This article featured in
Inside Kung Fu Magazine, June 2005
Turn Your Waist into a Power Machine!
By Tommy Kirchhoff;
translation by Brandon Wong
While different internal arts sifus often repeat mantras like "relax," or "sink the chi," Master Victor Shenglong Fu most often repeats the words, "Turn your waist." Such a simple fix will be either enlightening or utterly confusing.
"Turn your waist" can be offensive or defensive; it can facilitate a step or slip the body out of a trap; and most importantly, waist turning is the power generator for the pulverizing strikes emphasized in the Fu Style internal arts.
Relatively few people in the west know of the Fu Style internal arts or the late Wudang Grandmaster Fu Zhen Song. Grandmaster Fu was perhaps the most famous and influential martial artist of the 20th century. He had an illustrious career in both Northern and Southern China; he traveled through more than 10 provinces and never lost a fight; and he left an incredible legacy to his son, Fu Yong Hui.
Grandmaster Fu Yong Hui also led a long and rich life in the martial arts. He taught thousands of students the Fu Style arts, dedicating his life to researching the internal arts, and putting the greatest amount of effort into teaching his children and the very talented Bow Sim Mark (who now teaches in Boston).
'The apple does not fall far from the tree,' as they say, and three of Fu Yong Hui's children still teach the Fu Style family arts today; but only one has made a career of it. Victor Shenglong Fu is the rightful third generation heir to the Fu Style system. His martial skills are among the best in the world, and his spirit is both light-hearted and wise.
When Victor Fu was young, his father taught him the "Song of Power."
Gi gen zai jiao (the root is in the feet)
Fa yu tui (the jing ((energy)) starts in the legs)
Zhu zai yu yao (control is from the waist)
Xing yu shou (see the jing in the hand)
Fu Style Power
This song forms the basis of "bao ja jing," or explosive power. This kind of power is a trademark of the Fu Style internal arts. When performed at the highest level, this explosion of internal energy becomes "ling cone jing," or flying power. Master Fu's father taught him, "real fa jing is in the air."
Ling cone jing will seem like some stratospheric misinterpretation of the
Tai Chi Classics-- because the feet literally leave the ground. Most often,
the feet just barely come off the ground in order to turn; but in some instances,
Victor Fu leaves the ground by six inches or more. To illustrate an example
of ling cone jing for yourself: relax into a stance, then jump straight into
the air; once your feet leave the ground, turn your waist forcefully. While
your feet move very little, much waist power can be generated in mid-air.
This power is easily converted to a strike or a simultaneous guard and attack.
Master Fu expands on the point of rooting mid-air,
"When a bullet is in a gun, it has root. When the gun is fired, the bullet spins out of the barrel; as the bullet flies away (in near-perfect straightness), it still has rooting to the gun."
As the song says, "the jing starts in the legs." In all of the Fu Style arts,
Taiji, PaKua, Hsing-Yi, and Liang-Yi, the waist torques ferociously, coordinating
with an explosive breath exhalation utilizing reverse breathing. Master Fu
"The dan tien (energy center below the naval) expands as you exhale; this makes the breath leave the body very quickly." Master Fu continues, "The movement is very fast because of relaxation. The hand turns to Yang (hard) for a brief second, then must relax immediately back to Yin (soft) again. How you can tell if it's done correctly is to look for the recoil. To issue good power in the internal arts, there should always be recoil, not rigidness. The hand should bounce back like a rubber band."
Tail of a Whip
The mechanics of the recoil also begin at the waist. First the waist turns the same direction as the attack; then the waist shakes to move the opposite direction, i.e. in Taiji-type strikes, the waist might turn one direction and then turn the opposite, and in PaKua-type strikes, the waist might begin aligned with the spine, and then bend forward, thrusting back the buttocks.
This quick-change of waist direction and breathing can be likened to the tail of a whip. The length of the whip is soft, but when wielded with skillful manipulation, the end of the whip becomes so hard and travels so fast that it actually breaks the sound barrier (hence, the cracking noise).
Early in a student's training, Master Fu teaches to "shake the waist." His demonstration might be that of a punch extending out and quickly returning from a change in the direction of the waist turn; Master Fu's waist might quickly change directions two or three or four times for one punch.
Because the rest of the body is controlled from the waist, the shaking ripples and travels up through the body. Many high-level instructors warn against the dangers of shaking, cautioning that it is harmful for the internal organs and for the brain. Master Fu rebuts this way, "I don't know why other masters say shaking is bad. It might not be good for someone who already has a physical problem, but I've been doing it for over 50 years without a problem. I've never had a student who has had any problem with shaking."
Storehouse of Grenades
Fu makes two important points here. First, he advises to start slowly; when he teaches the shaking to new students, rarely are their waists lubricated enough to shake very fast or smoothly. Over some time, the body gets used to it, and can stay very relaxed. If fa jing were likened to explosives, a bao ja jing movement would be just one grenade; there should be a storehouse of grenades.
Secondly, Fu says it's very important to exhaust a bao ja jing movement completely.
"If you keep some energy from a bao ja jing (explosive energy movement) in your body, it will usually rise to the head." When fa jing manifests above the shoulders, the head will shake and vibrate.
Instead, Fu says the student must learn to expend the entirety of an explosive movement through the hand. This is the last part of the Song of Power. " Xing yu shou" means to see the fa jing in the hand. When Fu demonstrates Fu Style waist power, the explosion is frightfully impressive; then once everything slows down or stops, one hand will still be fluttering like the wings of a butterfly. This kind of relaxed recoil transmits powerful vibration through the attack, and ensures total exhaustion of an explosive movement. To the uninitiated, it looks a little strange after such an impressive display of power; but Fu maintains this action is an important detail to keep fa jing from going somewhere you don't want it.
Fu Sheng Long was explaining waist power from a comfortable rocking chair in my living room. Several times he illustrated different points by issuing waist power from a seated position. The whole chair would torque around, and corners would come off the hardwood floor to land forcefully. Master Fu exposed the fact that because this kind of power comes from the waist, one doesn't need to have his or her feet on the ground to create it.
Fu added that upper body power is the lowest level of power. Adding waist-turning increases the power. When one shakes the waist to create "whip," the force is increased again. When one spins with waist turning and arm power and shaking, the force is even greater. And when the feet come off the ground, like in ling cone jing, Fu says it allows for more acceleration, thereby increasing power to the highest level. Our conversation digressed with a discussion on lineage and superlatives.
While Fu believes a strong lineage is not as important as most people discuss,
his Taiji lineage is impeccable. Master Fu's grandfather, Fu Zhen Song, began
learning Chen Style Taiji from the great Chen Yen-Hsi, the father of Chen
Fa-Ka. Grandmaster Fu also became very close friends with Yang Cheng Fu and
co-developed many standards and theories with him. Master Fu's father, Fu
Yong Hui, grew up in a world surrounded by the highest-level masters, and
also trained closely with Yang Cheng Fu and Fu Zhong Wen. Both of the first
and second generation Fu's spent much of their lives in all-consuming Taiji
research. When I asked Master Fu about "the best sifus," he spoke respectfully
in comparing high-level martial artists:
"Each teacher has good things and bad things. Maybe another master has better QiGong than me, but his BaGua isn't as good because he's not as flexible. Most people say that what's first important is to find a good sifu; it's hard to say that a good sifu is more important than being a good student. If you're lazy and don't work hard at the forms, a great sifu cannot give you the skill."