Friday, June 25, 2010

day 284: more hsing-yi (with revisions)

  • ding, ko, yuen, bao, chwei, chu, ting, du
  • shing
  • wu
  • slow
  • structure
  • hsing-yi
  • kyudo
this post relates to Saturday, June 19. i'm also including the kyudo session from Sunday, June 20, since i'm not so sure as to how regular the Sunday kyudo is going to be.


there's some revisions to make to last week's post regarding theory. Sifu went through the list of 8 principles from last time but made some clarifications. i'll list the revised version below:
  • ding--support/out (hands) & up (head & tongue)
  • ko--lock/inward (for feet & hands, knees & hips, shoulders & elbows)
  • yuen--circle/round (front & chest, back & arms)
  • bao--hug/embrace (body hugs the organs & courage, dantian hugs the chi)
  • chwei--down/drop/sink (elbows, shoulders, qi into dantian, lower back & legs into the ground)
  • chu--bend (elbow, knee)
  • ting--stretch/extend (spine, tailbone, knees)
  • du--determination/aggression/spirit (heart, eyes, hands)
Sifu said that all of these concepts are associated with each posture in hsing-yi, meaning that for each movement we make we should be able to see each of these principles in operation. in fact, he stressed that we need to make sure that each of these is being expressed in each movement we make.

there's a reason and a method here.

the reason, as with everything else in TCMA education, is to ensure proper body mechanics so that the body is positioned in a manner necessary to optimize the transmission of power. from a physics and engineering perspective, this means that the body has to align in such a way so as to convey force vectors without loss of magnitude in a direction (remember: vectors represent magnitude and direction) against the opponent.

methodologically, hsing-yi differs from many other TCMA styles. other TCMA follows a gradual, incremental process having the student practice and ingrain one concept at a time before proceeding to learn and integrate another concept. you can see this in styles like bagua and tai chi, which feature training introducing students to additional layers of concepts and principles in combat over time. hsing-yi, in contrast, asks that the student learn multiple principles from the very beginning, and requires that the student concentrate on incorporating and consolidating multiple concepts and principles starting from the initial lessons.

Sifu noted that this was a philosophical difference in teaching, with the reasoning that hsing-yi's founders suspected that the teaching styles of other TCMA allowed too many opportunities for corruption, errors, and bad habits to appear and propagate, and so actually served to impede student development as opposed to aid it--which is the opposite of what training intends. hsing-yi's philosophy, in contrast, asserts that a comprehensive approach from the very beginning serves to discourage such dangers with the hope that in the long term it served to enable better student development.

of course, Sifu observed, for the hsing-yi teaching method to work, it means that the student has to take great effort to learn and apply all the principles from the very beginning. this means that the student should start off learning hsing-yi using very slow, deliberate movements (akin to tai chi), with the idea being that the student should consciously think about all of the above 8 principles in each movement, and then make sure to correct their own movements to express all of these principles. eventually, as the student progresses, this will become second nature, and the student will be able to maintain proper body mechanics without conscious thought.

Sifu added this is why so many hsing-yi practitioners end up having good structure, since the conscious, deliberative process of learning stresses the student concentrate on body structure.

taking this discussion into the lesson, Sifu led us through the first 3 lines (we've done 2 so far, today he added a 3rd) slowly, with him pointing out each of the 8 principles as we held each movement in each line. he noted that we should be doing this in our personal training outside of class, and that we should try to do so whenever practicing hsing-yi alone.

he also observed that we need to constantly apply these principles not only in the movements, but in the postures. hsing-yi, he said, is typically interpreted as "mind-intent boxing", but that there were additional concepts associated with the art: shing and wu, with shing being shape/form and wu being movement. this means that as much as our minds are constantly thinking about the principles, it has to do so in relation to both our body shape/form (shing) and movement (wu).

this consumed the entire class, and we even went over--we were shocked to find that it was already 2pm, at which point Sifu called class to an end so that we could proceed to our other priorities for the day.


i attend kyudo both Saturday night at the Pasadena dojo and Sunday morning at the Rancho Park (Culver City/West Los Angeles) dojo. both are held every weekend, but i've only been attending the Saturday evening one because of its proximity to my apartment. Rancho Park is a longer drive. also, it's an outdoor archery range with targets 25 m away from the shooting line, and so is an extra challenge above what i'm used to.

