Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tempe Martial Art of Awareness Highlights #69 [VIDEO]

In this highlights clip we share a little bit of I Liq Chuan's lower hand sticky hand, and moving step spinning hands training from one of our Sunday classes at Tempe Papago Park.
Many people wonder if I Liq Chuan can be used for fighting. As a system of internal martial arts, or internal kung fu aka "neijia" 內家, the answer is a resounding "yes"! Many of our older clips on YouTube only show our stationary spinning hands training. Now that many instructors and group leaders around the world have progressed in skill, we're able to better show how some of our training, like spinning and sticky hands translate into usable fighting skills. Naturally, no one will fight you standing still. Once you've developed some proficiency in maintaining fullness at the point of contact with stationary spinning hands, we start with some basic stepping and kicking. Maintaining fullness at the point, or what tai chi likes to call "peng", while moving, stepping and kicking requires quite a bit of coordination! That's why these skills are focused on more in the middle of the curriculum, once students have developed some of the pre-requisite skills and most importantly, attention!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Mind & Body As One

I was thinking about right effort last night at the end of our I Liq Chuan class here in Tempe.

Right Effort is something they talk about in Zen as one of the factors of the eight fold path, along with right speech, right action, right livelihood, right intent, right concentration and right mindfulness. Typically their categorized as "discipline, concentration and wisdom." If you've ever gotten an email from me, you may have noticed these three words as part of my signature.

Despite what we want to do with our time, life often gets in the way, throwing a variety of hurdles in our path. As it happens, I'm in the middle of some stuff right now, which is all adding to my "stress bucket"; vehicle troubles, my dad's health, etc. and my sleep this week hasn't been ideal, so by the end of class, when we practice our 21 form, I just wasn't feeling it.

The 21 Form, done properly, takes quite a bit of focus and concentration do be done "right". There's a of moving parts all at once, and everything needs to be coordinated just so. It becomes a form of dynamic meditation; everything is done with full "knowing".
My hands are HERE, my feet are there, touching the ground in just such a way, gravity is pulling on my here, my body is facing this way; now that, and all the time, more than anything: I KNOW where my center is, how I move to keep the balance to change direction at any time or ready to produce power. The attention has to be there to know, every single time.

Standing at the front of the class, it would have been easy enough to just phone it in and call it a night. Who would know besides me? I've put in my 10000 hours by this point, I could just let habit and muscle memory take over, but standing there, looking out over the water I thought to myself "What are you doing? What do you really want? If you don't concentrate and put in the right effort here, you only cheat yourself."

How often do we cheat ourselves? How many promises to yourself do you break in a day, or in a week, and how do we feel when we do that?

On the other hand, bringing our thoughts and actions into alignment is like "mind and body as one". It's not always easy; in fact, most of the time it WILL BE hard, but knowing that our actions align with our beliefs and values is a form of self discipline that brings inner peace.