Archive for the I-Liq Chuan Category

10 Questions with Daria Sergeeva

Posted in 10 Questions, I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Martial Arts with tags , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2017 by Combative Corner

daria-sergeeva-pic

How did you come to find I-Liq Chuan and why did you choose ILC over other martial arts?

It was in the beginning of 2004 when I met my teacher Alex Skalozub. I believe I am a lucky person because of the opportunities I have had in my life. I visited the KANON gym in Moscow with my friend and Sifu Alex was there training some students. The process caught my eye. So I started to come very often, talked with Sifu Alex, watching his way of teaching, his approach to students, his point of view of daily life. I felt that this interesting person can improve me, and bring me to a very high level in martial art and esoteric philosophy.  After few months I decided to become his disciple and I was accepted as his student. He is a very intelligent teacher and always gives new students the chance to start properly. I was very happy with being accepted as a disciple of Iliqchuan style.

In the martial world, master Alexander Skalozub is my Sifu. His teacher, grandmaster Sam Chin (Chin Fan Siong) – is my Sigong. I met my Sigong after my first week of Iliqchuan training. He comes to Russia twice a year. I met him at the May workshop that he led. I was a pretty new student with only one week experience, so I asked if I could help out during the workshop. I recorded everything he showed, 8-10 hours each day. So I saw all the information and demonstrations through the small “eye” of the videocamera. I remember my feeling very clearly:  I could not understand even one word of the grandmaster! But… after 5 months when he came back to Moscow in November I was already European Taichi Push Hands Champion. That was my first step on the way of competition life. And in November I could already asked questions about Iliqchuan and was able to listen and understand some things.

Iliqchuan has a very interesting approach to mind and body work. Everything is through recognizing and seeing the natural and looking deeply into the fundamentals of the processes. From the first lessons I learned how to direct my attention, how to unify myself, and to use myself, like a tool, for any task. My first wish was to be able to fight. But I “learned how to learn” first. Then I was able to fight. Then I was able to talk and listen to people and the environment. Then I was able to work better. When you can control your mind, you can control your body. When you practice martial arts as a way of investigation of your abilities and seeing Nature, then you can apply it to every moment of your life. Iliqchuan is called a Human art. This is way of life for me. No aggressive. Powerful. Soft. Relaxed. Very precise.

You have been in several competitive fights (against Sanda and Muay Thai fighters). Do you see a difference between a traditional MA training approach and training for competition? If so, how did you bridge the two training approaches?

In the olden days traditional martial artists very often tested their skills on the street but now, fortunately, the situation is different. You cannot just go to the street and fight with people – this is illegal in most countries. Instead you can go to competitions and meet strong opponents who want to kick your ass 🙂  So you can test your skills a little.

To be able to fight under different competitions you need to know yourself very well and have the right mental approach to  the training process. Also you need to choose the competition with rules that are compatible with your training process and allow you to manifest the skills of your style. It depends. If you have a choice, it is better to have experience fighting in competition. It doesn’t matter what kind of competition. Full contact fight or wrestling or doing the form of your style. For me (and for Iliqchuan students) going to compete is a part of the training of our mind. We go to see how our mind works in different stages of this process: when you make the decision to fight, then may be how your concentration changes during competition training, what kind of bull shit inside yourself will pop up before you go into the ring to fight, then during fighting, then what is in your mind if you won or what is in your mind if you lost – and what is in your mind during “post-fight party”. So for me, competitions create the conditions for me to see my own mind better.

For me, the approach of training will be the same as for traditional martial artist but with adjustments for different rules. More wrestling or more sparring under competition rules, increasing stamina a little because I may need to fight a few rounds. And more meditation…

After having studied ILC long enough to establish yourself as a respected instructor, what advice would she give to your younger self?

Thank you for this question. Thinking about this, I don’t have any advice for this girl. She has taken action in her life and I am just grateful to her for this.

What is it like training under her teachers Alex Skalozub and Sam F.S. Chin?

Any interesting/fun anecdotes that offer a glimpse into the training experience under these sifus?

Actually I wrote a lot of interesting short stories during my first few years of learning Iliqchuan under my Sifu Alex Skalozub. They are on our web-sites and had more than 1 million viewers 🙂 . May be I need to publish a small book of funny stories from this period of my life.

