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Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a Question to See the Answer.
When force passes throught the body, there are 5 areas of the torso that respond. These responses each have specific and unique 'interoceptive' characteristics. This is the source of the 5 Elements phenomena. Based on this phenomena, principles have been codified and labeled 'Internal'. Movement that is 'harmonized' according to these internal principles means having clear inner mental expectations and their resultant outer physical manifestation. There is nothing exotic here, only a specific approach to training. The 6 Harmonies training follows the process of change established by the concept of Yi -> Qi -> Li.
- Elbows -> Knees
- Shoulders -> Hips
- Wrists -> Ankles
- Xin (heart) -> Yi (intent)
- Yi -> Qi
- Qi -> LI
There are many different kinds of meditation. You probably know about mindfulness. However, mindfulness training is not really the best for high performance. After 6 weeks of light practice, it helps with conflict resolution and general stress reduction. Mindfulness doesn't appear to assist with intentional learning methods like internal martial arts.
To learn deeply there must be intention and focus. The more focus, the better the learning experience. Concentration supports focus. Stress increases concentration. This is exactly the opposite of mindfulness. My approach is to help learners find their personal balance between mindfulness and concentration. Unfortunately, it takes longer than 6 weeks of light practice to see meaningful results. For those learners with mettle and perseverence, a lifetime of benefit is possible. I seek to make permanent changes to your structure through posture and directed breathing.
From Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couple_(mechanics)
In mechanics, a couple refers to two parallel forces that are equal in magnitude, opposite in direction and do not share a line of action.
A better term is force couple or pure moment. Its effect is to create rotation without translation or, more generally, without any acceleration of the centre of mass. In rigid body mechanics, force couples are free vectors, meaning their effects on a body are independent of torque. This is not to be confused with the term torque as it is used in physics, where it is merely a synonym of moment. Instead, torque is a special case of moment.
Tensegrity - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tensegrity From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia For the movement system created by Carlos Castaneda, see Tensegrity (Castaneda). Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression is a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially. The term was coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of "tensional integrity". The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by the constructivist artist Kenneth Snelson.
From Wikipedia - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_martial_arts
Traditional Chinese schools of martial arts, such as the famed Shaolin monks, often dealt with the study of martial arts not just as a means of self-defense or mental training, but as a system of ethics. Wude (武 德) can be translated as "martial morality" and is constructed from the words wu (武), which means martial, and de (德), which means morality. Wude deals with two aspects; "morality of deed" and "morality of mind". Morality of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind (心; Xin) and the wisdom mind (慧; Hui). The ultimate goal is reaching "no extremity" (無 極; Wuji) – closely related to the Taoist concept of wu wei – where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.
From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhan_zhuang
Zhàn zhuāng, literally: "standing like a post", is a training method often practiced by students of neijia(internal kung fu), such as Yiquan, Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan. Zhan Zhuang is sometimes translated Standing-on-stake, Standing Qigong, Standing Like a Tree, Post-standing, Pile-standing, or Pylon Standing. It is commonly called a form of Qigong, despite the differences from other Qigong methods in Zhan zhuang's orientation.
Plex Media Server is used to deliver archived classes. Here's how to get access.
- You must be an 'Ongoing' or 'UCB Live' student or have been personally invited by Sifu Kelley.
- Go to http://plex.tv and create a free web account, do not install a Plex Server (unless you want one). If you want more streaming options, sign up for their excellent PlexPass.
- Contact me with the email address or username you provided to create the Plex account.
- I will send you an invite via Plex.
- Login and 'Launch' the web app. There's a big button.
- Approve my invite.
- Find your content. Look for a server called 'KG's Media'.
- Enjoy your training!
As of February 08, 2023 we have 1191 of class archives and each week adds more. You will have limited access. As a SOD student, you have a library containing any private lessons and one or more class libraries. Archive access is granted according to skill level and understanding. Sharing experiences to our community is required.
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. :)
NeiJia refers to 'Internal Martial Arts'. NeiGong means 'Inside Development' and QiGong exercises are a kind of NeiGong. Anyone can practice NeiGong. Authentic methods energize the body while calming the mind.
- Flexible Core Power
- Increased Flexibility
- Increased Concentraion
- Increased Energy
- Better Immune Function
- Improved Digestion
The most important thing for a beginner to keep in mind about NeiGong is that the breath and movement are complimentary. Safe training using authentic methods follows a specific detailed process of progressive refinement. You will safely change if you train exactly as instructed.
Wikipedia Entry ( ed. note: very broad generalizations, but an ok place to start )
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. Spinning hands partner practice provides a foundation for martial application resulting in natural fighting skill. Please read more from the Zhong Xin Dao (ILC) international website.
Fa means to 'throw' in the sense of 'releasing a kite to the wind'. 'Jin' simply means 'Refined Force'. The question is, What is being refined? What is being thrown? This can be a productive metaphor upon which to dwell. Training progresses from big movement, to small movement, to 'no movement'. The tendons must become strong and supple. Relaxation must be present in order for beginners to 'sink the chi' and, later, for the bones to play their proper role in all movement at all times. Fajin is the natural product of this specific awareness.
Understanding the structure means to be able to agree with gravity. There are no shortcuts. 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 differing training approaches.
More on Internal Practice
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 closer. 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 cannot be 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' or, even better, 'action and quality', rather than 'shape and secret'. Action means any movement. Quality means the 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 meditations, drills and exercises to help you change and, more importantly, understand why such change matters. Training for health or martial is really a question of emphasis. 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 limits your contact with the present moment and diminishes your ability to respond. Our method is to help you maintain awareness of the present moment. 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. 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 large topic. :)