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Frequently Asked Questions
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Our training community is to share an authentic process of self cultivation. As such, all sharing should be about process, not so much about any members. Consider carefully before posting, "Does what I am posting qualify as gossip, heresay or intentional provocation?" If so, edit carefully and review. Videos, blog posts or social media contributions are all subject to this policy.
For example, any compliments directed to me personally, my skill or lack thereof should be designated as unimportant background information. I will, however, accept compliments as to the effectivenes of this site as a tool for learning. :)
Neigong means 'inside development' and qigong exercises are a kind of neigong. Anyone can practice QiGong as it is performed standing or sitting. Authentic methods energize the body while calming the mind.
- Increased Flexibility
- Increased Concentraion
- Increased Energy
- Better Immune Function
- Improved Digestion
The most important thing for a beginner to keep in mind about neigong (qigong) is that the breath and movement must be harmonized.
Spinning hand training comes from Zhong Xin Dao (ILC), The Martial Art of Awareness. Other martial arts practice similar movements, but call their practice rolling arms or pushing hands. Spinning Hands training results in highly refined awareness and powerful concentration. Spinnings hands partner practice provides a foundation for martial application resulting natural fighting skill. Please read more from the Zhong Xin Dao (ILC) international website.
Fajin simply means 'Refined Force'. The question is, What is being 'refined'?
Training progresses from big movement, to small movement, to 'no movement'. The tendons must become strong and supple. Relaxation must be present in order to 'sink the chi' and for the bones to play their proper role. The 5 Qualities of Unification must be present. Awareness includes Spiraling Coordination of the Joints.
Fajin is the natural product of Awareness. Harmonize with yourself, to harmonize with the opponent.
Understanding the structure leads to relaxation, which leads to understanding the energy. There are no shortcuts around this fact. To cultivate 'the energy' without a deep understanding of structure and relaxation, leads to 'artificial power'. Artificial power is easily defeated by natural power. This arises from the differences of the quality of the Awareness produced by the differing training approaches.
I Liq Chuan Fajin Training Movements
- Project down
- Project forward
- Project center (yin wave)
- Absorb back (back hand)
- Saggital Orientation with Frontal roll – in to out, out to in - one hand forward one hand backward
- Horizontal – palm to palm rotate saggital, strike with elbow (one absorb, one project)
- Frontal – any spin
- Saggital – roll in and out
- Saggital – alt. Roll in and out
- Front “reverse” punch
- Double punch forward (left and right)
- Double punch – one forward, one backward
- Rolling punch - out to in and in to out - fire application
- Explore all ranges, sections and planes
Over the years I have heard questions like this many times:
I do the form. Since joining Sifu On Demand, I can't do the form with the same shapes because it feels very disconnected. My form looks bad but it is starting to feel better. Why does it feel so disconnected?"
This is great news! Congratulations on being able to look deeper into your movement by applying Tai Chi principles and experiencing the beginnings of internal power. This is how we begin to change our mental reference. The body is always in the present, it's an illusion we hold that the mind can be aywhere but the present. A useful illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. Another way to look at this is the way a tool is not the task. Our movements, whether forms, drills or partner training, are the tools, the task is to be more in the present moment.
The classics refer to the relationship between formal movements and the internal feel as 'shape and secret' or 'posture and energy'. In outer door or public instruction the shape and the secret are not closely aligned. With inner door methods the shape and secret are as one. This is ok, but how to use this concept of shape and secret as a training tool?
The words 'shape and secret' refer more to a vague static condition and do not help us train better. Tai Chi energy is not static. The internal feel that arises from following Tai Chi principles is dynamic and constantly cycling through yin and yang. However, this still does not really help us to understand why our movement feels disconnected and how to be connected.
If we use the idea of posture and energy, rather than shape and secret, it becomes more clear what's going on in your practice. If the posture is correct, you can begin to feel the energy. If the posture is incorrect, the energy is obscured. We can safely assume that outer door methods are designed to deliberately protect the 'secret' or essential internal feel by using postures that do not align closely to the energy.
The are many reasons for obscuring this energy, to me it's simple:
- When posture and energy align closely, changes occurs in perception. These changes cause agitation.
- Teacher and outer door student have not agreed to the Sifu - Student relationship that can address this agitation.
- Without the close guidance of Sifu, the agitation can cause harm.
