Can you be as a newborn babe?

載營魄,
抱一,能無離乎,
專氣致柔,
能嬰兒。
滌除玄覽,
能無疵。
愛民治國,
能無為。
天門開闔,
能為雌。
明白四達,
能無知。
生之、畜之。
生而不有,
為而不恃,
長而不宰,
是謂玄德。
Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,
Can you avoid separation?
Attending fully and becoming supple,
Can you be as a newborn babe?
Washing and cleansing the primal vision,
Can you be without stain?
Loving all men and ruling the country,
Can you be without cleverness?
Opening and closing the gates of heaven,
Can you play the role of woman?
Understanding and being open to all things,
Are you able to do nothing?
Giving birth and nourishing,
Bearing yet not possessing,
Working yet not taking credit,
Leading yet not dominating,
This is the Primal Virtue.

Referece: Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching X (Trans. Feng & English)

The All-Round Standing Pole Exercise

Stand with feet apart at shoulder width, toes point forward or slightly outward. Bend the knees and sit down slightly, weight centered firmly on the soles of the feet. Keep the head and spine erect from tip to tail, chest empty (i.e. relaxed and slightly concave, never stuck out) and stomach full and relaxed, not pulled in. Gaze straight ahead, eyelids hanging relaxed over the eyes. Rest the tip of the tongue on the upper palate behind the front teeth, let the lips and the teeth hang slightly open. Arms hang by the sides. The body should feel perfectly poised, relaxed but not slack, breathing completely natural and no joint locked, as if the body is suspended in air, hanging from the top of the head by a string.

This is the basic standing posture. Stand like this for a few moments relaxing the whole body and collecting one’s thoughts before assuming the following posture.

Raise the arms to shoulder level, keeping them curved as if holding a ball in each arm. Keep the fingers apart slightly curved, palms pointing in and slightly down. Hands are at shoulder distance apart, and about three fists distance from the chest. Elbows should be slightly below the level of the wrists. Shoulders must be relaxed, not hunched, with a slight sense of outward stretching, so the chest feels open, neither sticking out nor constricted. Curved arms should also have a slight sense of inward force, as if not letting a ball drop, though no physically manifest in tension.

The posture is most suitable for those without any particular illness to strengthen the constitution, prevent illness and promote health into old age.

Reference:
Traditional Chinese Therapeutic Exercises: Standing Pole J.P.C. Moffett, Wang Xuanjie
Foreign Languages Press May 1994
ISBN: 7119006967

Pages: 49-52

(Red. Caveat: If the standing pole exercises are not done naturally with composure, correct posture and body alignment, and with the necessary lightness and full relaxation of all parts of the body without collapsing, there is a potential health risk. It is recommendable to consult an experienced Zhan Zhuang teacher. The Way of Energy by Master Lam Kuen Chun is an excellent beginners tutorial.)

Links:
Zhan Zhuang  Michael P. Garofalo’ extensive bibliography and reference

Chen Wei-Ming on Agility

If the body is clumsy, then in advancing or retreating it cannot be free; therefore it most be agile. Once you raise your arm, you cannot appear clumsy. The moment the force of the opponent touches my skin and hair, my mind is already penetrating his bones. When holding up the arms, the chi (breath) is threaded together continuously. When the left side is heavy, it empties, and the right side is already countering. The chi is like a wheel, and the whole body must naturally coordinate. If there is any uncoordinated place, the body becomes disordered and weak. The defect is to be found in the waist and legs. First the mind is used to order the body. Follow the opponent and not your self (your own inclination). Later your body can follow your mind, and you can control your self and still follow the opponent. When you can follow your opponent, then your hands can distinguish and weigh accurately the amount of his force, and measure the distance of his approach with no mistake. Advancing and retreating, everywhere (the coordination) is perfect. After studying for a long time, your technique will become skillful.

Red.: from Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 52

Anecdotes Of Dachengquan Founder Wang Xiangzhai

by Wang Xuanjie (Translated by Chen Shengtao)

DACHENGQUAN is a set of barehanded exercises for health-keeping and combat. It was developed by my instructor Wang Xiangzhai in Beijing in the 1940s. The following anecdotes about him will help you learn something more about Wang and his dachengquan.

When Wang Xiangzhai created dachengquan half a century ago, wushu which waspopular among the folk was not much to the original and had become a showpiece rather than a fitness exercise and combat skill. To preserve the quintessence of traditional Chinese wushu, there was every need for all martial artists to pay attention to the prevailing deviation and make concerted efforts for a renewal. His determined resolution strengthened as he saw the Japanese invaders beating their victims of occupation for fun in Beijing. “We are a great nation,” he said indignantly. “How can we put upwith such insults?”

Then, while absorbing strong points of various schools of wushu, he created a style of barehanded exercises Dachengquan. To spread the newly emerging routine far and wide, Wang recruited a large number of youngsters and gave them lessons personally. His aim was very clear and that was to help boost the morale of the Chinese people and counter foreign pugilism. He issued a statement in a local newspaper and declared that he was ready to take on any rivals including those coming from foreign countries.

