Q: how do you recognize the way of nature? Practically.
First, you have to hold onto something; have attention to hold onto something. Your mind and your body has to hold onto something. How well can you hold? You cannot pay attention to hold onto the body.
First, hold onto balance first. Everything starts with balance. Can you maintain that? That means you are always adjusting. By right, we are always unstable. We can’t be stable; we are always unstable but we are always adjusting. Adjusting to be stable. Adjusting to be balanced—that means maintaining. That means every moment, every second you are changing to maintaining. From changing here to maintain you are observing the nature of change. It’s very hard to hold on over here, but it’s very hard because you have your experience.
Because here it’s very hard to keep attention, to observe. That means if anything surrounding happens, your mind goes off. The training is: can you see your mind go out? If you see it going out, can you bring it back. This is called recognizing the process of seeing the process of what’s happening happen. If only when you can go deep enough to see that separation and clarity, that’s when the KNOWING comes. Alright? Practically, training is maintaining balance.
It’s the first step. Not for power. For if you can’t maintain not to be disrupted, then if you want to push me off you can’t, because I’m maintaining. If I maintain sitting here, can you sit here? No, you can’t not. If you can’t disturb me, you have no place. You’d have to push me off. If something disrupts me, then it’s easier for you then.
It’s about attention. There is no ultimate move. I don’t care what system you train. The ultimate move is ‘who can change better’. That is, who has more attention. If my attention can link more, you have no chance.
Because; before you do anything, I already know.
If you don’t know and I know, how can you be faster than me. It’s like your head pops up and I whack [it], up, whack.
So, there’s no ultimate move: who can change better. That’s all. OK? This is the most important thing. I don’t care what art you train—hsing I, ba gua, tai chi, zhong xin dao, karate—what are you using?
Your body. Your body…and it consists of what? Bone, ligaments tendons, muscles, the skin. And then we talk about the 4 alchemies: BODY: the bone ligaments tendon—the solid part: Earth; Water (the fluids); Fire (heat, aging), the Air (the chi you breathe), and movement inside—so the heat because of moving and energy, there’s heat. There’s water and there’s breathing they pressurize [sifu demonstrates by drawing in and condensing] the air, the breath and all these 4 elements’ compressions… then of course if you understand these 4 alchemies…the 4 pressures equalize the body: from the feet to the hands and the hands to the feet: and the pressurizations connect. It’s all about this: Understanding these 4 alchemies and the relationship of the breath. And the body. That’s why actually, this is the [mindfulness of the] body. Then the Feeling—the feeling of understanding you like, you don’t like…and the feel of Such. Then you understand the Mind (what is attention, what is intention—the mind changes….). Then the Awareness: the awareness is the quality of the Mind itself. And then the Nature of things. The Awareness: everything is the same, because it is the quality of the mind. But the problem is that we don’t recognize our awareness.
So, anything you do you can do without recognizing awareness. …You see…sometimes, when we drive home, we don’t know how we drive home: the awareness is just enough to take you home; but now, the training you want to train back to understand awareness itself; it’s the main tool!
You see, now you are using awareness to train this, to train that…yes? You want to understand ‘this’, this, this, this…but you don’t understand ‘this’. But you are using awareness to train ‘this’.
The right way of doing meditations, the right way of doing meditation—this is DYNAMIC meditations….we are training this to look back into awareness. To really understand that is awareness: is the quality of the mind. Once you understand ‘this’, that ‘THIS’ is the tool, then you can use it in everything.
We are using it in the academy, using it for health, for martial or for daily life, in your work, in anything you touch. So, if you understand this, this is called CULTIVATING YOURSELF: you, your mind—if you are training this, you are training cultivation. It’s your mind you are looking into. It’s not that you are disciplining this, that….no, you are only using that to REFLECT back to ‘this’.
Only when you reflect back to ‘this’ only then is that called cultivation. Or else you’re only training something. This building, we have space here, yes?
That’s why in the school we talk about you learn this subject and that subject. Now, in the university, like my professor Nancy here, we have a program in the college we talk about “Learning How to Learn.”
You learn ‘this’, you learn ‘that’. But you must teach how to learn. Then, your approach is more direct.
(18 November 2017 – Saturday morning talk at studio/workshop)
I believe everyone attended yesterday’s talk, right?
So, today we are going into more of the physical through the mental. The important things is the approach, because it’s a learning process. The learning process is only to recognize and realize, not to think. Thinking—out the door, go.
We say that to watch, observe—that means paying attention. The first thing we need to do is make sure the attention must be there. The process first is Yi (the attention), then the energy (chi), then the power (li): the yi chi li. If attention is not there, you cannot know–how can you know?
Here is a problem a lot of people have. If attention can’t be there, then when you try to act, you fall down into habit—not recognizing. That is why the training is by linking—like joining—by stretching. By stretching from one point to another, this is called unification. We talk about first unify yourself: mentally, physically. Then, there’s unification on movement. Then unification on point of contact. First, there’s hardware unification. Second, is because moving, there’s a coordination of movement. Then, you need to have Point of Contact unification: you have joined.
In action, we talk about 5 Mechanisms of Movement: first, you must be able to have Absorb and Project: this means it’s from one point to another point: what goes up must goes down—must have this connection. So, the connection is from here up and down, then big and small [gestures condense and expand]. Every point must return, it’s a cycle. It’s a cycle, not a reverse. Since it’s a cycle—that means it must have a separation: Left Right, Up Down, Forward Back—so you travel from this side and you come to down this side: go out from yang and come back on yin. Bone, joints is where the ligaments and tendons is. The ligament and tendons have 2 groups of muscles:
yin and yang. That means it’s only 2 lines: yin line and yang line. The quality of the yin line has two energies:
Yin ling: Absorbing to dan tien (all yin to dan tien); then also condensing to the bone.
