Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yan Gaofei Xing-Yi Basics Seminar 2006

Notes from the April 22-23, 2006 Yan, Gaofei seminar held at Plymouth, Michigan, USA. The seminar covered the Xing-Yi training and philosophy. This seminar was organized by The School of Cultivation and Practice. If you're new to this series, check out my introductory article, Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. (My current reflections are added in italics.)

Some Background
* Chinese are great observers. They noted the cycle of creation and destruction are balanced. The minimum number of elements in this cycle is five. So the Five Elements shows how the Chinese think in terms of the big picture and in terms of influences.

* Xing-yi focus is only on straight ahead, what is "in the alley". If attacked from side, then change position to face attacker so s/he is in "the alley".

* Xing-yi was developed from spear.

* All martial arts originated with elbows down. Only in competition were elbows raised because it looked fancier. Unfortunately, the elbows down has been lost in many forms.

* Here's how to check if your arm and elbow position is correct. Stop at any point and hold a ten pound weight. If you can hold it five minutes and shoulder muscles don't get sore, then position is correct. Keep elbows down!

* Logic of American boxing relies on muscular speed and not internal structure. Xing-yi relies on internal structure. Logic of Chinese internal arts:
  • Xing-yi: I move into your center.
  • Ba-gua: I move around your center.
  • Tai-chi: I am the center.
* In application, all three could be applied seamlessly in one exchange.

* Six Harmonies means internal connectedness. It does not mean a puppet-like "coordination", which is how this is often misinterpreted.
  • Shoulder and Kua
  • Knee and Elbow
  • Foot and Hand
* In Tai-chi it is said, "Rooted in the feet. Directed by the waist. Expressed in the fingers." The Six Harmonies is how to do that.

* It's better to train only one move and be able to do that instinctively than it is to train 200 moves and get stuck (even a split second delay) on "thinking" which move is the best in that situation.

* Xing-yi is the simplest of all the internal martial arts and hence the most effective art.

Xing-Yi Legs and Kua
* Stepping - Back foot at 45. Front foot straight. Heels on same line. Max power and stability on a line in "the alley". 70% in back leg. Shift briefly to front then finish into back leg.

* Kua - 80% of the "secret" of internal martial arts is in the kua.

* Inside of thighs must form an arch, not a triangle.

* You get the arch by rotating the top of the femur (greater trochanter) forward.

* Don't force it. Relaxing the top will naturally create the desired result. It's like the top is a screwdriver and the bottom is the screw. Relaxing opens the kua.

* Each art has its own way to describe correct kua movement; folding, rolling.

Xing-Yi Torso and Squatting Monkey
* Waist is the central pivot. As punching hand moves forward, pulling arm moves backward.

* Practice the "Squatting Monkey" exercise contract and squeeze. Contract as forearms and hands pass each other. Expand as if stretching, tearing something as punching hand extends and pulling hand retracts. Keep chest relaxed with expand.

* Upon contact with opponent, first move with squatting monkey is contracting to draw in opponent.

A rare video showing squatting monkey (Dai Xinyi) though not from this seminar:

Xing-Yi Arms
* In Xing-yi there are basically two arm moves:
  1. The pulling hand. Imagine pulling a rope attached to a wall and pulling the wall down. In application, intercept the incoming fist with palm up, turn over, grab, and pull opponent.

  2. The punching hand.

* Punching hand movements:
  • Water - Up the center then out.
  • Steel - Chop like an axe.
  • Wood - Straight out, drilling, fist knuckle out.
  • Fire - Pulling hand moves up and back. Punch straight in.
  • Earth - Angle step. Only Earth finishes with weight in front leg.
* Fire is not two vectors, rather just one circular vector.

Practice Engaging
* Practice engaging your opponent. If you only practice forms and you never practice engaging, then your practice lacks applicability. How to engage your opponent is key!

* Begin practice with a helper using a straight in punch. Practice with opposite hands, then with same side hands.

* The principle in all moves is upon contact, to immediately drop/sink, cover your center, turn, squeeze. This pulls opponent out of back heel and sets opponent up to fall into your oncoming fist effectively increasing your striking power by using gravity against him/her.

* First half of form (pulling) is to destabilize your opponent. The second half (continue pulling and punch) is to split/tear/rip your opponent.

* Consider how gravity can be used against your opponent. How your opponent's weight in gravity becomes the real enemy.

* Logic of two man form is as soon as you feel the force taking you off balance, then start the next move.

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