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'Draining' energy query

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:27 pm
by The Wandering Brit

I'm pretty new to Yang style Tai Chi - in fact to the internal arts in general - and have been trawling round the internet looking for sources of information. I've been reading threads on this board for the last week and it seems to be populated by really helpful, insightful people, so if you don't mind a Brit attempting to join in then any advice would be appreciated.

As I said, I am very new to the style but have been reading up on everything I can for personal interest and to help to prepare myself (hopefully) for what is to come. One thing that is cropping up a lot in books etc. is Fah Jing and also other different forms of Jing, and this is where my quesry lies.

Some years ago when I was training in Wing Chun I got the chance to do some sticky hands (which I believe has many similarities, on certain levels, to push hands) with a much older, more experienced practitioner. With no discernible physical effort on his part, within 30 seconds he had totally drained my body of energy. I literally felt that all my life force had been sucked away and my arms were too heavy to move.

Unfortunately, I moved away shortly after and was unable to extend my Wing Chun studies any further or indeed ask my Sifu about it. I know that he had a strong grounding in the internal arts and focused on chi with advanced students, but by the time I moved away I had only been training with him long enough to begin to scratch the surface.

So my question is this: are you, as Tai Chi practioners, aware of this technique? Is it a kind of Jing, do you use it in push hands practice - or do you think it is something else entirely?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 5:45 pm
by Wushuer
There's folks here from all over the world, even quite a few other Brits. So no problems there.
Welcome to the boards and Yang style.

I will not make any kind of comment on your Jing question, at this time.
I have some ideas, but they would be only guesses at this time.
Why I responded is because I happen to have a direct line to a Wing Chun artist of long standing, and he also happens to be my Yang style teacher.
I feel certain he will know the correct answer to your question about this technique in Wing Chun and any correlation it may have to TCC jings.
Once I have the correct answer, and it may be a bit because I only train on Thursday nights with him and it's Friday now, so it'll be a week, I will let you know.
So, let's let others answer the question as they can, and I'll let you know from a very qualified source in both of these styles ASAP.
Until then...

PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 10:27 pm
by rvc_ve
Well, firt of all, welcome "brit"! Glad to have you here!!!

I've heard some people talk about this issue, but I've never experienced it myself. I do know however that in Tui shou and chi sao (yes thy are very similar), there is energy exchange between the practitioners.

I was reading the other day about health benefits of pushing hands, and they will mention this as the main reason. There is an exchage between practitioners, so the energy can be recycled and recirculated, so apart from the martial benefits you can get healthier by doing tuishou.

As far as how, and the theory invloved in this process if its even true...I have no clue!!!!!

But if you can exchange nergy with a partner, I see no reason why a high level master coulnt "drain' it from someone else if desired.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2004 12:48 am
by Michael
Wandering Brit,

I welcome you! I have no authoritative answer for you. I'll just take a stab at it, Wushuer will get some info for you.

This is only conjecture. My guess it that he "allowed" you to drain yourself of energy. Were you using your waist or your arms? Was He using his waist? What kind of contact, and how "hard" was it? I think in those questions you will find the answer yourself. This is not very "mystical" stuff, but firmly based on physics.

Interesting question. I have had a similiar experience, but not maybe to the same degree as you. My experience with "sticky hands"/push ahnds has only been in the context of Tai Chi Chuan and not Wing Chun. I do not know their method. I will ask around myself and get back to you. If I can find anything out.

Again I welcome you and hope for more or your thoughts on this and many other subjects.


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 04-16-2004).]

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:39 pm
by Polaris

Such things are indeed possible, but I am really very surprised that someone used them on you in a training session without explaining to you exactly what they were doing. They are not the sort of techniques to be played with lightly! They are dangerous and you can easily make yourself or someone else sick. Traditional "soft-style" martial artists focus on protecting themselves from such attacks rather than using them on others, and they are only trained after many, many years of experience with acupoints and how they can balance or unbalance the various meridian systems.


PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:47 am
by Louis Swaim
Greetings W.B.,

I’m not aware of any traditional taijiquan or Wing Chun practices that specifically cause one to feel drained of energy, but I’m wondering if perhaps there is just a semantic issue here about what you’re describing. Very early on in my taiji experience, I was pushing hands with my first taiji sifu and experienced something that may be similar. What I felt was that I was effectively stuck, or perhaps immobilized is a better way of putting it. In my case, I didn’t feel that I was lacking any energy, but I did feel unable to deploy it. It was as though any movement I made was so subtly countered that I had no opportunity to follow through. This was not an instance of joint locking or strong arm tactics, the contact was extremely light, and yet I couldn't move. I was bewildered, but my sifu just smiled. He also happened be be a Wing Chun practitioner, but I think this kind of skill is not limited to one art or the other; it’s just gongfu.

When I described this experience to some of my more skeptical friends, they thought I was exaggerating or embroidering, but I’ve seen descriptions of other taiji masters who had this ability to immobilize a push hands partner. In Bruce Kumar Frantzis’ brief profile of Yang Shouzhong during his 1977 Hong Kong visit, he relates how he was invited to attend a Saturday push hands class. After pushing with several of Yang’s students, Frantzis had a turn with Master Yang. “His power was significant, and he easily bounced me after I yielded. Then as I next attempted to yield, he held me fast, with only his palms, locking me up tight so that it was not possible to yield or move my limbs or body in any direction, or exert any kind of power against him, in any way. It was like being held by a magnet.” (The Power of Internal Martial Arts, p. 169)

I’ve done a rough translation of an account of a similar push hands experience in Yang Zhenji’s book. A delegation of Japanese Yang style practitioners came to Yongnian to “seek the source,” and were able to meet with Yang Zhenji, who shared some taiji information with them.

“Afterward, the group leader said, ‘Mr. Yang, let’s push a bit.’ Yang Zhenji said, ‘I can’t push, and haven’t been teaching tuishou.’ But this Japanese friend had come a great distance, wanting to enrich his understanding of the Yang family gongfu, and he just had to push hands with him. Yang Zhenji couldn’t decline, so there in the foyer of the hotel he joined him in fixed step push hands. After some back and forth, Yang Zhenji’s two hands were on his opponent’s wrist and arm, and the opponent wanted to apply some force. Yang Zhenji at once loosened (yi song), and completely swallowed (tun) the opponent’s jin. Yet more attempts to apply force were absorbed, without letting go or resisting (bu diu bu ding). The opponent wanted to advance but couldn’t; wanted to retreat but didn’t dare, and was completely unable to stir. This group leader was a taijiquan expert, and immediately understood that he couldn’t match the gongfu of his Yang opponent.” (Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan, pp. 232-233)

Take care,

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:09 am
by The Wandering Brit
Hi all,

Thanks for the welcome and all the comments - lots of interesting stuff there which has made me think about the experience and try to recall it more clearly (it happened about 8 years ago).

WuShuer - I look forward to hearing your findings!

Michael - The contact was very soft. if I recall correctly, we started off at 'my' pace, and he allowed me to dictate what was going on. Then after a short time he slowed the movements drastically, but without any hardness in his actions. As we went at his pace it felt like my arms were moving through quicksand. Was I using my waist? I suspect that I was not, being inexperienced, but I am sure that he was. As you say, maybe that's part, or all, of the answer I'm looking for.

Polaris - I guess I have no answer to that. After 2 years training I was invited to join the more senior class, and this occurred on my 4th or 5th time practising with the more advanced students. I had nothing to compare the experience to and as I did not suffer from any ill effects I thought no more about it - or rather, I saw nothing wrong with it; it just intrigued me, but moving away soon after meant I never had the chance to really follow the experience up. In fact, it had almost disappeared from my memory until I began practicing Tai Chi, which brought it back to the forefront of my mind.

Louis - I certainly felt 'stuck', yes, but I was also aware of a very distinct loss of energy. I will have to think about your point more...

