Friday, October 19, 2012

How do the Principles of Cheng Hsin apply to Grappling?

From Stephen Pellegrino
Pacifica, CA, USA
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?

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!


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