Right Effort In Training


The class began with sanchin qigong.  With our feet under our shoulderline, we rotated out on the balls of the feet, releasing our ankles, knees, hips, lower back and chest, then stretched the crown of the head upwards bowing the spine from the top and pulling the pubococcygeus muscle at the base to complete the ‘bow’ and assist the energy flow, putting the tongue to the top palette to complete the circuit.

We held the arms out in a ‘bow’ (or yin) formation at the front of the body, palms inwards, hollowing the chest to work with the bowing and opening of the back.  Lightly stretching the fingers and stretching and opening the joints in the shoulders and along the arms and hands we encouraged the flow energy until it felt like ran from the arms into the sunken chest and down into the lower abdomen.

After a period of feeling the ‘shade’ at the front of the body we turned the hands over to feel the ‘yang’ side, feeling like we had the sun on our back, ‘sitting’ the laogong points in the palms of the hands  down to their partnered points in the arches of the feet.  Both hands had to feel the same, they were stretched and adjusted to get the best energy flow, both feet had to feel the same, with the mind there, the arches of the feet felt like they filled with ‘cushions’ of energy, the relationship between each hand and foot also had to feel the same ‘balancing’ the body.

We then did the yin/yang breathing exercises, opening, closing, flexing and bowing the body in time with the breath, followed by the retention and expulsion of the breath with mawashi uke

“No….  soften and open here…”  Sensei put his hand on the ming men (the lower part) of Marion’s back.  Marion tensed.. “No…  soften and expand toward my hand, don’t push, soften and open..  Work with me…

“I’m trying Sensei….”

“You certainly are Marion…”

“No, I mean I’m trying to do it prop….”  Sensei cut her off..

“Humour Marion, humour, I know you’re trying your best, but that’s the problem.  Let me explain to the class.”  Sensei clapped his hands.  “Sit down everyone.”

“Does anyone know what chap sau  means?”

“Hand Fiddling … “Our resident Cantonese speaker responded inquisitively.

“That’s right – it’s a gong fu term for advanced physical adjustment made by a sifu to a student in a technique.  This cannot take place until their ‘chi is in agreement’ in other words they have to have developed their relationship to a point that the student can relax and allow the sifu to adjust their body to get a direct transmission of the ‘feeling’ that he or she has when doing the technique.

If the student stiffens when the sifu is trying to adjust them, or goes all weak and floppy, the ‘transmission’ can’t be made, therefore there has to be this developed relationship, trust and physical ‘agreement’ that allows it to take place.”

“So when I said I was ‘trying’ I was trying too hard?”

“That’s right.  You have to allow me to do my work.  If you seem uncomfortable, I have to stop until the time is right.”

“God… it’s so difficult….”

“There ya go again…”  Marion reddened

“My job is to pre-frame you with regard to the learning process.  ‘Learning how to learn’ is worth its weight in gold.  Information is worth its weight in gold.

Never complain because you’re being taught a lot.  Write it down.  That person might be dead before you can see them again.  Queue the assimilation of information, there will be many times that not too much is going on and you can absorb and catch up on the study.

Don’t try too hard – let the information ‘hang’ in your mind whilst you practice – and simply work at a pace that your body can slowly and carefully assimilate the information.  It’s like osmosis – it just gradually ‘soaks in’ at its own pace and of its own accord.

Bear in mind that a ‘club’ is people coming together for a common purpose, we all play a part, the better we all play our part – the better it works.  Look around for things to do that will make everything work better.  Every ‘club’ needs secretaries, treasurers, helpers, every event needs co-ordinators and helpers, when all an instructor has to do is teach – he teaches better.  When he has to do many other jobs, his teaching will suffer

An experienced instructor is often older – courses can be taxing, a good bed, an early night, good food and rest can make all the difference.”

“You guys just want a soft life…”  John couldn’t resist the jibe.

Sensei laughed.  “Maybe, but I’ve watched thousands of people come and go in the Martial Arts and many of them have their defeat written in right from the beginning due to their attitude.  That change of attitude is crucial for their success.  This is why developing the correct relationship with the instructor is so important.  It’s also important because for a club to exist and function properly, instructor and student are interdependent.  The better each one can play their part, the more successfully the club and relationship functions.

An instructor can teach rubbish and the student wouldn’t know.  To ‘push the boundaries’ and get REAL progress takes a LOT of effort from both sides.  When this is happening, there’s bound to be stress and difficulty, many instructors couldn’t be bothered, or aren’t capable.  It’s easier to format classes or courses of ‘monkey see monkey do’ stuff that people can teach the same day they’ve learned it.  Easy to teach, easy to do, courses, books, DVD’s – good business, popular instructor.  Why would anyone want to push the students, make them feel uncomfortable, make them see their lazy, selfish face and drive them to ‘do the right thing’, train the ‘right way’ and in a way that’s not fun or instantly gratifying?

People nowadays don’t want to take the long term view and forge a body and mind over a longer period of time that is ‘wisdom’ and not ‘vanity’ based

Think about it guys, it’s the most valuable lesson because learning how to learn will improve everything you do from now on.  I’ve spent 40 years of learning with great people, making great friends all over the world, enjoying the journey of learning and study in the Martial Arts in a permanent state of a pleasant, zen-like confusion and inspired wonder. ”

“Can I carry your bag for you sensei?”

“Stop taking the pee John……”

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