My hands move around me. They spiral and turn performing the shape of the Yin Yang symbol. As they do, and I turn horizontally from the waist; I can feel the area of the Dan Tian, (abdominal muscles), making circles. My legs are creating rotational energy, though my feet are planted and still. This engagement of core, legs, waist, and abdominals, expressed through the arms, wrists and fingers is a profound and fundamental part of Kung-Fu; Chan Si Jing.
Chan Si means silk reeling. It refers to the manner in which threads of silk are reeled off from the cocoon of the silk worm. When one is reeling silk, the pace must be constant; should you suddenly speed up the thread will break. Should you stop the thread that makes up the cocoon will solidify and the thread will ultimately break. The message is that when one practices this Kung or special ability, one’s movement should be constant, measured and continuous.
Chan Si Jing is the method of letting force travel through the body unencumbered. Tension in the muscles at the wrong place or at the wrong time will inhibit the body’s ability to communicate force into the opponent; the force will be trapped in the limbs of the practitioner.
Kung-Fu practitioners have two terms for force, Li and Jing. Li is the natural strength of an individual. It can be increased through exercise and should be maintained, especially in later years. Balanced physical strength is essential for pain free living; one ignores maintaining and developing it at one’s own risk. Extended periods of inaction is one of the most harmful things a person can do to themselves. Inaction is the true enemy of the individual regardless of one’s age. For example, one can put a perfectly good arm in a cast and in a surprisingly short time, that arm will become weak and frail.
Chan Si Jing, on the other hand, is a precisely prescribed way of and using the body’s Li. It must be trained and developed over years. There are actually many kinds of Jing; each kind of Jing focuses on using the attributes of the practitioner, (strength, speed, mental focus, vision, tactile receptor, tendon strength), in a concentrated, refined, and disciplined manner.
Chan Si Jing is not the creation of force. It is instead the creation of the pathways of and manner in which force should be expressed. With Chan Si Jing we are not building the power plant; we are putting up the scaffolding and wires.
Chan Si Jing is not seen in the finishing postures of a movements, punches or kicks; instead it is in the transition between postures. Mostly unseen, Chan Si Jing is the instant before impact but it is the moment that gives the technique it’s effectiveness.
As an influence in the practitioner’s life, Chan Si Jing is a profound and beautiful metaphor. The practitioner is not focused on a partner or an opponent, he is not focused on performing a technique; instead he is simply focused upon himself and his own development. It is this focus on personal growth, something that begins with a Kung-Fu training method, which eventually permeates the practitioner’s life. This is what has made Kung-Fu a vehicle of personal transformation for millennia.