Chi gung and wing chun

vankuen

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I've seen a lot of gung fu, wing chun included, whereby the class is basically a karate or tkd class but with wing chun movements. Everything is done from an external perspective, meaning being solely dependant upon muscles as the generator for power. No talk is made of the internal component of the gung fu, or its done through lip service and not through action. This made me think a lot about the whole idea of the internal / external balance that kung fu was/is known for.

Does your method of wing chun practice chi gung? Does your wing chun react in a soft manner? Does it use softness against force? Does it deflect and use the opponents momentum against them? Does it practice relaxation in movement and breathing even under pressure?

Or are you merely rushing in and blocking with your tan's and pak's whilst chain punching?
 

hunt1

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You are confusing many different concept's here. Softness does not= internal. Many still rely on gross muscle usage while being "soft". The practice of chi kung is independent of the practice of a martial art. You can do one without the other. Using opponents momentum or power against them is not tied to internal vs external.

The development and movement of Chi can be done and is found in all physical acts.

External the primary mover for your activities is your muscle. Internal, the primary mover is your tendons and bones. All wing chun contains tendon exercises the huen sao is a good basic example of a tendon strengthening movement. The use of the bones is also found in all wing chun although most don't seem to realize this or understand the usage. Elbow down is a good basic example.

If your arms are whips and your power is coming from knees hips waist spine chest you are doing internal although degree of course varies. If waist ,hips spine are locked ,shoulders are rising while punches are thrown you are doing external again degree varies.

Most are some combination but under pressure revert to muscle usage since that is more comfortable.
 
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vankuen

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Thanks for the reply Hunt. I'm not confusing anything...I'm merely asking about different things with that paragraph that you're talking about; essentially it's relative to how wing chun looks more like karate than kung fu nowadays. There's no development outside of what you see on the surface with a lot of the schools.

I suppose I should have used a different title though all things considered.
 

Xinglu

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Softness does not= internal. Internal, the primary mover is your tendons and bones.

You're right. And yet, not quite there.

Neijia or "internal" martial arts is not "internal" because of any soft or hard technique. Or what makes the movements. It has to do with their approach to said movements most notably the origin of the philosophy around it.

The simple truth is, there are no "internal" MA outside of Wudang daojia philosophy. "Internal/External" is a political term. If you wanted to learn something "internal" or "truly chinese" (read without external influances like Buddhist philosophy [India]) then you studied daojia MA, simply known as neijia.

WC will never be "internal" in the same way a white man will never be an "American Aboriginal."

Instead of internal/external to describe effort/power/training/tactics terms like hard/soft are more appropriate, unless we are using political/regional terms.

When you really boil it down, Internal/external is nothing more then a very old way of the Wudang masters being elitists.
 

Xinglu

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To topic - When I was doing Tang Soo Do, we had a Nidan form that was supposedly "internal" to develop "Ki" (qi) power. Short story: It was nothing more then dynamic tension with some taiji-ish looking transitions. Lots of forced breathing and ultimately just felt wrong. Having a background in Neijia and TCM, it really struck me as an odd form. But I gave it a chance. What I found was that I developed good tendon strength doing this, but my fajing was actually not improving. To test this, I stopped all qigong and just did the form. What I found was that they ultimately had no understanding of what they were teaching and were promising that it would do something it simply wouldn't. They were just paying lip-service.

To answer your questions, my WC Shifu hasn't talked about qigong (granted a couple of classes is not enough to know if he will or not), but in a way Sil Lim Tao feels similar the way he teaches it. I regularly practice qigong on my own though as a part of Neijia and my TCM practice (I start and end my workday with qigong).

It is my extremely biased opinion that qigong - REAL qigong would benefit every MA school the world round.
 
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vankuen

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Thanks for making those points on the internal / external descriptors. I realize that going back far enough those terms were to explain pure chinese versus non-pure chinese martial arts. However today--most people use the term internal and external to be synonomous with a style that practices nei gong and wai gong respectively.

So to be more specific, the way I understand wing chun to be (at least the in the ideal way) is soft and hard. Meaning that the system should give the person studying it the capability to subdue a bigger stronger person will little effort. It should allow the person to flow and blend with the attacks of the opponent, to borrow force, to use the least amount of energy to obtain best results.

