Shi li - testing strength

From translator:

 

This is an excerpt from „The new chapter of fist science” - the teachings of yiquan founder Wang Xiangzhai recorded in 1939 by Qi Zhidu. The reader should not see these theories as a basis of modern yiquan, bus more as historical material, which can help to understand the process of the gradual development of yiquan.

 

After you master zhan zhuang exercises, you should start learning using strength. The basis is testing strength – shi li. Through shi li you will get to know the strength which is born by itself. If you know it, you can use it efficiently. This is why testing strength is the most crucial element in learning martial art.

 

First you need to make sure that your whole body is working evenly, with some order, coordination, that all joints can have some freedom of movement, that all bones create a structure of supporting forces, that tendons and bones can shrink and can stretch comfortably. This way the power can be naturally issued. Slow movement is better than fast movement, but most important is that intention – yi should not be broken, that agility should not be lost, that any movement in any one place should be followed by movement of whole body. There is nothing which is not moving, but at the same time the movement is like non-movement. When you reach this stage, whole body strength is unified, there is a balance between movement and non-movement, you become skillful in testing strength.

 

Homogenous, coordinated work of whole body, freedom of movement of joints, bones creating a structure of supporting forces, tendons and bones shrinking and stretching comfortably, all this is unified by the idea of unity of body, all those aspects cannot be separated. If you start from practical experiencing, you can develop the ability of basing the movement on one intention, so you whole body will move naturally, without blockages. At the higher stage there is no idea of practicing shi li at all, body is just moving slowly, and at the same time you are resting, intention is leading everything, nervous system is supporting the whole body movement. Small movement is better than big movement, slow movement is better than fast movement, the more subtle the movement, the fuller the spirit. When you achieve the stage of movement in non-movement, it will be movement which is constantly born and never stops. Mind is observing and noticing everything, strength is unified, everything is in order and is “round”, nothing is omitted. Then the strength is unified by the circle (center), it is between movement and non-movement, as there is no blind movement, wrong forces will not appear.

 

When force is unified trough the center, there is no blind movement, all movements are appropriate. This is principle of non-movement as a basis, and of movement for use. When there is no feeling of force (effort), there is hunyuan strength.

 

When you practice shi li, you should experience everything in slow movement, otherwise you will not be able to fully perceive this strength and you will not be able to learn to use it.

 

If you are in a hurry, the unnecessary effort will appear. When such an effort is appearing, there is no naturalness, the hunyuan strength cannot be used. While using strength, various changes are possible – yin and yang, empty and full, opening and closing, with and against – they all are basis for each other, all is natural and everything is flowing without stop. The changes are various, you are using hands, shoulders, elbows, hips, joints, bones and tendons, and in whole body there is stretching and shrinking, qi and blood are pulsating, there appear edges of strength in all planes, all those aspects affect each other and are related to the center. Such forces are based on each other. We are talking about arguing forces or contradictory forces, forces which affect each other, this is hunyuan strength. There are forces in all directions in whole body, those forces are connected and depend on each other.

 

At first you start from seeking two opposite forces. When your hand is moving forward, there should also be a backward action, when there is lifting up, there should be pressing down, expanding outward should be accompanied by embracing inward – everything is starting from one center, everything is connected. After mastering two opposite forces you can start seeking them in all parts of body and in all planes. All those forces should be in harmony, they should be part of the hunyuan unity, related to one center, there should not be any insufficiencies in the body. When you master those “arguing forces”, everything becomes truly connected, you could call this true mastering of the center, true mastering of the strength.

 

Force should not be one sided. If you neglect this principle, you will lose the possibilities of the multi directional force, you will lose the basis for the mutually depended use of separating and connecting, empty and solid. When one moves, whole body moves. This should happen between conscious and unconscious. Only then you will have chance to achieve the highest level.

 

When you start learning shi li, you can use a little bit of force in the area from wrist to the tips of fingers. This way it will be easy to master the basics. You should not neglect anything, but you should not try too hard. Then everything will be proper, there will be the state of complete unity and connection of everything, and you will be able to start mastering skills, which are beyond form, beyond body, beyond martial art. All this is result of shi li – testing strength. If you will achieve this through testing, we could talk about entering the way of martial art.

 

Using “arguing forces” should be natural. This is the true secret of martial art. I am revealing it here. Too many words are needed to explain it, but in fact the method is simple. But mastering it depends on the practitioner, on his own practice of experiencing.

 

Translated from Chinese by: Andrzej Kalisz

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