Secrets in the Martial Arts
© 2011 Shifu Neil Ripski
The Chinese martial arts have been filled with secrets for centuries, truthfully Chinese culture demands it. Students have always been kept 'outside the door' until they had proven themselves to the Shifu over a period of long years, hardship and tests. The reason traditionally for this was said to be for family secrets to remain within the family and trusted disciples only, not to spread the knowledge to possibly rival clans or enemy forces.
I have had the great opportunity to study with some of my teachers for periods of years, and see first hand this tradition and how it works. However from a different perspective after twenty five years of involvement in Chinese martial arts I believe there are other reasons than the noble 'keeping the family safe' that most masters paid lip service to. First among them remaining the 'master'. If students know all the master does they have an opportunity to leave and move on, or perhaps actually be better skilled than their teacher. Old age and treachery does not always beat youth and skill. Status also equals marketable viability and money was always of an issue, if there are always secrets for the student to chase after then the money will keep flowing in. Honestly I think this Confucianist view is outdated and really the time for secrets is long gone, if it ever really was necessary in the first place.
In this course I am going to film and write and discuss all the 'secrets' of drunken boxing, that honestly some of which took me years to have revealed to me. Taoist Internal Alchemy in relation to Drunken boxing, the concept of the wine belly, hollow body theory, the various Jins (wholistic intrinsic connected power of the human body through special training), etc etc. I think the time for secrets os over and students of this course will have then entire Drunken system of the ma family passed to them. With work and effort on both our parts I hope to help students actually gain real gongfu skill through real training. No more secrets.
Lets start with the concept of the vertical alignment of the spine. This has been taught to me by different names “The Iron Bar”, “Stone Tablet”, “Stand tall like the Monkey” etc. I cover this in the first of my videos in the course about the stepping form and stances. In order to fully understand the method you must become familiar with a few acupuncture points for reference on the body:
Bai Hui- Located at the top of the head, the crown. If you draw a line from the top of the ears to the center of the top of the skull you will find a sensitive point, That is bai hui and it should be pointed towards the sky at all times. This is accomplished by tucking the chin in gently.
Da Zhui- Located just below the C7 vertabrae (the big one on the back of the neck). Da Zhui or Great Hammer in English) is the intersection of all the yang meridians of the body. This point should be drawn back as if being pulled from behind. This will allow the neck and upper back to align with bai hui. Sink the chest and pluck up the back as the classics say.
Ming Men- Located opposite the naval just below the kidneys between the second and third lumbar vertebrae. The life gate is very important in qigong, Taoist alchemy and posture for martial arts. Drawn back to line up with the Da Zhui point this allows the spine to straighten and the skeletal structure to begin to take the weight of gravity on the body rather than the large muscle groups. To accomplish this the tail bone must be tucked under a LITTLE. Like you were going to sit on a bar stool, drunken boxers should know how to do this....
Hui Yin- located in the perineum between the genitals and the anus. The Hui Yin point (meeting of Yin) should be aligned to point downwards towards the earth. This will keep the student from tucking the tailbone too far under and ruining the spinal and pelvic alignment of the body.
When the spine is aligned in this way as mentioned before the weight of gravity will be transferred down through the bones of the student and will allow large muscle groups to relax. This is important for the available muscular power able to be recruited through martial arts movements and results in much greater power generated by the body. When lined up through proper stances versus an opponent the body will accept force and weight from the opponent by transferring it through the legs to the ground just like gravity. This is the purposes of all the different stances in any gongfu style. Drunken has its own variant stances just like other styles, but the purpose of them all remains the same. Proper structure to create stability and allow for the generation of power to be delivered to an opponent through technique.
No More Secrets
Shifu Neil Ripski
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