i decided to attend the Sunday morning class since i figured it was time to let myself take on the additional challenge. i wasn't so sure about this, actually, since i had trouble Saturday night and my shooting was suddenly deteriorating. but i figured i'd committed to both so i might as well go.

of course, this meant that this weekend of kyudo was pretty much a disaster. my shooting problems seemed to get worse as the Saturday night class wore on, and everything absolutely fell apart Sunday morning.

the problem seems to be a greater expansion on the issues i had last week: problems in my draw and release. according to Sensei, my draw is still not involving enough of my right side. that, and i'm not expanding into the bow. he said both are related, and that i can fix it by concentrating on having my elbows go forward and backward, so that i'm drawing by lowering the bow but letting the draw of the bow lead my elbows down. the distinction, while superficially semantic, is actually physically distinguishable--Jean showed me the difference, and you can see it in the arch formed by the bow in the draw: simply lowering the bow yields little or no increase in the lower arch of the lower bow at full draw, while extending the elbows to lead the bow down results in a greater arch of the lower bow at full draw. this means greater stability and power in the release.

in terms of my release, the shot is not coming naturally off the string. either the arrow releases prematurely or it doesn't release at all, leaving me to struggle to let the string go. Sensei said this is due to improper hand positioning, which in turn is due to my form in my draw. he pointed out that because of the problems in the form of my draw, my shooting hand is following an improper path in which it turns and holds the string in the notch of the glove. he said that proper form in the draw allows the hand to follow a path that has the string fall out of the notch at full release. Sensei said that i needed to have the elbows continue to extend, even beyond what i perceive to be full expansion, so that it goes naturally into release. he also added that i need keep the right hand loose, so that it's not gripping the string, but simply letting the string sit in the notch. he noted that the release is not in any action of the hand but instead in the action of the body.

i was pretty frustrated with kyudo this weekend. it seems simple but it's really complicated, and it's much harder than it looks. this is going to take a lot of work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day 283: from spear to joy of kung fu

  • ellipses
  • power
  • drills
  • spear
  • joy of kung fu
this Sunday was a bit of a kung fu day. the morning was the Sunday morning class, but the evening was the Joy of Kung Fu, which is an annual event gathering the local kung fu community. with this morning class we returned to spear and skipped chen pao quan--which is good, since i'm still reviewing it and need some more time to work through it.

spear (chaang)

today was the first day back to spear in some time. one of Sifu's students from CSULB showed up, and we worked together on the basic drills, with Sifu and Phunsak providing observation. Phunsak ended up spending some time with Alex to resolve some "issues" on some "finer" points of unarmed combat, but the rest of us spent the time working on spear alone.

Sifu (and Phunsak) noted that my technique was a little bit wrong in some of the drills, saying that my front hand was locking the spear shaft, when it should be more loose to allow the spear to move freely. they also noted that the path the spearpoint was tracing needed to be more of an ellipse (as opposed to a circle). in addition, Sifu noted that some of the drills that involved circular patterns weren't really, pointing out that the categories are:
  • shallow crescent down, but vertically back up
  • shallow semi-circle down, with shallow semi-circle back up
  • full semi-circle down, with full semi-circle back up
in addition, Sifu noted that the intent (yi) had to be in a certain direction, so that the power was going down in each of the drills. Sifu asserted that this was so the movements were defensive, operating to knock the opponent's spear down. he also observed, however, that the movements could also be offensive, in that you knock the opponent's spear down, effectively opening a gate than allows you to raise your spear back up to go through the gate with an aggressive movement.

we finished up around 1, and then went to prepare for the evening event, which began at 4pm.

Joy of Kung Fu

the Joy of Kung Fu is a relatively recent event that began only last year. this was the 2nd annual celebration, but apparently is intended to continue and grow into the future. ostensibly, it's meant to celebrate TCMA and allow the community to come together to promote the heritage of TCMA. it does this in a festive atmosphere with a dinner and demonstrations by participating masters. Sifu went last year, and went again this year as a bit of a celebrity, since he was being interviewed by local news. in addition, he, Phunsak, and Kieun all did demonstrations.

this was a fairly large event, taking up the Rosemead Community Center with what i estimate to be around 400 people with approximately 20 masters. it was interesting to see all the demonstrations and the different TCMA instructors in the community. my suspicion is that this is still being promoted and has not yet reached everyone in the Southern California martial arts community. as a result, it probably has more room to grow and i would expect to see it continue to expand in participation in the next few years.

