Monday, October 3, 2011

The Pinnacle of Athletics

Fu Style Principles

1. Turn Your Waist
If you've ever had class with Master Fu,
you've heard him say this plenty. "Turn
your waist" is his first-line of advice and
his go-to mantra. Tai Chi is the beginner
level in Fu Style; it introduces waist turning
in the stepping by having the student turn his
or her waist twice for each step. In the 105 Form,
the movements begin to stretch the range
of waist turning-- especially in the third section
with the "Fair Lady Works Shuttles" to the
four corners. Liang-Yi Chuan increases the
range yet again; adds turning across the
other two planes; and increases waist skills
by adding different kinds of turning such as
swinging, shaking, and explosive fajing.
BaGua waist turning affects stepping, coiling,
and multitudes of other skills. Fu Style XingYi
uses big waist turns to develop power and
speed that's different from the other forms.
In seminars I've attended, Master Fu usually
corrects this first and foremost.

2. Posture
Fu Style posture can be broken into three
parts. First, "Hollow Chest" is Master Fu's
go-to advice. He will tell even very experienced
practitioners to "deeply hollow your chest,"
and has many exercises and tricks to help
learn this. Second, Master Fu will teach how
to raise the head while keeping the chin down.
He usually teaches this by saying, "it's like
having a book balanced on your head."
Third is pelvic tilt. This points the tailbone
down and brings it forward. In the most
advanced teachings for BaGua, Fu Style
mandates to "wind up the hyman."

3. Concentrate on the Breathing
If you go out and look for videos on YouTube
of supposed "Taoist Breathing," most do
it incorrectly. Taoist Breathing is also known
as "Reverse Breathing." Why ? Because the
inhalation CONTRACTS the lower abdomen,
while exhalation EXPANDS it. Master Fu
talks about the "Dan Tien Muscle" in order
to explain how to breathe correctly, even
though there is no such thing. One must
use the mind to think about breathing
down, down into the dan tien, and imagine
it contracting and expanding as it's supposed
to. This breathing will improve posture, which
will in turn improve breathing.

4. Make Circles
Master Fu discusses the hand techniques
categorized with three circles: small, medium
and large. The large circle is the circle made
from the shoulder; it is the most powerful
of the three, but the slowest. The medium
circle is made at the elbow. Obviously, the
elbow is merely a hinge joint, and doesn't
rotate in a circle; but its hinging can combine
with some rotation from the shoulder to make
the medium circle, which is still powerful,
but faster than the shoulder circle. The
small circle is made at the wrist; this has
the least power, but moves the fastest.
Master Fu often says, "Make circle and change
the other person's power." This is his way
of saying, "Change 10,000 pounds with
four ounces."

5. Fix The Body
Fu Style is truly one the world's great forms
of pugilism; but it is also one of the best
systems for health and wellness. Master Fu
talks about "XingYi Power" and "BaGua
Stepping," but he often reverts the discussion
back to Tai Chi to "fix the body." The skill-sets
of Fu Style (and the internal martial arts) are
largely invisible to those who have little
experience. But after years of practice, one
can see how a real master such as Master Fu
has excellent posture, softness in every step,
relaxation throughout his body, and power
that is hidden deep within. Fu Style develops
the athleticism and immunity of the body such
that it remains youthful, and sickness cannot
enter. Before one will have much martial art
skill from Fu Style, his or her body will become
far more youthful, flexible and capable.

6. FaJing
All that waist turning in the Fu Style forms
trains the waist to move at your slightest
impulse. The exercises that precede the forms
also train the waist; many of these exercises
are to develop fajing, or explosive power.
Master Fu says, "fajing must be always have
recoil. It must go from soft to hard, and then
immediately back to soft." And there are different
kinds of fajing in Fu Style. Master Fu says that
"Opposite Power" is most important. He says
that when you shoot a gun, the bullet goes
forward, but the gun goes back. So emission
of power in Fu Style moves the waist in the
opposite direction of the focus at the point of
impact. Also, Master Fu says the highest level
of power is "Flying Power," when the feet are
OFF the ground (ling cone jing).

