Sifu Says – The Candle’s Light

Teaching Moments With GM Sam Chin

“Keep on adjusting” means keep adjusting to connect. If the variation is too much, you cannot connect.

Everything is about the center—the center that is strong enough to go out and come back. The center must be strong. Sometimes I talk about using the candle light—these last few talks I have been talking about the example of the candle light.

If the flame is shaky, if the wind is making it keep on flickering, then you cannot see things clearly. If there is no wind or anything to come to disturb the candle light, then the candle light is so steady—then you can see things clearly.

This is about the center—that means if the center is shaky, there is no precise direction. Also, if the candlelight is too dim, you also cannot see the bigger view. You only see a little thing. If the candle light is bright, then you can see a bigger view more clearly. 

To have a center is the same. If the center is stable, it must be holding very stable to give precise direction and precise separation. So, the center, to be strong, is balanced by directions, at the same time. But when you rock to give different directions, it is only through one point that you rotate can you give all directions. That is, only by spinning can you get all directions.

By using the Spinning Force, you get the directions – forward/backward, up/ down —  and if you go up and down by rotating up and down, then, at the same time have forward backward left and right. If you aren’t rotating but only use the rocking to shift, then you only have one at one time.

Simultaneously, at the same time, to have all directions is by rotation

That is why the spinning force with one point of rotation is the only way you can get the balance point, hold the balance point, and hold the point not to move.  That is why the primary movement is from one point of rotation. But when you rock on 3 points (forward backward and neutral) that is to understand the difference: to see from one point—yin, another yang and the neutral). That kind of recognizing is just by using three points, but after recognizing three points, then to get the three together all at one time comes only from rotation.

That is why we talk about the six directions as the main characteristic, then the three dimensions, and then it expands to the to five elements. The 6 directions have a center to give you the directional.

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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Training With Nature | Sifu Says

Training with nature article image

Why Our Training Must Be Direct, Must Be With Nature

Training with nature article image

[This excerpt comes from the viewpoint talk, “Food for Thought: Philosophy, Concepts, Principles” presented by GM Sam Chin 21 March 2020.  The full talk is available in our on-demand video subscription library.]

Overview of The System

Let me give an overview of what the system is. Our system of Martial Art of Awareness (and Zhong Xin Dao approach to the I Liq Chuan curriculum) is based on the philosophy of Zen and Tao and given the Chinese acupuncture meridian points; it talks about the nature of things and about trying to understand what nature itself is. That is the philosophy we want to talk about.

What Is Nature?

First of all, to understand nature, what is the characteristic of nature?

The first is change–how nature itself is always changing. From this philosophy of understanding change, you must see what is happening, you must change with the change. The important thing here is how can you change with the change? You must be able to understand that to “be with” nature is “being with” the moment of change.

In Tao, yin and yang here must have one neutral point or line that both combines the two and separates the two. So the balance of the yin and yang is a complementary balance—it’s not balancing two of the same.

GM Sam Chin quote "You must be there to know"

How To Change

We talk about ‘keep on changing,” yes, but HOW can we do that? We say ‘keep on balancing with the moment’—in order not to change.

Do you understand this concept: “Change with the change to maintain not to change?” This is the moment. The present point. That means you’re continually changing [puts his 2 index fingers together and moves them around in space together]. We are moving, but the point where they meet–here–that doesn’t change. It maintains the same here even as it keeps on changing.

So, maintaining is connecting, being with the moment. So—all training is about connection. To connect, to be together, then can we get the right information, to listen to what is happening.

Sometimes we talk about this as DIRECT KNOWING.

Just to ‘know’ must come from this directness. When we talk about knowing we have two references: know from the past or know from the present. Our training must be direct—knowing the moment. But the hardest part is how can you know the moment when it keeps on changing?

You must be able to change with the change—to flow along with it. But, first of all, how can you flow along with it?

“You must be able to understand that to be with nature is being with the moment of change.”
~GM Sam Chin

Knowing From The Tao: Standing On Top of Change

The flowing along means it always has the point of contact. The point of contact—you must keep on balancing it. That means you keep on balancing it with the flow: Balancing the point that you meet, balancing the pressure that you hold. But in order to do the balancing, you need attention to be there first—that means you need concentration to be there: to meet, to hold over there first—to maintain there.

“Maintain” means you have to change with the change to maintain.

To hold, you have to change with the change to hold. From the training, you always have to stand on top of the very base of change first—to maintain not to change. That means you have to keep on balancing, every moment, every second, constant balancing to be the same. Here is the present moment. And with that point, it turns into a stillness point—the stillness point is a steady point, constantly adjusting.

Stillness As The Reference

With this stillness point as a reference, you’ll see the difference.

But what is the difference? Under the Tao, we can observe difference as just “difference” without labeling it. If you label the things, “ok—the difference is because it’s red or black, etc.”—that means you’ve already gone beyond the difference—that means you’ve gone into the difference of judgment. That means you’re going beyond that difference to reference past experience.

That is not the Tao. The Tao, we say ‘it cannot be named.’ But then how can you know? It’s only knowing through the difference; through observing difference you can see the relationship—it has a change; the cause and effect. Knowing here is one, two, and three: because of separations and unifications—they have differences.

