My article “Essentials of Horse Stance” (further only Mabu Article) was published in 2001 in the [journal] Taiwan Wulin, No. 6. and during four years it passed through many hands, giving rise to [arousing] certain attention and discussions. Some practitioners responded [reacted]: “This article’s emphasis is on the connection of tendon pathways of dang in the lower body, so what about upper body?” In reality, the system of tendon pathways of the upper body compared to lower body is much more complicated, it is difficult to explain it clearly, but since some people were modest enough to ask people below [like me] [or: did not feel ashamed to ask people below – an expression of modesty], I just want offer my hat [out of respect – another form of modesty] and shortly bring up a little of what I have learned, on one side to make an explanation for those who seek knowledge, on another side it can also be a supplement and enlargement of Mabu Article.
Main point of Mabu Article is in the talking about the big tendons at inner side of both legs. These tendons [or is it just one tendon in two parts, in two legs?] not only connect three big joints of the both legs but also can penetrate [into] hipbone through perineum [huiyin] and [therefore] to bind mutually [both tendons into one], creating the structure of an arch that we call “dang”. This arching dang except combining both legs into one and its combining with pelvis also by dang’s centre (in the area of perineum/huiyin) creates energy pushed upwards, penetrating pelvis, following spine upwards. This is basic but important energy for [of] practicing martial arts, strengthening the body, practicing qi and cultivating Dao and also one of important reasons of [for] Horse Stance [practice].
OR (this is more clear formulation):
Main point of Mabu Article is in the talking about the big tendons at inner side of both legs. These tendons [or is it just one tendon in two parts, in two legs?] has three main functions:
1. they connect three big joints of the both legs,
2, they can penetrate [into] hipbone through perineum [huiyin],
3. and [therefore] they bind mutually [both tendons into one], creating the structure of an arch that we call “dang”.
This arching dang therefore has functions:
1. combining both legs into one,
2. combining [tendons of the legs] with pelvis
3. dang’s centre (in the area of perineum/huiyin) creates energy pushed upwards, penetrating pelvis and following spine upwards. This is basic but important energy for [of] practicing martial arts, strengthening the body, practicing qi and cultivating Dao and also one of important reasons of [for] Horse Stance [practice].
2. Pathways of tendons and pathways of qi (meridians)
After acupuncture became popular, everyone knows human body has twelve pathways of qi [meridians], but except these, there is also a system of twelve pathways of tendons. In qi-pathways there is qi circulating and they belong to yin, in tendons-pathways there is strength circulating and they belong to yang. If we say qi-pathways are copper wires transferring electric current inside electric cables, then tendons-pathways are just outer thickest rubber and steel wire of the wrapping bearing and pulling force during pulling electric cables.
The content of twelve pathways of tendons (also called twelve tendons-channels) is very broad and extensive, interested readers can consult “Twelve tendons-channels charts” [available] in the bookstores. Here I want sum up human body’s paths of tendons into six ones for practice but before this, it is necessary first to establish central axis channel of the body, this is around spine and forming channel. In Mabu Article described energy created by dang rises up through this channel. These six tendons paths [are] vertically around this central axis, there are small tendons pathways connections among them, and they are shaped in an area in the form of bucket. This area in the form of bucket is central [core] area of the energy of the body.
Simply said, these six tendons paths on the body are linked from hip joints to shoulder joints, and [they] again by shoulder joint connect arm, by hip joint connect both legs, this way it is possible to use four limbs and body combined into one.
3. Pulling apart bones [and, for] stretching tendons
For practicing tendons, it is essential first to relax the muscles, to lengthen muscles so they are not short, this is completely different from the present time ideas of muscle training of Western type. If muscles are relaxed, only then joints have space for stretching and pulling apart, joints can be open by pulling apart, only then tendons paths inside every joint have possibility to be connected, this is “relaxation” of the first stage of martial arts practice, with the aim of qi and strength sinking and entering into tendons and bones. At that time [This way] muscle groups mutually connect, they firmly wrap skeleton so that muscles, tendons and bones closely unite, only then can be accomplished beginning stage of “outwardly practice tendons, bones, skin”. Therefore tendons can not be pulled too much so that they become too relaxed, if they are too relaxed they will lose springiness, lose springiness cannot produce strength, this is necessary to notice.
4. Use strength to follow tendons
When important tendon paths of the whole body are structurally connected into single springy net, then various [different] connections of tendon paths will produce various [different] types of strength. Every joint is knot [nodal point] of the net, it is also a pivot [hub] of the controlling tendon paths. Different styles of wushu use different types of concepts and types of handling these knots [nodal points], some are simple, some complicated, some use straight lines, some use arcs and circles, some use spiraling, however, [the rule] “strength is created by tendons” is the same.
5. Through tendons enter qi
I feel that at the “strength” and “qi” levels, practicing wushu is elementary kungfu [skill] of cultivating the Dao. Wushu student seeks strength and practices tendons as the principal thing, at this stage energy of the body pours into tendon paths more and into qi paths less, while [at the stage of] practicing qi and cultivating Dao then it is necessary that energy of the body pours into qi paths more and into tendons paths less, therefore martial artist who achieved accomplishment will finally abandon strength of tendons, letting energy enter qi paths and going the road [way] of practicing qi and cultivating Dao, this is “relaxation” of the second stage of martial arts practice. However, if person who practices qi does not have elementary kungfu [skill] of practice tendons, then qi paths often are not unobstructed [they are not clear, not open], it is like tangled [twisted] and intertwined electric wires and cables, not only electric current and signal will not be clear, but becomes place of blockage because electric resistance increases and will produce heat with the result of fire, therefore if practicing tendons paths will not turn into entering qi paths, in the advanced age the problems and pain of the dissolution of strength will happen, [and] if before practicing qi paths are not practiced tendons paths first, then most [practitioners of this type] enter fancy dreams and delusion, there is no way to success.
6. Points for attention
To practice strength of tendons is basic kungfu [skill] of martial arts practice, some old masters learned it from childhood not knowing how, [or] knowing how but not knowing why, [or] knowing how to practice it but not knowing how to teach it, but even if they understand it, they regard it a secret, do not transmit it easily, I think this has [because of] two basic reasons:
(1) If martial arts practice is based only on [muscular] strength and does not train strength of tendons, this practice is quick, hard, targeted [???], firm and vigorous [???], sufficient for usual people to defend oneself, although it can harm [other] people, but these injuries are mostly external, not very serious. On other hand, if using strength of tendons to harm people, it is easy to harm internal organs and blood paths, this is very difficult to cure therefore they do not transmit it to common students.
(2) During practice tendon paths, there happens a time when one feels the whole body is swelled by strength and sexual desire also becomes vigorous [exuberant], wanting to be completely released. If student’s ability of self-control is not sufficient or unwilling to submit teacher’s restrain and control, it is easy to become bellicose and fond of women, get into trouble, harm own body, abandon oneself to depraved life, therefore the teachers who understand will not transmit it easily.
This article briefly introduces the importance and ways of practicing tendon paths, hoping reader does not want to act with undue haste and be too eager for success because inappropriate tendons training can easily lead to injury. Previous generations used to say: “Shang jin dong gu yi bai tian = Injured sinews and broken bones [require] one hundred days [of healing]”, therefore please be very careful. If someone gains an inspiration from this writing for practicing tendons a achieving success, please be sure to exercise strict self-discipline, give up fighting and guard oneself against [too much] sex, otherwise [you will] injure both others and self, and author’s guilt will not be shallow.
Originally published in Taiwan Wulin, No. 26 (2005), pp. 68 – 72.