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Master Chen Quan Gong on Xing Yi Quan Theory and Training – Part 3

Part 3 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.

对站桩的一些理论认识

陈师伯:“上面给大家讲了怎么站桩,以及站桩时出现的状况和不适时处理的方法。那么站桩站到什么时候就大功告成了呢?‘有没有站桩成功的标准?没有。一般能站二小时,身子有浮起似的感觉,这表明身上有成就了。还有一个长功的标志,就是站得浑身细胞突突(高密度,高深度的颤抖),由突突到不突突,反复多次,直到经络通畅,就出了功夫。不过这些现象不能一概而论,不一定是每个人的必然现象。总之能够站到站桩和运动中都能够‘体呼吸’就算成功了吧。

Theoretical Understanding of Zhan Zhuang

School Uncle Chen: “I have now talked to all of you about how to understand and practice Zhan Zhuang and about methods of dealing with the discomfort that can occur in Zhan Zhuang. Then, how long [should one] train Zhan Zhuang to achieve results? ‘Is there any standard for success in Zhan Zhuang? No. Generally, after standing for two hours, when you have a floating sensation in the body, it means you have achieved something. There is another sign to show the skill is being achieved, e.g. keep standing until you have the cells throbbing in the whole body (high-density and high-depth trembling), from throbbing to no throbbing, repeatedly until the jing-luo [17] are unobstructed and free. Then, the Gong Fu emerges.’ However, these phenomena cannot be generalized and are not inevitable  for each person. In short, if you can feel the ‘body respiration,’ you will succeed in Zhan Zhuang.”

[17] 经络 Jing Luo channels and collaterals (meridians)

“另外大家通过上面站桩的方法要知道,站桩,身体是基本不动的,但并不是完全不动。李师父说:‘以上这些桩法都是动的,不过很慢很微,外人看不出来。桩功是‘慢练’,这些都是入门的巧用,一练就会有效果’。

“Moreover, all of you should understand from what was mentioned about the Zhan Zhuang method that in Zhan Zhuang, the body basically does not move, but it is not completely immobile. Master Li said: ‘all of these methods for training the standing posture are mobile, but it is very slow and minute, and outsiders can not discern it. Zhuang Gong [18] is  ‘slow training’. These are the ingenious ways to enter the door. [19] Training [it] will produce effective results.

[18] 桩功 Zhuang Gong: stake [standing] skill/achievement
[19] 入门 Ru Men: literally “enter door” – fundamentals

邓锋:“是静中求动?”

池少斌:“桩是一个相对静的状态,不是一点也不动,不是木头,内家拳站桩是要身体的内动”。

白建云:“慢练也是自我有意地调整骨骼,让劲力顺畅”。

陈师伯:“当然!”大家都说的对。所以站桩不是完全的静功。要用‘意’不用力,是说不要用拙力,‘神’到位就是意,可以用内劲”。

白建云:“拙力是不是有意识的用局部的肌肉力量”。

Deng Feng: “To seek motion from tranquility?”

Chi  Shao Bin: “The standing posture is a relatively tranquil state, but it is not motionless at all, not wooden. Nei Jia Quan Zhan Zhuang has internal motion inside the body.”

Bai Jian Yun: “Slow training is also supposed to intentionally regulate the bones, in order for the Jin-Li to be smooth and unhindered.

School Uncle Chen: “Of course! All of you are correct. Therefore, Zhan Zhuang is not a completely tranquil gong. Using intention (Yi) not strength means not to use awkward strength. When the spirit (Shen) [21] is in the right place, the intention can use the inner energy [22].”

Bai Jian Yun: “Does awkward strength mean to use intentionally use the local muscle strength?”

[20] 劲力 Jin Li: energy-force 0r energy-strength
[21] 神 shen – spirit; numinous
[22] 劲Jin – strength, energy, spirit

陈师伯:一开始都难免。所以李师父说:‘站桩一动不动,只能是令肌肉苦楚,精神挫折。桩法是活动的,不是静功,而是慢练。慢练,增力之妙法也。慢慢以神意运动,舒展四肢。桩法是动的,只不过动的很慢,外人看不出来,慢慢以神意运动,七字价值万金。所以桩功是在身体外形大致不动的基础上用意识调整身体内部机体的运动。

School Uncle Chen: “It is difficult to avoid at the very beginning. Therefore, Master Li said: ‘If you keep the body absolutely still in Zhan Zhuang, this will cause the muscles to suffer and the spirit [23] will be frustrated. The standing method is alive and mobile, not static, it is rather a slow training. Slow training is a marvelous method to increase the strength. Slowly, gradually spirit and intention guide the movement, opening up and extending the four limbs. The standing method is mobile – only the movement is very slow. Outsiders can not discern it this slow gradual movement of spirit and intention. Seven characters are worth ten thousand gold.’ Therefore, in standing gong the external body form does not move. With intention as the basis regulate and adjust internal movement.”