Our training is based on this kind of attention and the skill to connect.

When we talk about “connecting”, the reference has to be using the center point! If you say a ‘center’, what is the characteristic and quality, and function of that one center point?

A center must have up-down, left-right, forward, and backward. It must have all these that go out from the center to the circumference and come back to the center in order for it to be considered as a center point, so one center point is able to manifest this directional energy. To understand this concept of “center” directly, you must understand six directions and three dimensions.

Of course, the first center point must come from the feet, gravity, then the mass, then the alignment that has the six directions and three dimensions.

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Sifu Says – Natural Power

Selections transcribed from “Refinement of Basic Exercises”

presented by GM Sam Chin with Instructor Rich Kelly
21 November 2020; online

One kind of knowing is a direct knowing and another kind of knowing is from our memory–our past knowing.

In the moment of action, of responding, we want to have a direct knowing: a direct knowing of the moment itself. The direct moment itself is based on spacing and timing. When we talk about spacing and timing that means you must be able to move freely, move efficiently, and move with ease and also with power.

The right power means they’ve got to do it with the right angle of movement, but sometimes we just phrase it through the reference of being ‘relaxed.’

So, “relaxed” must have all these conditions, the advantage of movement. Practically you can say that it’s all about power, limits, understanding limits, or understanding power based on the timing, spacing, and angles of movement.

But overall there must be one reference that is the most important part and that is about the center of gravity and the center of mass. This is the main reference for where the power comes from and where the balance comes from.

“In the moment of action, of responding: we want to have a direct knowing; a direct knowing of the moment itself.”
~GM Sam Chin

Gravity Power & “Natural Power”

When we talk about the center of mass and the center of gravity that is called the gravity power: that means how to hold on to the gravity power. There are certain kinds of power: gravity power is the first one, but there is also the point of contact power.

The point of contact power we sometimes call it the “natural power “and natural power means that on point of contact it has “the circle with center” of 90 degrees. Now, the center of mass and the center of gravity is also 90 degrees–that is the center of gravity power.

That 90 degree doesn’t change; it always must be maintained in order to be with the center of gravity. The natural power and point of contact, do change – from different angles–as long as the point of contact is 90 degrees.

Hold on to the point with that 90 degrees in order to connect; this is the first main point. To review: all movements must be based on these two things: One is the center of gravity power and one is natural power on point of contact that is 90 degrees.

Do you understand what I’m saying here?

You see, now, when we have these angles, or any slight change of angle, as long as it’s 90 degrees to the point of contact, that is the natural power of 90 degrees. Later on, that mass has a relationship with the center of gravity.

Balancing To Connect

In order to have that center of gravity, that one line, and also the natural power in different angles, there is a lot of balancing to connect because there is a lot of separation and unification.

So, through our joints, from our ankle, knee, the hip, the spine, the shoulder, elbow, and the wrist–all these joints. Here, itself, is how we need to balance in order to meet the 90 degrees. That is one thing.

Another thing of movement — that movement of angles– sometimes we call it Shun Li Bei Li (順力背力), that is, “accordingly”, it’s natural. [Shun Li refers to going along the (path/flow of the natural) power; Be Li – going against the (path/flow of that) power.]

But there are also forces that are against–when you use more force to do one little thing, that is called ‘against.’ Shun Li means that you use a minimum force and have the things done–that is called appropriate force. That kind of knowledge is based on understanding the body structure, how your ligaments, tendons, and muscles work: recognizing how it works so that you create power.

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Listening To The Point – Part 4

References, Rotation, and Relationship of Theory to Training

GM Sam F.S. Chin Viewpoint Talks 
Arizona/ USA
May 2019

What I teach may be hard to understand for those not completely familiar with the Martial Arts of Awareness curriculum. No doubt yesterday I taught the ‘real thing’: it’s the real thing because that’s what you’re looking for—knowing from direct. Direct is what you can ‘see’ and ‘know’ when you are connected to see in that way, in the present moment. It’s not about falling back to past experiences or judging from the past.

When you’re in Neutral Offense, you can strike any time. When we train, you are on the Neutral Defense or on the Neutral Offense: if you’re already on the offensive side of the line, you can whack the opponent. When it comes to control, you cannot control from on DEFENSE; defense is 50/50. Offense is because I understand I’ve already crossed the half line. Offense means I can get you, but you can’t get me. If you don’t have neutral offense, the opponent can get you—when you cross, he can cross, too. Because if you hold on to the neutral to do the close close or open open, then he cannot get you.

As I’ve said before, holding the space—the same time and the same space—means only 1 can occupy. If I sit here, you can’t sit here. So if I get the space, you cannot, unless it’s a different space, then it’ll be under a different time. So, you can say that in the beginning of Flow, you try to stay on neutral, but you can also try, at first, to learn with Neutral Defense: then you know the limits.

