Santa Cruz Martial Arts – Kung Fu and The Flow of Life – Martial Arts
Santa Cruz Martial Arts - THE AVENUES OF FORCE AND DIRECTION
Kung Fu and The Flow of Life
In Chinese martial arts there are two principles of direction and two principles of force that need to be developed in order to establish a foundation for future practice. With these basics a practitioner can build a solid foundation in traditional Kung Fu. There are many kinds of force in martial arts practice but without these four primordial forces there is nothing to build on. The first pair of the four are Kai / He (open/close), which are the principles of direction. The second pair Chen / Zhang (sink/expand) are descriptions of particular forces. As with all traditional practice these principles of force and energy are directly related to how we interact with our environment both internally and externally.
This means to open a particular thing. We can open a door for example. In martial arts we are opening a space in the body. The areas of the body, which this involves, are the back (upper and lower), midsection, chest, hips, spine and joints of the skeletal structure. There are many kinds of energy, which can require an opening principle.
This means to close a particular thing. We can close a door for example. In martial arts we are closing a particular space in the body. The areas of the body, which this involves, are the back (upper and lower), midsection, chest, hips, spine and joints of the skeletal structure. There are many kinds of energy that when encountered require a closing principle.
ZHANG (GROW, EXPAND)
This is a soft and expanded energy. It is considered completely Yang. There are many kinds of energy or forces involved when connecting with an opponent for which Zhang is a prerequisite. When you embody the Zhang energy, your hands continually spiral and penetrate as you keep approaching the opponent or goal. When you encounter resistance in kung fu rather than forcing your way in you evade and coil around obstacles, neutralizing any forward motion form the opponent. Once this energy is experienced in martial arts practice it can be used in life outside the Temple.
This refers to rooted heaviness, which is consolidated in the seat of the Qua (hips). The whole body can develop a soft yet extremely dynamic weight. A martial arts practitioner with good sinking energy is very hard to uproot. This is not a stagnant heaviness. The idea is to be able to shift fluidly where needed while maintaining a lightness at the top of the head and uprightness in the upper torso. When a skilled practitioner touches an opponent the feeling of a heavy pressure should be unmistakable. In addition to having ones’ own heaviness the practitioner can transmit it to another. This energy in combination with others can create a formidable tool not only in martial arts, but also as a first step towards a rooted mobility in our daily lives.
One does not need to do traditional Kung Fu to develop these skills, but it is one of the clearest avenues of approach. There are great advantages to having a dynamic form of mobility that is organic and in harmony with our physical environment. Kung Fu martial arts practice provides a unique opportunity in that strength, alignment and balance can be enhanced and deepened as we become older. This, in turn, enriches our lives so we can experience the profound beauty of conscious movement in modern day society.
Scott Ripke is chief instructor of the Green Forest Temple
5901 Freedom Blvd. Aptos, CA (831) 688-6934
He studied with Sifu Paul Eng from 1976-1986: Tai Mantis, Seven Star Praying Mantis, Northern Shaolin, Tai Chi, BaQua
He studied with Adam Hsu from 1986-1996: Long Fist, BaJi, PiQua, Chen TaiChi, BaQua, Praying Mantis
He began learning Six Harmony Praying Mantis from Borong (Boris) Shi while they were classmates with Adam Hsu in 1989 and they maintain a relationship to this day.