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Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training – Part 2

Part 2 of a discussion of Xing Yi Quan theory and training by Li Gui Chang’s senior disciple, Chen Quan Gong. Master Chen talks freely and openly about how to train Xing Yi correctly and the subtle changes that take place in the body in the practice of San Ti Shi and the five fists.

Originally posted online in Chinese, this English translation is offered by Huang Guo Qi, Tom Bisio and Martin LaPlatney. Read Part 1 of this discussion HERE.

怎么站桩

陈师伯:“所以练功夫首先要从站桩做起。但是,桩法有很多,每一个拳势站着不动都可以成为一种桩法。那么,站什么桩好呢?初学还是站三体式比较好”。

徐新民:“混元桩可以吗?”

陈师伯:“不行!不出功夫。要练对,不要走弯路”。

徐新民:“不站桩能不能练成”。

陈师伯:“我没见过。

邓锋:“从师伯刚才讲的形意拳功夫是从桩功、慢练到体呼吸来说,站桩也是练呼吸对吗?”

How to Train Zhan Zhuang (Standing)

School Uncle Chen: “Therefore, to train the gong fu, first begin with stake standing (zhan zhuang). But, there are many methods of stake standing. Each fist form can be a kind of the standing method. So how to stand correctly? For beginners, it is better to stand in San Ti Shi.”

Xu Xin Min: “Should one stand in Hun Yuan Zhuang?” [3]

School Uncle Chen: “No. The gong fu will not be produced. One must train correctly and not take a circuitous path.”

Xu Xin Min: “Is it possible to train effectively without zhan zhuang?”

School Uncle Chen: “I have never seen it.”

Deng Feng: “School Uncle Chen just now explained that the gong fu of Xing Yi Quan is dependant on Zhuang Gong, slowly training until the body breathes. Is Zhan Zhuang also for training  the breath?

[3] In Chinese cosmology, this is literally the “primeval chaos,” before differentiation into yin and yang. In Daoist  meditation it is standing holding the “void”, “empty” or “natural” posture.

陈师伯:“对!”

邓锋:“站桩是在静止的状态下练呼吸?是不是应该有意识的调节呼吸?”

陈师伯:“是用身体调整呼吸!但意识上不要刻意呼吸”。

邓锋:“那么形意拳功夫和四把、瑜伽一样吗?”

陈师伯:“四把实际就是调整呼吸,瑜伽也要调整呼吸。四把和瑜伽是健身运动,对形意拳功夫有好处”。

白建云:“是不是说四把和瑜伽是一种养身的活动,和武术有区别,不可能产生形意拳技击的功夫,而且修炼呼吸的方式也不同,四把和瑜伽是通过意识来调整呼吸,而形意拳是通过身体的运动来调整呼吸,对吗?”

陈师伯:“对!下面大家说说怎么站桩?”

徐新民:“空静自然,什么也不要想”。

邓锋;“松顺自然,八字诀:顶、扣、圆、敏、抱、垂、曲、挺”。

School Uncle Chen: “Correct!”

Deng Feng: “Is the purpose of stillness and quiescence in Zhan Zhuang to train the respiration? Should one use conscious intention to regulate respiration?

School Uncle Chen: “Use the body form to regulate respiration! But don’t do it with conscious intention.

Deng Feng: “Is the gong fu of Xing Yi Quan the same as Si Ba [4] and Yuga (yoga)?”

School Uncle Chen: “In fact, Si Ba is really to regulate respiration. Yoga is also for regulating respiration. Si Ba and Yoga are the healthcare movements, beneficial to the gong fu of Xing Yi Quan.”

Bai Jian Yun: “So then Si Ba and Yuga are a kind of health nourishing movements, different but in harmony with martial arts, without which one cannot develop Xing Yi Quan techniques and gong fu. Cultivating and refining respiration is different. Moreover, Si Ba and Yuga adjust and regulate respiration through conscious intention and Xing Yi Quan regulates respiration through the body. Is this correct?

School Uncle Chen: “Correct! Next can anyone tell us how to train Zhan Zhuang?”