The traditional outer door response from teacher is: "Just keep training, understanding and skill will come eventually." This is fine if you are willing to accept that 1 student out of 1000 will succeed. The outer door approach is fine if the student is not interested in deeper understanding, many are happy with the benefits of superficial practice. The level of committment required to successfully pursue inner door methods is very high. This is why outer door methodologies exist, nothing is wrong with this approach.
Inner door methods are for family members, it is not acceptable that the student 'not get it'. It's just not an option. The family member must receive the full, clear and precise understanding of shape and secret, posture and energy, or better still, action and quality.
I prefer to use the words 'posture and energy' and 'action and quality', rather than 'shape and secret'. Action means any movement. Quality means the fullness and completeness of the movement based on the internal feel. Clear language reliably leads to better training, high skill and deep understanding.
Sifu On Demand is designed expressly to help you avoid wasting money, time and effort on a training system that does not fit you and your specific needs.
Committing to a path of authentic self-cultivation requires a teacher. Sifu means teacher-father and is essential to true and full understanding.
If you are on the fence about joining, consider that finding a good teacher is difficult is when you know nothing about your intended study. At the very least, complete Stage 1 to learn enough about traditional inner door methods to make an informed decision.
Our curriculum has many excellent meditations, drills and exercises to help you change and, more importantly, understand why such change is important. Training for health or martial is really a question of emphasis or flavor. Both martial ability and health are byproducts of authentic training, not goals in themselves. Ultimately, we train for awareness and because we enjoy it.
Consider your health, if it's poor, you address the cause not the symptom. Martial ability and health are both symptoms of effective practice. Expectations of any outcome or end result, like health or martial skill, limits your ability to be in the present moment and subsequently diminishes your ability to respond appropriately to the conditions. Our method is to be in the present moment, not the past (or future). This applies to all of life, not only the training floor.
- 'Eating Bitter' refers to the effort and energy required to change your condition and is an important concept in authentic Neijia methods. Instruction challenges you on many levels, without hard, bitter training you cannot come to know your limits, much less expand them. We eat bitter to taste sweet.
We pursue wisdom as a lifelong process of self cultivation. To commit to this path is to commit to greatness.
As for how long it takes to manifest understanding, it depends on what you commit to the process. As a rule of thumb, three good practice sessions per week will enable reasonable progress. If you can only get two sessions in, you will maintain your level, but slip over time. Four sessions is best.
So much depends on how you define 'Proficiency'. Sifu On Demand Distance Learning seeks to help you change your condition. Our methods are tools for refining the body, deepening your awareness and increasing concentration.
When refining, loosening or softening the body, progress can be easily measured in terms of range of movement, pain relief and raised energy levels. Structural accomplishment is similarly easy to quantify... you are much stronger.
Since measuring progress in awareness and concentration is so difficult, we endeavor to note the external manifestations or symptoms of such progress. This is why partner training is so essential. In solo training you may feel or believe that you've improved, but as soon as you touch another person, you know. Real martial skills grow from this knowing awareness.
Without the honest feedback provided by vigorous partner training, progress in self cultivation and self development is just talk and conjecture.
That having been said, a reasonable level of structural integration can be reached in three years of dilligent practice. You will notice immediately more relaxation and increased energy. Going beyond this, it's hard to say how long it will take since students are so different and have such wildly different expectations. Besides, it's the journey, not the destination. Try to manage your expectations keeping in mind the present moment. This is one important aspect of "Empty Cup, Beginners' Mind".
A question was asked:
Sifu Kelley responds -
Yes to both. I chose that word carefully to describe my rnpg.tv podcast. The meaning depends on the student's expectations.
Mind-Body training enriches all aspects of life. For those on a spiritual path, my training is useful. For those who are not, my training is useful.
The method I use emphasizes the ability to contact and, more importantly, develop the parts of the brain associated with consciousness, insight and bare awareness.
The result of this process is that a person behaves well and in accordance with the highest standards in, hopefully, any context. Professional, personal, private, spiritual, physical... Whatever the conditions, 'natural grace', is apparent in all movements and decisions.
'Natural' means it's already there - part of our primary inheritance - only to be realized or uncovered for expression. Hard work is needed. Much bitter to get the sweet.
'Grace' connotes dignity and composure under stress. especially when taken in context with 'Power'. This is a larger topic, see power related podcast episodes.