Confirmation of Fa Jing & a Proper Structure

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TCosta
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Confirmation of Fa Jing & a Proper Structure

Post by TCosta » Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:27 pm

This question is mainly for senior students at GRTC, however I am open to other points of view, as well: "How is proper fa jing developed at our Schoool (GRTC)?" I understand that weapons forms help bring this out, however is there anything we can do before that? I see that correcting our structure, from the very beginning, prepares our bodies for allowing fa jing to happen. Is half-stepping an intermediate method for working on fa jing? Is the willow bends exercise a way to practice?

At this point, what I ultimately want to be able to confirm is if and when I am pushing correctly. I get feedback from classmates, during push hands class, and it is somewhat helpful, but not everyone is always really paying attention to what I am doing. So this is something I would like to be able to practice, to work on, when I am not at class. Is half-stepping the way to practice? Is striking a punching bag or padded board the way to work on this structure and dynamic? Can I practice by simply pushing against a wall?

Lastly, when we fa jing do we go from soft to hard, as Laoshi's interview with the Journal of Well Being states (unless I am misinterpreting the meaning of "hard" there), or does our musculature stay soft the full length of the fa jing?

Advance thanks.

-Trevor

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Post by Dan Pasek » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:06 am

Trevor,

Here are some thoughts on fajing to consider, but since I am not a GRTC student you will need to determine if they are compatible with what is taught in your school.

First, as you have noted, is proper structure and movement as practiced in your solo forms, since fajin is essentially sped up movements. I am unfamiliar with the 'willow bends’ training so I can’t comment on that, but stepping can add to fajin power. I do not really know what you are referring to by ‘half-stepping’, but in the Chen style fajin form [for example - note that this was assembled from the standard forms, originally as a competition routine] there are many movements where stepping is timed to forcefully hit the ground (with either the front or rear foot) simultaneously with the strike (with hand, elbow, shoulder, or hip). If one’s structure is correct this should add the rebounding energy from the ground, through the body structure, and into the fajin strike. If ‘half-stepping’ refers to advancing a half-step forward with the front foot (followed by a corresponding advance of the rear foot), then this is often how it is done in the Chen style fajin form.

I think that you are also correct about weapon practice aiding in fajin training. As I see it, weapons training helps one to project (and control) energy beyond their body, provides a non-impact ‘resistance’ due to the weapon’s weight that must be controlled by a firm but not stiff grip, and can provide feedback as to how coordinated the issuing of power is. Both Chen and at least some traditions in Yang style have ‘pole-shaking’ (i.e. staff or spear) practice specifically to improve fajin power. With these long weapons made with resilient wood, one’s power can be evaluated by the shaking transmitted to the tip’s vibration.

As you point out, push-hands can help test one’s structure, rooting, etc, but I don’t often train it for issuing (at least not for fajin), preferring to use this training for developing issues related to sensitivity (sticking, listening, interpreting, etc.). But since you are looking for solo training methods, let’s skip on to other topics.

Although pushing against a wall could possibly train certain aspects of alignment, I am skeptical that it would be of value since developing power for a push this way could lead you to overdo the forward energy such that you may be unintentionally bracing yourself (leaning) against the wall rather than maintaining your center and proper root (root independent of the object being pushed). [If the object being pushed suddenly gives way, you do not want to be suddenly off-balanced forward because of it.] If not careful, I suspect that pushing a wall could lead to bad habits and be counterproductive.

I think that bag work can be helpful, but if training fajin for striking (rather than for pushing) care should be taken if using the fist. If not properly formed and aligned the hand &/or wrist could be injured. If you have not previously worked punching a hanging heavy bag (or other target) proceed slowly, gradually increase speed and power, and be certain that there is no discomfort or pain in the hand or wrist. Although I have not read Scott’s article that you mentioned, this is perhaps where the ‘soft to hard’ concept comes into play. You want the fist (and arm…) to be firm (though not stiff) on impact when striking with power (with fajin), though relaxing immediately after the impact (after the power is transmitted to the target) is also desirable. Striking with the palm/heel of the hand is probably safer than with a closed fist, at least until one has adequate training in punching with the fist.

A possible test of the penetrating power of a fajin strike would be to see if a hanging heavy bag jumps up rather than swings away. Of course fajin can also be used to push someone away (even when striking), so this test depends on your objectives. Here a training partner holding a padded training shield or Tai pads for you to strike or push against may help to give feedback on the quality of your fajin, whether issued for pushing or penetrating. If you are able to find a training partner to assist you, you can also have them push back with the shield or pads directly into your structure immediately after your fajin in order to be certain that your structure/alignment is stable and that you are not stiff after the transfer of power. You can also have them pull back immediately before the strike in order to test that you are not lunging. I do not know how to do these checks solo, so care should be taken in solo fajin practice not to develop these potential problems. Be conscious of maintaining the principles from your form practice while practicing fajin.

DP

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Post by J HepworthYoung » Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:51 pm

I like to note that fa-jing can be translated as explosive energy, the nature of the word explosive is very descriptive. In order to be able to move in such a way the body must not be tense, so rather than focus upon fa-jing devlopment as a matter of technique I place emphasis upon integrating and relaxing the body as a single unit first. That is my opinion regarding the primary aspects of fa-jing devlopment, one must know fang-song, knowing in this does not mean understanding with the mind, the theories of fa-jing and fang-song don't replace practice and proper instruction.

I am reminded of a whip, it's softness allows it to be very fast.

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Post by G-Man » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:04 pm

Hey Trevor,

Working to separate well in the form forces one to develop the proper connection between the legs and the torso. The more you mold your body this way, the more you can rely on that connection when sending jin through the body. One gets a similar benefit from the "Holding and Molding" exercise and from zhanzhuang. The proper body structure we use to yield and neutralize is the same connection we need for fajin.

I like to do the Michuan basic exercises at home, taking care to yield to a place I can immediately fajin from. That way, I'm training towards proper alignment on each rep.

No, the musculature of the arm stays soft during fajin.

--Greg
"Find the center of the circle and you can respond to any situation."

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Post by TCosta » Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:11 am

Thanks to everyone, for their suggestions. I will start from the start and make sure my structure is correct and loose.

-Trevor

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Post by Nik » Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:11 pm

I'd like to suggest that usually, you can only lay a foundation to develop jin, and subsequently fajin, doing the basics, and enough of daily correct forms work or similar moving practice. For some it works wonders if they for some time go _very_ slow during form movements letting their mind go, as opposed to hasting through forms and too much "watching their movements" instead of being there. The body will eventually pick it up and figure alone how to do it. I think it's especially helpful when someone who is capable in it does a soft version of fajin to you, so you feel it rather than hear about it. True fajin is a totally different thing from a "hard punch", it feels like you get wrenched from inside, like on a really good snooze. ;) I had beginners one year into their training intuitively responding to me using jin and tiny fajin when I hit them using jin, in small portions.

A friend here got progress on developing it when he added more lance and pole shaking practice, with really long poles that flop a lot.

I hope that was helpful, albeit not from GRTC. This is a more general advice that generically works for jin development.

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Post by tennytigers » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:35 pm

old tai chi saying

do not put power into the form
let it arise naturally from the form.

when you can make the top third of the pole vibrate with soft movement then you approach the internal.
the way that can

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