Yang line: Expanding out from ming men—that means it’s projecting from ming men going out
to the fingernail and toenail and coming back from finger tips to the dan tien—must be
separated by the bone.
That means the Yin cannot interfere with the Yang. The yang can’t interfere with the yin. It goes to the bone and stops [demonstrates bringing left hand up to center line; claps precisely at this halfway point, then other hand goes down]. Goes to here: stops, then the yang takes over. If it goes over, that’s violating. This yin comes together and it wants to go over, but the yang helps support. In training, in Chinese medicine or meridian point we call this Macrocosmic energy flow, the chi flow. The energy that goes to the bone (that has Expand Condense)—this is called Bone Marrow Washing (neigong).
All movement must have these two: Macrocosmic Energy and Bone Marrow Washing.
All movement also evolves from one point: the center point (dan tien is a center point; ming-men is a center point).
But the most important point is the feet: the feet with the mass.
The mass falls on the dan tien: then on this builds the alignment. With this alignment, it means all action on the point starts with Rotation.
Rotation is what?
The spinning force, the spiral energy—and it creates open close. Open close, we have 3 dimension open close, but then normally we work only on 2- dimension open close at first: vertical line, horizontal line. (See, this is close, but I’m opening but I’m not open yet: until this is neutral. Closing, closing closing, neutral, closed [demonstrates on horizontal and frontal planes].
Because open and close have different energy—because open you can project (you don’t absorb): you project, project, project to close, then you close. Then, I absorb, absorb, absorb to neutral then open. Because it’s the coordination from the further point to the furthest point: the longer the leverage the greater the power.
Ok? So, horizontal is the primary spin because the whole world, the whole universe spins horizontally. And only in horizontal spin do you not leave the ground [demonstrates as he grinds index finger into palm: ‘in horizontal you don’t leave the point’. [Sifu demonstrates contrast: like a wheel hitting ground: how frontal and sagittal both leave the point].
So you need to start with horizontal. [Sifu points to shoulder joint as root and explains: project from the shoulder joint: from our C7] then rotate open close.
See: All movement is from the rotation point. Because when we do movement, we talk about the rotation: how rotation is a circle. The sun and the earth…the earth is revolving but it’s also turning day and night [demonstrates with his 2 fists how both rotates and circles.]
Here is the very primary movement. So from understanding Absorb Project, Condense Expand ming-men—from this you do Open Close, and that is how you recognize the neutral line. Then, when you do Open Close, you recognize how you do circles: because there are only 2 circles—you do rotation either clockwise or counter-clockwise: no other movement. From this movement here you create Concave Convex—because this [does NSEW as concave convex]: that means there’s yin yang to complete these circles. To complete these circles you must complete the cross: That means you must go through the cross—the vertical line, the horizontal line—and that means you go through 4 quarters, yang/yin. For example, you cannot say this is complete [does it wrong with no connection between shoulder and wrist]. Yes, this is complete if only doing the wrist [waggles only his wrist]. But if doing whole shoulder, you must have this [demonstrates connection from shoulder, elbow, to wrist] This is Section: shoulder (or elbow, or wrist). Everything must have yin yang touch.
Concave and convex also gives direction—like a fish moves [demonstrates shoulder to elbow moving in relation to each other]: a tail goes like this. [wiggles elbow to wrist moving like a fish’s tail]. You must understand how movement follows this line (shoulder joint). If you don’t follow this, then the Point of Contact is already wrong!
From here you must understand the 3 Planes: horizontal, frontal, sagittal. This is 3 dimensional. This means everything must have a center with 3 dimension: that means it must include 6 direction energy and 3 dimensions.
These are the 5 Mechanisms you must understand. Later on, this is unified self and unifying movement. When you say ‘unifying with opponent’, I’m 1 opponent is 2, but the Point of Contact is the 3: there’s one, two, three points. On Point of Contact, any point of contact, there’s yin yang: a cross (you can also say 3 dimensions). Every point of contact has 3 dimensions. But one dimension starts with 3: yin neutral yang.
The dividing line between yin yang is the neutral line that DEFINES the position; that defines the yin and defines the yang, or you can say it’s defining the OFFENSE and DEFENSE. When you play football, a field has half line: behind half line you are defending; when you cross the half-line you are attacking. But you must be able to know where is the half-line. A half line is also a Point, because a point gives direction, so if you take care of the line, you understand what is offense and defense. That means we approach through the Zhong Xin Dao: through the neutral line, through neutral point: so you can see everything in One point.
You don’t see from yin to see yang, or from yang to see yin… of course if you train yang, you also train yin. But in your viewpoint of training you must approach from the Center. If you don’t approach from the center, you cannot link the two: you will be seeing one side to THINK of the other side because you can’t “see”—you can only guess. So, you won’t have a COMPLETE view. Can do only from approaching from the separations and the unification—this separates the two and binds the two. So in movement of course if you can’t separate you’re also in trouble. If you can’t join, you’re also in trouble.
If people attack me too much, I separate, then they can’t connect…but normally in our training, we maintain connect first, maintain connect first to understand what is one point of defense. One point of defense under 3 dimensions—in Tai Chi they talk about Peng energy, the defense one.
