ZXD ILC Philadelphia, PA (USA)
Nancy Watterson and Lan Tran, in their role as Co-Directors of the ZXD Academic Approach, have been
busy in 2018 with various academic initiatives. Their proposal, “Stillness and Motion: Using Body
Mindfulness to Observe and Connect” has been accepted for the University of Pennsylvania’s
Ethnography in Education Research Forum (Feb. 2019 with Rich Kelly and Ezekiel Mathur assisting in the
presentation). In October, Nancy and Lan presented at another scholarly, peer-reviewed conference as
part of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (ACMHE) Conference held at the
University of Massachussetts (Amherst).
On Cabrini University’s campus, Nancy and Lan piloted the inaugural cohort of the “Balance Learning
Community” for 18 first-year students enrolled in “Conflict & Cooperation,” a full-credit academic
course which revolves around Zhong Xin Dao; the course also fulfills the Values Core Curriculum
requirement for the University. Nancy and Lan received a small grant from the 1976 Foundation to
travel to the instructors’ retreat in Oregon, offered several on-campus ZXD mini-workshops to faculty
and staff across the disciplines, conducted an on-line session for graduate students in the Masters of
Education program, and gave short interviews for the campus radio station and student newspaper.
Beyond these academic endeavors, the Philly group traveled to Baltimore, MD for the Taiwan / US Tai
Chi Cultural Exchange in May (with Lan and Inari gave a demo), gained some new members and
welcomed returnees: Lan and Nancy became disciples of GM Sam Chin at the Fishkill Intensive (Feb.
2018), 4 members (Lan Tran, Nancy Watterson, Raj Singh and Ezekiel Mathur) graded for level 4 and
Ezekiel also joined them in completing his Instructor level 1; two students (Dwight Epps and Bruce
Tomascik) recently graded for student level
“Because of the concentration, if you can hold; that’s where the clarity comes. With the clarity you have that kind of peacefulness.”
~GM Sam Chin
Mindfulness = Direct: Knowing and Acting in the Present Moment
We have been here [at Mid-America Buddhist Association] for the past 6 days. So, what have you guys learned? [Looks around]. What is the most important part that you are here for, first of all? Yes, mindfulness. Another word for mindfulness is the purpose is to have DIRECT. Direct experience. Direct experiential knowing of the moment. Yes? So, the same thing as we do training (in ZXD); that’s what the reverend (Ji Ru) talked about. Practically, we don’t need to remember. When you ‘remember’ things, that means you try to get things from the past. If you want to use things you ‘remember’ on, that’s from the past. So we talk about the past and the present. The training of present is direct! Direct doesn’t need to remember.
Here is where we try to understand what is it that is direct, that there’s no need to remember and we still understand. What is there that you’re able to see and how can you know in that direct moment? How can you act with that direct moment without using the past experience? Here is the toughest thing. Because every moment if you can’t hold onto the direct moment–say you need to penetrate, you need to connect—if you can’t do that it will fall back to your memory, you will fall back to your past. That means according to your past and falling back to that kind of senses contact, the past experience, those are past senses and past experiences: what you like, don’t like or what you don’t know, the 3 types of feelings.
Stillness, Concentration, and the Power of Attention to Hold
It’s coming from stillness. Stillness is the concentration. It’s the present point and also the balance point. Because of the concentration, because of the power of attention that you can hold, you are not being stirred up by past feelings, past emotions, so you won’t be stirred up like that. So, you won’t be using the past experiences to judge. (When you use past experience to judge you always fall back to: What I like, I want more; what I don’t like, I reject, or what I don’t know). Because of the concentration, if you can hold, that’s where the clarity comes. With the clarity you have that kind of peacefulness. With clarity you get satisfaction and joy.
That’s why the next two [qualities] are joy and equanimity. With equanimity you have the balance: the peace of mind. This is only 2 of the kinds here. In our system we normally call it as past and present: present is direct.
In 2014 I called this the I Liq Chuan Path and now we name it as Zhong Xin Dao (ZXD). You guys understand? — you need to follow this path. The first topic we talk about the philosophy, concept, and principles, because you need theoretical things at first to guide the philosophy. The first part of the ZXD philosophy talks about how we are using the Zen and Tao philosophy. Because for every system, if they use a different base or different philosophy, their training will be different, and the outcome will be different. Because you’ve got to be aligned: know from what kind of concept and what kind of principles for how you train the philosophy—ask what is the philosophy that needs to come out? So every time you need to look back to the philosophy.
See the Nature to See the Truth
First of all, the Philosophy of Zen and Tao is talking back to the Nature itself; everything is going back to its nature to see the nature in order to see the truth. So we ask: what is the characteristic of the Nature itself in order to see? First, the characteristic of nature is change—that’s what Buddhism talks about impermanent. And no self: we don’t have one solid entity —it’s all by conditions that combine to form. You can’t be one; there must be two. That’s why the Tao Te Ching talks about: the Tao that born one, one that born two, two that born three, and then everything is formed. [From here is the way you approach and see things—to understand things. Lately, I try to talk about this because to understand things, you must always see from different angles. Recently, I heard one of the talks on a TedTalk called “The Danger of One Story.” When you see a danger of one story then you think “oh, this is what it is, it’s just this—you have to be able to see through different angles. So, a lot of the words we use will get you stuck, will block you, will jam you. When you listen, you must check it from different angles: sometimes words like center: a center is what? When we say center, a center must have 6 directions; 6 directions is a center. Because when you look at 6 directions there is a center. If a center doesn’t have 6 directions, it’s not a center. Or you say a circle must have circumference. Or, you do a circle without centers, then if the circle doesn’t have a concept or principle of a center, that is not a circle. They always have relationship to form this. So a center is a junction point. A junction point is because it’s a center: the junction point has the ability to go in all different directions. If it has that ability, I call that neutral. Yes?
Present, Formless, Neutral: the changing balance point, stillness point, present point
The neutral is not like standing on a fence: left, right, middle and middle is neutral. But neutral has a middle quality also, because it is a junction and a junction has the ability to go in any direction: not to get stuck in any direction. That means you can change. If they can change that mans what? They are formless, yes? So there are all these abilities to see things. Formless is what? You can say it’s also empty! Every word has certain particular meaning by itself, but they also have relationship to other words. So we talk about being present, formless, and neutral: these have a RELATIONSHIP but they have slightly different qualities. Because we need that in order to change. If the characteristic of nature is always changing, then you need to change with the change to be in the present. Tao also talks about how if everything is changing, it’s a balance point. So, when I say a ‘balance point,’ it’s also changing. Then what is a balance point that doesn’t change? So we say, “changing with the change to maintain not to change”—that’s the balance point! That balance point is also a stillness point. And that stillness point is also a present point. Until you can understand this, then here is what we’re training the concentration to hold: to change with the changes to
maintain not to change. Here is where you know the change. Here is also HOW you know…and WHAT you know from here. So training, if you can’t connect and hold over here, you will fall back to your memory, fall back to your past to judge the moment. Over here, if you can hold and link, we say that there’s nothing to remember, because you act in the moment of connecting and matching. That’s why we come up with the Meet and Match, from here.