[23] 精神 Jing Shen (spirit-essence; mind/consciousness)

三体式桩功的效果

陈师伯:“三体式桩功是修炼形意拳功夫的重要形式,对提高体质和体能都有重要作用。李师父说:‘桩功难学。桩法能使小脑、肾、性腺得到开发,所以‘形意一年打死人’,不是说招法厉害,是说形意能令人短期内由弱变强,精力无穷,是体能厉害’。还对桩功提高体质的功效总结说:桩功可以使‘脏腑清虚,经络舒畅,骨腱髓满,精气充足,即达神经敏锐的效果’。

Results of San Ti Shi Zhuang Gong [24]

School Uncle Chen: “San Ti Shi Zhuang Gong is an important form of Xing Yi Quan self-cultivation Gong Fu whose function is enhance constitution and physical capacity. Master Li said: Zhuang Gong is difficult to learn. The standing method can help the development of the cerebellum, kidney and gonads. Therefore, ‘to kill person with one year training of Xing Yi’ does not mean the method is terrible and harmful, it means that Xing Yi Quan can change [a person]  from being weak to being strong in a short period of time, with inexhaustible refined strength (jing-li) , and formidable physical capacity.’ Concerning the effectiveness of Zhuang Gong to enhance the constitution, he concluded: Zhuang Gong can make Zang-fu [26] organs clear and unobstructed, the meridians open and smooth, the bone marrow full, the essence sufficient, so that the nerves are sensitive and keen.’

[24] 桩功 Zhuang Gong: Literally “Pile/stake Skill/Achievement”
[25] 修炼 Xiu Lian: Xu – cultivation or study; Lian – smelt; refine; temper; Xu Lian can also mean self-cultivation as in practicing asceticism
[26] 脏腑 Zang Fu: organs and bowels – the viscera.

如何练拳架

陈师伯:“当然形意拳的功夫仅仅站桩也不行。站桩虽然是长功夫的重要方法,也是用法的重要基础,但不能代替用法的修炼,而用法的修炼则主要是通过拳架招式来进行的,所以李师父说:‘桩法必须溶入拳法’

How to Train the Boxing (Fist Frame) [27]

School Uncle Chen: “Of course, Xing Yi Quan Gong Fu is not only Zhan Zhuang. Zhan Zhuang, is an important method of Gong Fu and also a vital foundation, but, it is not a substitute the training of the methods application. Furthermore, training methods of application is principally developed by training the fist frames (postures) and techniques. Therefore, Master Li said: ‘The standing methods must be dissolved into the fist methods.’ ”[28]

[27] Jia: Literally  “frame; shelf; rack” but also “support; prop up; erect; withstand.”

In context: the external body shapes, postures, forms and applications – the “framework” of the boxing. However, Jia can also mean to fight – for example 打架 Da Jia means to come to blows, so 拳架 Quan Jia can also mean “fist fight” or “boxing.” Here it seems to refer to the forms and training methods.

[28] 拳法 Quan Fa: Literally “Fist Methods,” but also a terms for boxing in general. So the sentence could read “The standing methods must be dissolved into the boxing.”

“在形意拳拳架中有五行、十二形,还有许多单练对练套路,那么练拳架招式是练什么呢?当然得先会基本的样式,但是知道基本样式后又练什么呢?李师父说:‘形意拳先教“行劲”,行对了劲,也就找着了身法。也就是说修炼的是各个拳架中身体内的劲力。而形意拳的拳架招式很多,从哪里入手呢?的从形意拳的母拳‘五行拳’开始。而五行拳的母拳又是横拳。李师父说:‘形意拳之母是五行,五行之母是一横’。但要正确理解这个‘横拳’,这个横拳不是简单的外形横拳,而是指丹田。所以五行拳都离不了丹田。而从劲力的方式讲实际只有三拳,钻拳和横拳劲力基本相同,都是直线向外旋转,炮拳和崩拳相同都是直线向内旋转。所以找的基本是劈拳、钻拳、崩拳的劲力。