Flow has the Idea of Doing Things within Limits

If you only have neutral, it’s sometimes hard to detect the limits. But with Neutral Defense—there’s 2 points there, so it’s able to give you a better sense of whether you’re still within the limits or not. Flow has the idea of you doing things within the limits also. If you go out of the limits that means you’re following. Flow will turn into following, you see? So when it comes to CONTROL, we must be in Neutral OFFENSE; you can’t control in Neutral DEFENSE: you can only PREVENT in Neutral Defense. For control, you must be one step ahead. That means, if the opponent wants to come into you, he needs to neutralize your defense first, so that’s one step. So, with Offense, that means you have to be able to cross the half line, but I don’t strike you—I still maintain Neutral Offense.  At Level 7, then, on control, there will be a moment when Upper Hand can strike. Then,[ to assess your level of awareness and skill], that means I go in to strike, but on your part, you want to show you can maintain control over there. So, the training of the procedure must be very clear. You can’t control on defense. That’s why neutral Offense and neutral Defense must be very clear: that means the half line. There’s a 3-dimensional half line.

Primordial Energy, the Beginning of Energy, the Balance Energy

So, yesterday, we approached the topic first from One point: the One-point Approach means one point of movement and that one point is a rotation… you can say that is also spiral energy. You have to hold onto one point; and if you understand one point, and how that one point has 6 directions, 3 dimensions, then you can understand the beginning of energy, the balanced energy. That means it must come from the balance point and balance must come from the center. We train to understand that a center has conditions to be a center, as the neutral point.

The Path of Wisdom – Part 6

Discerning Power Takes Practice To Develop

In the beginning, for students sometimes it’s very hard because at first they can’t get any information there. They don’t know what…Alright. Don’t give up. If you give up from here that means you fall back to your experience of what you like or don’t like. You need to put that aside. To go from this end. This end is from knowing the moment. You have to have enough attention to hold until it turns clear. See, when you hold your attention can be there enough to let things speak for themselves—that means things start to get clear. The clear comes from the center. The center is a cross. The cross is a junction that separates things. That means to see the difference. If you see the difference that means seeing the separation: the outlines, the lines [points to all the body lines, etc.] the features are a separation, yes? How do the features come? Because they have different controls—there is a separation. A curve, why do you call it a curve—because there’s a separation and a curve. How you see it, then you know the difference from here.

But that needs concentration. How high your concentration is and how well can you keep your concentration to connect one center with another center—how many centers can you connect? How many centers can you stretch? The more centers you can stretch the more past, present future inside this one present. Understand? I see the center here—this past, present, future is one present. How well can you directly connect? The further I connect, I see more. Like I said before when just you drive a car and only see the car in front of you and emergency light comes on, if they hit the brake, you have a sudden reaction. But if you see ahead another 3 or 4 cars ahead of you, if that car makes a brake, you’ll already be ready here because you see more centers. So you are prepared, you can prepare, you can be ready—then there’s no more sudden. So close so sudden. If I can see longer—then I’m waiting for you to come. This is how your attention stretches and spreads. This is what we call discerning power. In Zen, this is what you call attention, awareness, being mindful. This is what we keep on looking at.

Back to training this concept physically:
Go up and down feeling the joints, stretching the joints, feeling from point-to-point: Feet pressure to crown pressure–two ends of the pressure—should be the same in order to be connected. Or else they can’t be connected. This is the philosophy and concepts that connect the training approach to the exercises.

Ex: Horizontal Plane – For more senior students, it’s not only the horizontal quality. Horizontal quality has what? [Side-to-side Forward backward] Side-to-side, yes, but it holds the horizontal. You hold the plane. The action is not only this way…actually, you hold the plane—that means try to see. The movement is this but the energy is up and down. Because it’s the grinding energy: that means I’m holding this horizontal plane. This holding of the horizontal press. If I press, he can go down; if I don’t hold, you can come in.

“The more centers you can stretch the more past, present future inside this one present.”
~GM Sam Chin

Understanding Three Dimensions & Six Direction Energy

There’s a plane you need to hold. This is the energy of holding. The training of the grinding/wiping is left right forward backward but you wipe this plane. There’s a frontal plane and a sagittal plane. All planes have grinding. The misunderstanding is used by other southern martial arts, like Praying Mantis. Other martial arts talk about grinding energy. But how can you do it? Grinding energy means it’s not press to grind. You must have 2 energies to grind and it must be equal energy. You must have enough energy to go down and to go forward—to hold. But then to be right there must be 3 energies: forward backward up and down energy (already has left right). All direction energy. If you press too hard you can’t grind; if too light, you can’t grind. For the beginning student it’s okay just to get the movement; but we train to get structure, then relaxation (to see the yin yang), then the energy. Point of Contact—then, with this directional energy, on this point of contact you call this a balance point: constant changing, constant maintaining, that’s the balance point. (minimum 2 direction energy: down and up).
That means the balance point doesn’t change; you’re using 2-direction or 4-direction energy to maintain NOT to change. At least remember the concepts and the theory first! Remember the theory of HOW to get into this quality, right. You need to have this theory to understand what to look for in order to get the right energy. Because as you go higher, you need to put in the qualities.

