Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The three essentials of internal martial art - No 2: Managing your internal chi sensation

This is the second article of the subject. The first article can be read here.

There is an interesting phenomenon in internal martial art: everybody talked about movements and subtle movements but hardly anybody talked about internal chi sensation as an independent subject. And internal chi sensation is the steering gear to the practice, like a conductor of an orchestra, or the CEO who seems to be doing nothing concrete.

Fair to say, internal chi sensation is a difficult, and almost impossible, subject to talk about. Taoist mediation (or Neidan) is all about internal chi sensation. The reason is that there is no visible external movement! There are loads of old texts talking about internal sensation by diseased masters, some were secret texts, some were published texts. Nonetheless, readers have been puzzled by the texts for hundreds of years.

Classic tai chi texts is the in-between. There are movements and there are internal chi sensation, intertwined together. But it hasn't made things easier for tai chi students (or sifu teaching it). Modern readers are still trying, frequently in frustration, to decipher them.

Without an understanding of chi sensation, how can a student learn, not to say manage, chi sensation?

The answer is simple. One starts learning about love after one falls in love. The same for chi sensation.

The criterion for a successful learning of chi sensation are: firstly you can distinguish what is chi sensation and what is not chi sensation; and secondly you are able to feel the state of increasing chi sensation. The first ensures that you know what to look for and the second ensures that you know what is progress or where to go.

The best way to learn it is through a teacher who can teach it to you in person.

Master Mi Jingke (秘静克), a student of master Wang Xiangzai (founder of Yi Chuen 意拳,大成拳), talked about her experience in learning zhan zhuang from master Wang (in her books on the subject). She said that whenever she practised in front of Wang she would get a higher level of chi. Master Wang simply moved her stance at a few points and there it went, chi grew.

The logic is simple, if not its actual execution. A good teacher will be able to infer his student's internal chi flow, and therefore the blockages, simple through observing him doing a stance. And by creating additional chi points in his student's body, he can manage his chi flow to achieve a higher chi level or move chi to open a particular blockage. On the part of the student, he has to remember such internal sensation and try to recreate it during his solo practice.

In tai chi lingo, a master has to know himself (understand his own internal chi flow) then he has to know others (understand his student's chi flow) - before he becomes a good teacher.

Madam Mi added another requirement to be a good chi kung teacher: he must be able to judge whether a new system of chi kung is good or bad.  A good chi kung teacher should be able to recreate the internal chi sensation through doing the form or movements of the system.  After that he can judge the effectiveness (genuineness or harmfulness) of that system. 

A book by Master Mi


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