7. Stepping
Master Fu generally teaches Tai Chi stepping
with one and a half feet ("feet" as it were does not
mean 12 inches, but your own foot as a tool
of measurement). In XingYi, the step should
be at least two "feet," with the knees more
bent and the stance lower (when you turn your
waist from this stance, it will stretch you like
nothing else !) The Yang BaGua step can be
as short as one and a half "feet" for beginners,
to two "feet" for high-level practitioners. The
Yin BaGua step should be three "feet" or more
because of the forward projection of the waist.

8. Fu Tai Chi
Fu Style Tai Chi steps are in 90 degree angles.
Each step has two waist turns. Fu Style Tai Chi
movements are more developed, detailed, clear,
and more difficult than other Tai Chi styles. Many
of the major movements (such as Grasp Bird's Tail,
Single Whip, Wave Hands Like Clouds, etc.)
have a 24-level, a 105-level, a Lightning Palm-
level, a LiangYi-level and an Advanced Tai Chi level.
"What?" you ask. Example: Grasp Bird's Tail is taught
with the five basic movements at the 24-Form level.
At the 105-Level, it adds a distinctive "waggle" after
the Push, and usually includes teaching of applications
and push hands; later in the 105-Form, the Ward-Off
portion raises the arm over the head (high Ward-Off),
and includes both a step-back and a step-through
(with bai bu) version of the movement. In Lightning Palm,
GBT includes fajing. In Liang-Yi, GBT uses a short
Pull-Back, with active forward steps through the Press,
and the Push; and uses a special fajing with a widening
of the stance. If you've never seen Fu Style Advanced
Tai Chi, go watch it on our YouTube channel (TransMun).
High Ward-Off, all kinds of crazy bending and leaning
back through the Pull-Backs, unbelievable stretching,
and three fajings at the end. Wow.

9. Fu Style BaGua
Not only is Fu Style BaGua considered one of only FIVE
orthodox styles; we think it's the best. Yang Palm is
the basic level, but it should really only be learned
after a student has practiced YEARS of Fu Style 105-Form,
Lightning Palm and Liang-Yi Chuan. The reason for
this is these forms were created to teach the skills
required for BaGua progressively. Then when the
student starts BaGua, he or she can focus on the
stepping while the body keeps up with the physical
demands of the forms. Characteristics of Fu Style are:
Sinking and Rising; Coiling; Swinging, etc. Single Palm
Change is more complex than other styles, and uses
powerful, upward spirals. Palms include pushing, double-
pushing, piercing, spinning, chopping, lifting, spitting,
fanning, a 'wrist-strike,' "double-exploding fists," and
dragon palm (which looks like how it sounds...). There
are also plenty of kicks. The Yang Step balances on one
foot while the other leg 'snaps' the knee to kick the
step and jiggle the foot. The Yin Step uses what
Master Fu calls a "Gudang Step." "Gudang" is sometimes
translated as "arouse" or "awaken/excite." Master Fu's
Gudang step projects the waist forward to extend
each step measurably.

10. Fu Style XingYi
Fu Style XingYi uses big waist turns, massive stretching
movements from the waist, and shaking/opposite power
in each fajing. When compared to other styles of XingYi,
Fu Style seems to have much more whole-body turning.
Master Fu says each punch should be relaxed, and to,
"throw the hand like a towel." Steps are still in 90 degree
angles. In Splitting Fist, Drilling Fist and Crushing Fist,
the "follow steps" are strait forward, with the weight mostly
on the back leg (which must follow quickly). In Pounding
Fist and Crossing Fist, the steps are diagonal, with the
weight most on the front foot. Higher-level forms, such
as BaShr (which means "Controller") also use a Gudang
step. Stance is 2-3 feet lengths in most movements.