IN SEARCH OF STILLNESS IN MOVEMENTS
Is stillness of the mind can only be cultivated in a static posture?
In Yiquan practices, stillness of the mind can be obtained in static postures (standing meditation is the signature practice) and during movements.
The stillness of the mind during movements has three levels. “Dynamic Stillness“, “Reactive Stillness“ and “Combative Stillness“ are the terms coined by Sifu Sandy NG to describe the three mental states during which the mind of a Yiquan practitioner maintains its awareness, clarity and calmness during different movement situations.
At the first level, a Yiquan practitioner can move very slowly and gently through various Yiquan movements. With full awareness, the petitioner can explore and experience the subtle changes that happen to his body and limbs externally and internally. Awareness in movements helps to build new and more efficient neuropaths in delivering the movements by activating neuromuscular repatterning. With continued awareness training, the defence, offence, footwork, etc. will all be delivered with ease and grace because of the gradual abandonment of blunt strength (unnecessary muscular tension), and the enhancement of mind-body unity. At an advance stage, mental stillness can be maintained during swift and explosive movements. This state of the mind is called “Dynamic Stillness“.
At the second level, a Yiquan practitioner can train with a partner who tries to attack him slowly from various angles. The partner’s mind carries no intention to hurt the practitioner but on the contrary helps him to nourish an observing and fearless state of mind while reacting to the partner’s disruptions. Push hands and Improvised Attack-Defence (IAD) training are examples of second level practices. This state of mind is called “Reactive Stillness“.
At the third level, under proper guidance of an instructor and with necessary protective gears, the partner can attempt to land his attacks on the practitioner. The speed of the attacks from the partner can accelerate progressively, while the power of impact can also increase gradually. Most important of all, all the attacks must be unrehearsed and delivered in broken rhythms. Through continued practice, the practitioner can retain mental stillness despite being actually attacked by others. At this state of mind, the practitioner will be able to effortlessly read the opponent’s intent, intercept or counter the opponent’s attacks, apply feints to create openings, etc. This state of mind is called “Combative Stillness“.
In reality, confronting physical assaults is comparatively rare, but facing emotional disruptions or assaults is frequent. To build a strong mind and body through Yiquan practices will no doubt help us to neutralize emotional and physical assaults in daily life.
Sifu Sandy Chi Heng, NG
President of HKMASA
Beside River Mersey
12 March 2023