the local tv news covering the ceremony was NDTV, which is a Chinese (Mandarin?) language channel. they posted their report of the event (including the interview with Sifu), which you can check out:
i also took some videos, but won't post all of them up here. i will, however, post the videos of Sifu and Phunsak:
i should note that Sifu was on a bit of a mission with his demonstration. the version of Chen tai chi he teaches is an older version that is not that well-known, and which has been eclipsed in public awareness by other, more popular, and more well-known versions of Chen featuring softer movements more consistent with Yang style. Sifu asserts that this has led to misperceptions and misunderstandings about some of the principles and applications in Chen tai chi--misperceptions and misunderstandings that have taken away or erased some of the original ideas and functions endemic to it.

in particular, he was frustrated by some recent comments put on the Youtube video of Phunsak doing the Chen tai chi short form. he said those comments reflect the aforementioned misperceptions and misunderstandings and shows just how widespread they have become. his demo at Joy of Kung Fu was meant to be a response to this, and he said he felt it was important to show a different voice that contrasted with prevailing viewpoints. he wanted to have everyone see his version--and to his perspective, the older version (and hence the version more consistent with the martial origins)--of Chen tai chi.

i think if he wanted to get people's attention he definitely succeeded. i noticed the room became noticeably quiet during his demo, and that some quarters of the room were in definite shock, either because they had never seen anything before similar to what they were seeing or because they didn't agree with what they were seeing. his demo of Chen tai chi (or as he later called it: "combat tai chi"), for sure, was different from any of the other versions of Chen shown this evening. i'm curious as to what they were thinking.

generally speaking, i think Joy of Kung Fu has a valuable role in connecting the local TCMA community together, providing a specific date and location around which all the masters can get together--and hence enable a forum for networking and coordination...things which i suspect just does not happen in an organized fashion in Southern California. i could see the networking happening, with a lot of people talking and catching up on news and happenings.

my caveat on this, however, is one that Kieun voiced: i'm not clear as to what is meant by "promoting" TCMA. if the goal is to promote it within the local TCMA community (i.e., help participants connect and work together), then this event is certainly doing this. but if the goal is to promote TCMA to a larger population, then i'm not so sure it has yet achieved this--Kieun made a good point: if the goal is really to promote to a larger population, then the event needs to be in a setting that is more accessible to the ordinary populace of Southern California (e.g., public spaces, like a county fair, or in Pershing Square in downtown LA, or the Pacific Grove complex in Hollywood...anyplace where people not familiar with TCMA can see it and thereby possibly be educated about it).

overall, my take is the event went well and has value. it also has potential for more. i'd definitely like to see it in the next few years to see how it's grown.

day 282: just kyudo

  • elbow
  • left v. right
  • posture
  • kyudo
i skipped kung fu this Saturday morning--it's final exam time again, and i've been grading. i did make it to kyudo, though, so i'll include comments here.


this kyudo session was a disaster. the story with kyudo is 2 steps forward 1 step back--just when i think i'm going along and making progress, everything just falls apart. this evening i had issues with the arrow releasing before the string, the arrow and string not releasing at all, the arrow shooting high and right, the arrow shooting low and right, or the arrow simply releasing early or falling off the bow even before i could get into daisan.

Sensei tried to help me out, saying that my elbows weren't engaging the draw (even though i tried to focus on them). when they were they weren't engaging symmetrically, and Sensei noted that while the left side of my body was doing the correct thing, the right side of my body was too rigid and not doing the required work at all. he suggested i focus on the right elbow pushing out horizontally to the right, but said that in order for this too happen i needed to give my shoulder blades room to extend out--and that this was something that needed good posture.

i tried to piece things together before the end of class, but it didn't happen. i'm going to have to revisit this next week and see if i can't things sorted out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

day 281: starting hsing-yi, and more corrections

  • 5 elements, 12 animals
  • numbers
  • harmonies
  • levels
  • ding, ti, yuen, bao, chwei, ko, fan/zhwan, swun/hun
  • hwuh yun gong
  • wuji
  • static tai ji, dynamic tai ji
  • san ti zuh
  • key, windows, door
  • hands and forearms as hooks
  • elbows horizontal
  • hsing-yi
  • kyudo
today was a busy day, with a fair amount of information to take in all around. before i get to this, however, i should issue a further correction on my previous post (day 280) regarding ju quan. Sifu corrected me on some errors regarding ju quan (which i've also corrected on the Youtube videos):
  • ju quan was developed by Grandmaster Li Yuan Zhi of the Central Gou Shu Academy
  • ju quan was adopted by the Taiwanese military from 1966~1976, after which it was replaced by tae kwon do
  • ju quan is based on baji quan, and has 3 different forms: ba tang quan (the beginner level--which is the one that we've been learning), shi zhi quan (intermediate level), and baji quan (advanced level)

