* Question: Why practice side-to-side?
Answer: The Wujifa side-to-side exercise is a foundation movement that is found in silk reeling, Tai-chi, Yi-chuan, etc... It is the transition exercise from stance to moving. It teaches you how to develop your kua.
(If you haven't seen the Wujifa side-to-side video, watch it now. This is one of those deceptively "simple" exercises that reveals its depth the more you practice it.)
* Question: Can practicing side-to-side help me develop fa-jing?
Answer: Fa-jing comes from adding power to side-to-side. Once you get the feeling of the shifting being driven by the kua opening and closing, then you can add power behind it. Lead with feeling. Relax quickly. Let the power follow the feeling.
(From my experience, in beginners, the kua opening and closing is driven by the muscular power of the legs pushing or pulling. Trying to do fa-jing at this stage is completely wrong because it builds in bad habits that you'll only have to unlearn later if you want to get the real thing.
It takes a lot of practice just to get to the point where:
Some have said the fa-jing shake is like sneezing. To try to imitate a sneeze and call this fa-jing is also completely wrong. I just sneezed and the sneeze was not driven from my kua.
- you begin to demonstrate proper Wujifa zhan zhuang alignment,
- you learn the feeling of how to sit down while standing in zhan zhuang
- you learn how to open the lower back and round the dang (圆裆)
- you begin to feel what you can identify as an opening and closing feeling between the leg and lower abdomen using leg driven muscle power,
- you begin to feel some of the fascial stretch in the inguinal crease (kua) as it opens and closes from leg driven muscle power,
- I'm not there yet. I'm still working on #5.
Fai-jing is driven from the kua. You develop fa-jing by practicing the advanced form of side-to-side. Trying to do it with muscle will take you down the wrong path. There's a reason fa-jing is a high level skill...)
* Question: How should I work on developing my kua?
Answer: Many people aren't able to demonstrate the full range of movement of the kua. The kua can open and close vertically and horizontally and all degrees and percentages of degrees in-between.
Beginners need to first work on developing the basic feeling in the vertical and horizontal movements. For example beginning side-to-side is nearly 100% horizontal opening and closing and 0% vertical opening and closing.
(I've seen demonstrations on how various percentages of horizontal and vertical opening and closing result in the body being moved different ways. Quite amazing!
The pelvis/hip area is a very complex area to relax and feel into and learn how to control. I watch Youtube videos of "masters" who have less kua movement than me. Why they call themselves masters is beyond me.)
* Question: Can I continue to punch on my heavy bag while learning side-to-side?
Answer: Developing the kua with side-to-side is building a new body movement. To develop the kua, you must discontinue all other forms of training. You can't build in a new kinesthetic pattern when you continue to reinforce old existing patterns of movement.
(This was one of the difficulties for me. Besides being a good workout, slugging the punching bag was an ego-gratifier. To step away from heavy bag to practicing shifting side-to-side meant I had to change my exercise and training regimen.)
* Question: I can't feel the stretch up through the front. How do I get that?
Answer: Feeling the stretch/connection up and down the back is the first level. You need to get this first. Feeling the stretch/connection up and down the abdomen is the next level. You're not there yet. Focus on maintaining the feeling of connection as you shift side-to-side.
* Question: We were talking about my predilection to use polarity, that is, to view life, including my Wujifa practice, in yin-yang terms like good-bad, this-that. What's wrong with polarity?
Answer: Most people who run polarity tend to get stuck in their own polarity and this tends to hold them back from making progress.
A functional way to use polarity can help you make progress. Hold onto "this" as a method to explore the feeling of "that". Once you feel and understand "that", then let go of "this" which pointed you to "that". Now, the old "that" becomes the new "this". This and that become the wrungs on a ladder.
Note: I cannot see the path ahead. I cannot see the goal or objective. I may say my goal is to develop "internal strength" but I won't know the steps I need to take until I encounter what I need to do. Therefore, all I can ever see is a possible next step. (If I can see that at all!) And I can't know if that is really the actual next step until after I have a result. When I look back, then I will see my path that lead to my goal. I will see the methods that allowed my advances. I will see the steps I took. No two practitioners engage the same methods in exactly the same way.
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Feeling and Data: Journal Notes #67
Next article in this series: - Developing Presence: Journal Notes #69
Make sure to visit Wujifa.com and the Wujifa blog.
And stop by The School of Cultivation and Practice.