The Web Of Strength

Calligraphy by Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai described in the Introduction to Part Three.

Within the body the tnnscles are tit ease, suspended front the sky. Outside, each It air is active, moving with the dir. I he inner eye is quiet, seeing the three thousand. The ear listens intend)' to its Otmi body, tike eavesdropping on hirers. Play like a dragon in the iViVJi? and shy, Or as ti cloud swirling around the tnovn. The images of this art tire Without beginning or end. You balance, intoxicated, on a leaping dragon fish.

The original calligraphy of this poem is reproduced on page 72. The lines were composed by Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai. The scroll was commissioned and presented to me in Beijing by his daughter and spiritual heir, Madame Wang Yuk Fong. As the additional calligraphy on the scroll indicates, this gift conferred on me the responsibility for continuing Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai's art.

In the lines of the poem, Grand Master Wang describes the inner experience of his art. He begins with the internal sensations of practicing Zhan Zhuang. The muscles, habitually tense and giving us the sensation of solidity, are deeply relaxed - as if the entire body structure was held from above by a puppet master. Our spirit is not dulled, however; on the contrary, our nervous system is fully alert - the hairs on our skin are keenly sensitive even to the slightest movement of the air around us. The mind, clear and still, is wide open: it is "seeing the three thousand" - a classical Chinese phrase meaning all phenomena, everything and everyone.

Internally, we are extraordinarily sensitive to the most subtle movements and changes within our organs and tissues.

The final four lines of the poem are devoted to the experience of movement in Da Cheng Chuan. First, the dragon: this mythical being has always been a symbol of immense wisdom and power. Dragons have the ability to inhabit all regions, from the celestial clouds to the depths of the earth and the seas. Their powerful bodies, sheathed in thousands of scales moving rhythmically and harmoniously in waves, are endowed with mysterious flexibility. Thus, in Da Cheng Chuan, unlike many other martial arts, there are no fixed routines and no repetitive "forms." Motion and stillness are its only forms, taking their constantly changing shapes from the energetic power of the practitioner, like "a cloud swirling around the moon."

Grand Master Wang found inspiration for Da Cheng Chuan from many different art forms - including poetry, painting, calligraphy and music - as well as from China's great philosophies and from his own careful observation of nature. The endless display of energy in all life provided him with images "without beginning or end" with which he described the essence of his art.

The combined sensitivity and strength that you develop through the practice of Da Cheng Chuan produce a feeling of being completely exhilarated, yet perfectly balanced. This is the experience Grand Master Wang expresses in the final line of his poem - being intoxicated with an abundance of energy, able to balance on the twisting scales of "a leaping dragon fish."

Tortoise in the Sea Flick through the following pages (ending at page 99) to see Master Lam practice the Shih Li movement - Tortoise in the Sea (pages 138-139). 1

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