Two energies at the same time (down and up) is from rotation. Keep on rotating: rotation, rotation! That’s why I call it skimming—but skimming on the point. Try to rotate as centered as possible on the point. The more centered on the point, then the splitting of the directional energy will be more clear! See, this rotation, if you push forward too much, you lose the direction. You hold and pivot/rotate on the point. With that energy first, then directional movement comes from there. Understand what I said? See now: That’s why we say circle-with-a center first: one that goes down here to rotation, equally—then you can move. 90 has 2 first. 90 is the quality. A lot of people can’t understand the skim—and go just forward or just backward—it’s not the right action and it’s not really precise. See, it needs to be 90° here! That means equal—rotating equally here, I can have one energy forward and one back, see? Like layers: first 90°, then 2 equal. Another layer, I’m going left and right, but to do that I’m doing this down up 90 first: center with yin, center with yang. That’s why I say you never leave the center! 


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The Path of Wisdom – Part 5

GM Sam Chin Sifu Says

How To Pay Attention To The Center Reference To Use It

Q: When you’re talking about aligning the centers, if you were to keep them perfectly centered (center to center) that would be very good?

A: Yes

Q:Now, what you’re saying is each center there’s a certain variance where you’re still on the center but you’re to the right side, say, but slightly off, and if I understand what you’re saying, the next center you need to balance with the previous center but also with the yin and yang…

Yes, but at first, just think of one center: one center and then the 2nd center. The more centers you can hold give you more of a difference to see: more centers then you can adjust.

For instance, like when people do surveying—like looking from one center to see other centers—or they do the measuring, then you know where it goes. But the thing is that maintaining the centers isn’t just ‘one’—it’s because there are different components to maintaining, to maintain it.

So because that’s why we talk about Tai Chi—tai chi is balance. Tai chi, when action comes, it turns into yin and yang so it starts to pivot. When it starts to pivot, you go to yin or yang, right? So that’s where the open close, full and empty come in. But when you start to pivot on movement, you never leave the center. That’s why we talk about ‘from center to yin’ or ‘from center to yang.’ Center with left, center with right, center with up, center with down. All the centers. You can not leave the centers, because center is the reference for you to know.

Center is the cross, it’s the junction point, it’s the fullness point for you to know. For you as a reference to change, to change to know. Once you leave the center, you have no more reference. So your reference won’t be precise and you’ll fall back into experience. Using your experience means you are judging the moment; you aren’t really acting “with” the moment. So this is how you have to pay attention and use it.

That’s why in the first place, it’s the feet with the gravity, then it’s alignment—holding this alignment. Then, also, to enhance the centers, the action of the centers is only through rotation, so you can do open and close, through rotation to hold. Because holding the centers is only clockwise and counter-clockwise, not to get away from the centers. Holding on the centers, then there’s no other movement you can do: only forward backward, up down, left right.

Only that movement. If you try to do any other movement from here that means you are wrong. That means you are not connecting. Then, if you lose the connections, then you are not direct. This is some of the diagnostic list also that you should be able to use. So your training is only here. Don’t do any other thing! If your attention goes to any other thing, that means you are not basing it on the reference. So that means your mind will tell you to do something else and that means you’re wrong already. So, how well can you hold? Now, all the actions, first, are 1, 2, 3. One thing. First in the center, and then the Yin and Yang. Everything starts from here.

“We train to be direct. Direct needs to connect.”
~GM Sam Chin

Let’s go back exploring this through training.

Stand here and feel the joints. Stretch the joint. The ankle, the knee, the hip—everything: stretch it out. Stretch the joint: release. Feel the joint and how it stretches. To feel the bone is from stretching the joint first. So, if you can’t feel the joint, it’s very hard to do action.

Feel the fingers, wrist, the elbow, shoulder, the spine, the hip, everything. Start to raise from feet to the fingertip: stretch it out, and release. Keep on stretching and feeling: how well can you stretch and hold? Then, from the joint you have movement. Only do the joint first. Then you can do part-by-part. Stretch until you feel that the joint has really stretched. Then you’ll feel the ligaments and tendons, then the muscles, up to the skin. From here, absorb the Yin muscles on the front with the joint. Stretch the joint and muscles from the back (ming-men) and you have the project. You must have 3 things here: now with this quality—center of feet, yin and yang quality, you can proceed.

From here you have to FEEL there’s a macro-cosmic cycle: absorb here and project here. First you separate to recognize and feel each. Then, later, you absorb here but still feel the yang expand: it’s a complementary cycle here. The yin grab (initiated with the yin) it’s like this [shows difference]. The yang grab, initiated by yang (project), it’s this. Understand here? It’s a matter of your attention—and how you can see it.

The Feel of Rotation

What is the feel of rotation? Don’t think about words. Feel the sensation of rotation. What is the characteristic, what are the qualities in order to rotate? You want to look into here. If you look into here only then will you know how to approach the training. What conditions are needed for you to rotate? Everything we talk about conditions: conditions must be there in order for things to happen.

Rotate the centers. You must be balanced in order to be balanced in order to rotate. If not balanced, you can’t rotate. Venerable Jiru was talking [at MABA] about the spinning top (child’s toy).