Ok…I call myself “Lucky Jar.” I eat from two plates. I drink from two sources. My jar has no bottom. When my Sigong or my Sifu teach or talk to me – my two eyes watch, my two ears listen. Becoming a reciever- that’s my job. To be “hungry-for-everything” – that’s my state of mind. To be “changeable-for-everything” – that’s the state of my body. To be “clear-of-no-doubts” – that’s the state of my heart. I try my best with these things. I am a stupid student mostly, but good enough for something :).

“First Zen” – story with my Sigong Sam Chin:

The first time I met grandmaster I asked him:

How many hours a day do you training?

I was very interested to hear his answer and concentrated hard.

I do not train. At all! – Grandmaster Sam Chin looked very serious. He make a long pause. My mind raced. I didn’t know how to respond to him so I just stayed still and silent like a stone.

Immediately grandmaster slapped me hard on the back and laughed loudly.

I train 25 hours a day. Every minute. – He says very quietly to my ear.

Later he taught me how to do it using my mind control with the breathing.

“Beyond The Words” – story with my Sifu Alex Skalozub:

Would you like a cup of tea, Sifu?

Yes, please. Use my small cup.

I walked to the kitchen and remembered that we had a coffee and milk too and decided to return and give my teacher the choice. I turned back to the room and before I open my mouth to say something:

Excuse me, we…

Yes, please, coffee with milk.

Later he taught me how to receive information through other forms of contact than verbal expression.


I-Liq Chuan is called the “Martial Art of Awareness.” How does one train awareness in the context of martial arts?

Awareness is the key to all doors. Seeing cleary. No reflexes or weakness which your opponent could use against you. No surprise from your opponent. All your movements will be born from direct knowing from the Present. In Iliqchuan we use 15 special basic exercises to recognize the 5 qualities of the Body Movement to Unify our Body and Mind. We use Iliqchuan Spinning and Sticky Hands to unify with our opponent and be able to apply Chinna and Sanda. All training should follow the right philosophy, concepts and principles. We have 6 physical points and 3 mental factors which we must maintain in all our practice, to achieve the “One Suchness Feel.”


Some people say that it looks like Tai Chi. What similarities do they share and what makes them different?

We should not confuse the art of Taijiquan with the principles of Taiji. Taijiquan and Iliqchuan are both based on the principles of Taiji. Both style use principles of “no-resisting and no backing off”, Yin and Yang. Both styles involve practicing relaxation, harmony and balance, using Chi energy flow and are very good for health.

I am not going to talk about other styles, I will just list a few examples from Iliqchuan then you can easily compare:

Absorb/Project, Condense/Expend, Concave/Convex, Open/Close, 3 Dimensions as a mechanism of body movement.

no reflex, no techniques

no “Push Hands” (but we can participate in “Taiji Push Hands” competition, in Sanda or Muay Thai rules, and so on)

Approach: Zhongxindao – the way of neutral.


What makes I Liq Chuan’s version of push hands different from Tai Chi’s version?

We do not have push hands in Iliqchuan. The Iliqchuan system consists of 3 parts. The first part is philosophy, principles and concepts with meditation of awareness. The second part is unifying mental and physical. That is the 15 basic exercises, the Iliqchuan 21 Form and the Iliqchuan Butterfly Form. The Third part is Unifying with the Opponent and Environment. That is Spinning hands, Sticky Hands, Chinna and Sanda.


Do you practice any weapons forms and if so, what’s your favorite and why?

I don’t do much with weapons forms. Instead, I prefer to take a stick or something and do some sparring exercises.


What do you enjoy doing outside of the martial arts?

There is no “inside” or “outside” of the martial arts – Iliqchuan Zhongxindao for me. Iliqchuan Zhongxindao is my way of life and shows me how to enjoy the life.


What is your future goals in martial arts? (for example: will you be building an Academy in Russia)

I am going to conquer the world!!!

My inner world of course. 🙂

We already did a lot to build the Iliqchuan school in Russia and Russian-speaking countries. Of course we will keep going and I will do my best as a disciple of my teachers to help to promote Iliqchuan all over the world.

Every year we do a lot of international events open to everybody, for example the International Iliqchuan Summer Camp in Russia. For 2 weeks, around 9 hours a day, anyone who wants to study martial arts in depth can come and train under master Alex Skalozub and me – together with iliqchuan students from around the world. And we run this every year.

I am very open to try new projects which will help us to share our skills with others, and show the beauty and uniqueness of Iliqchuan Zhongxindao. I have a lot of ideas in mind.

www.iliqchuan.com

Bonus Quesion: As a student that enjoys the art of combat, and who has personal experience in the ring and competition, who is your favorite fighter/athlete and why?