today was the 1st day of hsing-yi. Sifu is teaching the entire Saturday class--both bagua and baji groups, and so gathered everyone together. he started off things with a conceptual discussion of some of the more basic components of hsing-yi. he observed the following:
  • hsing-yi comes in different variants, each of which come from various parts of China (Henan and Hebei) with differing curriculums
  • the version of hsing-yi we are learning has 5-element theory and 12 animals (others have 10 animals, and another has no animals at all)
  • we will see the prevalence of certain numbers in hsing-yi (especially 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12). Sifu said to not get too caught up in this, since these are just ways of organizing information so that it is more digestible (i.e., easier to understand and, more importantly, remember)
  • hsing-yi addresses the body and body parts in terms of 3, with the spine having 3 levels (cervical spine of the neck, the main spine in the back, and the lumbar spine towards the tailbone), the arms having 3 levels (the upper arm between the shoulder and elbow, the forearm between the elbow and wrist, and the wrist/hand), and the legs having 3 levels (the upper leg between the hip and knee, the shins between the knees and ankles, and the ankle/foot). together, this makes 9 parts.
  • there are 6 harmonies (hands with feet, elbows with knees, and shoulders with hips). there are also 3 external harmonies (hand/feet, elbow/knee, shoulder/hip) and 3 internal harmonies (xing, or heart; yi, or intent; qi, or energy; li, or force; so that there is xing-yi, yi-qi, and qi-li)
  • hsing-yi, similar to the body, views training in 3 levels: stances (level 1), tai ji (level 2--and not tai chi quan as in fighting style, but tai ji as in moving energy), and combat (power issuing). in addition, training at level 1 involves 5-element theory, at level 2 involves 12 animals, and at level 3 involves 5 elements+12 animals
once we'd gone through these concepts, Sifu then introduced us to 8 principles in hsing-yi, which he said we'd discuss in-depth as we went further on but that for now are worth just recognizing:
  • ding (?)--this means to extend up or become erect, but not rise or lift up (e.g., extend your spine up through the neck but keep your dantian/center down)
  • ti (?)--rise/lift
  • yuen (?)--circle
  • bao (?)--in
  • chwei (?)--dropping/sinking
  • ko (?)--locking
  • fan/zhwan (?)--piercing/changing
  • swun/hun (?)--go through or go parallel/deflect or divert
i don't know if i have the spelling or definitions right, since i was taking notes as the conversation was going on. hopefully i can correct things in the next class. if anybody knows, then let me know and i'll be happy to make the corrections.

after the conceptual introduction, Sifu had us begin with qi-gong, which consisted basically of a series of postures, with the first standing in wuji posture with arms at the sides, then standing in hwuh yun gong, which is standing in wuji posture holding an imaginary ball. from there Sifu had us then proceed to static tai ji and dynamic tai ji.

Sifu said that the qi-gong essentially consists of the movements in basic hsing-yi form, except done slower and with more focus on breath, the dantian, and qi. he showed us by then leading us in san ti zuh, which starts in 70/30 stance and then proceeds with the classic hsing-yi movement so many people are familiar with.

Sifu, however, was very cautious here, saying that there were a lot of subtleties in the movements, and that we needed to be cognizant of the intent in them in terms of what physics were actually be employed. on the surface, the movements seem simple and largely brute force. but Sifu noted that all the movements do NOT involve force-on-force contact. instead the movements actually involve capture and redirection before issuing power--Sifu pointed out that they follow the jing concepts we've learned before (ting, hwa, na, fa).