This is not action—it’s the energy, the energy of Peng, the energy of fullness. This fullness is 3 dimensional…behind ALL movement. Right? It’s behind all the movement because the 3 dimensional energy behind all the movement is neutral. That neutral helps you to change. That neutral helps to give you readiness and alertness. So, because this fullness energy, or we call it oneness energy, has the Peng energy. In ALL movement. That means, how can you understand this Fullness energy on point? This Peng energy on point? As a neutral, it means what? That it has a center point, a highest point. Highest point is a mountain. Or you can say the furthest point. The furthest point is like a ball: any point you touch is the furthest point to the center because it’s a diameter line. That has the quality of that. The thing is that we are straight, not a ball. So where is the reference that you say so you can create the furthest point?
That means it’s the CENTER LINE TO THE MASS, the Center line to the Point of Contact—and where the Point of Contact creates a vector force, a triangle energy force…or sometime s we call it Peng energy or the fulcrum point, or triangle energy, or a cone energy. So, on the point here, you have a ball or like two balls that come together, they come together and touch each other, that is the fullness point. Because they have 2 fullness, they touch each other. It also has the 90 degree to touch at the center. So we say attack is 90°; but you must be able to receive 45° on the POC. Attack 90°, receive 45°, is the straight with the curve energy. Every movement is straight and curved; because of this (90° and 45°) it’s the circular energy: circular energy must have 90/45. So we talk about 2 to 1; 1 to 2: Two to one means we have Absorb Project or Condense Expand (2 energies) that form ONE COMPLETE fullness energy. Form this is 2 to form 1 at the Point of Contact. On the Point of Contact, you must at minimum have 2 energies out: 1 to the bone structure (skeleton) and the other to the Mass (your alignment). Skeleton and mass are two different things but they are related. Skeleton is the back bone; if you don’t have skeleton, no movement; but skeleton is not the balance beam line, it’s not the alignment. Alignment is from the mass and the gravity. The mass is the flesh and tissue including the bone. Including the bone that has a center of mass.
The center of Mass weighs on the center of gravity and forms alignment—but you need the bone to coordinate with. Once you capture the mass you control the object.
But, on the point, if you can also get 6 direction energy, you can know…how to create the point to create 6 directions…if you can do that, that means you are neutral. When you are neutral that means you can change. With that neutral energy you must include readiness, alertness. We can use Yin point of contact.
Project is from the Yang to the yin; you don’t project from yin. Always in this direction. Because we are following the nature of the body. The nature of the body is that Yin is drawing all the time. If you start to reverse, the energy goes wrong: you lose the cycle, you lose the balance. That doesn’t mean that Yang can’t expand, for Yang can expand. That’s why we say first it’s the hardware then the software. Because the Yin has Yin Yang; the Yang has yin yang. [Demonstrates how the two must maintain both energies: there’s yin energy drawing…to the maximum draw—if you go more than this you lose the yin quality and violate the yang energy].
The yin energy must be always there because it’s the yin energy. You can’t go against the yin nature; you can’t violate the yin or violate the yang. But yin can do the action of yang a little bit…understand? The rule is that FOLLOW THE NATURE. OBEY NATURE.
In the truth of nature there is no freedom. You can’t do what you like. You’ve got to base on the nature itself, yes, that’s why we call it The Way. The way is not that you like it (understand it). It’s not that I like it—so that’s my way; no, that is your habit. That is your feeling, a past feeling (I like this, I don’t like this). That is not the true way—that is the Ego. Alright? The nature of things has its characteristics you have to follow. We are part of nature. If we don’t follow, we go against.
If you go against, and you do it more, you are the one who suffers. That’s why the way things are in the Tao is understanding the way things are. It has its rule. All the time we follow the law of nature—it’s different from following the human law. In sport, in competition, this is human law—it’s not law of nature. That’s why a lot of other martial arts don’t want to spend time in tournaments. Yes, you can train—in lower levels you can go and train, but higher level…no. Any things that human make laws you have to remember; once you ‘remember’ then it’s not the law of nature any more. Because you have to remember, that means you’re already cut off; in the law of nature there’s no remembering, it’s CONNECTING. You cannot remember. The Law of nature is CONNECTING THERE—it’s based on yin yang: based on adaptability. You cannot go, “oh, can’t go’ or if you think “I cannot go’ that means you’re thinking…you can’t go above. You aren’t with the law of nature. That means you fall on the ‘knowledge’—and you can’t go above to the Wisdom level. No chance—you can train 1 million years but still no.
The thing is so straight. In our Zen training in our system training because there’s Knowledge and Wisdom—later knowledge and dumb: because you are crossing over here, but when you’re crossing over here [to a new understanding] hanging over you don’t have enough clarity, or not enough to penetrate (we call it) or to link—not enough. But I can hang over there, not to go back. In every training we call this a process of ‘dumb-dumb’/like stupid: the process of dumb dumb—it’s tranquility, it’s peaceful, it’s balanced.. but not the wisdom….
But you can hang over there and not fall back over there… you look very smart (because you go through thinking: what you like, don’t like). But of course we DO fall back onto knowledge; then, at least we know we are falling back on knowledge. You must know that you are judging; it’s not absolute truth; you are judging.