I like a fighters/athlete with both martial art skills and martial morality. For me this is important. If somebody has a skill but only behaves well “for show”, I don’t admire them. If somebody has a less skill but high level of martial morality, I will respect them much more. And I really love meeting people with a good balance of body and mind. And not necessarily in the martial world. The term “Kungfu Master” is applicable to any kind of skills. 🙂

But ok…when it comes to well-known sports fighters/athletes I like: Fedor Emelyanenko (spirit, calmness), Roy Jones (relaxation, free mind), Buakaw Por Pramuk (timing and spacing), Miesha Tate (persistance) and others.

Thank you for the questions, thank you for listening,and my best wishes to everyone!

Daria (Dasha) Sergeeva

Thanks for Eric Ling for editing

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Exercise For Projecting Force | Kuo

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Training, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

One of the things that I find painful to observe when I go to the gym is watching people do squats.  It’s a basic movement that gets butchered since our sedentary lifestyles have made us forget how to move from the hips.  Instead, what happens when people squat is mostly poorly coordinated movements starting from the knees.  Rather than try to explain this in text, I find that Kelly Starrett’s video post about squatting is easier to visualize:

So, what does this have to do with projecting force?

Well, joint sequencing in a squat movement has direct carryover to projecting force.  One thing I often notice with people first learning absorb-project is that the hip-knee coordination is off.  The knees drift forward first, followed by the hips drifting forward, and ultimately resulting in a forward lean with the weight on the toes.  Starting the movement from the knees moves the knee into a suboptimal angle for bearing force, which in turn puts unnecessary shear stress on the knee and shifts most of the movement load to the quadriceps.  There is also a tendency to lose suction on the kua when initiating from the knees.  This manifests as the front of the body opening up and the mingmen closing; consequently, the shoulders move backwards as the body is moving forward, which is an inefficient movement pattern for projecting force forward.  Projecting by initiating with forward knee movement results in movement that is off-balance, not harmonized, skewed towards a yang-only energy, and stresses the knees more than necessary.

 If we stick to I-Liq Chuan principles

…and project and expand from the mingmen to initiate the movement, we get joint sequencing more like a proper squat.  The mingmen and hips move back first, which keeps the knee in a better position. The aligned knee position allows axial force transfer through the joint, which minimize shear stress.  With the force moving more through the center of the knee joint instead of shearing out, the quads don’t have to work so hard counteracting knee flexion (bending) and can thus be more relaxed.  Moving from the hips first also distributes force to the strong posterior chain muscles (i.e. hamstrings and glutes) in addition to engaging the quads, so we get  harmonization of the yin and yang muscles.

Johnny Kuo

[Originally posted 3/13/12, MindBodyKungfu.Com]

Blink and The Power of Words

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Products, Training with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

I recently read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and found the book to be quite enjoyable. The premise of how the mind can perceive things in an instant has parallels to the mental aspects of I-Liq Chuan training. We train the mind to remain attentive to the moment such that we can truly perceive and flow with the present conditions.  One section of the book I found particularly interesting was the description of professional tasters.  Developing a highly refined sense of taste has mental training aspects of which I was unaware.  I had an interesting insight after reading Gladwell’s description of how professional tasters develop their skill.

You’d think that professional tasters are gifted with super sensitive taste buds, and to a degree that may be true. However, the extent to which a professional taster’s tongue differs from everyone else’s is probably not that big. The average person can generally tell whether they like something or not, and tell whether they think one thing tastes better than another. In this respect, the professional taster’s tongue is no different than your average Joe or Jane. However, if you put a twist on the taste test, the pros quickly separate themselves from the field of amateurs. Ask the average person why they like one thing better than another, and their answers will be all over the map and inconsistent with their actual taste preferences. The pro tasters on the other hand can tell you in excruciating detail exactly why they liked one taste more than another. In another example, if you gave the average person two of the same item and one different item and wanted the items ranked, he would have trouble differentianting which product was which. A professional taster could easily distinguish each product.

What gives the pro the advantage? First, it would be the extensive taste training (education and practice).  However, it’s not just the training that sets them apart.  We all eat and drink everyday and thus receive a fair amount of daily experience tasting things.  The other important factor would be that professional tasters learn specific vocabulary to categorize and grade different tastes. I found this fact to be utterly fascinating. By learning taste jargon, the professional tasters have a conceptual framework on which to develop their skill.  Just learning to describe tastes gives you a system for understanding flavors and really developing your attention to your tongue.

