Tuesday, February 26, 2013


You say you are not happy. But you were happy in sleep. What has transpired in the meantime that the happiness of sleep has broken down? It is the ego. And that arises with the waking state. There was no ego in sleep. The birth of the ego is called the birth of the person. There is no other birth. Whatever is born is bound to die. Kill the ego! There is no fear of death for that which is already dead. The Self remains after the death of the ego. That is Bliss that is immortality.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

If they don't serve any other purpose, the martial arts should serve as a vehicle for true transcendence.  It's easy to conceive of this watching a lone practitioner performing his Taiji form in the park, or watching old Kung Fu TV series reruns.  But once we begin the practice, we can easily become bogged down in the technical details or consumed with latent or blatant competitive drive and miss the forest for the trees.  Sure, technical details are important but they shouldn't override the spirit.  And spirit is both the easiest and the hardest aspect of our practice to realize.  In essence it is always available, always with us.  Yet, we have to acknowledge it and nurture it.  The way to do that is to first destroy ego, then place your attention where you know it should be.

As O'Sensei said, "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train."  The technical details only give us the how-to of training.  The rest is up to us.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Full Understanding of Peng Jing

Most practitioners of the internal martial arts are familiar with Peng.  However, for many it's just "ward-off", or the lifting, expanding energy present in the form.  However, there is much more to Peng.  In many systems the true nature of Peng Jing is never explored.  It is rather marginalized or described as an arm motion or position.  This is unfortunate since Peng Jing is a cornerstone component of the internal arts.  Following is an article by Sifu Sam Chin presenting a complete, full understanding of Peng Jing.

One man defeating many. A strike that no one sees delivered unbelievably fast. What appears to be a tiny push sends an attacker tens of feet away. Small motions that are so internal, you can't understand why you're off balance and on the edges of your feet. In front of such a person, all your techniques seem useless. What's going on?
According to Master Sam Chin, one of the main requirements for high-level kung fu is what he calls the "Merging of the Spheres." This article will describe the preliminary physical and mental levels of merging the spheres. Merging the spheres is a very refined expression of an internal energy commonly known as peng-jing. Merging the spheres with peng-jing will result in strong-rooted movements which naturally enhance internal energy, mental alertness and martial art. Not only that, but if you train well - then, as Master Sam Chin says, you can "even transcend technique itself."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Wrestling at the Olympics?

This is just about the strangest thing I've heard: Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling have been dropped from the 2020 Summer Olympics.  Isn't that like a sacrilege?  Wrestling is one of the original Greek games.  Somewhere on a divine mountain, Odysseus is rolling over in his grave.  Of course, as a martial artist specifically interested in the grappling arts, this is unsettling.  But I also have a pretty big traditionalist streak, and frankly this just rubs me the wrong way.  On the other hand, The Olympics seem to be moving in the direction of so many popular sports nowadays, where the emphasis is more on entertainment and less on sport.  Still, I wouldn't want to be around when Zeus hears about it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transition with The Water Snake

Welcome to the year of The Water Snake.  It is said that the Year of the Snake is the Yin to the Year of the Dragon's Yang.  So, if one follows these things, one can expect quite a different experience upcoming.  Personally, I expect quite a different experience anyway, if for no other reason than life is itself change.  For me, rather than getting too deep in the astrological predictions of the new year, I note the mythological characteristics for what they are and approach life with an empty cup, dealing with the changes that happen, whatever the characteristic.  At least that is my philosophical intention, and a major reason for training in the first place.

As we have for the past few years, my Taiji friends and I will accept the 100 Day Challenge and work on specific practices each day for 100 days.  Personally, I have tossed this around and have had lots of lofty goals, but am going to revert once again to the basics.  Last year my intention was to practice Zhan Zhuang, standing Qigong, for my challenge.  However, one month in and my father died.  This came on the heels of my mother passing some four months earlier.  So, pretty much all discipline went out the window till I regained my grounding and composure.  But in the spirit of stubbornness and determination, I will begin again: 100 days of various standing practices.

As I age and progress in my training, I more and more appreciate the basics.  It is often difficult to see how the most obscure Kung Fu practices reward us in unexpected ways.  It is frankly tempting to put off meditation, Qigong, standing, and the basic exercises and spend time at the gym, or with form, push hands, sparring, or just reading.  But we all know, just the same, that the foundation for transformation is in these obscure practices.  The 100 Day Challenge should hopefully give us a format for strengthening this foundation.

As far as snakes go, I have never been a fan.  I do respect them and admire their beauty from afar, but I like to keep my distance.  Apparently, Chinese wisdom has it that a snake in the house is a good omen.  I'm afraid I would likely blow that omen should it appear in my life.  I would prefer another sign.