Wang’s remark angered Kenichi Sawai, a Japanese martial artist then living in Beijing. Sawai was good at karate, swordplay and judo. In his eyes, Chinese wushu was only something like gymnastics, having little value in actual fights. So, one day, he went to call at Wang’s in the hope of showing off his prowess. When he saw Wang Xiangzhai, he found that the Chinese shadow boxer, a man of middle stature clad in long gown, looked very gentle and suave. He was very happy to meet with such a weakling, thinking that he would win without fail. After introducing himself and explaining why he hadcome, he produced a newspaper which carried Wang’s statement and tossed it on a table.

“You are ready to have a dual fight, aren’t you?” asked the Japanese karate practitioner, his face wreathed in contemptuous smiles. “Yes, I am,” retorted sneeringly my instructor. “I always mean what I have said. I would never refuse anyone who wants to compete with me. Foreign martial artists are especially welcome.” Hearing that, Sawai went out of the drawing roomand stood in the courtyard waiting for a duel. Without any hesitation, Wang came out with hands placed behind his back. Directing his strength to bothhands through concentration, Sawai assumed a horse-riding stance and launched a sudden attack on Wang’s face with hands. Seeing this, my instructor, his left hand remaining still, extended his right forearm to parry Sawai’s hands. Then, with a slight exertion of strength, Wang threw the Japanese muscle man 10 feet away. Before realizing what had happened, Sawai was already Lying on the ground on his back.

Not admitting defeat, Sawai wanted to have a swordplay contest with Wang because he was so skilled at it that he could cut an apple on the head of aman into two without hurting the head. Considering that Sawai should get an idea of what Chinese swordplay was, Wang agreed to have another contest. With a sword held overhead in his hands, Sawai delivered a hard blow at Wang’s head. Wang stepped a bit to the right and wielded his sword to block the opposing sword. As the two swords clanked, Sawai was also thrown several feet away and flattened with his palms benumbed. (According to the son of Sawai, they did not fight with swords but with sticks.)

Irreconciled, Sawai rose to his feet and pounced upon Wang with his sword towards the throat. This skill is very famous in Japanese swordplay, with which one can catch his rival off guard. However, Wang was so good at Chinese swordplay that it seemed as if he did not make use of eyes but sense only in a fight. Wang turned his body to the right slightly, leaving Sawai’sattack wide of the mark. In another instant, Wang pressed his sword against his opponent’s. Sawai tried hard to draw his sword back, only to no avail, since it was “pasted” fast to Wang’s at the guard of the hilt. When Wang mustered up his strength, Sawai was flung out and slammed against a nearby door which caved in as a result.

Later on, Sawai engaged Wang in a qinna-something like judo- contest. By then, he was already a 5 – dan judoka in Japan. However, he could never get hold of Wang by the sleeve or the front in competition, no matter how hard he tried. Instead, he was grasped by Wang as soon as they came to grips.

Then came an Italian boxer who had made a name for himself in West Europe.His surname was James. When he was on a tour in Beijing, he learned that Wang Xiangzhai, founder of dachengquan, was looking for a rival, so he was also eager to have a try believing that it was a good chance for him to earn fame in China.

After exchanging a few words at Wang’s, they came out into the courtyard and began to warm up for competition.

James, with shorts only on, put on a pair of gloves and gave several straight punches to a thick tree and leaves fluttered down from the swaying branches. When James took off his boxinggloves and changed into a pair of cotton-yarn ones and assumed a boxer’s classic stance, the onlookers on the scene held their breath. The alien contestant appeared so powerful, so muscular and so agile, and he dwarfed Wang by a head. Could Wang be his match? Looking as calm as ever before,Wang was all geared for the contest, with his right hand in front of the chest. James was an experienced boxer endowed with long and powerful arms and highly proficient in the art. With his right hand in front and left hand at his lower jaw, he suddenly delivered a straight left to Wang’s face. As James came up with his fist, Wang raised his right forearm for a parry and in quick succession made a powerful push that shot James up and grounded him six feet off. Without knowing what it was all about, James rose to his feet and composed himself for another bout. This time, he changed tactics. He first made an arm feint and then gave his chest a right uppercut. Turning slightly to the left, Wang put his right wrist gently on the right elbow of James, who felt benumbed all over at once, and collapsed on the ground after tottering for a moment.

Now, he realized that he was not as good at fighting skills as Wang, which should account for his previous defeats. However, he thought he could outplay his rival in the third bout; he believed that he was much more powerful than Wang. To show this Italian boxer what Chinese boxing was really like, Wang asked James to punch his chest and ribs. A hail of hardblows followed and Wang was as firm as a rock. Getting desperate, James gathered all his strength and landed a heavy punch on Wang’s abdomen withhis right hand. Wang’s abdomen heaved a bit and James fell down onto theground with his right wrist sprained.