Everything is from the Point of Contact
That means that everything is also from the point of contact. We know from the point of contact and act from the point of contact, but here is where the 2 things at the POC: are you present—to connect? —or, do you fall back to the past, memory to judge, or do you act on the point of contact. That’s why here, on the philosophy side we talk about the nature itself; the way things are. Then sometimes we talk about the characteristics of the nature itself is the way things are—things as it is: that means you can’t add anything, you cannot take away anything. If you add or take away anything you interfere, that means you are not with the nature, you aren’t understanding the nature. But that doesn’t mean you cannot change. So, by understanding the conditions you know how to approach. In the Zhong Xin Dao Path here I make it simple in a way, so that the concept, ‘there’s nothing to train’ is to remind you to see things as it is, not to ‘remember’ anything: it’s direct. The most important part is that the training is not to accumulate or imitate. Your training is through recognizing the moment: recognizing the moment and realizing what is.
Falling and Arising IS the Change
Recognizing: what is recognizing? Recognizing is seeing what is happening that happens—at that moment that’s called recognizing. It’s the change from seeing here to everything else: all these days this week we’ve been talking about this ‘falling and raising [arising], fall and rise is the change. So we say that the learning process is only to recognize and to realize. In principle, it’s only so you can understand what is the past and what is the present. The past, you’ll fall into the feeling of ‘you like, you don’t like.’ So, approaching the present is stillness and clarity—but it’s direct. Stillness and clarity that means it’s the connection of being direct, and being in the moment with the balance point. The balance point is the change with the change that doesn’t change. So when we come to action, then how can we recognize the balance points.
Physical Balance Point and Mental Balance Point
You see, the balance point on point of contact is on physical and on our mind. The balance on the mind is about the concentration, to hold. It’s mindfulness. And the balance point is about center! When we say center that means it must have 6 directions and 3 dimensions (3d6d) to be considered a center. We talk about center we have your center, opponent’s center, environment’s center, and a point of contact center. First, we talk about structurally, unification of your center. Structurally—unification of your center—we have structure center: sometimes we call it Unification of The Self. Unification of the movement (the balanced movement) and the Balanced point of contact: they all have a center with 6 directions-3 dimensions.
From the center, what kind of center we use—there are so many centers. First of all, we talk about our own center: where does our own enter come from? How is the center formed? First, it’s the gravity: we live in this world so the first thing is the gravity: everything has to related to gravity. How to build a building, how a tree grows, everything has to deal with this? Because of this gravity and then every object has a mass (the camera right there has a mass, the table, a car, our body has mass). Right? So, with this mass and gravity the relationship forms the alignment. Alignment is where the balance point is, it’s where the center point is. When we say balance point it means it has direction…and from the balance point only can you settle down and relax. And then all actions are from this balance point, this axis, this One point that goes out and returns! When we say One Point, one point is what goes out and returns—it doesn’t reverse. Return is a cycle; you need to do the complete cycle. When you talk about connecting, linking, you talk about direct, you need to connect to get the information: coming back and going out—it’s a cycle. So when the cycle is complete, then there’s no more beginning and ending: that means you are always there. Like paying attention to yourself, in the body: the cycle is complete. So, when you connect to others, the cycle is complete, too: you are always there. When we say present, you are always there. So, when you are present and always there, there are a lot of other qualities. In order to be present that means you must change with change, yes? To change with change, you must be able to flow. To be able to flow that means you can’t resist and can’t back off. If you resist or back off that means you can’t flow. So, you can say this is also a balance point: Example: put your hands together [move them around] this is changing, but on the point here (where they touch) they connect. This point that connects doesn’t change. The pressure doesn’t change, the point doesn’t change, but you are changing: this is what we call the balance point: it’s a flowing point that is changing with the moment.
Recognizing Difference Isn’t Judging
So, from here you know. From here you see the change. Another thing we say is Meet and Match: on holding the point, how can you know? Like we always ask: What is knowing? And knowing based on what reference? On point of contact, we always talk about a point is a center point; a center point means it has 6 directions. (up down left right forward back). We talk about using the cross first; when they cross there will be 3 points. (1,2, 3, points). A point must have 3 (1 born 2, 2 born 3: 1 must have 2—that means yin yang; 2 must have 3–the 3 is the neutral; the 3 is the one that separates the 2 and that binds the 2 together! So, this separation that has unification and separation: that means this one here that has 2—is to see the change. You must seeeverything that rises and falls—that relatively, it’s very hard to see the continuity—where’s the line that to see: where’s the line of rise, where’s the fall? But then why is there rise and fall? —that means they still have separation. Yes? In the moment here it’s rising, but where does it fall? There’s a separation that is reached. For me, I use it — because of the separation and unification there’s DIFFERENCE. But understand, there’s difference, but it’s not judging. You have not named it yet! If you name it, it’s different already (‘this is black, this is white,) Because if you’re matching one and one here—you don’t call it ‘two’-then that’s a difference; if you name it, then you’re using the past to name it. It’s not the same—it’s different. (points to table…) even if it’s the same here, there’s no difference…but even no difference has difference! Under the center, there’s gravity—so based on this gravity and alignment, there’s 3dim, xyz within the space: horizontal, frontal, sagittal: every center has this. This center is related to other centers. Like our center of gravity and the mass are our main centers, but there are all other centers, for example our shoulder joint, our hips, our crown that separates the front and the back has center, what separates left and right has a center. From the center here, you can see what is left and right, what is inside what is outside, what’s open and closed, what is yin yang. So in action, it will be only this: Open and Closed. So, one dimension has open close. Every one dimension has open close.
Alright. I’ve said this many times. Any questions?