Introduces his family: my wife, my daughter Yen, my son Hsin and my students: my Russian
representative, Alex Skalazub; and my US students: from NY, Richard Kelly; from Arizona, Ashe Higgs; from New Jersey, Dr. Wai Tang; from Pennsylvania, Dr. Nancy Watterson.
Thanks a lot for having me here.
I believe that most of you guys here have learned some kind of Martial arts, yes? Majority yes. Then, we are going to talk about martial arts, self-defense or about movement of physical mechanism. And about how mental and physical coordinate. The system I have, we call it Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan, and it’s based on Zen philosophy and Tao. Zen and Tao philosophy is talking about nature as it is. It’s about how things are. So, it’s an approach of seeing Nature itself. So, we talk about the Moment, the Present. First of all, we want to understand what is the nature, what is the characteristic of Nature. Then you only know what kind of approach. The characteristic of the nature is change and it doesn’t have solid entity.
That means everything is based on conditions. You need things to be there so that condition is formed. So, if conditions is not there, it just cannot be formed. Then we talk about what kind of quality you need to be with the change. That is what we talk about the approach of Zhong Xin Dao. In Chinese Zhong is center—you can also say middle, but you also can say neutral. Xin is the heart. Dao is the way. So, in the middle of the heart lays the path. Then what is neutral? Simple to say: you need to be able to change with change with the moment. So, neutral also has the quality of formless. Formless—it means it can change and adapt. The most important part here is that everything keeps on changing, then how can you know?
In Dao, we talk about everything change then has one balance point. This balance point is a steady
point, present point, neutral point. To know and to change. Let me give you an example. So, we need to understand first, what is knowing? How can you know? Everyone says that they know; how can you know? Your knowing is based on what reference? Everyone knows. Everyone knows differently—why?
(Because we are different). We are different based on what? [human nature—no]. Based on our
accumulation of experience. So, everyone know differently because it’s from the past. When we say
‘present’, everyone says now I’m here, I see, I touch, that’s why I know—yes? You know from
where—experience. Do you call that ‘present’? No. That’s from the past. Even if now you are in the
present (I see, I touch, I know this from my experience—that means that is not present).
Normally, everyone says that is his present: because I hear and see—that is my present. But in Dao and Zen that is not present because you use your past experience to know the moment. That’s why we talk that this is ‘judging’; then, here that’s why everyone knows differently. The nyou can say everyone is right also because it’s based on their own viewpoint. But practically speaking, everyone is wrong. Yes? It cannot be right. If you are with the present to see the moment by itself, everyone sees the same: because nature is only one thing.
That is why we call that the Way Things Are. Alright? Or, in Zen we talk about this as Suchness: it’s Just Like This. So in order to understand the moment of that present, it’s just now what I say: everything changes…but there’s one balance point within all the change.
So sometimes I use the words like ‘change with the change maintain not to change.” That is the balance point. That is the present point. Only that present point will you understand from there you then connect. In the present of the moment you can know it only through DIRECT.
When you can hold on to direct here, not falling back to the past experience, then normally people would say ‘oh you have concentration here; oh, now you are connected. Through connecting and steadying and stable and balance. . .from here we talk about the clarity comes: from knowing the clarity, what is clarity? How can you describe clarity?
[crowd answers: something you can’t see; you see one thing…]
Sifu asks: based on what?
You see that’s the problem here, to maintain here. Tai Chi talks about One is born two, two born three, three the thousand things are born. One is Wu Ji, two Tai Chi, three: yin and yang. That means what?
Three is the separation that also unifies. Only by understanding separations and unifications do they give you the difference.
It’s the difference….it’s not opposite. Difference has separations, has unifications, and they have the relationship; and the relationship has cause and consequence. Cause and consequence has cause and effect. You know the moment by cause and effect.
From here, sometimes we say, why is that separation and unification make things clear? I like to make the example of …do you know what is high definition television? It’s based on what? [seeing the entire picture, smaller and smaller particles)
Yes, it’s based on the pixels. So the higher the pixels the clearer the picture yes? Because of the separation and unifications, they make it clearer. So if you can understand here in the moment, it’s based on this idea.
In tai chi it’s said 1 to 2, 2 to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16, 16 to 32, you keep on breaking down. Provided you can be there…Yes?
Then, we say if you can be there that means, as some say, ‘concentration.’ But by right there is no concentration because by understanding the nature you cannot add, you cannot take away. That means you cannot interfere.
That’s why in tai chi they talk about bu di bu ding: no resistance, no backing off.
That means it’s the flow, yes? Flow, if you understand it, flow is present. Flow has a stillness point. Flow has a present point. And has a neutral point.
Put your hands together: (this is changing: move your two hands around, fingers touching). But this point (of contact) doesn’t change: the pressure maintains the same, though you are changing. You are changing with the change not to change.
This is the present point. Until you understand this point…this point is where you connect. This is the principle where the present understanding of these principles that connect with the moment. From here, you only recognize and realize.
But do you understand what is ‘recognize’? HOW can you recognize? [ answers: comparing different things] Many people think they need the past to recognize. No. To recognize is knowing what is happening that happens. Understand?
That is the moment of seeing the difference, seeing the change. So, this is about knowing what kind of reference you use. That’s why we talk about when you are present, it’s based on stillness and clarity.
Before here, then we talk more about this: how can you know? What is knowing? We already mentioned that after you know, you use that kind of reference—the PRESENT reference. We must know HOW to pay attention in order to know. Alright?
