Finding The Center

By GM Sam Chin & Ashe Higgs

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.

As it gets late in the evening we all begin to feel the need for dinner, so Grandmaster Chin begins to wrap up the night’s talk. 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.”

Kalama Suttra

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):[4]

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.’

Awakening and Harmonizing – The Art of Sam Chin

Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan founder Sam FS Chin, QI Magazine Jan 1999

Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan founder Sam FS Chin, QI Magazine Jan 1999

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

Grand master Sam FS Chin in Qi MagaQM: 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.

IMG_1948From 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.

IMG_1918From 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.

GM Sam Chin &
GM Sam Chin & son

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.

QM: Master Chin, thank you.

The Matrix of I Liq Chuan

GM Sam Chin demonstrates a joint lock (qin na) on I Liq Chuan student Rob Hoffman

GM Sam Chin demonstrates a joint lock (qin na) on I Liq Chuan student Rob Hoffman
heavanlycoveringpalmPart 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 .

Introduction
TRANSCENDING TECHNIQUE
sifu-daveOne 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.”

sifu_dave_elbowWHAT 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 .

sifu_dave_wristPOWERS 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.

CLASSICAL SPHERES
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.

matrix_of_iliqchuan-3IMPROVING 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.

THE 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,
including self-defense.

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
grabnhookMENTAL VISUALIZATION
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.

PHYSICAL STRUCTURE
“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 .

sifu_rob2.jpgPeng-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)

ILC Russian Students Outstanding Performance – Feb 2018

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:

  1.  – Araslanov Andrey  – gold in push hands, gold in fast forms, gold in taichi form
  2. – Kulikov Sergey – gold in push hands, bronze in fast forms, bronze in taichi form 
  3. – Malakhova Tatiana –  silver in push hands, silver in fast forms, bronze in taichi form
  4. -Orlova Dina –   gold in taichi form, silver in push hands

Coach Daria Sergeeva, sportclub KANON, children 13-15 years old:

  1.  – Arkhipov Egor –  gold in push hands, gold in da-dzen, silver in fast form with pare weapon
  2. – Zverev Ilya –  gold in push hands, gold in da-dzen, bronze in fast form with pare weapon
  3. – Bogdanov Egor –  gold in push hands
  4. – Markachev Artem –  gold in push hands
  5. – Savosin Fedor –  gold in push hands
  6. – Badaev Ivan –  silver in push hands,  bronze in da-dzen,
  7. – Malakhov Svytoslav – silver in push hands
  8. -Zdetovetskaya Yulia –  bronze in push hands
  9. -Orlova Vlada –  bronze in push hands

Coach Daria Sergeeva, sportclub TENGU, adults: 

  1. -Zadernovskaya Tatiana –  gold in push hands, gold in fast forms, gold in taichi form
  2. -Zakharov Alexey – silver in push hands 
  3. – Regentov Vasiliy –   bronze in push hands

Coach Marina Gubnitskaya, sportclub KOKON, adults:

  1. – Strashnenko Ilia –  gold in push hands
  2. – Murakhovskiy Eduard –  silver in push hands
  3. -Shabardin Ruslan –  silver in taichi form
  4. – Tyulkin Anton –  bronze in push hands
  5. – Sizyaev Sergey –  bronze in fast forms, bronze in taichi form 

Coach Daniil Novik, cportclub PODNEBESNAYA:

  1. – Novik Daniil -silver in push hands, silver in fast forms, bronze in taichi form

Open Letter From Grandmaster Sam FS Chin

 

GM Sam Chin in Slovenia
“At the heart of the center lies the path.”
~GM Sam Chin

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. 
With Gratitude,
 
I Liq Chuan Gatekeeper / Lineage Holder
Zhong Xin Dao Founder
 
January 21, 2016

Kicking Ass

“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

How to create conditions and propel movement to your benefit

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnPir2zQSXU[/embedyt]

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.

Paying Attention to Neutral to Gain Clarity – What is Neutral?

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjl075tRj1o[/embedyt]

(Lecture given at the National University of Ukraine “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”)

When we say that even now when I’m present, I still don’t know anything. 

What is lacking?

Practically everything comes down to attention. You see these two things, when I hang over here – the nature.  If my attention is not strong enough, I don’t have the clarity. The clarity over here is not ‘you think’. It’s because the nature speaks. So, the nature reveals. It’s as if something is mystical, actually it’s not.  Those who come for the workshop, there’ll be a training to understand that.