When we play with it, the triangle cone must be balanced to spin—equal on all sides (equal on four-direction sides) in order to do the spinning. If not equal, you cannot spin. Yes? That means you need equal direction energy to hold the center to spin. So when you do a spiral, it has that quality. Consider: why is it that you can’t maintain the spin? Or, if you spin, is it balanced?

All this is the training process to look into. Then the training is only about keep on adjusting, keep on maintaining and keep on balancing. No other thing than here, understand. If the mind tries to say do another thing, you’re already wrong. Why would you do another thing? Your job is only to balance. From balance is action itself. That action is only the correct action. The correct action is only from balance and harmony. If you do more from here, you are doing wrong things already and you are already wasting your energy on things that aren’t necessary.

Because we talk about maintaining and doing it correctly, things manifest. Then how well can you start to connect and how wide can you stretch? That’s only the thing. I just want you guys paying in mind—that is all.

If you think you want something, no—that’s wanting.

You must hold this reference very strongly—that out from here you must be able to go return back. This is the core principles, all the core concepts. That’s why I say in my Path, I say there’s nothing to learn, because slowly as you train you’ll see there’s no extra here. Because to be balanced, to see the thing as it is, it’s just there: to maintain. It’s nothing to create. When you want to say ‘create’ that means examine how do you create—from where? Your creation comes from where? Then if it comes from center it’s not ‘creation’—it’s already there. What is there for you to create? Because it’s already there already.

If you come from the right perspective, there’s nothing new—it’s there. But when you hold over there, you do there, you see there, you know from there, it’s the most balanced—that’s what you call right. Practically, there’s no ‘right or wrong’; then you can say ‘appropriate.’ Appropriate movement, appropriate actions. Because it’s direct from here that nature speaks itself here. Here is where we talk about Wisdom. If you fall back to your past experience that’s accumulations—then you call it ‘knowledge.’ I won’t say knowledge is bad—knowledge is very powerful, as long as you know it’s ‘knowledge’, it’s accumulations and when you use it on other things it’s only ‘judging.’

You judge on it and use it to see if other things fit or not. But we are training not from that perspective. We train to be direct. Direct needs to connect.

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The Path of Wisdom – Part 4

Listen To Yourself First To Increase The Power of Concentration

Q: I have a question about how do we use the sound—certainly to try not to hear the words…
Sifu: You just listen: just pay attention to your self. If I put my attention on my sense, I listen. But at the same time I do listen to other sounds—someone right now is chopping in kitchen or we hear background noise. We are the receiver. But I believe that what we train, as Sifu Jiru trained us just now, we try not to get that involved. We don’t try to listen to that—we try to focus more—to get that Samadhi to train what is happening there, to see if we can hold there or not, and draw back to there.

Actually there’s nothing wrong with listening, we just want to increase the power of concentration more first. We want to increase here first so that under different conditions is there any thought coming or not to disturb us now? This is why part comes to “purification”, but normally martial arts people don’t like to listen to purification.

“Why do you want to purify? I’m a martial man—why do I want to be purify.”

Actually, it’s to clean the lens—to let the mind not to be disturbed: then you are there—concentration is there.

Here is what we train. Sifu Jiru talks about willpower—to not let thoughts pull you away. If your attention is not strong—poof, pulled away already. Pulled away by a lot of things—hunger, greed, what we don’t know (ignorance). These are the “Five Hindrances”, along with sleepiness and restlessness. Restless is like your mind running.

Q: something our students struggle with and I struggle with too, is balancing trying to ‘do’ something, trying to ‘do’ a move, and also doing it with sensitivity.

From Obvious To Refined/Subtle

Sifu: Sensitivity is there. If you train to be balanced, you must have sensitivity. If the sensitivity isn’t there, how do you know you are balancing? Yes? It’s just a matter of you are balancing, you are adjusting—your attention is there to meet. If my attention can’t arrive there, I can’t meet there. Sometimes because if we train too light, too loose—it’s hard to draw the mind there, so sometimes we do it a bit heavier. More obvious. That’s why the training has external, they call it ming jin 明勁,—that means it’s external and more obvious, before you can train very subtle.

Actually, that’s why I call you students to train big first. If you can’t do it big to draw a perfect circle, I call you to do it big, medium, small. From heavy, obvious, subtle. Obvious to help to draw attention there; or else attention is very hard.

Q: For me, the biggest barrier in partner training is performance anxiety. If the person I’m working with is ‘oh, you’re doing it wrong.’ I feel “oh, I’m no good.” How to change this?

Sifu: Yes, that can be very tough.

Sometime you can tell your partner and say, ‘let’s just follow the instruction carefully.’ Just do what we’re instructed to do—don’t do more than that, can we do that or not?” Following instructions is not easy. We try to put into how an instruction should be. Sometimes we say, “Do what you’re being told; don’t try to teach your partner now. You are training yourself now. You are learning both partners as an opportunity to do it: you aren’t doing on him or him on you: you are working on yourself. “ Can you follow instructions? If you can’t follow instructions, why is that?

Then what is missing that you can’t follow instructions?

