Guo loved to share. My father said that Master Guo possessed so much skill that he wanted
others to experience the expanse of xingyiquan. A profound training method that Master Guo
taught was to manifest 氣 qi through the practice of 壯膽神 zhuangdan shen (to embolden the spirit).
It is essential in practice to unite one’s 氣 qi and 神 shen (spirit) with the great forces of the Earth.
Master Guo taught that one such force is a large stone [boulder], larger than a man; that has not been
disturbed from its place of rest. Partially exposed to sunlight [that being 陽 yang], partially hidden
[being 陰 yin] and embraced by the Earth. The stone, therefore, is the embodiment of the 陰 yin and
陽 yang essences.
a more accurate translation is the Three Embodiments Power Enhancement]) upon a boulder or
large stone, absorbing its heavy 陰氣 yin qi into the legs and lower waist region. Care must be taken not to transform heaviness into sluggishness, which indicates heaviness has spread beyond the legs and entered into the lofty 陽氣 yang qi of the upper body. This is why one’s 心意 xin-yi (heart-mind [intent]) must direct and embrace the stone’s 氣 qi within the lower tan-t’ien, thereby developing 剛勁 gang jin (firm power [firmness]) below. Such practice was to be followed for several years until true rootedness with the Earth unites with one’s 陰 yin.
ground in a large circle and in a straight line. The students were instructed to practice xingyiquan upon the formations to accumulate the essence of firmness into stepping. Firmness in stepping establishes loftiness and agility of hand and foot methods. Stones are but one unique method of practice that Master Guo learned from his masters. His disciples were known to be immovable when pushed or attacked, possessing hands that issued power like a stag’s hoof, achieved through 骨肉 gurou (bone and flesh [referring to a human]) treading upon the Earth’s 陰氣 yin qi [being stones]. This is among the first hidden skills of xingyiquan that Master Guo taught, a very important one followed by all of his students.
special within Sun family practice. The 三靈 Sanling (Three Spirits) are also referred to as the 三珤 Sanbao (Three Jewels/Treasures). These are three principles of practice to which one must adhere. These are simple, yet simplistically difficult:
1. 靈活 linghuo (nimbleness/agility). In all movement 陽氣 yang qi must be directed and established at the point泥丸 Ni Wan (Mud Ball) which sits upon the crown of one’s head. Through qigong practice the 泥丸 Ni Wan (Mud Ball) becomes active and is then linked with its mirrored point below, that being 會陰 Hui Yin (Meeting of Yin) at the perineum below. This establishes the 陰 yin and 陽 yang duality within movement. The cohesion of these two points is accomplished through seated neigong (inner development) methods to enhance the ‘Small Heavenly Cycle.’ These methods are not exclusive to the Sun family style and are found within many Taoist boxing sects. As these upper and lower points harmonize through practice one will notice that physical movement in taijiquan becomes rooted, yet the trunk, arms and legs move with a feeling of fluid nimbleness, a sense of increasing agility and lightness; the meaning and importance of 靈活 linghuo. Such is the result of 陽氣 yang qi fusing deeply within all parts of the body and moving along with and merging with the 陽氣 yang qi of Nature.
2. 靈感 linggan (inspiration/insightfulness). In practice we must never fall prey to mere physical movement that possesses no essence, no spirit behind an action. To simply move about in xingyi and bagua, flailing one’s arms and legs without 意 yi (intent) beckons no lasting results. One must look into the meaning of each posture with a conviction of insightfulness to look beyond the physical surface. It is easy to understand the many applications of any posture, none are secrets, but to be inspired to pursue deeper skills within each posture is very important toward acquiring greater levels of competency. There are many explanations of 靈感 linggan which we touch upon each day in practice. As we practice taijiquan, for example, suddenly you understand how to do something that you have struggled with, and it is this realization and understanding that is the foundation to follow further interest into that realization of a posture or action which produces 靈感 linggan (inspiration/ insightfulness) from which to find further explanation. My father taught that 靈感 linggan is what separates a good student from those who excel. It is something he emphasized that his students nurture throughout all aspects of their boxing practices.
therefore: 靈活 linghuo (nimbleness/agility), 靈感 linggan (inspiration/insightfulness), and 靈驗 lingyan
(to be efficacious/accurate). These three, with time and practice, merge and transform to affect one’s
靈魂 linghun (soul). Master Sun remarked that ‘it is one’s靈魂 linghun (soul) that dictates the profound
aspects of study.’ My translation of the 三珤 Sanbao (Three Jewels/Treasures) are rudimentary at best as
each of their true meanings can only fully be understood through experiences and examples pointed out
each time by one of our teachers. But my translation will hopefully serve as a foundation.
the soul of each soldier in respect to creating 大膽 dadan (big courage [fearlessness]). Therefore, Master
Sun taught qigong exercises to officers and soldiers to enhance the 膽 dan (gall bladder). This method is
called 壯膽功 zhuangdan gong which means ‘to achieve [to develop] in strengthening the gall bladder,’
in turn meaning ‘to strengthen courage.’ Master Sun consequently taught the 二十四站走步樁 ershisi
zhan zoubu zhuang (24 standing and walking posts [stumps]) that he learned from his bagua
master, Cheng T’ing-Hua. These methods were openly taught to all of his students, both public and indoor, and were never kept secret as they were to serve as givers of health for one’s 精神 jingshen (essence and spirit [vitality]) rather than to do harm martially. Each of the 24 methods, practiced while standing or while walking a circle, taught and enhanced 24 specific principles and skills. Once
these 24 were learned then the final 12 were added which were concerned with 12 animals to total 36 methods. These methods were openly taught but many students, many of my classmates, simply felt the number were so many that they gave up after a dozen or so. Generally, 3 methods were taught each month, so time was required. Over the years, when I revisited my classmates, most had forgotten the majority of these postures and only practiced those that came to mind. However, there were some who
continued to reverently practice these methods and passed them on to their students exactly how they
were taught to us in class in Beijing. Today, I am happy to openly teach the entire 36 methods to those interested as they are not secret, but simply somewhat rare to come across in their entirety. I still fondly remember classes when I would see many senior classmates in class performing all 36 post/stump methods, openly sharing them their apprentices. It was a very rich environment in which to learn that I know all of you would have loved. Hopefully, I can bring much of this to you through my writings. More about this in Part 2 of this article.
Thank you very kindly for taking the time to read my articles and supporting my efforts to share with each
one of you,
Bradford Tyrey www.neijiabooks.com