Monday, November 7, 2011

Zhan Zhuang Medicine: Journal Notes #64

Notes from my February 2009 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.)

* Question: What's the relation between "sung" and "peng" in zhan zhuang?
Answer: In Wujifa we say,"Relaxed is not limp". This is another way to say, maintain "peng". "Sung" is "peng" without connection. Relax first to get "sung" then find "peng". Once you get "peng" then you are not limp and you have connection.

(In the distant past when I read about "bottom heavy", "top light", "sung" and "peng", I developed concepts about what these were and I thought I manifested these kinesthetics based on my conceptual understanding. This is probably a typical process for beginners' first encounter with Tai Chi. However, as it turns out, I was wrong on all accounts.

My experience with training Wujifa zhan zhuang taught me that only through and first feeling the feeling of bottom heavy that in contrast and equal proportion I could say that the top felt light in comparison. (This was a radically different experience from my initial imagine hanging from a string - top light - and imagine roots growing out my feet - bottom heavy!)

"Peng" is like an On-Off switch. Either you have full-body connection or you don't. Once you have full-body connection, then you've put your foot through the door and then you can have variations of how well refined full-body connection can become.

The medicine I talk about later is to help refine connection.

As with top light, bottom heavy, it is only to the extent to which I feel "sung" that in contrast and equal proportion, I am able to feel "peng".

From my experience, I was not kinesthetically prepared to feel sung or peng until I first experienced bottom heavy.)

* Question: What do I need to do to improve or change my push hands style?
Answer: Push hands is a game of frame control. You have to learn to maintain your own frame. Adjust your frame through your arm vs. adjusting to my frame through my arm. You were taught and learned push hands all wrong. You learned that relaxed and yielding means being a limp noodle. What you built in needs to be retrained.

* Question: What's the relation between practicing presence and internal strength?
Answer: When do you notice stuff in your body? Now. So if you can be more present, then you can notice more in your body.

* I learned a lot of different forms and I got stuck on refining the aesthetics and applications of the form but I never developed the feeling of sinking and connectedness that I'm developing now and so I realize now that my forms lacked power. I now understand that it's better to train to get the feeling first.

* Question: I can feel across my shoulders and I can feel my lower back but I can't feel the space between my shoulders and my lower back. How can I connect the two?
Answer: First, get the hump out of the top just below where you're feeling. Then arch your back. You may first feel your butt arch out and lower back tighten. Then get the upper back straight and relax the lower back and drop the butt.

(Here's an example of a method or "medicine" for me based on my question, my structure and how best to work with me and my musculo-structural patterning to achieve the feeling I'm trying to figure out how to get.)

* Stood for 1 & 1/2 hours in class today! It's amazing how much longer I can stand at class where time seems to fly by as compared to standing at home where time seems to creep by.

(Here's one example of a stance adjustment I received in one class. Everyone in class gets a different kind of adjustment which works on the particular patterning s/he presents in their zhan zhuang. In other classes, I have received different adjustments or "medicines".

sample stance adjustment
If you have been reading my blog and the Wujifa blog you have read about methods as a "medicine":

"Methods are much like a medicine and can assist or hinder one’s progress depending on the usage of various methods and when they are used." (From A System of Martial Arts Training and Objectives for Wujifa.)

The "medicine" I got in this Feb 23, 2009 class addressed a particular structural deficiency of mine, mainly, my tendency to hunch and what I would call being humble which could also be called a lack of having a proud or cocky spirit. So this particular "medicine" aimed to "raise my spirit" through a particular structural adjustment.

Once I got the feeling of the proud, cocky feeling, an aspect of the "raise the spirit" feeling, then I could structurally relax the chest and evoke the feeling pretty much at will. This is an example of what is meant by: The method is not the truth. Once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.)

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Goals and Questions: Journal Notes #63
Next article in this series: Keep the Plates Spinning: Journal Notes #65

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