Why Stomp?

Tai Chi With Attitude posts about “using yang” in his training. After reading his post, it made me think of the “stomp” often found in chen forms. What is the reason for producing loud stomps? I used to think it was cool to stomp, especially in the beginning sequences of buddha warrior pounds mortar, but overtime, I begin to question it more and more. When I learned this sequence, I wasn’t really taught anything about it, just the basic “follow me” kind of thing. The teacher stomped, so I stomped.

However, over time, I received some corrections on the movement. The main correction was to not put any weight into the right leg. Hmm.. If there is no weight in the right leg, then how can there be a stomping sound? Visually, there can be a sinking of weight associated, but if the weight is supposed to remain in the left, than producing a stomping sound would mean that weight/force has been given to the right leg, right?

Another move I’ve often seen a stomp associated with is after the move where you turn the body on one foot and right hand goes down and the left hand goes up. I don’t recall the name of this movement, but based on this listing of laojia moves, it’s the “Flashing the Arm” (Shan Tong Bei) move. Why is there a stomp after that move right before the “Hidden thrust punch”? Is it to stomp on someone’s foot?

I’ve read somewhere that both stomping and “shaking energy” as a result of fajin can be quite harmful to your body, especially the head and knees. Feng Zhiqiang is even quoted about such warnings:

While issuing power the body should be relaxed, but one should be very conscious about so-called “Shaking Power” (Dou Jin). This power has to be focused and not scattered all over the body. The more advanced one is, the smaller the shaking. When we were learning Taijiquan from Chen Fake shaking the body in Fa Li was the greatest taboo to be avoided.

Source: China From Inside – Interview with Feng Zhiqiang

Maybe I am just not skilled enough to be practicing this shaking power, but the more I think about, the more I come to the conclusion that I don’t really want to train like that. What’s the point?  Sure, I may not “look as cool” or “explosive” when I do fajing, but so what? I guess I still don’t really know what’s the point. Any thoughts?
[tags]chen,fajing,stomp,fzq,knees[/tags]

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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19 Responses to Why Stomp?

  1. chessman71 says:

    Hmmm….don’t put any weight into the stomp? I’ve been taught almost the exact opposite: that most of the stomp is a natural shift of the weight into the leg. However, neither of my teachers emphasize it. One has us simply put the leg down softly. The stomping is done after relaxation and peng are attained. My other teacher has me go into horse stance and then bang the fist down in buddha’s attendant by using a body drop. No stomping yet. But he has specifically said it’s almost all body weight. Doing it that way prevents headaches and knee problems.

    This is an area that should be talked about more. I see lots of people doing this in a loud, superficial, external kind of way.

  2. silkreeling says:

    stomping should be done as relaxed as possible. The more sung you are the less possibility of injury.

    putting the feet down softly is also another way of training, although it was said that Chen fake trained that way becos he often did his forms in the deep of the night in his bedroom where he was sharing with his cousin and didn’t want to wake his cousin up.

    Stomping serves to disperse(san) your qi and dispersing is an important principle to achieving emptiness in your body. This is something i am still trying to figure out.

    Imagine disperse as a drop of water falling and hitting the surface and thus causing ripples. This analogy has been used by knowingfish at some point. So if you imagine stomping to do the same you’ll what i mean.

    There is a stomp before die cha, and die cha is before golden chicken on one leg. Die cha is a difficult movement and it is the best example, i think, of how disperse during stomping is important.

  3. wujimon says:

    @Chessman:
    I need to qualify a bit, when I said no shifting of weight into the stomp, this is specifically for the buddha warrior pounds mortar sequence, not the “flash the arms” sequence. In practice, I put the leg down softly for both moves. I do agree with your teacher on the warrior attendant move and using a sinking of the body weight, but if this is done, I still don’t see how some get a loud “stomp”.

    @Silkreeling:
    I guess I don’t fully understand the need for dispersing the qi. I thought taiji was about cultivating and controlling qi, not necessarily dispersing it. This is also an area that I am further exploring as I begin to question more the rationale for training fajing in forms if no incoming force is given to me.

