Circle turning - where do the eyes look and how does it feel?

Discussions on isometric strength postures and circle turning training
ingmar
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:46 pm

Circle turning - where do the eyes look and how does it feel?

Postby ingmar » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:21 pm

The description below is relative to Phoenix but I the lessons learned are most likely universal. I am going to describe what I have been experiencing and what I recently tuned into. Just want to put this out there and see if anyone has experienced a similar thing.

For the past year when circle turning I have always focused my gaze either on my top / striking hand, or in the space in front of my top hand. When circle walking this fixed gaze to a spot near my hand had the effect of making the world go by in a blur. At first this was a bit disorientating but by effectively blurring out the external world it made me focus more on what I was feeling in my body as I was stepping, whirling, twisting and extending various parts of my body. This seemed like a more zen / meditative mind-body connecting type of training.

I do circle turning practice 2 or 3 times a week before my morning bagua training with Don, usually 25-30 minutes. I also do circle turning practice at home on the weekends. I have noticed a difference in my ability to focus - at home there are few distractions and I can keep myself withdrawn into my blurry circle turing easily... but in the park there are many distractions and I have noticed that I can hardly go more than a few turns before being distracted and popping out of that blurry space.

The other morning I didn't even notice Don drive up because I was able to keep my focus. I thought that was a good thing that my mental focus was in the right place. When I commented on that to Don though he seemed perplexed about what I was doing. Why would it be a good thing to blur out the world when circle turning? What are the martial implications of not being aware of your immediate surroundings? We then discussed the details of how / where he was looking when circle turning. It seemed like such a revelation and such a big "miss" on my part that I was walking the circle in the way I had been doing it for the past few years.

Today during my morning walk in the park I consciously worked on looking past my hands by about 30 feet (10 meters), working on expanding my awareness to the park and everything that was "out there". I rapidly switched the focus as I was turning, my mental focus was now different. I was able to still be aware of was happening in my body but it was relative to the outside world, not in a bubble. It changed the intention of the circle turning, more like a scanning for danger / opponents as I was walking. It even changed the feeling of the forcing transforming switch that I typically use when circle turning.

So It seems like I learned a valuable lesson. I am not mad at myself for the way I had been doing it because it drew my attention and intention inward and made me more mindful of what I am doing and what I am feeling in my body as I walk. But it definitely feels better now, more connected with what is happening around me in the park.
--
Preparing for War - Finding Peace
Endless Flow - Crushing Force
Step by Step - The Perfect Circle

kungfucraig
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:13 am
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Re: Circle turning - where do the eyes look and how does it feel?

Postby kungfucraig » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:49 am

I think you are correct in wanting to avoid tunnel vision.

The peripheral vision can generally pick up motion quicker than the focal vision and IMO should be relied on when fighting. That combined with touch. Touch is super fast.

The Taoists talk about dropping the eyes to view the tip of the nose. If you do this you'll notice that you can see in front of you, below, and to the left and right pretty clearly.

I've been trying to develop my peripheral vision when turning. This entails relaxing the gaze and trying to take in everything around me in general terms, but not in any specific way. I don't look at the tip of my nose, however, which I think would be for a more purely meditative application. Instead I center my vision on my hand and drop my eyes and relax my gaze, which allows me to see the ground beneath me and take in about 120 degrees around me. I try to see everything without fixating on anything in particular.

Consider that an adversary will be at arms length or further away if you are relying on your eyes to perceive them. Closer than this and you will rely much more on touch. I think this is one reason to want to keep the eyes on the hands when turning.

In the Book of Five Rings, Musashi talks about "sight and perception" and a "two-fold gaze". This is worth reading about.

I sit in quite a few meetings at work. I often try to "look" at the person who is talking, but relax my gaze to take in the people around and try to observe the reactions of others to the person speaking without appearing to do so. This can be fun sometimes. It's actually a bit difficult to listen to and understand the speaker while simultaneously observing one or two other people.

On a side, I play a number of games when I turn. The "gaze game" is one of them.

ingmar
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:46 pm

Re: Circle turning - where do the eyes look and how does it feel?

Postby ingmar » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:52 pm

In our kungfu class I am mindful of looking at my opponents eyes when doing partner work and applications. Lui Jiau, staff drills, all benefit from using your eyes to have broad awareness rather than using focus and trying to track targets. I find even when looking in my opponents eyes I can still see their strikes and block effectively, and still have good awareness for targeting my strikes. I am working on bringing this awareness to my bagua work as well although it's slow going because of the technicality of whole body movement and trying to force the opponent to react in specific ways. Fun times!

Re: meetings, I work at home so I don't get to play so much with staring and noticing other people... but I have kids so I will do this with them tonight at dinner and see what they have to say about that :).
--
Preparing for War - Finding Peace
Endless Flow - Crushing Force
Step by Step - The Perfect Circle


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