The Present is Neutral! Train Balance Point through maintaining, changing, flowing
Q about Fear: Anxiety is from all the past fears. Why do you have all this? Because you are using the past to judge the moment. In the moment there’s no good or bad. The only you have to recognize in the moment is based on the condition of cause and effect. On the moment you come into point of contact there are separations, cause and effect. Seperation and unification have this relationship. And they have the relationship of cause and conditions here, have cause and effect: how you act in the moment. Because fear, in the martial arts we do use fear a lot. Fear is a good tool to trigger readiness and alertness. But when we talk about Present—the RIGHT Awareness, all these must have readiness and alertness in the present. If they don’t have readiness and alertness, they are not the right one: because otherwise how could they change? How could they see things? In fear, in martial arts—the problem is because they go through fear, then the viewpoint is wrong. If you go through fear, you look through ‘red glasses’: everything you see is red. Everything you see/perceive is different. It’s not pure. That’s why we say you must act in the present! The present is NEUTRAL! The hardest part is can you hold on the present. So the present to hold on is the balance point–that you can work on! How can you work on the present? As soon as you say ‘present’—present is gone; that’s why they say there’s no present. Present is for you to work on the Balance Point; that means it’s about maintaining, changing, flowing. Maintaining that means it’s change, yes. If you don’t change you can’t maintain. [gives example of how must change to maintain the same pressure whether incoming force is if you don’t change, the result is 10 or 8+2 is 10. Or 12-2 is 10 …anything you try to adjust, here doesn’t change.]
The first thing we start to train within our body is alignment; there’s a center. Every time training must have 2 points—have that kind of relationship. First is the gravity: the gravity becomes our point of contact: our feet standing here, comes into contact with the floor. You must see where is the center of gravity that aligns up—to our top here, to our crown. So, training you want to have this balance point and the feet balance point and the crown balance point, why? That means these 2 balance points don’t change! When these 2 points don’t change, [a reference] it means they keep on changing. In order to be firm with the floor and steady with the floor, you must always be changing with the floor. You keep on changing to balance, to keep on changing with the floor to balance, to maintain. There’s 2 things to maintain: one is the Center and one is the Touch: that means the PRESSURE.
Another characteristic, in order to be balanced, must have 2. One point must have 2 energies: one must have 2. To have 1 to 2 is always through rotation, spiral with rotation; if you don’t, there won’t be 2, there’s no return. Rotation has a return. If you only go up and down like this, that means it’s a reverse. That’s why we came up with words like “rotate on the point, roll on the point, skim on the point, grind on the point”—is to produce 2 direction energy minimum. Because you need to hold a point, touching/holding here there’s 2 (up and down to hold the point, or forward backward to hold the point—6 directions). So, you can stretch to hold a point, or you can compress to hold a point…holding and stretching must be EQUAL force, but rotate to produce 2 equal forces to hold. On POC, it’s the same: must have 2 equal energies to hold in order for it to be balanced. (Q: Can you hold the point without rotation, with just pure empty mind?) No, this is ACTION/MOVEMENT—but you need the mind to be there. Because you cannot get away from mental/physical. It’s not ‘use your mind to ‘imagine’. You can’t imagine—it’s action! (Q: can you connect this to meditation practice?) Yes, this is the same as 5 Hindrances
When we talk about ‘fear’ (it falls under greed, hate, ignorance—you like, don’t like and don’t know-it’s the same. That’s why we put it into only Past and Present (You trigger the Past—you have fear, hate, anger, greed—you have all this, because you judge!) Present is direct, no judging. Make it simple. We come to train, you already need to understand this. Like Reverend Ji Ru said. You only need to understand this. If you want to go into all this, you will be a scholar; but when it comes to training, direct. From direct here, because of the concentrations… discipline, concentration, and wisdom. DIRECT KNOWING IS WISDOM, it’s not knowledge. Knowledge is the accumulation. Direct is the wisdom. So that’s why I brought you guys here [to MABA temple/meditation halls for retreat] because we need the environment here and also to have the professional like Rev. Ji Ru who can bring you step by step, and this environment to go in and develop that kind of attention. Understand here?
So it comes down to attention. With this, you’re able to see the balance point: your job is to be continually adjusting. We are always unstable because of change. To be stable that means a balance point—that means you have to change with change to make it stable. To make it stable that means you can’t be only one side stable: that means you need 2 things together, minimum 2, to make it stable. Because you need a point to be stable in order to have direction. The balance point—the direction comes from the balance point. (I sometime try to explain with the example of the fish: how the fish moves its tail: it’s concave convex, or it’s open and close, and when it whacks its tail, it’s a pivot point, a pivot point is also a balance point. When you do this, and whack the tail in one direction, he goes this way; you hit the other way, he goes the other direction. When you give the direction, only then can the fish swim; if this point isn’t steady, the fish’s head will be shaking. Or if you whack the tail, the fish will keep on going around and around. When the tail gets injured he can’t swim—only go in circle. So every action has a balance point, sometimes we call it also a pivot point. A Balance point is slightly different but it’s on the pivot point. So when we classify it as a pivot, so when this pivot is on the very moment of ACTION, the point itself cannot move: it’s stable. If it moves, it’s not a pivot point. So every time we make a step, it has a pivot point. You hold on to the floor, there’s a pivot point: if the pivot point on that moment can’t hold you fall, slip, slip and fall down. So every action has that kind of pivot point on point of contact That’s why we talk about on point of contact; we have flow, fend, roll and pivot. Like a car, and its running tires. The wheel, it’s point of contact is 90 degrees on the floor. So this 90 degrees is a pivot point, so when it rolls, that moment of rolling, that point can’t slip. So when this pivot point doesn’t move, it changes: but there’s another pivot point, another pivot point, another pivot point. When it changes pivot point we call that roll; we call it a ROLLING changing pivot point. But that rolling point also has the quality of 90 degrees towards the center all the time. So, at the POC, you must produce this 90. on that 90 degree you pivot, you roll and change point.
“The ultimate move is who is more aware.”
~GM Sam Chin
Q: Sifu responds: we don’t talk about ‘memory’. In the moment of training we try to be conscious, to pay attention: the reference is different. If your reference is one of memory, it’s from the past. It’s a habit. Because you are training in the moment to be continually matching, continually changing the point. So that doesn’t need memory. But of course, when you come back to philosophy concept you fall back on knowledge. When it comes to training, throw that away: it’s only on point of contact. (At first, of course, it’s ‘knowledge’, but then you learn to train on the point. The past knowledge is just a pointer—but when you train, only DO the paying attention…if you use direct, it’s different. There’s a feedback energy (we talk about energy: like when you bounce a ball…90) For how you ‘know’ 90 to the point is a FEEL, that experiential feel of the moment to know. When you can capture understanding that—and only that as a center of reference—only then will you know the feel of up down, etc…the direct energy of feeling back (of 2 energies: you drop down it bounces back). You need to RECOGNIZE (not ‘learn’) the law of nature. What we are training, like Rev. said too about meditation, is direct observation with attention.
So (recap), the first thing we do is to balance these 2 points first: floor and crown to have these 2 points to bring these 2 in relationship.
