September 7th - New Master, New Style


Practice ten thousand times, the meaning will reveal itself.

This was a sentence that Master Bao wanted me to remember during Forms Class. That is how day one of Master Bao's training went, a lot of talking, a lot of basics, and a lot more corrections. The main correction was: relax. Punches. Stances. Jumps. Every single move I did had the same exact correction... relax. Also, my basics need work which isn't surprising since I've been hearing that since I have gotten here. So what needs work? That's what we spent a lot of time talking about. 
There are many theories and common ideas in Chinese martial arts. One of them is the "Outside Circles/Connections" while the other is "Internal Circles/Connections".



This idea is key to making your moves coordinated and balanced. It is also key for generating power (Called ε‘εŠ› in Chinese). The power generated in our style of kung fu isn't raw muscle strength. Instead, it is relaxed power similar to a rubber band or whip. For example: when doing a horse stance punch you do not want to move into horse stance then punch. Wrong. Instead, you want to have your step and punch happening at the same time. Using the combination of the step's momentum, relaxed body, and punching motion to get the most power at the end of the strike (called "Power Point" in Chinese, εŠ›η‚Ή).

I know I've written about these ideas before but it is crazy that I still don't have a grasp on them.

Master Bao's style is also interesting. Throughout Basics and Forms Class he focused a lot on the idea of when and where to generate your power. He also talked about having "root" in your stances where you should be like a tree and yet still mobile. We worked on my Tong Bei form and he showed me some of the differences between mine and his.
Another aspect that we talked about was the idea of Shen Fa 身法, when translated it means "Body Movement" or "Way of the Body" but it is more than that. It is the body's total understanding of a form or movement. Shen Fa cannot be taught, it naturally emerges from continuous practice. To be honest, it is something I don't quite understand but it is something that can easily be shown to someone. Master Yan performing his mantis set, Master Peng with his Tong Zi Gong, Master Tang with his Southern/Tiger style, Master Ning's Tai Chi, and Master Bao's Tong Bei. If you were to witness these, you could see that Shen Fa is more than just body movement. It is the pauses, the slow, the fast, and the intent behind the moves.

Now, look at me and the "Cripple Crew". No Shen Fa. None. But we're trying and every attempt gets us one step closer to understanding. 
The evening brought with it more solo training, weight lifting, and talking with Master Bao. This time was more about life than the martial arts. I learned a lot about my new master in our short conversation and I'm surprised to see the "real" Master Bao. Although he hasn't trained for three (coming on four) years now, his skills are still great. He's a man who used to think little and train a lot. Taiji and Qi Gong were some of his favorites. As time went on, he wanted to expand his schools which meant less and less time training, more and more time doing business. Now his mind works a lot while his body does little. 

I think its great that I finally get to meet Master Bao as he really does seem to be a Master. The type that would be on a mountain in a temple somewhere but instead he's here in the farmland wearing a business suit. 
I guess the times also change how you hide yourself.

Don't Judge a book by its cover...


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