Xu Xin Min: “Void, tranquil and natural, without thoughts.

Deng Feng: “Loose, smooth and natural, as in the Eight-Character poem: Ding (prop, butt, carry on the head, 顶), Kou (button together, buckle, 扣), Yuan (round circular, 圆), Min (quick, smart, nimble, 敏), Bao (hold with both arms, embrace, 抱), Chui (hand down, droop, 垂), Qu (curve, bend, 曲) and Ting (stick out, straighten up, 挺).” [5]

[4] 四把法吐纳  Sì Bá Fǎ Tǔ Nà: Four Method Breathing Exercises.
[5] Ba Zi Jue 八字诀: The Eight Word Song

三顶 The Three Uplifts, Prop-ups or Out-thrusts (San Ding)

1. The head presses upwards 2. The tongue touches the roof of the mouth. 3. The hands press outward.

三扣 The Three Hookings or Clampings (San Kou)

1. The shoulders clamp or hook 2. The backs of the hands and feet clamp 3. The teeth clamp together

三圆 The Three Circles or Roundings (San Yuan)

1. The back is round  2. The chest is round 3. The Hukou (Tiger’s Mouth) is round

三敏 The Three Sensitivities  or Perceptivities (San Min)

1. The heart is sensitive 2. The eyes are sensitive 3. The hands are sensitive

三抱 The Three Holdings or Embraces (San Bao)

1. Embrace Dantian 2. Embrace heart qi 3. Embrace the ribs

三屈 The Three Bends or Curves (San Qu)

1. The arms are curved 2. The knees are curved 3.The wrists are curved

三垂 The Three Sinks or Drops (San Chui)

1. The qi sinks 2. The shoulders sink 3. The elbows sink

三挺 The Three Erectings or Extendings (San Ting)

1. The neck extends 2. The spine is extended 3. The knees are extended

陈师伯:“大家说的基本对。但松顺自然不是什么也不想,站桩时要求空静是说不要想站桩以外的事,心事要放在自己身体上。所以李师父说:‘形意拳是用身体,开悟不是脑子明白,而是身体明白。等身体有了悟性,听到一点信息就有反应,就像马挨了一鞭子,体能立刻勃发出来’。所以无论是站桩还是练拳都要通过身体内部来体会师父、拳谱以及自己练拳的意识,而不是空洞无物,这也就是形意拳的‘意’。

School Uncle Chen: “What all of you have said is basically correct. But, to be loose, smooth and natural does not mean that in Zhan Zhuang you do not think at all. Be empty and tranquil in Zhan Zhuang, not thinking about anything beyond the standing posture. Attention should be focused on your own body. Therefore, Master Li said: ‘Xing Yi Quan is supposed to think with the body, to understand does not mean the brain understands, instead the body should understand. When the body is able to understand, [the body] would respond when hearing anything, like while whipping the horse, the energy [of the horse)] would immediately break out.’ Therefore, whether  training Zhan Zhuang or practicing boxing, it is necessary to sense inside the body, and the experience of the teacher, the boxing manuals as well as oneself, as opposed to nothing at all. This is the  ‘Yi’ (intention) of Xing Yi Quan.”

“八字诀是对的,是对身体的要求,但是把每一个字的字义记下来,照样去做似乎就变得复杂。李师父对站桩身法的要求就显得更容易掌握,更生动具体,他说:‘你抱过女人没有?这个字,不是两条胳膊使劲,而是抱进怀里,整个身体都要迎上去。这是对站桩拿劲的比喻。拿住这个劲,一站就能滋养人。然后就这样站着,呆着,渐渐就站进去了。站到一定程度,身体一下就开了’。这句话的意思是说什么呢?是说站桩并不完全是随其身体的自然去站,而是筋骨要撑住劲力,要撑成一个整体,特别是要抱尾闾,但这个劲力不是肌肉的拙力,而是筋骨的合力。不过要做到这一点也不是很容易的,需要下一番苦功。

“Eight characters are correct, and are the body requirements, but, to try to grasp and remember the meaning of each character seems complicated. The correct requirements of Zhan Zhuang Shen Fa [6] according to Master Li seem easy to grasp and more vivid and concrete. He said: ‘have you ever embraced a lady?

