“Strategizing within a military tent, but deciding victories thousands of miles away.”
The origin of the phrase came from a book recording the history of Han Dynasty, described a time at around 180 B.C., a military advisor Zhang Liang, who was fighting for the force which later became the Han Dynasty, was able to create such an efficient command and report system, that he could sit in the middle of a tent, and control battles happening thousands of miles away, and manage all aspects of the war successfully.
Of course, it is now quite common for modern militaries to have advanced communication systems for remotely commanding battles, but for such ancient time two thousand years ago, it was an incredible feat.
The story is similar to what GM Sam Chin describes about a spider sitting in the center of a web, while sensing the vibration on the threads to tell it when/where to attack.
The wider your attention can span, the more things fall within your control.
Beginners in Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan often lose focus and can not do the coordination needed from exercise to exercise in the 15 Basics because their attention cannot hold enough concentration points, but just be patient and keep training. We don’t learn to accumulate or build, we train to see more and sense wider, until we can unify ourselves and the opponent in one joint network… then the opponent becomes a delicious meal.
During today’s members-only session with GM Sam Chin, we reviewed the Tu-Na Breathing exercise from our 15 Basics.
Tu Na, or 吐納, literally translated means “spit and collect”, is just a more literary term for “inhale-exhale” in Chinese.
GM Chin also brought in the reference of a related old Chinese word of “Heng Ha 哼哈”. There were some confusions by students regarding what those words mean, and how they apply in our Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan’s practice. So hopefully the following explanations can be helpful to all. There are actually three ways to interpret “Heng Ha”:
The most famous cultural reference for “Heng” (pronounced similar to English word “hung”) and “Ha”, are the two generals guarding the heaven’s gate in Chinese mythology. (See photo 1.) General Heng can spit out a white beam or steam (depending on artistic interpretation) from his nose, and suck in the opponent’s spirit, while General Ha can project a yellow beam from his mouth to shatter an enemy’s soul. Most often you can find depictions of those two generals on paintings posted on many traditional house doors in China, or as statues guarding some monastery entrances. The myths aside, they are described using the two most visible human organs for breathing.
The second, and more practical reference to “Heng Ha” are used in “Dao Yin” Qi Gong physical and breathing exercises originated from Daoist practices. (See picture 2 and also in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daoyin). In that reference, the “Heng” is actually used for signaling inhale, while “Ha” is used for exhale. If you pronounce the word “Heng” (or “hung”) literally, it requires an exhale through the nose to make the sound, but in this case, it’s due to lack of any nasal characters in Chinese that is done with an inhale, so “Heng” is actually similar to the sound when one is gasping for air and sucking in deep in the nostrils, without the exaggerated noise.
The third reference, as in our Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan, and in many internal martial art styles that also incorporate Dao Yin methods, represent a short and a long exhale. Noting here that either Heng and Ha can be the short or long exhales depending on your movement coordination and the martial art stylistic philosophies. More commonly in ZXD, we can match “Heng Ha” as the 1-2/short-long releases similar to our Tu Na exercise when we say “puh!” to do the first quick punctured exhale followed by the longer exhale. Sometimes, Heng can be used with a longer/slower Fa-Jin, with Ha as the final jolting action to finish the force issuing.
As for the mechanics of diaphragmatic and abdominal breathing, there are numerous videos and text out there (like this one from Instructor Ashe Higgs), I won’t pretend to be a biology expert here. They are not in the scope of my explanation of the etymology of the word “Heng Ha”.
To understand the three dimensions, you must understand each plane of the three dimension in order to under the spherical: how these relate as one spherical.
That’s why the training of the 15 basic exercise has different dimensions, different planes: to understand the limit of each plane: to understand how each plane transforms into the another plane, so they can integrate into the three dimensions. three dimensions that we put it into the bobbing exercise and absorb-project, condense-expand, then into one big spherical energy: that itself is six energies and three dimensional planes.
With the six energies of three dimensions here we learn to make stepping, to move while still holding these six energy and three dimensions; we learn to step and learn to kick and learn to release of throwing the hands and you can punch. That’s why the first ten exercises are to get the core of the six energies and three dimension. Then with that, you start to move: see if you can maintain the six energies and three dimensions. Actually that’s level one and level two.
Because with the core, kicking and everything there, then we do it into the continuous movement with the 21 form, with six energies and three dimensions.
That’s why sometimes we call it a zhan zhuang movement, a “fullness” movement fullness form, a zhan zhuang form, like a standing posture form, because of the fullness, with-the action of continuity.To be able to understand to keep our attention with the action; to learn the continual movement of “yi dao, qi dao, li dao“; that means attention must be there, the energy must be there, then the movement.