But this is generally not what I see amongst many schools. What we see is muscular development. We see training to develop and harden the body. There is value in this type of training, and being the cross trainer that I am, I enjoy this type of training method as well. But this is supposed to be gung fu, no? Gung fu--is a balanced method.

What good would the system have been to a young girl if the system only worked if you were fighting someone weaker and smaller? If the wing chun system was truly meant to only use wai gong, then the whole idea of its reason for existence is moot.
 

geezer

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So to be more specific, the way I understand wing chun to be (at least the in the ideal way) is soft and hard.


I prefer to avoid the whole internal-external debate except to agree that WC has never been included with the classical neijia systems, regardless of how soft the specific WC system may be, or even how much emphasis may be placed on chi-gung training.

The way of the WC I trained is definitely soft, flexible and yielding. This can illustrated by our use of bong-sau. We try to make the whole body from feet, to trunk, to hand flexible like a spring. So if there is no obstacle barring your way, your stance, your body and your arm and fist spring forward to strike your opponent.

But if your opponent crosses your arm with stronger force, you allow your arm to receive the force and bend under the pressure like a supple wand of bamboo... Your opponent literally makes your defense with his energy... He bends and flexes your arm into bong-sau (or tan-sau, etc. depending on the angle of the energy received). If your opponent advances with very powerful energy, he may also flex your torso and even your stance, causing you to slip aside in "turning stance". Then as your hand slips free, all that force your opponent has put into bending your arm and body is released and snaps back to strike him. Again think of a supple sapling being bent and released with a sharp snap! This is our understanding of the famous kuit we translate as:

Stay with what comes, follow the retreat, and thrust forward when the hand is free.

Now the simple truth is that this is damn hard to pull off. For a strong, fast fighter, it is often easier to apply the techniques in a forceful, aggressive or "hard-style" fashion using straight-line attacks, delivered with economy, speed, and power to win the fight. And this is true with our students too. They get all hopped up in sparring and fall back on their aggressive instincts, using the same WC techniques, but in a forceful way. But the most skilled practitioners do manage to keep their cool and react using their opponent's force in the soft way I described.

Interestingly, I am just now beginning to understand how much that flexibility involves the shoulders, torso, and legs. My instructor is extremely elastic with his whole body... not at all with a "locked" waist the way Hunt described. (No criticism against Hunt here... I used to think that was the way my system was too!) It's just that some things were kept back, or maybe I was just too dense and now I'm finally getting it.
 

profesormental

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Greetings.

I agree mostly with the comments by Mr. Xinglu. Yet my experience has led me to re examine my definitions and methods for what many call Qi Gong, and Fa Jing.

Interestingly enough, since empirical results of methodologies have led me to achieve skills/execution that experts call Fa Jing, without the usual methods to achieve them, I have been led to this re examination.

Here's the thing.

I go where the results lead me. Wing Chun can be used as a method to develop skills that are normally achieved by Qi Gong. It depends on the knowledge and skill possessed by the Teacher.

Using methods explained more by biomechanics and physiology, rather than Qi (for the most part... some stuff is still bleeding edge neuroscience), I've achieved in a repeatable manner a good amount sf skill.

Yet in many cases, there are phenomena that are easier to explain saying "Qi" and "energies".

There are subtle skills that can only be learned by a student training under a knowledgeable Teacher that can stress the importance of the detail in fundamental movement execution.

These details are the difference between a punch that explodes peoples bodies and one that just pisses them off more. And they are subtle in many cases.

The version of SLT that I practice now is VERY different from previous versions... yet if I didn't show you where and why and how, it would be very hard to notice.

Thus the way a class is conducted is very dependent on the knowledge of the Teacher... and the demands of the students.

Yet the ceiling is the Teacher's ability, since good students will, as you have, question the low level of sophistication that such a class has after a while.

Hope that helps.

Juan Mercado Robles
 

Vajramusti

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IMO, sil lim tao when properly done over time has chi gung built into it. Supplementary chi gung wont hurt....training of the breath properly. In wing chun practice I breathe naturally.

