Archive for I-Liq Chuan

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

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, & TWITTER

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]

The Body Line | Johnny Kuo

Posted in Martial Arts, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

After the center of the feet, usually the first “easy” idea I teach to new students is paying attention to the body line. When the hand (or more precisely, the point of contact) is inside the body line, it is easier to absorb. Conversely, when the hand crosses outside of the body line, it is easier to project force. The body line is an important transition point which needs to be recognized to maintain unification with an opponent’s force.

It’s a simple concept that is easy to demonstrate. Just move the hand inside or outside the body line and try absorbing to pull or projecting to push against a partner’s force. The importance of recognizing open vs closed becomes evident just from the touch feedback. Absorbing while open or projecting while closed only generates power from the arms and is harder. Projecting while open or absorbing when closed links up more joints in the body and generates more power with less effort.

Why this should be the case might not be immediately obvious. A quick thought experiment can explain the body line transition. Imagine the shoulder as a center of rotation for the arm in the horizontal plane. The point at which the arm is at its front-most position is directly perpendicular to the body (i.e. at the body line). If we borrow some math from the previous post on spheres of offense and defense, we can treat the body line direction as a diameter line of a circle. As the arm crosses inside or outside the body line, the diameter line is crossed. The forward-back motion vector of the arm (i.e. the tangent the arc) switches sign upon crossing the body line.

Alternatively, we can use a clock as our circular motion model. When the minute hand goes from 9 to 12, there is an upward movement component. Exactly at 12, there is no upward or backward movement component. After 12 is passed, the minute hand has a downward movement component. Once the hand crosses the transition point, there is a change from a forward to backward movement.

Of course, the human body does not move strictly according to rigid body mechanics, and movements usually involve several joints. The simple analysis is imperfect, but it serves as a rough approximation for understanding the mechanics.

Johnny Kuo

MindBodyKungfu.Com

(Originally post. 2/17/2011)

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]

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK

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.

I-Liq Chuan Reflections

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Styles with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2011 by mindbodykungfu

What originally got me interested in I-Liq Chuan (literally translated mental-physical fist) was an interaction I had with Sifu Sam F.S. Chin. When I was still in North Carolina, we invited Sifu to give a workshop introducing his family art. I touched hands with Sifu during the seminar and experienced something quite unexpected. Sifu’s touch had me jammed up. My structure was locked up, and I could not lift my feet from the ground without Sifu controlling my balance. At the same time I had this sinking feeling that releasing his touch from my arms was not a safe method of escape. It was disconcerting to be completely dominated on touch.

The skill level demonstrated got my attention, but what hooked me was the teaching approach. The first thing taught was not techniques, drills, or forms. The first thing Sifu discussed was mindfulness. The emphasis from the beginning was that martial skill was based on the mind being free to perceive what our senses are telling us. At the time, the philosophical discussion left my head throbbing and wondering how it was relevant to training a martial art. Yet, it is this very grounding in Zen thought that has been the most important lesson imparted from the training. Training one’s mental attentions develops the mind-body connection and unification of the self; it also enhances perception of the conditions of the moment, which is essential for harmonizing with an opponent.

Sifu Sam Chin*

What committed me to I-Liq Chuan was seeing skill being transmitted to the students. It is one thing to have the master who can demonstrate the skills; it’s more impressive to see students also manifesting the same skills. Sifu Chin spent a long time contemplating the best methods for teaching the art. The result of that effort is a well-defined curriculum which first lays out the philosophy, principles and concepts, and then outlines progressions of solo and partner training. By starting with the conceptual framework, the ILC system establishes a philosophical foundation to guide the training. This top-down approach (i.e. concepts before specific training) emphasizes active attention to the core principles. In this manner, the training is guided by purpose and a clear path of progression.

Though I initially started training for martial purposes, fighting ability has not been the most valued skill I’ve learned from training ILC. Rather, I value more that ILC has equipped me to develop on my own. I haven’t always had consistent access to ILC training partners. A lot of my training has involved cross-training with practitioners of other arts. Despite this, having an understanding of key principles has allowed me to continue advancing my skill in ILC. Instead of distracting me from my core art, the cross-training has served as a test of my understanding and training of principles across different contexts. ILC has provided me with a conceptual framework and mental tools to take charge of my own progress. The ability to self-reflect and self-guide my training has given me the most valuable skill: self-improvement.

Johnny Kuo

Combative Corner Profile

¤

FOLLOW COMBATIVECORNER ON TWITTER

[ HERE ]

* Sifu Sam Chin is the founder of I-Liq Chuan.  For more info on him and this family system, visit his page [here]

%d bloggers like this: