Principles of Chinese Boxing

January 12, 2019 | Author: James Cravens | Category: Chinese Martial Arts, Yin And Yang, Tai Chi, Muscle, Qi
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Article on the principles of Chinese Boxing. The core elements that enhance the martial art that is being performed....

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Principles

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Principles of Chinese Boxing

The principles of Chinese Boxing are the core of our study. Principles will improve whatever art or style one practices. Principles are the essence behind the curtain and represent the internal properties of any martial art method. Technique oriented martial art is limited. Efficient technique grounded in good principle brings one to their optimum level. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Rooting Rooting is a skill of keeping a heavy and relaxed energy in the lower half of the body. One who is rooted is bottom heavy. The two words most often connected with rooting are “sink” and “relax.” We add the word structure because this state of rooting is enhanced when one is in a proper body alignment. The most obvious benefit of rooting for combat is greater stability. It also provides deceptiveness. If the upper body is attacked, it becomes a false target. It yields in a supple manner while the lower body remains stable, then springs back for counterattack. Rooting entails what we call “hanging posture,” which is so named because we visualize the body suspended from a thread attached to the top of the head (at the energy center known as the “baihui”). The shoulders are naturally rounded, not arched back in military fashion. The head is erect and the spine straight. In fact, we want a vertical line from the baihui to the base of the trunk between the two legs. This line is known as the central axis. Whereas the center line runs along the surface of the body, the central axis runs through its interior. The tan tien and the baihui lie on the central axis, but the tsun kwan energy center (also known as the “third eye”) lies off the axis, nearer to body’s surface. To achieve a vertical central axis, the hips must be relaxed. Many styles teach a tucked hip. Irregardless,the lower spine must be straight and full rather than curved. A straight spine is also important for good chi flow which nourishes the kidneys and provides good health. To get the idea of the hanging posture, first stand with your legs straight. Now visualize the thread attached to your baihui point and let your legs (in fact, your whole body) sink and relax. The knees bend and the torso drops. The upward pull from the imaginary thread provides form to the otherwise relaxed body. In hanging posture, you want to feel a heaviness in your tan tien, as though it is pulling you down into the earth. It is very important that the body relax and remain very straight. One should not lean back or forward. Looking from the side, the ear, shoulder and hip should be in a vertical line running down to the bubbling well point below the ball of  the foot in the center of the foot. Rooting is thus enhanced by two key visualizations: the suspension of the body by the thread at the baihui and the pulling downward of the tan tien. The combination of these tends to stretch the body at both ends, which removes some file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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curvatures in both the upper and lower spine. Rooting promotes the development of chi not only by establishing a straight spine and concentrating chi in the tan tien, but also by virtue of its sunken posture. A low stance is conducive to the circulation of chi to the “bubbling well” cavities in the soles of the feet. When this circulation is well developed, you can maintain your root in a higher (but still somewhat sunken) stance, which may be more appropriate for the combative aspects related to changeability skills. (Note that, contrary to a common misconception, rooting is not synonymous with an extremely low stance. You can be rooted in a very low stance or in a moderately low stance. You can even be in a very low stance and yet not rooted, particularly if the depth of your stance sacrifices hanging posture.) Rooting is relatively straightforward when you are standing in one spot and thinking of nothing else, but is much more difficult to incorporate naturally into all you do in martial art. In particular, it is a challenge to stay rooted as you move about, especially when under attack. The heat of combat typically causes energy to rise to the upper body, unless one has been thoroughly trained. This is not to say, however, that rooting is inimical to mobility. On the contrary, rooting is necessary to mobility, particularly the changeable footwork of Chinese boxing. Since the combative encounter is filled with the need for changeable footwork, it is important that this principle of rooting be developed in transition. My point is simply that the skill of rooting is difficult to learn. A vision of its benefit is important as it will provide the patience and perseverance until one makes rooting a reality. It is relatively easy to move across the floor with the knees bent and the weight sunk if you accomplish this outside the framework of hanging posture. Just run forward in a crouch. But to step smoothly across the floor in perfect hanging posture is very difficult. The hips tend to tighten and the central axis tends to tilt back and forth and bob up and down. When one is able to step smoothly while preserving hanging posture, we say he has a floating or gliding central axis. Probably Tai Chi and Pa-Kua develop this skill more than most arts. A master of these arts can appear ghost-like. When Kai Sai first met his Pa-Kua instructor, the great master Wang Shu-chin, he was amazed by the way Wang seemed to float across the floor. At first he was amazed how Wang was able to propel himself, for he hardly seemed to move his feet! Rooting entails the use of the ground as a lever, not only when clashing with an opponent but even in the simple act of  walking. One should have spring energy (potential or kinetic) in the feet at all times. The bend in the legs, in addition to providing a low center of gravity for stability, creates a coiled spring effect. Upon uncoiling, the energy is generally forward, not upward. A rooted boxer is ready to explode forward (in a variety of directions) at any instant. The angle between the pushing foot and the tan tien determines the potential for this "spring". For combat, it is not entirely accurate to speak of a “vertical” central axis. What we really want is a very slight forward inclination, which enhances spring-loaded energy and forward pressure. This slant, however, is almost imperceptible. It is more felt than seen. Beginners are best advised to concentrate on developing a perfectly vertical central axis, since their habitual posture is typically light-years off the mark, and since if they think about slanting they will almost certainly overdo it. In martial art circles, the term “rooting” is commonly associated with the internal martial arts. However, just as many practitioners of these arts are failing to practice the arts as Chinese boxing, many spokesmen for these arts have a different conception of rooting. To many, rooting means being immovable. They speak of visualizing stakes driven into the ground through their feet, or of being chained to the center of the earth. These analogies are useful up to a point. Rooting does entail stability, and we have exercises where a partner pushes you from different angles to test your balance or to test one's ability to use the alignment to absorb another's force into the ground. But if you are pushed too hard, you must move out of the way of the force (staying rooted as you move). We want to visualize our energy extending through the soles of our feet, anchoring well below the surface on which we stand. But we ourselves are not “anchored” in the sense of being fixed to one spot. The notion that rooting means immovability is a gross misconception. This misconception commonly pervades the exercise of push hands. For some, immovability is the fundamental rule, the criterion for success. If someone pulls you, you’re supposed to “root down” and resist the pull. But in Chinese boxing push hands, if someone jerks on you, you go with the force, blending with it and stepping in to attack. Some martial artists propose you should be light in the body and heavy in the feet. In Chinese boxing, rooting dictates the reverse. (Heaviness, however, does not mean tension. This will be further discussed in the section on body state.) To say that the feet must move in combat is an understatement. The feet must be hypersensitive, ready to move at any instant, sometimes in response to subtle stimuli. This is not a compromise of rooting; it is one of the key effects rooting is intended to achieve. Rooting thus dovetails very closely with the six-nine theory of mobility and change. file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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Rooting adds a new dimension to your capabilities. It enables you to be highly deceptive in combat. Ordinarily, when an opponent runs into your upper body or your upper extremities, he will feel an energy that matches your lower body as well. Rooting changes this entirely. Dealing with a boxer who is rooted is like dealing with two adversaries at once, one corresponding to his upper body and the other to his lower body. Your opponent may gain control of your upper body, but he will not have a direct lever controlling your lower body. If you maneuver your lower body deftly, you can still snatch victory away from him. Rooting helps hide your essence. It can give you an undertow effect upon interfacing with an opponent. Important as rooting is, there are occasions in combat when you should not root. Yielding takes priority over rooting. Normally, rooting and yielding work together, but if a projection is aimed below your tan tien (such as an opponent diving in for a low tackle), you give down low, possibly bending over to maintain balance. You can ride out the force, attempting to drive it into the ground. This is called “riding the waves” temporarily, until the force is dissipated or neutralized. But such situations are anomalous. The odds are that a projection will come in above your tan tien. You never know what will happen in an encounter, but chances are strong that you will need to root most of the time in the average encounter. There are many levels of rooting. You can get some degree of proficiency in a few minutes of guidance. First, you learn to stand in a rooted state. Then you learn to receive force without being toppled while standing still. Next, you learn to shift weight properly in a rooted state. Then you learn to move across the floor while staying rooted. This is a great gulf to cross. Then you learn to receive force without being toppled while in motion. The ultimate goal is to make rooting a part of your being, so that when you practice, it is no longer thought about. A tremendous amount of work is required to accomplish this. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Yielding

