Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Effortless Punch

Richard Allan
Southhampton, UK
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,

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.

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