In everything is based on Point of Contact. You know from point of contact. You act to the point of contact. What, then, is Point of contact? We have five senses point of contact: Eyes for form, Ears for hearing, Smell, Mouth for taste, the Body for Touch. But point of contact must have 3 things, in order for it to be established. The 3 things are: Object, Subject, and Consciousness, or else you have eyes but can’t see and ears that can’t hear. That means attention must be there.
That’s why in Tai chi they talk about Yi Chi and Li. First, attention must be there (yi), then energy will be there (chi), then the action (Li). Alright? So yi chi li. In order to have the right attention where do you see me sitting here? Where do you see me?
(in front of us. No, he laughs).
No, YOU see me in your own mind/eyes (points to own head). To have Right Attention you don’t see me here. I am only just a REFLECTION. If you see me here, you have INTENTION. What is intention? Intention means you already are going out. That means you’re trying to ADD something, adding. That means if your attention is out, you cannot be ready. When we talk attention, when we talk about awareness, readiness and alertness must be there. If my attention is out, then when I want to act, then I need to bring back my attention—then you will have in and out.
That is the wrong attention. But you need effort. Effort is like intention, but this effort or intention is
Attention is OPENING (wider), but we need the intention to hold onto attention, or else your
attention cannot hold more than a few seconds—it flies out every few seconds.
Alright. So this is about how can you know. In philosophy, concepts, principles everything must align with that. Philosophy is about the nature itself. And to understand that is only through recognizing and realizing. Because it’s already there. Because you cannot imitate or accumulate. And in concepts actually we talk about there’s nothing to learn: it’s there. Yes? So, why can’t we see there? Why can’t we know?
It’s because our past experience, our habit, blocks our view. That’s why in Zhong Xin Dao we approach with the neutral view. And in Principles, we talk about the past and the present. With the past experience we have only 3 kinds of feelings: I like, I don’t like, I don’t know. This is the past. If you have these 3 feelings, you are already in the past. Present is only stillness and clarity.
So, this is the philosophy, concepts and principles. From here we talk about Mental Neutral and Physical Neutral. Mental Neutral is to understand what is concentration and what is awareness, so this is about how to be mindful. And physical neutral starts with 1 point. One point that separates: one to two, two to three. And a point is also a neutral point, a center point. What is the quality and what kind of condition do you need in order to say a center?
A center must have forward backward, left right, up and down. So the center must have 6 directions and 3 dimensions—then this is the neutral center. And also a junction point. And also the Fullness Point. Form here only can you change with change.
Now, a point must be strong, and it’s also a pivot point. What is the quality of the pivot point? To have action you must have a pivot point. Without the pivot point there’s no action because a pivot point gives yin yang, and if it’s not strong you cannot give direction. A direction comes from a point. You guys understand here? Why point gives direction?
You need a point to give a direction, since direction is an angle of movement. So you need a point to give direction. What goes out must comeback. What goes out returns, not reverse. You must understand my words here: return and reverse are two different things.
When you return from one point you stretch to the other point; you hold onto this point and return on this point: you complete the cycle. When the cycle completes, you have no gaps. And you have no beginning and ending. It’s only a matter of what moves and what supports. If a point to another point reverses, there will be a gap.
Q: when he hears a reflection from the point, then he close the gap?
No. When you stretch you are present. That means it’s a stretching. in Chinese they call it 穿“[ chuān ]
This is the skill of unifying from center to center. Then you have the information transfer. In martial arts they call this Ting jìn—listening power. If you only can stretch only to this one room, this big, and connect but if I can then connect as big as this whole campus, this university, then insider here (this room) you know, but outside you don’t know. But outside is under my area, yes?
That means outside is your future. So, your future is under my present. So, you cannot be faster than me. THIS is Ting Jin [heightened attention]: it’s how you expand your attention, your listening power.
Transcript GM Sam Chin
Flushing, NY Workshop
Saturday 20 October 2018
Today we will emphasize our principles and philosophy, the way of our approach, what the students need to really look into and how to maintain it.
What’s the Feel of the Present Moment as Reference
As we said, there’s only two processes: one is the present, one the past: the training is to recognize if you’re using the past reference, to recognize you’re using the present reference. It’s through the method of holding, maintain. That means we give you a reference to hold: and where to hold and what to hold. From here, this is the training of concentration because you have to maintain and hold; to recognize from here the difference of holding as reference: from here, what can you notice from here? If you can’t hold, can you notice that your attention has been shifting away? If it shifts away, you’re using what reference? When you’re shifting away you’re using the past reference. Now, from here I want the student to be able to differentiate these two reference: past and present.
What ‘s the feel, what are the the things you’re able to know from the present reference and what would be the feel of when you’re with the past reference. In our Zhong Xin Dao path of ILC, if you’re using the past reference, we say that you’ll be using the feel of “you like, you don’t like, you don’t know.” With the present reference, you’ll have the feel of stillness and clarity. But stillness and clarity: what’s the feel of that?
When you’re shifting away you’re using the past reference. ~GM Sam FS Chin
Can You See Your Mind is Engaging the Past?
The past reference feel (you like, don’t like, you don’t know), is easier for you to understand. So, these 3 kinds of feeling from the past are all based on past experience. But the hardest problem is, can you see your mind’s mind engaging the past? We are so used to it we normally don’t recognize it. And because of that feel, we’ve been so used to it, that that’s how I am—that is who I am. What’s wrong with that? So people will say ‘oh, there’s nothing wrong with that, you see?’ But the student doesn’t really understand that this view is the accumulation of past experience that has built who you are, what you think of as your identity, but it’s NOT THE NATURE OF YOURSELF!
