The following focus points are accumulative, each point is added to the preseding points.
Set up the stance, focus on the sinking yin root.
Tan sau, focus on a ball of energy in the palm, pooling chi in the elbow, yang raising waves, chi flow from elbow to palm, chi flow from root to the elbow. Wu sau, strong focus on raising yang chi, chi flow from hand through the bones into the elbow, from the elbow up to the spine. Fook sau, Focus on the yang raising waves up through the bones into the Dan Tien, divide it to go up the spine through the tail bone, and simultaneously up the front of the body to the solar plexus, out along the center line into the fook sau hand, through the bones to the elbow, up into the spine where it joins with the spine chi and washes over the brain.
As you can see there are multiple simultaneous things to focus your attention and intention upon. This is why the Sil Num Tao exercise is a very advanced exercise and assumes the practitioner has already acquired significant energy skills. This is also why the Sil Num Tao boxing form is considered an advanced form rather than a beginning form. If you have ever heard the stories of Grandmaster Yip Man taking an hour to complete the first form, you will now understand a little better why it took so long and what he was doing for that hour. You can also see that this exercise contains the deep aspects of all the preceding exercises combined into one. Once you have completed the last of the slow wu sau motions you should perform the remainder of the form at normal speed with the releasing skills in each motion taught in Biu Tze. This is very important; the form is an entire unit of Chi-kung and performing only the slow portion is only a piece of the exercise. By releasing through the remainder of the form you will flush out the chi and rebalance your system. Therefore the rest of the form is essential and should be preformed with dynamic releasing skills.
Chapter 5 Learning to Move with Chi
As important as the energy root is, it does one little good if he is unable to move with it. A dynamic or moving root is essential because fighting is the art of moving. The next progressive step from the stationary rooting skills is to make them dynamic. I remember seeing an old Tai Chi master demonstrate just how powerful it is to move your body with your energy. He was in his 80s, and had practiced the characteristic slow movements of Tai Chi for most of his life. But I didn't see how much the energy was moving his old frail body until he moved quickly. As part of a demonstration he showed the classical Tai Chi form and then to help dispel the myth that Tai Chi is only done slowly he made a series of very quick turns, much like the stance turning in the Chum Ku form. His body whipped around from one side to the next, yet he stayed perfectly balanced and still. I knew even a younger man could not turn like that, and here was a frail looking old master doing it, how? He wasn't using his body to move his energy; he was using his chi to move his body! In fact while in the parks in China during the early morning hours I regularly observed Tai Chi being practiced at a rather medium to fast pace. Of course the classic slow Tai Chi forms were also regularly practiced, but it was not uncommon to see the forms practiced quickly.
Tai Chi in Beijing's Bamboo Park
As I visited with many different masters of Tai Chi I found that I had much in common with them. I became friendly with an elderly gentleman named Zhang Shuji who could speak some English and who enjoyed taking me around. It seemed he wanted to show me the real high masters of kung fu because he called me frequently stating that he had arranged for me to meet with this famous teacher or that famous master.
For me he was a God sent, I always went with him and he often talked the master into comparing skills with me. I think he wanted to have them show me up, but each time he became more impressed with my kung fu skills. On the final meeting he took me to Yue Tan Park where a great old master that was very well respected as having expert skills taught each morning.
Tai Chi in Beijing's Bamboo Park
His name was master Yang Da Hou and I found him to be most humble and genuine, like most of the masters I encountered. We began comparing upon the agreement that we would reframe from injuring each other and I was most impressed with his skills. He was 81 years old and small in stature, about 100 lbs. at best, yet he moved with a solid root and I found him very skillful at resisting and countering my efforts to unbalance him.
However, I also was able to counter his efforts to throw or unbalance me, which greatly impressed the audience as well as the old master, who later stated that my skills were very good.
As in most schools of martial arts, this wise master had one student who was one of those characters who thinks he knows more than he really does. He wanted to try his hand at unbalancing me, but he also failed while I was able to throw him several times. He then declared that it was only because I was too big and strong physically. He invited me to stay for another master to come who he was confident could throw me easily. I naturally agreed, they said this master was a big man who had great skills and had beaten many challengers. He was skilled in Tai Chi as well as a version of Shaolin. Naturally I was excited to see what he had.
After about an hour or so he arrived and the group eagerly took me over to him and introduced us. His name was Lu Jian Guo and he was a large man, somewhat larger than I am, and I'm not exactly petite. He was in his late 40's and looked very strong, he had the eyes of an experienced fighter. I was eager to feel his skills. When they told him I practiced Wing Chun master Lu commented that Wing Chun injures people. I quickly informed him I was not there to injure anyone and so we agreed to compare without injuring each other, but to simply unbalance each other.
