Stand, Walk And Run Skills
“Tonight, I’m going to teach you how to stand, walk and then run,” sifu waited for the statement to sink in.
“Well excuse me sifu, I’ve only been practising that for the last 24 years,” said Jamie with an air of mock sarcasm.
“And you’re not very good at it, are you….” Sifu answered with a statement more than a question. “This is the problem, standing, walking and running are everyday uses of the human body, when we can do this skilfully, we are practicing our martial arts all of the time – and importantly, improving our health and vigour. If we perform these functions mindlessly, then we are unskilful more than we are skilful, this is going to make learning martial arts hard work. A couple of hours a week learning to move skilfully and then 166 hours a week standing, walking, running, sitting and laying unskilfully will tip the balance towards the unskilful favour every time…”
“I never looked at it that way,” Jamie said thoughtfully.
“If you can’t stand properly, how the hell can you expect to do any martial arts with any level of skill asked sifu?”
“That’s true – let’s get it on” exclaimed Jamie with great enthusiasm.
“Okay everyone, face the direction you feel ‘drawn’ to and stand naturally with your feet in line with your shoulders, feeling all the surface of your feet on the floor, be aware of the arch of each foot and the power point at the rear centre of the arch and the kidney point at the front centre. When we are ‘standing’ and not becoming active, we want to ‘open the gates’ and allow energy to flow naturally through the body utilising its own intelligence without any interference from our mind, so for this purpose we stand on the ‘top’ of the arches so as to not activate anything through the feet.
As we press from the feet to make our body fully upright, stretch the spine upwards – as if being pulled up by a rope attached to the crown of the head. Open the gap at the base of the skull by tucking the chin in and pulling the head upwards. Whilst standing tall with your bones, soften the tissue covering the structure so it ‘hangs’ on an upright skeleton.
Now join the governor and conception vessels at the top end by placing the tongue to the top palette just behind the teeth and gently press. Join them at the bottom by using the ‘zip and tuck’ method – as if trying to zip yourself into a tight pair of jeans, pull your lower abdomen in and upwards.
Sink and hollow the chest by releasing tension, there are five stages of ‘letting go’ that will eventually connect that point to the feet. This also opens the back, enabling the shoulder blades to be pulled apart and slightly down. Breathe from the stomach and feel as if you are filling the stomach with air and then the back by ‘flaring’ the lat muscles.
Sink your bodyweight into the muscles and tendons as opposed to the joints by releasing the ankles, knees, hips and chest. Sense which side of the body is yin and which is yang in the equally weighted posture.
Now we use the ‘standing posture’ to increase our sensitivity.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable, or just let them drift out of focus, this will help you to focus on your other senses. The classics say there must be ‘activity within inactivity’ and ‘inactivity within activity’. Sharpen your other senses and feel the location of everything and everyone around you, increasing your depth of perception and hearing the sounds and feeling all movement that you would otherwise not sense.
Increasing sensitivity is the key. Feel as if all your energy is bought to the skin increasing its sensitivity and feel as if someone touched you they would get an electric shock.
Your mind is like sandpaper, in everyday life it is coarse and only picks up on the necessary stimulus for you to carry out mundane tasks or deal with an emergency, everything else gets screened out, so like the sandpaper we need to gradually make it finer. Your ‘activity in inactivity’ here is to sharpen your senses and be able to pick up on the signs that everybody else misses.”
“But you can’t walk with that kind of mind can you”, asked Jamie?
“Not exactly, but you can have all your senses sharpened for everyday life”, answered sifu. “But let’s get on to walking…
To create motion, direct your bodyweight at an angle of 45 degrees backwards into the previously mentioned ‘power point’ ‘zip and tuck’ and sink the chest to roll the ribcage down creating a pump in the waist, pulse from power point to the kidney point the yin foot taking the head to the yang foot and weighting it, with the waist spiralling around to unpeel the yin foot off the floor. The foot comes off the floor with a final pulse and slight ‘flinch’ to ensure that it is fully empty and light in movement. The step forward feels like something being thrown off a spiral into a straight line. As you walk slightly swing your arms in the same order as a soldier would when marching, leading to the spiralling motion of the waist and the slight turn of the head into each foot.
This way, the entire internal system is being ‘pumped’ with each step and you are using the same stepping motion that you use in your martial arts. You will also become more internally sensitive as time goes by and be constantly developing your power sources and awareness..
The students had been following sifu’s instructions and were now walking around the kwoon, almost like prisoners in a prison yard.
“All you need now sifu is the mirrored sunglasses and shotgun!” Jamie just couldn’t resist the analogy.
“Okay guys now to run, speed the process so that the pulse from the feet is driving the head forward and the head leads the body, use the waist to pump the legs.
“This is nothing like I was doing before,” exclaimed Jamie.
“Absolutely” replied sifu – “now you can adapt tai chi to every movement you make in life and be training all the time as you move, stand and then apply it to sitting and lying, the four positions the Buddha recommended for meditation – meaning you should be mindful all of the time…”