Sifu observed that this is part of what makes hsing-yi an internal art, since it does not counter incoming force directly. he argued that this is also in part what makes it a northern TCMA, since he says you can see this concept in all northern TCMA (including, incidentally, chang quan, piqua, and baji--styles not typically seen as internal). he went on to note that the way northern/internal styles deal with incoming force can be seen in how they open the opponent's gate: 1) use a key (i.e., a technique that causes the opponent to open a gate), 2) enter through a side window (i.e., lure the opponent to expose a gate), or 3) chop the door down (i.e., go directly through the opponent's gate by diverting their force).

once he'd finished this part of the discussion, Sifu instructed us to practice the movements on our own. we spent the rest of class working on the qi gong and opening movements.


kyudo this evening was spent at Sensei's house. there was an all-day seminar for advanced students there, and Sensei decided it would be easier to just have class there as well, so as to eliminate the work of taking all the stands and makiwara down and setting them back up again at the dojo. because of the sunset time, class was held a little earlier (5-9 pm, instead of the usual 6-10pm).

Sensei wanted each beginner student to be paired up with an advanced student, so that each beginner got individual attention. we did not do any form work tonight, since there was no floor (everything was set up outside in his back yard), so we practiced free shoot. i was paired up with Jean, and then had Aaron helping me with shooting.

this turned out well for me. i got a lot of nuances that i'd been missing before, including not only how to do the free shoot, but also some issues i'd apparently not picked up regarding nocking the arrow and making the draw from daisan. Sensei had commented on the latter in previous classes, but this time i managed to get a better sense of where i was breaking down, with Aaron noting that i was off-balance (i was leaning towards the target) and my right elbow was not leading the draw (Sensei had described this as my hand pulling the string down, when i needed to just let the forearm and hand be loose and let the elbow move back).

Aaron noted that the bow (and string) would naturally drop if i just focused on letting the elbows expand horizontally on a line extending from infinite behind the makiwara through me into infinite--expanding the elbows horizontally allows the bow to come down naturally, so that your skeletal structure leads the body into the bow (i.e., the intent of moving the skeleton precedes the intent of muscular effort), thereby reducing the amount of muscular effort in the draw and thus increasing the stability of the shot (because the muscles don't have to work so hard to keep everything stable). the key, Aaron and Sensei pointed out, is to just imagine that your forearms and hands are just hooks and not doing any action, and that everything in the draw is going through your elbows while originating from your legs (which get their force from pushing into the ground, which creates a reaction force through the legs which goes through the dantian and then goes through the elbows to spread them out horizontally).

we did a number of rounds of free shoot, and then finished class with tea before the sun set.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

day 280: history! ju quan (ba tang quan)

  • history
  • ju quan
this post is for Sunday, May 30. since this was Ching-Chieh's last day before she left for Taiwan, we decided to focus on just ju quan, so we could finish it off and review everything one last time. it was more review for her, since today was the 1st time that i covered lines 7-8.

i should make some clarifications to correct my previous posts on ju quan:
  • it turns out that there are only 8 lines, not 10; and
  • it turns out that ju quan and ba tang quan are really the same things, with the difference being that ju quan was a simplified version of ba tang quan that was considered more appropriate for the Taiwanese military (at least, more appropriate in terms of something that could be taught in the course of basic training for hand-to-hand combat and which could be performed for parade ground purposes).
i'm including the following videos that show what we've done:
i should provide some background comments to explain ju quan. based on what i've been able to gather from Sifu and Ching-Chieh (i missed a number of classes, and so didn't participate in all the conversations they had on the subject, leaving me to assemble the background piece-meal from discussions as we've gone on).

first, there are reasons why ju quan stopped being taught to the Taiwanese military. Sifu said that we could see it for ourselves as we learned it. he noted the following:
  1. even though the movements look basic, there are a lot of subtleties in ba tang quan--subtleties which unfortunately were glossed over, omitted, ignored, or downright suppressed during basic training, either because military instructors didn't understand it or recruits couldn't get it (Sifu said that he learned it from Liu Yun Qiao before entering the military, and was shocked when he saw what the drill instructors were teaching and what the soldiers were doing). these subtleties are very important, as without them the effectiveness of the techniques are greatly reduced, and ju quan is left to become nothing more than a force-on-force brute strength martial art (which defeats the entire point of learning it).
  2. ju quan, because of the subtleties in ba tang quan, is just too complicated to be taught to recruits in basic training, especially in a mass setting (with hundreds or thousands of conscripts) with limited time (a few weeks). to really learn it properly takes personal attention with a dedicated time--neither of which is plentiful in a military environment focused on producing as many soldiers in as short as time as possible.
  3. ju quan was replaced by other martial arts, predominately tae kwon do and judo (or some combination thereof), largely because they are more popular in Taiwan and because they're easier (and faster) to teach to large numbers of conscripts within the confines of a few weeks. at the very least, the Taiwanese military seemed to think so, since they discontinued ju quan after only a few years.
second, all of the above videos are a reconstruction, based on the articles from the Wutan Hall journal and Sifu's memory. ju quan was only taught in the Taiwanese military during the late 1960s to early 1970s, and has disappeared since then. Sifu says he doesn't think it's been done in 40 years.