On the Importance of First Convincing Yourself
So, first—convince yourself. Do you agree that you are being accumulative—that that sort of seeing is accumulative—what you think you are now, what makes you what you are. If you’re not convinced then you’ll stick with yes, ‘this is who I am. Firs you recognize that this is the experience of accumulating habit. If you don’t agree with that, then it’s hard to change.
It’s because of here, everyone says ‘this is who I am,’ when we’re using this type of reference; then, this sort of reasoning only comes down to who has a better experience; who has a better past—if you use that reference.
Yes, in Tao and Zen, no doubt you need this past experience to recognize SOME of this process, in order to show you the way. But if you agree with that, then you see this is the process of BUILDING a habit form past experience—this is what people usually address. But, if you come back to the NATURE OF SELF—then you’re understanding the nature itself is THROUGH THE MOMENT.
We are using that moment to know and to change. That moment to know is so short, and so fast—that moment of PRESENT. How can you know with that instant moment when it changes so fast? That’s what seems so impossible to do. We used to say your foresight is so close—that you can’t see further. If I want to see further, then I need my past or experience to see further. If I don’t use the past experience to project further in the future, then how can I see, how I make it longer? Yes?
Then what is the difference of being in the moment that you can see so far, so BI? What kind of method. Being in the moment is so short. That’s why it comes down to the MOMENT OF CONNECTING. THE MOMENT OF STRETCHING. THE MOMENT OF LINKING. The moment of connecting is so you can see big. Otherwise, you’ll just be one little speck, one little dot. In that one little instance, if you can’t connect you won’t be able to see the bigger picture. With that very small moment, it’s very hard for you to make decisions, or for you to act, or for you to act—and know correctly.
Keep on Maintaining to See, Keep on Maintaining to Know
That’s why I keep on saying that knowing is through STRETCHING, it’s through connecting, linking. But that linking is also one moment: like 1 slice of picture…one slice that keeps on maintaining to see. But it keeps on changing to see. That linking, connecting is based on that balance point. That flowing point continuing to maintain the same, because of balance point to maintaining the same to see–only from this can you have the clarity.
The past, present, future—has past experience. And if you want to predict using the past experience, then you can say (ah, they are doing something, I can predict, I can plan, that means I can make a long plan…. But you’re suing a past ref). in order to do the same thing using the PRESENT REFEENCE, it’s by doing it form ONE point that you can stretch, that you can connect form center to center, form one joint to another joint—that you can connect. You can say that’s also past, present future—but in one instance.
It’s so hard to explain here.
Q: is attention ever ‘continuous’? We always have the rising and ceasing. It can be refined, but it is still coming and going… Can be refined… (there may be more frames in a picture, but still ‘cuts gaps]
The base of attention (is awareness—like a space). How attention comes—it pinpoints. Attention: the base of attention never comes and goes. In our reference with our attention (sometimes we make it on this or this), but the base is attention. WITHIN the attention we have jumps (this to this); when it jumps, we call this past, present, future, but when you STRETCH-the past present future are all in ONE: you still it PRESENT. So, your present is a bigger present.
“Your own maintaining doesn’t change, so your opponent cannot change you.” ~GM Sam FS Chin
Like you drive a car…and in front of you there’s so many cars, for instance. but you don’t see based just on the car in front of you…you’re not just looking right ahead: if you can look further ahead…5 cars in front of you making a brake, you’ll see that).
You have a SUDDEN FEELING (ooh, suddenly I have to stop)… but if you can ‘see’/sense/know further, then you don’t have a “sudden” feeling. If you only see instantaneous… if you can see
It’s a FUNCTION OF THE STRETCHING ACTION. The function of stretching—can you hold…if you’ can’t hold, you’ll only see separate/disparate) parts. That stretching is also one instant (so…it is sensing line)
Example: sensing line: sensing can sense 180 degrees instead of only 90: it’s range and scope is vaster—the area is bigger). Same function, same instant.
So, on the point of contact, can we do that? Within our self, can we do that (that stretching)? Yes? In order to do this first, you must be able to hold and maintain from ONE first. If you can’t do this, how can you for the 2nd, or 3rd, 4th, 5th. You have no way. That’s why this called ONE Pointedness first! This is how in meditation, too, the process of meditation works: able to hold one here first. And holding here ONE first! In the process of maintaining, you start to see what comes up to disturb you. When you see what’s come up to disturb you—it’s all your memories, all your past experiences. This is what you call meditation: to increase your attention: to see that clearly. And to see that that has been built up things.
So, in the process of training, we are using the reference of the POINT OF CONNECTING. With the point of connecting as a reference, we need to know to be able to maintain a point that is a center point! A center point is a neutral point. A center point that can change with the moment. That is changing with the moment. With the changing of the moment, that means the point itself is a present point, is a balance point.
*When I say ‘the present point is changing; a balance point is changing.’ That means in order to change you must be balanced: because the balance point is the changing point. So we’re training to look into the Quality. We train the point to see the quality. To maintain the quality.
That’ why we say how we train first how do you train the center? How are you going to train the center point? Yes? You can say I’m training 6 d to get the center point, because the center point needs to have the 6d. to have a center you need 6d—but how do you train this? Then you want to train forward backward, up down, left right in 1 INSTANT: not trying to do each separately. How to train ONENESS.