Is it because you have your own view? Once you have your own view you’re thinking ‘Oh, I like this or I don’t like that.’ The problem is it’s so hard to see because it’s your own viewpoint. No one is blocking you—it’s because your view blocks you. Your view is yourself—all your ideas: how can it be wrong? So the hardest part is to change your view.

If you don’t listen carefully to instructions, your instructors have no chance to bring you out of your viewpoint. Everything you think is inside your view. I like to give the example of the student in Poland who was wearing a shirt that said ‘think outside of the box.’ And I said, Is that right? All the students said ‘yes.’ I said, ‘do you know what is thinking? Thinking is the box!” [laughter]

Be careful when you listen to some lectures; you tell me to do this and that, but you can’t get out of the box. So, no thinking. I have a quote: if you know, you don’t think; if you think, it means you don’t know. You’re stuck in the box.

“You can never think outside the box.  Thinking IS the box!”
~GM Sam Chin

Holding The Touch Point of Contact To Connect

A lot of time instruction must be carefully designed to pinpoint to the path.

So this morning, what Master Jiru talked about connects to this. That’s why yesterday we talked about touch point of contact. Connect must have a balance. The balanced connect that means the connect has the idea of holding—the holding of the point—any idea of connect means the idea of holding to that thing.

If you don’t have the ability of holding there, you can’t connect. To hold there that means you must have a balance point to hold: too much you go through, too little you can’t hold slip off. This little simple thing here is the training. If you can’t initiate this right, the point of contact is wrong already.

Now you guys touch you know: too much pressure, too little—what is that? That’s the balance point in order to get it right. Then that balance point can you connect all the way down to his feet. If only at the touch here (at finger/wrist forearm)—that’s not enough. You must be able to connect to his body, to his hip, all the way down to his feet. Can you connect every joint that he moves or not? Then you can separate left back, front back everything so you can move—you can move your partner.

Q: Like a dancer?

Sifu: Yes, if I trained I could be a very good dancer [laughter]. I can be a teacher to teach but I can’t dance. Yes, just be a puppet master.

If you can do this, then you are the puppet master—connecting. The information that we talk about is like a spider web: it connects. And all the connections have crosses and junctions. All the connect comes down to the neutral center: where the spider sits.

So every junction, every spider web has tension line, you see. The tension line is the balance line. Later on, on every line, the connection is a tension line (like a musician plays a guitar string)—it attunes and you receive information. Also, like a kite—like a puppet master: you play the string here—too tight, too slack, you can’t move.

You must know how to move so that the tension light must be balanced. That’s why in every action you try to get the tension line first. On the grab here—there’s a pull. When I pull, I stretch the line—I get the slack away. If it’s too lose, then draw the slack and let the line come. If the opponent tries to relax to be soft, you can just whip (do the wave—like a towel). You try to maintain the line so that information is direct. This is all on the CONNECTING TOUCH.

This is all the principles that apply to EVERY MOVE! On here, then you look for what is open, what is close; what is absorb what is project—the unification of the self. The first thing we talk about is gravity—because we live in this world with gravity, and this body with a mass. Every object has a mass. The mass and the gravity—its relationship—that forms the axis line: that forms the balance line. The balance line means it’s 90 to the ground. This means it’s a center point to direct. 90 is the center. When you explain things, we say ‘what makes it 90’? What makes it a center?

Master Class on Sun. morning –August 4, 2019 (continuing the discussion)

Reference: Seeing the difference from the center

From the first cross you know the difference. From the second cross you know more because of the 2 crosses and the difference, that you match. And all the knowing and the changing must come from here, because the cross gives you the difference. I want you to see the difference from there. Difference from the center—from the cross: the difference of like pressure, open close (because left right have different pressure of open close have different pressure of open close).

Because when cross at the center, we start to pivot because there’s open-close and pressure. Or else the equal will be flat. Equal there’s no pivoting. Understand. So that kind of feeling is the direct feeling. If you can’t feel from there, as I’ve said before, it means your attention isn’t strong enough to hold. Then you will fall back to your memory, to your past experience. Then you aren’t in the moment any more. You’re using the past to know the present. That is what we don’t want to use. We want to have direct.

The Path of Wisdom – Part 3

How The Point of Contact Is Established

How to pay attention to your senses and maintain?

Our senses are our receiver. That’s why I keep on saying “you feel yourself being touched”; you don’t feel someone touching you.” You receive and feel through touch. On the Point of Contact, you connect.

How do you connect?

Practically speaking, everything comes down to the point of contact. So that’s why first you have to unify your self. Unify yourself means there is separation—there’s more than 1 thing: a minimum 2 things. One cannot unify—you need 2. Same thing: one cannot separate—you need two.

So how can this unify? How can this have a separation and unification? This is the Balance Point. Separation and unification is also a balance point. Work on these two things together—to have this complementary—because this cannot violate that and that cannot violate this. You have to maintain that yin is yin and yang is yang. The front is front and the back is the back. How can my back go to the front and the front go to the back?

Pay attention to each characteristic of the function—this is yin muscle and this is a yang muscle. If I draw the yin—I don’t draw yin to the yang to violate. If you say there’s a separation clearly, then, if I draw the yin here then the yang has to follows.