That is level three. Then with that, what I mean is the level of three can go that high. Of course, there’s a minimal requirement, now what we grade you guys now is you understand the movement, you understand this and that, ok.
You have the minimum requirement to go ahead. Now you know: you have the syllabus this quality now, this criterion now to go higher. So every level now keeps on processing [advancing], keeps on going up.
Then, in level four, with continuity and everything, and unifying, then you must have the coordination to produce power. That’s why we do the fajin exercise on level four: able to produce the power, alright.
GM Sam Chin shows a modified butterfly form in Moscow with explosive power May 2005
Curriculum of I Liq Chuan – Levels 5 & 6
Level 5 – Spinning Hands
In level five, you are training on point of contact, right. To see the point of contact that you are unifying with the opponent, but through unifying with the opponent there is a flow: flow, fend, roll and pivot. You must understand what is flow.
Flow is a process where you reach in to merge in to be with the opponent to maintain the present, to produce a fending force, a peng energy. A peng energy starts with meeting force: you start to meet on Point of Contact.
So attention must be there to really MEET the point of contact: meet the point of contact on contact until you see yourself as a cross.
A cross is a simplification of three dimensions: first start with cross.
With that cross, with that fullness, you bring that ball, like a three dimension ball you carry it along with you to go along the opponents point of contact, the changing point of contact: like you’re holding a ball to change the point of contact.
Holding the fullness, you’re holding the fullness to change the point of contact. So every point of contact has fullness itself. But of course you need to understand what is fullness, recognize what is fullness.
Then, with the fullness here, on the point of contact of fullness, you must be able to propel to produce the pull push energy from there. By understanding of fullness, then you start to pivot: changing the polarity to do the pull, to do the push. Hanging onto the center so that you can produce pull push by using the 3 dimensions: horizontal pull push, saggital pull push, frontal pull push. Right. That means flow, fend, roll, pivot on 5th level, but without stepping.
Curriculum of I Liq Chuan Level 6 & 7
Level 6 – Range, Section, Footwork & Kicking
When it comes to level six, you hang onto that principle strong enough you must be so strong that your attention must be there so that when you start to step, start to kick, start to do all different exercises as you’re changing the center, so that these 4 (flow fend roll and pivot) can keep up: that you don’t lose these four qualities.
But before that, of course you have the “13 Points”, the “Five Mechanisms” there, so that you don’t lose these. Once you lose these that means, what makes you lose?
Because you drop back to habit. Normally, because you lose something, you’ve dropped back to a different habit or your mind has been disturbed by a different thought. So until you can hang onto these flow fend roll and pivot, these principles that action follow your action, how you move and do action here, you need to adjust the movement: to align to these principles.
When the principle tries to go off, you need to adjust yourself to keep that principle there; if you adjust yourself, that means you are moving to adjust. When you’re adjusting and moving yourself to keep that principle there, to hold there that means that action is right.
It’s not through thinking I should move this or I should move that, no more. It’s because I’m seeing this principle and I’m trying to maintain this principle that my actions have to adjust to this to maintain that. My actions have to support the principle.
When the action supports the principle, the action is correct. Understand?
So, if you can do this, that’s what I call “you cannot think any more”; the thinking process is less now, the habit is less now because you have to back up this principle.
So you can hang onto this principle now. You can hang onto this principle and reverse that: hanging onto that principle tells you what to do.
This means that the principle is a guideline no, it guards you and protects you now. So, in this sense. When you reach this point I say it’s “a point of no return”. It means you are starting to melt off your old habits already. That means the melting pot starts to melt all other things already: so now it’s only principle now.
All these transitions you need attention; the higher you go you need more attention. So slowly all things melt off. The training itself is that you must have the right understanding to approach. If it’s not, you can never, never understand. You can never be there.
Because you cannot think. Once you think and fall back into thinking you’re not with that principle enough. Understand. You guys follow me now?
Alright. That’s why we say when it comes to level six, its so hard. Because its “yes” or “no”, you cannot be “maybe”. You cannot maybe anymore.
Level five is like this: you cant maybe any more. Are you there or not there? If you’re not there, you’re not there. That kind of thing, you see. That’s why level one to level four, you’re still okay.
When it comes to level five, “Yes” or “No”. If you can’t produce the fullness, you can’t pivot, I can’t say you can, because you cannot: because you’re not there. Yes? You see.