Now I’m training to explain the FUNCTION of quality. In order to train a center to have six dimension, it’s first about condense Expand has 6 directions: you do it together (simultaneously!) you can’t train separately and have a center: if you separate out or make distinct, but you’re not holding: EXPANDING AND CONDENSING together. That’s why we have the ex of Condense Expanding.
The characteristics of holding the center is through rotations: that means you’re doing the center also—to do CE: FROM ROTATION. That means the actions of movement are up down rotate to have condense and expand. With CE with rotation you must be able to see the direction of forward backward, up and down. Understand here.
Q: so, your entire being becomes the REFERENCE POINT yourself. I’ve had that experience while meditating but not while spinning hands.
A: that means while spinning you have to hold onto the feet—the Center of Gravity because that’s where the center point is established: where the feet/ground is 90 degrees o the mass. That is the firs center point! So, center point with rotation, condense and expand. With CE you have to see the 6d and the 3d. because of THESE references, we form the alignment: everything that goes out must return back to here; to this center point—this center point that forms the alignment. You must hold on here to connect and stretch out!
So, is your attention begin placed over here to hold, or not? Or, are you being unable even this instruction to train—within a few minutes are you doing something else already?
These are the things I want you to work on. Actually it’s so simple [but it’s not easy]. You have to convince yourself first—otherwise you won’t know if your mind is running off: to play and use a different reference. If your mind runs off to use the past reference can you catch it? Doing something else, more free is fine, but are you using this connecting reference or not?
Only by maintaining and hold can you ‘stretch’. If you can’t do this kind of stretching and connecting, so that if your mind shifts off, you must know—and bring it back. Actually, you can say—that’s ALL you need to train.
Q: is what you’ re referring to sometimes referred to as being ‘caught’ in the moment. I was in an ashram and my teacher suddenly said something and I suddenly became aware that I was in the very process of taking a step; I started to count 1,2,3,4,5 –and my foot wasn’t going to the ground. I was suddenly aware of everything in the moment. I do that in meditation, but there’s no reference… but I haven’t had such a level of awareness/clarity while spinning or working with a partner…it hasn’t happened.
Sifu: it’s about being connected and linking… stretching and linking is SEEING. You can see longer. If you’re really in the moment it does seem that things do slow done; it’s not that they slow down but because you see things more clearly, it’s as if things slow down. It’s more of point of connecting and how you see further. You can see, slow down. Like when I touch you, to you guys, it seems so fact, but to me it seems as if you are somewhat ‘slowing’ down: I don’t experience it as “sudden.” If you are in the moment, there’s no such thing as ‘sudden,’ for you see the process: here, here, here. If you’re in the moment, you see the whole process. [returns to the car/accident analogy: if you don’t see the process)
If I come in contact with you, I see the process down to your feet; it doesn’t move at the point of contact; I already see the process up to there! IF, the student doesn’t see that, then he/she experiences it as ‘sudden.’ So that’s why I can do it before…
The strongest energy that reaches to the point of contact, I’ve already knocked it off somewhere else—I’ve already taken it away already! All the training is based on this. That means, connect: how many centers can you connect. The furthest center I can see—I can neutralize before it reaches the very last Point of Contact, because I’ve already connected so many centers. That’s why we train to say on the join we need to condense to have some tension joint-by-joint to feel: can you feel every joint? For joint is also where you have the separation and unification. So you can reel every joint of opponent—and his unification and separation. In order to connect, you need to link it and pressurize it. If you can’t pressurize it, you can’t link it and neutralize.
That means the pressure from Point of Contact through each joint must be the same pressure in order to connect. If you can’t do that, you can’t connect.
Q: do you have to link and the pressurize?
A. Sifu: you have to pressurize to link. To link you have the direction to connect first…but if you have the direction to connect but you can’t hold. So, in order to HOLD you need pressure. So, I can align but not also pressurize it along the way. So you have to be able to COORDINATE aligning and pressurizing.
The problem is…sometimes we align with the curve. So sometimes it’s harder… that means we need to pressurize every separation… by our yin yang muscles. Because our body is made up of bone , ligaments, tensions and yin yang muscles. Sometime you can just align and hit one time but you might be able to maintain. Yes, you can keep on one balancing and aligning—that’s ONE kind of linking.
THEN, you add on the ability to PRESSURIZE it too, to connect. You pressurize to unify it. So, when you can release the pressure, it disconnects; then, pressurize it and connect back. If not aligned, can’t even begin to do this. So, after aligned the pressurizing MAINTAINS. So pressurizing is the process of how to maintain.
**What we are working on first is center-to-center to connect. First c-to-c to ALIGN to connect. Then, once you’ve achieve that, PRESSURIZE it. There’s 2 interconnected processes: the first is aligning. So the exercise looks at aligning and then APPLIED TENSION. The tension you apply is to pressurize it. From these, pressuring and everything with the constant changing—the constant changing requires a balancing. We need to balance it in order to hold. Balance gives us the different directions. This is the training of how to go about maintaining the balance point by producing different directions.
When hand goes in, one energy out. When hand goes up, there’s one energy down. THIS is the balance point to hold you need a point to give a direction. ~GM Sam FS Chin
Q: the process of balancing itself gives the different directions…to maintain the point.
