Are You Searching for Strength?

Oneness strength, Hun Yuan, internal strength, Neijia or integrated strength is not only something cursed by the Tower of Babel but a truly tricky thing to figure out.

I struggled with it. I have witnessed my Gung Fu brothers struggle with it and these days I struggle with finding the right words that will help my students understand where to look and what they are looking for.

To date I have found no magic bullet, no catch phase, no lesson that works for everyone. Sometimes it feels like trying to lead a blind person to find a needle in the proverbial hay stack with only my words.

Something that helps, something that gets my student into the hay bale instead of fumbling around in the empty part of the barn is the realization that they are not doing it, that they are looking for the wrong thing or looking in the wrong place.

It happened again just yesterday. I was working with a gentleman that had been practicing Yi Chuan for years and I took one look at his Jam Jong and had to deliver the news that he was not in fact practicing Jam Jong because his frame was collapsed.

It’s a bitter-sweet moment when the realization hits, the excitement of finding your way through the forest weighed down by all of the time spend wandering it in circles. What is better, knowing your are lost or the blissful ignorance of being lost while stomping about in a lovely bunch of trees?

In Yi Chuan we have the idea of ‘Searching for Strength’. Most often it is used to describe a phase of training where the practitioner has not yet discovered how to connect their frame, has not discovered the ‘required strength’. I think the idea is much bigger than that.

For me, ‘Searching’ is a fundamental change in the intention of my practice. Like salt it is a magic ingredient that wakes up the flavor of my training. Without Searching my practice is bland, boring, repetitive and uninspired. With searching it becomes lively, engaging, and engrossing as I explore and study my being knowing the next discovery could be just around the corner, over the next hill or under that thorn bush.

I don’t think it matters what level you are at, what you have achieved in your practice so far, searching is an essential ingredient in Yi Chuan or any ontological practice. Searching keeps you from fooling yourself, from thinking that you are at your destination when you are not or that you can even really know what that destination is. Searching brings purpose to practice and shatters the myth that repetition entitles you to results. Searching keep you from endlessly chasing squirrels when you are looking for deer. Searching allows you to find the secret entrance to the temple instead of forever banging on the gate.

So I ask you…..are you Searching for Strength or not?

About steveehrenreich

I am a long time practitioner of martial arts and Yi Chuan student of Master Cheuk Fung.
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