The Method is about change.
We change our structure, we change our tissues, we change our relationship with gravity, our relationship with our opponent and, perhaps most importantly, our energy flow.
We change not at points in time but as a process, when one thing changes everything changes. We evolve our practice and we evolve with our practice. Standing is the alpha and also the omega, what we learn from standing must flow into our other training, what we learn from other training must return to standing.
By standing I mean Jam Jong, the core practice of The Method. Standing the stake, Zhuan Zhang, pile standing, etc….its been called many things. Perhaps a better way to translate Jam Jong would be to say ‘state of being’. We can practice Jam Jong in any position or shape, ‘standing’ just happens to be one of the most useful and a preferred position to be in for self-defense.
So we start to build our practice, as they say, at the beginning, with formal practice.
In formal practice our purpose is to practice. We put on our jammies, go to our special place, invoke ritual and ceremony and repeat our form, exercise or technique in an iterative fashion. We are pumping data in through our conscious mind. We do.
Freestyle practice is born from formal practice. Put on some music, try to let go, moving and changing spontaneously we crack open the door to the subconscious and try to learn the lessons it has to teach. We play.
Casual practice is about bringing the achievements earned through formal and freestyle practice into our everyday activities. The purpose in casual practice is not to practice, but to do whatever it is we are doing. The changes we worked so hard to achieve in formal and freestyle practice become part of us, present even though we are not thinking about them, not focusing on them, not conscious of them. We be.
Consider this oversimplification:
The area of each portion of the pyramid represents the relative amount of time spent on each type of training. When the pyramid is first completed, the formal practice is the foundation and where most practice time is spent. Freestyle and casual are built on top of formal.
The Method is about change, so, over time we must also change our pyramid. We are shooting for something like this:
This pyramid represents a mature practice. Casual practice now forms the foundation with freestyle and formal built on top, seeking and feeding change into the foundation.
Now lets compare our starting point and our goal:
While the relative amount of formal practice time has changes very little, the overall amount of practice time has expanded enormously. Paddling out for a sesh becomes practicing elongation, bombing the slopes a day of chi gung and pushing the grocery cart footwork training.
I have a fond memory of sitting across the table from my teacher during one of our many Saturday yum cha (dim sum) lunches after a morning of training. Something caught my eye about how he was holding his bowl and chopsticks, so I asked him, “Sifu what are you doing there?”. His answer was, “Practicing Kung Fu, what are YOU doing?”.
I think that’s great!