Candle Use In Chinese Martial Arts
In Chinese martial society, candles were once popularly used for training. This is because candles were an important source of lighting in ancient times, and thus were more readily available for practice. Today, the use of candles for training is seldom seen. In this article I would like to introduce some examples of candle practice. Hopefully, from these examples, you will be inspired and train with candles.
The most common use of the candle in martial arts is to train mental concentration and visual focusing. At beginning, simply sit in a dark room, watching a lit candle with a meditative mind, calm and relaxed. You must practice until you can focus your eyes on the candle flame and catch every detail of how the flame moves, with the mind concentrated for half an hour. This training is critical in a fight, when your mind must be alert and the observation of the situation must be sensitive and accurate. At the beginning, it is hard to bring your mind to the candle for more than a few minutes. After you have practiced for a while, you will soon realize that through training you are able to reach this goal.
After you have reached the goal of watching the candle with a concentrated mind and focused eyes, then place the candle on a specially designed swinger, which can hold the candle while swinging. Then repeat the same practice, except this time the candle is moving instead of stationary. After you have practiced for a long time and you have reached the stage of concentration easily, start to move your body around the moving candle and again practice the same thing.
Once you have gone through the above training, you will be able to bring your mind to a more concentrated level and the spirit will also be raised due to the focusing practice.
The second most common candle practice is to train Jin or martial power which is penetrating and focused. To train this, simply use the lit candle as a target for your Jin. For example, for punching Jin training, you may start from a distance that, when you extend your arm completely, the space between your fist and the flame is about five inches. Concentrate your mind and focus your punching power, punching at the flame and trying to extinguish it. Only if your power and mind are focused will the pressure and wind generated from the punch be able to extinguish the flame. After you have trained for a while and can extinguish four out of five times, then you should increase the distance between the fist and the candle. If you are able to extinguish the candle from the distance of one foot, then your power must be focused and penetrating. When this power is used to attack your opponent, your power will be able to reach deep to the internal organs.
In the internal martial arts, the candle was commonly used to train the concentration of the mind and the focusing of the Qi. When the mind is concentrated to a high level, the Qi will be led strongly. The training is very simple. Simply sit in front of the candle and form your hand in the sword secret. Sword secret hand is done by extending your second and the middle finger while touching your ring finger and pinky to the thumb. This hand form will allow the Qi to extend beyond the fingers. In practice, you simply place your extended fingers in front of the flame about two inches away. Without moving your hand, coordinate the breathing and extend your Qi beyond the fingers, trying to make the flame move.
Modern research indicates that bio-electricity is strongly related to Qi, and that the external effects of Qi manifestation are caused by this bio-electricity affecting the environment. For example, when this electricity is led to the fingers, it can generate a disturbance in the air and generate wind. This wind will make the candle flame move. Naturally, this takes many years of practice in the correct manner. Further research into the relationship between Qi and bio-electricity is definitely needed. I would welcome any information the reader may have regarding such research.
The above three examples are only offered for your reference. As long as you have understood the training theory, you may think of many other ways of training by using candles. It is simple, inexpensive, and effective. It is also one of the best ways of training your patience and perseverance.
Dr. Yang has been involved in Chinese Gongfu since 1961 and has more than thirty years of instructional experience. Dr. Yang has published twenty-four books and twenty-eight videotapes on the martial arts and Qigong. Currently he is president of Yang's Oriental Arts Association, Boston, MA.