Yielding is the skill of not resisting force, or of avoiding confrontation with force. This skill can save your life if you are ever attacked by someone who is more powerful than you are, for in a direct confrontation, superior force almost always wins. More than any other principle, yielding gives the weaker and smaller person a realistic chance against the stronger, larger opponent. In the theory of Chinese boxing, yielding is conceived as a martial tactic. To stand completely inert while someone attacks you with a knife may be a form of yielding in a broad, philosophical sense, but not in a martial sense. Let us investigate, then, how yielding can serve to vanquish an attacker. There are basically three ways to defend against an incoming projection. These methods differ radically in the degree to which they confront force (or, conversely, in the degree to which they yield). First, you can stop the projection dead in its tracks, meeting force with force in a head-on collision. I call this method “head-on blocking.” Second, you can redirect, rather than stop, the incoming projection, so that it misses its target. This method also makes use of force, but requires less force than does head-on blocking. The force is applied to divert the projection from its intended trajectory, rather than to stop it cold. This method is known as “deflection.” The third method is to move out of the way of the projection. This can be accomplished by rotating or bending your body, by shifting your weight, stepping, or all of the above. The projection reaches the point at which it was aimed, but you no longer occupy that position, so it falls on empty space. This method is known as “evasion.” It requires no force at all, as it does not in the slightest alter the trajectory of the incoming projection. It does, however, require expert timing. If you move too late, you get hit. If you move too early, your attacker can change course and follow you. Methods one and three lie at opposite ends of the spectrum from “hard” to “soft.” Head-on blocking is pure force, no yield. Evasion is pure yield, no force. Method two establishes a continuum between these extremes. The degree of  confrontation in a deflection can vary greatly, depending on the skill of the practitioner. Deflection can be accomplished in a soft manner, with minimal use of force, or in a hard manner, with pronounced reliance on force. At

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its best, deflection lives up to the ideal of the Tai Chi “four ounce” theory, which states that four ounces, properly placed at the right instant, can subdue a thousand pounds. It is possible to blend evasion and deflection. In a pure deflection, you do not move, but move the projection. In a pure evasion, you move yourself rather than the projection. In a combination of evasion and deflection, you move both yourself and the projection. In a combination, each component may be executed less than optimally. By itself, the evasion or the deflection might diminish the assault only to the point where you receive a glancing rather than a solid blow, but the two in concert prevent your being hit altogether. Theoretically, you can evade a punch without ever contacting your opponent. However, an energy boxer typically will intercept and stick to the punching arm even when evading. He does this, first of all, for “insurance.” If his evasion is less than perfect, he can fall back on deflection (or a combination of evasion and deflection). This provides him with a safety net. Without contact, he has no margin for error. Secondly, even if the boxer is completely confident in his evasion skill, he still wants to establish and maintain contact so he can read his opponent’s energy. Information rendered by touch can be factored into the evasion itself, if the interception occurs early enough. Speed plays a vital role here. A high level of skill is required to intercept, interpret, and correctly react to a fast projection. For the sake of efficiency, evasive motion usually begins as soon as you sense (visually, in most cases) an incoming projection. At the same time, the limbs move to intercept the projection. Once contact is established, the evasion can be adjusted so that it is uniquely appropriate for the given energy. Another reason for intercepting and sticking to the projection is that contact opens the door to controlling your attacker. Yielding distinguishes hard-style martial art from soft-style martial art. There is a common misconception that a “hardstyle block” is one that uses a closed fist rather than an open hand, or employs a straight line rather than circular motion, or tenses the muscles rather than keeping them relaxed. In truth, a hard-style block is any technique that interferes with the incoming projection (the degree of hardness depends on the degree of force employed in the interference). A circular technique with an open hand and relaxed muscles is a hard-style block if it derails the projection. A linear, tense, closed-fist karate block is a soft-style block if you apply it while shifting your body out of  the projection line, using the block merely as a protective guide. Hard-style blocks work only if you are sufficiently powerful to make them work. In the case of head-on blocking, you must be more powerful than your attacker or he will blast through. In fact, you had better be considerably more powerful, since in a collision between near-equal forces, it is possible for both participants to get hurt. In the case of  deflection, you can succeed even if you are not quite as powerful as your attacker, but the gap between his power and yours cannot be too great, or his projection will deflect your intended deflection. The closer your deflection lies to the “soft” end of the spectrum, the less your deflection relies on force and the greater the power gap you can afford. Evasion, of course, works no matter how much more powerful your opponent is (but if he has a tremendous advantage in speed as well, you are probably a goner). So far, our discussion of yielding has concerned methods of dealing with an incoming projection—of coping with force that is being “pushed” at you. But force can pull as well as push. As noted in the section on rooting, when someone pulls on you, you should go with the pull rather than resisting it. This is another variety of yielding. Yielding is generally a defensive skill, but we want to accomplish it with an aggressive orientation. We want to yield in a manner that will allow us to take the offensive immediately, or at least as soon as possible. If someone punches at you, you don’t want to yield by jumping back out of the way, as this delays seizing the initiative. You are back to ground zero. (Moreover, this tactic cannot be relied on consistently. It will work if your opponent is only jabbing, but if he is charging forward you are in trouble. Other things being equal, one man can move forward faster than another man can move backward. If all you know how to do is back up, you will soon be overwhelmed. Or, worse, you will find your back to a wall.) Thus, when yielding to an attack, you want to be just barely missed. You want to stay as close as possible to your attacker, so you will be in position to take over. If you find it necessary to yield backward, you should do so with forward pressure. You must learn to maintain forward pressure even in retreat, so you can read your opponent’s intentions. You do not want to continue withdrawing after the force is dissipated; rather, you want to shift smoothly into forward pressure in advancing mode. Preferably, though, you will evade not backward, but obliquely. For the sake of efficiency, you want to evade the projection while simultaneously moving in to counterattack. (This is another instance of yielding with forward file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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pressure. Forward pressure, i.e., pressure toward your opponent’s center, need not be on a straight line; it can be circuitous, to avoid collision with oncoming force.) Yielding obliquely requires a knowledge of line and angle. You want not only to vacate the line of projection, but to position yourself so you can attack your opponent on a weak angle. Indeed, every yield should be effected with due consideration of line and angle—of your weak angles and your opponent’s, and of your respective lines of attack. For example, in yielding backward, you do not want to do a deep back-bend, as this will expose your groin to attack. Not only line and angle, but several of the other principles as well must guide yielding if it is to achieve its full potential. Rooting, body state, six-nine theory, forward pressure, and centeredness all have key roles to play. Yielding requires that you be highly mobile, and you want to be perfectly balanced as you move about. Rooting is thus vital to yielding (with the previously noted exception of yielding to a projection below the tan tien). Proper body state is also essential, as fluid yielding is possible only when one maintains a supple body that is relaxed within movement. When yielding, you do not want to place yourself at an extreme, where your options for change will be limited. Rather, you want to remain in six-nine mode. Mobility must be predicated on six-nine or changeable footwork. I have already pointed out the role of forward pressure in both backward and oblique evasion. But yielding, as we have seen, can mean submitting to a pull as well as evading a projection, and forward pressure plays a role here, too. If your opponent pulls on you, he will likely pull not quite toward his center, but off center somewhat. If this is the case, your upper root should yield in the direction of the pull while your lower root advances along central line. This will enable you smoothly to use his pull as an impetus for attack. Centeredness relates to forward pressure in that one must have a sense of his opponent’s center if he is to generate pressure toward that center. Since forward pressure plays an important role in yielding, centeredness is thus likewise important to yielding. Additionally, effective yielding requires that one have an acute awareness of his own center, so that if a projection is only slightly off center, he will be sensitive enough to yield in the appropriate direction. Yielding is seldom seen in martial art, or in any athletic activity for that matter. Its rarity, fortunately, enhances its combative efficacy. If an attacker is unfamiliar with yielding, he will expect to land his blow on a solid target, and will likely be drawn off  balance when that target yields. Whereas an energy boxer is trained to unleash power in six-nine mode, the average fighter tends to overcommit when projecting. This can be a fatal error. If you have ever climbed a flight of stairs in the dark and overestimated the number of steps, you know the feeling of  reaching for a step that isn’t there. Imagine experiencing this same disorientation in combat, when you are facing a trained opponent who will ruthlessly exploit your predicament, counterattacking at the instant of your greatest vulnerability. The skill of yielding enables the energy boxer to be “the step that isn’t there.” Like the floating central axis, fluid yielding gives a boxing master a ghost-like quality. Ideally, we would like to yield in a way that enables us to seize control of the very energy to which we are yielding. Pa-Kua excels at this, using an incoming projection to create centrifugal or centripetal force to be wielded against the attacker. (The first type of energy arises in the single palm change, the second in the double palm change.) Although yielding can lead to devastating offense, it is risky to make yielding the centerpiece of your fighting strategy. If you let your opponent attack you with the intention of yielding and counterattacking, you are gambling everything on the success of your yield. If your opponent is Mike Tyson and your yield is less than textbook-perfect, he may land only a glancing blow that still packs enough power to put you away, or at least stun you and set you up for the finishing blow. It may be wiser to take a more aggressive approach, initiating the attack. We learn to yield because there will be times in combat when we are under attack, but being under attack should usually not be our preference. Yielding is perhaps best viewed as a way of cutting our losses, or of recovering from a position of disadvantage. Also, the fact that Chinese boxing places heavy emphasis on yielding may give some readers the wrong impression about the role of power in Chinese boxing. Chinese boxing neither undervalues power nor neglects its development. On the contrary, the boxing arts develop awesome power (but power of an unusual sort, depending on internal energy rather than muscular strength). No matter how much power one possesses, however, there is always the danger that one’s attacker will possess more. Thus, the prudent martial artist devotes himself to the twin endeavors of striving to attain and learning to yield to superior power. file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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While yielding is typically defensive, it can be offensive as well. There is an area of overlap between yielding, sticking, and projection which is known as “ceding.” This refers to unleashing power in a manner that seeks the lowest level of resistance, flowing around obstructions. This will be discussed in greater depth below. While the basic concept of yielding seems simple enough, there are many degrees of yielding skill, just as there are many degrees of rooting. It is an area of lifelong growth. Just as some level of rooting can be achieved quickly if you restrict yourself to a stationary position, some skill in yielding can be achieved quickly if you restrict yourself to prearranged drills at very low speed. But to yield to a sudden explosion of energy is much more difficult, and to make the response instinctive, so that you yield automatically even when you are not expecting the projection, is a great challenge indeed. Yielding must be woven into the intricate web of reflexive skills that makes up the Chinese boxing touch. As with rooting, you must have a constant obsession with yielding if you are to make it your own. There is a constant illusion that haunts us as we study martial art. This is the illusion that success means we are doing everything right. As far as yielding is concerned, this illusion is particularly pernicious. When we are successful in an encounter, we usually do not stop and analyze why. If we were to pause and reflect, we would often discover that we were successful because we were powerful enough to move an attacker’s projection. In other words, we were successful because we were lucky enough not to be attacked by someone with a decisive edge in power. Since this doesn’t occur to us, we walk away patting ourselves on the back rather than renewing our resolve to master the skill of yielding. Everyone’s yielding potential is different, but everyone can improve his yielding. Unfortunately, most students have difficulty orienting themselves to the basic instinct of non-resistance. Many have a straight-ahead mentality that finds yielding as foreign as walking on one’s hands. These persons may be very successful in many endeavors. However, they should be forewarned that their technique will fail when confronted by an opponent who possesses superior power or who has mastered the skill of yielding. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Unitary Theory

Unitary theory concerns the full mustering and proper coordination of all one’s resources. “Unitary” refers to the many working together as the one. This is perhaps the most far-reaching and profound of all the principles of energy mastery. Indeed, the unitary principle underlies all the others, in the following sense: The principles of energy mastery are themselves one’s richest resource in the art of combat. One must learn to draw on them fully, to make them the focal point of all his training. Also, one must grow to appreciate their natural harmony. Each principle is powerful by itself, but attains its full potential only when developed alongside its fellow principles. The principles are mutually complementary. They dovetail to produce a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. One could argue that some of the other principles are partially or completely subsumed by unitary theory—specifically, the principles of body state, rooting, centeredness, projection, and mind-hit. Thus, it might be possible to condense our ten principles of energy mastery into five. Doing so would please those who try to make everything fit into the scheme of Chinese five-element philosophy, since each of the five remaining principles (unitary theory, six-nine theory, yielding, sticking, and line and angle) could then correspond to one of the five elements. Unitary theory would likely be the earth element. Despite possible overlap, I prefer to adhere to the ten-principle formulation. Listing body state, rooting, centeredness, projection, and mind-hit as separate principles serves to flesh out unitary theory, to make it more readily comprehensible. The choice is a matter of emphasis and pedagogy. Unitary theory teaches us to accomplish the maximum by adopting methods that achieve the most with the least effort. It is particularly concerned with the development of speed and power. These are maximized by what we call “unitary motion.” Any movement should be initiated, or “launched,” as efficiently as possible and with as little telegraph as possible. Proper launching is one of the keys to speed. If a movement is offensive, it is meant to lead to contact with the file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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opponent and to the release of force at that point. We may refer to this as the “landing” of the movement. Unitary theory prescribes specific means of launching and landing movement. Unitary motion is controlled by the tan tien and tsun kwan energy centers. The tan tien is located on the central axis a few inches below the navel. It is the center of gravity for the body mass and serves as the storehouse of chi. Some would refer to the Ming Men point, which is the same height as the tantien, but closer to the spine, as the source point of all movement. The tsun kwan is located between the eyes on the forehead and has been called the “third eye.” It is a psychic plexus and a vital point in acupuncture theory. Unitary theory allows for two methods of launching movement and two methods of landing movement. One of the two methods in each case is associated with the tan tien or Ming Men, while the other is associated with the tsun kwan. Tan Tien Versus Tsun Kwan Launching Any movement created by a torquing of the waist is said to be launched by the tan tien. The waist can torque laterally (left to right or vice versa) or vertically (typically forward and upward, with the help of the legs). When stepping across the floor creates motion in the arms, we attribute this to tan tien launching as well, since the arm motion results from the movement of one’s center of gravity. The degree of delay between the torquing of the waist and the consequent limb movement depends upon one’s body state. A yin state will produce more delay, or “whiplash,” than will a yang state. In combat, minimal delay is preferable, for this means maximum efficiency and minimum telegraph. However, one is better off practicing the tan tien launch with yin state at the beginner level, for this seems most conducive to getting the feeling of depending on the tan tien rather than the arm muscles to launch arm motion. With the muscle system released from responsibility for creating movement, one can learn to maintain an even body state. As one advances, he can gradually shift to the yang state, reducing the delay even to the point of no delay. Any movement sparked by a nerve impulse or reflex explosion is said to be launched by the tsun kwan. This kind of  launch can be extremely fast, entailing very little telegraph. Picture someone pricking your finger with a pin when you are not looking. The nerves send the signals to your brain virtually instantly, and your hand pops back reflexively, before conscious thought has caught up with the situation. The nerve action in this scenario is involuntary. In Chinese boxing, we must develop the nervous system so that nerve spasms can be created voluntarily. The tsun kwan may fire a nerve in the hand in order to flick the hand into motion. Although this nerve explosion is volitional, the hand motion can be just as fast as in the case of the pin prick. Tsun kwan launching, like tan tien launching, is not dependent on the muscles. However, once movement has been launched, the muscles must come into play to keep it going. At this stage, proper body state is essential. Tai Chi generally emphasizes tan tien launching. In contrast, the forms of Wing Chun, particularly Shaolin Tao, are set up in such a way that tsun kwan launching is required some of the time in order to launch unitarily. Tan Tien Versus Tsun Kwan Landing. Landing a blow with tan tien energy produces what we call a “push hit,” which has the effect of knocking the opponent backward. Landing a blow with tsun kwan energy produces what we call a “shock hit” (also known as an impact hit). A person struck with shock hit will drop where he stands or even fall forward. Both hits can be quite powerful, even to the point of killing, but the shock hit is the more destructive. In a shock hit, all of the generated force penetrates into the target, causing internal devastation. In a push hit, some of the force is spent hurling the opponent. (If  you are going to be hit, you would prefer that as much of the force as possible move your center rather than penetrate to your center. This is the idea behind “rolling with the punch.”) We also refer to the shock hit as “explosive” and to the push hit as “crushing.” The push hit is not to be confused with a pure push. A pure push is generally a nondestructive projection that simply moves the opponent (although it can be destructive—for example, if the opponent is pushed out a window). None of  the energy in a push penetrates into the opponent. Tai Chi masters will often push adversaries whom they do not wish to harm. The push hit, in contrast, does entail some penetration and internal damage. (Although Tai Chi is often seen as a mild art of self-defense, it can be a lethal fighting art, and Tai Chi masters are expert at both the push hit and the shock hit). The shock hit is the more difficult of the two to develop. Even when one has learned to hit with shock force, he may not succeed in producing a powerful shock hit every time he attempts it, particularly in the rough and tumble of  combat. The push hit can be executed more reliably. I believe it is possible for one to become a boxing master without ever learning to hit with shock. Nonetheless, the shock hit is very much worth developing and including in one’s arsenal, file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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Yin/Yang Cycling As the name “unitary” implies, the launch and the landing of a movement are closely interrelated. Normally, a tan tien launch produces a tsun kwan landing, whereas a tsun kwan launch produces a tan tien landing. In order to achieve a shock hit, the blow must be delivered with a rebounding effect, or returning energy. This return is not the product of conscious effort at the moment of impact or afterward, but is the natural consequence of the way the technique was thrown. A sucking force results. The push hit is delivered with more emphasis on follow-through, the way one bats a baseball. (Even in the case of the shock hit, however, one "follows through" to some extent, meaning that one's fist does not merely strike to the target's surface, but penetrates somewhat before returning.) Launching with tsun kwan and landing with tan tien requires a special merging and coordination. After the motion is initiated by a nerve impulse, body motion blends in, like a smoothly meshing gear, so that the tan tien is in motion behind the technique, and the blow lands with the force of one’s body weight. Of course, proper body state is essential throughout. At an advanced level, the boxer may achieve a variation on the usual interplay between the tsun kwan and tan tien. It is possible, with a high degree of skill, to launch with tsun kwan and land with tsun kwan. Usually one must be close to the opponent in order to do this. Doing so combines the superior speed of the nerve launch with the superior power of  the shock hit. The tan tien is not left out, however. One must cycle energy through the tan tien between the launch and the landing (without delaying the motion, or breaking it up into two motions). This requires even greater coordination and is truly a high level technique. The interplay between the tan tien and the tsun kwan in launching and landing movement is but one example of the continuous, ever-changing flow between yin and yang. Indeed, the concept of yin and yang is the bedrock of unitary theory. In Chinese cosmology, the yin and the yang are the dual expression of the one. Yin represents the soft, yielding, female, etc., while yang represents the hard, aggressive, male, etc. The two energies are opposite, but not opposing. They are mutually complementary and interdependent. In a proper state, they flow in harmony with each other, avoiding extremes as taught in six-nine theory. The tan tien is considered yang and the tsun kwan yin. Thus, the cycling of energy between the tsun kwan and the tan tien is referred to as yin/yang cycling. This cycle must be ever-flowing in movement. It is controlled by the mind or the one, after the instincts have been ingrained. In recent years, the study of Chen Tai Chi's "silk reeling" energy has brought another interesting aspect into the thinking of principles. Silk-reeling seems to fit into the unitary principle although it contains important body state aspects and provides benefits to yielding and projection. Silk reeling involves three items. The first is referring to the movement of turning or twisting. The second and third item refer to body state. The balance of stretching the body concentrically while remaining relaxed is the key. Chen Tai Chi says that if one loses stretch, turning, or relaxation, one loses Tai Chi because Tai Chi is silk reeling and silk reeling is Tai Chi. While learning about silk reeling I considered whether it should be considered a principle by itself. While its importance should not be underestimated, it seems to fit well in the discussion of unitary theory. To keep the entire body turning unitarily while remaining stretched and relaxed is truly a challenge with many benefits. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Body State

The study of body state is the study of the interplay between internal energy and the muscular system. The muscular system must be properly developed so that chi is provided the best possible environment in which to function. Unitary theory calls for the harnessing of one’s internal resources, and this is possible only with proper body state. One of the key ingredients of proper body state is relaxation. Tension hinders the circulation of chi throughout the body. Relaxation opens the internal gateways. Energy should swell and flow freely, permeating every cell, until one has achieved what we call “pervasiveness” or “saturation.” One becomes like a sponge soaked in water, or like a balloon inflated with high-pressure air.

