2015年12月4日 星期五

Roadblocks to taming hardness with softness in TCC pushing hands and the power of an inch


I. First roadblock: your rigid body

While practicing TCC form and pushing hands, one must first strive to relax the body and mind the nebulous concept of energy circulation.
Relaxation enables your joints to be supple, setting the stage to free your blood and energy circulations to reach all parts of your body. Only after one can relax his physical body will circulation of energy follow in due course. Circulation is guided by a mind that is unencumbered. Smooth energy circulation and cohesive body movement generate the greatest power.

In other words, in practicing TCC form and pushing hands, one should pay attention to both the outward manifestations (e.g., drop the shoulders and sink the elbows, hollow the chest and round the back, keep the head upright, relax the abdomen and drop the hips) and the inward mindfulness (guiding the energy circulation). Then and only then can one tame hardness with softness.
People may think that energy suffers less attrition when it travels through a rigid body than through a supple one. Not so: Rigidity leads to breakage, fatigue, and, as Laozi Chapter 30 points out, premature death.
It is for this reason that TCC, in its pursuit of survival and triumph, abandons brute force but sticks with suppleness instead.

II. The power of an inch

If your can be supple in every inch of your body, then you have the potential to deliver what my teacher Soong JJ called “the power of an inch,” a most versatile, mobile, efficient, and effective way to preserve your own energy and “borrow” your opponent’s energy to topple him. Teacher Soong’s fajing—discharge of energy to expel—was never longer than 10 centimeters (4 inches). Such fajing, originating on the ground, generates the maximum power in the shortest distance and time. It is possible only if you are totally relaxed in the body and the mind.
The key to taming the hardness with softness is total relaxation, not specific techniques—a concept that finds ample support in TCC scriptures, old and new, including “in every motion, the whole body must be light, agile, and, when appropriate, be cohesive as a unified whole,” “extreme softness enables extreme hardness [and power],” and, as Cheng Mann-ching suggested, “you must be able to defend before you can attack, so practice yielding and neutralization first and foremost if you want to progress your TCC”.
Fajing, therefore, is not how forcefully and how far you can bounce him off, but how adroitly and effortlessly you can topple him—gently leading him to fall down to the floor instead of forcefully pushing him up the air.

III. Second roadblock: forget your own center (dantian)

In training toward suppleness and mindful guidance of energy circulation, we must “use the mind, not brute force.” Teacher Soong JJ often said, “The moment your mind is there, your energy and power are there at the same time.”
Therefore, we must practice with mindfulness. Be aware particularly of dantian in every move that you make in TCC form and pushing hands.
The hips, the waist, and the quadriceps in the thighs form the core—or home fortress, so to speak—of your TCC practice. Everything you do in TCC either gets absorbed into it or comes from it. Your quads enable you to withstand a blow from your opponent, and your quads enable you to lead him to fall on the floor. Teacher Soong JJ’s training method has given his disciples extremely strong quadriceps. Quads are the foundation upon which useful TCC can be built.
Somewhere in that core is where your center is situated. Everything that you wish to do in TCC—be it to advance, retreat, rise, sink, go left, or go right—you should do it “from your center”. [Teacher Soong JJ taught us specific and concrete drills to build up the core, find the center, and use the core. I can cover these in a future post.]

Keep your mind on your center at all times—as a commander always stays in the war room to receive battle information and give orders—then you will be able to expend the least amount of energy for the greatest triumph. Four ounces tames a thousand pounds; softness tames hardness.
Chinese original by Wu RH, translated and compiled by Tang YY 

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