible is the goal, or at least has become the goal. (Early on, most martial artists proved to be unequal to the task, and had no ability to deal with such real fighting.) Since simple and direct is the easiest strategy to understand, and being muscularly strong and powerful is the simplest and most easily achieved form of power, it stands to reason that these are what we'd see the most. Strength is strength. Simply because it doesn't fit in with our ideas or methods doesn't mean it isn't effective. If it wasn't effective why would so many use it? Any time a game is created, the players will mold themselves in relation to the rules of the game in whatever way they can to win. This always produces a particular development. If you change the rules of the game, a different kind of development will take place. We should notice, however, that it isn't always the big and strong that win, and some of the better players have shown flexibility and strategic skill.

In the competitions in which I fought they didn't count ground fighting. I spent many years developing Newaza (grappling arts) and am quite confident on the mat. But this was not allowed in the world tournament. There was full contact in striking, and throwing was allowed. But I think the main difference was the background and thinking of the players. Since it was a traditional Chinese tournament, the assumption in the players was probably to conform to this thinking about how the fighting should proceed.
I remember being criticized in one of the local newspapers, when they complained: "What happened to traditional kung fu? This American looks more like he's using a combination of Boxing and Judo" (both of which are foreign to a Chinese tradition). This wasn't exactly so -- I was using Cheng Hsin -- but you can see that my fighting didn't appear as the author thought it should. Didn't matter. I won anyway.

Real fighting is difficult. I feel for those that take it up. But I don't share such sentiment about the reduction of the arts to what is easiest to understand or to mindlessly accomplish. Yet this dynamic takes place in many arenas, not just the ultimate fighting one.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traditions and Roots of Martial Arts

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Michael Morgan
San Francisco, California
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Mr. Ralston,
I have an issue I want to bring up to you. [I talked with someone...] when I asked if he knew of your Dojo, he said that the two of you had one issue on which you had a major difference of opinion. As far as I can understand it, what he was saying was that his school believes in learning and/or recognizing and/or honoring "the roots" of martial arts and that you do not. So, here is my thing: I am asking for your viewpoint on the issue of tradition, roots, etc.
Sincerely yours,
Michael Morgan


Michael,
I am surprised that you are still unacquainted with how I hold tradition. "Roots" are of no consequence, the "truth" is. What we call tradition may or may not be worth keeping, especially since it has undoubtedly been changed over time to serve various purposes. (Consider that some past Christians have slaughtered many people for their beliefs, and in the name of Christ! I doubt that man would have
approved.)

It's not that I think those who come before have nothing to teach. I have always worked hard to thoroughly learn what others have to offer before presuming to "create" any divergence. However, once the teaching is mastered, it is necessary to seek out principles and insight beyond any beliefs or methods that have been used to teach in the past.

For example, Picasso mastered conventional painting techniques before he approached, say, cubism. Some who scorn tradition think they are being creative but they really don't understand that creativity doesn't mean "do whatever you feel like." I am not one of those, and I studied almost every form of martial art extensively before creating the Cheng Hsin arts. The demands of creating lie in creation, and this is not something that whim or one's ego can even perceive.
Hope I cleared this up.
Peter

Attend a Seminar
More Info


There is No Fight

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Richard Cota
Altadena, California
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
Just finished your book "Principles of Effortless Power." OUTSTANDING! I know I'll be reading that several times over. I feel it's increased my understanding of the arts quite a bit. Several things seem to make more sense. The part that seems difficult for me to "own" is that "there is no fight." I understand logically the points you make but I have difficulty "owning" that concept. Any further suggestions you might have would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Richard

Richard,
Certainly for most people most of the time whenever a contentious relationship occurs there is a fight. But the "fighting" is taking place in the mind more than in the body. When we enter an encounter as a "fight," we will have thoughts and feelings geared to fight, to contend and defend, and our body will follow these thoughts. By the very nature of the thinking we will tend to turn the engagement into a struggle. Imagine,however, if instead of approaching such an interaction as if it's going to be a fight, approaching it as if it is NOT going to be a fight, but rather an interaction. Without having any thoughts of "fighting" notice what shifts in your mind and body. Regardless of the activity that takes place -- which may be fast, responsive, and appropriate -- without the notion of fight, it will occur differently. Try it.