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When one has achieved pervasiveness, one feels one’s entire body to be a single unit. The state of pervasiveness is thus referred to as the unitary state. When one’s energy has separated into isolated parts of the body, we say one is “segmented.” A useful analogy may be drawn from the water bed industry. Water beds are produced in two forms— full-wave and waveless. Waveless beds contain internal baffles that curtail the flow of water within the mattress. Borrowing from energy boxing terminology, we would say the water is segmented. Full-wave beds contain no baffles. When you touch any part of a full-wave mattress, you are touching the entire body of water as an undivided whole. Similarly, when you touch a boxer who has achieved pervasiveness, you are touching a unitary energy field. As vital as relaxation is, it can be overdone. One should not be relaxed to the point of being limp, or he may injure his  joints. For example, when punching, if the wrist is totally relaxed, it is more prone to bend and possibly break on impact. A certain degree of firmness is thus required for protection, even in the midst of suppleness. Actually, unitary theory allows for some variation in the degree of firmness in one’s body state. Proper body state can fluctuate between what we call “yin state” and “yang state.” Yin state is a soft, relaxed state with energy running through it. Yang state is a firm but nonetheless relaxed state that is likewise charged with energy. (Note that yin state is not devoid of energy and yang state is not tense, contrary to common misconceptions.) Yin state may be likened to a sponge that is just moist enough to be soft and pliable, whereas yang state is like a sponge that has been drenched. The one is light, the other heavy. Yin state and yang state can each, like anything, be carried to an extreme. We don't want to be limp or tense. Six-nine theory counsels us to avoid such extremes. Thus, when I refer to yin state and yang state, I generally mean proper yin and yang, within the limits of six-nine mode. It is best to begin the study of Chinese boxing while maintaining a rather even state. At an advanced level, however, one should be able to alter his body state instantly from yin to yang or vice versa. This can serve a wide variety of  purposes. For instance, the yin state seems to provide a better format for yielding, while the yang state seems better for projection (i.e., the emission of force). When striking with tsun kwan launch and tan tien hit, it is best to initiate the technique in yin state and quickly cycle into yang state for the landing. Tan tien launching can be initiated in either yin or yang state, although the yang state may be preferable for minimizing whiplash and the associated telegraph. It has been said that the great discoveries of science are counter-intuitive. In contrast, when scientific investigation merely confirms the insights of common sense, its results are considered trivial. Much of Chinese boxing is counterintuitive. For example, few people would think that the way to overcome force is to yield. Similarly, few would suppose that the way to maximize force is to relax. Yet this is precisely the conclusion of  Chinese boxing. Indeed, the ability to release force in a hit while remaining completely relaxed, even on impact, is perhaps the most remarkable feature of Chinese boxing. Some masters say that hard and soft are the same thing. Virtually all martial arts, Chinese or otherwise, teach relaxation to some extent, for everyone agrees that speed is enhanced in a relaxed state. However, most arts outside the realm of Chinese boxing teach one to tense for a split second at the moment of impact, supposedly so that more force can be released. This always made good sense to me, until I felt Sifu Kai Sai hit me with thunderous power as he remained completely relaxed. I was dumbfounded. How could he do this? This was my first taste of unitary power. It was only later that I came to understand that contracting the muscles, far from enhancing force, actually diminishes it. The greatest power within one’s grasp flows from unitary energy. The arm is only a conduit, not the source, of power. When one tenses the muscles, one inhibits the flow of energy through the body, and prevents energy from being thrown out of the body and into the target. The effect is like placing a vise on a garden hose. You settle for only a fraction of the power you could attain by plugging into the entire body as an energy source. We classify the traditional method of tightening on impact as segmented technique. The study of body state begins from day one in Chinese boxing and never ceases. Typically, one’s point of departure in this study is one’s introduction to rooting. Rooting is the skill of keeping the energy low in the body. (Note that, since rootedness is a particular aspect of body state, the principle of rooting is subsumed by the principle of body state.) As one advances, one learns more and more skills related to body state. One skill that is achieved only after lengthy, arduous training is the skill of “chilling.” Chilling entails a body state that completely hides all information about one’s intentions. It is devoid of telegraphic signals. If a boxer has mastered chilling, his opponent will be utterly unable to read his energy, even if contact has been established. A chilled body state is like a vast metropolis plunged into darkness by a blackout. Another advanced skill is moving the body with the chi. The opening of the Tai Chi form as well as all movements are meant to be performed in this manner. manner. The hands hands rise not as a resul resultt of a waist torque, torque, nor nor as a result of a nerve impulse, but as a result of the chi flowing into them, acting like helium. Of course, at the beginner level, the arm and file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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shoulder muscles create the movement. As one progresses, one learns to use fewer muscles, and to use them to a lesser degree. One learns to rely on chi more and more. This same reliance finds its way into all motion, including that launched by tan tien or tsun kwan. To achieve this, one must devote much study and personal evaluation. The study of body state is a lifelong pursuit in Chinese boxing. One can always aspire to develop higher levels of skill. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Six-NineTheory

Six-nine theory is a conservative, high-percentage method of combat. It is summed up by the word “changeableness.” Every strike, every kick, every block, every step should be done in a way that allows one to change one’s technique instantly. A boxer is said to be in “six-nine mode” when he maintains a state that is ever-loaded, never needing to reload. The idea here is that a technique should not have to go somewhere before it goes somewhere. In other words, one should not have to bring his arm or leg to a “get ready” position in order to deliver a technique. Eliminating such extra movement aids in efficiency, cutting down the time it takes to deliver a technique. Being ever-loaded also means that one is able to project force at all times. The key here is consistent body state—in particular, being able to emit force while remaining relaxed. One who relies on the segmented method of contracting the muscles on impact must oscillate between being tense and relaxed. Once his muscles contract, they must relax before they can contract again. The discharge of force is inherently discrete. Unitary theory, in contrast, allows a continuous projection, like water gushing from a high-pressure hose. The segmented technique is like the bursts from a squirt gun: One must release the trigger before one can squeeze again. The unitary body state is also conducive to changeableness by virtue of its suppleness. A rigid body is less able to adapt instantly to changing conditions. Six-nine theory manifests itself in every facet of boxing. In striking, it is knowing the correct power range, extension, and the balance of the arm. In kicking, it is the balance of the lower body, it is knowing the proper extension of the leg, and it is the ability to press forward without delay following impact. In blocking, it is the skill of not leaning on the incoming technique, but maintaining independent projection. In stepping, it is the total control of weight shifting so that the weight does not flood the foot, but instead reserves the option of vanishing instantly. Six-nine movement is truly wisdom in motion. One general characteristic of eastern thought is the mystical approach to many issues. While western thought specialized in cognitive limits, the east emphasized the mystical. My own teacher felt a blend of the two was in order. At any rate, one of the classic Chinese writings, the I Ching, is distantly a source for the six-nine theory. In earlier centuries, the I Ching was primarily used as a fortune telling book. Today, there are some who use it this way, but it has many other uses as a source of knowledge on a variety of topics. Many simply accept it as a book of  wisdom. Some ask the book questions, going to a particular kua or section to seek advice. Those who use it in a “chance type fashion” have often drawn straws or thrown coins to come to the appropriate chapter or portion of the book. This synchronistic method of arriving at solutions is sometimes used as a symbol of the coming together of many variables in a unique way, which is what happens when Chinese boxing works. When coins were thrown to arrive at a portion of the I Ching, three would be used. Heads were assigned a numerical value of three, while tails were assigned the value two. One could thus get a sum of six, seven, eight, or nine. Six and nine came to be known as the numbers of change, while seven and eight came to be known as static numbers. Hence, six-nine theory gets its name. The theory itself has more to do with the idea of yin-yang, which is taught in the I Ching as well. It is believed that all things reveal themselves in this dichotomy. All energy is seen as mingling and flowing within these two poles. Sixnine refers to the proper balance and flow of these two major forces. Six-nine means the avoidance of extreme conditions.

