RECOGNIZING 13 POINTS – ADVANCED LEVEL
Force travels through the structure. “Structure” is born from coordination of joints and bone structure. Having proper structure and relaxation does not mean that you can generate proper energy in movement. You must be able to lead spiral energy from the bone structure and expand it to the skin and also condense it back to the bone structure.
Structuring the crown and shoulders
Structuring the hip joints
Structuring the knees
SEEING DOWN TO THE VERY BASE OF ORIGIN IN YOUR TRAINING
Selected points about excerpted from GM Sam Chin (and instructor Yen Chin’s) online session: Spinning Hands – Part 10 Sat. Sept. 25, 2021
If you cannot see down to the base of origin, your actions will not be flowing enough. Because everything for the Mechanism of movement is based on Absorb Project, Condense Expand, and Open close and under the three planes with Concave and Convex–this is the is 5 Mechanisms that we have been talking about in movement. But with that movement, with all this movement, they come from ONE point; they all come back down to one point of rotation or one point on the pivot point: the pivot point and the rotations. So, with one point we must be able to see 1, 2, 3. That means on one point you must able clearly see the reference: the center reference and the Yin and Yang–the interchange of Yin Yang. So, the change of Yin Yang you can say is Open Close from the rotation So, when we say “rotation”, it’s what? It’s clockwise or counterclockwise. From clockwise or counterclockwise then you can say that from Yang to Yin or Yin to Yang, with that rotation. With clockwise counterclockwise we also could be saying open close right? So, movement is all about Open Close. Within open close you can produce what?–pull push, absorb project, condense expand, concave convex. All these move through the space of 3 dimensions with the 6 directions. This is the format that the students must obey with. They follow this progressions from one point of rotation to see that separation and unification. So, if you can bring your attention down to that one point to see Open Close from the rotations, and understanding the change here from Yin to Yang or Yang to YIn or Open to Close, Close to Open, Condense to Expand, Expand to Condense, or Absorb to Project, Project to Absorb or Concave to Convex, Convex to Concave.
So, WITHIN this change we have been covering that EVERY time there is changing from one side to another side, and because of the different energy, how at the change in the center there must be a Loop. In training the Basic Exercises, we say when you Project, you must Expand to Absorb. From Absorb to Project then we must Condense to Expand–so there is a loop. From the beginning, we have been training all these basic concepts, the Foundations: of going through vertical line, horizontal line, and also the sagittal line, right? Horizontal, vertical, sagittal–the 3 dimensions of changing. You can see is from forward to backward, up to down, down to up, or left to right, or right to left. That PROCESSS, from one side to another site is always our Loop: that means for Open to Close or Close to Open. That is the WINDING energy –some would say that is a “grinding” energy to release. That you grind to wind or grind to release–sometimes we use the words of a “loop” or a “spike.”All movement is based on this and fajin, which is releasing power, must come from here also! That means to be able to release in this way, you are releasing ALL the unifications, from section to section.You LINK all the sections and with that Open Close with Winding, and release the power. So, in action, the movement is the same, and the only thing that is different is now, when releasing power, there is more of we talk about in our System as Loose, Soft, Elastic–that kind of pressure–of how you are pressurizing and releasing. Apart from here, all movement must obey the macro-cosmic energy flow.
In our System, we talk about Structure, Relaxation and Energy—that all movement must obey the macro-cosmic energy flow. When we talk about macrocosmic energy flow that means all Yin to dantian and all Yang to Ming men to complete the cycle. If you obey that flow, you observe it always goes through from dantien (from the fingertip to dantien for the Yin) and for the Yang from the ming-men it goes to the fingernails and the toenails–that macro cosmic energy flow. So for all that movement, do you clearly see the flow WITHIN this action? If you cannot, you need to adjust this flow as only then is your action appropriate.
See all movements down to this level of awareness. I’ve been trying for all this long period of time to guide students to SEE (feel) the fundamental things. The fundamentals work in 3 Processes: first we say, understand the foundation. Then, with the foundation, there is a movement that you can use to try to understand the applications — how to use it. Then, with these two, the last step is that you need to condition it. Normally, we put it like this:first we train under the foundations, we have applications, and then when you work more on it turns into some kind of “jin”–a kind of being purified or you have been transforming the energy into more kind of Chinese call it ‘jin’ but it’s more like it’s been “cultivated”–the movement has been cultivated and made clear and conscious about it. So you’re able to be conscious about it. And you are able to coordinate and harmonize it, so that you can work with attention–that means YI, CHI, and LI. The Yi and Chi and Li as One.
