Stonestown Family YMCA
San Francisco, Ca
First Friday of each month 8am-10am
San Francisco, Ca
Peninsula Del Rey
Senior Living Community
Daly City, Ca
Fridays 10:30am -11:30am
Private Lessons by appointment
Sifu Kiyoko Hancock
Blog: Notes From the Epicenter
Good in the Beginning,
Good in the Middle,
Good in the End:
Moments In Time
-by Sifu Kiyoko Hancock
Song of Central Equilibrium
We are centered,
stable and still as a mountain.
Our qi sinks to the dantian. We are as if suspended from above.
Our Spirit is concentrated within and our outward manner perfectly composed.
Receiving and issuing energy are
both the work of an instant. *
-Classical Taijiquan poem
Based on the teachings of Grandmaster Cai Song Fang, Jan Diepersloot, in his book, Warriors of Silence, explores the theoretical and the practical aspects of meditative Chinese martial arts and their application to the partnered practices of Push Hands, various other martial arts techniques such as “fajing” and to the cultivation of relaxation and total body integration for health benefits and the healing arts.
The book is divided into three sections: The first section, “Being Mindful of the Center”, deals with the cultivation of relaxation and integration for health and healing. In this section, discussing the historical and philosophical reasons for the cultivation of the Center Point, Diepersloot talks about the “wuji” Center as a center of gravity, as a biological center and as a center of awareness. From the Center “wuji” point he expands his discussion to the cultivation of the Center Line, sinking the qi, the importance of foundation and the Upper Torso, advanced standing techniques and closing practices. Finally, as he expands the concepts of the cultivation of “qi” life energy, “yi“ intention and blood circulation in the body, Diepersloot makes a definitive and coherent argument showing the relationship and connection between the Chinese view of health and longevity and the Western perspective of healing and prevention of disease. For example:
“The principle of wuji qigong is that the practice of optimum posture promotes optimum health. We put awareness
on the centerpoint so the qi will generate in the belly. When the center is full and the centerline is truly plumb and
open, the qi begins to overflow and circulate up and down in the centerline and the other meridians. Therefore,
meditation on the centerline, ie. postural meditation, is the key to proper circulation of the qi through the entire
body where the qi can do its healing work, breaking down the blockages and strengthening weak areas. The skill
of wuji qigong and central equilibrium utilizes the mind to suffuse all parts of the body with qi.” **
The second section, “Being Mindful of The Foundation & Sphere”, talks about the cultivation of relaxation and integration for use in the martial arts. In this section, the author advances to the cultivation of the Foundation through shifting, opening and closing of energy, and stepping and walking forward and backward. He talks about the stages of practice and the structure and types of spheres through the cultivation of the sphere; horizontal, vertical, and diagonal circling. Finally, he combines the Center Line, Foundation and Sphere concepts through a series of exercises that develop power and energy in the body for martial arts application. He describes various Push Hands strategies, advanced methods for neutralization, and the principle of Relative Motion.
The third section, “Being Mindful of the Connection” examines the use of energy and strength in the partnered practice of Push Hands. Diepersloot describes how using movement and stillness to neutralize and using stillness and total body integration to discharge energy is the essence of the power of the internal martial arts practice. He examines Master Cai’s unique use of Stillness, how to cultivate Jin, and the four levels of skill development: Integration and Cylindricality, Sphericity and Unitary Expansion, Spherical Awareness and Peripheral Intentionality and finally the fourth level, Empty Force and Interacting Fields of Awareness.
Warriors of Stillness is a book that extensively develops and explores this relationship between Chinese (internal) meditative and (external) martial arts and the correlative relationship between “soft” energy overcoming “hard”. According to Jan Diepersloot :
“ Chinese martial arts is a vast body of principles, techniques, theories and practices developed over a period of
time in an attempt to gain control over human conflict. External martial arts is based upon the energy of
movement and internal martial arts is based upon the movement of energy. The external arts are based on
strength and movement, the internal on awareness and stillness. Stillness is the ultimate weapon to be used
against the adversary“***
Master Cai’s unique achievement in martial arts, according to Diepersloot, is “his mastery of the paradox that the perfection of stillness leads to the control of movement. Wuji Gigong is, first and foremost, the cultivation of energy skills in the stillness of the center. ‘ In his work as a martial artist, Master Cai pushes the art of “achieving more by doing less” toward the ultimate limit of “achieving all by doing nothing.”****
Warriors of Stillness is a MUST read for students of internal martial arts. It is an amazingly detailed and completely engrossing book. I could not put it down and I will certainly review it again and again. A book for both beginning students, as well as for more advanced practitioners, Warriors of Stillness will keep you expanding your thinking with its wealth of information, diagrams, examples and its clearly presented synthesis of Eastern philosophy and Western psycho-physiological explanation.
Reading Jan Diepersloot’s book gave me insight into my own Wuji Qigong meditation practice and opened the door to new levels of understanding. It inspired and encouraged me to practice and gave me confidence to search deeper within myself to use my wuji-taiji knowledge as a “spiritual path to refine my character, personality, and spirit”.
Song of Wuji Qigong
“Stand with the feet parallel the width of the shoulders
Keep the knees unlocked and expanding,
Feel as if they’re squeezing a big boulder
Relaxing the hips and keeping the pelvis tucked
Expand the lower back and keep the abdomen sucked
“Hollowing the chest and rounding the back”
The arms hang naturally by the side
Holding your head high as if suspended from the sky
Tongue touching the palate, close your eyes
Sink your awareness down the belly
Naturally breathing in and out
While aligning the three points on a straight line
Let the qi fill your body
and peace will fill your mind.”
Master Cai Song Fang instruction for Wuji Qigong
compliled by Jan Diepersloot
Postscript: Author, Sifu Jan Diepersloot, has been a student of internal martial arts since 1975 and is a senior student of Master Fong Ha and has studied with Masters Han Xingyuan, Yu Penxi, and Sam Tam. He studied extensively with Grandmaster Cai Song Fang and was so profoundly affected by the practice of Wuji Gigong that he based this book on Master Cai’s teachings and philosophy. Jan Diepersloot has been teaching internal martial arts since 1981 and is the founder and current director of the Contra Costa Center for Healing and the Arts in Walnut Creek.
* Warriors of Stillness, Vol. 1, Jan Diepersloot, 1995, page 5
**Warriors of Stillness, Vol. 1, Jan Diepersloot, 1995, page 50
***Warriors of Stillness, Jan Diepersloot, Vol.1, 1995, page ii
**** Warriors of Stillness, Vol.1, Jan Diepersloot, 1995, page xi, xiv
@all rights reserved March 2010
Here is the link to download a free pdf of Warriors of Stillness:
Click on free one, the one that takes 8 minutes, not the fast one--you would have to pay for that one.
Book Review: Warriors of Stillness: Meditative Traditions in the Chinese Martial Arts Volume 1: Qigong of the Center, Essence of Taijiquan The Teachings of Grandmaster Cai Song Fang
by Jan Diepersloot