Welltempered Spirit

Calligraphy by Professor Yu Yong Nian, (fesabed MhelrtoociicfciitoFaitTwar ,

Stand still, keep your spirit.

The original calligraphy of this epigram is reproduced on the opening page of Part Two (page 44). It is the work of Professor Yu Yong Nian, my master in Beijing. The complete scroll, from right to left, reads:

To my student Kam Chuen, "Shutit stiff, keep your spirit," your iniistcr Yong Niatt, April I 993

The four large central characters are from an ancient Chinese text. The first two literally mean "stand there," with a sense of solitude. They point to the deep stillness of Zhan Zhuang, the practice that is the foundation of Da Cheng Chuan. Zhan Zhuang literally means "standing like a stake" in Chinese. To Western ears the idea of standing like a stake seems lifeless, like dead wood, so we normally use the phrase "standing like a tree," This helps us understand that although we are not moving, we are growing within. Nevertheless, there is great significance in the original Chinese terminology because it directs our mind to the complete and utter stillness of the foundation practice. We train ourselves to rest in the Zhan Zhuang postures without moving at all, yet developing the discipline of deep relaxation.

Speaking to students in Europe on one of his rare trips outside China, Professor Yu told them to persevere with their training: " Stillness is the first step. This opens the door. There are other jewels hidden in the darkness which you will come to understand only through your own practice."

The second two characters of the epigram literally mean "on guard, spirit." In societies where people separate mind and body, the text could be interpreted to mean that our still body is protecting our spirit within. But in the profound tradition of the classical Chinese arts - philosophy, medicine and the martial arts - mind and body are one. Therefore, the stillness to which this epigram refers is the stillness of your whole being. To stand still is to be still; the stillness of your standing is the stillness of your spirit. Just as with great mountains, sturdy trees and an invincible spirit, it is in profound stillness that all power is born.

In one of his most widely read books on Zhan Zhuang, Professor Yu reminds us that what we today call "martial arts" or "the way of the fist" derives from practices that the great sage Guan Tse called "the art of the spirit."

As your training develops in Part Two, you are introduced to progressively more powerful postures. You may feel that you are pushing your body beyond the limits of its endurance. At first, the effort seems almost entirely physical. Then you begin to perceive that it is the entire energy field of your body/mind that is being transformed. In one of his poems, written for the benefit of his disciples, Grand Master Wang Xiang Zhai wrote:

You are going through a furnace: Everything mental and physical is being tempered and molded.

Dragon and Tiger Flick through the following pages with your thumb (ending at page 67) to see Master Lam move from The Dragon position into Holding the Tiger (pages 64-67). 1

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