Triyoga-Internal Martial Arts

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I found myself having to explain the standing exercises. These are common to most martial arts. For the external styles they are thought of as stance training. In some external styles such as Shaolin they can be more than that.

Internal styles vary from teacher to teacher quite a bit. The way I teach doesn't emphasis standing due to the quality of students that I tend to get. In perfect world people would be doing a lot of standing. The standing has strengthening, of the tendons, of the Yi, and of the internal and external energy. It also promotes chi circulation and trains in the basic shapes. External stance training may overlap, but for most it is conceived of only as strengthening.

Tendon strength is the ability to lock the joints and this can be thought of as leverage. I describe it as three circles. 1) Formed by the legs and hips, this is instrumental in good knee alignment, correct use of the inner thighs which connects the legs to the core strength, and allows for circulation through the legs of the chi, and opens the K1 points. Movement/energy through the feet, ankles and knees, can be harmonized and made precise by understanding/feeling through the shapes of the lower circle.

2) The shape of the spine, this circle is formed by the release of the tailbone, the sinking of the chest and correct alignment of the Mingmeng, the center, and ribcage. This is the most important circle.

3) This has to do with the shape of the arms, wrists, hands, shoulders, shoulder blades, head, and mid center at the heart. It is the easiest circle to see as the arms embrace for instance. There are many shapes. Big Circle such as Single Whip posture, or extended circle such as the opening move of lifting the arms in the 48 Form, or lead arm in Single Palm in the Ba Gua.

When the basic shape is grasped from a structural point of view it can be tested to see if the person can bear weight from any direction.

With this is the energetic alignment and when you have proper shape chi will flow. Easiest to feel at the hands and arms it should be moving through the whole body. The flow of energy is part of the concept of shape, which includes the basic idea of leverage, but also takes on the shape of the mind/emotions, as some postures are more projecting and some are more receptive. This is helpful combatively in understanding where the palm should face in various techniques.

I follow the intuitive method so that when one has a feel for the balance of the shape, and has practiced sensitivity drills one will be to naturally use, by feel in real time, the correct shape. Your intention will express itself with a flow of power through the body. I have students what when doing drills end up not using one arm, which takes out half the body from the alignment and they get stiff and tense. This is a matter of more practice, but the standing would make them feel more natural with a connected flow of movement than with a disconnected one. Some people do place to much emphasis on rooting to the point where they have no foot work. They tend to stay in one place and step slowly and rigidly. They use big steps and keep to big frames. I generally like to be quick and agile with my footwork in order to gain superior position. Very small steps alignment adjusting freely to slight changes in angle. The standing needs to be taught with exercises that keep things adroit.

The intention is important. The will to hold the pose will increase intention (Yi). This is important and critical part of the training. If one is weak in intention one can be disrupted emotionally. Fighting is very psychological, the posture of the body both reflects the inner state (body language) See for some common sense about spotting someone who ready to fight, the elbows and chest for instance. This also works in reverse and the shape of the posture produces a state of mind. You can look at Erle Montigue's description of Sudden Violence that comes from stimulating the limbic part of the brain. This comes from proper alignment in the training. Having the will to hold the proper shape and putting your time in will increase the will, while still remaining relaxed. Having done low stance training in Shaolin, holding the horse stance for over an hour in regular training, I found the effects are very different.

The external energy builds up around the limbs and torso and provides you resistance to other people's energy. You would have to reach the level of personal development where you can feel the emotions of others as a flow of feeling. If you feel this then you can understand the condensing of the chi around you. Some would lump this in with the aura, which is true, but it a specific feeling we are looking for and not all auric phenomenon are related to goal of condensing the chi.

When we work on the Transportation Chi Kung we learn to move the energy from any part of the body to any other. At first this is felt as weight. Then as you advanced more energy is felt in the movement and eventually you have an internal flow of chi that you can differentiate and coordinate with the outer flow. This also greatly refines the internal motions for striking especially the joints of the wrist and elbow and the shoulder blades. These exercises will produce strong whip power and this blends into coordinating the strike with the chi.

The simple example is the raise the arms and body and then sink back down with arms and the slight bend of the knees. At first you can feel the weight sinking down, then you begin to also "float" or be light going upwards. With transport exercises this becomes a circle up and down and you begin to add so it is always a continuous movement internally and you add the opening and closing.

For me the Internal Arts are still useful in observing the mind/body/emotions and be able to use it as a way coordinating and purifying the lower consciousness. Anxiety, fear, anger, competition, all those lower vital negative states get to "moved out" of the body and the confidence, forceful, peaceful emotions are "moved in." It makes for some clarity when seeing other people use their lower vital emotions and the expressions that come out of it. For instance I can see, because I have lived through and beyond, the survival consciousness and the things people do to indulge in it. The roles that people take on, the personalities and identities that rooted in these emotions.

Shen (spirit) development is another key aspect of Chi Kung. The alignments of the body, proper balance of the energy needs to be brought out to use it for spiritual development. Much of that is beyond most students, because you have to have a sense of what spiritual development is before you can "see." Standing is a wonderful bridge between the body, the mind. Standing is a meditation practice, and works with the energy. It is a very powerful transformative experience when it can be engaged in within the proper framework. The intention with which is practiced is important. If you approach it as only a strengthening practice it will work to do many things but it won't be integrated and key experiences that occur from doing the practice will be overlooked and opportunities lost.


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