When it comes to stepping in level six, with flow, fend, roll, and pivot. When you first start to step: OK every principle breaks off, so how can you say it’s “yes, it’s there”? Its not. No way it can be “yes.” Unless you keep on stepping and keep on moving and you still have that thing (attention/ connection) over there, then yes. Or no. Alright?
This is what I want to tell you guys you must understand: the curriculum, the criteria, because as students go further and higher, as an instructor what to see, what to grade, what to look into, what to train, how mental should be. Alright?
I talked up to here, up to level six.
Level 7 & 8 Sticky Hands
“You cannot control on defense; you can only control on offense.” ~GM Sam Chin
There’s level seven, level eight. Each has its quality.
Level seven, because it’s flow. When it comes to flow same flow: flow means maintaining the point of contact, maintaining that you can keep the point.
Because sticky hands is to keep the point, that you can keep 90 degrees direct to the center for maximum to control and maximum to control is also maximum you can read. Anything that is direct, it’s the maximum information; if it slightly slides off, less information.
So you must be maximum there to get the flow, to change with change, to maintain over there.
There’s a flow. “Flow” with “fend”: because fending from here is not only building one ball of defense here; you must also have a shield, have a shield that the opponent cannot penetrate. Moving with a ball that they cannot penetrate because on here you must understand center-to-center: that means that you can meet his center, that means stop him. Stop him from hitting.
That means the movement turns into more precise now. Because you stop, you cut, you stop your opponent with fullness. If you want to control, you still need to control the point, but it’s more free action now.
Now, control: what is control?
Because fend is defense, so when it comes to control you must understand what is offense.
You cannot control on defense; you can only control on offense.
So, in order to control on offense, you must know where is the half line. On level five and Level six, you are still maintaining the defense of meeting: keep on meeting, meeting, meeting to see the relationship of the line from point to the feet and to all the centers: center to center and to all the centers, that’s still on level five and level six: keep on meeting, meeting. (But under Instructor Level 3 there’s something different; I’m not going to talk about that). But on level seven, under control, you must pass the half line to pass the offensive, so for your opponent to hit you, he must neutralize your offensive in order to get into you, so you must always be one step ahead to control. Alright.
Of that control, of course, you are sticking to the hand and also must understand all the centers themselves: center-to-center.
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.’
For anyone interested, here’s my translation of the 21-Form Chinese name literal translations copied out from a Facebook post, so it’s easier to search for in the future. Again, if there are discrepancies to the video clip (http://youtu.be/KfD035mD3U0) from February 2014 Tucson Retreat of Mr. Teng Ruey Chen, the original namer of the movements in Chinese, describing the poetic names, please consider that as the more official version.
1. Commencing Form – Yin Yang Opening and Closing (Commencing Form) 陰陽開閤 Yin Yang Kai He
2. Left & Right Holding Ball – Auspicious Lion Playing with Ball 祥獅戲球 Zuo You Xi Qiu
3. Whirl & Hook – Waving at the Heaven and Wiping the Earth 揮天抹地 Hui Tian Mo Di
4. Pull & Push – Double Hook and Push Palms 雙鉤推掌 Shuang Gou Tui Zhang
5. Drag & Shoulder – Powerfully Uprooting Mountains and Rivers 力拔山河 Li Ba Shan He
6. Brush Knee & Push – Taming the Dragon and Releasing into the Depths 降龍放淵 Xiang Long Fang Yuan
7. Circle & Press – Brushing Off Dust and (Re)turning Body 抹塵還身 Mo Chen Huan Shen
8. Whirl, Turn & Push (Both Hands) – Dissolving Force for Advancing 化勢為進 Hua Shi Wei Jin
9. Turn, Tap, Fend & Push – Turning Body and Forward Push 轉身前擠 Zhuan Shen Qian Ji
10. Turn, Right Palm Strik – Five Thunders Bombarding the Crown 五雷轟頂 Wu Lei Hong Ding
11. Row Backward & Forward – Left and Right (Dragon) Playing with the Phoenix 左右戲鳳 Zuo You Xi Feng
12. Split Hands on Both Sides – Splitting Heaven and Earth Twice 二分天地 Er Fen Tian Di
13. Brush off, Press Down, Elbow Strike & Push – Brush, Press, Chop, Push (Spinning According to the Force) 掃、按、劈、推 （迴旋順勢） Sao, An, Pi, Tui (Hui Xuan Shun Shi)
14. Turning with Holding Ball (Horizontally) – Holding Ball and Turning Body 抱球轉體 Bao Qiu Zhuan Ti
15. Left & Right Kick – Left Right Seize and Kick 左右擒踢 Zuo You Qin Ti
16. Relax, Whirl, Fend and Push (1+3 times) – Chi Piercing and Unifying into One 氣貫合一 Qi Guan He Yi
17. Turn, Brush & Strike (Right & Left) – Returning Palms Encroaching the Palace 回掌逼宮 Zhang Bi Gong
18. Grab & Kick – Feeling for the Clouds and Kicking the Moon 摸雲踢月 Mo Yun Ti Yue
19. Dash Both Hands Push – Unifying Chi to Attack the Heart 合氣攻心 He Qi Gong Xin
20. Both Hands Lift – Raising the Great Cauldron and Returning to Emptiness 捧鼎歸虛 Peng Ding Gui Xu
21. Closing Form – Gathering Chi and Completing Exercise (Closing Form) 納炁圓功（收勢） Na Qi Yuan Gong (Shou Shi)
More detailed explanations for individual obscure items:
#2 – The “Auspicious Lion” can also be the “Lucky Lion”, in Chinese customs, lions are symbols of good fortune and omens.