There are different kinds of power in wing chun- including fa jing- we call it
bau ja gung- explosive power as opposed to muscling/pushing power.

joy chaudhuri
tempe wing chun
www.tempewingchun.com
 
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vankuen

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IMO, sil lim tao when properly done over time has chi gung built into it. Supplementary chi gung wont hurt....training of the breath properly. In wing chun practice I breathe naturally.

There are different kinds of power in wing chun- including fa jing- we call it
bau ja gung- explosive power as opposed to muscling/pushing power.

joy chaudhuri
tempe wing chun
www.tempewingchun.com

This is the way I approach slt as well Joy. The only thig that I'm having trouble understanding from a neija respect is how the stance comes into play. Because my understanding is that flexed muscles inhibit the flow of qi, and because the ygkym inherently flexes the muscles--how does chi flow into one's stance?
 

Xinglu

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This is the way I approach slt as well Joy. The only thig that I'm having trouble understanding from a neija respect is how the stance comes into play. Because my understanding is that flexed muscles inhibit the flow of qi, and because the ygkym inherently flexes the muscles--how does chi flow into one's stance?

Actually, the stance I have been taught is very relaxed, but firm, just like any good neijia stance should be. It doesn't violate any Neijia rules I know.

When you say "flexed" muscles do you mean engaged, fully engaged, or bent joints? Only one of those inhibits qi flow (bending of joints past 40 degrees). Total engagement can assist fajing if done properly (read explosive, quick engagement followed by relaxation). But a general engagement of the muscles will not inhibit qi, otherwise just standing or walking or sitting upright would cause and issue.

Futhermore, it is important to look at what Jingluo are endanger of being restricted, once you can analyze this, proper Neijai stancing is easy. IMHO no effective stance will restrict Xue and Qi flow and expect you to be in it for anything longer then a transition. This transcends the TCMAs.
 

Xinglu

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IMO, sil lim tao when properly done over time has chi gung built into it. Supplementary chi gung wont hurt....training of the breath properly. In wing chun practice I breathe naturally.

There are different kinds of power in wing chun- including fa jing- we call it
bau ja gung- explosive power as opposed to muscling/pushing power.

joy chaudhuri
tempe wing chun
www.tempewingchun.com
This is exactly how I am being taught. Like I said, SLT reminds me of Qigong (I have only learned the first section, so I'm only basing it of of that). Natural breathing is important, When I studied TSD they teached us regulated and forced breathing (exhale when hitting). This was very hard for me coming from a neijia background, and was a habit I never really could pick up, and one, quite frankly, I'm glad I never did.

The more and more I hear about the nuances of WC, the more and more I'm reminded of Neijia philosophy. Perhaps it is a lineage thing, perhaps not, but I like it!
 

Vajramusti

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I don't flex muscles in my slt- of course correct tension is needed to stand whether you are standing in a wing chun way or taiji way.
joy chaudhuri
 
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vankuen

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Actually, the stance I have been taught is very relaxed, but firm, just like any good neijia stance should be. It doesn't violate any Neijia rules I know.

When you say "flexed" muscles do you mean engaged, fully engaged, or bent joints? Only one of those inhibits qi flow (bending of joints past 40 degrees). Total engagement can assist fajing if done properly (read explosive, quick engagement followed by relaxation). But a general engagement of the muscles will not inhibit qi, otherwise just standing or walking or sitting upright would cause and issue.

Futhermore, it is important to look at what Jingluo are endanger of being restricted, once you can analyze this, proper Neijai stancing is easy. IMHO no effective stance will restrict Xue and Qi flow and expect you to be in it for anything longer then a transition. This transcends the TCMAs.

I don't flex muscles in my slt- of course correct tension is needed to stand whether you are standing in a wing chun way or taiji way.
joy chaudhuri

So what you're saying in essence, is that the standard YGKYM stance will not inhibit the flow. I wasn't sure how much flex of the muscles was too much in terms of energy flow and whether or not it should be a concern from that perspective.
 

Xinglu

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So what you're saying in essence, is that the standard YGKYM stance will not inhibit the flow. I wasn't sure how much flex of the muscles was too much in terms of energy flow and whether or not it should be a concern from that perspective.
Essentially, yes.
 

mook jong man

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We were always taught to relax our thighs while being sunk down in our stance and indeed try and relax our whole body.

