The Importance of Let Loose – Fang Song 放 松
by Chun Man Sit 薛 振 民
There are many important principles in taiji and qigong. The most critical principle is fang song – let loose. Many taiji practitioners have trained diligently for years but have not yet entered the threshold of taiji. The main reason is that they have not mastered the art of fang song – let loose.
What is fang song, or let loose?
Fang means to release or let go. Song means looseness. Together they can be translated as let loose, or relax. The Chinese term indicates that you must let it be if you really want to be loose. You cannot force yourself to be loose nor can you try harder to relax. The difficulty is that you must always remember to work on this principle but you must also never try very hard. This is the most important principle if one wants to become a taiji or qigong master.
Fang song and qigong
Fang song is the most important aspect in qigong practice. When practicing qigong, we gather energy and turn it into qi. For example, if you gather 100 units of energy per qigong session, but you spend 90 units of energy while practicing. You have 10 units of energy left. You have accumulated 10 units of qi in your qi saving account. By following the fang song principle, you relax your body and your mind more. Now you only spend 80 units of energy per qigong session. You have double your qi saving.
The more qi(energy) you have in your account, the better your health. Qigong healing is just energy healing.
Fang song and taiji
If you practice your taiji routine following the principle of fang song, you’ll gain more qi in your routine practice. Your taiji practice has become qigong practice. There is not much difference between the two arts. It’s all about qi (energy). This is why we say slow taiji practice nutures our qi but fast taiji practice hurts our qi. If we spend more money than we can make, we’ll be in debt. Any sane person can see this logic clearly.
Fang song and taiji applications
It is simple: without the ability of fang song, we’ll have no sticking-hand ability, we can’t punch fast, and we can’t listen to our opponent’s intention through the touch in push-hand. To strike fast with our hands, we must have loose shoulders joints. To stick to our opponent’s arms, our own arms must be soft. Sticking is the action of friction force. In order to listen, we must first be quiet. To listen to our opponent’s force, we must not use force.
Fang song and rooting
To be rooted is to be in harmony with the gravity pull of the Earth. No energy is needed. In fact, we use energy to fight against gravity. For example, if three people are pushing on your body, and you try to stand your ground by pushing against them, you will be pushed back easily. Because when you use force against another force, the stronger force will win.
How should you do it then? It’s easy. Do not fight against their push. Instead, relax your body and try to connect with all the hands that push on your body. Try to imagine all four people have become one unit, like a giant spider with eight legs. At this point, allow your body to connect with gravity. So now you are in harmony with gravity, and they are in harmony with you. There will be no fight. United we stand. (As shown in photo)
Fang song practice
The training method for fang song is simple. And it is the same with qigong and taiji.
First we learn about correct body structure and correct movements. Then we just try to relax and use less strength. Every time we can relax a bit, we improve our fang song ability. There is no ending to this training.
“In the pursuit of the Dao, we strive to decrease. Decrease and decrease, until we reach the point of wu-wei. When we reach the point of wu-wei, we have returned home.
The training method for fang song is simple. Unfortunately, we regard simple method as low level method. We don’t work hard to reach the level of fang song that is the trade mark of taiji masters. And as a result, we are not taiji masters.
Zen Master Seung Sahn said, “Students always want to learn some high class method.”
We become bored with simple methods. That’s why we fail.
[Chun Man Sit – born in 1950s in southern China, his family moved to Hong Kong when he was six years old. He lived in Hong Kong for twenty years and in 1976, he moved to the United States. Master Sit began his martial arts training in 1969 and has studied and practiced continually for forty years; learning many styles such as Karate, Tai Chi, Qigong and Kungfu. He is the expert on Wu style Taiji, Tai Hui Six Elbows Kungfu, and many Qigong methods, including 6 Healing Sounds, Drifting Cloud Moving Qigong, Nei Gong, Silk-reeling Gong, etc. Master Sit has been a chief judge in many national Tai Chi and Kungfu tournaments in the United States of America for the last 18 years and has taught Tai Chi, Qigong, and Kungfu workshops. His articles appear regularly in Tai Chi and Kungfu magazines and he is currently writing a book on Tai Chi. Master Sit and his wife Mary Ann, live in Overland Park, Kansas.]