Moving Natural, what stops you?

Sometimes you need to relax and one of the things I like to do, besides sipping tea, is watch “the big bang theory”. Yesterday I came across this great scene in one of the episodes which made me write this blog about moving natural. Here’s the scene.

Actually I already wanted to do this topic for a longer time since it is one of those core principles that everybody thinks different about or hears about in their training (If you didn’t you should’ve).
What does it mean to move natural? Do we move natural? If we don’t, then what the hell have we been doing for all these years?

Before we step through the doors of a Kungfu school, we’re all over the place with our body, but we are natural. Why? Because our minds aren’t interfering with our movements yet. Of course I’m not saying that you move connected, strong and rooted or by any means like we want to in Martial Arts, but its “natural”. It’s the kind of natural that somebody who been in shackles for whole his life, thinks of when he moves. He makes the best out of the situation and doesn’t know better.

The funny thing is, that when we start doing Kungfu (internal or external), we suddenly begin to be unnatural.

So what happens?

  • We start to create unnecessary and unnatural movements because we have no clue how to really push, chop, hit …. Our mind takes over and our body has no clue what to do with all this information. On top of that we “western people” are not used to physical labor anymore. Just think about Pi quan of Xingyiquan (link). How the hell do you know how to chop something like using an axe, the average person never chopped wood or used an axe in his entire life?
    Our mind will create an idea that is based on thinking about force instead of an idea based on actual physical experience.
    If you’re not careful and your teacher doesn’t see this behavior, you’ll end up worse than not doing Kungfu at all. Remember you were natural before …
  • We tend to overdo things and think “more is more”. Actually “less is more”, as most of you, who have been practicing for a while, know. It’s about allowing force to run through the body and guiding force in the right direction. A good system of Kungfu will in the beginning, slowly create an environment for your body with very strict rules. Xingyi Quan has San Ti Shi and the Wu Xing Quan, Baguazhang has Circle Walking, Tang Ni Bu and the 8 basic palms, and so one and so one.
    This is where it gets kind of funny. You were natural but without connection or whole body power before you started. Like the guy in shackles. Then when you start Kungfu it actually gets worse (go figure)! You become unnatural and you have no connection or whole body power. Like somebody who just got his shackles removed for the first time. Then things slowly get better, if… you are lucky and practice diligently with your heart.
  • Most styles will tell you to drop in the legs and sit low. A side effect of this is that in the beginning, because you don’t have the power yet, you’ll tense up in the chest and/or breath high. Tension causes the Qi to gather and get stuck in the chest. Hence your breathing becomes faster, your heart beat becomes faster and some even feel dizzy or worse faint. On top of that you’ll become ”top heavy”.
    This rising of energy is important to correct from the beginning or your Zhang Zuan 站桩 or Standing practice and other forms of training will amount to nothing or again make your body worse!
    Again your style or system will have some kind of training to do that. Think about the 8 words in 9 songs of Xingyiquan for instance.
    In one of the books of our Sipak it says to be aware of perverse Qi. Perverse Qi will be hard to drop ones it takes hold of your body and becomes a habit.Ever done a big Kungfu form without being out of breath? Old masters will watch your breathing at the end of a form as well as the way you close/end your form. It will tell them your level of skill.
    Your breathing can rise a little (we’re no robots) and our hearts will have to work harder when doing bigger forms anyway. But not to the extent that we raise the Qi, so that we’re out of breath. Not an easy matter.
    Not moving natural will cause you to do extra movements that demand extra energy “Qi”. Not being aware of what your doing will do the same of course.
  • Too much intent while doing the form will also cause rising of the Qi. Intention demands the mind to create an idea. Too much idea “creating” will cause an imbalance of mind and body hence a rising of Yang which “thought and intention” belongs to. (Mental movement=Yang). To put it short, you lose it and you’ll become too wild …, again creating unnatural movements. You’ll uproot yourself physically, mentally.
    You can also use this to your advantage against an opponent. Just look into the eyes of someone during Tui Shou (pushing hands) and smile. Easy to catch their mind, thus pulling them out their body and uprooting them.
  • Of course there are more ways but these are just some I’ve come across during my own training. You’re different so find out what is keeping you from moving natural. Breathing, bad habits, wrong shoes, too tense …?

 

So what is moving natural?

We have to reinvent ourselves. “Rethink what we’re doing and then let loose of it again. Be aware and feel our movements and don’t take them for granted. As I said before, Kungfu will first make you unnatural and to break free from the shackles, you must first see them. Once you get rid of them, you have to learn to move anew.
With this new found freedom, guided by correct practice, you’ll find that “the natural” of before isn’t even half “the natural” you’re becoming.
I’m often stifled by how students find my way of moving difficult to reproduce or copy. What feels like freedom to me, is hard work to them.

“Freedom is the word closest to being natural.”

I’d love to explain how my feeling is when I move but that’s just not possible. And even if I could, their body is different so it’s no use. I can only try to share my experience and as a teacher guide them.
Just think what it would feel like to move your body without being blocked by that very same body or mind. Movement in connection, all the parts of the chain linked nicely together, no gaps.
I claim in no way to master this kind of feeling or movement, but having met some of the masters I’ve met, puts me in the right direction. I already feel it’s possible although, I can’t yet move consistently like this, all the time … yet. Remember there is no goal just “The Way”.
Doing it, playing it and enjoying it is more important than standing on the sideline watching it in shackles…

 

You don’t have to agree with me and I’m open for objective input, so I can keep learning. English is not my own Language so forgive me for spelling mistakes.
None of what I’ve writting should be used, duplicated or copied in any way, without my permission and mention of my site and name.


Hope you enjoyed reading this,

Ruud Vercammen

4 thoughts on “Moving Natural, what stops you?

  1. Pingback: Keep on polishing | Sport Log

  2. jelle

    Attractive article you posted. I do recognise the reinvention of your own body movements and the multiple discoveries you do during chi related practices.

    I will check some more of your posts. Continue the good bloggin..

    Reply

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