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HomeTai ChiSpeaking Chen Taijiquan with David Gaffney: The Eyes Have It...

Speaking Chen Taijiquan with David Gaffney: The Eyes Have It…

Chinese language martial arts throughout the numerous totally different techniques agree
on the elemental significance of coaching the 4 elements of shou yan
shenfa bu
(fingers, eyes, physique and footwork).  

Inside Chinese language philosophy there’s a saying usually repeated in
martial arts theories that the “thoughts is the commander.” From a place of
steadiness and stability the thoughts decides the suitable actions the physique should
take: “The center-mind is the lord of the physique and the grasp of 1’s spirit
and intelligence. It points orders, but it surely takes orders from nothing.” To be
in a position to do that it should habitually be in a state of “empty single-minded
stillness.” That is described in Historical past of Chinese language Philosophy By way of its
Key Phrases
: “’Empty’ refers to not letting the prevailing data that one
has intrude in or impede the reception of latest data. ‘Single-minded’
refers to not letting an understanding of one other phenomenon intrude with
understanding the phenomenon at hand. ‘Stillness’ refers to not letting one’s
free-wheeling ideas disturb one’s regular understanding.” With these
qualities in place an prompt and acceptable response might be made inside any
state of affairs.

Nevertheless, for the above assertion to make sense the thoughts should
have sufficient info to have the ability to precisely learn any state of affairs. A second
saying is that “the eyes are the vanguard.” Within the navy custom of Sunzi
the vanguard is the a part of a military that goes forward of the primary physique gathering
info on the bottom earlier than any tactical selections are taken.

I used to be struck by the next vivid description by Teddy
Atlas of the significance of the eyes in a struggle. [Atlas has been a well-respected
boxing coach since the mid-1970s, including six years at the legendary Catskill
boxing club of Cus D’Amato. Atlas is perhaps best known for serving as Mike
Tyson’s trainer the first four years of his career and preparing him for the
eventual world heavyweight championship]:    

“The eyes are so essential in a struggle. You should all the time see
every little thing. That’s what I imply after I used to name the fights on ESPN and say a
man’s received “good eyes.” He’s received good imaginative and prescient, he’s calm, he sees every little thing.
He’s laser-like, he’s concentrated – it’s a must to see! As a result of when you don’t see
it [an incoming attack], your mind received’t register it coming and also you’ll be damage
extra. You will get knocked out; these are those that may damage you much more.
The punches since you don’t have time to arrange your self for it. You didn’t
see it!” Utilizing the eyes correctly permits a fighter to be “… all the time balanced,
all the time in place, all the time able to make the most of a mistake.”

Boxing coach Teddy Atlas: “You should see every little thing”

Regardless of the significance positioned on the refined strategies handed
down to coach the capability of the eyes in Taijiquan, as we speak many practitioners pay
little greater than lip service to this facet. Inside Chen Taijiquan’s syllabus
and its underlying idea is a transparent and progressive technique for creating the

Phases of
coaching the eyes

1. At first levels of coaching the
primary behavior of conserving the eyes stage is laid down. For instance, earlier than
beginning the shape virtually like a mantra checking: the physique is loosened as a lot
as potential with weight sinking all the way down to the ft; the eyes are stage and taking
a large view; respiration is pure and unrestricted; and one’s thoughts is calm.
Then repeating this course of as you undergo every of the postures of the shape.

2. The behavior of conserving the eyes stage
is included throughout jibengong (primary coaching) and coordinated with
motion at a gross stage. For instance, in the course of the entrance reeling silk motion
the eyes look past the hand in the course of the higher a part of the circle; Through the
decrease a part of the circle, they observe the route of the hand with out trying

3. When a practitioner could be very acquainted
with the choreography of kind they usually have laid down a basis from levels
one and two, the necessities grow to be extra stringent. For instance, every motion
finishes with a exact point of interest of intention.
A latest publish on a thoughts
coaching in Chen Taijiquan included the next examples that are additionally related
on this context:

Performing Single Whip (Dan Bian), “Keep
visible concentrate on the left hand which strikes left and upward from the decrease proper
aspect in a big semi-circle on the entrance of the physique. On the finish of the
, concentrate on the center finger of the left hand… In
Pie Shen Chui (Flip Physique and Punch), focus the eyes on the toe of the left
foot, whereas in Zhou Di Kan Quan (Fist Beneath Elbow) the main focus is on the fist
positioned below the elbow.”
  (Supply: Chen Xin’s
Illustrated Clarification of Chen Household Taijiquan)

4. All through the course of every
motion practitioners use intention to make use of their eyes in relation to their
stepping, route and the place of a possible opponent. The weather “guard
the left” and “anticipate the precise” from Taijiquan’s 5 strategies (jin,
tui, gu, pan ding
) consult with abilities corresponding to instinctively glancing within the
route one goes to step earlier than taking the step. Fastidiously watch any good
soccer participant operating with the ball and also you’ll catch taking within the state of affairs
round him earlier than releasing the ball. Likewise, in Taijiquan it doesn’t make
sense to step blindly with out checking first.  

The eyes synchronised with one’s footwork, route and the place of a possible opponent. 

5. The end result of all of the above
components results in a spot the place we will say that the eyes lead, and the intention
follows. Like driving a automobile the place your actions are dictated by the data
taken in by eyes. You wouldn’t dream of driving along with your eyes closed or
trying down in direction of the ground of your automobile. However that is simply how many individuals
observe Taijiquan. As a substitute of feeling the motion whereas conserving consciousness of
the surface state of affairs, they’re virtually transfixed by the “ability” of their very own
motion and oblivious to what’s going on round them.


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