The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

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The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Sorcerer » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:14 pm

I dont want to invoke any cliches but a I personally prefer training at kung fu schools where studnets meditate. Meditation adds a very beneficial aspect to training since people begin to understand that their mind is plastic and that it can grow and develop in ways that arent usually csidered common. Meditation improves peoples relationship to the world ,which adds another dimension to the training - this importnt because students have one further motive for training in kung fu. It is also important to be aware of the traditions in which ones style operates. I dont see a lot of awareness about these thingsi in the public sphere and in the general martial arts scene, but they are some of the real jewels of martial arts.
"There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy" FW Nietzsche
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Josh Young » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:41 am

martial arts are strongly associated with religion and religious figures for most of recorded history
even Buddha was a swordsman
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby brer_momonga » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:47 am

Well said Sorcerer!

the school I practice at does mabu - it's mainly for breathing and structure training and while meditation is certainly part of it, traditional seated meditation is not emphasized which I think is a little too bad - but we don't have time for everything - as my master once said about the length of our Kung Fu class, "1 hour and a half is nothing." Of course, he's also said not to train too much.

When I am strong enough to meditate while seated on my horse, then I will get some meditation in during class!

I'm lucky to have always associated meditation with martial arts. my first introduction to meditation was in aikido class when I was about 10 or 11. Each class ended with 5 minutes or so of seated meditation. I stopped martial arts when I was 13 though and didn't get back into it until my early 30's, however, meditative approach was always in the back of my mind and eventually motivated me to return to it via kung fu and tai chi chuan.

I'm with you on preference to meditate as part of martial arts training. I meditate on my own outside of class and rarely speak of it with the other students but consider it central
to my training nonetheless. there's a dude in my school who is a bit of a lone wolf and he often meditates before class. There's something to be said for meditating as a class though.

Josh, all good gentlemen practice sword! :wink:
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Sanfung » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:57 pm

It looks like I have been replying to a lot of older posts. I had a problem with my account, so I was not able to log in for the longest time hence I have been trying to play catch up. I'm really sorry about that.

I wanted to share a few thoughts on spirituality and meditation however. I take some of these things a little more seriously than some of the other friends that I have who are involved in the martial arts, though it seems the other posters are far more skilled than I. Interestingly enough, though, I have generally only had positive responses when describing things like Zhan Zhuang to said friends.

Once I worried that such things would be considered too cerebral by a lot of people, and I had no wish to diminish the value of quality realistic self-defense training as a vital component of even the most traditional of martial arts. Indeed, we spend a great time here talking about the sad loss of martial applications in training on YMAA. Nevertheless, I have actually found a lot of people saying that they wished their own schools taught things in a similar manner and even had a focus on things like traditional seated meditation.

I really only remember one person who was resistant to such ideas, stressing that (according to him) he was an accomplished 'fighter' and therefore understood such things was absolutely worthless. Nevertheless, for what its worth I know quite well that I have seen even real physical results from such practice. For instance I used to have bad kinetic tremors caused by a nervous condition. As a result of Zhan Zhuang and other types of meditative training I have been able to significantly reduce such tremors.

As a short aside if it isn't too much of a problem, I heard someone once say that a tremor in the left hand is indicative of chi control. To me this seems counterintuitive as hand tremors have been something such practices have helped me to cut back on. Has anyone heard of this? I usually hear people say that one can feel chi flow by cupping the hands together closely without touching them, as opposed to a shaking in the hand.
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby yeniseri » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:09 pm

Sanfung wrote:.... I heard someone once say that a tremor in the left hand is indicative of chi control. To me this seems counterintuitive as hand tremors have been something such practices have helped me to cut back on. Has anyone heard of this? I usually hear people say that one can feel chi flow by cupping the hands together closely without touching them, as opposed to a shaking in the hand.


I hear people talking about 'chi flow' (it sounds really nice!) but one has to be realistic in explaining using a common language. At best it is meaningless because people would not know if it is outside a context of some sort. My guess, based on language is that it is a normal condition enhanced by relaxation, increased oxygen capacity (of some sort) therefore a major product of 'microcirculation', which is positive.
If I was leading a class and someone mentioned that they were experiencing hand tremors, my first response as the exercise leader/fitness leader, etc would be to stop the routine or movement causing the tremor, have the subject sit down and inqure if there is a history of family disease with tremors. Depending on the class and the venue, the individual would have signed a waiver noting that he has his family doctor's permission to participate therefore even though the tremor may be 'minor', the family doctor would still have to be notified of this incident as a precaution.

