To practice the Chi-kung within Sil Num Tao you will start the form as usual. It is essential to remain relaxed and calm the mind throughout the exercise. Wing Chun is a soft Chi-kung system not a hard Chi-kung system. Relaxation is essential to allow the energy to flow naturally through the body. As you set up the stance, relax and allow your attention to sink into the earth. At the same time lift very slightly from the top of the head. The feeling should be one of having your head suspended from a string, while your lower body is buried in the earth.
When you sink your chi deeply with a natural flow downward you will find that there will be a responding flow upwards. This raising energy is often called yang raising while the rooting energy is called yin sinking. It is this combination of sinking and raising that you want to attend to by relaxing deeply and lightly lifting the head from the crown shakra which in turn relaxes the neck and spine and opens it gently. This invites the yang raising energy that is the natural balance to your root, to flow up the spine into the crown of your head.
As soon as you open your left hand to start the first tan sau motion on its way forward you begin to focus and build energy deeply. Everything now is done extremely slowly. The saying is that you will move at the speed of a flower opening. That is not very fast, in fact it is very difficult to see any motion at all. However, as a novice to this exercise you will want to move a little faster at first. The ideal speed for an advanced practitioner of this exercise is the speed of a flower opening. At that speed the form will take an hour to complete. When you start out you should shoot for a 20 to 30 minute exercise. The speed of your motions is what will determine the difference in how long you perform the exercise.
Even the opening of the hand from the chambered fist is done slowly. The thumb should be pulled in slightly, and the little finger elevated to create a very slight tension in the palm that will help to focus the chi for the ball. The attention goes to two places right away. You sink into your root attending and intending your energy feelings down deep into the earth. A focus of relaxing the energy beneath you, creating a vacuum that draws or sucks your energy root deep into the earth is useful. This enhances the natural sinking flow (continuum) of energy, which exists in the cosmos. At the same time your attention will go to the palm of your left hand. The pulling of the thumb and lifting of the little finger help to focus the chi in the palm. But do not tense the thumb and finger, just slightly and softly pull them, with a very soft pressure.
As the hand slowly and softly opens you should notice or attend to the sensations of chi within your hand by presencing a deep relaxed vacuum feeling there. The fact that you are opening it very slowly will magnify these sensations. As this occurs, and you notice the energy in the hand, you should begin intending it to increase and strengthen. As with all intending an image is helpful. You should imagine a ball of light building within the void or vacuum created within the palm. To start this you can use the dissolving imagery from the standing meditations to open up the energy gate in the center of the palm and build the void Then start the ball out small in size, and dim in brightness, drawn from you by this relaxed vacuum. As the hand opens fully you will intend it to grow larger and brighter. This intention will remain as a focus point as you slowly press your hand forward to the full tan sau position. By the time your hand is in the tan sau position the ball should fill the hand and be as bright as the sun.
A good instructor will be able to sense this ball and get a good idea of the strength of your intention skills by the quality of the ball you build. Also as you begin opening the hand you will place the tongue on the roof of your mouth and focus on breathing. The reverse breathing (see standing meditation exercises) is preferred but if you have not mastered this skill you can also perform the exercise with the regular breathing cycle. The breath is very revealing. It is a physical manifestation of your mental state. The breath should NOT be forced, harsh, or tight in any way. Rather it should be deep, gentile, and smooth.
Si-Fu Baker at age 21 doing a flying kung fu kick at a beach in New Zealand Copyright © Scott Baker 2000 32
The Tan Sau
The Tan Sau
Once the hand is fully open and the ball is beginning to build you will add another focal point to the two (your root and the palm) you are currently holding. You will now notice (attend to) the energy in your left elbow. Relax it deeply without loosing your position. Again use the dissolving exercise to open the gates of the elbow energy and create a vacuum there. Once the energy there is relaxed and open intend the elbow to get heavier, use an image of heavy water pooling in and around your elbow. As you add this focus to the hand and root, begin to presence the arm forward very slowly. You do this by imagining that the water building in the elbow is creating a soft pressure which gently pushes the arm forward. Once the arm starts to move do not stop and start it. Keep the motion continuous, smooth and very slow.
You can connect the image of the ball in the palm with the one of the heavy water in and around the elbow by intending the water to flow up the inside of the forearm into the hand to fill the ball. The ball in the hand should have a heavy feel to it. The image of the vacuum in the hand sucking or drawing the elbow energy to it is useful. Allow the energy to move within the arm and the body in distinct waves of relaxation and peace. It is useful to presence these waves with the inhalation of the breath. As you bring the elbow energy forward towards the hand draw the wave of chi through the forearm bones, entering at the opening at the back of the elbow. This is where your practice of bone marrow washing in previous exercise will be valuable. The water energy at the elbow will flow through the bones of the forearm into the wrist, hand and fingers filling the bones and then entering the ball through the center of the palm. Allow the connection of these two images to occur slowly. Intend the water from the elbow into the bones and up the forearm gradually. You must deeply attend to the sensations these images create as they will support and strengthen your intending.
