samedi 27 septembre 2008

the origins (last part)

In the xinyi school, wich was at the origins of the yiquan, the method used to link the inside and the outside was represented by the six harmonies (or six coordinations / Liuhe) theory. But there is another chinese boxing school that uses this notion as its basis : the liuhebafaquan, also called xinyi from the Yue mount, in reference to its geographical origin.
One of the best specialist of this boxing was the master Wu yihui, whom Wang xiangzhai met in Shanghai and whom he was a great admirator of. Some of the very first disciples of Wang xiangzhai even became disciples in this school as well, like Zhang changxin and Han xingqiao.

Zhang changxin in a liuhebafa form, this boxing is also called "water boxing"

Those six harmonies are divided in three internal harmonies and three external harmonies. The heart (xin) leads the intention (yi) that leads the energie (qi) wich one leads the force (li), constituting thus three internal harmonies.

About the three external harmonies, they are often said to be wrists-ankles, elbows-knees and shoulders-hips. But this theory, then, doesn't help the practicionner in his achievement, according to the fact that any movment can only be the result of a good coordination between those body segments.

Now, as we did already see in the first part of this article, according to the different exercices like the xinyiliuhe's "squatting the monkey" stance and the xingyi's three wholes stance, wich are the ancestor of yiquan's stances, we can explain this theory in another way :

The "three curves" wich are mentioned in the old xinyiliuhe would be three major articulations of the whole body, the same that link the "three whole" (santi) of the xingyiquan. Those three curves would be the articulation of the hips (lumbar curve), the articulation of the back (dorsal curve) and the sternal articulation (sternum-shoulder curve). A right coordination between those three curves allows an effective use of the deep muscles, wich are close to the spinal column...

Tiger and dragon representing the yin and yang

These three articulations are used to generate a natural force in the six directions : up-down, forward-backward and closing-opening. Those six directions were technically represented, in the old xinyi, by the three old fists : Zuan (piercing), guo (wrapping) and jian (stepping in). Wang xiangzhai talks about it in his first book and says that those three forces must be mixed together.
Besides the six harmonies, considered as the "method" of achievement in the xinyi and xingyi boxing, Wang xiangzhai's teaching was also based on the yin and yang theory.

The name of the stances known as "to lean on the tiger" (fuhuzhuang) and "to ride the dragon" (xianglongzhuang) are coming from taoist esoteric expressions.

In the chinese tradition, tiger and dragon are the representations of yin and yang energies. The dragon is mythical, he represents imagination and fabulous, he is flying in the air and in the water, he evokes the sky. His force is subtle, it is pure yang. The tiger is a real and concrete animal, his territoty is the land, he evokes the ground. Simple and direct, his force is natural and brutal, it is pure yin.
For the man, yang represents his spiritual developpment and yin represents his lower and primal instincts. "To lean on the tiger" (fuhu) in order to control him shows the idea of controling our lowest instincts. "To ride the dragon" (xianglong) shows the idea of spiritual developpment.

Fuhuzhuang by master li jianyu

The two stances allow to developp martial capacitates attributed to the yin and yang : direct and powerfull force for the tiger, flexible and adaptable for the dragon's one.

Xianglongzhuang by master Li jianyu

Wang xiangzhai did developp those two "vitalities" at the beginning of his teaching in the 20's. He was, then, talking about two energies wich are the tiger's and the dragon's one...

jeudi 25 septembre 2008

the origins (second part)

According to Wang xiangzhai and to the interview he gave to the People's daily, the chinese caracter used for the word boxing takes all his sense with the expression "quanquan fuying" (拳拳服膺) wich means "to be sincerly confident" or "to keep sincerly in his heart".

In this expression, quanquan (拳拳) symbolises the action of closing the fist or the fists and designate the idea of sincerity, determination. Fuying (服膺) symbolise the idea of wrapping in one's chest or keeping in his heart.

Another interpretation of this expression, in a much more litteral sens, would be "the real boxing remains in our heart", wich means that the martial art should not be linked to the external form but to the intention that lead it.

Calligraphy of 7 traditionnal expressions by Wang xiangzhai

A famous calligraphy by Wang xiangzhai shows seven traditionnal expressions he was especially found of :

Zhongxiao ren'ai (忠孝仁爱), Xinyi heping (信义和平), Quanquan fuying (拳拳服膺), Yiquan zhengzong (意拳正宗), Duanlian shenti (锻炼身体), Hongyang guocui (弘扬国粹), Zhenxing zhonghua (振兴中华).

The translation of those four caracters phrases could be the following (personnal translation) :

Respect the elder and be charitable, be loyal and pacific, be sincer in your heart. (So is) the orthodox (ancestral) school of yiquan, (wich allows to) train your body, (so that) the best of the country will developp and extend (in order to) revivify the chinese nation.