Sifu made it a point to us to pay attention to the words he used to describe the I-Liq Chuan system. Absorb-project, open-close, condense-expand, etc. all have specific meanings. Substitutions of terms are discouraged. This is a mild annoyance at first if you are used to using other terms, but there are compelling reasons to being so exact with terminology. The first I understood was that everyone learns the same terms so that discussion between practitioners is meaningful and has minimal confusion. If everyone uses a standard jargon, it is much easier for everyone to converse and improve each other’s understanding.

The other important reason didn’t dawn on me until reading Blink. Language affects your conceptualization of ideas. The vocabulary defines a conceptual framework for the system. Sifu spent a lot of time being specific with his choice of terms; that makes a lot of sense since language both defines the conceptual framework for learning the system and provides a vehicle for information exchange. The system starts you with specific vocabulary to lay the conceptual foundation for honing your skill in the art.

Johnny Kuo

[Originally Posted at MindBodyKungfu 2/11/11]

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Physics of Explosive Energy | Fajin

Posted in Day's Lesson, I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Internal Development, Training with tags , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by mindbodykungfu

Johnny Kuo  |  I-Liq Chuan

Being a science sort of guy, I like understanding mechanisms of how things work. Tying in concepts from biology, physics, and neuroscience into martial arts training is something I can totally geek out to. In my mind, demystifying martial arts esoterica using science is a good thing. However, science is sometimes used incorrectly to justify certain principles and phenomena  Fajin–the issuing of power–can be understood within the framework of sound science; it does not have to reside solely in the realm of qi, magic, superhuman abilities, or hand waved pseudo-science.

Here’s my attempt to properly apply classical physics to the often mysticized fajin.

Momentum ( p = m*v )

According to Wikipedia, momentum can be understood as the “power residing in a moving object.” From the equation p = m * v, we can see that momentum (p) is directly proportional to the mass (m) and velocity (v). In other words, the amount of power you can impart into your opponent depends on your size and how fast you can move.

You have limited control over the size part of the equation. You can only practically add so much lean mass before you hit your genetic potential or have to resort to bodybuilding methods like massive eating, steroids, and high volume weight training. While adding a lot of muscle mass is possible, it has a practical upper limit if you want to live a normal life and get enough quality skill training time. Of course, it is also possible to add fat mass, but that carries significant downsides like health problems and lugging around extra non-functional mass in your day-to-day life.

Between the two factors, velocity gives greater results for training time invested and can be directly improved through martial skill training. Velocity is partially improved by physical conditioning to improve muscular tone and biasing muscle fiber composition towards fast twitch fibers. It is also affected by movement skill, which is what martial skill training should directly improve. Attentive movement drills develop proper body alignment and coordination to improve movement efficiency. Concentration on grooving proper movement patterns improves neuromuscular efficiency so that the body is neurally ready to move, and unnecessary tension from incorrect muscle firing patterns can be relaxed so that movements can occur with fewer hindrances.

An analogy to training velocity would be a car. The physical aspect of training is akin to putting a more powerful engine into the car. This improves the raw ability of the car to go fast, but it is not the only factor in car speed. The car has to drive well in order to go fast: the transmission needs to be maintained to transfer power from the engine to the wheels, the wheels must be balanced and aligned, and the driver has to learn how to control the car speed so that he is not doing stupid things like stepping on the accelerator and brake pedal at the same time. Training movement skill is the equivalent of maximizing the efficiency of the transmission, balancing and aligning the wheels, and actually learning how to drive the car properly.

To a first approximation, learning to move properly increases the velocity portion of the momentum equation. There are of course other considerations and complications that can be added to this simplified explanation. The most important consideration would be that velocity is a vector quantity. It has both magnitude (speed) and a direction. Having speed builds momentum, but that is not sufficient to be effective. The velocity and momentum have to be pointed in the correct direction to affect the target. You can generate all the speed and momentum in the world and still be ineffective if you can’t aim well enough to hit your target. To fajin effectively, you have to be able to generate power and you have to be able to aim the power to hit your target.

Another issue is how the velocity is generated. In most untrained individuals, the speed of attack is generated by having a long travel path. In order to punch, they have to cock their fist back to get enough spacing to get sufficient velocity into their punch. It’s like their winding up for their Popeye punch. While this approach can work, it suffers from slow execution and telegraphing the attack. The opponent has plenty of time to counter when he sees you winding up for an attack. Also, in close quarters, being able to draw back to get enough distance to achieve higher attack speeds is often not possible. The attack velocity must be achieved over shorter distances. To continue the car analogy, you have to get your car from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds over 0.08 miles of driving distance instead of 10 seconds and 0.17 miles. To get more acceleration and achieve greater velocity and momentum over shorter attack paths, we must consider force production.