Because there’s no answer here, you will fall back to your past experience to get the answer to understand this. So you will always fall back to your past experience, that means you are using the past to judge the moment. Then this is call judging.

When we say clarity. What is clarity?  Clarity means you see the differences. Difference, that means you see the separation.  When there is separation, there’s a unity.  That why we say, “one” cannot unify. You need “two” to unify. But “two” needs “three”, what is the “three”?  “Three” is where that separate the two (point of separation). And also that combines the two (point of unification).  So, the “three” is the neutral.  So can you see when you approach or contact anything, can you see the neutral.  Only neutral will see things equally.  See things clearly.  If you see one side from another side, you are only guessing. 

Like on the mountain top.  If I climb here, you know there’s another slope but you don’t know how (it’s like).  That means you’re on this side trying to see the other side, you cannot.  Unless you’re on top. On top of the mountain is the neutral point that you see everything.

GM Sam FS Chin – October 2012 Lecture In Arizona (With Transcript)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egshan4r3mk[/embedyt]

Discourse of Master Sam Chin at Phoenix, Arizona, Workshop, October 2012

I just want you guys to bear in mind that as we learn, what is learning, the most important part that you should know under our system, because it’s based on the Zen and Tao that is with nature, is understand nature, that is understand the way that it is. You have to keep reminding yourself that there is nothing to learn because it’s already there. This is the first, first thing that you’ve got to understand. If you cannot understand, make it clear why it is such, why I keep on telling you there is nothing to learn. If you cannot understand here, you will be learning the wrong thing because everything is already there you could say. It’s just like this. That’s what makes everyone the same, everyone is equal. Understand it now? Because it’s already there. You don’t think you can create something? You understand that now? Because it’s already there. So you, me, everyone is the same, has the same thing; that’s what makes us equal. Alright? So, the only thing is that understanding here then you need to understand the way to learn, then you only have the right approach. Because nothing to learn, that means you cannot add anything, you cannot take away anything. Alright? And you can say that nothing belongs to you too, yes? Laughs You see? Because it’s there! But nothing belongs to you doesn’t mean that it’s nothing. That means nothing belongs to you but that it belongs to you, everything belongs to you too. You see?

It’s only a matter that you know how. If you know how, you can use whatever you want. If you don’t know how, you can’t even use it. Because even then you still cannot use it. Understand? You can say this is the main, main concept here; nothing to learn, everything is there. Alright? If you know, everything’s yours. If you don’t know, you can’t even use what? You can’t even use it. When everything is yours, you don’t carry it around. Why do you want to carry? Everything is yours already. Laughs So there’s nothing to fight for it. Why do you want to fight for it? Everything is yours. Who do you want to fight with? Huh? Everything is yours already. Who do you want to fight with now? Tell me. Yes? If you understand here, the beauty is here. Alright? So from here, then you start to say, okay, how to approach the learning. Try to recognize, to realize what is what. Alright? So apart from here, to be with, to be with, to understand this, because the nature itself is change. To understand that, because we have a lot of garbage within ourselves. We have built up a lot of garbage. So that’s why we want to go back to understand what is neutral; mentally neutral, physically neutral. Yes? The most common thing is that, because without neutral, if you are not neutral, you cannot change with change. Alright? Can you change without being netural? You cannot. Understand? So we learn to be mentally neutral, physically neutral. Now, then you look into neutral; of what quality is neutral, what quality has the neutral of the mind?

Some answers from audience: No preference, No judging, Peace, Happiness, Openness, Stillness. You see all this is neutral. Alright? You see all these qualities is the neutral quality. That means that you are flowing with present, flowing with present. That means when we say present, that means you are changing with change. When we say about maintaining presence it means you are changing with change. Maintaining is changing. You need to change to maintain. Alright? If you cannot change, you cannot maintain. Alright? So the present has all these qualities. So present. Neutral is that you should be happy. Yes? Because you are not judging. You are seeing things as it is. Then you can change, then you can keep up. So this is so very important here. Okay?

Question: We talk about everything changes but then we talk about some things that don’t change like neutral. 

Answer: Because neutral is change. Laughs Neutral itself is change. Because the change doesn’t change. The change is permanent. Understand? What is permanent? Change is permanent. You see? Understand now? 