Sifu would go around and touch your quad muscles to see if they were relaxed , and even if you thought they already were he would still tell you to try and relax them some more.

The only contraction wa a slight contraction of the anal sphincter called Tei Gong this locks the upper and lower body together as one unit and is thought to ready the legs for action.

In TST lineage we try to cultivate a force that TST calls Nim Lik , Thought Force or Determination Force.

This force is used to energise and stabilise your defensive and attacking techniques and make them effortless and as free as possible from the use of brute strength even while under heavy external loads.

We were taught to always try and stay relaxed as possible because tense muscles are not conducive to cultivating the flow of Nim Lik.

Aside from that any tension in the muscles particularly the arms and shoulders will just be a waste of energy and will be used against you in Chi sau sparring , in effect it is offering him a type of ' handle ' to manipulate your body structure.

If your Bong Sau gets latched down , let it , don't fight force , just relax and change the structure of your arm.
But if you are tense your whole body is going to be pulled down instead of just your arm , and most likely into a waiting punch.

The primary way of developing this force is by constant and correct practice of the Sil Lum Tao form , and in our lineage all parts of it must be performed in a relaxed manner concentrating on initiating movement physically and mentally from the elbow.
 

geezer

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We were always taught to relax our thighs while being sunk down in our stance and indeed try and relax our whole body.

I find that I do the Siu Nim Tau form basically two ways: The first is at a faster pace, concentrating on stretching my body into my best approximation of a "perfect" position. This involves some tension as I have to force my body and limbs to reach for the ideal. I view this as more of a warm-up and I often do several repetitions this way. The second way I approach the form is much more slowly, relaxing as much as possible, concentrating on the energy of each movement (and especially the elbow, as you mention below) and on my breathing. We practice so-called "reverse breathing" which is relaxed, slowly drawing air in through the nose, dropping it deeply into abdomen with the diaphragm, and exiting through the slightly opened mouth.

Aside from that any tension in the muscles particularly the arms and shoulders will just be a waste of energy and will be used against you in Chi sau sparring , in effect it is offering him a type of ' handle ' to manipulate your body structure.

If your Bong Sau gets latched down , let it , don't fight force , just relax and change the structure of your arm. But if you are tense your whole body is going to be pulled down instead of just your arm , and most likely into a waiting punch.

Nicely put. We view it the same way.

in our lineage all parts of it must be performed in a relaxed manner concentrating on initiating movement physically and mentally from the elbow.

The only difference I pick up from what I read here is that we maintain a gentle "springy-tension" in our lower body by adducting the legs as we roll the hips forward. This can be tiring for beginners who are unfamiliar with using these muscles, but it actually feels good after a while, and is integral to the way we root, turn and step in our system.
 

mook jong man

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I find that I do the Siu Nim Tau form basically two ways: The first is at a faster pace, concentrating on stretching my body into my best approximation of a "perfect" position. This involves some tension as I have to force my body and limbs to reach for the ideal. .

I do that sometimes too , I feel that particularly with my Fook Sau and Tan Sau that I'd like to have my elbow position slightly more into the centre.
I was shown a stretching exercise for this once , where you put out two Tan Sau's , edge of hand to edge of hand and try and press your elbows in.

We practice so-called "reverse breathing" which is relaxed, slowly drawing air in through the nose, dropping it deeply into abdomen with the diaphragm, and exiting through the slightly opened mouth..

We were told to just breathe naturally in through the nose and out through the nose.




The only difference I pick up from what I read here is that we maintain a gentle "springy-tension" in our lower body by adducting the legs as we roll the hips forward. This can be tiring for beginners who are unfamiliar with using these muscles, but it actually feels good after a while, and is integral to the way we root, turn and step in our system.

We roll the hips forward but we don't adduct the legs together , there is also a slight gripping action of the toes , this is supposed to increase the surface area of the foot.

I know what you mean when you say it feels good , sometimes you just feel like you have such a great connection with the ground .

You feel very relaxed and springy in the legs and it feels like there is no effort in holding yourself up.

When you tell students that you feel like you could stand like that all day they look at you like your from another planet.
But I remember when I first started it was a while before my legs stopped hurting too.
 

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