This word, ‘embrace’ does not mean to use force in the two arms, but that the two arms embrace and cherish and, with the whole body going forward to welcome and receive. This is the correct metaphor for Zhan Zhuang grasping energy (Na Jin). [7] If one can grasp this Jin, then when one stands [the body] is nourished. Then, stand like this, simply keeping standing, then gradually enter into standing. Standing until, to a certain extent, the body will simply open’. What does this mean?  It means Zhan Zhuang is not just standing by naturally following the body.

Tendon and bone must support the Jin-Li. [8] and stretch and prop-up the entire body, and in particular hold up the Tail Gate (Wei Lu). [9] But this Jin-Li must not be the clumsy strength of the muscles and flesh, but instead is  the combined force of the tendons and bones. However it is not easy to achieve this. It requires painstaking effort.

[6] 身法 Shen Fa: “Body Method”. Usually the term refers to techniques of maneuvering the body in self-defense, or in the martial arts.
[7] 拿劲 Na Jin: Na = grasping; holding and Jin = spirit , strength and energy
[8] 劲力 Jin Li: Energy –Force
[9] 尾闾 Wei Lu: Literally “Tail Gate” – the sacrum and tailbone. In Daoist inner alchemy the qi-vapor and Jin and move up the spine through the tail gate. 

“另外,李师父对站桩时训练脊椎也有自己深刻的体会和秘诀,就是“站桩要先正尾椎,从尾椎一节一节脊椎骨顶上去,直到后脑,脊椎自然会反弓,脑袋自然会领起,两臂自然会前伸,然后下巴一钩,手下按,脊椎一节一节退下来。如此反复练习,会有奇效。脊椎就象是一条大龙,它有了劲力,比武时方能有‘神变’。当然要能如此做到,是在身体整个筋骨‘开了’以后才有可能,所以更是不容易的事,但应该知道,作为大家努力的目标。

“In addition, Master Li also had his own profound experience and secrets for training the spinal vertebra in the standing posture, i.e. ‘in training the standing posture, it is necessary to straighten the coccygeal vertebra, and prop up the spinal vertebrae one by one from the coccygeal vertebra, all the way to the back of the head. So the spinal vertebrae can be naturally arched backward and the brain can be naturally lifted, and the two arms can be naturally extended forward. Then, with the chin hooked and hands pressed downward, (the intention) comes down one by one through the spinal vertebrae. If trained this way repeatedly, magic effects will appear. The spinal vertebrae are like a big dragon. When it has energy and strength, ‘magic changes’ can occur in contest of the martial arts.’ Of course, this can be done, only after the whole tendons and bones of the body ‘open’. Therefore, it is not an easy thing. But, we must know it is the goal all of our efforts.”

“还有对站桩中丹田怎么运动也要知道,李师父说:‘丹田不是气沉丹田,要较丹田,肛门一提,气才能沉下来了,否则气沉丹田是句空话,上提下沉这就较上了。较丹田的好处多,学不会较丹田,练不出功夫,等于白练’。这一句告诉了‘气沉丹田’的方法,而且强调了丹田在修炼内家拳功夫中至关成败的重要性。人们常说站桩没有真传就不可能出功夫,甚至于会出毛病,其实李师父对于‘拿劲’脊椎、丹田的这些要求不就真是不肯轻传的秘诀吗!

“Also, it is necessary to know how to move in the Dantian area in training the standing posture. Master Li said: ‘In talking about the Dantian area, it does not mean qi sinking into the Dantian area, it is necessary to twist the Dantian area. Once the anus is lifted, qi can sink downward – without that it is an empty phrase to say “qi sinking into the Dantian area.” To lift upward and sink downward is exactly to twist Dantian. There are many merits in twisting the Dantian area. If one does not know how to twist the Dantian area, it is not possible to achieve the skill (Gongfu). The training will be fruitless.’ This quotation tells the method of ‘qi sinking into the Dantian area’, and also emphasizes the importance of the Dantian area for success in training the internal arts. People always say that skill cannnot be built up without real instruction in the standing posture, and that you might even develop problems. In fact, the demands of Master Li to ‘grasp the energy (劲 Jin) of the spinal vertebrae and Dantian area are exactly the secrets that are not easy to teach.”

