Internal Martial Arts
Take the world lightly,
and your spirit will not be burdened.
Consider everything minor,
and the mind will not be confused.
Regard death and life as equal,
and your heart will not be afraid.
The principle of ki, without which there could be no Taikiken, is not especially difficult. Though there are differences in its strengths, ki is found in every one. Students of the martial arts attempt to train their ki to the point where, upon coming into contact with an opponent, they can give full manifestation to it. This is only as it should be, since there would be no meaning in training, no matter how assiduous, if the individual found himself incapable of bringing forth his ki at the moment of need.
There is no method for ensuring the ability to call upon the strength of ki, but standing Zen as practiced by specialists in the martial arts in China and as employed in Ta-ch'eng-ch'üan and Taikiken, can develop a capability to do so. Standing Zen calms the nerves, sharpens the perceptions, and regulates the breathing. When a person begins standing Zen, his mind is clouded with all kind of thoughts. Soon, however, he will experience pain in his hands, feet, or hips. When this happens, all of his thoughts concentrate in the part of the body that hurts, and he is unable to think of anything else. The pain figuratively removes the hurting part of the body from the realm of sense perception. As one continues to suffer discomfort of this kind for a period of years, one cultivates the ability to derive great refreshment from standing Zen. Before one is aware of it, the power of ki begins to grow to maturity.
I suffered when I practiced standing Zen with my teacher Wang Hsiang-ch'i and wonder what good such practice would ever do me. When I felt this way, Wang would tell me, 'Even if I explain it to you hundreds of times, you will not understand ki;' it is something that you must experience yourself.' Today I tell my own students the same kind of thing. I one finds it impossible to cultivate ki in himself through Zen training he will never be able to cultivate it in himself. It is because ki is not mastered easily that it is of immense value.
In spite of the difficulty of explaining the profound meaning of ki in words, I think I can make something of its nature clear by referring to the spinning of a child's top. A top that turns rapidly about its axis, seems to be standing still, but anything that comes into contact with its whirling sides is sharply and forcefully dashed away. . A practitioner of the martial arts who generates the power of ki is like the spinning top. Though from the outside he seems perfectly calm and still, an opponent who comes into contact with him is immediately driven away by the force of the man's ki.
There are no fixed forms in Taikiken. Although this book presents methods of defense and attack they are only examples of the kinds of attacks and defenses that are possible. Practicing to perfect Zen and hai (see p.24) constitute the basis of training. When one comes into contact with an opponent, one's body must be able to move with complete freedom. Forcing large and small people to practice the same forms is meaningless. Furthermore, excess attention to forms only kills freedom of motion. Taikiken aims at allowing each individual to use the body motions that suit him. This is both the outstanding merit and one of the greatest difficulties of Taikiken. A person only begins to bud as a true practitioner of martial arts of the inner school when he is able to employ the movements that are inherent in his own body. It is because Taikiken allows the person to evolve his own forms of motion that it is sometimes referred to as lacking, yet having, forms.
One of the important points in Taikiken training is the disassociation of the body parts; the arms must be trained to act on their own and alone.
The same is true of the feet and legs.
Last update: March 2023
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