“In the fist frame of Xing Yi Quan, there are Five Elements (Wu Xing), twelve shapes (Shi Er Xing– 12 Animals), and also many single training drills and two-person training drills. Then, what is the training of the fist frame and techniques? Of course, it is necessary to learn the basic forms. But, what should be trained after the fundamental forms are known? Master Li said: In Xing Yi Quan, ‘teach ‘moving energy (Jin)’ first and when the energy moves correctly, it is easy to discover the  the Shen Fa (body methods).’ Namely, the Jin-Li (energy-strength) should be cultivated in the various fist frames. Furthermore, there are many fist frames and techniques in Xing Yi Quan. So where to begin? Begin with the mother fists of Xing Yi Quan, ‘five element fists’. Further, the mother fist of the five element fists is also Heng Quan (Crossing Fist). Master Li said: ‘the mother of Xing Yi Quan is five elements, and the mother of five elements is Heng.’ But, it is necessary to understand this ‘Heng Quan’. This Heng Quan is not simply the external form of Heng Quan, but rather the Dantian area. Therefore, the five-element fist can never be separated from the Dantian area. In terms of the modes of Jin-Li, there are actually only three types of fists. The Jin-Li in Zuan Quan and Heng Quan are basically similar – outward rotation on the straight line. Both Pao Quan and Beng Quan are basically similar – inward rotation on the straight line. Therefore, what is sought is basically the Jin-Li of Pi Quan, Zuan Quan and Beng Quan.”

“如何练劈拳?李师父认为:‘劈拳就是一起一伏,用躯干打劈拳就是熊鹰合形。起要钻,落要翻;起如挡锉,落如钩杆。起落好似水翻浪。不但要用躯干,还要用躯干里面打劈拳,要练功,不要单单练拳。

“另外还教过个练劈拳的具体方法,就是:‘劈拳如推山,身体由后向前,一分一分地缓缓而推,推的越吃力越好,如此能长功夫’。

“在练崩拳的方法上要求比较简单,‘把直来直去的拳打转了,把转着的拳打直了,这是崩拳的练法’。

“在钻拳的要求上主要强调是:‘钻拳不是钻拳头,是钻身子’。

“How to train Pi Quan? Master Li believed: ‘Pi Quan is exactly to rise and fall. Performing Pi Quan with the trunk of the body is the combined form of bear and eagle. Need to drill while rising; need to turn while falling; rise like a blocking file; fall like a hooked pole. Rise and fall like a wave. [29] In striking with Pi Quan, [one] must not just use the trunk of the body, but even more the inside of the body’s trunk when training this skill. Do not train only the fist.’”

“In addition, he also taught a concrete method to train Pi Quan, e.g. ‘strike with Pi Quan is like pushing a mountain, with the body moving forwards, pushing slowly one fen by one fen (a millimeter at a time), pushing gradually, bit-by-bit, pushing as strenuously as possible. In this way one develops Gong Fu.’

“For the method of training Beng Quan, the demands are comparatively simple: ‘The striking fist and comes and goes straight and revolves circularly to strike straight. This is the training method for Beng Quan.’

“In training Zuan Quan, he mainly stressed: ‘Zuan Quan is drilling with the fist, it is drilling with the body.’

[29] 水翻浪 can mean “wave” or “the tide” depending upon context.

“李师父强调的这三拳的要点是在整体劲力上的侧重,并不是不顾及整体的劲力,要正确理解。这里顺便说一下练太极拳、八卦掌、形意拳的总体劲力的练法。因为我们门里练得是内家拳,太极、八卦、形意、南少林是内家拳的基本拳种,所以也应该知道。李师父说:‘武林里有句取笑形意、太极、八卦姿势的话,叫太极如摸鱼,八卦如推磨,形意如捉虾,说到此,有如下解释:‘太极如摸鱼,要如手探到水里般,慢慢而移,太极推手正如摸鱼般要手‘听’。练拳时,也要有水中摸鱼的‘劲’,有这么一点意念,就能练出功夫了’。“推手中‘手听’就是用手仔细揣摩对方的劲力。练拳时是听自己身上的反应。

“Master Li emphasized that the main points in these three fists focus on the overall Jin-Li. Do  not ignore the overall Jin-Li. This must be understand correctly. In passing, I will talk about the overall Jin-Li in the  training methods of Tai Ji Quan, Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan. It is necessary to know this because in our school we train Nei Jia Quan, and Tai Ji Quan, Ba Gua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan and Southern Shaolin are the basic fists of Nei Jia Quan. Therefore, Master Li said: ‘in martial arts circles there is one sentence that caricatures the body patterns [30] of Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang, saying Tai Ji is like catching fish with the hands, Ba Gua is  like pushing the millstone, and Xing Yi is like catching shrimp. This is explained as follows: ‘Tai Ji is like catching fish. it is necessary to explore the water with the hand and move slowly. Tai Ji Tui Shou (push hands) is like catching fish with the hands. The hand must ‘listen.’ In training, it is also necessary to have ‘Jin’ (energy, strength, spirit) in order to catch a fish in the water. Once you have such an intention, the Gong Fu emerges.’ In Tui Shou  ‘listening hand’, the hand must carefully test and discern the Jin-Li of the opponent. When practicing boxing one listens to the reaction of one’s own body.”

