Sunday, August 17, 2008
Re-thinking Cheng Hsin, Part Two
Peter Ralston In Push/Uproot
Back in June I wrote my first post on "Re-thinking Cheng Hsin", the ecclectic martial art of Peter Ralston. Cheng Hsin, which is defined by Ralston as "The true nature of being" is a study of internal arts drawn from Ralston's highly-qualified martial background (Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua, Aikido and Boxing). More than that alone, it is precieved to be a deeply introspective art, with elements of self-discovery Ralston and others explored in encounter groups that guided Ralstons early spiritual development. After my previous post, one of Ralston's students wrote me to describe the powerfully emotional release he experianced in the discussion portion of Ralston's seminar.
While this experiantial element of Cheng Hsin may be a desireable goal to achieve, it is one of the aspects of Cheng Hsin that can simply not be learned from a book.
I have previously described Ralston's first book, "The Principles Of Effortless Power" as a tough patch to weed, with Ralston seemingly trying to re-invent the wheel at times. Not so with his second book, "Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou: The Art Of Effortless Power". In this book, Ralstons writing is much clearer and there are many, many techniques that demonstrate the physical art of Ralston's concepts.
However, much like the way introspective spiritual enlightenment is difficult to achieve without being guided by someone like Ralston, his second book needs to be studied along side his Fight/Play video (described in detail at the link to my first post). Ralston's Fight/Play video has re-ignited many, many concepts that had taken a back shelf in my mind, and are now coming to the forefront. Most importantly, is re-introducing spiral movements into freeplay, as many of Ralston's "Leading Rollback" movements use.
While Ralston's Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou book is the blueprint of his techniques, mere pictures and descriptions are simply not enough to grasp the type of dynamic movement Ralston and his students display. This is why it is so important to view Ralston's techniques on video, where you can see footwork and dynamic changes.
Ralston's Cheng Hsin, which draws from Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua, Aikido and western boxing is a logical landing zone for those of us who have studied a variety of martial arts. His Fight-Play video can be purchased at The Cheng Hsin Website, and I highly reccomend it for those of us who study internal martial arts.
--Now back to the issue of photographs in instructional books; I am convinced that in some cases, drawings are much more effective at displaying directional movement. No book has done this better than "Aikido And The Dynamic Sphere", by Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti.
This is the Best book on Aikido I have ever seen, and the beautiful and clear illustrations by Oscar Ratti also make it clearly understandable. While there is a great deal of time and labor involved in these drawings, it is possible to see the flow of movement much better than in photographs.
For this reason, Ralstons Cheng Hsin T'ui Shou book, the roadmap to better internal body work, must be accompanied by his Fight/Play video, which can be purchased at his website link above.