“同时站桩到一定程度还要有对外的意识。李师父说:‘站桩还要练眼神,人眼光散了,干什么都没劲。站桩要眼毒,不是作出一副狠巴巴的样子,而是老虎盯着猎物时伺机而动的状态,这也不对,因为太紧张,要不紧不慢方为功,肌肉紧张出不了功夫,精神紧张也出不了功夫,站桩时肌肉与精神都要‘软中硬’,眼睛要放于虚空,方为适度’。

“At the same time, (we should) to some extent have an outward intention, when training Zhan Zhuang. Master Li said: ‘In Zhan Zhuang one needs to train the expression in the eyes. If the eye expression is scattered, one cannot do anything, and all is meaningless. In Zhan Zhuang, the eye expression should be piercing [10] but it does not mean making a ruthless expression, it is more like a tiger staring at its prey, waiting for an opportune moment to move. That is perhaps also not correct, because it is too tense [keyed up]. It should be neither too tense and nor too slow [in order] to be skillful. If the muscles are too tense the Gong Fu will not come out and if the Jingshen [11] is too keyed up the Gong Fu will not come out. In Zhan Zhuang, the muscles and Jingshen should be ‘tough within softness’, and the eyes should be void. That is the proper way.’

[10] 眼毒Yǎn dú, a piercing poisonous expression in the eyes.
[11] 精神 Jing Shen (spirit-essence; mind/consciouness)

“站桩到一定程度还要有战斗的意识。李师父说:‘站桩时,也要动起步趟进,侧身而闪的心思,外表看似不动,其实里面换着身形,要静之又静,长呼长吸,站空了自己。

“对站桩的思维状态李师父也有要求,说:‘无为的要站出灵感才行,有为的得站空了自己才行’。

“To Some extent, it is also necessary to have consciousness of fighting in Zhan Zhuang. Master Li said: ‘in Zhan Zhuang, it is also necessary to have the intention to move forward and dodge sideways. The outside does not seem to move. In fact the body form changes in the interior. It is necessary to be tranquil as much as possible, to have long expiration and long inspiration, and to be empty in yourself in standing.’ ” Master Li also had requirements for the state of mind in training the standing posture, saying: ‘It is necessary to stand with inspiration without action, and to stand in order to purposely empty yourself.’

“这样,经过长时间的站桩,身体就会起变化,就会自然而然产生一些现象,李师父描述说:‘冬天虫子钻在地里死了一般,等到春天,地里生机一起,虫子就活了。站桩要站出这份生机,如虫子复苏般萌动,身上就有了精力’。李师父还说:‘站桩一会后,自然能体会到一种流动感,身上有的地方顺畅,有的地方异样,便缓缓转动,或是抖一抖,直到整体通畅。以外在的形体调整内在的机能。’李师父对站桩这种现象的描述是身体中自然而然产生的,这种虫子蠕动、流动的感觉是本能的,不是想象产生的。站桩要站出能量来,自然就蠕动了。当然站桩的最初阶段是痛苦的,这种痛苦因人而异,年龄大的人可能痛苦多一点,年龄小的人痛苦小一点;局部肌肉明显的痛苦多一点,肌肉不明显的少一点。但是痛苦会越来越减轻,是有阶段性的,过了这个阶段就舒服了,就入门了,最后就是高度享受,站完桩走起来嗖嗖的,很清利”。

