Can learning how to meditate make you a better fighter?

I was writing something this morning and I had a Deja´ Poo experience, ‘hang on I have written this shit before’.

This is a reposting of a piece from 2019, but it still says what I want it to say.

This post is intended as a provocation and conversation starter, please feel free to rip into me.

As something for us all to think about over the festive break I want to share some thoughts on the condition known as ‘Sung’, and whether it has any role or benefit in the Martial Arts.

There is no doubt about its value for health and has not been in doubt since the 5th century when Da mo introduced it to the Shaolin monks.

I believe that it is a great aid to training, but for the real world, I am not so sure any of us could create the environment needed to make it active.

I first came across the IDEA of Sung in the 1970s, I had been getting into meditation and discovered a Daoist Martial Art I had never heard of called Bagua Zhang.

Something that confused me was the Master telling me Bagua Zhang was a martial art that did not fight, he went on to say that no Daoist Martial Styles were intended for fighting.

They could be used in that way if the need for a physical response was required but it was primarily Daoist Alchemy, self-improvement.

I only trained in this style for around 2 years and only ever with this one teacher, I am sure there are other views out there.

The work consisted mainly of walking circles doing different Form sets the sole purpose was to develop ‘Sung ‘ while moving through evolving steps and shapes.

Sung means to ‘let go’.

Of everything.

“Sung” had three elements to it

First, we develop ‘Sung’ of the Physical Body, this frees up our energy channels from obstructions and allows our energetic body to wake up and our internal energy to flow freely and naturally.

Secondly, once awoken we mobilise our internal energy {Sung of the Energetic Body} and use it to feed different parts of our real physical body, our organs, our tendons and ligaments, our bone marrow and finally our brain.

Thirdly, with a healthy body and well-fed brain, we clear our mind of everyday thoughts.

I am paraphrasing my teacher’s words here b the intention but the I got was that the final goal was to be able to separate ourselves from the world {and confussions} of men.

Feet on the ground, head in heaven.

Wing Chun appropriates some of the aspects of Sung of the Physical Body, although there is no talk of trying to use Sung to correct any errors or illness in the body, to cleanse the organs, muscles, even the bone marrow.

Tendon/Muscle changing and Bone Marrow Washing is the original exercise set passed on by Bodhidarma to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery to improve their condition to meditate.

This is very clearly Qi Gung {health/meditation} and not Kung Fu {fighting skills}.

The reason I gave this away was that I trusted my teacher, he told me that it is not possible to progress to the second stage of Sung of the Energetic Body until I had mastered the first stage of Sung of the Physical Body, and that would take many years.

I can truly understand how the complete ‘Sung” would be of great benefit to a Martial Artist, in a Kippling kind of way…

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…

but I am unsure what use just the Sung of the Physical Body would be if we have become one of the others and lost our head.

The extended Wing Chun that I am a part of borrows a number of Meditation techniques, Dai Gung,  is a version of the Indian Buddhist practise of Mula Bandha, which is essential when attempting to awaken and raise Kundalini.

And as I have mentioned Sung is Daoist Meditation.

I am very aware that many people do Wing Chun with absolutely no intention to fight, but the style sells itself as a genuine fighting style.

Can learning how to meditate make you a better fighter?

If the person learning to meditate is already a decent fighter then yes, I believe it can.

However, learning meditation practises can only help in meditation, that should be a no brainer.

In my very first Wing Chun lesson, I was informed that we must cultivate Sung because we cannot absorb force if we have any tension in the body.

I thought ‘is this a practical fighting method or a self-improvement method’?

I have asked many senior Wing Chun people ‘what is Sung and how does it relate to fighting’?

On one occasion one senior told me that although he could not explain it he knew what it was and that I had it and used it.

If we cannot explain something how can we recognise it in others?

At the end of the day always the same answer ‘you cannot absorb force if you have tension in the body’.

The thing is that this is incorrect.

This incorrect information is a very real problem that has the potential to create doubt in other aspects of Wing Chun.

Doubt erodes confidence, lack of confidence allows fear to take hold, fear prevents Sung of the Mind”.

Do I have any answers?

Not really this is just a conversation starter, where do we go from here and why?

I do think we should stop using the term RELAX.

Relaxed is an adjective, it describes a condition that is brought about by stopping doing something, it is passive, inactive and our brain recognises this at a very deep level.

Letting go is a verb, we do it, it is active, dynamic and our brain recognises this.

Do we genuinely think that stopping activity {relaxing} is a winning tactic in a fight?

As always I find better information in sport, and especially in my personal experiences, as a young Ice Hockey player, my coaches would say ‘do not hold yourself so tightly, loosen up’ they never said relax.


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