We’ll work a little bit on these yourself to see if you can understand the 2 balance points for yourself. The Balance Point needs 2 things: yin and yang. Within our body we talk about the 4 elements: air is action and movement. Earth element is the hard objects: skeletons/bone, ligaments, tendons, and tissue up to the skin. The bone is the center of yin yang muscles. Because the muscles attach on all the ligaments and tendons and all movement is on the joints. That’s why lots of tai chi talk about 6 harmonies (on the joints), but why some talk about 7 (on the neck—the 7th star): Ankle, knee, hip; shoulder, elbow, wrist—and all the connections up to neck. You must understand that Tai Chi balance is not only this kind of balance (takes out his eye glasses to demonstrate 50-50 balance). Tai Chi is not 50-50; it’s the COMPLEMENTARY BALANCE. It can balance one heavy and one light; it talks about this kind of balance (one long one short). It’s not the same height or same weights being balanced. It’s the balance of black and white—how can you balance that?! That’s why the thing that separates these two must be very strong to hold, otherwise yin will interfere with yang and yang interfere. the neutral must be so strong to hold that they don’t interfere and then they cycle to have the complementary. Of course, they do have this kind of balance, but for example, our muscles do have yin and yang: yin muscles are contracting, yang muscles are expanding. (ever see someone who broke his hand? I broke my hand before—laughs…. There’s nothing to hold in the center—it just collapses. In the nature itself has its function. I call this hardware: you only can grab this way (from yin side), can’t grab from yang side. So you are born as such, as a human being: all the joints you can’t change; it has to work this way. And at action—on Point of contact—I call software: because it can change.
Now, first of all I want you guys to do these 2 point—up down, hold the crown to go down, hold the floor to go up. Hold the crown, stretch it down. Drop to stretch it down. That means you must have 2 energies: it’s a cycle. To go through the body you must understand we go through what part of the body? Go down the front come up the back. But when you go down the front, it goes down through 2 different groups—first through the yin then the yang. And coming up the back, also through 2 groups. It comes to the function and follow the nature of the muscles: yin muscles contract, yang muscles expand. Why is that?
GM Sam Chin poses in front of Manjushri Hall with Ven. Jiru
Relaxation is the balance, according to gravity.
Let the breath flow naturally first.
Absorb and Project—the most common one. Always have to go to the bone. 2 energies:
Yin is drawing to the dan tien and condensing to (not through) the bone. Use the bone as a reference
Yang is project from ming-men and expanding from the bone out With these movement we call this the macrocosmic energy flow.
Training is the Constant Adjusting
Attention on the touch. When you are mindful there’s a kind of constant watch on the point, so that from the point you are able to link in. Constant adjusting, constant over there; constant changing, constant in the process. There’s no gap, constant maintaining over there. That’s how you know you are aware over there: attention. It’s not just that you ‘act.’ No, the training is the constant adjusting—the same balance, the same feel. First it’s a constant on the center point. Then the constant of the touch—of the pressure. (you go down, maintain the same pressure on the feet never increase. You come up, never increase the pressure on the feet). That’s why we say you go down it must come from the front. Try it and see – if you go down from the yang/back the pressure drops and you get heavy, you get stuck. Now use the yang muscle and expand fist. Sometime we talk about what comes first. It’s only a matter of WHAT INITIATES first (whatever goes ahead first, the other will back it up!) So you have to balance these two muscles at the same time in order to maintain: That is the constancy of maintaining, of balancing. When you keep on balancing, the attention must be there. Then, if anything distracts or interrupts, or comes to change, you know. That’s why if anything/force increases, then you know. For instance, at the point of contact, if I want 4 ounces of force, but this guy increases 100 pounds, then I know he’s increased force, but I only take 4 ounces. Then the other 100 pounds doesn’t affect me, because I’ve only used 4 ounces: I maintain. This is how you do the balance point. This is why we call this ‘no resistance, no backing off’—what we call FLOW. If you can’t do this flow, you can’t be present. If you can flow to be HERE, only then can you merge, link, connect, get the right information through the balance point. Of course, when I touch I also know, but that knowing is also different. Maintain the same pressure on the changing—that means you’re flowing (sometimes you need pivot or roll to maintain)…sometimes you can’t (if you’re blocked), then you may need to pivot to get the same line or direction.
Narrates PROCESS: You want to work so that everything goes out and comes back: rely first on crown and floor (up and down), and dan tien and ming-men (front and back)—with these groups of muscle you have the macrocosmic energy flow. [relax your face first, then your body: keep checking your crown—does your crown lose the pressure or not? If it loses, then your yang’s not maintaining). Relax face, relax shoulder, relax front of body down to dan tien. Stop. Then, form here expand your back. Feel the ming-men to the front (thighs), and relax, drop it to the feet: expand it down to the floor. Feel the hollow—go down to the big toe, wrap around to little toe and draw the hollow up to dan tien…up. expand it to the ming-men and expand it up to the crown. Maintain the alignment and skeleton first.
You can see confidence and readiness. (crouching of the cat) – must have the stretching from crown to perineum (to get the return to come up).
The Mindfulness Touch
Training mindfully: to keep the adjusting and maintaining, and the holding! Mindfulness action is always THERE holding—constant changing and maintaining and holding over there. The mindfulness of constant maintaining to flow in, in the process to adjust. Mindfully in the process means you’re constantly adjusting means you’ll be able to know. With constant adjusting of yourself, then, if you’re constant then you’ll slowly be able to connect with others. You can’t just act habitually. No doubt many martial arts teach you train til you have habitual reflex. That is not the highest kind of training. With Zen and Tao philosophy, it’s more about mindful
The crown here—this exercise here: You can keep on training for many, many years; because of this balance point until so steady strong, so precise anything touches you, it can’t affect you (if anyone touches you, they bounce back) because so constant adjusting.
Alignment and the skeleton is different. Skeleton and gravity alignment is different. Alignment is form the mass (including flesh and everything). So mass alignment is slightly different, but you need skeleton in order to support it.
Triangle energy (two feet up to dan tien) 2 triangles: 2 from feet up to dt. One from ming-men that comes to the front and points from hips going down to balance beam line (wraps around to knee and goes down). These 2 triangles interlock; then, this supports to hold the crown (up and down hold the crown). Find the hip center (where the kua is) and do the condense expand (in all direction). Yin kua is center of the hip; yang kua is the whole pelvis.