Later, a Mongolian wrestler, who had been living in the suburbs of Beijing, came to compete with Wang Xiangzhai. This story sounds quite incredible, but it has been on the lips of martial artists to date. Named Bator, this lad was a son of a former official in charge of military affairs in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Bator began to learn xingyiquan (form-and-will shadowboxing) from his father at the age of 14 and took a fancy to archery and horsemanship four years later.When he was 20 years old, he started to practice wrestling under the guidance of a former imperial court trainer. After five or six years of training, he made rapid progress and became quite versed in wrestling. He was strong enough that he could subdue a galloping horse. One day on his way home, a shying horse ran up to him, pursued by a yelling crowd. When the horse arrived in front of him, this Mongolian wrestler first moved aside, then, to the great surprise of the pursuers,jumped forth to catch the horse by the neck and upset it.

When he heard that Wang Xiangzhai was willing to have contests with other wushu devotees, Bator went into the city to rise to the challenge. At the start of the contest in Wang’s courtyard, the two stood a few meters apart, face to face. Bator moved forward, trying to throw Wang down with a unique skill he had mastered in wrestling training. As they were about to come into contact, a small insect buzzed into Wang’s left ear. Disturbed as he was,Wang continued with his firm steps forward while picking his ear with hisleft little finger. At the sight of this, Bator jumped out of the way and, bowing to Wang with his hands folded in front, said: “You are so good at martial arts. I am no match for you.” The two exchanged a smile out of their tacit understanding for each other and the contest thus ended. The onlookers were all in a maze. One of them asked Bator, “How come you acknowledged defeat? You should have a try for it.” “As an old saying goes, a master knows what a man he is fighting against the moment he takes the opponent on. He was so sedate and self assured at this juncture that he could afford to pick his ear. If he was not an adept in the art, how could he have so much confidence in winning the contest?”

In the year he developed dachengquan, Wang Xiangzhai kept having contests with dozens of martial artists, Chinese and foreign. They all came in confidence, but went in failure. Since then, the name of Wang Xiangzhai has spread far and wide and dachengquan become a beautiful blossom in the flowergarden of Chinese wushu.

Reference: Martial Arts of China Vol. 1, No. 7 , Page 297

Book:
Dachengquan
by Wang Xuanjie
Hai Feng Publishing Co. May 1988
ISBN: 9622381111

The Mighty Warrior Exercise

(Ichuan, Dachengquan, Yiquan, exercise, qiqong, chikung, breathing, energy)

The Mighty Warrior Exercise Stand with the feet about double shoulder-width apart and toes pointing ahead. Bend the knees while lowering the body to stand in a horse-riding posture. Raise the arms sideways to form each an angle of about 60 degrees with the torso, the palms facing the ground and fingers apart. Keep the torso upright, lower abdomen loosened, chest held in, and the eyes looking into to the far distance with restrained concentration. Stand still for some time.

Move the arms upwards to shoulder height, and straighten the legs. Press downwards with the palms while bending the knees back into the horse-riding position. Repeat the procedure. The arm movements resemble those of an eagle’s wings, hence the exercise is also known as the Spread Eagle exercise. Repeat for no more than 360 times at a time.

Regular practice of this exercise will cause the vital energy to penetrate every part of the body and finally form a unique strength. Once this is required, with some simple instructions, one will be able perform wonders assisted by the control of breathing, such as cleaving a rock with one palm, hitting a stone tablet with the head, breaking an iron chain with deep breathing, letting a car running over the body. What he will be able to achieve the will be diametrically different from that put on by those sham kung fu masters under the name of controlled breathing.

Reference:
Dachengquan
by Wang Xuanjie
Hai Feng Publishing Co. May 1988
ISBN: 9622381111

Page: 78

Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures

by Wu Yu-hsiang (Wu Yuxian) (1812 – 1880)
sometimes attributed to Wang Chung-yueh
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

The hsin [mind-and-heart] mobilizes the ch’i [vital life energy].

Make the ch’i sink calmly;
then the ch’i gathers and permeates the bones.

The ch’i mobilizes the body.
Make it move smoothly, so that it may easily follows the hsin.

The I [mind-intention] and ch’i must interchange agilely,
then there is an excellence of roundness and smoothness.

This is called “the interplay of insubstantial and substantial.”

The hsin is the commander, the ch’i the flag, and the waist the banner.

The waist is like the axle and the ch’i is like the wheel. Continue reading “Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures”

Four Character Secret Transmission

Spread. To spread means that we mobilize our chi spread it over our opponents energy and prevent him from moving.

Cover. To cover means that we use our chi to cover our opponents thrust.

Check. To check means that we use chi to check our opponents thrust, ascertain his aim and evade it.

Swallow. To swallow means that we use chi to swallow everything and neutralize.

These four character transmission represents what has no form and no sound. Without the ability to interpret energy and training to the highest perfection, they cannot be understood. We are speaking here exclusively of chi. Only if one correctly cultivates the chi and does not damage it, can one project it to the limbs. The effect of this on the limbs cannot be described in words.

(attributed to Wu Yü-hsiang)

Reference:
Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions by Douglas Wile
Sweet Chi Press, April 1989
ISBN: 091205901X

Page: 27