Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Are Where You Are and That's Where You Start

A lesson I am still learning is identifying where I am, what I am capable of, what I am ready for.

As I mentioned, in my early days I thought I was ready to jump in to the higher level stuff like learning forms, push-hands and sparring without having a grounding in the fundamentals. Even now, in my Zhan Zhuang practice, I tend to not content myself with noticing and discovering where my " here and now" is, but will ask conceptual questions which would not merit asking were my capabilities and understanding at that level. I still approach a feeling-based practice with thinking-based habits.

Here's an example.

I'm playing with the Gao Style Bagua Ban exercise as posted on the Wujifa blog and I'm curious about how Ban works the kua as compared to the Wujifa side-to-side exercise.

Ban is obviously much more 'active' with larger physical movements and I initially had a difficult time noticing the kua open and close. Then I played with the intention of closing the kua on the bent knee side and opening the kua on the stretched out leg side and I could feel the movement a little clearer and deeper.

And when I bring this intention back into side-to-side, I find I can notice a little bit more in the quieter movement of side-to-side. However, playing with too much intention causes me to force a feeling and a thought. I could also relax and feel the feeling already there.

So where I am kinesthetically is noticing and feeling the kua open and close. Yet, I asked a conceptual question like, "So does fa-jing work by developing a quick, forced, side-to-side muscular contraction?" and the answer I got was, "No, you relax quickly."

Relax quickly? How does this work? The monkey mind searched frantically for a match, for a hook, something, anything to make sense of this two-word koan. Relax quickly.

The conversation then turned back to where I am now. In relax, what do you notice? Do not try to notice something. You are not looking for anything. Rather, simply, relax and notice what is there. What you notice is where you are and this is where you start.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike,

    Wonderful post here... I think you share this concept well of "You are where you are and that's where you start."

    So many times in my life I shot for something that was beyond where I was... Trying to figure out how to do something and then getting even more confused or worse by believing that I understood something by making up what I thought it should be. Then to find out I wasn't even close.

    For me the secret was to keep it simple and go back to the basics. Spend the time on foundational skills. When I meet people more skilled I would ask them very basic question and if they could show me what they mean by doing it physically. Even then I might ask to have them show me something even more simple and then play with that one simple thing for a number of months.

    I too like the "ban" bagua drill. I also like the "side to side" wujifa skill sets. Understanding deeply how the hip area can open and move is a very deep subject. I hope your honesty here will inspire others as well to assess where they are and to look toward the many wonderful basic skill sets in thier own practice.

    So many times I've discovered mean much more advanced ideas hidden in very basic "warm-up" or simple gongs that are connected with these types of martial arts. Thanks again for sharing so openly and honestly as always...