The waves of heavy water should fill the hand and enter the ball in the palm just before you complete the full tan sau. You may be wondering where the elbow energy is drawn from. For beginners it is not important to imagine its source, the beginners attention and intention will be challenged enough with simply feeling energy to the elbow. But more advanced practitioners can presence this elbow energy from the waves of yang rising energy coming up from the root into the Dan-Tien. This will be explained later in this exercise.
You will be holding all four images (sinking yin root, yang raising waves, heavy elbow, & the ball in the palm), attending and intending to each simultaneously throughout the motion of the tan sau. By the end of the tan sau your breathing should be gentle, deep and smooth. It must sound relaxed but full, similar to the sound of someone breathing who is in a deep sleep. Also by the end of the tan sau you will likely notice a vibration beginning within your body. Often it will start within your legs but not always. The vibration should resonate at a high frequency and should not cause your body to jerk or move from its still, standing position.
If jerking occurs it is a manifestation of either incorrect posture or tension, or a lack of control over your energy. When you correct either of these, the jerking will stop and the vibration will be imperceptible to another person, unless they touch you. At this point simply notice the vibration; realize it is a good sign indicating that you are building significant chi and that all is going well. As you progress through the exercise the vibration will increase somewhat in strength and will spread throughout your body. If you are not experiencing this vibration do not worry, it will come in time as it is a physical manifestation of the yang raising chi that balances the yin root. Just continue with the rest of the exercise.
The Wu Sau
At the end of the tan sau position, begin to rotate the hand in the huen sau maneuver to end up in an extended wu sau. This motion is also done slowly, but not as slowly as the tan sau. The rotation or huen should take about a minute to complete. As Copyright © Scott Baker 2000
you are huening you should slowly raise in your stance an inch or so. You will sink back down when you begin the fook sau motion. Still maintain the rooting intention; you are just raising up in the stance a small amount. For more advanced practitioners this raising is the result of the yang raising chi which balances the sinking root. This raising energy comes in waves similar to waves of water on a shore line. These raising waves of chi can be utilized as a form of fa-jing issuing of energy within the Chum Ku and Bil Tze forms.
Maintain the image of the ball of light stuck to your palm. As you rotate the hand the ball remains stuck to the palm and the flow of energy from the pool at the elbow also continues. As you lock back the wrist in the wu sau you will sink/relax the arm's weight into the elbow and at this point reverse the direction of the flow of chi so that now it flows into the elbow from the ball in the hand. To do this, again create a relaxed vacuum in the elbow. As you slowly draw the wu sau back towards you the elbow gets heavier as the energy flows from the hand through the bones into the elbow area. This helps to generate the image of the elbow heaviness pulling the whole arm back towards the body with a gentle, slow, and consistent pressure.
The wu should move at the same slow speed as the tan sau. Breathing remains the same, deep and relaxed. The energy being drawn from the ball stuck to the palm is added to by drawing energy in through the fingers of the wu hand. The image of drawing in light through the fingers can be used to intend this. The feeling of the ball will often change to the hand feeling more like it is wrapped within energy. This is because your intention is now on the flow to the elbow rather than on building the ball in the palm. You may notice the sensation of chi all around the wu hand, both on the palm side and the back of the hand. Your attention will be on the hand, the flow of chi down the marrow in the forearm bones, and the accumulating pool of chi at the elbow, while still maintaining the deep energy root.
You should also start attending to the vibration in your body. As you repeat the cycle three times you will intend this vibration up into your spine and into your head, as well as down into the hand and arm. As you get more advanced in your practice the drawing of energy through the hand to the elbow will continue by further drawing it from the elbow to the Dan-Tien and then down into the root. This connects the wu sau with the root on an energy level. This again is done using the intended image of a sucking vacuum or relaxed void first in the elbow, then the Dan-Tien, and finally in the earth itself.
The Fook Sau
Once the hand has moved back to the finishing point for the wu sau you begin to turn it down into the fook sau position. This transition is done at the same slow speed of the tan and wu. As you lower the hand also slowly sink an inch or so in your stance. You would lower the hand to the fook position and sink in your stance simultaneously. This further compresses the root energy which results in a stronger yang raising chi response. The fook sau position is the strongest building phase of the exercise. Lower your root intention and reverse the attending focus so that you are now attending more to the yang raising energy up from your root. You should intend to draw the energy of the earth in rhythmic waves through your legs into your Dan-Tien and up the front of your body along the conception vessel path (See an acupuncture chart) to your solar plexus. If you seem unable to get the energy past a certain part of your body use the dissolving exercise to unlock the energy at that point and presence a void to suck the energy past the blockage.
