Wujifa, Standing Meditation and the Essence of Internal Martial Arts
by Trevor Caruso is a Rolf Structural Integration Therapist
In Wujifa, there is a saying: the method is not the truth, once you get the feeling, get rid of the method. Method can be a great tool, but we can often get caught up in form and method and find it difficult to let go. In the martial arts we tend to be bombarded by forms with little explanation or room for discovery of the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of what we’re doing. There’s little room for feeling and discovering when we’re continually occupied with choreographing our bodies to a certain ‘form’. So what is it that makes an internal style, internal?
There are, indeed, certain movement principles which underlie various forms; such as those taught in IMA’s like Tai Chi. These principles are based upon what is called Silk Reeling. The masters of these internal styles are all purported to have said that they use silk reeling principles. This common thread is a fundamental movement modality which utilizes the dantian (a spot 1 inch below the navel). When the dantian moves the rest of the body moves in relation. To move one’s body using the dantian requires a type of relaxed connection which is cultivated through many hours of practice. Without this connection one is simply utilizing an arm, a shoulder, etc. in isolation.
What is Peng
Peng is a Chinese word we have no direct translation for in English. It is a type of body connection which is expressed as a feeling of fullness when the fascia is allowed to ‘stretch’. This relaxed stretch is sought after in some yoga practices and it is sometimes argued that internal arts share the same path. When the body is connected, using this type of stretch, one can sense and/or issue force throughout the entire structure using the dantian. This movement principle is vital to all styles of IMA’s and is what differentiates them from external styles.
Structure and Chi
Peng is a vital concept in understanding silk reeling movement. Peng is the product of a connected and relaxed structure that maintains a tensegral relationship with the rest of the body. Chen Xiaowang once told me, “If the structure is ‘broken’ (ie; misaligned) anywhere, chi is not flowing.” I have had countless adjustments from many masters who have all, in adjusting my structure, painted a feeling within my body of a relaxed and taught fascial connection. This fullness is something which is cultivated and discovered through many hours of standing meditation training, such as that which is practiced in Wujifa. One of the many reasons standing meditation is so important to training is because in that training one is learning to differentiate between relaxed connection and tension. Standing Meditation is a practice which brings us to that place where we meet those methods we hold on to. And there, we may begin to discover the feelings that unlock the door to connection.
About Trevor Caruso
Trevor Caruso is a Rolf Structural Integration Therapist and owner of Mirror Gate Integrative Therapy in Santa Cruz County. He’s studied internal martial arts and other healing and awareness practices since 1993. A 12 week series on Wujifa Standing Meditation begins January 6th; hosted by Santa Cruz Tai Chi. For Rolf sessions or class registration call (831) 325-3587 or visit mirrorgateintegrativetherapy.com