“Thus, after training Zhan Zhuang for some time, changes will take place in the body, naturally giving birth to some phenomena. Master Li described: ‘In winter, the insects drill into the ground like they are dead, and when the spring comes and vitality rises in the ground, the insects will live again. In the Zhan Zhuang posture, [we] want to stand so that this vitality arises, like the insects recovering and revitalizing, so that the body possesses refined strength.’ [12] Master Li also said: ‘[After training] Zhan Zhuang for a while, naturally (one) cultivates and senses a flowing sensation, smooth and unhindered in some areas of the body and unusual in some areas. Then gradually [you] turn and shift or perhaps tremble and shake, until the whole body is smooth and unobstructed. In this way the outside body form regulates the internal (intrinsic) functions.’ Master Li described that in Zhan Zhuang, this phenomenon occurs naturally and spontaneously in the body, and this insect-creeping and flowing sensation is instinctive, not produced by imagination. In Zhan Zhuang, [one] must to stand so that the creeping, sensation comes naturally. It is only natural that  the initial period of Zhan Zhuang is painful and arduous. The type of suffering varies from person to person. Older people feel more pain and those in young age feel less pain – more painful if the muscles appear obvious [13] and less painful if the muscles are not obvious. But, this pain will decrease gradually and is periodical. After going through this period, (you) will feel comfortable, and then (you) have a beginning and finally (you) will enjoy Zhan Zhuang a great deal and will walk lightly and freely, after training . [This is] a very clear benefit.

[12] 精力 Jing-Li: refined strength
[13] Are well-defined

白建云:“站桩过程中的疼痛是不是可以理解为骨骼和血管,筋腱别住所造成的,经过调整,顺畅了就不疼痛了”。

陈师伯:“所以在站桩的过程中出现不适时可以缓缓转动或抖一抖,李师父说:‘站桩有一个要点,时常浑身抖一抖。传说狗熊冬眠的时候,隔几天,它就自发性地浑身颤抖,否则僵滞不动,身体要有问题。同样,桩为什么站不下去?就是缺这一抖。很细致,很轻微地抖抖,就能够享受桩功养生了。其实比武发力,也就是这么一抖擞’。这个‘抖’的实质是站桩出现问题时,要松散一下自己的身体。所以李师父要求,‘站完桩要多遛,这一遛也长功夫。遛是站桩的归宿’。

Bai Yun Jian: “During Zhan Zhuang, can we understand that the painful sensation comes from incorrect skeletal structure, and disharmony in the blood vessels and tendons, and that through adjustments it will be smooth and unhindered without pain.?”

School Uncle Chen: “Therefore, if discomfort occurs during Zhan Zhuang, at the right moment [you] can slowly turn slightly and shake a little bit. Master Li said: ‘In Zhan Zhuang there is one important point, often tremble and shake the whole body. It is said that bears in hibernation in the winter, will spontaneously shake and tremble all over every few days. Otherwise, the body is stagnant and does not move, and a problem will occur. Similarly, why are [you] unable to maintain (hold) the standing posture? It is precisely because this shaking is lacking. By shaking the body delicately and slightly, (you) can enjoy the standing gong and nourish life. [14] In fact, when issuing force [15] during a martial contest, it is also this type of shaking.’ The truth of this ‘shaking’ is to relax your body, when any problem occurs during in Zhan Zhuang. Therefore, Master Li requested, ‘After training the standing posture, it is necessary to stroll a lot. This strolling  is also an important Gong. Strolling is the final settling [16] of Zhan Zhuang”.

[14] 养生Yang Sheng: “nourishing life.” A term used to refer to many types of Nei Gong and Qi Gong practices. The implication is that these practices help to improve health and prolong life.
[15] 发力 Fa Li: literally “emitting strength” or “issuing force.” Often used interchangeably with Fa Jin 发劲
[16] 归宿Gui Su:” returning home”; “ final settling.”

The original discussion in Chinese can be found at:

http://www.360doc.com/content/10/1026/00/3982397_64036580.shtml

2 Responses to Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training – Part 2

  1. Ben

    A lot of this I follow ok. But what on earth is meant by the allusion to Yoga, above?

    • Tom Bisio

      Ben,
      I agree it is a bit strange. I can only think he may be referring to Daoist meditation and exercise practices that are sometimes referred to as “Daoist Yoga.”
      Tom

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