[Sifu demonstrates the difference between a yin grab and a yang grab.]

If the yang follows, yang is only supporting. If I start with the yang first, if the yang initiates, I stretch with the yang first, then the yin follows. Then the same thing, if I draw first, then the yang follows. There’s no beginning or ending any more. It’s a matter of function: of what leads what, what supports what. It’s a complete cycle.

A complete cycle must have a separation. Without a separation, things will be confused. Without the center of bone supporting, how will the yin yang muscles work? It won’t work. Yes? Because everything also works with pressure. It comes down to different pressure: Day and night have different pressure, hot and cold have different pressure. That’s where the cycle is. Within our body the same. Within our body the yin muscle pressure is condensing; the yang muscle pressure is expanding. So you help the cycle of flow. Sometimes because of the training, body fitness, they train the yin muscle up to here (mid-chest) but it’s too tense. They look fit but practically they don’t have much power.

Q: How would someone know that?

Sifu: Many don’t know. That’s why the theoretical information we provide is important. A lot of people don’t have the chance to even get the right information. Sometimes listening to the right information.

Q: “Aren’t there people practicing ILC also doing it wrong?”

Sifu: Only a small part. More people like ‘body beautiful’/body building better (laughs)

Comment: When something you know is interfering, you have to let go of that view.

Sifu: Why is it that many bodybuilders have heart problems. Their muscles aren’t functioning the way nature should be. They build up this muscle then yang pressure and yin pressure become quite the same—there’s not much difference. The heart has to work harder to pump the flow. If he can do his relaxing and expanding, then the pressure is different, like day and night. Like high tide and low tide—that kind of function: because the pressure is different, it helps the cycle. That’s why we use the dan tien 丹田
and ming-men 命門 in the cycle. It helps the function.

“When things become clearer, you can see more.”
~GM Sam Chin

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Build Up Discipline To Direct Our Attention

If we can’t flow, it’s because our attention is not there. It’s not strong enough to hold, to be there. You can’t even last 1 second—the mind is already somewhere else. Some thought already pulls you off.

Here’s where our training of meditation comes in. We try to look into our mind to clear the thought, to build up this discipline so we can direct our attention. We can put our attention where we choose. When you can hold over there, you start to became calm, and then you become still. Still means things start to become clear because you can see things clearer.

When things become clearer, you can see more. Your attention can hold more. If it’s not clear yet, attention is very hard to hold. That’s why the meditation, people will use different methods: breathing, counting, if they can’t just watch the breath (if they can’t, they add in counting—1, 2, 3, 4, 5—up to 10 or however many they want to count).

It’s just another method of trying to draw the mind to there first. We say that the mind—the monkey mind—it runs around, so it needs a job to do. As the monks say, ‘give a job for him to do: call him to come and give him something to work on: give him an order. If you don’t give him something to do, he plays around.

A job—like counting or doing something to hold the mind there. So sometimes some people, in Pure Land, will use mantra—will use sound even to listen, to pay attention, to give more things to hold. Some use beads. Some use their hand just to rub. Some circle their thumbs. All these kinds of things—slowly, slowly then you try to drop that off so you can feel the breath more…drop, drop, drop, until it becomes very refined.

Q: “If we just focus on the breath should we also try to make our senses less, like Jiru described?”

Sifu: No, because you are training concentration now. You try to separate things now.

If you can separate that means you can unify. This separation with the attention on separation is so you can unify. They need to focus so still until they separate the feeling of the body—they don’t feel the body anymore, the senses gone: only that one point. They can see: that is where the concentration is—they can see the concentration there—so they know ‘okay, we have been attaining something.’

Sometimes you start to observe, yes, this is what sometimes they say is concentration and Vipassana.

We do Vipassana more. Observing is Vipassana; you do need attention for Vipassana. Right? The problem is—how deep you don’t know. You feel that you can maintain. Especially when we do martial arts; we are very good at observing also. I’ve been training for so many years, we know that we can observe. So, why is it that we cannot go in-depth?

The Path of Wisdom Part 2

So, with all this above, then how are we going to get this information? 

  • The truth is changing. If we believe that, according to philosophy, then that means that to be together, with this, then we need to go along at the same speed.
  • That means we need to change with change together, in order to be together (‘with’), or you’ll be behind or go too fast.
  • To change to be together that means on this point you must be equal: always have the balance to be equal.
  • If there’s no balance point you can’t be together. So, the balance point here has the quality of no resisting and no backing off, then you can be together. Here’s how we come up with the balance point—otherwise you can’t be together.
  • If you can’t have the quality of ‘together,’ then you can’t connect.
  • If you can’t connect, then you’re not ‘there.’ You fall off, or you project too far. So how can you do this connecting first?

