The Hands Tell the Story

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We are told that the hands are the expression of what is happening in the whole body. The "Qi manifests in the hands". It is impossible to have for instance good hands while having a body that does not work or visa-versa. If your body is 'in tune' or co-ordinated, then so too must be your hands. If your hands are those that the Chinese masters called "beautiful hands", then the body must also be co-ordinated. In co-ordinating the body, I do not mean only that the hands and feet are co-ordinated, we must also co-ordinate our own energy (Qi) with that of the attacker or person we are healing. When one is co-ordinated in body and mind, we have no need for pumping iron in order build rippling abdominal muscles or huge biceps and triceps. How long in do we have those rippling abdominal muscles? All of a sudden, we virtually turn around and we see that we can no longer hold that railway sleeper over our heads at arm's length, as I used to do. As we grow older we naturally lose our purely physical strength, this is natural. So how is it that many old Chinese masters that I know can not even lift one hundred pounds over their heads, but they can literally throw a person twice their size across a room and into a wall knocking him out? It is because he has internal power and his whole body is co-ordinated with the energy of his 'attacker'. He is able literally to use the huge amount of Qi within the attacker, against that same attacker. So he does not need his own physical strength, he is able to borrow the power of his attacker. However, he cannot do this with inanimate objects because he would then be relying upon his own strength that is no longer that great. Yang Lu-ch'an said when asked what kind of boxers he could not defeat, that he could not defeat men of wood, men of stone and men of iron. Meaning that his Qi was only good against people.

All one has to do to see if a Taijiquan or internal martial artist is at an advanced stage, is to watch the hands. If they float effortlessly like a cloud or a feather, bending gently with the movement and flowing in harmony with each other, never both yin or both yang at any time, then the person to which those hands belong is probably at an advanced stage. Do not be fooled as most people who are good at movement can cause their hands to 'look' good. You must see that the BODY is causing the hands to move and not that the hands are moving all by themselves. This is the basic co-ordination that all in any martial art must have. If you have the 'beautiful hands', this will cause your whole body to be balanced and when someone touches any part of your body, their Qi (energy/power) will be neutralised through your body to the ground. If we are attacked for instance with great force, the very instant that that attacker touches you, your body goes into neutralise mode. This does not mean what most taiji instructors call to neutralise by simply turning their body or getting out of the way etc. It means that we automatically neutralise that attacking Qi to the ground leaving the attacker feeling as if he has nowhere to go, as if his power is doing nothing, like he is floating and not grounded. At a very advanced stage, you will be able to go into this automatic mode even before you have been touched, as his Qi reaches you. This is the great secret of self-defence using the internal martial arts. There is not a person alive who is able to attack you without firstly extending his Qi or energy/electricity. Any thought causes electricity to be emitted. This can be simply proven by the use of those electrical brain-measuring devices in hospitals etc. They all work by reading electrical activity. The trick is, to get so sensitive to other people's Qi that we are able to read their energy before they have had time to manifest the physical movement that comes from thought. For our part, we must get to the stage where we are able to move without any conscious thought so that we do not tell when we are about to attack. This is learnt in our push hands practice touched upon in the next section as well as some training exercises from Taijiquan.

Remember that the whole of the Taijiquan form or kata is like an encyclopaedia where every movement or posture teaches us something about internal gung-fu. It's like having a book where every page is a movement from the taiji form. The more basic a movement or technique is, the better it is able to teach us many things. The very first movement from the taiji form teaches us any things, such as what I have just been writing about above. The opening movement called "preparation" teaches us heaps. In fact, it is said that if you learn the very fist movement of Taijiquan in less than six months then you have not learnt it! I

A am talking about the 'simple' movement of raising the hands to shoul der height and then moving them down again. Everything that you are trying to learn in the internal martial arts can be got from this first movement. Some of the areas that you will learn be practising this movement are; fa-jing, total body co-ordination, grounding your own Qi, grounding the attacker's Qi, making him 'float', balance both internally and externally, automatic reflex defence, dim-mak and much more.