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In terms of our boxing, it refers to several things. When one uses his limbs in combat, there should be a proper bend in the joints at all times. This includes before, during, and after all strikes, blocks, and movement in general. When one maintains the proper bend in the joints, he can change to other techniques without reloading the body for action. Also, proper bending provides options for movement when an opponent tries to vise a joint. Exponents of this theory believe it is possible to obtain maximum power within six-nine extension. Six-nine also refers to how one moves across the floor. Keeping a vertical spine and rooting help keep one from stepping in a way that gets the upper body too far in front of the lower body. Stances and projection lines are affected by the six-nine theory. One should always strive for positions and lines that allow for immediate change. While this approach could be considered conservative, it provides the highest percentage of success. Six-nine refers not only to a lack of overextension, but also to proper defense. Retreat or evasion should be effected only to the extent needed to avoid force. One wants to remain close enough to take over the energy of the opponent. This is a fine line, demanding much practice and skill. It is no wonder that these skills have been called the “divine boxing.” Six-nine footwork uses a smooth rolling of the feet. Rolling of the feet within a proper area on each foot gives one the equilibrium needed for changeability in combat. The six-nine principle must pervade every movement during practice if it is to be perfected. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Centeredness

Centeredness is a general term referring to various areas of Chinese boxing. Depending on the specific style, different theories and breakdowns for study are attempted in the learning process. When all is learned, one must return to the “one thought” or centeredness for success. Otherwise he is split in focus and detached, unable to use his technique successfully. One of the greatest enemies of the boxer is distraction. Centeredness is the opposite of distraction. It is very difficult to be centered while learning an art, as there are numerous details one must concentrate on before being able to relax the mind to a point where one can be centered. The study of centeredness begins with the notion of the center line, an imaginary line of symmetry running down the body. Next, the concept of a moving center is taught. The center is then referred to as the central line. It is not a fixed line but changes constantly as the two combatants move about. It is defined based on the two combatants’ positions relative to each other. This may be in constant flux. Because of this roving central line, it becomes important that the arm not only have a balance, but that it work in coordination with the other arm and with the entire body’s center, which is even more important. From the little finger to the entire body mass and even to the mind, there is a center and a hierarchy or chain of command which must work together in order to follow a central control element, which we refer to as the principle of centeredness. When one truly understands centeredness, he has an apparatus in place which can help him to teach himself. Centeredness is affected by other principles such as six-nine, rooting, and yielding. When one roots, his true center does not have to be a straight line anymore, but a point. This requires, in turn, yielding and greater suppleness of the body. Where one keeps his physical center, or tan tien, is crucial for effective footwork. Most people never stop to analyze where they keep their tan tien during their steps across the floor. If the placement of the tan tien is so that the rear bracing leg has approximately a 45 degree angle or more of bracing power, one can push off of that foot creating a direct, forward, instant force of movement. If the tan tien is placed too much over the top of the rear leg or with less than 45 degrees between it and the pushing leg, then the push-off will cause the body to rise more than move forward. This causes a critical loss of combat time if the purpose of the step is maximum explosion. To maintain centeredness means keeping one’s tan tien in a position where it can be moved by one’s legs and footwork with maximum efficiency. These thoughts are closely related to the six-nine theory of balanced changeableness.

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So far we have made reference to the centeredness of oneself and the various tiers and organization of this centeredness. In boxing, one must conquer or control the center of the opponent. This is sometimes done by having more centeredness or balance than the opponent. It is sometimes done with mind-hit, which can destroy the opponent’s mental centeredness. All efforts to conquer center must be done with six-nine balance so that one does not make himself vulnerable. Ultimately, centeredness depends on enough principles and skills being mastered so that one can relax and be centered. Relaxation is required to learn the principles. Once learned, one can find a new dimension of relaxation which allows one to be truly centered. To have a center in the midst of whirling violence is a characteristic of Chinese boxing. As a hurricane has its eye, the boxer must have his quietude beneath the surface. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Forward Pressure

Forward pressure (also known as sticking) refers to pressure directed toward the opponent’s center. We typically think of forward pressure in the context of physical contact between the boxer and his opponent (“when arm crosses arm”), but it can also exist prior to contact. In this latter sense, forward pressure refers the inclination to close the gap, to press forward until contact has been established. In both contexts, forward pressure requires an acute awareness of  one’s own center and of the opponent’s. Forward pressure does not always mean that you are chasing your opponent. It may even occur while you are in retreat. When you are in contact with your opponent, your touch can be right even if the opponent is providing the forward pressure and it looks as though you are moving away. As long as a certain amount of pressure and balance are maintained, the principle is respected. Forward pressure is the active communication system of Chinese boxing. If forward pressure is present in a boxer’s touch, his touch will serve as an antenna, providing him with crucial information about his opponent’s intentions. We call this “reading” or “listening to” the opponent’s energy. Information obtained by touch can be factored into the boxer’s yielding reactions and offensive strategies. As long as the pressure is there, one is being drafted into his next move. If the pressure ceases, one loses touch with the opponent’s intentions, and a drastic loss of control occurs. Forward pressure works in conjunction with the principles of independent projection and rooting. When you are in contact with your opponent, you may find yourself leaning on him as you apply forward pressure, thus compromising your balance. You must learn to apply the pressure without leaning. There is also a tendency to tilt the upper body forward when exerting forward pressure, thus sacrificing the vertical, hanging posture that rootedness requires. If, when you are in touch with your opponent and applying pressure toward his central line, your pressure is met with an unbalanced counter-pressure, slip to the weak side to capture and conquer your opponent’s center. As you slip past this misdirected energy, there will be a sudden, springing effect, as when a bamboo stalk bent nearly to the ground slips out of one’s hand and lashes one in the face. In this manner, forward pressure often creates additional speed and power by feeding off the off-balanced energy of the opponent. The aspect of balance is important because one is administering pressure toward the center of the opponent. If the opponent does not protect his central line, he will feel the forward pressure break through and attack his center. The six-nine theory is important because if while administering forward pressure one overextends his projection, the opponent’s yielding may cause one to fall into an unseen hole. Forward pressure is essential in dueling, particularly in Wing Chun’s chi sao. It is forward pressure that forces something to happen. Either one scoots around the protected center or one is neutralized. Forward pressure directed to the opponent’s center creates a build-up of what we call “spring energy.” As one slips around the defense because of  forward pressure, spring energy is released, increasing the power of the movement. In combat, the time it takes for the participants to come together may vary. However, once contact is made, the desire in Chinese boxing theory is to stick to the opponent until the end of the encounter. All Chinese boxing arts use forward pressure once contact begins. The other approach to combat is the “hit and run” technique. This refers to the strategy of moving in and out on an opponent, trying to strike him without sticking. This file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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strategy can certainly work, but has certain drawbacks. First, it assumes that you will eventually be able to defeat a person by your speed or power. While this is possible, it is also possible that your opponent can absorb your best hit. If  so, you are wasting time. Also, the effectiveness of this approach is at its height when your speed, strength, and youth are at their height. Forward pressure is an aspect of “touch,” which refers to a series of skills that allow one to respond instinctively to external forces in the right way. There are different types of forward pressure that the student must learn to read. In the beginning, it is simply the forward pressure in the arm. When a limb is using independent arm motion, the pressure is different even when he pushes or hits with great force. When one uses his entire body with forward pressure, it is an awesome force in comparison. When forward pressure of any kind increases, the one with better balance and changeability prevails. If the forward pressure emanates from the entire body, it is very difficult to overcome with an independent limb. When one’s forward pressure is with the entire body, we often refer to it as unitary. It is not wrong to have forward pressure with an independent limb as long as one is not leaning forward, out of the standard vertical posture. Otherwise, he may fall forward off balance. When one begins to practice “closing the gap” techniques, the sticking is a little more difficult, because one is not set up to stick as easily as in dueling. In boxing, one looks for an opportunity to enter the hole in the opponent’s defenses. Sticking is easier at that stage. When moving to the final stage of a fight, the sticking turns into smothering or body sticking to increase the power as well as the safety. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Line and Angle

