Masters of Perception - Sensory-Motor Integration in the Internal Martial Arts

Summary: In this third volume I continue my growth through deeper study of taijiquan and yiquan under the tutelage of master Sam Tam. The book has four parts, representing the four stages of development of the internal martial artist. Parts 1 and 2 describe the somatic functions controlled by mental faculties. Parts 3 and 4 describe the mental faculties that control these somatic functions.

Part 1, "On Qi", details the first stage, which is how internal martial arts practice develops a supremely healthy body through the practice of stillness and movement.

Part 2, "On Jin", details the second stage, in which the practice transforms the health of the body into the type of explosive power typical of the internal martial arts.

Part 3, "On Yi", describes the third stage, and the role of the mental faculty of intent in the training of the somatic functions of posture, movement, and power. The stage of yi culminates in the ability to instantaneously discharge the explosive power from any part of the body.

Part 4, "On Shen", or the mental faculty of Spirit, describes the fourth and highest stage of development. Often translated as the "spirit of awareness", shen refers to a level of global awareness that uses neither power nor intent to defeat the opponent, and as such transcends the stages of jin and yi.

Table of Contents:

PERSONAL PREFACE: CALVINISM, DAOISM, and THE CREATIVE PRINCIPLE
Childhood Roots 1
Adult World Views 3
Meeting my Future Teacher 5
Signing on to No-Force 8

OVERVIEW: THE FOUR STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
The Qi Stage 12
The Jin Stage 13
The Yi Stage 14
The Shen Stage 16

BOOK 1 THE MINDFUL BODY - SOMATIC FUNCTIONS CONTROLLED BY MENTAL FACULTIES 18
Introduction to Book 1 - The Anatomy of Posture and Movement 19

PART 1: ON QI - CULTIVATING HEALTH 26
Chapter 1: Standing Meditation

The Origin and Purpose of Standing Meditation 27
My Introduction to Standing Meditation 9
Standing Meditation for Health and Martial Art 30
Chapter 2: Integrating Posture, Breath and Awareness in Stillness and Movement
Gravity Lines West and East 33
Integrating Posture 36
Natural and Normal Breathing 41
Integrating Awareness 44
Three Dimensions, Six Directions 47
Becoming a Sphere 50
Chapter 3: Making the Involuntary Voluntary
Startle or Freezing Reflex 55
Balance Reflex 58
Whole Body Reflex 59
Stretch and Tendon Reflexes 60
The Opposition/Resistance and Withdrawal/Accommodation Reflexes 62
Flight-Fight Reflexes 64

PART 2: ON JIN - TRANSFORMING HEALTH INTO POWER 66
Chapter 4: The Power of the Center

Evolution of the Whole-Body Reflex 67
The Center in Eastern Traditions 69
Dantian: The Dome of Power 71
The Practice of Reverse Breathing 73
Chapter 5: The Frame Elastic
Internal Martial Arts and Elastic Strength 77
The Center and the Frame 78
The Frame as Energy Storage System 81
Developing the Frame 82
Moving the Frame 85
Practicing the Frame 86
The Limits of Power 89

BOOK 2 THE EMBODIED MIND - MENTAL FACULTIES CONTROLLING SOMATIC FUNCTIONS 91
Introduction to Book 2 - Parameters of the Nervous System 92
Voluntary and Involuntary 92
Fixed Action Patterns 93
Sensory-Motor Integration in the Cerebral Cortex 94
The Cerebellum: Integrating the Internal Senses 97
Bilateral Cortical Asymmetry 98
Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Branches of the Nervous System: Energy Expenditure and Restoration 99

PART 3: ON YI - DEVELOPING THE MIND TO CONTROL POWER 101
Chapter 6: Yi as Neurological Interface

Yi as Polarity Structure 102
From Tactile Stimulus to Motor Response 105
Use of the Yi in Internal Martial Arts 109
Chapter 7: From Reaction to Response
The Time it Takes to Move 113
The Time it Takes to Decide 114
The Strategy of Readiness 116
The Master’s Touch 119
Engaging the Center 120
The Moment of Joy 121
The Taste of Death 123
Turning Enemies into Friends 124
Chapter 8: In The Laboratory of Responsiveness
The Name of the Game 126
The Responsiveness Skills: Listening and Following 129
The Capturing Skill of Yielding 131
The Capturing Skill of Sticking 133
Obstacles to Responsiveness 134

PART 4: ON SHEN - TRANSCENDING POWER THROUGH ENLIGHTENED AWARENESS 137
Chapter 9: The Neurology of the Spirit and the Varieties of Transcendent Experience

Shen: The Spirit of Awareness 138
The Nervous System, the Rhythm of Daily Life and Peak Experiences 141
Sex: Primordial Prototype of Transcendent Experience 145
Mystics of the Body: Transcendence through Sensory-Motor Engagement with the World 147
Athletes of the Mind: Transcendence through Sensory-Motor Disengagement from the World 150
The Shen of the Internal Martial Artist 153
Table 1: Peak Experiences and their Characteristics 154
Chapter 10: The Enlightenment of the Internal Martial Artist
Shen and Enlightenment 158
The Enlightenment of the Body/Mind 159
Enlightened Touch + Enlightened Heart = Enlightened Interaction 162
Enlightened Transmission 165

APPENDICES
Chinese Characters Used 174
List of Illustrations 176

WORKS CONSULTED
Internal Martial Arts 178
Anatomy, Physiology and Body Work 181
Oriental Medicine and Health 182
Oriental Philosophies: Daoism and Bhuddism 183
Neuroscience, Psychology, Mind and Spirit 185
Oriental Culture and History 88
Western Science and Philosophy 189

Index 191