    As for the “Dia Cha” move, I do a stomp there, but I still wonder why. In book by HJS, he mentions that CFK tells him that all movements in chen serve a purpose and that no move is wasted. I think I need to review the application DVD by CZH and get his explanation of this move and the martial purpose it serves b/c the dispersing qi purpose doesn’t sit too well with me for some reason.

    If there is a need to disperse qi via a stomp technique, then where is this technique found in other styles (yang, wu, sun, etc), do they not need to disperse qi? If not, why?

    Good comments and thoughts ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. My own progression of experience with the stomping is ismilar to yours. It was quite common to not that beginners (as did I) always would try to stomp hard. Then with more instruction and practice, it would be toned down. I also received the instruction you mentioned for proper weighting, etc. I also appreciated Feng’s perspective which reminded us that practice wasn’t supposed to kill us, and ruin our knees!

    Perhaps the bottom line is something in common to many aspects of the pactice—it is all about practicing enough to arrive at correct alignment and path of motion. As Hong Junsheng always mentioned “even a millimeter off”, and you miss by a mile. So, for the stomp, if you are structurally off, and you stomp hard, you are going to jar the body in a misaligned state. You are definitely going to subject your spine, knees and other body parts to some stress.

    Like all parts of the form, it makes sense to do it however slowly and mindfully might be necessary for establishing the perfect path of motion–the one which will allow alignment and structural integrity at each moment of the movement.

  5. P.S. I forgot to add, what a great title for a post “Why Stomp?”

  6. silkreeling says:

    [quote comment=”125″]@Chessman:

    If there is a need to disperse qi via a stomp technique, then where is this technique found in other styles (yang, wu, sun, etc), do they not need to disperse qi? If not, why?

    Good comments and thoughts ;)[/quote]

    good observation. infact disperse should be throughout the form and this is true for all styles.

    apart from the obvious martial application i have cited that disperse might be a reason for stomping. Now stomping in chen style means also there is a sudden change in shenfa (body method)from high to mid, and from mid to low, co-ordinated with the change in substantiality. I think it is because of this sudden change in tempo that neccesitate dispersing qi via stomping as the most effective method.

    I am not sure about other styles but they seem to have a even tempo. Take Yang 108 for example, shoot the tiger follows lotus kick at the end – the shenfa is mid to mid done at a even tempo.

  7. wujimon says:

    Internalartsia wrote:
    [quote post=”267″]Perhaps the bottom line is something in common to many aspects of the pacticeโ€”it is all about practicing enough to arrive at correct alignment and path of motion[/quote]
    I agree with this and have often heard this attributed to a lot of the great masters when I ask why. Why does X do it this way, and Y do it that way. A response I tend to get is that X has such great alignment that he can do anything he wants b/c it’s always connected. How many other things can we use the same logic? I would say, not many, but for some reason it stands in regards to IMA.

    Also, thanks for your comment on the title. I didn’t really put too much thought into it, just whatever came to my mind first.

  8. wujimon says:

    silkreeling wrote:[quote post=”267″]apart from the obvious martial application i have cited that disperse might be a reason for stomping. Now stomping in chen style means also there is a sudden change in shenfa (body method)from high to mid, and from mid to low, co-ordinated with the change in substantiality. I think it is because of this sudden change in tempo that neccesitate dispersing qi via stomping as the most effective method.[/quote]
    Wow.. I think this is a great point and offers a really great insight! I never linked those 2 principles together in regards to tempo change and dispersment of the qi.

    I think this also explains why it may not be necessary in the more even tempo’ed styles like yang and wu. Great insights, silkreeling!