Hold on hip centers, should centers is rotation. It’s all rotation: holding on to rotate—clockwise counterclockwise (forward backward). 2 actions—one is drawing a circle, one is circle with rotation. Circle with rotation is always completing (spins: yin change, yang change;)
Your experience or the past can interfere if you’re ‘trying’ to do something. If you try to ‘do’ something, then you’re using your past viewpoint instead of listening to instructions! If your attention is not there, that means you try to do something else. Your body will get into the habitual; that means you’re not training mindfully. That means you don’t know your habit already took over you. Because there’s no way to get out from your old viewpoint unless you listen carefully; listen to the instructions and follow the instructions. If you think, that means you can never get away from your own viewpoint. When you follow instructions, you’re trying to be mindful of the action of how to do it. Following instructions on how to do it is so you can learn to meet on the point.
The ultimate move is who is more aware. There’s no such thing as ‘ultimate move.’ So what I want you guys to be aware of is to FEEL (so that slowly you’ll be aware that on touch there is a CONNECTING of joints; if you’re not aware of this, then on one touch, you’ll be gone!) It seems so fast, when it’s about ATTENTION.
Is my body connected already, then when I meet the point and it’s a fullness point. If my body is already linked, then when you touch me, I’ve already got a fullness point. You have no chance to pull or push because I’m already connected. I’m DIRECT. (what is ‘defense’—direct is just a defense, like a shield, fend off. Shielding energy is fending / defense energy: I meet to this point and I’m like a ball—any part you touch is a ball, the furthest point to the center, the highest point to the center (6 direction). You want to push me, I rotate first… you won’t be able to push; your point won’t have any power. Pull push at the tip. Meet the tip of the force…bring the opponent’s force along. If you don’t have the fullness quality within, you’ll collapse. Meet first!
The Zhong Xin Dao system uses the 4 Mindfulnesses in our training. When I was in the Buddhist temple I incorporated this philosophy and concept and process of how it should be trained. So, as you know, my system works tightly with these principles. So, as you go higher you can’t get away from insight meditation. Before I engage in this, I was already quite good in martial arts; but when I listened to this philosophy only then did I open up. I get insight. A lot of times, in olden days, marital artists couldn’t understand the habitual and the awareness or the reflex – those kinds of things we weren’t clear. You always think you have that kind of power; but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes habitually, the reflex was in action. And sometimes we were aware. But we couldn’t distinguish it. Only when we understand the philosophy deep enough could we understand the special kind of quality. That’s why my teaching here is very specific and direct. It’s also within the system, when you go higher, we’ll require you to understand the right mindfulness. Because there are so many mindfulnesses out there; it’s very hard to differentiate.
Feel the body. When emotion changes, the breath changes. Everything will affect the breath—how your feeling changes. You have anxiety you breath changes. You feel calm, your breath changes. Keep attention on attention. Keep on feeling and balancing things. Meet the flow. Practically speaking, everything is about balancing. Don’t listen to only one thing. Balancing is the present, balancing is the center, balancing is formless, neutral, empty. A lot of qualities within. How do you see what is balance?
Grandmaster Sam F Chin touches fingertip to fingertip with one of the students in the room. The student moves his hand up and down, side to side, while Grandmaster Chin’s own hand moves through the air in perfect unison, like a reflection on the other side of a mirror.
“You see, no matter how you move, you can’t get away. If I can maintain the circle to center it makes me more sticky because I’m always propelling force 90 degrees direct to the point. Practically you could say I’m meeting your force.”
Catching The Tip of The Spear
Grandmaster Chin’s words hang in the air of his Los Angeles hotel room as we try to digest their meaning. Half a dozen students from around the western United States have gathered here to listen to the Grandmaster speak about some of the philosophy and concepts behind his family’s martial art of I Liq Chuan (mental/physical martial art, 意力拳). The topic being discussed is using awareness to “find the center”, a vital concept in the art he’s spent the better part of the last 20 years traveling the world to share.
This meeting is something that Grandmaster Chin often refers to as “being like a ring in the nose of a bull,” or “catching the tip of a spear.” Comparing the opponent’s force to a spear, he explains, once the tip is under your control, you can neutralize or redirect it away from yourself as you need.
“If you talk about the center, bones have a center, joints have a center, this room has a center. The whole universe has a center. The important thing is what is the useful center to you?”, he continues, warming to his topic. “Within every point of contact [with an opponent] you must find circle to center, center to center and center with cross.”
Circles, Centers and Crosses
Circle to center, center to center and center with cross are technical terms describing three qualities of what Grandmaster Chin calls “engagement”. Learning to observe the point of contact to find these three qualities is practiced in the most fundamental of I Liq Chuan’s partner exercises, spinning hands. Similar to the rou shou (soft hands, 柔手) of Ba Gua Zhang, students repeatedly wind their arms around each other. With the attention on themselves first, the principles of correct alignment and relaxation, learned in the jibengong (fundamental exercises, 基本功) are reinforced under pressure, and then slowly the attention is expanded to include the point of contact with the opponent (partner) to observe the changes of solid and empty.
Looking for gaps at the point of contact, every student learns to engage with the opponent in such a way that they begin to create a spherical force that has the qualities of both offense and defense.
“Before you can strike me, you must first pass this point, but how are you going to pass when I’m always meeting you there?”, laughs the ever-smiling Grandmaster Chin.
The Opponent’s Mass
As the evening progresses, the discussion returns many times to the importance of affecting the opponent’s mass. While being able to manifest circle to center creates stickiness and defense energy, it’s only one side of the triangle of engagement. In order to refine one’s control over an opponent to affect the stability of their stance, you must manifest the quality of center to center. Japanese arts like Judo and Aikido refer to this as kuzushi; or ‘breaking the opponent’s balance’.
Grandmaster Chin continues, “Every object [joints, mass, point of contact, et. al.] has a center, so you link all the centers. Only then you can have the network, so you can control.”
Center to center has the quality of making the opponent feel like a piece of furniture. By creating slightly odd joint angles or “bunching” their soft tissue, you can effectively “lock” an opponent’s structure making it nearly impossible for them to relax without opening themselves to direct attack. This involuntary stiffness leaves the opponent’s balance much easier to control, rendering them much less of a threat.
Don’t Chase The Hands
Grandmaster Chin looks around the room taking us all in. “Of these three; circle to center, center to center, center with cross, which is more important?”
“No doubt”, I say, “you must get circle to center first, but practically speaking, your priority should be on center with cross. Only controlling the hands is circle to center, but what’s the point of controlling [the hands] without the purpose? If the opponent pulls his hands too far away, I run for it (i.e. attack)! Why should I still chase after the circle to center?”
As the old Chinese boxing axiom goes, “Don’t chase the hands, chase the shadow behind the hands.”