[30] 姿势 Zi Shi: Zi = appearance gesture, posture. Shi= power, compositional force or movement, appearance, configuration. These two words either together or separately are often translated as posture. However, Shi, in particular has a much more profound meaning referring to both the external alignments and the internal energetic configuration as well as the forces and movements (internal and external) which make up these alignments. Hence “pattern” may be a better one-word translation. Examples: Ding Shi Ba Gua refers to the body patterns, forces and alignments in circle walking while holding “fixed” postures and in Xing Yi much of the above discussion has concerned San Ti Shi (Three Body Pattern), in which a there are slow hidden movements and forces operating while an apparently “fixed” posture is held.

‘八卦如推磨,除了向前推,还要推出向下的碾劲,八卦掌一迈步要有两股劲,随时转化,明白了这两股劲的道理,就能理解八卦掌的招数为何千变万化’。两股劲是竖劲和横劲,向前推是横劲,向下碾是竖劲,两股劲劲互为作用。

‘Ba Gua is like pushing a millstone, besides pushing forward, it is also necessary to push downward with a grinding Jin. While striding outward in Ba Gua Zhang, there should be two strands of Jin, that can change at any time. When this principle of the two strands of energy is understood, it is possible to understand Ba Gua Zhang’s one thousand changes and ten thousand transformations. Two strands of Jin refer to Shu Jin (vertical energy) and Heng Jin (transverse energy). The forward-pushing is the transverse Jin, and the downward-grinding strength is the vertical Jin. These two strands of Jin function reciprocally.

‘练形意拳时,要如捉虾般,出手的时候很快,收手的时候,手上要带着‘东西’回来,这‘轻出重收’四字便是练拳的口诀,千斤不易。‘轻出’是筋骨的撑拔力,是打锉的干脆劲;‘重收’是筋骨的内缩劲,是钩杆的拔河劲。

‘In training Xing Yi Quan, like catching shrimp, the hand goes out very quickly, to take ‘the thing [the creature]’ in the hand and return. The four character boxing formula: ‘going out lightly; coming back heavily is valuable.’ “Going out lightly” refers to the stretching and pulling force of the tendons and bones, a straight-forward striking filing Jin. ‘Coming back [31] heavily’ refers to the inward-contracting energy of the tendons and bones, the tugging-pulling Jin [32] of a hooking pole.

[31] 收 Shou: gather; collect; take in; take back
[32] 拔河 Ba He: can also mean “tug-of-war”

“通过李师父对练拳的论述,我们可以知道,修炼形意拳功夫或者说修炼内家拳功夫不是说会得招式越多越好,而首先是要知道基本拳架的基本劲力。在这种基础上增加拳术的招式。所以练拳必须‘知己’,明白自己的不足,这是很重要的,所以李师父说:‘练拳的第一个进境,就是有了自觉,能知道自己的毛病’。思想上有了这个认识,感到自己‘练拳无进步,就要重新站着不动地校正拳架,去揣摩每法,动也是它,静也是它,否则,静不下去也动不起来’。只有这样才能长功夫,所以练拳架招式也要慢练,要仔细琢磨。

“From Master Li’s exposition on boxing training , we can understand that in cultivating [33] Xing Yi Quan Gong Fu and also in the cultivation of Nei Jia Quan Gong Fu, it is not a question of knowing as many techniques as possible. Rather one must primarily understand the fundamental Ji- Li of the basic fist frame. With this foundation, the techniques can be added. Therefore, in boxing training you must ‘know yourself’, and understand what is lacking. This is very important. As a result Master Li said: ‘In boxing training, the first step in going forward is to be aware of your own faults.’ After understanding this, if you feel ‘lack of  progress in training, it is necessary to stand again, adjust the fist frame, and figure out each method and also movement and stillness (tranquility). Otherwise, motion cannot come from stillness.’ Only by this way, can one develop Gong Fu. Therefore, the fist frames (boxing framework) and techniques should be trained slowly and carefully pondered.”

[33] 修炼 Xiu Lian: Xiu = study/cultivate; Lian = refine/smelt/temper. Like tempering steel or cultivation. Xiu Lian can also mean asceticism as in Daoist self-cultivation methods.

The original discussion in Chinese can be found at: http://www.360doc.com/content/10/1026/00/3982397_64036580.shtml

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