    Now I just wonder about the effectiveness or the purpose behind tempo changes. For chen, I see the benefits of having both slow/fast, yin/yang, training both slow and fast elements in martial applications, but how does some of the more even tempo forms attribute to not having the tempo change? Did they not find it necessary as their goal was to developed sensitivity? Isn’t the goal of all styles to develop sensitivity? Perhaps this would be better explored in a new post. Great thoughts that really spark the mind all ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. zenmindsword says:

    Shen, yi, qi
    The three treasures of taiji

    Song, san, tong, kong
    The keys to entering the gate

    Where the mind wills
    The body reacts

    Yi and xing
    Must be separated

    Hence yi zai xian
    Is of utmost importance

    So as not to confuse the domain
    Of the mind with the body

    We are all stupid
    No need to figure out

    Practice the methods of the ancients
    Seek not and you will find enlightenment

    For if we have to figure out ourselves
    Then the methods are not being transmitted

    Learning and understanding
    Are two different things

    Just as practicing to understand
    And trying to understand intellectually

    Hence the masters of old like to say
    The secret is to practice

    Those were words of value
    Except they forgot to mention

    That one should practice
    What has been transmitted

    And not be too smart
    To try to second guess the methods

    Be it martial arts,
    Be it Buddhism

    The methods of the mind
    Are not easily grasped

    And certainly not by
    Thinking or guessing

    For as Lao Tzu said
    That which can be said

    Is not
    The real Tao

  10. zenmindsword says:

    Song and San
    An inseparable old couple they make

    For when you see Song
    You see San

    The methods of Yang
    Have no stomping

    For how do you maintain Song
    At the point of impacting forcefully?

    And yet there is stomping in Yang
    In High Pat on Horse

    But its a mind stomp
    Hence no “xing” impact

    No “xing” impact means
    The treasures of shen, yi, qi

    Are maintained carefully
    And qi is cultivated, not dispersed

    Its a misunderstanding too common
    When one does not follow the transmission

    For the real objective is
    To disperse “xing”

    For only then can we say
    Use intention, use no strength

    And Song and San that old couple
    Peacefully in harmony on the way they go

  11. wujimon says:

    Hi ZMS.

    Thanks for your insightful prose. Reminds me of the real secret to taiji, that is:

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    An another note, I’ll have to explore this “mind stomp” notion, however I do like the fact that you noted how qi should be cultivated and not dispersed, which is one of the core reasons for training taiji, IMO.

  12. silkreeling says:

    Knowingfish has provided some good prose of where the long term goal lies, and these key points are also reflected in the chen classics.Infact, there are times of soft landing where I let my mind do the stomping and can still achieve die cha, just like how it is played by zhaobao and some chen people. So not everything about this discussion comes from second-guessing. A chen stomp done correctly is physically effortless. The less effort the louder the bang. This is one manisfestation of taiji.

    Xing(form with obvious shape) is necessary for undertanding the shenfa(body method). Differentiating xing and yi so that they can be better combined is indeed a good method. Common ways to achieve this are through simple visualisation exercises during zhan zhuang and silk reeling exercises or even in the forms. Due to the static nature of zhan zhuang postures, visualisation exercises are easier to attain through them than in the forms. But that is not to say that I don’t incoporate them in the forms. This is my current level of understanding through practice, not second-guessing nor intellectualisation.

  13. zenmindsword says:

    Silkreeling,

    your words (purposely put in BOLD)? “Stomping serves to disperse(san) your qi and dispersing is an important principle to achieving emptiness in your body. This is something i am still TRYING TO FIGURE OUT.” If anything this shows that you don’t understand what emptiness is. If you are on the right track, you won’t have “TO FIGURE OUT”. If this is not trying to intellectually understand or 2nd guess the process then i guess i’m wrong in understanding what you mean. Anyway, its your path – good luck to you

  14. silkreeling says:

    I am still figuring out lots of things. My latest thing is lifting the anus is not actually squeazzing or tensing the anus. It is the feeling attained when the tail bone is properly aligned, which is very subtle. You have been through this so remember the times when you think you have gotten something but the next day you are lost at square one or simply not consistently being able to realise a certain principle? This is what I mean when I say figuring out – it is the figuring out through practice rather than by intellectualisation. it wasn’t until recently that things became slightly less vague. However emptiness is still vague. Thanks I need the luck. This will be my path until my situation change.