To relegate the observed symptom (hand tremor) as a consequence of some kind of 'chi control' does a disservice to the participant and sounds amateurish, which is not positive for those seeking some type of benefit who appear to see benefit in taijiquan or yangshengong (called qigong today) practices.

Just my personal view only and how I have operated in the past with medical and health care providers. FIrst step to enter the programme is as follows:
1. The participant believes he can be helped by qigong or taijiquan.
2. S/he has a condition that has shown benefit with the above
3. The participants' MD has given permission to take part in the specific class
4. It is the teacher's responsibility to take note and make sure that any observed 'problem' regarding health is relayed to the appropriate professional.
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Sanfung » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:44 am

I apologize for taking so incredibly long to get back to you. As always, yeniseri, your comments are succinct and logical. Thank you for being so upfront with me. I do not have a family history of tremors. Mine were caused primarily by nervousness.

As I said, I have long grappled with disorders that lead to feelings of danger and such. These are some of the sorts of things that originally lead me to study T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung.

For what it is worth, both regular medical doctors as well as practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine who advise me have seen improvement in the tremors that I was talking about. I was rather confused because although no one had personally ever suggested that my termors were some consequence of chi control, I had come across that in passing.

Thank you for clearing that up. I will continue to work until I am totally steady in the use of my hands. Certainly they are far better today then they were in the past, and perhaps more importantly my posture has improved a lot. Sitting up correctly has a lot to do with the way that I feel.
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby John the Monkey mind » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:53 am

Sanfung wrote:I have long grappled with disorders that lead to feelings of danger and such.


I would then recommend Xing Yi to you as it focuses on raising the spirit and relaxing through stress. I found it effective for combating the fear response cased by stress (stress is just a biological fear/fight or flight response). I found it more effective than Taiji or Qi Gong for this. It has a courage it cultivates through its direct approach. The standing postures are a big part of this. Still finding a good teacher is very hard.
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Dvivid » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:41 am

I am probably here today thanks to learning meditation with my karate teacher starting at age 11. It helped me at the time and has continued to be a helpful discipline throughout my life.

Many Chinese martial arts are associated with meditation and the "internal" side of practice, because they were formalized and popularized in Buddhist and Daoist monasteries. The concept of Qi is common throughout China, and meditation is a mainstream practice throughout the culture as well.

I recommend you learn and practice some qigong, to get personal experience of your internal side, which is related to the spirituality you're referencing.

With something like a tremor, go to the Doctor. But, also investigate if you have any tension in your arm, shoulder, upper back, or torso on that side of the body. Tension creates stagnation and reduces your circulation of blood, nutrition, and energy Qi. This is a "Qi blockage". Not a metaphor, but a simple fact of physiology.

Yeniseri - you're on the right track, as far as connecting Western and Eastern concepts of Qi/energy. If you read more Qigong theory, you'll see that relaxation plays a crucial role in creasing the quantity of energy, and improving the quality of circulation.
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Sanfung » Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:46 pm

I felt that I should probably offer an update on the situation. I have received both allopathic and Eastern treatments for the kinetic tremors I was talking about. A great deal of what I was suffering from when I wrote that was of course mental. Dvivid, you may remember that I was a great deal more nervous when I first joined this site than I am today.

I found more than anything else the stillness that comes with Zhan Zhuang practice has aided me in eliminating my kinetic hand tremors. At first when I started more serious daily Zhan Zhuang practice I actually started to experience an increase in quakes, at least during practice time, though now I can stand with my arms out and experience no serious muscle spasms.

Not to mention, of course, the relaxation aspect of Zhan Zhuang, which has certainly helped when it comes to the aforementioned mental nervous problems that were behind a great deal of my tremors. I am a good bit better off now, and I want to thank you. I hope that my previous posts did not sound too misinformed, but then again what better way is there to approach an issue than with the mind of a beginner who is ready to learn?
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Re: The role of "spirituality" in Kung Fu

Postby Dvivid » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:57 am

Really nice to hear an update about this and hear such good news. I agree Zhan Zhuang is amazing. i think it can help condition the physical body and the energetic circulation, but also set a new calmer baseline for the nervous system.

Trying going deeper into meditation by slowing your breathing down further, and pushing the abdomen out and perineum down as you exhale. This ancient "Daoist breathing" is also recommended nowadays by modern therapists to illicit the 'relaxation response", which calms the sympathetic nervous system.
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