SECRETS OF ZEN, STANCES AND FOOTWORK
Sifu Zhang Wuji - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Singapore
15th October 2009
Secrets of Zen, Stances and Footwork
Thank you Sifu, for the wonderful course. It was simply fantastic to spend so much time with Sifu, Wei Foong, Chun Nga and meet up with tong men.
I have just settled in at work but with lots of back-log to clear. Still, I think many people, especially other instructors, are dying to know what we learnt at the course. Having been in that unenviable position of wanting to attend a course but not being able to, I found 10 minutes today to write about the details.
We began the course not with some fancy kungfu moves but with the most important and often the most neglected skill - entering Zen. I cannot think of a single course in which this was not the case, even in the highly specialised Qinna course.
Sifu led us into a qigong state of mind and the resulting qi flow, followed by standing meditation. Every Shaolin Wahnam student, even those who do not practice the martial aspects of our art, does (or should do) this before any training, including the ubiquitous Lifting the Sky.
In response to a query, Sifu explained that one's qi flow can and should be maintained throughout the day. Initially, it may seem odd to be in a qigong state all the time, but it should become habitual. In this way, whether we are working at the PC or moving around, our minds are not stressed and muscles not tensed. The qi flow continues also when we are still, and not only when we are in motion - another manifestation of what the masters described as "externally still, inwardly flowing".
We then went over the stances in Shaolinquan and Taijiquan. Even though we have practised the stances for years everyday, there was still much to improve. Sifu shared yet another secret - in addition to the now-famous open secret of "relax, relax and relax". When settling into the stance, you will find that when you are completely relaxed, there is only one optimal position. >p> In any other position, you will fall forward or backwards. I found feeling my way into this position allows the structure support the whole body, and lets the qi hold the body up, while letting the muscles do the least possible work. This way, the qi is allowed to flow when using the muscles at the same time.
Also, Sifu showed us an improvement in his methodology - rather than sink right into the stance, we can adjust our hands and knees position to check our physical and qi alignment first.
We then moved on to footwork, that is, moving in stances. Any participant of the intensive Shaolin or Taijiquan courses will know the principles. Sifu again stressed the importance of systematic progression. Of course, we do not move in the same exaggerated motions as when we first learned how to move in stances. But without working on the big movements and multiple steps in the beginning, the foundation will not be firm.
It is only later that we reduce the steps and the size of the movements. If we take the effort to practice as taught, we will effortlessly manifest the essence at an advanced level or when actually using footwork in combat - be it movement from the waist, starting from the back leg, moving forward in a spiral manner, stepping with caution, or being rooted. Incidentally, Sifu told us later that Sifu distilled these principles into succinct concepts only after teaching Taijiquan.
Sifu also revised the basic aspects of footwork:
- change of direction
- change of leg mode
- clockwise or anti-clockwise turn
- the yin, yang or centre approach
- reference points
Shaolin Wahnam students, dont worry if you have forgotten or have not learnt these points - your instructors will cover them (again). We all go back to basics at some point.
Right, that ends my post for the day. Incidentally, covering all that ground took only half the morning session. You can probably understand why it seemed like 3 days of training crammed in one day.
Persevere in correct practice Website: www.wahnamsg.com
Qigong and Shaolinquan classes in Singapore
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread “ 2009 Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course ” started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 6th October 2009.
Glimpses of the Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course