PART TWO

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out fajin, but you might want to use a little rocket math to understand it. The force equation is a fundamental relationship for understanding how rockets get off the ground.  In the last blog post (Part 1), we left off mentioning how we need acceleration to generate enough momentum over short distances.  For our purposes, we can use the force equation to analyze how it is possible to generate enough velocity and momentum for a short distance attack.

Force (F = m * a)

Two things affect force: the mass of an object and the acceleration of the object. Bigger objects can impart more force (i.e. a sledgehammer hurts more than a BB), and faster acceleration correlates with greater force (it takes more force to go from 0-60 in 5s than 10s). To get the necessary velocity to impart maximum momentum, we need to consider acceleration. The faster the acceleration, the better the ability to achieve higher velocities over short distances and the greater the likelihood of generating higher momentum with an attack.  To get fast acceleration, we need to generate force.

When we discussed momentum, more mass was advantageous to having greater momentum. However, when considering force, more mass is not necessarily an advantage. Getting more mass in motion requires more force just to break the inertia of the mass. Adding more lean body mass in the form of fast-twitch muscle fibers is akin to adding a bigger engine which allows more force generation and greater potential acceleration. Adding fat mass on the other hand is equivalent to putting a heavier chassis on the car; it increases momentum but may end up reducing the acceleration potential since fat mass has no force generation and increases inertia. The last part of the physical aspects of force generation would be the ligaments and tendons, which act as the transmission gears of our metaphorical car. The gears have to be strong enough to handle force of the engine and transfer that force to the wheels.

All of the physical factors can be improved (more muscle, less fat, more resilient ligaments and tendons) through physical conditioning. However, as was the case in our momentum discussion, there are practical limits to the physical conditioning. Baseline effective physical fitness can be achieved relatively quickly, and more gains in acceleration potential are more likely achieved through skill training.

Force generation depends on the practitioner’s movement abilities. Efficiency in body movement and proper body mechanics have a significant effects on force generation. For the purposes of discussion, we can consider three trainable components of movement ability:

  1. alignment
  2. relaxation
  3. joint coordination

One of the first things the practitioner should strive for is proper joint alignments. When the joints are positioned properly, less muscular exertion is needed to keep the body structure organized and the more potential muscular activation is available for force generation. Establishing the proper body alignments is a prerequisite for the muscles of the body to relax and thus be more available for force generation. A prime example of this would be the stacking of the body over the feet so that the minimum effort is wasted standing upright. Other examples would be keeping the elbows behind the wrist or knees aligned to the toes during force generation. Poor positioning of either of these joints results in extra muscular effort being spent just stabilizing those joints.

In addition to allowing greater potential force, relaxation also allows more efficient use of force. An untrained individual (particularly with the modern sedentary lifestyle) often has several movement dysfunctions. The proper muscles are not sufficiently activated, the body alignments are off, and extraneous muscles are tensed to compensate for improper body mechanics. The extra muscle tension often retards the desired force. The extra non-functional muscular tension is like driving a car with the accelerator and brake pedals simultaneously pressed. A lot of force might be generated, but the unnecessary tension means that different forces in the body are working against each other. An example of this would be throwing a punch with all the muscles of the upper body tensed at the same time. It can feel like a lot of effort is going into a super strong punch, but because the muscles are not contracting and relaxing in the correct sequence, they end up working against each other and making the punch weaker. When the unnecessary tension is taken out of the movement, the generated force is applied more efficiently towards the desired movement.

Finally, joint coordination plays a crucial role force generation. To achieve maximum acceleration, we want to be able to tap into as much muscle as possible to generate the maximum amount of force. If we rely on only muscles local to one joint for movement (let’s say the elbow for a punch), then the amount of force we can generate is limited to strength of only a few muscles which may not even be all that strong. What we can do instead is use multi-joint movements to draw on muscles from all over the body, particularly from the strong muscles of the legs and hips. This requires that the joint alignments be correct and that the movements of each body segment coordinate properly with the other body segments. When the coordination is correct, the movement becomes like a chain that is whipped: each link transfers power to the next segment until the sum of all the individual forces is manifested at the end of the chain. If the movement is uncoordinated, the forces do not sum together and the chain flops in a disorganized fashion.

