Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More chi, but try not to train quite so hard....

I never was crazy about the phrase "You're trying too hard." Trying too hard? Usually people aren't trying hard enough. How can you try too hard? The thing is, it's true. After testing Sunday (which was fine overall, except for uncontrollable shaking from beginning to end that left my erluquan a little wobbly), I had all kinds of ideas in my head about how I wanted to make an extra effort of certain things that I felt were lackluster. But therein lies the problem. Training last night, it seemed the harder I tried, the more I messed up. If I trip in bawang zaikui one more time I swear I'm gonna go ballistic. My balance keeps degenerating in my cechuaihtui and biantui. The harder I try on my strikes the weaker and more incorrect they become. And as I try to concentrate harder, things fall apart. I see what I'm doing wrong but it just gets worse and worse. Gha! And then when people tell me to slow down/relax/whatever, I want to beat the living hell out of them.

Not that it is their fault. They are trying to be encouraging, and more than that, they are right. It's my anti-relaxing, my trying too hard, that is making things worse. But how the heck can you relax when you keep messing the same thing up? When you desperately want to land the bawang zakui and not stumble over like a drunk donkey? I hate gratuitous encouragement, especially when I know I am doing something badly. It just makes me feel worse. I know, I'm full of issues, but seriously, there is nothing more frustrating than someone telling you that you're doing well when you know you aren't. For me anyway. And then I try harder and get worse, and well, you can see where this cycle is headed...

I just can't relax. I am impatient. I want to get better faster and so I try to train harder, and instead I am backtracking. The sheer illogic of it all is so incredibly frustrating. Sifu has told me to let go. To breathe, to slow down, etc. and I really honestly do try. But how can you work at speed and pop and power while simultaneously being nonchalant and que sera about whatever you are doing? Man, I think some serious meditation is in order...


  1. maybe the key is ask yourself, what is the goal of action meditation? for me, while perfecting/perfection is a distant goal and side benefit, my immediate goal is to find inner peace and flush my mind of externalities which cloud my ability to focus. and if my path to attainment of such perfection is cluttered with anger and stress, then it no longer becomes an act of meditation...but merely action...

    so by letting go, the focus is not so much on getting it right, but the act of working towards something. so what if you don't get it today? you are working hard, and it will come eventually. the path of working can be just as important, if not more so, than the end result, i think.

  2. Amituofo Heng Cheng,

    Training hard is also training smart. Just because you train harder, doesn't mean that your body is constaly tense and rigid. Relaxing will acually allow more mvoement and possibly even greater range-of-motion and allow for some more caijiaos or a deeper mabu, or whatever.

    I knwo exactly how you feel. When someone tells me to relax, I think they have no idea what they're talking about. In a way, yes you can train too hard. If your training harder is not getting you anywhere but frustrated and it is just this contracted "strong" thing, then I do beleive you are trying to train hard, but missing the point. Qbertplaya is right in that your approach to Chan Quan should be a form of action meditation and that the focus of that meditation shouldn't be stress.

    Not to sound like a broken record, but if something isn't an effort for you (sensesibly) then it is no longer Gong fu, "hard work." I screw things up all the time. I've been practicing Shaolin Chan Quan since I was seven and there are still things that I can't get down. Every class at the Temple is the most challenging day in my life. It make approaching the rest of life seem so much easier. "If I could make it through Yangshen Yunshou I can make it in time for the meeting without being stressed."

    You're doing a very good job Heng Cheng. Keep up the good work.

    Shi Heng Zhan

  3. So, if you want some incredibly fit, 50-something Eastern European sports nerd to drop some science on you, just look at this graph:

    Training where the little arrow says "supercompensation" makes you better, training between the fatigue and recovery arrows will make you worse.

    If your Richu, and aren't ever sore the day after training, you can probably get away with training hard every day. I can't. If you started training at the temple when you're a little kid, you can probably train twice a day and all that cool stuff.

    If you're stumbling in your techniques, you're likely fatigued and that's throwing off your coordination.

    Admitting to yourself that it's possible to train too hard is hard in and of itself. I *want* to train every day. I want to push myself to total exhaustion every day. But, if I do, then next day I feel like my joints are full of sand and my muscles are made of rubber. And if I fight through it, what am I fighting? What do I win if if defeat my own body?

  4. good point, neo. last september, i increased my attendance, wanting to pound through the end of erluquan. why? mostly because i wanted so badly to test for it and to have the chance to go to level 2. of course i wanted to learn it well, but at the same time, the end result became the focus, and not the mere benefit of training without constraints.

    as a result, by the end of september, my body was fatigued, and i do believe such fatigue led to sloppiness and the injury i sustained during a sweep kick.

    i sometimes wonder if i had relaxed more, at least in terms of stress of whether i'd finish erluquan in time for testing or not, whether i might have avoided twisting my knee....

  5. The more I train, the less sore and tired I feel. But I do try to avoid over-exhausting. The thing is, for this, I was talking more about trying too hard mentally, over thinking, psyching myself out, and putting in so much effort I freeze my body up.

    I used to train for the meditation alone because I knew I was gonna suck for a long time before I started to get better. Now, I have gotten to the point want to improve my kf in addition to that. Why wait to get it tomorrow if you can get it today?

  6. I think it is more about relaxing. If you feel your shoulder blades pressing together before you do a move, you are too tense. I struggle with this same thing--I could swear I could do xuanzi better than I do it now. I think I just need to commit to the movement more and just stay loose instead of tensing up. Jeremiah was a bull frog. Amitoufo.