To be "sincer in your heart" (quanquan fuying) is a human quality that is much beyond the martial art practice. But still, this expression, in an another way is nothing else but the teaching of Wang xiangzhai on the use of the intention in the practice.

The chinese caracter used for intention shows a standing man (between ground and sky) on a mouth, the whole reposing on an heart. The ancient signification beeing the possibility of formulating (represented by the mouth) the material as well as the immaterial (man between ground and sky) in an affective way (the heart).

The yi caracter in its ancient graphy (calligraphy from the author)

The yiquan / dachengquan founder was used to say that the intention is the general and the force, his soldier.

So the intention (yi) comes from the heart (xin), commands the energy (qi) wich leads the force (li).

This corresponds to the three others of the six harmony, the three internal harmonies.

(to be continued...)

lundi 22 septembre 2008

the origins

In the establishment of his teaching and all along his life, Wang xiangzhai has been in constant research of his ancestor's knowledge, those men who created the chinese martial art. He did study always more and more to understand this ancient knowledge, considered in China as supperior to the contemporary.

More than a great martial artist, Wang xiangzhai was a great historian and theorician of the arts and traditions of China.

Wang xiangzhai, great master, historian et theorician of martial art

Many expressions and many terms used in his teaching are coming from lost ancestral knowledges that he did use back again.

As an exemple, in the book "Everything about xingyiquan art" (Xingyiquan shu daquan) written by a group of experts in this school, we can find this paragraph on the practice of zhanzhuang :

"The standing postures of xingyiquan were called, in the ancient school of xinyiquan, "meridian posture" (ziwuzhuang) or "three wholes posture" (sancaizhuang).
The expression ziwuzhuang is refering to the zi caracter, wich stand for midnight - moment when the yin is at his maximum - and to the wu caracter, wich stand for noon - moment when the yang is at his maximum. The importance of this posture is suggested in its name : it must be practiced "from noon to midnight" !

Yiquan's ziwuzhuang stance by Li jianyu

Moreover, in the chinese tradition, noon is a reference to the south and to the fire, while midnight is a reference to the north and to the water. When practicing, it should be facing the south and back to the north, while mixing fire and water with the intention...

...In the ancient xinyiquan, the ziwuzhuang method goes with two steps. During the first step, man practice the accumulation of qi in the dantian using the monkey stance, also called "squatting the monkey" (dunhouzhuang). During the second step, man learn how to "squirt out from the dantian" (shedantian). This practice consist in a steping method forward while doing the "sound of thunder" (leisheng, the name used for the emission of sound in the old xinyiquan) that teaches how to make the qi flow out from the dantian. Dai longbang and his son did both put a lot of importance on the dantian practice."

"Squatting the monkey" by the xinyiliuhequan master Wang yinghai

The linking of the three body parts (santi) wich are the legs, the trunk and the arms, goes by three majors articulations, designated in the Dai style of xinyiquan as "the three curves".

Those three parts unified correspond to three of the six harmonies (liuhe) : the three external harmonies.

(To be continued...)

jeudi 4 septembre 2008

Yiquan and meditation

The Dachengquan is not only a way of boxing. Its practice is also based on spiritual exercices (the word spiritual is to be taken here with the meaning "of the spirit", yiquan is no religious sect)

The late master Wang xuanjie was explaining this aspect of the yiquan in those words : "Chan quan bu er" : Meditation and boxing are one !

Wang xuanjie in a jijizhuang

In her book « Dachengquan shiyong xueshuo » (pragmatic theory of dachengquan), Madam Mi jingke (disciple of Wang xiangzhai) gives us a few indications on the use of the spirit and intention while the standing posture :

« During the practice, whatever closed or open eyes, it is imperative to " concentrate your spirit and fix your intention ", it is the only condition on which your practice will give results.
Wang xiangzhai, in his « dachengquan treatise » (Dachengquanlun) says about the force :

" Everything I did learn in about fourty years of practice bring me to the idea that all the different forms of force are coming from the extension of "the original chaos" (hunyuan) joined up with the way of nourrishing the vital principle by the method of "forgetting yourself" and can only be produced this way."

Mi jingke, Wang xiangzhai's disciple, at the age of 95.

If, during the practice of the different stances of zhanzhuang, you can't reach the quietness (jing) by the concentration of the spirit (meditation), if you can't reach the level of " forgetting yourself ", is it really possible to liberate yourself from your conditioned reflex ?
That is the reason why some people can't manage to developp any force by their training. The key is to concentrate the spirit and fix the intention, that is the most important part in the basics of the training..."

Mi jingke practicing chan meditation

"...Man needs to train by fixing his look far, to the horizon, up to the moment when he reaches to "look without seeying". At this moment, he will understand that he needs no more method, just to concentrate his spirit. »
In another chapter of her book, Mi jingke talks about the influence of the Chan buddhism in the Dachengquan. She is, then, talking about "the unified-body contemplation" (zhengti guan) which has to be practice until the level of forgetting yourself...