A large crowd gathered, 30 to 50 people, to watch the master throw me. We started in a push hands sequence and quickly moved to directly attempting to unbalance each other by applying presses and pulls in free form. He was solidly rooted and I found the exchange most enjoyable. We went back and forth for several minutes without either getting an advantage, then when he applied a strong press to my body I slipped it and was able to jerk him out of his stance and throw him about 12 feet. This greatly impressed the crowd who let out an audible gasp.
Master Lu was very gracious and acknowledged that I had gotten him, but then returned with zeal in an effort to redeem himself. We continued for an additional 3 or 4 minutes without either getting a real advantage.
Upon stopping the exchange master Lu declared to the crowd that I was most formidable and had a great ability with energy. This was a great compliment and the crowd began to respect my skills more than my size, even though I was not Chinese. I was very impressed with his skills and we parted as good friends. Although he and master Yang, as well as two other masters who I had compared with that morning commented together that I would be almost unbeatable if I studied Tai Chi to better refine my Chi-kung skills.
I took this as a great compliment, as I have the uttermost respect for Tai Chi. To have these masters of China encourage me to take their preferred style to improve was a high compliment. I truly felt honored. And in truth I believe that if I was able to study under some of these masters I would truly improve considerably.
The ability to move while rooted is what is taught in the Chum Ku boxing form. It is one thing to be able to root, it is quite another level of skill to keep that root while moving, and it is an even deeper skill level to move the body from the rooting energy!
So how does one progress through these levels of skill?
A fundamental truth about the nature of chi is that it is fluid. In its natural state it is alive and moving. The fact that it naturally moves is a key to being able to move with it. However, chi also wants to be led; to be told where to go. If it isn't told by the intent of the person then it simple moves and cycles naturally within the grand sinking continuum that is chi. The first level skill of rooting your energy is accomplished simply by relaxing and quieting the mind and body enough to release the energy and allow it to sink due to the force of gravity. (Energy is effected by gravity, in fact gravity is an effect caused by the flow of the earth's chi, but that's another book). Then you begin to presence down and draw the chi into the earth, to essentially direct the chi to sink deeper. This is done through training your attention and intention, two mental aspects that bring control over chi. It's not enough to just wish, or think about moving the energy here or there, you have to really presence the feeling through intent.
These same skills then are used to make the root dynamic. Essentially what you do is presence or "send out your energy feelings" to where you want to be. To do this you must apply several key principles. First and foremost Relax and create a feeling of a void or vacuum, you can not move energy without relaxation. The feelings of energy that you will presence or intend out are these relaxed void feelings. Also center your body motion from the Dan-Tien; move from there. If you are stepping forward you step as if someone has a rope around your hips and pulls you forward. You move from the Dan-Tien first by presenting the energy from there. The third key would be to use the dynamic of shooting energy and springing energy into the feet.
When you are relaxed energy can feel heavy, like it has weight. As you throw the front foot out to step, drop the heavy energy feeling down the leg and into the foot so it feels like a heavy metal ball rolling down a sealed tube and hitting the bottom with a thud. Your chi shoots down your leg from your Dan-Tien and hits your foot with a thud too. This Thud feel will pull you forward somewhat. At the same time the energy ball hits your foot you shoot a spring like energy down your back leg to fire you forward. All this happens in a split second, and is all about presencing feelings, relaxing, and intending from the Dan-Tien. The leg and feet must be relaxed.
You do not lift up your root to do this. In fact you are still presencing down by centering your motion in the Dan-Tien and intending into your feet as you step with the relaxed void feeling. The motion is initiated by presencing from the Dan-Tien towards your target, while keeping rooted simultaneously. As you create a vacuum within the Dan-Tien you will draw energy up from the root which loads the spring energy in the rear leg. This drawing root enables you to shoot from the Dan-Tien and move with the root intact.
Notice when you step that you do not move both feet in the same moment. Rather you move the front leg out then you push of from the back leg and move it up. The front leg draws the back leg behind it as if a large rubber band was around your legs at the knees. This is what is often called the abduction stance, or abduction stepping. The timing of your intending down into the foot should be to capitalize on this. As the ball thuds into the lead foot you will shoot by releasing the spring in the rear leg. The coordination of this energy interplay will result in a very quick shooting step. At first you will be moving your body and energy together. But as you become more adept at this you will eventually move you body from your energy, just as the old Tai Chi master did.
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