September 21, 2014

Chan Quan - Part 2

Martial arts are very much like this: “Water is dependent on the environment with which it flows to dictate its movements.” This saying is not limited to just the martial arts, but to life in general as well.

The first part of the first stage involves physical training. This training consists of physical conditioning, which includes strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments. This is done through correct breathing during postures; sets of movements that develop flexibility, coordination and balance; healthy diet and proper rest; and so on.

Although there are many great schools of martial arts, the particular school of Chan Quan which is illustrated here as being an excellent course for providing the basics and the advanced stages of martial arts' study is Diliquan (Neutralization Fist). Students learn how to apply Diliquan in eight stances.

Diliquan includes the breathing exercises that involve moments of soft relaxed motion to natural strength, tension and will power. The exercises work the whole body, from blood flow and cleansing to airflow and cleansing, to the point where the whole body becomes purified, healthy, and strong. Stretching, speed and power training, and Chi (Qi) development are all included in the discipline.

The second part is the mental training. This aspect deals with the correct use of movement, the how and why of everyday movement and especially movement in combat situations.

While in each posture the students learn what to look for through sight and touch and how to know if movements and postures are being performed correctly or not. Through this 'mindfulness practice' the students not only learn correct postures, but also their perception and understanding. They become aware of themselves as well as the persons, places and things within their natural environment.

Learning how to sense correct posture and weight distribution at an early stage of development allows students to tune and sharpen their physical skills. The new mental and spiritual skills they will acquire through the course of their training will contribute to the development of Chi (Qi).

The principals of Chi Li Fa Chan Quan in its fighting form are not to be either soft or hard, fast or slow, but to be always flowing. In its flow it is hard, soft, fast, hard or whatever it needs to be to flow effortlessly. In Chi Li Fa Chan Quan nothing is done discriminatively. All possible opposite positions of limbs and tools are used for defense and offence. All blocks are strikes and strikes are blocks/parries, except for the five animal claws/tools of the Dragon, Tiger, Crane, Leopard and Snake which have their own specific function.

Five animal claws are great hand forms for Chin Na, the art of body seizing. Such as the Dragons claw, which is used for grasping and twisting motions of limbs, joints, and exposing the nerves hidden below the muscles. Tiger claw pounds with his palm over top of nerves and joints, using fingers to rip and tears the muscles and ligaments. Crane uses the hand in a shape of a beak while the snake strike muscles and nerves. Snake using ones arms is also used to tangle limbs. Leopard’s punches strike the cavities of the body.