Lots of food for thought - thankyou all.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 11:47 pm
by lob
Brit, I'm a TJQ and Wing Tsun practiser with some interesting chinese experience in what we could call "Qi-linked kind of magic"
My opinion is that you stumbled upon a guy who really sucked your yang energy.
I think this was not due to any special method or tecnique, as it probably was a natural energy shift dued to that guy's condition in that moment.
There are also cases (well known in China)in which someone uses special methods to drain energy from people even at a distance, but I don't think that was the case.
regards lob

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 5:09 am
by Polaris

I was indeed talking about, as lob describes, "someone (who) uses special methods to drain energy from people."

Regarding Louis' observations, such a practise isn't taught as a desirable technique in the style of T'ai Chi that I study (there are drawbacks for someone who might try it, IME), at least, but I have been taught how to protect myself from such an attack.

The feeling of being "stuck" or some other such loss of control during pushing hands or sparring can make an opponent feel drained, one hopes!


PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:27 pm
by Wushuer
The opinions of my esteemed colleagues here on this site seem to run to the idea that such a thing is possible.
The opinion expressed by the person I know with 30 years of Wing Chun experience, who as I mentioned is my TCC coach and our Center Director, would best be summed up if you could have seen the look on his face when I asked him.
Since you can't...
Let's just say he was quite convinced that this was something other than what you have described.
He believes one of your accupoints was pressed, and that caused you to lose feeling along a meridian (please, before anyone jumps on me, this is how I interpret what he said, it's not exactly what he said, as I didn't understand half the chinese words he used. I am translating to the best of my ability. If you know exactly what he means, then why haven't you spoken up before? Please do so now.). Depending on which accupoint was being pressed this can cause you to lose all feeling, lose the ability to breath, all kinds of things up to and including loss of consciousness, even death. It sounded like he was describing forms of Dim Mak, to me. Again, this is my opinion, he never said that.
But he is clearly of the opinion that there is no way to magically "drain" another persons "energy". When the accupoint is released, you will gradually regain whatever faculty you lost, all of your energy is still there because it was never gone.
He's heard of these things, never found anyone who could actually do them, but many people who could make you think they could. I guess it feels very much like an energy drain, since you feel weak.
He offered to show me, but since we were training Chin Na at the time I didn't exactly want to be facefirst on the floor and unable to move.
Well, at least not if I wasn't being controlled with Chin Na. I got on the floor and wasn't able to move a few times, but not from that. But I digress.
There you have it.
He's the only Wing Chun expert I know, and his opinion is that this was a cavity or accupoint press. Certainly very handy against an opponent, but it's not "draining" your energy, it's blocking a meridian. Your energy is still in you, it's just hit a blockage that will take time to work through.
As nearly as I understand what he told me, anyway.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:36 pm
by The Wandering Brit
I've made a mental picture of your sifu's face and I'm giggling to myself.
My colleagues are looking at me funny...

Thanks for taking the time to ask him. It's fascinating that people with so much knowledge and experience in the arts can have such wildly differing opinions about what is and isn't possible...vive la diference I guess.

All of the explanations given so far have given me a lot of food for thought, it's just a shame I can't find the guy again and ask him what he did - or indeed if he was aware of doing anything.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 7:04 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Polaris,

You wrote: “Regarding Louis' observations, such a practise isn't taught as a desirable technique in the style of T'ai Chi that I study (there are drawbacks for someone who might try it, IME), at least, but I have been taught how to protect myself from such an attack.”

Keeping in mind that we are talking about something in the context of tuishou practice, I’m curious why it would be undesirable to immobilize one’s opponent in the manner described, and what the drawbacks would be. I reiterate that in my experience what we’re talking about is not some extraordinary energy manipulation, but just good gongfu. I wonder if there are semantic issues here that may be clouding the discussion. In my opinion, if someone’s energy were “drained,” they would no longer be able to stand up. Perhaps W.B. did in fact end up in a slump on the floor, drained of energy, but the situations I described in my post were not thus.

