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Chi Kung
the art of breathing: the fundamental basis of tai chi

notes on the Chi Kung lesson

 

I had previously instructed my 10-year-old son Joe [then in 1999] to 'clap' two pieces of wood together at certain times of the day to indicate the end of each individual session. His instructions were to simply enter the hall at exact times and make this loud and 'alerting' sound. I then informed the students (and instructors) that whenever they heard this sound they should all immediately stop whatever it was that they were doing and adopt the posture of

standingATTENTION

This is how some people would have us stand. This is OK for a time and in the right situation. That situation is when you are most tense and attempting to predict the unpredictable and the length of time doing so would surely be better if kept to a minimum.

As Chi Kung instructor I should have the easiest job in the world! In an ideal world a Chi Kung instructor 'teaches' less as students progress to whatever stage they decide themselves to be 'enough' or the appropriate time to stop.

This is how some people would have us stand. This is OK for a time and in the right situation. That situation is when you are most tense and attempting to predict the unpredictable. The length of time doing so would surely be better if kept to a minimum. So, we yield. We adopt the posture:

preparationPREPARATION

 

Attention - Preparation - Compare these two

Most of what is 'good' about Attention has already been said.

Now might be a good time to become aware of what is not so good about it.

 

 


from the top:

Neck. This is stiff - either squashed or stretched. Either way - Tense. Most headaches are begun by tension in the neck.
Shoulders. Pulled back so that the muscles at the front are stretched and those at the back compressed around the backbone restricting its movement in every direction. As a result the centre of gravity is raised and taken backwards.
Chest. Filled, not with air or breath but with all of the internal organs; which are first squashed by this action and then flattened by the last.
Abdomen. There would be less internal damage if the space vacated by the internal organs [the abdomen] was at least partially filled with air or breath. But it is not. It is sucked in as far as possible and the breath at best short and sharp and at worse 'held'.
Arms. Pushed against the side of the body. The elbows, which are designed to point outwards, are made to point backward - because this looks neater. The appearance is straight; the actuality is twisted.
The scenario continues as we travel downwards. Wrists and fingers stiff. Hips and legs locked. Feet and ankles twisted. All the way down to - in the very worse cases - toes curled!

to compare the two postures:  
attention preparation
attention
preparation

The posture Preparation can all be summed up as 'Yielding'.
Yielding to gravity, yielding to natural breathing.
Yielding to the body that you inhabit.

To assist in the practice of the posture Attention I have suggest one visualisation.
"We 'imagine ourselves in a box".
I do not need to tell anyone how to "visualise" 'tense' do I?

In the practice of the posture Preparation we visualise a different shape all together. We visualise Circles. Circles that Protect - Not Imprison

My intention here was to introduce 'wordless discipline' to all involved that day and to experiment with the theory that "orders are orders" and they must be obeyed. My other and main flag had already been hoisted. "We are most fortunate to be born as human beings". The fact that it was a 10-year-old that gave (by sound only) the order every 45 minutes made this all the more interesting! Secondary fun was to simply involve my son in the day. He is a very good timekeeper and considering the fact that he was not taking part in the training (therefore not distracted or concentrating on other things) he was, despite his age and because of circumstances - the best person for the job! The only session that he was present throughout was the sitting and standing session that I took.

 

We are fortunate to be born as human beings.
Not only are we able to do all of this we are also aware of the differences.

If attention is 'preparing to fight' Preparation is 'preparing to not fight'. There are various reasons that a human being should elect to not fight. One of these is that there is nothing to fight. There is nothing to resist and nothing or no one to defeat. There is no battle and there is no gain or loss.

Fortunate we may be but we should also be aware of our limitations. This is one other thing that I do not have too much trouble proving. Students prove it to themselves soon enough.

All that I [the person that they see as a teacher] have to do is ask them to stay in one position for a few minuets and the wobbly knees prove the point conclusively. We all have limitations. It is fortunate that we are able to find out what they are.

My plan for this session was to simply continue repeating this practice with the body [martial] long enough for those that call themselves students to study it, understand it more and perhaps approach the point where and when Martial Practice may become Martial Art. This will inevitably involve creativity, dexterity and imagination. Please, please do not set limits to your endeavours before you have even begun. Your imagination, like Chi Kung is limitless

We are fortunate to have been born as Human Beings; being put together this way round - able to stand walk do everything stood on just two legs. Our bodies are equipped to undertake any reasonable task that we may ask of it. The level of skilfulness that it accomplishes this with depends almost entirely upon our minds.

We are fortunate to be born as human beings and even more fortunate to have evolved so far and in such a manner. All other creatures (except for in part our nearest relatives - the apes) exist quite literally in another dimension - horizontally as opposed to vertically! For those 'unfortunates' all of their internal organs are suspended within a body with what we call "a back" pointing upwards. Most are somewhat limited in their abilities. Some are unable even to stand up again if they fall down! For all of them apart from the "domesticated" the name of the game is simply survival. We are scientifically far more skilful than any other species on the planet. Why is it then I wonder that it is only this species, our species that seems to exist in near permanent turmoil and conflict? No other species does - apart from the turmoil and conflict that we give them. This of course providing that we (human beings) have at some point deemed them worthy or useful enough to continue their existence at all. How fortunate we are. After ten minuets or so stood variously in Attention and Preparation the group have reached their limitations. So.

mokasu
MOKASU

Having 'got' a group of fellow student's attention I had to do my best to 'keep' it. I used time honoured "teacher tricks" Informal chit- chat, little stories, useful tips etc. These were also to a degree 'planed' but nevertheless 'informal' in nature and therefore best [or most skilfully] imparted in informally. These items need not then expanded upon any further here other than to be listed as Novelty Items:

Bowing. Stood. Step back one pace at start to avoid head clash! Keep eyes to the front - Warrior Eye to rear

man bows -elbows out woman bows - elbows in
elbows out
elbows in

Maybe the only way to sit wearing two swords. Why two swords? One for the enemy and one for the self.

Sitting Animal Postures. Sit like a tiger .like a monkey . like a dog. Saddle Stance. Horse Stance. Tiger Claw.

I try to use simple words to convey a simple teaching yet I know that it may be many years before some in the class would hear it. I am here to encourage you and I urge you to keep looking for something to look for. As you do I beg you to understand that what you are looking for may take some time to find. The 'limitless' often is. Yet the infinite may also it could be realised in an instant because one end perhaps one beginning of 'limitless' is right here now.

Gary Dai Chi Robinson 29/12/99 23:52:47 namuamidabutsu


 

We are fortunate to have been born as Human Beings; being put together this way round - able to stand walk do everything stood on just two legs. Our bodies are equipped to undertake any reasonable task that we may ask of it. The level of skilfulness that it accomplishes this with depends almost entirely upon our minds.

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