As Grandmaster Chin discusses circle with cross, he begins by saying, “If it’s a circle it has a center, if it has a center it has a cross, two axes that divides the circle into four equal arcs.”
He goes on to explain that while this might seem obvious, the redundancy is deliberate. Like the repetition of a mantra, it hammers home a critical concept by bringing it to the direct attention of the student.
Circle with cross can be said to have two main points. The first point is knowing which arc, or quarter, of the circle you’re propelling at any given moment, and second, being aware of which half of the circle you’re on.
He explains to us “In order for all four arcs to share the same center, you must be aware of when you are passing the horizontal or vertical line.”
Because the circular movement, the point of contact, the feet and the centers of mass all share a relationship, if you miss one center, you can miss them all, meaning your application will require more effort at best, or have no effect at all in many cases. This relationship is something Grandmaster Chin refers to as “tallying the crosses.”
The 50-Yard Line
Finally, the Grandmaster explains, the awareness of which half of the circle you’re on. “It’s like playing soccer. If we’re on my half of the 50 yard line, I’m defending and you’re attacking. If I’m on your side of the 50 yard line, you are defending and I am in attacking position. I have the space that I can attack because I pass the half line of your defense. If I haven’t passed your half line, or your diameter line, then there is still something in the way blocking me.”
So we can better understand he has a student hold his hands up, forming a diamond with the thumb and index finger. Placing his finger below the uppermost tip of the diamond, he says, “if you are on the other side, how can I attack you until I pass the highest point? There’s no way. I don’t have the spacing.” The concept is similar to “line of sight”, from the point of contact to the opponents mass.
Although most of us have heard him discuss engagement, and finding the center before, the repetition and depth of tonight’s discussion are welcome. For the long term students, the three qualities of engagement; circle to center, center to center and center with cross, are becoming more clear.
Wherever the opponent touches you, you try to meet them there directly, join the centers to control and find the cross to maintain the center and see the full and empty for attack and defense.
Finally Grandmaster Chin closes with an admonition. There’s no other way to recognize these qualities other than through awareness.
“Of course in the beginning it’s so hard. You pay attention to the right hand you forget the left. You pay attention to the left hand you forget the right. You pay attention to the hands you forget the legs. You have to keep reminding yourself to keep paying attention to yourself. You can’t forget yourself to pay attention to observe others. The self in this case is not the ego self, but the simple self, like the breathing. That’s why in all arts they talk [in some way] about yi (awareness, 意), qi (energy, 氣 ), li (power, 力), because attention is to know. Attention is number one.”
The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha’s exposition on free inquiry. The Buddha often advised those who listened to his talks to “come and see” or “be a lamp unto yourself”. GM Sam Chin hopes all students will look deeply into this passage so they might recognize the “one feel of suchness” from their own direct experience.
The Kalama Sutta states (Pali expression in parentheses):
Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing (anussava),
nor upon tradition (paramparā),
nor upon rumor (itikirā),
nor upon what is in a scripture (piṭaka-sampadāna)
nor upon surmise (takka-hetu),
nor upon an axiom (naya-hetu),
nor upon specious reasoning (ākāra-parivitakka),
nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over (diṭṭhi-nijjhān-akkh-antiyā),
nor upon another’s seeming ability (bhabba-rūpatāya),
nor upon the consideration, The monk is our teacher (samaṇo no garū)
Kalamas, when you yourselves know: “These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,” enter on and abide in them.’
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.
Part One: The Power of Peng
“Look! no matter what you do! you can’t touch me!” Master Sam Chin laughed. Continuing, he said “You’re so close, but why can’t you land?”
I had tried many times to move or strike him, but had no success. Kicks, strikes, entering in – they were all useless. After repeated failed attempts, I gave up. Laughing and panting for air, I asked, “What am I missing?” According to Sifu, I was missing an important piece of my foundation . In short. I could
not enter his “spheres ” – that is to say. I could not penetrate Master Chin’s defensive energy. Since that first encounter I have come to learn that what Master Chin called “the spheres” is closely connected to an energy named peng-jing (掤勁 ). Literally translated, peng means “ward-off” and jing means applied energy. Although peng-jing can also refer to a particular technique, it more accurately refers to the basic energy of dynamic balance.
Dynamic balance is essential to good kung fu; it is the gateway into the secrets of the internal martial arts. Peng-jing is an essential energy, but it is in fact only one part of the fifth principle that forms the I Liq Chuan system. I Liq Chuan (意力拳) means “mind-force-fist.” The art of I Liq Chuan is arranged into specific levels. Each step leads the student to higher levels of mental-physical coordination. The fifth principle is called “The Force Field of Offense and Defense.” The overall art of I Liq Chuan is based on six physical points, three mental factors and a unique quality called “the feel” The concepts described in this article reveal inner aspects of the nature of mind, body and the application energies of the internal martial arts, and will prepare the student for more advanced work .
One man defeating many. A strike that no one sees delivered unbelievably fast. What appears to be a tiny push sends an attacker tens of feet away. Small motions that are so internal, you can’t understand
why you’re off balance and on the edges of your feet. In front of such a person, all your techniques seem useless. What’s going on?
According to Master Sam Chin, one of the main requirements for high-level kung fu is what he calls the “Merging of the Spheres.” This article will describe the preliminary physical and mental levels of
merging the spheres. Merging the spheres is a very refined expression of an internal energy commonly known as peng-jing. Merging the spheres with peng-jing will result in strong-rooted movements which naturally enhance internal energy, mental alertness and martial art. Not only that, but if you train well – then, as Master Sam Chin says, you can “even transcend technique itself.”
WHAT IS “MERGING THE SPHERES”?
Merging the spheres is a process, not a technique in and of itself. This process is as much mental as it is physical, and it depends heavily on the situation at hand.
In essence, merging the spheres means constantly maintaining the proper alignment between a point of contact and your physical-energetic root. By properly aligning the body and mind in this way, a practitioner is able to move, change and respond to a multitude of forces with relative ease.
The method of properly aligning your body requires you to interconnect each and every part of your body. The connecting process is called merging the spheres. Once a student is properly harmonized with the spheres (the internal structure ), their mindfulness can direct the body to respond in whatever
way is necessary based on the conditions at hand.
Specifically, the image is that every part of your body has the quality of a sphere. Merging the spheres, then, is the process of feeling that each and every sphere of the body is connected to every other sphere.
A GOOD MODEL
Spheres are a good model for how our body should be able to receive force. Although our body cannot actually become a sphere, by employing the proper mental-physical connections, we can simulate the strength and dynamics of a sphere. On this point, a student may look into the taiji classics for inspiration, as a careful study of those writings clearly reveals the importance of emulating the sphere.