The study of line and angle in Chinese boxing is the study of absolute efficiency in movement, both defensive and offensive. Indeed, we sometimes refer to the line and angle principle as the principle of maximum efficiency. When I was younger, I thought more meant more and less meant less. However, as I have grown in martial art skill over the years, I have come to realize that less is more and more is less. This may sound like babbling, but it is the simple that is profound. It has been said that the simple is hard to know because one tends to stumble over it. When asked what the greatest technique was, my teacher would answer by lifting his index finger in a pendulum fashion as high as the eye. He was making several points in this response, but one was that simple techniques are best. Were it not for guidance, I would still be extremely weak in this study of line and angle. One rarely stops to analyze the exact pathways in which his movements run. When one does so, inevitably one finds great waste and much telegraphing. Line has to do with several things. It means the exact path the technique travels. It refers to the alignment of the body in relation to the opponent’s body. Angle refers to relationships between the weapon and the opponent’s central line. It also refers to the angle of the body as it faces the opposing central line. There are good energy boxers who are not sensitive to the line and angle truths and therefore get hit many times more than necessary. Some depend on their yielding skills or absorbing skills. While yielding to a hit may bring one closer to control, it is never wise to leave lines and angles unprotected and vulnerable to vital point attack. (When one attacks by drawing, one leaves a line open but not “unprotected.”) In a duel, the rotation itself takes time to learn because it is teaching not only how to protect the central line of the body, but how to do so efficiently. If one overprotects, he becomes vulnerable at the other side of the balance. In combat, the placement of your hands and the placement of the opponent’s hands are very important. If, for example, the opponent places both hands on the central line, you can place your lead hand on the central line to put a direct obstacle in his path. He can hit your hand, but you have caused him to take a longer path if he wants to hit you. You have blocked his line of entry. Of course, he can move his hands, but then you can move yours as well. If you want to block his straight lines, you can do so fairly easily. Some boxers (especially those in the Fukien White Crane tradition) prefer to give a straight line to the center in order to work off of that particular projection. The only word of caution is that you must be sure your opponent is not too fast or this tactic will not work. file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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Often the angle of the body opens or closes the lines related to the kicking techniques that approach you. For example, if one leads with his shoulder in a right versus right situation, then he will encourage a round kick, while discouraging a front kick. All of this determines and illuminates what can and will be thrown in the encounter. The position in which one holds his hands also determines the type of technique that can be thrown without telegraph. Suppose, for example, you are standing right side forward with the lead hand low and the rear hand high. You could place your right hand to the right of your right thigh. This would set up a hook or a wing arm. If you place your hand directly in front of your right thigh, this would set up a straight forefist. If you place your right hand to the left of your right thigh, then you are prepared for a backhand or blade hand technique. You can throw any of these from any position, but not without telegraphing. Line and angle may also have reference to the exact line on which one is projecting his force, but we will save this subject for our discussion of the principle called projection. There are the so-called most common angles of attack that are seen most in fighting. If one can develop some techniques that attack on unusual angles and learn to launch these without telegraphing, it is of great advantage. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Projection

Projection has a yang side and a yin side. First, it refers to the ability to take energy created in the body and to throw it out of the body into a target. This is the yang side. The passive side relates to one’s posture and balance. Another yin aspect relates to the skill of affecting the way you are perceived. In the study of chi, the initial phase (which for many martial artists is also the final phase) is becoming aware of chi and cultivating it for internal benefits (health, etc.). Martial applications of this awareness include the heightening of  one’s sensitivity in reading the opponent’s energy, particularly when contact has been established (at a very advanced level, it is possible to read the opponent’s energy without contacting him). One who seeks to harness the chi combatively to its fullest potential faces an additional challenge—namely, to take this cultivated energy and move it out of the body. My teacher referred to this as transmutation (i.e., transmuting internal energy into external force). This is the ability to use the mechanical, the scientific, and the mental to maximize any given technique. There are many deceptions one must overcome if one is to pursue this study accurately. Sometimes one will have a feeling of power when doing a technique that is real in the sense that power is being generated, but the power is remaining in the body and not actually penetrating into the object one is hitting. In learning to throw energy, one must first become aware of how he can coordinate the movement of fluids in the body with the timing of the hit. This requires much practice in throwing a technique in the air, as this will bring the awareness of fluid movement better than anything else. When one becomes well acquainted with this, he works on the timing of the contact. Next, he must add the unitary aspects of launching and landing in order to remain in the six-nine mode of change. One of the greatest devices ever conceived for the development of projection is the Wing Chun mook jong. The mook seems to work magic in this area if one learns the right method of impact hitting. Projection is greatly dependent on the mind. One must project like a laser, in that nothing will stop the attempted technique. Even if the technique cannot go through an object, the projection is developed so that it will go around the obstacle at the point of least resistance. This is known as ceding. The projection must stay within the perimeters of sixnine balance and extension. One of the first problems one learns in projection of a hand technique is that chi seems to get clogged in the wrist. Therefore, most styles have exercises or techniques designed to cause this potential stoppage to be penetrated. The violent hand whipping of Fukien White Crane serves this purpose. A straight wrist seems to facilitate the projection of chi through the wrist and out the hand. Bending the wrist tends to block this passage. Whether such blockage is undesirable depends on the context. The chung chui, for instance, is a straight punch designed to project force through the knuckles. My teacher thought it best to execute the technique with file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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a straight wrist, to enhance the slinging of chi on impact. (In some styles of Wing Chun, the wrist is bent at the point of  impact. This enhances power on an independent basis, but is unnecessary or even counter productive if one’s emphasis is on internal power.) In contrast, the White Crane wing arm strike is designed to project force through the forearm. With this technique, you want your energy to concentrate in your arm, rather than flowing into your hand. Thus, it is wise to bend the wrist slightly. Similarly, in various chin na techniques, certain fingers are bent while others are extended in order to focus the projection of energy in the desired manner. In the yin aspect of projection, we first study what we refer to as the projection line of one’s balance, which we also call the tan tien projection line. In the six-nine approach to boxing, one’s tan tien projection should generally run between his feet, rather than on the line through his feet. When the tan tien projects on the line through the feet, one’s balance is weak, and we say one is on a tightrope. One can produce good forward force this way, but one will lack lateral stability. On the other hand, if the feet are too wide apart, one cannot stay protected as well in combat. A balanced approach is therefore needed. In boxing, we study our tan tien projection as we analyze every technique and as we move across the floor. Doing so will help us retain maximum balance in combat, giving us the potential to change at every point while maintaining reasonable coverage of the vital lines. Most of the time, force will be projected on the tan tien projection line, but there are techniques in which the tan tien projection line and the line of projected force diverge (e.g., lap sao). These techniques must be worked into the six-nine approach to boxing with special care. In Chinese boxing, we seek to develop the skill of independent projection. This refers to unleashing power in such a way that our balance is independent of the projection. When hitting a mook or an opponent, your balance should be no different if you were throwing your technique into open air. Thus, if |your opponent yields your|projection, you Home | About Us | than People | Products | Curriculum | Education | CBII Members Chen Xiaowang SE to Group Contact Us | Local Classes will not be drawn off balance. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Mind-Hit