REFLECTIONS ON WHAT IT MEANS TO TRAIN FA JIN (Fa 發 Jin 勁)
If you know how to fajin, I don’t care, if your fajin isn’t according to these principles.You must work with these principles until your understanding gets down to the base of origin and is very simple. Then, in just one move here, you can fajin already, because it’s just open and close. Right? It’s nothing much. It’s not that it has any special kind of movement. It is only the rotation and open close! You must be able to produce the power in this way. If you cannot do that, Ah, then what’s the point—if when it comes to at point of contact, you cannot do it in one instant? When you want to do it, it is too late already. You must be able to do it on initial touch!
THE CENTER WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO
The center will tell you what to do because when you hold the center, you cannot leave the center. Once you leave the center, if your actions leave the center that means your action is wrong. So the connection is very important — that’s why you must able to hold the connections. The connections is where the balance point is — that tells you are you moving correctly or moving wrongly. If you’re moving correctly, that means you’re holding that center to wind or to move. If you’re moving away from that center that means it’s wrong or you are using too much force on the center, but if something is not happening so you could do something, that means it’s still wrong because you are not balancing the point .That means your conscious attention of the balance point must be must be clear – can you see: is your attention there or not? Later on, it all comes down to feeling connections to the balance point, no other thing. Who is going to tell what is right, what is wrong, what is too much or what’s too little? It’s all based on connection and balance point. Are you holding it or are you leaving the point? We keep on saying that you always hold on to your center todo the yin and do the yang, but at the same time you’re also holding opponent’s center to see which direction to dothe movement —-because the center is the reference point of seeing the difference. If you cannot connect it, then you will not be able to see the reference and you cannot use that as a reference to see the difference. Then you will be guessing how to do it based on your habit or based on your past experience, If I can hold on, then I just need to hold on to see the difference; this is where the power of the moment is.
This is the top secrets–it’s simple but it’s not easy. Because if your attention is not there you cannot do it and it comes down to why it that your attention is not there?Are you trustworthy enough or are you trustworthy and honest enough to yourself and to others? If you’re not honest enough, there’s too many problems within your mind, too many thoughts that come to disturb you, then concentration cannot be there.That’s why we always talk the precepts: we talk about to be to trustworthy first; to be honest enough to yourself first. If you try to play, fool around, try to cheat, you’ll i never ever reach that level. No one blocks you; it’s only a matter of you blocking yourself because tall different views will come up. Where does the view come from? It’s all your thoughts –that view comes out– to block you.That means you cannot have a direct connection and experiential feel, because you can’t even hold there for a split second. If you can’t hold there for a split second, how can you observe the moment? If you cannot observe the moment you cannot see the difference. This is what our Zhong Xin Dao is about. That’s what the skill is about. That’s why I say that I’m not afraid of teaching you — are you are right person or not? Are you a grateful person? ARE YOU honest within yourself or with everyone, you see? If you cannot, sorry.It’s not that someone blocking you; it’s you yourself that blocks yourself. That’s why we talk about training this art is not about just training how to defend yourself. It’s training on how to better yourself to understand yourself and your surroundings. It is also geared towards the cultivations.
“Push the hips!”
My Gong Gong (grandpa) would comment to the 7 or 8 year old me as my brother, Chih and I carry out one of our favorite childhood games.
My Gong Gong, Grandmaster Chin, Lik Keong, was not formally educated but he was a genius. He’s a well-respected Grandmaster, the founder of a martial art that’s being practiced by students globally. As mentioned in part 1, he had the ability to memorize martial art forms even after seeing them once, and he’d be able to distill the essence of the moves. Just like those fictional characters that you see in kung fu films, except Gong Gong was real.
Of course, I had no idea then.
Growing up, I saw many people, mostly men, come and get beaten by my Gong Gong. Then they would show up every week after that and get all sweaty in our living room, pushing and pulling with other students who also were beaten up by my Gong Gong. All these people crammed in a hot and humid living room. As the night would go on, I sometimes wish they would just stop and go home. Why? Because they’ve made the living room smell so bad!