**[The META reference]: USING THE MAINTAINING OF THE POINT as a reference that ALSO has the relationship of HOW YOU GIVE DIFFERENT DIRECTION. [like the fish analog: head and tail…not just flicking hand each way: expanding to DO… the different of one direction energy… to produce the point here: produces the rotation to maintaining the point. To maintain the steady point…we need to have the balancing
When hand goes in, one energy out. When hand goes up, there’s one energy down. THIS is the balance point to hold you need a point to give a direction. Then, later on, it’s about producing a strong point, a pivot point. The fish can have no direction [Sifu elaborates example The direction of fish head/tail… [ex. of the plane landing sideways].
So, any rotation that produces opposite force—that’s why it produces the 6 direction force. Any ROTATION that produces counter force to get the direction moving straight. (if one side is more, then it will move off the course)
That’s why in spinning hand we’re doing the rotation; every rotation produces the counter energy: to hold the point and produce these. Only then can you say the circle of movement is formed. That’s why we say must have a circle with a center; a circle without a center is not really a circle. So, when you’re training you’re LOOKING for this. You’re not procuring circle Sifu you don’t have a center
**So, I want to see students working on this quality. If you’re not working on this quality ten you don’t know what are you doing! That’s why some ex on spinning we call you to grind the point; because grinding the point has a quality of skimming. Grinding has a spiking kind o energy: you need to maintain a point….grinding you need a center to grind. Can’t grind without. [where is it going TO and what are you holding)…otherwise slipping. Grinding need a 90/pt …. Grinding [like old grinding of rice or soy beans: the stones grinding] The grinding produces multiple direction energy. You must have equal energy here to move. Too much energy in one spot and you get stuck: can’t grind.
Q. you have to maintain ‘flat’
Sifu: you have to balance.
In the Oakland workshop I said that the tire is a very good example of the connecting point: the flow, fend, roll, and pivot. The first thing you need to maintain flow is the 90 degree to the center at Point of Contact.
Rolling is the changing of the point at 90. The 90 degree is also a pivot pt. An example of the tire is that the tire is always 90 degree on the ground. This one point is the fending energy (which means that 90 degrees is the maximum point): defending: nothing can go through here. It can’t go through, as if I have a shield here, then it’s fending: defending. When this 90 degree changes into another point, it’s called ROLL.
But Pivoting—that means that moment of the function OF ROLLING, when you’re holding that point, it’s called pivot. If that point skips, the car won’t run. If that point doesn’t change, then it holds, and the car moves. That MOMENT of holing (form one side to another side—before it changes to another pit) is called pivot. Once it changes, it’s called roll. And maintaining that point all the time it’s calls A BALANCE POINT. It’s ALWAYS A NEW POINT, but the 90-“degreeness” doesn’t change! That is called maintaining—it’s called balance point. That function of maintaining is called balance point: that’s called flow, fend, roll and pivot.
“If you’re not pressurized by yourself, you’re not aware, so your consciousness is not there. And your consciousness hasn’t yet been established. But, for me, I’ve already established a Point of Contact.”
~GM Sam FS Chin
Q: when the point is pivoting before it’s become another point?
Rolling and pivoting is so fast—the rolling and pivoting at the same time. IN that moment in between the point and the changing of the point it’s called maintaining.
Q it seems when you’re not holding [gravity force is always there, dropping the 90]?
Yes, in training, the action is to hold the tension over there; direct force (gravity dropping down), that’s how you maintain the CURVE.
That’s why in training we train to meet the force directly. The force directly means the force will come from the structure: it will still come from the bone. So, all action will be from the bone. It can’t be somewhere else.
Q: when you’re talking about aligning to pressurize and connect?
If you align you can STACK UP (but ‘pressurize’ means doing it evenly) … energy can still go through, but without pressurizing may NOT BE ENOUGH.
Q: how do you connect with me before I’ve connected with you?
Sifu: if you’re not pressurized by yourself, you’re not aware, so your consciousness is not there. And your consciousness hasn’t yet been established. But, for me, I’ve already established a Point of Contact. [like flat tire: tire has to be pressurized across the whole tire—the structure—if not equal, you’ll slip]. So the person with awareness. The pressurized tire knows everything.
**I Know You BETTER than you know yourself!
The balances are complementary! Tai chi balance is the complementary balance. You’re not balancing 2 of same things. You’re balancing one yin and one yang (not 2 yang) …
Q: is that the definition of why movement is even possible.
If there’s not hot and cold there’s no wind: because there’s not transfer, no complementary, no ‘change’. [It’s all relational]. That’s why if body builder does too much, they’re too stiff!
This is your body. If awareness isn’t there yet, you need to train and work on this!
Object, subject, consciousness. That means there are 3 things in the body or else there’s no Point of Contact. Because if I connect with the opponent, then I have the POC.
From here, hopefully we can come up with a list of the what you need to work on. You can see that all points back to one thing.
Sifu’s Recap of the morning session:
How to teach how teach how to learn how to teach. The direct experiential feel.
this morning I talk about the function, the conditions, how you look at things. The base of macrocosmic orbit. The direct feeling and experiential feel of that moment of how you approach rather than just empty words.
Make sure you understand that Tai Chi balance is complementary – of 2 different things. One backs up the other thing
The 3 Balances
The balance of the Body
The balance of the Movement
The balance of the Point of Contact
Hardware is the body that cannot be changed: the bones; the flow of yin yang
Software is the coordination of movement (how you do open close, expand condense)
Constantly adjusting, constantly maintaining, constantly changing: this is what permanence is: impermanence. Change is constant.
Your own maintaining doesn’t change, so your opponent cannot change you.
You maintain ‘change with the change’ not to change so you can’t change me (because I maintain!)
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)