Photo number 94 Firstly, it is important that you know how to do this movement. Many

THINK they know, but when they learn how complicated this 'simple' movement is, they are astounded. You stand as in (Photo No.94). Notice firstly that your palms are not pointing straight ahead, they are turned inwards slightly. However, this does not happen because you turned your palms in ward. Remember that all movement comes from what the body does. So also, notice that there is a rounding of the axilla on both sides to the size of about one fist fitting into your armpits. In doing this body movement, it will cause your palms to be turned inwards. The palms are only held slightly yang shaped and the fingers are layered, not held rigid. Remember that I am teaching the advanced way of performing this movement. I teach it differently to beginners at a basic block level with no body movement or shifting of the weight or turning of the waist. Sadly though, the very basic method is what most instructors call the advanced level, or that they are totally unaware that there ARE any other levels! I will do the photos for this movement exactly as I would do it, so you may not even see some of the minute movements or changes in this movement in the photos.

The body posturing, like where the tongue is etc., is the same as for your three circle standing Qigong. Shoulders relaxed etc. As you inhale, your palms will begin to move upwards, but not at the same time, your left

Photo number 95

palm will slightly lead the right. The left palm will become slowly yin shaped ahead of the right, which will follow behind the left. At the same time, your waist begins to turn slightly to your right and your weight begins to move forward onto the balls of your feet, weight on the right foot. This is OK as you are only placing the weight onto the front of your foot for a short time. (Photo No.95). As your left palm reaches its zenith, your waist is now beginning to turn back to your left; in fact, it is again pointing to the North. (You began facing the North). Your weight is now changing from your right foot to your left, still on the balls. (Photo No.96). You are now beginning to exhale. As your waist turns to your left, your weight begins to move back to the heels and your left hand is moving back to its starting position with the right palm not too far behind. Notice that the palms although they are both yang shaped, one is more so than the other. Also notice that your eyes have stayed looking to the North, so you have moved your head around your eyes, thus activating and exercising the hypothalamus, that pea sized area of your brain near the temple that is responsible for many things, the least of which is sharp reflexes, important for any martial art.

Photo number 96

Hypothalamus: The region of the forebrain in the floor of the third ventricle, linked with the thalamus above and the pituitary gland below. It contains several important centres controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and eating, water balance, and sexual function. It is also closely connected with emotional activity, sleep, and functions as a centre for the integration of hormonal and autonomic nervous activity (reflex), through its control of the pituitary secretions. (With kind permission, Oxford University Press, Concise Oxford Medical Dictionary).

So you end up at your starting position, your body has actually done a circular movement because of the movement of the weight and the turning of the waist. The body has caused all of this. All your palms have done, is moved up and down, one in front of the other, the body did the rest. And you thought that it was a simple raising of the palms!

What this posture does in the martial sense is much, but one of the main applications is the one that teaches us so much. In the beginning, you will be standing static just to get the feel of how to do the movement when attacked. However, one of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make in any martial art is to move backwards when attacked, better to stand still and much better or best to move forward. The 'Classics' tell us that when the attacker moves up, we move up, then he moves down, we move down. So we are told to do exactly what the attacker does as far as moving backwards or forwards. However, there has been a gross mistranslation of the original Chinese classic here in that most people

Photo number 97

next say that 'if he moves forward, we should move back'! This is in total contradiction of the laws of self-defence in the internal martial arts. What the classic said originally was that, 'if he moves forward, so do we, if he moves back so do we'. In moving forward, we put off his timing, he does not want us to do this, he is confused by this action, and we have upset his timing. We are not where he expects us to be; we are in his face, not moving backwards or stationary waiting for him to hit us! You cannot do this of course if you do not have co-ordination or balance, in these cases as in the case of some of the 'hard styles' of martial art, we must resort to strength and moving backwards in defence.

All animals work upon switches. We have inherited switches, those that are passed on in our genes; we have learned switches, those that we learn from environment and from other people and parents etc. It is the same for the street fighter, he learns through experience that people will do certain things every time he attacks them or acts in an aggressive manner towards them. He is in his element when all of these 'switches' are in tact. However, if we do things that do not turn on his learned switches, he becomes confused and is unable to do what he normally does in these situations. So we now have the upper hand and are able attack at will.

However, just to learn this application we stand static as our partner attacks us. Later, you will actually move forward to meet your opponent as he attacks.

