About four years ago I had a motorbike accident that left me with a herniated disc of the lower back. I struggled on and eventually with the help of my teacher and class mates in Beijing seemed to have it under control, but it would always reappear and be debilitating each time getting worse and restricting my training. It was mainly sciatica and discomfort. I decided that after this last bout of discomfort, I needed to look at my training and what I could do realistically. Too much movement was out, no matter how gentle! So I started to think about the Xing Yi I had learned. Not just the movement, but the standing that was obviously part of the system, but maybe had got lost and we were left with just San Ti Shi as the main standing exercise. Looking at Yiquan Wang Xianghai and how he got his initial introduction to standing practice from his teacher Guo Yun Shen and as this is the same teacher in my Sun Style lineage to Sun Lu Tang then Lei Shi Mo to Lei Shi Tai to myself, I felt worth some investigating and also experimenting.
I have been undertaking this standing practice gleaned from my research and it is definitely helping. I do about 40 minutes a day at the moment building slowly to an hour and I’m able to do more movement, but feel this is all I need.
Xing Yi is a remarkable art, truly flexible and adaptive to the needs of the practitioner.
I am not advocating this as a system for people to learn, it has been purely for me to improve my own health and well being,. Though I am sure it would help others in a similar situation.
Sometimes we hear this expression, that its about the journey not the destination and its how we get there not where we are going that’s important. Certainly as a life long Martial Artist, the journey is an important part, but so is the destination otherwise why make the journey? I am a believer in hard work and that you never get something for nothing, there is always a price to pay and in so doing the rewards are greater in physical, mental and spiritual ways.
Yesterday I made a journey to Wat Doi Kam (Temple On Golden Mountain) and it proved to be all of these things. The journey starts with 500 stairs that lead up the mountain in itself a test of endurance, but in 30 degree heat a greater test. Once at the top you are faced with a beautiful temple with many Buddha statues and other deities. You soon forget the hardship of getting there and concentrate on your destination. Then it’s time to return the way you came and going down is just as hard as coming up, as the ground and steps at the lower levels are very uneven. It takes a lot of concentration to remain sure footed and so we have the lesson, be mindful at all times. Never be comfortable with your situation, accept what you cannot change and adapt. Be happy in yourself and also for others who walk the same path, for we all make the same journey!
In my life and my practice I have been trying to refine what I have into my daily practice, trying to keep to the basic simple things and redefine my goals (not ego) in becoming a better person and martial artist.
This is not easy for me as I have a wealth of knowledge and experience and trying to refine that down to the essential things, the most important things has been a bit of a thought wrangling process and also a bit of experimentation. Initially i went back to my roots and just looked at the Chu Gar Kuen I had learned previously, I did not have the will or determination and also felt that I had outgrown it in some ways. It belonged to another era and yes I feel I need to pass it on, but that does not mean I have to practice it?
I have systematically been through all the things I have done over the years and none of them seemed to fit, I have tried Hunyuan, Sun Style, Krabi Krabong and the FMA, but they all seemed to lacking something. I meditated on this issue and looked at myself my situation and also my motivation. I needed to go back to the simple things and what simpler than standing.
I have embarked upon a standing routine that draws on all my previous skills and knowledge, it is not something I have spent a lot of time doing previously, apart from San Ti and so it is with a renewed outlook and a belief that less is more. I have been practicing everyday.
The idea for me is not to be anything or become anyone, but to just develop who i can be. There are many things in life we cant control, many things that try to control us and all we can do is not cling to the existence, don’t let thought cloud our way just except who and what we are.