As the palm of the fook hand folds in towards your chest and the fingers come together grip the energy building at your solar plexus and draw it into your hand. You now have a flow coming from the root in the earth up the legs, through the Dan-Tien, up and out of the solar plexus, into the fingers and palm of your fook sau hand and through the marrow of the forearm bones into the elbow. As you slowly extend the fook sau out envision the image of the chi (think of it as water or light) flowing from the chest into the hand, pressing the hand out, while the accumulation of energy weight at the elbow draws the elbow into the centered position. What was the image of the ball of light stuck to the palm of the tan and wu sau is now a stream or beam of light extending from the chest into the palm of the hand.
As the arm slowly extends the pooled energy at the elbow is now drawn up the arm bone into the shoulder and the neck. You should start this by dissolving the gates at the shoulder and neck bone. Although you will often feel the energy all around your arm and hand, it is important to focus your intent to drawing it through the inside of your bones. The bone marrow washing requires a deep attention and intending ability.
In addition to drawing the energy from the root into the solar plexus and fook sau arm you will also draw that same raising root energy into the hips. Actually you pool it in the Dan-Tien and then divide it with part of it going up the conception vessel to the solar plexus and part of it flowing the other direction along the governing vessel and into the center of the spine through the tailbone. From there you draw it through the tailbone and up the inside of the spine to eventually meet the elbow energy at the neck. It then is brought into the brain and wash over the brain.
To do this effectively you need to use the dissolving exercise to unlock the energy gate at the tailbone that allows the energy to enter there. You can further draw the energy up the spine by progressively relaxing and generating the vacuum within each vertebra from the tailbone up to the skull. Holding the lifting feeling in the crown of your head throughout this exercise is essential. The drawing up of energy from the ground should be done by drawing it into the bones of the feet and through the marrow of the leg bones. When it gets to the hipbones you will draw it into the Dan-Tien along with a drawing intention from your gonads. This enables the sexual energy housed there to be added to the root energy to fill the Dan-Tien and then flow up to the chest area to be drawn into your fook sau hand. Once the Dan-Tien is filled, and the connection is made with the fook hand the root energy can then be divided, half going to the fook hand and the rest going to the tailbone and up the spine. A gentle contraction of the sphincter muscle is helpful in directing the chi into the tailbone.
The vibration within the body will intensify during the fook sau phase, do not let in get away from you and start causing you to jerk and jump around. Focus it within the abdominal area and allow it to fill the chest, arms, and head. Relaxation and correct posture are the keys to keeping it under control, although if you become fatigued you may be unable to relax sufficiently, or focus your energy intention strong enough to channel the energy you are generating. That is why it is important not to attempt this exercise before you have developed the needed intention skills. Also when you first start this exercise aim for 20 to 30 minutes the first few times. As you get use to the exercise you will be able to hold the mental focus longer and you can increase the time by slowing down the motions. You do not increase the time by adding more sequences; this would change the dynamic of the form. Always do each sequence three times on both arms, no more, no less.
Once you have finished the fook sau you rotate the hand to a tan sau, presence the ball in the palm again and then huen to the wu sau as before. On the second and third repetitions you want to maintain the attention on the drawing root rather than just intending down, and maintain the flow of energy from the root up the spine into the head. This was started with the first fook sau and should be maintained throughout the three repetitions. Upon completing the final wu sau, you can relax the focus for a moment as you change to normal speed to do the side palm and thrusting palm and chamber the left hand.
Repeat the same process on the right side. However, with the right tan sau you should maintain the focus attention on the drawing root. This will add the yang raising root energy to your hand as you focus on building the ball in the palm. You should keep the wave flow going up from the root once you establish it, focusing it within the arm and hand and drawing it up the spine as well. As the vibration intensifies you can begin to focus it deep into the bones by drawing or intending it into them. This also helps calm the vibration if it gets too strong.
Upon completion of the form you should feel a deep peacefulness and calm. You should also feel energized; your mind should not be tense but relaxed and surprisingly quiet. It may be a little fatigued from the prolonged intense focus required, but your body should feel invigorated. Standing for some time can tire the legs a little at first, but as you practice regularly your body will soon become conditioned so that this is not a permanent condition. At first some people experience muscular pain in the shoulders from holding the arm in position so long. This will also stop once you are conditioned better. The important thing is to relax, try to maintain the position because there is an important energy reason for the postures and techniques, but do not do it by tensing. You are better off being slightly out of position yet remaining relaxed than being in position but tense.
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