Question: No, because awareness doesn’t change; it’s always there.

Answer: Awareness is change. It’s always there, but you keep up with the change. The reflection of awareness sees change, but the quality itself that you maintain over there, yes? That you maintain over there, because what you see all change. The process, alright?

Question: Unable to hear 

Answer: Awareness is the effect of what? Awareness is the effect of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the cause. Alright? So you’re mindful to aware. How do you maintain mindful? In the present moment. Present moment is what? Present is change. Yes?

Question: Unable to hear

Answer: The concept does not change, but to be with the principal you need to change. You see? You need to change to be with the principal. Then only you can balance and harmonize with it. Alright? When we talk about into action, into movement, in time and space, it’s different from the concept. Understand that now? In time and space everything changes. That’s why the poem; that’s why we wrote it. So now, in physical neutral we need to understand the six direction energy. Alright?

The space, physical is the space, the xyz has 6 direction energy. That means the 6 direction; that’s why the 6 direction energies are also the 3 dimensions. Usually we only talk about the 3, because the 3 dimensions contain the 6 energies. But I put back the 6 energies there, because sometimes students cannot see the 3 dimensions ?? energies. So with the 6 energies here, because of the xyz, understanding the center, balancing the up down, forward backward, left right, sometimes I call it the junction, sometimes I call it the neutral line, maintaining the neutral. That means when you’re on the junction, you can go all directions. Alright? So on point of contact have junction; on your body have junction. With the contact the spacing have junction. Because the junction is the neutral point that object and subject here have to cross. Alright? So, that is the spacing junction, but point of contact of a body junction that all this must be able to meet and match. The junction you can say is also 3 dimension spherical energy; it’s a cross in 3 dimensions. That’s why we say the 6 energy and 3 dimension is a neutral energy, is a fullness energy that can change. Understanding here then all other movement is only born correctly. Understand that now? To maintain. But through our curriculum we learn to recognize.

We go from stage 1 to stage 2 to stage 3 to stage 4 to stage 5. Each curriculum we learn different ?theory?. We go through all this learning block to learn through, to understand, to incorporate the 13 points. Now the 13 points is the reference point of unifying your body. The 5 mechanism is the unification of the movement. Now, when I say that now, when you come in contact, how you act, why you act, what is your reference point of act? What do you base on to act? 13 point is the reference point. Laughs You balance the 13 point to the point of contact. But the point of contact that to balance this 13 point to the point of contact you are using the cross, using the cross and center to match. But you must have the 13 points first. Then only to match with the cross, or the cross match where? Where to end? Understand that now? There’s 13 point over there. So the 10 10 starts with 13 points. There is the process of learning 10, there is the quality of 10; 10 10. The quality of the 10 is the ?subject? of the 13 point. So if you understand your 13 points good enough, there is unification in yourself that you keep on balancing, unify yourself with the action of five mechanism movement. Any movement has this five mechanism, but not necessarily is unified.

So when you move you must have this five unify mechanism with the 13 points. Okay? And then on point of contact, when you unify your opponent, you’ve got to have flow, fend, roll, and pivot. Alright? So and here we have four strategies to understand the cross, understanding this open and closing line where it changes. That’s why the four strategies comes from here. So this concepts, to understand this principal, this life that you’re training, you must really hang on to over there, so your precisement, so your movement is correct. If you cannot understand this; what is enough, what is not enough, what is too much. Without understanding this mechanism, the diagram of the mechanism of this line, you don’t know, you can’t understand. Not enough, or enough, or too much. The line of mechanism, the diagram. We have three diagrams; one yin yang diagram, 13 point diagram, and the mechanism of that movement of this line diagram. So you understand the yin yang diagram first; understand which one is yin which one is yang, then you understand the 13 points, then you understand the line of mechanism of this line. To understand the preciseness, the precision, is under these 3 diagrams.

All this you must understand that book and system guide is not just there for drawing. It has some purpose. Laughs Understand that now? So the training and the learning process you must focus enough to see this. Alright? So then we have 6 energy, 3 dimension, and physical as a base. Sometimes we call that the primordial energy or sometimes we call that internal power, because it is a spherical energy, it’s a core energy. Maintaining there then you have fullness, you have readiness; this readiness and fullness that you can change.

Transcribed by Theresa Phillips, Tucson, AZ