Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Silk Reeling; Feeling and Intention

At my last Wujifa class, after stance, I was doing the closing circles (Chen, Xiao-wang style) as I had been doing for the past several years, rather mechanically. Then somehow I stumbled into really feeling the sensuousness of making circles; feeling the intentional moving of each arm-hand, pulling across, pushing down, pulling across, pushing up... I was told that this looked more like silk reeling than the mechanical moving I was doing just a moment earlier.

This comment piqued my curiosity. How could I apply this new found feeling that looked more like silk reeling to the actual silk reeling exercise I learned at Chen, Xiao-wang seminars years ago? What's the relation between the closing circles and silk reeling?

Here's the mechanics of how I'm working the feeling I discovered in stance into the silk reeling form:
Both hands positioned for the stance closing circles; right hand on top of left hand. Both hands moving across the upper abdomen Left to Right, then down the right side, then across the lower abdomen Right to Left, then up the left side, as I shift side-to-side.

Then I'll continue the left hand circling on the abdomen while the right hand slowly draws away from the body making larger and larger circles until I'm doing what looks like a hybrid of the Yang, Jwing-ming Tai-chi circle and the Chen Xiao-wang silk reeling form. I notice that this "method" helps me notice and maintain the connection and timing and feeling between the (right) "silk-reeling hand" with both the (left) hand circling on the abdomen and with the shifting side-to-side.

As I play with this hybrid Yang Jwing-ming Tai-chi circle and Chen, Xiao-wang silk reeling form, I'm noticing the CXW 1,2,3,4 positions don't exist as points or corners but rather as a single circle upon which points 1,2,3,4 may be identified but through which the arm-hand passes smoothly.

I was discussing my recent play and came away with the following:

In response to my concern that I may be bastardizing the forms or not understanding the distinct purpose of each, I heard that the pattern or form is not as important as the intention-feeling-connection you are working on.

If you look at the points, then you will get stuck. But if you look in the direction that the points are pointing to, then you discover even more.... now. (Recall the finger pointing at the moon.)

Again, what is your purpose? To collect data? To collect techniques? Or is your purpose to experience and understand the underlying feeling-intention of the art?


  1. Great post Mike! Although I haven't been focusing on movement exercises such as silk reeling, I do feel that the whole idea of getting stuck by looking at points can be applied to all areas in life, but more specifically, within stance training as I have been playing with lately. In my head I had been picturing what stance was, a specific posture (or point, if you will) with your arms held out like so, the knees bent, 1234,1234 etc. And while we do need this structure (structure, balance and relaxation!), my focus had been too much on the physical structure of stance itself which was causing me to tense up, imagining such a rigid position. I was missing the forest for the trees by relying too much on a method, not really getting the feeling. As a disclaimer, I write in past tense but of course I haven't yet completely found the underlying feeling that we always seek! But I like how you say we need to look in the direction that the points are pointing to, and not the points themselves...this for me means PROGRESS...and progress is of course a good thing!

    As a brief aside, I was sitting in traffic today and thought how interesting it is that the way we think of things can change everything. Instead of becoming irate or impatient, I thought to myself, wow, we are all this huge mass of people trying to get forward in life. Instead of being negative and selfish about wanting to go faster, or get ahead of the person in front of me etc., how interesting it is to think that we were all moving forward together in a compact "peng-y" kind of way...

    Viewpoints seem to carry so much weight and as you said previously, you are where you are and that's where you start!

  2. I really like the saying "Noticing changes everything"

    Now what to notice... If what is more important than notice then lots of data can be discovered.

    Simply notice direction... Notices where this is headed toward.

    And when we simple allow ourselves to notice...

    Well inspiring

    Rick from

  3. Just read your response Rick and wanted to say "good stuff!"...