Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recognizing tension?

In this post, I pose a question I have been dealing with lately when practicing stance (also in reaction to Rick at Wujifa's post here)...How does one recognize tension?

In Rick's blog post on the so-called "Post Turtle", it is mentioned that our friend the poor turtle cannot get down, did not get on top of the post by its own will, and can only see in the direction it has been turned. A part of me wants to believe that the turtle may always be set back down on the ground in the future (or at least set in the right direction) by a kind soul, or in the case of the student, a teacher who has already mapped the ground before him.

In very much the same way, I have a tendency to see only in the direction that I have been placed...relying too much on corrections from an instructor (medicines to find the feeling) and not thinking enough on my own...

As I write this post, I realize that we are all aiming to get certain "feelings" in the it were, that act as a GPS towards internal strength. The teacher shows the student the right feeling through various tools (1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4!) and adjustments and must receive further refinements again and again towards the right path in order to progress...Given the right tools, the student can work with whats given and play with different adjustments until that feeling is found again...what makes it stronger and what makes it weaker...

I am always amazed when my teacher tells me to release tension in certain areas that I hadn't even realized were tense...The belly, the lower back, the outside of legs, etc.! I originally intended to write this post wondering how to recognize tension in the body...But I might have stumbled upon the answer already: Playing around (ie: what can I release tension from all over the body?) until I find that burn in the legs and connection in the back (all the while holding true to the tools I have already learned...1234, 1234)!

Funny how things work out...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Zhan Zhuang lately...

A large part of Wujifa training is comprised of Zhan Zhuang, or simply, "Stance" training. Stance is a useful practice for one to develop all the connections that make up so called "internal strength". There are many facets to what is seemingly a simple practice and you can read more information (really brilliantly laid out stuff actually) on the Wujifa blog here

The other day while getting stance corrections and, having asked about what exactly that "connection" feel is (fascial stretch, particularly in the back in my own experience; although this is only one small part of it), I assumed my stance as usual. After a few adjustments (arms parallel, shoulders moving rolling back, etc.) on my usual problem spots, I began to really feel a distinct stretchy type of feeling in the center of my back. Voila! This was the beginnings of the so called fascial stretch. And while I don't even pretend to begin to understand where this all leads, I can now recognize the feeling, and make all the adjustments on my own (or so one would hope) to find this same feeling. What can I do to make the feeling stronger? How can I play around with this feeling, and what makes it go away?
Rick, from the Wujifa blog, told me to look in the mirror sideways to see what was going on. "Slide your knees forward, and then sink! Sliding the knees forward allows room to sit"...and while I realize that my own written description might not make sense, this simple demonstration made me understand so much in learning how to get the stretch in the lower back. And at the same time, this "Slide the knees forward and sit" has been drilled into me over and over...why had I missed it so many times before? In the end, despite being shown the door countless times, I just wasn't ready to walk through the door...

So, I encourage all of us to keep playing around...even if we aren't ready for certain things, if you play around enough (and keep jumping back on the horse...thanks for that Dan!), you'll walk through that door eventually!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm still alive!

Just wanted to say Happy (belated) New Year to all, and hope you've all been well over the past few weeks!

Training has been full of its ups and downs for me as of late...ranging from full out one hour stance every day to a few spots of not practicing at all, I have not been as consistent as one would hope. As I continue into this new year, I look towards the future knowing that I am slowly (but surely) progressing to something better and hope that we can all continue to positively influence each other in many ways.

Thanks for everything and Happy 2010!