At this stage, it is important to talk about reflex actions. What do most normal people do when attacked with something towards the face? They automatically cover their face with their hands don't they. (Photo No.97). This is a reflex action as is the same when in seminar, I walk up to a male person, and put a knee strike into his groin, just pulling it before full contact. He makes a reflex action. These actions happen automatically without any thought. Now if we are able to turn these reflex actions into offensive actions instead of Photo number 98 defensive actions as in the above cases, we have a very potent defence/offence martial art. Therefore, through training we are able to turn a simple reflex action into an offensive self-defence action as in (Photo No.98). When I teach law enforcement officers who only wish to know how not to die in a dire situation when they perhaps have not had time to take out their gun, I only teach three weapons and three targets. These are those that are easy to lay over the top of reflex actions and train until they actually become the preferred reflex action. To back up this theory, I will tell you of an incident that happened a few years back. One of my four sons had the habit of arriving at our home very late at night or in the wee small hours. The dogs would not bark because they

knew him and he would be very quiet so as not to disturb us. I was in a deep sleep but woke up sensing that something was amiss outside. Still half asleep, I slowly opened the door where my son was just about to enter, not knowing that he was there. He saw me and for a joke thrust his hands in through the door! I was backlit so I could not see who or what was behind the door. Reflexively, I did not bring my hands to cover my face, but rather thrust both of my hands forwards with great power knocking him out and down onto the ground. His answer? "Oh Dad, you didn't have to do that just because I came home late"!

The weapons: Fingers which thrust into the target of a deadly dim-mak point called CV 22 (Conceptor Vessel 22) or the pit of the neck or into the eyes or in to the dim-mak point called ST 9 (Stomach point No. 9) which is situated lateral to the thyroid cartilage (Adam's apple) and just underneath the muscle that runs up each side of your neck called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The next weapon is the knife-edge of the palm, which attacks the weapons such as ST 9, (neck), or CV 24, just under the nose. The third of the weapons is the heel palm, which attacks to points such as CV 24 or CV 22. All of these points are death points and are covered in detail in all of my dim-mak books published by Paladin Press in Boulder Colorado.

The Targets: Eyes, just under the nose (CV 24) and the neck (ST 9 or CV 22). Using the first movement from the Taijiquan form you can use all of the above weapons and targets.

For this training, we will use a 'utility' attacking method from your partner, which is indicative of any type of hand attack. There are not many people who will actually attack with a kick, to do so invites defeat unless you are in a silly tournament situation, which is NOT fighting! Fights happen in your face, there is no such thing as long distance methods, fights happen at very short distance, often in a grappling situation on he ground. However, I tell all of my students that if they are taken down, they have not learnt their martial art very well! See my book by Paladin Press called How To Fight A Grappler & Win.

Your partner thrusts his both hands to try to touch you on your shoulders. This is so that you both will not sustain any damage while training. You do not want your partner to stick your eyes! All you are going to do is to raise both hands exactly the same way that you do in the opening movement of your Taijiquan form, no different! Notice that as you raise your palms, they change from the yang shape to the yin shape over the whole range of the movement, and do not all of a sudden change state thus making for a 'dead' movement where there is no changing from yin to yang or visa-versa over the movement. This is important in that we never push an attacker, we strike! Striking involves changing the attack

Photo number 99

ing hand from either a yang to a yin or yin to a yang shape upon impact. This is the only way to issue Qi or to transfer bad Qi into the attacker. A dead hand is dead and void of any Qi transference. As he attacks, both hands (for now do it double weighted, i.e., both hands make contact at the same time), lift up and attack him on the inside of his forearms. (Photo No.99). Notice that I have not dragged my hands inward, I have done it exactly as in the form, keeping my hands out away from my body. There is an old Chinese saying; "protect your garden, do not let anyone in". So if you bring your palms in towards you, your 'garden' is smaller and you give yourself less of a chance in defence. You must have a feeling of going forward into the attacker, your mind does this, this will put forth Qi. Your palms are not tense, as this will block the Qi; they are also not dead! They are rather in a state of 'sung', alive with internal tension only, no external tension, only that which is necessary in lifting your arms. Your body is in a state of sung. To test this, have someone look at the precise moment of contact. If your body moves as well as your opponent's then you are tense. Only the opponent's body should be shocked, there should be a quivering in his body when you make contact, but your own body should remain as still as a tree. This will take his Qi and send it straight back to him, hence the quivering in his body. The harder he attacks, the more he gets back, while you remain motionless and unaffected by his attack. Using this method, even a smaller person is able to defend against a big 'strong' person. My third son, who is at present 14, is able to stop me with almost full force and my little girl who is only 6 at present is also learning how to kill! People criticise me for this, relatives etc., say how could I teach my little girl such dangerous methods of defence! I tell them to take a look around at the world! Better to know how to kill and be sure rather than to end up in a paddock naked, raped and murdered as a friend of ours was a few years back, and what happens each day in every country of the world. It is a sad sign of the times that we have to teach out children how to kill in order to survive! However, that's another soapbox and another book.

