More Chi!

More chi! Train harder!

Sifu often encourages his students with the cheer “More chi! Train harder!”

What does this mean?

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Chi (also spelled qi) is often translated as “life force.” It is similar to what we in the West mean by “energy,” but it’s much more than that. Chi is the vital force that flows through all things — humans, animals, plants, rocks, microbes, mountains. Chi connects us to all other things in the universe. It is the source of all spiritual, mental, and physical energy and health. It is dynamic, circulating in us like our blood. It has been compared to electricity flowing through circuits, and to the force flowing around magnetic poles.

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When our minds, hearts, and bodies are in harmony and in balance, the chi flows freely, helping us to live beautiful lives. When our lives are out of balance, the chi may be blocked or depleted. Stimulating the correct flow of chi can heal us when we are sick and invigorate us when we are tired.

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Chi is the force that gives kung fu masters like Sifu their incredible power. It is through stimulating and guiding the flow of chi that we train and push our bodies to actions we might never have known we could do before. This is why we constantly cheer one another on with the cry “More chi! Train harder!” The more chi you put into your exercises and movements, the harder you are able to train. The harder you train, the more you master your body and its movements, and the more chi you’ll have.

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Some beginners fear that they’ll never be able to master certain stretches or movements. It’s not unusual to experience some muscle pain when first performing certain exercises and stretches. A “pulled muscle” is a muscle that’s not used to being stretched and worked. In the modern world, we use our legs for so little. We sit all day in our cars, at our desks, on the sofa, watching TV. Now you’re suddenly asking your muscles to do some work. It’s no wonder they’re sore!

The wrong way to respond to that sore muscle is to tense up, physically or mentally. Tension will only block the flow of chi to that muscle.

The right way to respond is to relax your body and your mind, extend your body and your mind, and train harder. Athletes have that saying, “No pain, no gain.” That’s what “Train harder!” means as well. Don’t back away from the work, don’t tense up, and certainly don’t give up. If you give up on your exercises, you give up on yourself. Have faith and confidence in yourself, and tomorrow the stretch you found difficult will feel easier. The next day, it will be easier still.

Today, think about how you can apply this warrior’s attitude to your whole life. The more chi you put into your life, the more you’ll get out of your life. When you feel like you just can’t face another day of washing and folding the kids’ laundry . . . when your boss drops an extra stack of paperwork on your desk an hour before quitting time . . . when you get home exhausted after fighting rush hour and plop down on the sofa, and your son asks you to help him with his math homework. Whatever chores, problems, or responsibilities you face today, don’t flinch from them, don’t avoid them, and don’t feel defeated by them. Tackle them head-on. Put more chi into it and get it done. Train harder!

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