So, in reality there is no such thing as a fight. Fight only occurs in the mind as an assessment or an
attitude and disposition.
Pete

Introducing Body-Being Principles to new students

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mike Cottrell-Tribes
Whitehorse, Canada
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
I have a question about when is the best time to introduce the basic principles, including: relaxation (in both movement and in standing), calmness, moving from the center, grounding, compression, posture.
I've been introducing these concepts in my classes lately, and the feedback I'm getting from some of my senior students is that this is too advanced for junior (less experienced) people.
These are concepts that they (and I) are only beginning to grasp after a decade of training, and so they feel that it takes that long. My counter argument is that we had never properly been taught these concepts, and had to figure them out for ourselves.
So my question is, when is a good time to introduce these concepts, and how much effort should
be put into attempting to teach these concepts to people who are still learning the basic mechanics of theart? At what point can one delve into these concepts in great detail, and really work on learning and internalizing them?
Thanks,
Mike Cottrell-Tribes

Mike,
Right away! No time to lose! The principles should be practiced right from the beginning. Advancement is a matter of deepening our understanding if the principles, not waiting to get to them. They are most important. Even more important than the mechanics.

Of course not everything can be learned in a day, but that is simply because learning takes time, not
because anything is withheld -- especially the principles. Once I taught a group of about a hundred peopleduring a weekend in Chicago. None knew any martial arts or t'ai chi. I worked only on the Cheng HsinBody-Being principles of movement and structure, without teaching one technique or form. At the end, I had them make up a "t'ai chi" set using what I had taught them. No kidding, they did better t'ai chi thanmost people who've studied a t'ai chi set for years!
Hope I cleared this up for you.
Peter

Friday, October 19, 2012

How do the Principles of Cheng Hsin apply to Grappling?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Stephen Pellegrino
Pacifica, CA, USA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter,
My question is, how do the "principles" change given the context of ground fighting (as in judo or
jujitsu), specifically the principle of grounding?
Also you wrote: "If muscles are exerted here and there, or held in place, then real unity in not
possible." Is this still true in the given context?
Stephen

Stephen,
Certainly the form of application would be different lying on the ground than it is standing on the feet. I do describe most body mechanics from a standing point of view, so when sitting, lying, standing on one's head, or any other configuration the principles and mechanics must be translated accordingly. Most mechanics still apply, but some do not. For example, pressing the knee into the heel or foot does not apply if there is no weight on the foot. The principles themselves do not change.
We must consider the principle behind the mechanics or rules. Understand the principles and you will
know how to apply them in various circumstances. There is always a ground. Where is it? How are we connected to the ground? Where do we receive our force for movement? We need to answer these questions in each moment in order to use the ground effectively.
If we were a body floating in outerspace, we wouldn't be able to travel anywhere since our only ground would be our own center. We could flail around perhaps, working one body part against another, but couldn't move through space since there would be nothing to push off of or compress into -- we couldn't get going. Playing on the ground does have some similarities to space -- our mobility is usually reduced to a small location, and we need to work more within our own body sphere -- and to this degree we might want to think through what we could and couldn't do in space, and what principles would apply.
But truth is we are not in space and so we do have ground. Where is it? In ground fighting our body is
usually lying down in some fashion. At any moment the ground may be found through our back, side,
legs, an arm, or even the opponent's body. Though our connection with the ground -- and the subsequent alignment of body parts -- may be ever-changing, our center is not. So when it comes to circumstances like these, more attention should be paid to working the body via the center.
Compression is generated through ground contact and movement, using intrinsic strength. It is possible to accomplish this while lying on the ground but it is much more difficult. In ground fighting our range of movement is greatly reduced, so much research and experimentation is needed to work out how to use intrinsic strength in these various postures and circumstances. Given the limited mobility, I would also recommend using the opponent's weight and movement as much as possible to assist in achieving compression.
But practically speaking, the use of muscles is inevitable, just not as much as one might think.
Remember, relaxed is better and the less effort it takes to do something the more options are available to us in so many ways. Unity, in the sense of moving the whole in one direction, is frequently sacrificed to some degree because various body parts must oppose one another to create movement. But the good news is balance isn't much of an issue with ground fighting -- we certainly can't fall down!

Peter

Introduction

The following is a collection of past Questions and Answers dealing with the martial aspect of Cheng Hsin. You will find a great deal of knowledge and can receive a valuable education through studying Peter Ralston╩╝s accumulated responses to a wide range of questions.