One of the purposes of the skill portion of training is to develop movement quality.  When we can leverage proper body alignment, relaxed movement, and whole body coordination, we can achieve sufficient force production to accelerate our attacks over much shorter distances than would be possible otherwise.

Johnny Kuo

originally posted at mindbodykungfu.com on 9/1 & 9/9/2011

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RELATED ARTICLE

Contained Spiral Force

Penetrating the Sphere: Geometry of Attack

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Techniques, Training with tags , , , on February 12, 2011 by mindbodykungfu

In a previous post, I discussed the point of contact in terms of vector components. When you penetrate your opponent’s sphere, you pass the diameter line of the virtual sphere at the point of contact and have technically passed your opponent’s defense. However, just getting past the diameter line is necessary but not sufficient.

One mistake that I frequently made (and probably still frequently make) is to roll and pivot past the diameter line and attack straight away. That tends to only work if you partner or opponent is not attentive to your actions. The problem arises from the fact the force interactions are multidimensional. The point of contact is not a static sphere; rather, it is a dynamic point that changes curvature and moves in space.

Just touching the other side of the diameter line only means you have entered the sphere of defense. It does not necessarily mean you have an appropriate application point. You can penetrate the sphere but still give your opponent enough space to recover as you attack. In essence, your opponent readjusts his sphere to intercept your attack and re-establish your contact outside of the sphere.

Johnny Kuo

Point Of Contact

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Teaching Topic, Techniques, Training with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2011 by mindbodykungfu

In my experience with learning and teaching I-Liq Chuan, I have noticed that a lot of time is spent training the point of contact.  Once the basic understanding of body unification is achieved, training can quickly progress to framing movements in terms of the point of contact.  The point of contact provides a context for movements and serves as a training aid which guides the training progression.

The way I usually introduce the the point of contact is as a physical link for coupling force into your opponent.  To affect your opponent’s structure (or control balance via the structure), you need a link to couple your force into your opponent.  The most straightforward way to do that would be to grab at the point of contact.  The coupling of force can also be done without grabbing.  The touch contact needs to align to solid structure (i.e. bone), and the body must unify to the point of contact.  When those two conditions are met at the point, usable force can be coupled into the opponent’s structure.

The nature of the point of contact is dynamic.  Outside of static demonstrations for teaching, the point of contact will be constantly changing.  This necessitates attention to the point of contact to perceive the present conditions at the point.  The act of focusing the attention to feeling and adapting to the changing point is itself training.  Like breathing in sitting meditation, paying attention to the point of contact is a mental focus tool during partner training.  Spinning to flow at the point is largely a mental exercise.

Probably most importantly (at least from my point of view as an instructor), the point of contact provides a feedback tool.  Whether a student understands body unification or movement applications can be felt from touch.  The same touch at the point of contact can be used to provide kinesthetic feedback.  Once the correct touch has been demonstrated and felt, the student has a diagnostic to gauge whether the body alignments and movement modifications are correct.  The point of contact serves as a training diagnostic for both the instructors and students to assess and correct alignments and movements.

Erle Montaigue: Remembering a Legend

Posted in 10 Questions, I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Internal Development, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by Combative Corner

No artist-teacher, in these early days of The CombativeCorner, garnered more inquiry than did Erle Montaigue.  It was with both shock and sadness that when I approached his son, Eli on January 26th to see if his father would be keen on doing a 10 question interview with us, that I would read the words, “You’re a day late… we lost him yesterday afternoon.”  Erle was a monumental fixture to many martial artists over the years for his lively, and thoughtful teachings of the internal arts.  In 1979, Erle burst on the scene with books, articles and videos and introducing people to something that many people became fascinated over, ‘Dim Mak’ (translated: The Touch of Death).  Erle, from his earliest days, was an honest and giving teacher and one that felt that it was important for serious students of the martial arts know the inner sanctum of its teachings, and not get washed away with the hype and mysticism that so many people place on the internal arts.

What was to be a “10 Question with Erle Montaigue” is now something completely ‘different.’ Which is probably how Erle would have liked it.  In this article I hope to both introduce Erle (to those who do not yet know him), and to ‘stroke the embers’ of Erle’s teachings so that we do not lose sight on what’s important.  For more articles on Erle, his articles, books & dvds, music and more, please click on the above image.  For more information on Erle’s second passion, music, click the link –here-.  A friend of mine did an article on Erle in his blog, Nagual Time (“The Real Deal“).

So, without further ado… some ‘snip-its’ from the writings of the “Bad Rock Musician of Neigong.”  You will be missed but never forgotten sir!