Students training in the living room at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For many years, I thought this was common in every family.
One good thing about their weekly training, though, was that I did enjoy seeing my Gong Gong teach all the “tips and tricks” so I could try to apply them when it’s the turn for Chih and I to regain access to our playground – our playground. We would take turns pushing each other across the living room. Gong Gong would often join in giving instructions. I remember I’d get jealous sometimes because he’d give more tips to my brother, teaching him how to beat me in the game.
“Push the hips!” “Stronger” “Lift off the ground!” etc…
You could see the passion in Gong Gong, for he loved sharing what he knew. Even with kids like myself and my brother who’s probably still attending Kindergarten then.
For decades, before the crack of dawn, both my Gong Gong and Ma Ma, a.k.a. Grandma would drive to the nearby national stadium, the locals call it the “Mushroom Park” because there is a huge mushroom overhead. They go there to exercise, do qigong, and train martial arts. While Ma Ma dances with the bunch of other grandmas, Gong Gong would volunteer his time to teach whoever was interested.
Sometimes Chih and I would go along with them and play around the park. I’d follow along with other martial arts masters doing the fan dance, or participate with the group of grandmas along with my Ma Ma to a voice blasting through the stereo counting from 1 to 10, or simply go and pick flowers while Chih hung out with our gong gong. Several hours later, we’d drive to a crowded Passar (morning market) to “Yam Cha” which means “drink tea” – a.k.a. to get food. This routine went on until the day before my Gong Gong passed away at the age of 80.
Growth Through Sharing
Everywhere Gong Gong went, people addressed him as “Sifu.”
He was well respected, people that would come and pay visits to him from all over and he would share passionately. During holidays, especially Chinese New Year, our house would be filled with visitors and gifts. He just loved teaching, a characteristic apparently common with my father as well. It’s their passion. They want everyone to have the same treasure that they recognized. It makes them happy to see other people benefit from the art.
This very reason drove my father to continue teaching even when he was battling cancer and being treated in the hospital. When students visited him, you could see the drive in him ignite. It gave him energy and he would then share his most recent recognition from the time that he spent recovering at the hospital – his explorations and deeper understanding of the mind in connection to the body. It was then that he structured “The Path of I Liq Chuan”, from his hospital bed.
The culture of our organization, led by example from both my Gong Gong and father, is based on sharing.
Despite the hardships, this gave me the fire to continue coordinating our daily public martial art sessions during the peak of the pandemic. I’m grateful to our instructors who volunteered their time for these sessions. Our intention is to bring people together during the quarantine. Perhaps we could provide a bit of normalcy and change the day for the better for some people.
As children, Chih and I fought to win our childhood games. As adults, we coordinated together in reaching out to our frontline heroes. We volunteered with Words by Amrita, a non-profit organization initiative that specializes in positive words and artwork for the healthcare professionals. Together, we delivered cards and organized Zen Day for Westside Regional Medical Center in Florida that’s part of HCA, one of the largest hospital network in America.
I was especially touched to see not only busy doctors and nurses benefit from the meditation sessions, but COVID patients as well!
Coordinating with Kilin Tang, instructor Wai Tang’s son, we are also reaching out to senior homes through COVID-19 Greater Charlotte Area Mutual Aid. This is a student run organization focusing on connecting support to the community of North Carolina. Local high schoolers jumped aboard and volunteered to personalize hundreds of cards before delivering them to the senior centers.
We hope to continue reaching out to more healthcare facilities, clinics and senior centers. If you know of any facilities that would benefit from this initiative, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Appreciating The Roots
Even with my father’s most recent knee replacement surgery, he’s been reflecting on the best ways to spread the art. He is continually seeking, searching for best ways to guide others to continue their own self-cultivation.
When I see my dad’s constant dedication to spreading the Martial Art of Awareness, even when he himself is in the middle of healing, I appreciate the roots of my own passion for sharing positivity.
Nearly forty students, representing many European countries all joined GM Chin and son for the full week, and weekend training. In total, eight countries were represented, including Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, Belarus, Netherlands, Croatia and the UK.