Creating and maintaining the sphere-like structure is the key to accessing the higher levels of the internal arts .
POWERS OF THE SPHERE
A sphere can compress, rotate, uplift or press down. Furthermore, no matter what action is being ta ken, the center of the sphere is always well protected. Although merging the spheres is a physical “feel”, there are mental aspects to it as well. Merging the spheres must be done in every moment of your life. This means that you are always seeking balance and harmony. If you can do that, then you can touch the higher levels . That is to say when your mind and body become aware enough to merge ” the spheres” at all times, then you stand at the gateway to internal skill.
The taiji classics mention that internal practitioners should manifest an energy called peng-jing. The relationship between peng-jing and “merging the spheres” is one of process and effect. Merging the spheres is the process that generates the effect known as peng-jing.
Many students believe that peng-jing refers to a particular technique. In fact, while peng can be translated as “ward-off” and refers to a move commonly found in many taiji forms, peng-jing refers more-so to an application energy – a state of mind and quality of your body feel. Peng-jing is not just a technique, it should permeate all your movements.
IMPROVING YOUR PENG
Unfortunately, because many students are not taught about the difference mentioned above, their defensive energy is not complete. One’s practice can be improved by considering Master Chin’s teaching on the “merging of the spheres.” The differences between peng-jing and merging the spheres will be discussed more fully later on, but for now it is enough to say this: Peng-jing is the end result of a process. The process is called merging the spheres. Merging the spheres means that mindfulness, qi and proper structure interact on every level of the body-mind. Such an interaction will generate a three dimensional energy force within the body. The three dimensional force is physical, but it is regulated by the mind . With correct interaction of body and mindfulness you will achieve a dynamic state of balance. This balance is what is required to express the higher levels of internal skill. The process of learning and maintaining the peng energy is called merging the spheres.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL
The process of merging the spheres has both a physical and a mental component. The physical component relates to how you hold your body posture. Proper posture is critical to allow for maximal flow of qi and intention . Stiff tension, as well as flaccid softness, are impediments to the proper flow of qi. Dynamic tension-relaxation is the rule.
The mental aspect of peng relates to your psycho-emotional state of mind. If you are tense, or obsessed with “winning,” then you will never reach the higher levels . Relax into the nature of your body-mind and there you will find all you need. In the end, peng-jing – or any other worthwhile endeavor – is about self-realization and harmonizing with the nature of things. The martial aspect of the process is only one piece of the puzzle.
Part Two: Merging The Spheres
THE NATURE OF PENG-JING
According to Master Chin, the first step in merging the spheres is creating peng-jing. Pronounced ” pung-jing”, this energy is often translated as ward-off. But the term “wardoff” is misleading. More accurately, peng implies a dynamic relationship between you, your center of mass and whatever force is acting on you at the time. Master Chin teaches that if your peng is true, then you can handle even multiple forces with relative ease. This thought is supported by the taiji classics.
According to the taiji classics, a practitioner should be able to handle forces “from the eight directions .” In order to be able to do just that, the qi, mind and force must exist in harmony at all places and at all times. Very few masters teach how to achieve such profound internal s kiII. Master Chin, on the other hand, is one teacher who throws open the doors of secrecy. As Master Chin often says, “If you work, I’ll teach.”
POINTS OF CONTACT
To properly employ peng-jing you must properly manage points of contact. Wherever you receive a force is called a ” point of contact.” A point of contact might be a grab a kick or even a look. Whatever, your internal energy must respond. The way you respond is to align the point of contact to the root of your structure. Then, you employ your mindfulness to respond in whatever way is necessary. Visualizations are often useful to help imagine how the body can correctly line up with a point of contact. I Liq Chuan has specific visualizations that help access the power of peng. The visualizations also clarify the nature of a point of contact. In regards to visualization, some arts recommend that peng be thought of as a circle or hoop. Although circular energy is part of peng-jing, it is not the complete thing. ” Being circular is not peng,” explains Master Chin. ” In fact, circularity is only part of it. Real peng is spherical and can manage force from all directions.”
APPLICATIONS OF PENG-JING
We have now established that peng- jing is more about the way you change with change than with any particular posture. Furthermore, it is also clear that peng- jing must employ spherical rather than a circular type energy projection. Finally, we have established that in order for your skill to be great, the peng energy must be dynamic and capable of handling even multiple forces from different directions . If such integration is achieved, then peng energy will be full and can be used under any circumstance,
In fighting, peng-jing is about maintaining your structure and not letting forces control the center of your mass.
Part Three: Physical and Mental Aspects of Peng-jing
Master Sam Chin applies “Grab and Hook”With the difference between circular and spherical types of internal energy now clear, it is important to learn how to bring that understanding into your body-mind. To do this, Master Chin recommends that you imagine that every part of your body is capable of expressing the spherical type force.
In all cases, one should feel that the point of contact is spherical. If that can be done, then no matter what the other person does, you can remain poised and balanced. This is easy to say with words, but the skill requires true dedication.
“Every part of the body is capable of expressing a spherical energy/, says Master Sam Chin. The energy of this sphere can be solid or light, hard or soft, receptive or warding off. The energy manifested will change as the moment demands .
Peng-jing is achieved when you can maintain the fullness of the spheres at all times and on all parts of your body. Changing as the moment requires, projecting here and repelling there, the dynamic interchange of the spheres is what is known as peng-jing. Peng-jing is the basic defensive energy. “Because peng-jing is the foundational skill in the martial arts, peng is the gateway to everything else,” says Master Chin. The way of expressing peng is to harmonize the many sphere-like points of contact of the body-mind, and merge them into one.
In closing, the process of merging the spheres is feeling the fullness of the “one-ness of the sphere.” The process leading to that oneness is the foundation from which all movement correctly arises. The I Liq Chuan system organizes physical and mental activity in a step-by-step progression. Organized in this way, the student can ultimately achieve unity of body, mind and spirit. With that harmony in hand, one can reap the fullest benefits of the martial, medical and spiritual aspects of this art. This article has revealed some of the essential teachings which, if experimented with, can help lead the practitioner to the higher levels of martial skill.
This article can be downloaded as it originally appeared in Kung fu /Tai Chi magazine as a PDF below. matrix_of_iliqchuan (1)
1) 10 Feb 2018 I did the exam for 2 children from my group (14 years old), they showed 3 dimension fajing and butterly iliqchuan form. Now they got 4th junior student level.
2) 17 feb 2018 Iliqchuan team (26 students) participated in Moscow Kung-Fu Championship in taolu taichi form with 21 iliqchuan form, in taolu fast forms with butterfly form, then butterfly form with butterfly knifes (children), push hands and da- dzen (fighting on the soft swords, children). The first time children showed butterfly form bare hand in competition.