  15. lifegivingsword says:

    the nei jia stomp is a “rebounding energy” trick. its kind of like a more vigorous version of the downward vectoring that you do with p’eng ch’uan. e.g. you vector down, then send it back up. xingyiquan uses this in both peng ch’uan and p’ao ch’uan, with the idea that you are ‘ricocheting’ energy off the ground and back up your body. incidentally, my wushu coach stressed this as the secret to why advanced/professional wushu players jump so bloody high. he emphasized the ricochet effect and also that the earth pushes back when you “attack” it thus. he used to be the coach for the shanghai team and wrote what i hear is a rather influential paper on the mechanics of the wushu jump, but unfortunately i cant read chinese yet. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  16. wujimon says:

    Hi LGS.
    I can see the reverb thing for movements like golden stork stands on one leg and such, but I don’t feel it for moves like “flash the back” and the like where the stomp is accompanied by a downward drop into a bowstance for prepping the fajing.

    AS for the wushu jump front slap kick, there’s definitely quite a bit of biomechanics in play to get that extra “lift” mid-way in the air. When I used to do it, it was the result of a “pull-down” of the left leg, to kick with the right. In addition, the ricochet is interesting in that most jump front slap or butterfly kicks are preceeded by a ‘hop’, however the same is not true for movements like the spinning outer slap crescent kicks.

    Wow.. that was mind warp thinking about my wushu days. I was tempted to try a jumping outer crescent kick, but last time I did that cold, I was out cold for 2 weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. lifegivingsword says:

    My favorite jump crescent moment: on Mondays we practiced in the gym at Virginia Commonwealth University, which had a sort of 2nd floor that ran around the edges, making a balcony over the basketball courts. Anyway, i was wearing shoes that didn’t stay on so well, so out comes the jump-spin-crescent, off comes the shoe, sailing like a meteor down to the basketball court. I then have to go downstairs-with only 1 shoe on-and get it. Fortunately it didnt hit anyone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. chong says:

    on the article mentioning about feng Zhiqiang, he only mentioned about dou jin is bad for health. If stomping is not done properly, may cause injury esp the knee. Not to mention that the body is mainly made up of fluid, so undesire vibration to the body is to be avoided. Stomping is to be done in “song”. Yi song will lead to Xing song.(for beginner, xing and yi is not linked, hence focus on XING, =>xing song will slowly lead to yi song if practice long enough). The more song you are, the louder will be the stomp.

    purposes of Stomp :
    1)is for changing of foot step in order to get in to a advantage position (especially when you are wrong footed) and
    2)at the same time create a psychological shock to the opponent.
    3) Stomping helps teach the student to drop the weight of the body from the kua area.

  19. wujimon says:

    Hi Chong. Thanks for your comments.

    I guess many people are practicing the stomp too early, then eh? I fear many, including myself, are probably not doing the stomp correctly. Perhaps this is rarely explained, such a shame.

    In my understanding the chen laojia, when stomping, the foot does not change any direction. It’s just put down. However, preceding the stomp can be a change in direction (ie.. flash the back). Are you saying the foot direction changes when stomping? If so, what movement has this?

    If one is put in a ‘wrong footed’ position, I think we need to further explore the move and see if it’s justifiable or applicable. To me, doesn’t sound too smart to do something that would put us in a bad position. Perhaps this is why other style do not stomp? Do they always move in such a way that they remain in good, advantageous positions?

    As for the psychological shock, if “flash the back” is done correctly, shouldn’t be opponent be on the ground? Why need to shock him if he’s already down? Also, stomps are usually accompanied with 1-footed turns, if turning on 1 foot is not a good thing to do, is it better to stomp and try to scare an opponent? If we assume our opponents to be well-trained martial artists, can we think a stomp would shock them?

    As for dropping the weight from the kua area, shouldn’t the weight be redirected to the ground? Why keep weight in the kua in the first place?

    Thanks again for your comments, but I fear they have caused more questioning from me. Please provide further insight to clarify given points.
    Thanks for your time.

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