Sifu Says – Training Is To Know Yourself

sifu says banner - train to know yourself

sifu says banner - train to know yourself

For the whole year, lately, I’ve been trying to keep on talking about the principles of the way to train — to get the very basic foundation first—how to use ourselves to know ourselves practically speaking.

I have been emphasizing structure, relaxation, and energy.

These have to come from the skeleton (bones), ligaments, yin yang muscles, tissue and the skin. All these –structure, relaxation, energy—have to relate to these. If you are not working from each of these, you won’t be able to know the structure, relaxation, and energy: they’re all interrelated.

The skeleton is the ‘hardware’; how to use it to have movement is the ‘software.’ That means you have to stick to the principle, not of the ‘how’ to do the movement, but instead of understanding the principle of the hardware function.

GM Sam Chin & student

Start From One Point

The function requires us to understand that all things happen from one still point, from one steady point. That one steady point is the point that is a connecting point, a unifying point, a pivot point.

In tai chi it classics it says that a point that once it moves, it’s still and steady (wuji to taiji to yin/yang). But the split comes from the unifying point.

As you saw, Nancy posted up the Chuang Tzu quote about this Taoist concept on Facebook:

“When there is no more separation between ‘this’ and ‘that’, it is called the still-point of the Tao. At the still point in the center of the circle, one can see the infinite in all things.”
~Chuang-Tzu/Zhuangzi; from the Taoist classics, Inner Chapters

When separation and unification come together, a.k.a. unification–that is the still point. But from one still point, in order to have a function of a still point, you can only do it through rotations and pivot: a pivot point.

Rotation Is Pivoting

Rotation is also pivoting. [GM demonstrates: we pivot center axis, pivot whole arm, pivot at wrist point of contact]. The problem is, if we start with the name, some say ‘rotation isn’t pivot—it’s just ‘rotation’; but it is of course pivoting!

Practically, rotation is a pivot—it pivots in a horizontal way!

So, do not get stuck into labeling. That is why we call rotation is a pivot point. In terms of the characteristics of the pivot point, the most important characteristic is to hold it so it does not move to shift off. It is holding there to do things!

This means we need to connect with what we are holding.

That means there is connection and separation. So, in order to do things correctly you must keep on balancing with what you should be doing: so, we are balancing with the flow: we keep on changing with the flow.

GM Sam Chin in lLondon
GM Sam Chin demonstrates in UK workshop


Balancing With The Floor

So, we start training the one point with the skeleton (balancing with the floor). Then the ligaments and tendons are connected to the yin yang muscles. So, now there is a cycle—you can extend joint-to-joint and section-to-section.

On the body rotation (the skeleton and yin yang muscles…) This training is what we need to recognize. That is why we train just to go up and down with the skeleton, ligaments, and tendons, feeling the yin yang muscles.

But within the joint, when we are flipping it back and forth, then we are doing open-close. (yin/yang) The yin yang is condensing/expanding. We were saying yesterday on the Saturday zoom session, we condense and expand on the bone first.

Stretch the joint first—to the ligaments and tendons…then, muscles. If I’m condensing the bone, I am drawing from the fingertips here—the yin. Then, stretch the bone, the ligaments and tendons—then the yang tissue and the skin to the fingernails. [Demonstrates: stretching the yin, the yang]. Then, stretch and rotate. [Demonstrates “grabbing” with the yin, then grabbing with the yang—like throwing a punch]; then it’s ‘pulling/pushing’.

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