Raleigh Chinese Martial Arts

Where Does The Kung Fu Go?

Training of the Mind Meets Training of the Body

by Sifu TW Smith

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Many good students work diligently each day, making progress in their respective styles and their personal understanding. Then we evaluate with a reaction skill, tuishou exercise, or other exercise and the kung fu disappears. Does it mean that the student doesn't really understand, has failed in some way? First, there is only two things that qualifies as 'failure' and that is to give up, or to allow ego to lie to oneself.

Normally students in the first years or so, particularly those who come from previous training, with an emphasis on form, have a difficult time learning that there form is like a paper cup. It may hold a little water for a while, but don't get it close to a fire. So when it gets tested, it crumbles. Master Chin once posed the question after we went to our first martial art expo together;

"where does all the kung fu go? All these styles, and when they get into little contest, they all look like kickboxers. You can't tell a green belt from a brown belt. There is no advanced movement."

Over the years we have seen this repeated time and time again. How do we get through that? It seems that it almost requires a 12 Step Program. Admission and awareness being number one on the list. Once a student has fallen in to the trap of form on form to 'understand' or to be 'advanced'. It is difficult for them to realize that there is no secret movement, it is all man-made. The real kungfu is invisible, what is happening in your heart and mind at the moment of test is key.

In an interview, Great Master Wang Xiang Zhai was asked about the difference in the inner-school styles, paqua, hsing-i, and taichi. Master Zhai had a thorough response, including "People often say that ‘Xingyi’, ‘Taiji’, ‘Bagua’ and ‘Tongbei’ are internal styles, I do not know how the names of internal and external came about, so I cannot comment on that." Then later in the response, he states "It has nothing to do with one technique overcoming another technique as the modern people claim. If one first sees with the eyes, then thinks of it again in the mind, and then launches the counter-attack towards the enemy, it is very seldom that one will have success."

There is only one place that you can begin to not only appreciate, but lay the seeds to understanding and that is in your posting (zham zhuang). For health benefit, one can simply stand and let nature circulate and cultivate/exchange chi. Yet for one to gain thorough understanding and cultivate deeply, there are many sets of exercises, training, and investigations that must occur while posting. These must be carried over into the practice and the testing.

It is not like there are many hats to wear in order to be successful. There is only one hat to wear, find the truth and the expression in yourself with your posting. Everything else is used to bring that out during movement. Not complex, but very challenging.

Categories Posted in Chinese Martial Arts , Personal Development
- Genre Label Martial
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