Monday, January 6, 2014

Questions for the master. Alignment when Punching? Stance and Protecting the Body? Feeling Qi?

Michael Norman
Boston, MA
Peter Ralston,
I have completed the first two chapters of your book and have decided to stop and make sure I get them right before moving on so as not to lose anything. I do have several questions that you may answer later on in the book but I will ask anyway. If they are answered please don't waste your time in answering them since I am sure you are very busy.
Thanks again for taking time to read my letters. I think I have found answers to a great deal of what I am looking for in your book and I would truly love to do anything that I can to help you and your organization. I have a black belt in isshinryu karate so I am used to a straight punch and a forward-facing grounded stance, but after taking kickboxing and tae kwon do, I found that a sideways-facing bouncing stance makes me much quicker and allows my kicks more freedom, this is where my problems arise.
Michael Norman

Q1:Since you talk about the elbow as pointing down, do you suggest a straight punch or a twisting boxing punch as the base technique? There will be times when the other is applicable but which do you see as more effective?

PR: The elbows point down only when there is no reason for them to point in any other direction. I do neither the boxing punch with the twist, nor the karate punch. Basically, I simply reach out the arm using the whole body and put my fist on the target. The elbow should be moving into the end of the fist so that the wrist isn't bent at all -- the elbow, forearm, wrist, and fist should all be on a straight line. In a high hook punch, for example, this means the elbow will be up and out to one side so that the forearm and wrist are straight when moving into the target.

Q2: Looking at Cheng Hsin from a kickboxing standpoint, is it possible to adopt a stance which limits the amount of target space open to hit but also allows you to settle on your heels and remain mobile? Along that same line: if I am fighting from a sideways stance with one shoulder facing my
opponent, my whole body can be in line with the exception of my head which would be facing him. Does the fact that my nose is then out of line with my navel create problems?

PR: Many martial arts fuss over stance. The pose one takes is really not very important. I suggest that rather than trying to protect the body with the shape of the body, instead protect the body with your awareness. Be sensitive and completely aware in every moment of everything that is occurring with the opponent and you can always take appropriate action. This is best.

Q3: This question is the most important and one that I have had for my entire life. Ever since I was small I have been able to control small warm bursts of something to shoot through my body. It creates an extremely pleasant, warm feeling and makes my skin tingle, but I can only do it a certain amount of times in a row before I feel like I have exhausted it. I have asked doctors about it and they have no idea. Is this my qi? Speaking of qi, I am having a lot of trouble feeling it. I can see and feel its effects but not the qi itself, which is preventing me from being able to gather it and direct it as much as I would like too. Any suggestions?

PR: I will tell you the truth about that. What that is is what that is. It isn't really any more or less. Try practicing other things as well. Altogether, they help improve your ability to control your body and direct your feeling-attention. The consciousness which moves attention through the body is not itself a feeling, so the effects are all you can notice. I spent much time messing with such things and found one question that's good to ask is: what are you doing it for? It is quite useful for increasing awareness and sensitivity, and shifting states, and making new distinctions in subtle perceptive feedback and the like. But if you watch, it isn't very useful for developing magical powers all by itself. This is what many people think is going to happen. I've yet to see it. I've met a few people with some phenomenal abilities, but these didn't seem to come from simply developing their chi, and such people are very rare. Much more frequently encountered are the people who "believe" but show little beyond that. I suggest working with trainings like the Ball and Chain and such. I also suggest that you investigate what this feeling really is that you are creating. Be completely honest about it, and see what you come up with.
Peter Ralston

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