That’s why many people who don’t have the philosophy, or they just train but they don’t know this part, then they don’t know how to approach. That’s why yesterday when we talked about the connect and balance, that is on point of contact. So, every moment is from point of contact—where and how you get information and you act back on that point. If you can’t connect you can’t join, you cannot be with–so then you are not there. If not there, how are you going to get information? That means you can’t flow, you can’t maintain present. So you will fall back, drop back. You drop back and you have no other choice any more—you go back to your past experience, ‘Oh I feel this’, or go back to knowledge: what you have read, studied, gone through your life—what you have read, what you have experienced. All from accumulation. That’s why we call that ‘knowledge.’ But that’s the past experience. So, you want to know this moment, but you can’t. you’re judging form past experience

“Before everything, you are constantly adjusting, constantly balancing to maintain.”
~GM Sam Chin

But if you can FLOW and be together, then you’re not judging: and the conditions REVEAL—because you are together. The conditions show you. This is part of ‘the Nature Speaks Itself.’ Every moment, every second what you come into contact with the nature is speaking, displaying, is showing, but we can’t see. Often we don’t have that kind of concentration: to hang on to flow along until we get so stable. That’s why we call it STILLNESS: it’s so stable, then the clarity comes.

So stable is that maintaining, so stable that with any change, we know. Change is action. Not to change—to maintain—that’s balance. To keep on balancing means keep on changing. That’s how you know from there. Because your ‘changing to balance’ is the action. Is it too much, too little?—you just need enough, just right enough to balance: too much or too little you can’t balance. That’s why we ask ‘what’s too much, too little—what reference do we base it on?’ We base it on that balance: to maintain balance all the time. If it’s too much, you go off and can’t maintain—too little also. Just RIGHT to be balanced. And that balancing keeps on changing. Under the main base the characteristic of nature is change. That’s why I keep on reminding students telling you guys to maintain: change: because maintain is change; you need to change to maintaining. Stable—many can’t be ‘stable.’ You must ‘change with the change’ to be stable because the nature’s characteristic is change. Here is where the tricky part is.

Before everything, you are constantly adjusting, constantly balancing to maintain, then from here you get able to connect. Able to connect means you get the right information—then the right understanding. Then with right understanding you can act with right [appropriate] action. Then you do it an act with what is most appropriate. Not form you thinking about but about what condition displays—this is what is called doing the right understanding, the right action. But normally we cannot. Sometimes we fall off. That’s why we have to follow the rules, the precepts: follow this, follow that.

Q: if you have an opponent/partner…. we want to stay neutral…is that the point?

Sifu: Yes, from staying neutral you know. You ‘know’ from neutral. Not only attack—everything you come in contact with. I’m taking this cup: there’s a balance there: too much or not enough I can’t pick it up. Too much, maybe water spills out. Yes? How I hold it, there’s also a balance. I don’t want to use too much force to hold: too little I can’t pick it up. ANYTHING you touch there’s something there. To get the right information, to get the right information. We say there’s a circle with center. You want to touch with 90 degrees. Is it round? is it square? You touch—you know it’s round. Or you know a different angle—you KNOW. You are there to balance it, with that angle you know things, you see. That’s the neutral approach of direct.

There’s a story I was talking about with this 90° touching, with Sonjue, she’s an acupuncturist, and she talks about how at the beginning of training, she had some difficulty reading the pulse, but after understanding the 90° she can listen more clearly—because 90° to the center is the most direct. You understand?

Anything that goes 90° to the center is the most direct information you can get. So, everything you approach, when you touch, IS DIRECT. Then from 90° there you can move to 45 or go to 90° to move 20° or to however many degrees you want, but you must HOLD the 90° first to move.

So, now we find out that our attention is not ‘pure’ you can say: not stable. And why not? Because we have accumulation of too many other things that keep on opening up to disturb us. But for me, because I train martial arts, I can make it so simple in a way that there’s nothing to train. Because I don’t want you to think you’re ‘creating’ something—because it’s already there. What’s there to train? You only try to train to GET YOUR ATTENTION there, clear. If your attention isn’t clear it’s because there’s rubbish blocking that’s all. Only if you have nothing to disturb you then you can stay there and get clear.

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Q: But if attention is there, you still have to know what to DO about it…

Yes! That’s why we give you instructions to hold over there. Why can’t you hold? Rubbish comes, thought comes. So, you look at it and let it drop off. That’s why we talk about ‘letting go’—and come back. You must have a reference to come back to reflect on here, or else you won’t know. You have a reference to reflects what comes over there but that moment you are also training the present moment—because you are trying to see what’s happening at that moment that draws you off: that draws you off, come back. If you can’t see what’s happening—it draws and you’re gone.

Q: What about the path of self-unification? Is it important to touch the point to be aware, but then we ourselves is not balanced, or if I pay attention to point but I myself am not balance?

Sifu: Then you yourself are not balanced. That’s why you must have self-unification first. Unify yourself first. This is simply to say there’s a point of contact where you stand, you sit… every point of contact starts with you. Point of Contact needs 3 things: object, subject and conscious. If conscious or anything isn’t there, there’s no contact. If eyes don’t have Subject, Object and Consciousness, the eyes won’t see. The point of contact isn’t’ there. The touch you won’t feel if conscious not there. If you’re not conscious you won’t even feel that your shirt is touching you. Your shirt is always touching you but something you don’t feel—why not?