Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The unnatural way of being natural

Q&A:
  1. Is Tai chi and chi kung the most natural way to promote physical fitness and health?
  2. Should tai chi and chi kung therefore be practiced in natural slow movement?
The answer to the first question is yes, while the answer to the second question is no, or a qualified no.

The practice of tai chi and chi kung indeed should be (and are seen to be) practiced in a slow way whenever there is movement. Yet it is not moving slowly in a natural way, like casual strolling in the park. If THAT be the case, there is nothing exciting about the practice of tai chi and chi kung.

The way to practice tai chi and chi kung is far from natural. Take an example. In the practice of standing meditation (zhan zhuang), the most important requirement is "points stretched and body relaxed" and NOT total relaxation. Incidentally this is the same requirement for seated meditation of the Zen type or the Taoist type.  Those who practice seated meditation with total relaxation (even with listening to meditation music) are either practicing day-dreaming or sleep-dreaming.  They might be a bit refreshed after the session, but it is NOT meditation, in the proper sense of the word as practice.

In zhan zhuang, the points (in the beginning stage) are always the fingers and hands (and the toes and feet if one is more sensitive; for those less sensitive students, their toes and feet will be stretching anyway without their conscious effort due to the requirement of "half-asleep while standing"). Now comes the key concept. When a student consciously prepares himself towards the "points stretched and body relaxed" condition, his chi will naturally flow around his body. And with more practice, he can actually feel such flow. In order words, "points stretched and body relaxed" results from a unnatural conscious effort (plus other requirements such as a half-asleep mental state") while the chi flow is the resulting natural process of healing.

I have only used zhan zhuang as an example here. The concept cover (almost) everything in the practice of tai chi and chi kung. In a future post, I shall discuss how the "unnatural way" is practiced during movements.



4 comments:

  1. It is nice to hear that it is useful to you. When I write something, I have to organize it first for the benefit of my readers. And the thinking process of organizing my thoughts helps me understand the subject a bit more too!

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  2. Paul, how does point stretched, body relaxed compare to zheng li in yiquan. Where you have to stretch the body in 6 directions. Are they the same?

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  3. Point stretched, body relaxed you got chi flow, the fundamental objective of zhan zhuang. Zheng li is a technique based on PSBR and is best practiced with combat stance. More stretched (focused) points can be used (in addition to the hands and feet). Minimum two SP will be used. With simultaneous focus, a condition highly similar to (not exact the same as) isometric contraction will result. One classic pair points are eye brow and index finger (with palm facing outward in combat stance). In the limiting case, all muscles in the body will be activated (or isometric ally contracted) with multiple SP (depending on individual). Six direction ZL is a training for pushing hands - precondition the body for spring-like reaction to, say, push and pull, and precondition the body to release power (say to punch) at seemingly split second (Wing Chun has similar training).

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