Since childhood, Sam Chin (Chin Fan-Siong) trained Kung Fu traditionally with his father, the founder of I Liq Ch’uan. He has won championships in T’ai Chi push-hands and kick-boxing tournaments, and is the Chief instructor of the system in U.S.A. Prior to his arrival in U.S. seven years ago Sam had taught for 16 years in Malaysia and Australia. He currently holds classes in Kent,NY at Chuang Yen Monastery and in New York City.
(Note: This article was originally published in January of 1999 and some of the information above is out of date. Master Sam F.S. Chin is currently holds the position of 1st Lineage Holder and Successor of the Art, he also no longer holds classes at Chuang Yen Monastery.)
QM: What is the meaning of I Liq Chuan?
SC: I Liq Chuan literally translates as Mental-Physical Martial art. ‘I’ is mind, ‘Liq’ is strength, and ‘Chuan’ is fist so we can say ‘Mental-Physial Martial Art’.
QM: How and where did this art originate?
SC: My Father, Chin Lik Keong, learned the skill from one of the masters in Malaysia, called Lee Kam Chow. At the time it was called Hsing I-Pa Kua (Xingyi-Bagua), but some people called it Feng Yang Chuan or Liew Mun Pai (nomadic clan). It originated from Wudang mountain. It was a hidden martial art skill used by these nomads to protect themselves on the open roads and was not open to the public, only passed down secretly. The higher levels of skill were kept for the family members. When my father decided to trace back the history of the name to discover its origins, he found the training methods didn’t really look like Hsing-I (Xingyi) or Pakua (Bagua), or even Tai Chi Chuan, yet the contained the principles of all three. My father continued his research and expanded on what he had studied. He eventually concluded that what he had learned was an art of self recognition and self-realization, of both the mental and physical. So, feeling uncomfortable with naming the art under any one of the three internal styles he renamed it I Liq Chuan. In 1976 he formed the I Liq Chuan Association in Malaysia.
Master Sam Chin demonstrates a Tai Chi combat posture
QM: What are the principles of I Liq Chuan?
SC: I Liq Chuan is based on Tai Chi and Zen principles. So you can say it has it’s roots in Taoism and Buddhism. It is based on non-assertion, non-resistance, and an understanding of yin and yang. The training is being mindful, which means neutral, formless and in the present, to become fully aware. Action and reaction are based on mental habitual reflex, which is the mental expressions accumulated through past experience. In this case you are not in the moment and not with the condition as it is (Tao). When you are in the moment you can flow. Flowing is to be with the conditions, not backing off, or resisting, just sensing and merging.
From flowing you can observe the condition as it is, and then merge, to be as one, harmonizing with the environment and the opponent. When you harmonize then you can take control. Mindfulness is the cause, and awareness is the effect of being mindful. We need to understand the learning process, which is merely to recognize and realize; it is not to accumulate or imitate as that is just building another habit. From Zen we need to empty ourselves so that the nature of all things can reveal itself to us.
“Every move is based on the conditions, with no fixed moves. Inner feel is cultivated first. ”
Students train through a process. First they train to understand muscular movement, body structure and alignment. Then they train to incorporate Chi (Qi) energy, and the mental process. I Liq Chuan is an internal art. Its aim is to understand the inner feel and to express that inner feel outward. Relaxation is an essential component of the art. It contains the process of looseness, softness, elasticity and fa jing (issuing power). The energy released is from relaxation out, from zero to 100%.
QM: How does the training progress?
SC: The first process is the unification of the mental and physical. The second process is to unify with the opponent and the environment. Actually, in the beginning I Liq Chuan had no forms. It was a formless art. All the system contained was specialized sticky hands practice and Chi Kung (Qi Gong). The applications we learned from the sticky hands practice and the practice to gain feel. The system has expanded and now has two training forms, the 21 Form and the Butterfly Form. The forms are merely tools to recognize the principles, which are based on Tai Chi (harmonizing and recognizing the balance of yin and yang) and Zen (being mindful and being in the present moment). The objective is to actualize these principles to recognize and harmonize with the nature as it is. The second form, the Butterfly Form, has more fajin and is more aggressive.
From the form, the student is taught to become formless. Every move is based on the conditions, with no fixed moves. Inner feel is cultivated first. You cannot attain the combative skill from just practicing forms. This is only possible through the two person practice of spinning hand / sticky hand drills.