Sifu commented that he can see the reasons why (see the above comments regarding a military setting with large numbers of students and limited time), but that this doesn't mean that ju quan/ba tang quan is irrelevant or that it should be discarded. in his opinion, it has value (he believes a lot of value), but it was just applied incorrectly in a context that was inappropriate under conditions that were incompatible to the art form. when taught individually (or with a few students) in conditions allowing more personal attention with more time for detail, it is a martial arts style with many things to offer.

of course, given that it hasn't been done in so long (i.e., it's been forgotten), this means that what we're doing is essentially historical research, and a revival of a lost art form. you could even call it a historical re-enactment. Ching-Chieh is treating it as such, since she's using it as a basis for a dance project she's doing in Taiwan. Sifu says we're now a part of history, which makes me feel i'm on a mission to preserve the pieces of the past--and i guess that's one aspect of what we're really doing with TCMA. history! so enjoy!

day 279: the memorial day review (sort of)

  • memory
  • basics
  • structure
  • bagua
  • kyudo
this post is for Saturday, May 29. it was the Memorial Day weekend so class turnout for kung fu was light (although, surprisingly large for kyudo).


Sifu announced that next Saturday would be the start of xingyi lessons, and that he wanted us to spend the day on reviewing all the bagua forms we've learned. he also asked that we take some portion of class time reviewing all the basics with the beginner students.

the basics review consisted of the standing hand basics (stationary, and some moving) from some time ago. it was good to back through this, since it's been awhile since i've done them, and i found that there are some nuances in them that i see that i hadn't seen before. i remember Phunsak, Kieun, and Sifu all saying this at various times--that as you go farther you start to realize some subtle things about basic elements that are actually very important, and which allow you to understand more about the basics than you did initially. it was interesting to experience this, and it made me take a different approach to them.

after the basics, we devoted the majority of class time to reviewing forms. this turned out to be a bit of a fiasco for me. it turns out that i couldn't remember major components of the elbow form or the fist form. i didn't even bother attempting forest palm. i managed to remember most of 64 palms and xiao kai men, so there was some redemption there. but Phunsak ended up having to lead us through the elbow and fist forms, and even then i found myself having to stop and think at several points.

this was, to be quite frank, embarrassing. i can't believe my memory is this bad. i'm going to have to take some extra time in the next few weeks to review all the forms, because this is just inexcusable. i've been extraordinarily busy the past few months with my teaching load (which has been much heavier than usual), but i still can't accept that as an excuse. i've expended too much time, energy, and money to forget things so easily, and i also have my pride. we're heading into summer now, which means i will have some more time to devote to martial arts work, so hopefully i can rectify this situation.


turnout at kyudo, similar to kung fu, was low. apparently a number of people had taken the day to go to the beach, and some others were taking the holiday weekend off. as a result, Sensei just had us assemble only 3 makiwara (usually we have 5). in addition, he only had 1 round of formal shooting for everyone, and then had us spend the class in informal shoot and working individually with each of us as we shot.

i took advantage of this to work on some kinks in my form. Sensei helped me with my structure, particularly in lifting the bow and arrow--apparently i wasn't aligning my spine as i lifted my arms. my mistake was that i was leaning forward from the feet and then standing into the bow, when i should be doing more of a roll, wherein i lean forward as i bring the bow and arrow up to head height but then start to bring my body back to vertical as i raise the arms, with my tailbone tucking in and my neck rising up. the net effect is not that i stand higher, but that the spine extends vertically, going through the vertebra both downwards from the center/dantian into the ground and upwards from the center/dantian into the sky.

i also took some time to do some maintenance work on my bow. i'd threaded the nocking area on my string the wrong way (in the opposite direction of the spiraling direction of the string), and it's been unraveling over the past few weeks. i've been removing the fibers as they've come loose, waiting until the nocking area becomes thin enough that i can rethread the string again in the right direction. i think it's getting close, and i'll be able to rethread it again within a few weeks.