The results: 16 gold,11 silver, 11 bronze. The team was consisit from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg students from 4 ILC coaches: Alex Skalozub (sportclub KANON), Daria Sergeeva (sportclub KANON and sportclub TENGU), Marina Gubnitskaya (sportclub KOKON) and Daniil Novikov (sportclub PODNEBESNAYA). The Iliqchuan team also got special Cup and Diploma for group demonstration of 21 ILC form (5 people).
The results of ILC Team:
Coach Alex Skalozub, sportclub KANON, adults:
– Araslanov Andrey – gold in push hands, gold in fast forms, gold in taichi form
– Kulikov Sergey – gold in push hands, bronze in fast forms, bronze in taichi form
– Malakhova Tatiana – silver in push hands, silver in fast forms, bronze in taichi form
-Orlova Dina – gold in taichi form, silver in push hands
Coach Daria Sergeeva, sportclub KANON, children 13-15 years old:
– Arkhipov Egor – gold in push hands, gold in da-dzen, silver in fast form with pare weapon
– Zverev Ilya – gold in push hands, gold in da-dzen, bronze in fast form with pare weapon
– Bogdanov Egor – gold in push hands
– Markachev Artem – gold in push hands
– Savosin Fedor – gold in push hands
– Badaev Ivan – silver in push hands, bronze in da-dzen,
– Malakhov Svytoslav – silver in push hands
-Zdetovetskaya Yulia – bronze in push hands
-Orlova Vlada – bronze in push hands
Coach Daria Sergeeva, sportclub TENGU, adults:
-Zadernovskaya Tatiana – gold in push hands, gold in fast forms, gold in taichi form
Dear I Liq Chuan Instructors, Students, and Disciples,
In this entry to 2016, as I am reflecting back on my journey, I want to thank you all for following me and trusting in my guidance. I am grateful to have such a supportive network of students working to deepen your understanding and always approaching my teaching with the greatest of respect. I am also grateful for all who have trusted and followed me in the early years before the formalization of the curriculum and who have changed with change.
I appreciate you all for seeking, recognizing, and valuing the cultivation aspects of I Liq Chuan, and I am proud to announce that it is time to truly distinguish the cultivation process of our art. This process will now be going by the name of Zhong Xin Dao (中心道).
During my time at the Chuang Yen Monastery I began to develop and better clarify the philosophy and the viewpoint which has driven forward my martial understanding, and which has now evolved to the point that I feel it is important to define and name.
I Liq Chuan has been transformed and completed because of the work I have done in looking into the heart of the process, my reflections on the neutral mind, the neutral touch, ultimately the neutral path. Those of you who have been following the curriculum and grading process that I have created for I Liq Chuan are already on the path of Zhong Xin Dao. With this new turning point, I am hoping to create more clarity around the philosophical aspects of your current training. A way to more fully embrace the cultivation aspects and see it as something that I have evolved and created since those early years in Chuang Yen Monastery, something I continue to evolve today.
People may ask, does a master still evolve? Of course, I must always be refining and deepening my understanding. This is what has happened more and more over the years. This is why everything continues to dissolve ever more into just one thing. What this means is that Zhong Xin Dao does not just apply to I Liq Chuan, but to all martial arts, and throughout life. This viewpoint for me transcends I Liq Chuan — We train martial arts for self defense, and to cultivate discipline and health. But ultimately, why do we train martial arts? The inherent nature of martial arts is that martial contact provides immediate feedback for training readiness and alertness. At the heart of that feedback, there is a dialogue, between your mind and your body, as well as you and your opponent. This mind-body dialogue is where the deeper cultivation begins.
As a young man, I first looked to my father for my martial training. Later in life, during the years of working at the Monastery, I was granted deeper insight into the mechanism of attention, eventually finding a viewpoint which was destined to transform my father’s I Liq Chuan. At first I continued to incorporate these insights and apply them to martial practice.
My father taught the approach of knowing yourself and knowing your opponent. During my time at the Monastery I realized that to look into the cause and effect one must understand the conditions. How can we talk about knowing yourself or knowing anything at all for that matter? In order to really know, you must ask yourself what is knowing, how can you know, and knowing from what reference? Only then can you have the right process for understanding the conditions.
Traditionally, high martial skills were carefully guarded, and passed only through direct contact and years of personal one-on-one guidance. Often only the eldest son, or a single chosen student was allowed access to the “Xin Fa” (心法), or Heart of the Knowledge of the art itself. This way masters ensured strong loyalty and support of their students. It was often not practical or possible for them to transmit this highest skill to a larger community without direct contact. For this reason, generally close ‘indoor’ disciples gained more than the wider community.
I hoped to change that, I wanted to share the highest skill without diluting or diminishing the quality of transmission. Devising a methodology for transmitting the deepest kinds of knowing took me nearly twenty years. I designed the curriculum of Chin Family I Liq Chuan with such high clarity that those students who do not always have direct access to me are still able to tap into the essence, because the essence is based on the very nature of nature.
Mastery is a product of cultivation and understanding the essence of things. In order to share with all my students the path to mastery, not just mastery of martial arts, but mastery itself, I am now introducing you to my process, … the process of Zhong Xin Dao.
Thank you all for spreading the art and for cultivating the neutral way.
“We as martial artists, we should kick ass, so why do we want to train harmony and balance? Martial arts is not only for fighting. Chinese martial arts – Kung Fu, is about cultivation. Therefore it consists of health, martial, and mental / spiritual to understand ‘who you are’. In other words, to have balance and harmony to be HAPPY. You want to be a happy person. I’m a happy person versus I’m an angry person is different. If I’m a happy person, you are along with nature. Practically speaking, nature has no freedom. If you’re not with nature, you’re against nature. If you’re not with nature, it kicks your ass. That means you kick your own ass. So you train balance and harmony and you still can kick ass. You don’t want to train angry mental to kick ass.” – GM Sam F.S. Chin
First you must know or have this…engagement.
That means you must be able to say there’s an engagement. Understand. It’s not that or like I drop, you drop. 3 point. (this, this, this). Yes? Because from here—this is because every POC has 3 points: yin, yang neutral (he demonstrates). But this one, you are inside (inside under 4 strategies) is to open, pass half line to strike. But now, I want to do a movement of closing, the same thing. Then energy must expand to the point to op, in order to go/to attack. You must understand the purpose is to attack. I open, open, pass half line and attack. But if I can say…I can attack…Then, if I go in, you have to close me; if you don’t close me you will get strike. This is just to see the conditions.