#7 – Mr. Chen explained “Returning Body” really means after the dust is brushed off, the body is returned to its former pure self, or to neutral.
#11 – Mr. Chen mentioned the character “dragon” doesn’t appear in the Chinese movement name, but it’s implied because dragon is often paired with a phoenix to symbolize male and female or yang and yin, and in here represent the cooperation/coordination of both hands.
#16 – 气贯，”Chi Piercing” is not only through the body trunk, but to every part of the body and extremities.
#20 – We had discussions about the best word to represent “鼎“, and cauldron is chosen over tripod, but it’s mainly the visualization of lifting something wide and heavy that’s most important.
Here are the English translations for the Butterfly Form movements from the poetic Chinese names. Each line consists of original English name, Chinese poetic name, Chinese “Pin Yin” phonetic pronunciation, and literal translation. The whole point of this translation is to show the literal meaning of the Chinese names, to provide a contrast with the original English movement names.
1. Commencing Form 陰陽開閤 (Yin Yang Kai He) Yin Yang Opening and Closing
2. Double Hook 擺掌雙鈎 (Bai Zhang Shuang Gou) Wave Palms Double Hook
3. Wipe and Push 妙手勁推 (Miao Shou Jing Tui) Skillful Hands Powerful Push
4. Left & Right Pull 左右震拉 (Zuo You Zhen La) Left and Right Shocking Pull
5. Grab & Hook 擒虎困獅 (Qin Hu Kun Shi) Capture the Tiger and Trap the Lion
6. Split 分天裂地 (Fen Tian Lie Di) Parting the Heaven and Splitting the Earth
7. Trap & Strike 撂手擊中 (Lue Shou Ji Zhong) Trap Hand and Strike the Center
8. Tap, Roll, Punch Up & Down 掄拳反打 (Lun Quan Fan Da) Rolling Punch Reverse Strikes
9. Fend 義臂震掌 (Yi Bi Zhen Zhang) The Righteous Arm Shocking Palm
10. Turn, Double Strike Right & Left 旋天蓋掌 (Xuan Tian Gai Zhang) Spinning Heaven Covering Palm
11. Drag & Throw Left & Right 左右威撼 (Zuo You Wei Han) Left and Right Shock & Awe
12. Grinding Hand 放龍回淵 (Fang Long Hui Yuan) Release the Dragon Back to the Abyss
13. Wave & Push 揮掌攻心 (Hui Zhang Gong Xin) Wave Palm & Attack the Heart
14. Turn, Shoulder & Hip Push Left & Right 迴旋推山 (Hui Xuan Tui Shan) Whirl and Rotate to Push Mountains
15. Threading Hands Right & Left 扭轉乾坤 (Liu Zhuan Qian Kun) Reverse the Rotation of Universe
16. Wipe and Push 划掌合推 (Hua Zhang He Tui) Wipe Palms and Combine Push
17. Project Down, Grab & Kick 震下擒踢 (Zhen Xia Qin Ti) Shock Below, Grab and Kick
18. Forward Double Strike 進逼轟掌 (Jin Bi Hong Zhang) Advance and Bombard with Palms
19. Shovel Left and Right 左右開攻 (Zuo You Kai Gong) Mounting Attacks from Left and Right
20. Fend 義臂震掌 (Yi Bi Zhen Zhang) The Righteous Arm Shocking Palm
21. Closing Form 納炁圓功 (Na Qi Yuan Gong) Collect Energy and Complete Exercise
Thanks to Scott Savitt & Lipyeow Lim for correction suggestions and reviews.
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