Wing Beneath My Wings

Did I ever tell you you're my hero? You're everything, everything I wish I could be. Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings, 'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.. Bette Midler

When I was a kid, I remember asking my elementary school teacher " why can't a chic waving its wings fly like an eagle?" My teacher, the cute Miss Hsu, told me patiently, " The reason the eagle can fly has to do with lots of things, not just standing still and waving its wings. It has a different body structure. There are aerodynamic issues… and the use of the body weight dropping impulse to spring off the ground……"

That was years and years ago. I guess I must have been one of those kids, the kind all schools have, who love to dream and fantasize, the kind who irritates teachers with all sorts of questions. Well, may be due to the encouragement of Miss Hsu, I eventually ended up in college. There, I had this professor who taught comparative religion class. I remember he told us that the ancient countries like India and China go through lots of eras of suffering. He said those sufferings were the catalyst that gave birth to lots of great thinkers and philosophers. In the time of suffering, and the attempts of people to deal with it, they observe nature, think, and come up with good pragmatic or artistic ideas to deal with their problems. Later, it was amazing to read about the Chinese using Acupuncture to cure the wounded solders in the Second World War era. The Chinese had very limited medical resources at that time.

In ancient times, Chinese had the idea of " Heaven and Human united into one". Today, one can still see the Chinese culture is a lot on this. In my understanding, " Heaven and Human united into one" means when the human lets go of his own "small" self, the human unites with the "big" self. As it says in the Dao De Jing, "Humans learn from mother earth. Mother earth learns from Heaven. Heaven learns from Dao. Dao learns from Nature."

As a part of the culture, in some Chinese martial art systems, this "Heaven and Human united into one" idea is often introduced and implemented in a post such as the Hun Yuan Zhuang ( Original post structure) , the Zi Ran Zhuang ( the Nature post structure), Or the Wu Ji Zhuang ( the Non-Polarity post structure). The general idea behind these Zhuang is for one to unite with heaven or nature. We in the modern world might think this is just a wishful thinking, wishful symbol, or calligraphy without any real content. However, as was once explained to me, the purpose of practicing the post is to let go one's unnecessary tension/patterns and to replace them with a "natural" response of body and mind.

But why is this significant in a martial arts system? As was explained to me - unnecessary tension/patterns of body and mind delay the responses of mind, body movement, and body weight handling. So, in order to know what is "unnecessary", one has to stand in the Nature post, observe, let go, and return to nature.

For an example, we can investigate the Nature post of Yik Kam's Siu Lien Tau teaching. Generally , standing in a Nature post, one observes and "plays" with the three domains and the six phases. These three domains are mind domain, energy flow domain, and body weight domain. The mind domain has two phases, which are focused inward and outward. The energy flow domain has two phases, which are the Yin Yang couple ( body's potential and kinetic energy with the spiral movement in the body). The body weight domain has two phases, which are hollow and solid.

These concepts can seem esoteric, dull, difficult, or boring. Certainly, they are not everyone's cup of tea. For those who can see the big picture and know the implementation of this "inward" process, they can have fun observing and "playing" with the three domains and six phases. One might be testing the focus of Yi inward or outward, scanning for needless tension in the muscles, arranging the body weight to make one leg hollow and the other solid, sensing the resultant force of a movements (even if, to a casual observer, there would be little outward sign of movement.)

Many have read about people like Wang Xian-Chai or Sun Lu-Tang who had the ability to bounce challengers off at the first contact with simple looking techniques. In my humble opinion, it is certain that those simple looking techniques were supported by the control they achieved through mastering mind/qi/body. So, simple is not simplified. It's supported by a finely tuned and precise application of mind, enegry flow, and body weight response.

Often, in the silence of the night, I start dreaming again. To bad cute Ms. Hsu, my elementary teacher who was so patient and wise, isn't around to lead me to understand more about the Chinese martial art.

I certainly would like to ask, "I see the simple and elegant flap of the eagle's wings, but can I ignore the wind beneath them? If the eagle doesn't understand its own body in detail, how can it soar with the wind?"

It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I've got it all here in my heart. I want you to know…………. I would be nothing without you.