In training, to unify the mental-physical, we need to understand the nature of the mental and physical, how they affect each other and how to unify and coordinate them. Through the exercises we need to recognize the six principles which are relaxation; body alignment; center of gravity force; dynamic center of mass; internal and external circle (or force field of spheres of defense and offense), and the spinning force of coordination.
QM: Can you Elaborate on some of the terms?
SC: The dynamic center point of mass (located on the sternum) is that point to which we direct energy to achieve control of the opponent, where you make contact with the opponent, and by exerting a certain force, you can control his whole body. The force field of spheres is for offense and defense. It is the feeling of producing a roundness as in Tai Chi Chuan, or what they call ‘Peng Jin’ an expanding of the inner force. In I Liq Chuan the fundamental requirement is to be able to produce roundness, defending all round. If this roundness is attained then the movement can be properly born. From understanding the force field of offense and defense you must be bale to produce a three dimensional force, which comprises the horizontal, frontal and saggital. If you can produce the three dimensional force as a whole you can change with the change. you can call this primordial spinning force.
From understanding and applying this force you will be more centered which means having your own spheres, the upper body peng, the lower body peng, back peng, the sides peng, all round peng. Only when the three dimensions are produced can the proper the proper movement be born, i.e. open, close, retreat or advance. Every action itself contains the three dimensions. With this kind of feel then you can flow and change without any kind of resistance. If the opponent cannot produce three-dimension force, he cannot change with the change and will be overcome because he is either resisting or collapsing.
The spinning force of co-ordination is the spinning force that acts as our scanner. We scan and recollect the six aforementioned points to be centered, and keep extending these points to unify; at the same time, we are trying to clear mental and physical blockages and achieve the ‘mindful state’. Above all the practitioner must learn to break away from habit, to understand that the movement is not from the habitual relax and one should be conscious of the movement itself at all times.
QM: What does the practice of spinning hands entail?
SC: Spinning hands is the training awareness and harmonizing yourself with the opponent. From spinning hands we try to recognize that our movement is not based on habit but rather on the conditions. Spinning hands develops three sections; the wrist, elbows and shoulders. First we have to flow, which is to recognize and be with the opponent. Secondly we need to develop fending, which is to produces the feeling of roundness, which is a force-field of defense and offense that the opponent will not be able to penetrate. When you have flow and fend, the you can lead the opponent. When you lead him, you can control him; for when he begins to follow your movements, he belongs to you. So the progression is flow, fend, lead and control. When you can control the opponent then you can do whatever the conditions require.
The training of spinning hands develops projection force, absorption force and splitting force. First is understanding the force from your feet up to the hands, to the opponent and down to the opponent’s feet. This is called the projection force. The second process is to lead the force from the opponent’s feet back down into your feet. This is the process of absorbing the opponent’s energy into you. The third is the split. At higher levels we can split our energy, while maintaining unity, at any point of the body we want. We can pick any place as the ground to exert power. Splitting is with more of the explosive power because the range is closer.
“When you confront an opponent you might find it hard to move his body using strength alone, but the mind has no weight and no volume.”
QM: What would you say are the combat strengths of the system and how long does it take to aquire these?
SC: I Liq Chuan develops the ability of redirecting and off-balancing. At higher levels of training there are strikes to the meridian points. Though there are some closed fist punches, mainly we use open palm strikes, qin na as well as elbow, knee and shoulder strikes. The most important aspect is controlling the opponent as soon as contact is made. Unlike many martial arts systems we do not concentrate on developing techniques for dealing with specific situations. Instead, we develop physical sensitivity and sensorial mental awareness so when an I Liq Chuan practitioner makes contact with any part of the opponent’s body he can feel what technique is about to be used and where the the opponent’s weight and center of gravity are extending. This skill is eventually developed to sense with absence of touch through awareness.
When you confront an opponent you might find it hard to move his body using strength alone, but the mind has no weight and no volume, and it leads the body. So in I Liq Chuan, we learn to lead the opponent’s mind. When this is mastered, a woman or even a small child can easily overcome a big man by leading his mind, then his own mind leads his body. It normally takes about five years under my guidance to acquire a high standard and maybe three years to acquire good self-defense capability, providing the students apply what they have been taught in the class and practice regularly.
