Golden Bridge technique

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Golden Bridge technique

Postby John Armstrong » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:40 am

Hello. I am new to Shaolin kung-fu, qigong and Tai Chi. I have a back problem, including a tilted pelvis, which I am getting treatment for, and therefore do not attend any classes regularly, especially since everything is very spread out in the rural area I live in. I know one good teacher of Tai Chi, and one teacher of wuzuquan, though I have not attended any classes of the latter yet. That is sort of what I am preparing for, focusing mostly on qigong, and on reading and collecting information. Also I do a lot of yoga.
My questions: I have been practicing a chi kung technique called the Golden Bridge, which involves assuming Ma Bu and extending the arms straight out in One-Finger Zen, for at least ten minutes. This is to develop jing. I thought this would be the best preparation for kung-fu classes. One is to do this for at least ten minutes, and according to this book by Wong Kiew Kit, if one is doing it right, it is supposed to be difficult to do it even for a minute. I did not find it difficult to do it for fifteen minutes even to begin with. Is there anything I am not understanding about Ma Bu?
Also, do practitioners often record themselves practicing, so they can watch their forms from an outsider's perspective and criticize themselves? If so, do they most often use a webcam? A cell phone camera? A camcorder? I like to practice outside, so a webcam is probably not practical.
Thank you.
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Postby brer_momonga » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:05 am

I have taped myself before practicing Tai Chi. I don't post them or share them with others - or at least haven't so yet - but I find it is very useful to check postures so I can improve. I used video function on a point and click digital camera indoors. It is crude quality, but serves its purpose. I once took a circus aerials class and I found that comparing what I thought I was doing to pictures of myself practicing tricks/poses was very helpful.

I think it's very important to take classes from a master instructor (and various seminars). For example, I had been training a similar Ma Bu exercise as you describe and when I started Kung Fu class, the instructor quickly corrected my posture. Proper instruction can prevent us from repeating these types of mistakes.

I find that mirrors are very useful in an exercise studio as well.

All the best for your training John, and if you do decide to take some classes in the near future, be sure to let the instructor know about your back problem. You may learn some new exercises that will help that condition.
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Postby Inga » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:00 am

Hi John

Yes, I would say if you were doing a full deep ma bu horse stance without much prior training it would be uncomfortable. Especially a White Crane ma bu which puts a lot of strain on the knees. I am assuming you are doing more of a Long Fist ma bu. In a full ma bu, the upper body is lowered until the thighs are parallel to the ground, knees should be lined up with the ankles, toes pointing straight forward, back up straight, shoulders relaxed with the arms extended out, fists about one fist of space between them. Some people feel discomfort in the knees, some in the thighs. We never train 10 minutes to start with, that would lead to injury. One should start in small increments and build up over time. Even once a long duration is achieved, shifting the stance very incrementally (redistribute the weight forward, back, and side to side) can help keep the muscles working but lessen the strain on the knees. Be careful. I assume you are not very low in your stance, or you are very fit from some other training. If you are in a low ma bu and able to keep 10 minutes without discomfort, I would still caution to shift the weight slightly to prevent injury.

Filming one's sequences is a valuable tool. Often I hear a correction, but I don't "feel" what I am being told is incorrect. Watching myself is extremely enlightening. Then I can view what others see too and not just go by what I sense when I do a form. I have a friend video on her camera, upload to the computer and watch it. Whatever method works for you, I can highly recommend it. Cheers Inga
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Golden Bridge technique cont'd

Postby John Armstrong » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:55 pm

A couple of questions about Ma Bu. First, I have also read that the thighs should be at right angles with the calves/shins. You are saying this is not true, go down further until the thighs are parallel with the ground, just as though you were sitting? Second, I have heard before that the knees are supposed to be lined up with the toes. It is hard to tell where the knees are pointing because they are not exactly sharp and pointed; of course they will be lined up with the lower leg's facing and the toes. Do you have any comment on this? Thanks again.
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Postby Inga » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:13 pm

It is most definitely not wrong to have the thighs at 90 degrees to the calves, this is fine for qigong in particular. However, you mentioned practicing shaolin, and you mentioned lack of discomfort holding ma bu. In my answer I quantified by saying "a full deep ma bu". In our shaolin class we stress getting low as possible to lower the center of gravity, improve one's root and become strong. I personally find holding ma bu this low (or deep) is quite uncomfortable if I hold it for extended minutes. You may not - I don't question that, I only was seeking an explanation for why what you read was not matching your experience...maybe you are super strong, or maybe you are not very low..that was my point.
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Postby John Armstrong » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:11 am

It is definitely that I am not low enough then. I am a total novice, I think below average in innate talent. :) Thank you for your input.
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Postby Inga » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:49 am

Hey John

Kung fu means time and effort. Everyone starts as a novice. Regardless if you have talent or not, you can improve in your form, you can apply discipline and you can achieve. I don't train kung fu to be amazingly talented and be a tough person who can hurt people. I train for the discipline of the body and mind, first and foremost. I have come to understand the martial applications, I appreciate the martial applications, I strive to do my best in keeping true to the origin of the art. But can a 44 year old who started at 37 look as good as a 20 year old who started at age 4? Well, this one can't haha, but am I better now than I was at 37? You bet. Can I be better? Again, you can bet I will be trying. If you put in effort, I guarantee you will see results. As a senior student says to us here "Train hard, train smart". Which applies no matter your age or what stage of training you are at. Best wishes, Inga
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