Another thing to consider in these situations is that tuishou is a bilateral, interactive practice. To some extent, what one is able to get one’s partner to do requires his or her agreement in the bargain. Note, for example, in the story about Yang Zhenji, the fellow “wanted to retreat but didn’t dare.” The “didn’t dare” (bu gan) wording suggests just this kind of agreement or negotiation that is an important ingredient in tuishou. I have been in situations in tuishou where I knew that if I tried to retreat at that moment I would be launched. In like manner, I can be pushing with a partner, and compromise his root in such a manner that I know I’ve “got” him. I know it and he knows it, but that does not necessarily mean that I have to follow through with a push. It depends on how the conversation is going, n’est pas?

Take care,

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 8:05 pm
by lob
I think we also sould consider the contest in which the fact took place. As far as I understood, it was a normal chisao or tuishou situation between two practisers of different level and ability. I wonder why one should use Dianmai in this contest, if this was the case, even though the guy could as well have taken the chance to train it...
Anyway... Dianmai with contact is not the only way to block or drain someone else energy.
It's not any kind of magic, just a quite uncommon skill which can be obtained through some qigong practice. In this case the aim is usually on the evil side, even though this is something which may also unwillingly happen to some kind of persons who are energetically eavily unbalanced. May be that guy was simply seriously ill....

regards lob

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:07 pm
by Polaris
Louis, lob & Co.,

The undesirable aspect I am referring to as not taught by traditional T'ai Chi is indeed an extraordinary way of draining an opponent's ch'i that lob is accurately describing; not physically immobilizing them with good gongfu, a skill which I'll agree is desirable.

In the old days there were "sorcerors" (for lack of a better word) who convinced people that they knew and used techniques for sucking the life-energy out of people. The phenomena are largely forgotten today (they were always rare) but it does still happen to a lesser degree all around us and not just in the martial arts (read a Dilbert cartoon sometime, LOL) but in the old days it was more systematic, and as lob points out, it was associated with those who were considered evil.

Myself, in modern terms, I believe that it is along the lines of voodoo and other forms of hypnotism or auto-suggestion; if you can get someone to believe firmly enough that you are capable of such a thing, they will be intimidated and perhaps show symptoms of just such an effect. What I have been taught is that knowledge of the "draining" technique and its psychologically limited application (to mix metaphors) is usually enough to protect you from it if your gongfu is good. In fact, I have been taught that those with proper T'ai Chi skill (or a high level of spiritual attainment in Ch'an, Pure Land or Taoism) are naturally immune to such attacks, and that T'ai Chi training is an effective cure for people who may suffer from the after-effects of such an attack.

I realise that the subject is a bit arcane, and few will be aware of it. Indeed, even if some are aware of it they may deny having heard of such a thing. But it was practised and trained in the old days by various groups (along with even weirder stuff) according to my teachers, whose family have been professional martial artists for 400 years, at least (the last 150 exclusively in T'ai Chi Ch'uan, courtesy of Yang Lu-ch'an).


[This message has been edited by Polaris (edited 04-23-2004).]

PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2004 10:00 am
by lob
hypnotism and auto-suggestion certainly play a main role in the majority of such phenomenons.
Nevertheless, there are cases in which the energy draining works independently from the "victim" being aware of what's going on or not.
As I said, it's something which may happen automatically, just for energy balancement reasons.
A good example is the impossibility for some people to get into a graveyard area if thy don't want to risk a collapse.
According to my qigong Masters this is caused by the extremely yin state of the area dued to the local gathering of numerous Hun, Po and other "souls" which persist after death on lower energetical levels and are looking after some yang to get into rebalancement.
As we as living persons tend to be on the yang side, these form of energy take the chance when they meet someone who is excessively umbalanced. The same can of course be done on purpose by some people for the forementioned evil purposes.
I myself suffered by this probably because of a wrong practice, so that I could also be aware of unevident grave sites (as there are many in the open space in Ireland, for example, or in many churches of my homeland Italy) just feeling a drainage going on through my legs and Yongquan points.
The unbalancement fact explain also the case you pointed out, in which a right qigong and TJQ practice give an automatical immunity to these attacks.

regards lob