QM: Is there anything further you would like to say?
SC: The purpose of the training is not spinning hands or the form; it should apply to everything in daily life. Spinning hands and the form are merely a tool for developing mindfulness. It’s not like when you come to class to train and you wear a uniform and when you leave you take it off. When you train you train you learn to be mindful even at your job or when you eat, talk, walk, etc. Then more of life opens up to you as your perception of the causes and effects of the present has increased. The most important goal for a student learning I Liq Chuan is to attain total awareness and be themselves. Hopefully, my students will develop so that they can share with others.
For the whole year, lately, I’ve been trying to keep on talking about the principles of the way to train — to get the very basic foundation first—how to use ourselves to know ourselves practically speaking.
I have been emphasizing structure, relaxation, and energy.
These have to come from the skeleton (bones), ligaments, yin yang muscles, tissue and the skin. All these –structure, relaxation, energy—have to relate to these. If you are not working from each of these, you won’t be able to know the structure, relaxation, and energy: they’re all interrelated.
The skeleton is the ‘hardware’; how to use it to have movement is the ‘software.’ That means you have to stick to the principle, not of the ‘how’ to do the movement, but instead of understanding the principle of the hardware function.
Start From One Point
The function requires us to understand that all things happen from one still point, from one steady point. That one steady point is the point that is a connecting point, a unifying point, a pivot point.
In tai chi it classics it says that a point that once it moves, it’s still and steady (wuji to taiji to yin/yang). But the split comes from the unifying point.
“When there is no more separation between ‘this’ and ‘that’, it is called the still-point of the Tao. At the still point in the center of the circle, one can see the infinite in all things.”
~Chuang-Tzu/Zhuangzi; from the Taoist classics, Inner Chapters
When separation and unification come together, a.k.a. unification–that is the still point. But from one still point, in order to have a function of a still point, you can only do it through rotations and pivot: a pivot point.
Rotation Is Pivoting
Rotation is also pivoting. [GM demonstrates: we pivot center axis, pivot whole arm, pivot at wrist point of contact]. The problem is, if we start with the name, some say ‘rotation isn’t pivot—it’s just ‘rotation’; but it is of course pivoting!
Practically, rotation is a pivot—it pivots in a horizontal way!
So, do not get stuck into labeling. That is why we call rotation is a pivot point. In terms of the characteristics of the pivot point, the most important characteristic is to hold it so it does not move to shift off. It is holding there to do things!
This means we need to connect with what we are holding.
That means there is connection and separation. So, in order to do things correctly you must keep on balancing with what you should be doing: so, we are balancing with the flow: we keep on changing with the flow.
Balancing With The Floor
So, we start training the one point with the skeleton (balancing with the floor). Then the ligaments and tendons are connected to the yin yang muscles. So, now there is a cycle—you can extend joint-to-joint and section-to-section.
On the body rotation (the skeleton and yin yang muscles…) This training is what we need to recognize. That is why we train just to go up and down with the skeleton, ligaments, and tendons, feeling the yin yang muscles.
But within the joint, when we are flipping it back and forth, then we are doing open-close. (yin/yang) The yin yang is condensing/expanding. We were saying yesterday on the Saturday zoom session, we condense and expand on the bone first.
Stretch the joint first—to the ligaments and tendons…then, muscles. If I’m condensing the bone, I am drawing from the fingertips here—the yin. Then, stretch the bone, the ligaments and tendons—then the yang tissue and the skin to the fingernails. [Demonstrates: stretching the yin, the yang]. Then, stretch and rotate. [Demonstrates “grabbing” with the yin, then grabbing with the yang—like throwing a punch]; then it’s ‘pulling/pushing’.
Disc Two, Part Six: North, South, East, West A Circle Must Have A Center It looks so easy–the propelling of the circles–the propelling of the circles and the directions to see. THE NSEW – I just break it down to NSEW but supposedly it will be the circles–the rotations, the rotations of the hand. It […]
Disc 2 Part Three Frontal From here that you want to propel one frontal: frontal from the sternum and dantien first; from here. One circle: one but hold the ball -let’s do this one up and down first. This up and down, up and down; absorb and project this, and side to side, plus this. […]
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