My teacher wrote a book called “Mind-Hit Boxing: Secrets of Kai Sai Kung Fu,” and I don’t think I could add anything of importance to what he said there. Hence, I will restrict myself to a few brief comments related to mind-hit. Unitary theory teaches us to draw fully upon all our resources in order to maximize the results we can achieve. In combat, the most vital resource is not the body but the mind. Mind-hit refers to the use of the mind as a weapon, to the marshalling of all one’s mental resources in combat. The principle of mind-hit could really be subsumed under the principle of unitary theory, but because the mind is so important yet so often neglected, we highlight mind-hit as a separate principle in our theory of energy boxing. What role does the mind play in combat? First, the mind must serve in the training that prepares one for combat. If we seek to learn to defend ourselves, we should do so intelligently, making wise choices in the methods we practice and the strategies we adopt. I trust the reader will be unsurprised by my opinions regarding what the correct choices are. In my view, the rational search for truth in the science of combat leads inexorably to Chinese boxing. Not only will the mind lead one to Chinese boxing, it will be exercised to the fullest as one strives down the arduous path to boxing mastery, for Chinese boxing is truly a thinking man’s art. In the pursuit of the lofty principles of energy boxing, the mind is all-important. But when the moment of truth arrives and one must put one’s skills to the acid test, the mind has a different role to play. The time for thinking is past. Combat leaves no room for thought. Action and reaction must be instantaneous. One must operate on the feel of the energy. Wing Chun’s first form is named “Shaolin Tao” (“Little Idea”) not only to emphasize simplicity, but also to point to “the way of little thought,” an integral feature of energy boxing. Actually, when you operate “on feel,” you are still using the mind, but a part of the mind different from the academic, analytical faculty that serves so prominently when honing your art in practice. You are using a part of the mind that lies closer to the subconscious. It is conscious, or perhaps I should say self-conscious, thinking that beclouds the mind in combat. file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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Naturally, your training must include extensive practice with operating on feel if you are to be able to operate that way when it counts. The energy duels are a primary format for acquiring this skill. (Yet, in learning the duels, there is an appropriate time for self-conscious thought to discriminate the proper from the improper.) In order to operate on feel, your mind must move from the mode of the “many” to the mode of the “one.” You must enter the “now” state, also called the “one with the moment” state. You must live for real and not “on recording.” Only in this state can you effect the instinctive, instantaneous reactions essential to Chinese boxing. Complete relaxation and confidence are prerequisites for this condition. The faintest glimmer of fear or anxiety will jerk you out of the now. Any thought of past or future can prove fatal. Concentration is crucial to the now state. We have already discussed concentration under the heading of mental centeredness, which we may now identify as a special case of mind-hit. You should concentrate when practicing as well as when fighting, not only to hone your mental focus but also to make your practice more productive. Concentration and such other mental attributes as confidence, courage, tenacity and spirit can make all the difference in a life-or-death situation. The combination of all these ingredients is referred to as “intensity.” Even with a mastery of  the other aspects of Chinese boxing, one may lose a fight if his psychological state is weak, i.e., if he lacks intensity. Intensity can be cultivated with proper practice. In particular, since life-threatening danger can burst forth without warning, one must develop the ability to raise one’s intensity level by a quantum leap on an instant’s notice. In our discussion of projection, we have seen that the will leads the chi through and out the body. Projection is thus a product of mind-hit, i.e., of using the mind as a weapon. Since the mind is an important weapon, it is likewise an important target. Mind-hit thus also refers to any attack on the opponent’s mind. Anything that distracts your opponent’s attention, disrupts his mental focus, or diminishes his confidence or fighting spirit is called a mind-hit. A famous example: In the movie “Enter The Dragon,” O’Hara attempts to mind-hit Lee at the outset of their match by smashing a board. Another example is the old-as-the-hills trick of telling your opponent, “Look out behind you,” just before you hit him. The famous kiai (yell) of karate serves many purposes, one of which is to startle and distract the opponent. A mind-hit need not be a particular action. The mental projections discussed previously may be classified as mindhits. Even the look in one’s eye can determine the outcome of a fight. Our fighting theory teaches you to direct your eyes toward the upper middle portion of your opponent’s body. Aside from mechanical efficiency, this is done to guard against the danger of a strong spirit in your opponent’s eyes. Mind-hits can vary in degree. What we would ideally like is to remove the opponent’s mind completely from the fight. “Take your opponent’s mind out of the fight and there is no fight” is our maxim. A principal way to accomplish this is by inflicting severe pain. This is one reason why the eyes are the number one target in Chinese boxing. Wa Lu, one of the most aggressive of the boxing arts, is known for its strategy of destroying the attacking limb, just as a tiger will maul, not block, an offending hand. Part of the reasoning behind this strategy is that the destruction of the limb will mind-hit the attacker, perhaps severely enough to end the fight before lethal force becomes necessary. If  someone swings on you and you crush his hand, the likely result, unless he is highly trained, is that he will entirely forget that he has one more hand and many additional weapons (elbows, knees, feet, etc.) with which to press the attack. Of course, this tactic would not be so effective against a master of mind-hit. His concentration would screen out the pain, enabling him to forge on like a juggernaut. One last example of mind-hit should be mentioned. It was highlighted in Kai Sai’s book and deserves reiteration here because of its exceptional sophistication. The Chinese, through their study of acupuncture and related disciplines, have developed a dark art of attacking the body at various points at certain times of the day, inducing a disruption in the flow of vital energy that can cripple or kill. Unfortunately, this information is not as useful in combat as it might seem. If one could plan one’s attack well in advance, the knowledge would be more practical, but in most cases (and in virtually all cases where fighting is in selfdefense) one does not have this luxury. In the now of combat, one would have to evaluate numerous variables and instantly apply the information in the energy boxing mode. However, there is a related skill that is more readily integrated with energy boxing. This is the skill of creating, via techniques of energy manipulation, a hole in the opponent’s defenses which is void of the energy protection normally file:///Business/Webmaster%20Sites/CBII%20Site%20ƒ/Articles/principles.html

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present in the heat of combat. If your attack breaches your opponent’s defenses, he can rush energy to the target of  your attack to protect it, or at least minimize the damage. In doing so, however, he may be falling into a trap, for as the energy concentrates in one point of his body, holes open up elsewhere. Your initial attack can be a ploy to lure energy away from another vital point, which is your ultimate target. Needless to say, this cunning tactic can work only with impeccable timing and sensitivity to your opponent’s energy. Since the mind leads the chi through the body, the above tactic involves manipulating the opponent’s mind, inducing it to direct his chi away from your true target. Thus, your attack is, in a sense, directed against your opponent’s mind, and the tactic therefore qualifies as a mind-hit. Achieving mastery of mind-hit is a lengthy journey. All the other energy boxing principles must be developed and a multitude of experiences must be garnered in order to mold the combative mind. Rooting | Yielding | Body State | Unitary Theory | Six/Nine Theory | Projection | Line and Angle | Centeredness | Forward Pressure | Mind Hit | Back to Top

Copyright© by Chinese Boxing Institute International, All Rights Reserved Last updated - 7/22/2001 Chinese Boxing Institute International, P.O. Box 666957, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33066 [email protected] -------This site design by James Cravens DISCLAIMER The author and publisher of this material are NOT RESPONSIBLE in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following the instructions in this material. The activities, physical and otherwise, described in this material may be too strenuous or dangerous for some people, and the reader should consult a physician before engaging in them.

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