That feeling inside…

There’s a movement in bagua that I haven’t seen elsewhere: a relaxed, vigorous, shaking of the whole body, used to break the grip of someone who’s got you in a bear-hug from behind, for example. Zhang Sheng Li’s long xing bagua form has it, and last night we got to it in the wuji form I’m learning from Master Zhou.

I’ve never been able to do it well. I’ve always been too stiff, especially in the lower back, so I end up looking as if I’m waggling my backside – to the great amusement of onlookers! Well, it helps teach humility, if nothing else….

Anyway, I had a bit of a breakthrough last night. We were working on the move leading in to this, a move using the hands to attack simultaneously in both directions; this needs a lot of flexibility in the shoulders, to channel the body weight along the arms, like a whip. Same problem: stiff shoulders, couldn’t do it. After we’d been trying to get this working for a while, Master Zhou had to take a call, which wound up being quite a long one. This was quite fortuitous. I kept on practicing on my own, just repeating the same move. Since I’m not that strong, my shoulders tired pretty quickly – which meant that they stopped working against me! Once my shoulder strength was gone, I was much more able to relax and send that energy rippling through… Success!

Encouraged, I tried continuing to shake the whole torso… and it worked. Much to Master Zhou’s surprise  – and relief, I’m sure – I was able to do it correctly.  So we carried on… we’re very close to the end of the form now; I’m confident that we’ll complete it soon, and have time for at least some revision , detail work, and more applications before I head north to the Chinese snow.

One thing left a question, though; as I was shaking, the power was certainly being transmitted… but my intestines and internal organs were also shaking and sliding around,  and it was really a very, very, odd sensation! I could see that this may be a good thing, an element of bagua qigong, in that it would massage and stimulate the organs. My Chinese just isn’t good enough to ask Master Zhou about this. Is this to be expected, or am I still doing something wrong?

7 Comments

  1. Well, does it hurts? If not, I believe you’re doing correctly.

    When I do the similar move, but to launch the “shoulder-to-palm” movement in the front, my lungs keep touching and sliding in my spine (or so does it seems). That hurts a freaking lot. Well, it’s not actual PAIN or something like when you are punched, but I feel that my lungs are failing me. Difficult to breathe, also. Very. And, already they are lame. I tire myself quickly, because I have a big nose that serves no damn thing (only to get blocked time and time again) and I have a respiratory cicle of a smoker. And I don’t smoke.

    (I gotta try that one some time. I’ve seen it, but didn’t learned it yet)

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  2. No, it doesn’t hurt; it just feels really bizarre!

    Doing the shoulder-to-palm thing forwards needs care – I found at first that I felt like I was giving myself whiplash. After Master Zhou corrected my posture (back must be kept rounded, chest sunk, teeth clenched), I feel my shoulderblades are now absorbing the force instead, which is much more comfortable!

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  3. Hello Emlyn,

    It’s pretty important to avoid giving yourself whiplash, because it can become a difficult problem to treat. What I find helpful is to draw the chin slightly in towards the neck, and clench the teeth at the same time. This will tend to tighten and brace your neck muscles.

    Also, it’s pretty important to brace your neck during push-hands. Ask Zhou lao shi to give you a demonstration, which I think he’ll be more than happy to. We were sorta fooling around with push-hands today, and there’s some pretty nasty neck cranks that be applied if the neck is not braced. Lol. Seriously, I’ve never seen him so happy until today when he was throwing me around. He was grinning and sticking his tongue out at times! Hahah. Fun, but scary to feel the amount of power he can generate.

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    1. Hehehe, the long xing form took me ages to memorize, but once I’d got it, it’s quite simple. The toughest parts for me are the arm-shaking (because my shoulders are so stiff, though the zhan zhuan has really helped that), and the circular kick at the end…. Will you be learning it? It’s a really good set, there’s a lot in there….

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