Friends, students and family of Mr. Erle Montaigue – we’d love to hear about your experiences with Erle.  Please use the comment box below and tell us all just what impact he had on you.

Are shortened-forms bad for you?

The main aim in our Tai Chi practice is to try to emulate the internal flow of energy with a set of natural movements. So we do a posture that works upon the Colon, then we do a movement that works upon the Lung etc. So if we change these postures around, and our movement is linked to our internal Qi/energy, we will upset that balance because our movement is no longer flowing from one organ to the next. And we then become ill over time, allowing external pathogens into the body because we no longer have protections.

(read full article: here )

Are the internal arts meant to be soft?

There really aren’t any translatable words for ‘soft’ and ‘relax’ in Chinese. Both of these words need a sentence or two, in order to say what they old masters really meant. And you must also take in to consideration that when the old masters spoke about Tai Chi ch’uan for instance, they weren’t only talking about the slow form but rather the whole shebang of training methods that are present in all internal systems. What most ‘masters’ only ever teach and actually know are the initial basic beginner’s forms and when we stick the two words ‘soft’ and ‘relax’ over the initial basic forms, and especially if those masters then teach that those forms are used for self defence, you get a somewhat different view of what the old masters actually meant!

(read full article: here )

What do you think about the practice of Fa-jing?

Fa-jing is the motor of tai chi, it is what makes it go and is the reason that tai chi’s translation hold the lofty name of “Supreme Ultimate Fighting or Fist”. The Yang tai chi form that Doc-Fai Wong (regarding an article from Kungfu Magazine July 2004)  mentions not having fa-jing is only the very beginner’s form where one learns about balance and timing and begins to get his or her internal workings in harmony with the external movement. This is of course essential to any healing or self defence art. As one progresses, slowly, the fa-jing is introduced teaching the student that they have great power locked within their body that can be accessed with this fa-jing or “explosive energy”. If a student were to practice fa-jing too early, they might cause damage to their skeletal structure unless they have been doing some other martial system where their body is used to rigorous movement.

(read full article: here)

How do you get your Qi to sink?

The trick to getting the Qi to do what you want it to (to SINK) lies hidden in a phrase that I always remember, told to me by one of my teachers way back. In fact it was one of the very first things he told to me, thus: “Qi is like a shy girl; she looks at you from behind a tree when you are not looking and you see her out of the corner of your eye and she disappears. Then you TRY to see her every day after without success until you are not trying and then swhe will appear again when you least expect it.”

And this is the total secret to your advancement and understanding of your Tai Chi practice. Simply DO IT! No silly mind games, no thinking low, or I must sink my qi, no thinking of honey rolling down your body etc., or the many other games that we are told to play as these are all CONSCIOUS thought and another important classic saying that I was told way back was that: “Conscious thought will block the Qi”.

(read full article: here )

Is there Pushing in Pushing Hands?

When I first began my training in Taijiquan, I too was impressed with masters who could push people several feet away. I trained and trained until I too could do this. But my first real confrontation in the street showed me that I had been wasting my time and had to revert back to what I had previously known in order to defend myself! I then began investigating real Taijiquan rather than giving it up altogether and I am thankful that I did not give up as I met my main teacher who did not teach any pushing during push hands, he only struck!

I would ask why he struck me (rather hard) from such short distances as I would find it almost impossible to defend. His answer was that fighting happened HERE (in my face) and that if I could almost defend myself against his close attacks, then I would have no problem in the street.

(read full article: here)

What do you do about the Taiji ‘Doldrums’?

The (taijiquan) form causes us to feel good, so good in fact that there comes a time when we begin to slow our practice until we are not doing any practice at all! The good feeling lasts a little longer so that we then make excuses for not practicing as it is after all time consuming and take some effort, especially in the early mornings. One great excuse is that how can this set of physical movements help me in any way. Surely it is just a lie or some invention by someone to make some money! So even the masters begin to doubt whether Taijiquan is actually able to help and put it down to just the simple exercise that it brings to the body. So, some take up walking or swimming as a substitute and this works for a time.

However, over time, the body and especially the mind slips right back into normal Western living patterns where we become depressed, drink lots of coffee (as a substitute for Taijiquan as it makes us feel good) which causes the depression to worsen. Eventually, life is just not good anymore, especially if you are over around 45. Everything seems like there is no purpose and we become just like everyone else on the planet with the same depression diseases!

…Once you know that it is the Taijiquan alone that is healing you, you will then practice every day no matter how great you feel as you will realise that it is this simple set of movements that is causing you to be in this great area of health and well-being.

