Monday, July 23, 2012

Training Submission: Journal Notes #101

Notes from my April 2012 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa zhan zhuang. (My current reflections are added in italics.)

* I've become aware that I don't have the sensitivity to feel individual muscles. I don't notice which muscles engage when they don't need to. I need to develop further sensitivity so I can feel which muscles are being used and when. This idea came from one Wujifa class where I stood in zhuang and my instructor and school brother laid their hands on my lower back and kua and noticed my muscles twitching; were not still, calm, relaxed. When I laid my hands on my instructor's lower back and kua, his muscles were calm and soft. I have muscles "firing" all over the place and I am not feeling it.

* We were talking about different students and their attitudes towards training in Wujifa class and...
Question: So what quality makes the best student; one that follows the prescribed training regimen and doesn't make the instructor crazy bringing a lot of other ideas into the practice (and then complains that there's no progress)?
Answer: If you don't begin training with submission, with surrendering, then you can't learn. If you begin with #4 and not #1, then you begin to see but you don't address what you see and so learning is hampered. When you begin with #1 and progress to #4, then you address issues as you progress and finally see.

(Hmmm.... In my own practice, how much do I want to use force to get a result that is within my range to notice instead of quietly waiting, observing with intention, submitting to simply noticing, and then acting on what I notice... ?)

* Question: What are you talking about #1 and #4?
Answer: There is a built-in philosophical aspect to the second set of the Wujifa zhan zhuang structural alignment method: 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4
  1. Inguinal crease in. You can get the inguinal crease in by hyper-arching the back and sticking the butt out in a submissive posture. You must submit to receive. This is the first thing that is needed to be built-in but is often the most overlooked. To submit means to be open and not closed and yet not pushed around. Being able to submit means being able to see possibilities which allows more freedom of movement.
  2. Back down. With the inguinal crease in, then relax and drop the lower back. This builds a foundation for the backbone. Experiencing your backbone in this way gives you strength and courage to stand up to challenges and hold true to tough decisions.
  3. Sternum down. While keeping the spine straight, drop the chest without hunching from the back. This allows the rib heads to loosen and allows the front and back door of your heart to bring more "spirit" and "heart" into your practice.
  4. Head up and back. This allows you to keep your mind clear so you can follow intention and see clearly. The neck must be relaxed and not stiff-necked as this will block out the eyes. A stiff neck, a military neck (back and up creates tension) makes it good for obeying orders. Conversely, neck up and back allows the muscles and occiput to open which allows you to think for yourself and follow your own intuition.

* My core zhan zhuang training was on-and-off before Cook Ding's 2012 Lenten Challenge which was February 22 - April 7. For the Lenten Challenge, I committed to and stood zhan zhuang nearly every day. However, after that, I caved in to a some daily life stressors and I lost the willpower to continue training. So... now at the end of April, I haven't been doing any of the core zhan zhuang training since April 3rd.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Finally! The Beginning: Journal Notes #100
Next article in this series: - Not Practicing: Journal Notes #102

Make sure to visit and the Wujifa blog.
And stop by The School of Cultivation and Practice.

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