Once you and your partner have this, or think you have, you can alternate attacker and defender. When this happens and both partners are getting it, one is able to see that both people are moving as one, totally balanced. We can now go on to the next part of this 'simple' movement.

From the previous movement, your left palm will strike downwards onto and across the biceps of his right arm. This very painful nerve point strike can send shock waves through the whole body. I stress that this is a strike rather than a push, so there must be almost no movement of his arm downwards. Of course, you are only doing this at a training level so you do not wish to hurt each other. However, when done for real, this strike would be instant with almost no movement of his arm, but the pain is great. Your other palm will strike in to a point called ST 5 (stomach point No. 5), just near the hinge of the jaw. This is a classical knock out point, the one that the John Wayne character always hits in the movies, it really works. (Photo No.100). In order for these strikes to be strikes and not just pushes, the whole body must cause the movement and must not come from the arms alone. To see whether or not you are doing this movement correctly, begin from the initial position when you have first defended. Move your body to see how you will eventually strike to the biceps and jaw. If you extended your arms, then you have done it incorrectly. If you simply turned your body so that your palms automatically touch the two points, then this is correct. If, when you turn your body, in this case to your left, your right palm does not reach his ST 5 point, then your timing and distancing has been incorrect. But also remember, that in a real situation, you would actually be moving in as he has struck anyway, so your timing should be OK.

Once you have it this way, you should begin doing this training method correctly by having your partner move in on you from a distance. You should move in to meet him when he is taking his last step towards you. This is akin to the goodies waiting until they see the 'whites of their eyes' before they begin shooting.

Every posture from the Taijiquan form teaches many different aspects of internal gung-fu and to include all of them here would take up several volumes in itself. Learn to work out for yourself what each posture or technique teaches you. Every martial art should have this aspect. Something that seems like a stupid technique may have some hidden training method that it is trying to teach you other than just the application.

The Five Levels of Qi Transference

I have already covered the first level of learning in issuing or transferring the Qi, that of 'sung'. Without sung you are unable to go on to the other four levels. In fact you cannot learn the next level without having first mastered the previous level. This is in fact a universal mistake, when students learn too quickly. They never learn the advanced stages of their martial art. Although they might know all of the physical movements, they will never advanced internally until they go back and learn their basic forms properly and slowly. So I advise that you do not attempt the next stage in Qi transference before understanding about 'sung', it is one of the most important areas of your internal martial arts training. Practice the movements of 'wave hands like clouds' repeatedly until you are able to perform at least the hand movements without

Photo number 100

feeling any movement in the wrists. Once achieved, you are knocking upon the first door of internal gung-fu. Many external martial arts have a set of moves like 'wave hands like clouds'. See my video series "Internal Gung-fu". To try to show this set of moves in photos is only second best, but I will try to give you some idea of how it looks.

Photo number 101 Photo number 102 Photo number 103 Photo number 104

There are also foot movements to be performed, however, they are not important in the understanding of sung, so I will not confuse those who do not know of this set of postures. Stand as in (Photo No.101). Your left hand is yin shaped while your right is yang shaped. Begin to move your left palm downwards as it changes to a yang shape. Your right palm will change to a yin shape as it also moves upwards and both palms will cross. (Photo No.102). Breathe out. Continue this movement until the hands are about six inches apart, then begin turning your waist to your right and begin also changing your weight from your left foot to your right foot. This will carry both palms over to your right. (Photo No.103). Finish as in (Photo No.104) with weight on your right foot. The time that you should not feel any movement in your wrists is when they both change state and begin to move downwards and upwards. This movement is then repeated in exact reverse so that you will end up back in your beginning position. You must inhale as you change your hands on the right side so that the right palm will begin to move down while the left will begin to move upwards. Repeat this movement repeatedly until you are able to do it without feeling your palms. It will take some doing and practice but when you have this, you can then begin to take this idea into your other postures from your katas or forms.

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