(read full article: here )

How ‘intense’ should Taijiquan be?

Probably, like just about 90 percent of the western martial “arts” community, you will be contemplating on words like, peaceful, running brooks, soft music, ballet, yoga, calm, Taoism philosophy, non-violence. If those words did come to mind, then you, again like most of the western martial arts world would be dead wrong.

Sure, Taijiquan has the above aspects simply because the body must be relaxed, or as the Chinese put it, in a state of sung, but for the most part, Taiji is a very violent martial art. In fact, I always tell people when they are looking for a Taiji class, to look for violence in that class. If it is not there in the advanced classes, then leave that class.

(read full article: here )

Can anyone learn the Dim-Mak (or Death Touch)?

Anyone is able to learn the very basic Dim-Mak strikes and make them work. We in the original Dim-mak arts such as Taijiquan call these strikes, the “Children’s Strikes”, those that are taught to children so that they can protect themselves very quickly not requiring any real training or power. These strikes include those to the back of the head using an open palm slap, those to the ST 9 point (carotid sinus) which works upon the physiology of the body to maintain a relatively even blood pressure. When struck, this point, which is located directly over the carotid sinus, causes the brain to think that extremely high blood pressure is present so it sends a message to the brain which in turn sends a message to the heart via the vagus nerve to either slow right down or to even stop! This is how this strike works. And literally, ANYONE can do it on a ‘sitting duck’, those who make themselves available in seminars for instance, to a teacher who thinks nothing of damaging those students just for a boost to his own ego. There are however, many other points on the body that also act to lower the blood pressure like those associated with the gallbladder, intestines and the urethra. The stomach for instance has nerve endings in the lower part of the stomach coming from the vagus nerve which when struck also cause the knock out from a sudden lowering of blood pressure and heart slowing.
Those strikes to the back of the head using an open palm shock the brain when even light pressure is used, often causing a knock out. Strikes to the back of the neck will also cause the ‘easy’ knock outs by the action upon the ‘brain stem’ or reptile brain when it is kinked. This is a medical fact that when the brain stem is kinked, the brain goes into knock out.

(read full article: here )

What role does the mind play in performing Gung-fu?

Imagine that you are holding a big yellow juicy lemon in your hand. You must SEE the lemon in your mind’s eye, you must feel the waxy texture and that little lump at the end. Take a big knife and cut the lemon holding one half up to your mouth and squeeze the juice into your open mouth.

What happened? Your mouth produced saliva didn’t it. You really didn’t have a lemon, you were only imagining it. Your mind however, still caused your body to do what it would have done had you a real lemon!

It is the same with the martial arts. When we practice our forms or katas, we imagine the opponent in front of us. Provided that you have a good imagination, your sub-conscious mid will be doing all of those self-defence applications as you go through your forms. The good thing is however, that you do not have to imagine the applications every time you practice. Only once or twice do you have to be told what the applications are and only once or twice do you have to go through the whole form imagining that you are performing those applications. After that, those movements go into your ‘long term’ memory and you no longer have to think about them, they will just happen sub-consciously. IT does not take long for a ‘short term’ memory to become long term.

(read full article:  here)

What do you think of teachers that teach you how to knock someone out?

Even the proverbial little old lady is capable of knocking someone out after being shown how and where to strike. But put her in to a situation where she has to defend herself and she will of course not be able to use her newly found knock out methods.

No one is able to knock someone out who does not wish to be knocked out. One of the first things I tell people at my seminars is to ask if anyone would like to try to knock me out. Of course they expect me to just stand there and allow them to strike me. I do not do this and of course they are unable to even get close enough to touch me let alone knock me out.

Now this is nothing special as I have known experienced kick boxers who have challenged some of the better known knock out specialists to KO them when they are simply covering up as they would normally do in a match. The ‘expert’ was in all instances unable to get anywhere near the recipient. For this you have to have the ‘opening techniques’ using fa-jing or explosive energy.

My advice is always find out what you are going to be taught at any knock out seminar. If you are only going to be taught what points to strike, then do not waste your money. If however, you are going to be taught HOW to knock out a good fighter who is not allowing you to do so, then go. And in my years as a self-defence instructor, I have never come across anyone who was able to show exactly how to knock someone out who was not a willing subject. You might as well go to a physiology lesson with a good doctor and learn about the carotid sinus and other points on the human body which will cause the recipient to be knocked out when struck.

(read full article:  here )

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