Chinese Martial Arts – Developmental Form Practice


When the outer structure of a form is well-known and adequately practised (i.e. mastered inaccordance with the principles of the particular style in question, relevantly adjusted to the psychology and physiology of the individual practitioner), the form itself becomes a ‘vehicle’ that ‘conveys’ the practitioner on a journey of self-discovery and environmental recognition.  The physical structure itself is continuously ‘refined’ (a little here and a little there), as ‘small’ ‘awarenesses’ are developed and accumulated overtime, into major insights.  This is the mastery of the ‘outer’ frame of the body (and power production ‘external’ to the bone).  The form must be regularly practised overtime so that the student becomes keenly aware of the ‘inner’ structure (or ‘inner terrain’) of the form (and the power production ‘inside’ or ‘internal’ to the bone).  This constant accessing of the ‘inner terrain’ of the mind and body is made possible by the outer structure of the form being ‘sound’ and functionally able to serve as an effective means of self-defence.  Without regularly ‘looking within’ during form practice, inner mastery will never occur, and the practitioner will not advance his or her knowledge beyond the superficial level.

However, this developmental procedure is hindered if there is a psychological ‘dependency’ or ‘attachment’ to the form practice itself.  Attachment to form practice signifies a psycho-physical ‘block’ of qi energy flow that prevents any developed insight beyond the frequency of the blocked qi energy itself.  In a very real sense, human perception congeals around the point of greatest resistance to change, and ceases to ‘transform’ in any meaningful way.  This implies that functional tension in the mind (in the form of self-limiting obsessions, and pointless repetitions) creates (or reflects) tension in the muscle fibre, and that habitual tension in the muscle fibre, has the tendency to create (or ‘reinforce’) tension in the mind.  This ‘tension’ is symbolic of a qi energy’ nolonger being in a state of free flow and free expression.  When qi energy cannot and does not freely move from one place to another, all development premised upon ‘free’ expression comes to an end.  Regular form practice is designed as a method to become ‘aware’ of tension in all its subtle manifestations (as it is never just ‘one’ layer or manifestation) that require being uprooted through the process of ‘acknowledgement’ of both its presence and existence.  This is a steady process that takes years to perfect, but in the higher levels of awareness and development, ‘form’ practice goes beyond the simple repetition of physical movements, and cannot be limited to this expression.

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