Kung Fu Training: Sum Chien – The Heart of Shaolin, Part 9: Speaking with the Body

January 9, 2018 Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat

A good example of how training our body posture and language, including the face affect us as a whole. Martial Arts Students demonstrating the Sum Chien at Nam Yang Thailand Training Camp.

Life is largely about how we interact with others.  Psychologists tell us that only 7% of what we communicate is through our words compared to 55% through our body language.  That is a lot of body language!  An upright posture with the chest slightly raised, in other words, the posture which we train in Sum Chien, communicates strength and a high social status.  Relaxation communicates confidence.  Then there is quality of eye contact!  One of the things that this body language says is ‘be very wary of attacking me, I am not someone you should upset’.  One of the functions of martial arts is to arm you with the weapons of self-defence.  Your body language should be the first one that people encounter.  If you have studied Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ and similar treatise on strategy, you will appreciate that the best general wins without having to fight.  Unfortunately a coin has two sides: slouched body posture, tension and failure to make eye contact are invitations for someone with a more dominant self-image to pick on you.  Genuinely confident people don’t need to but people trying to reinforce their own confidence will often seek to do so by proving to themselves that they can dominate others.

As I mentioned above, emotion has a physical base.  The posture that we adopt will rapidly affect this.  As Sum Chien training reshapes our posture, our feelings and our confidence are reshaped with it.  This is massively important!

Now for the very best piece of news.  Your body posture and body language make a huge difference to how attractive you are.  And you have near total control over them.  Want to be more attractive?  Train your Sun Chien.  If Sum Chien training did nothing else for you, this alone would make it worthwhile.

Strengthening Intention

The strength of our actions is proportional to the strength of our intention.  Intention leads chi and chi leads strength.  To put it in very easily understood terms, if you are going to act half-heartedly, don’t bother!

Every minute action that we perform as part of our Sum Chien practice is done with total concentration and total commitment.  We practise to make this second nature.  In particular staring to infinity, regardless of any obstacles in our path, helps to strengthen our intention and lead our chi as far forwards as possible since chi follows concentration and our concentration follows our gaze.

Circulating the microcosmic orbit

The most basic circulation of Chi around our bodies is the Microcosmic orbit or Microcosm.  Essentially it flows up the back and down the front.  When we inhale, Chi rises.  When we exhale it falls.  Before we emit power, we breathe in deeply and lift a great quantity of Chi to our heads, energising our minds and our senses.  Once our action is complete, we exhale and drop our chi down again to the lower Tan Tien which is its resting point.  At the moment of expelling power, we have a body full of chi, like a ball which has been inflated fully and is therefore elastic and able to bounce.

Holding a straight back makes a strong circulation of the microcosmic orbit far easier.

As we draw chi up to our head we activate the energy centres at our crown and third eye points, not to mention our brain, pituitary and pineal glands and eyes, ears, nose.  It is really important to drop this chi down again afterwards so as not to accumulate too much chi in the head – doing so causes insanity and has been the undoing of a number of self-taught kung fu ‘masters’.

Properly circulating the microcosmic orbit has massive benefits, at first in terms of health and at a more advanced level in terms of enlightenment.  It is not easy though and takes both practise and patience.