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Immortal Points The Way – Prana Mudra

For the upcoming sword seminar I am about ready to teach in GG Park, San Francisco; here is more detail on the often used – and very much under estimated “sword fingers” seen in almost every kung fu sword film, form, and fantasy throughout time. I mindlessly trampled through forms for 8 years, before my teacher opened up a much deeper, subtle, difficult, and extremely amazing purpose to this posture. Again, any books/instruction by Scott Meredith are the best resource – so go there! But, here is my take as a practitioner and for my followers.

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The mudra itself is combined specifically with the straight sword. Not the broadsword, da dao, club, or any other specific weapon that can be used with one hand. It is almost totally unique to straight sword practice. But why? Why does this particular mudra withstand thetest of time, and all eon’s of combat, and all evolutions of religious sanctification, to emerge as the one true – king of all hand postures for sword play? This is a question we must always ask, why?

Here are the most common reasons:

  1. Dim Mak: It is a hand posture to be trained and strengthened to strike pressure points on the opponent. Make your own theories here on the usefulness of this, and the actual reasoning of this in realtime combat with weapons or blades.
  2. Daoist visualization: “Immortal Points the Way” – A common catch phrase, which may at one time held much more merit in bliss out qigong arenas. But, in this day; it seems to lead most to an asian fantasy of LARP’ing ancient taoist doctrines, or setting a belief for bliss out visualization time.
  3. Sheath: The idea that it imitates holding of the swords sheath. Enter your own reasoning here.
  4. Stage: Nothing more than choreography, because it seems to imitate a sword and; why not.

My preferred take is: Extreme, amazing, internal training. BUT! Not in the case of bliss out visualization time. It is actually an extremely hard practice that requires your mind to be extremely present. So, hear you go:

Pre Req: Taiji’s “Beautiful Ladies Hands” & “Relax”. If you cannot do this, this exercise will be far to difficult. 

If you can at least somewhat get those two principles, than feel free to try this advanced version:

  1. Make the Prana Mudra posture (image attached).
  2. Make sure, both end fingers are touching the thumb.
  3. Make sure the the hand “shape” is looks PERFECT. It should like perfect enough to take a picture of and place on the back of my book for all to see : )
  4. Now the hardest part – Take ALL tension out of the hand, but maintain that perfect shape. Really try to experience and do this. It should be hard for most! Check the palm heal, web of the hand, fingers… They should all feel like soft tofu; yet the SHAPE should look perfect. It should not become all floppy either!
  5. Maintain this “Shape” without EVER (I mean EVER) adding tension to it or letting it turn into flop. Shape only – No content.
  6. Take your sword in the other hand and run through 1-2 postures of the form. Any form will do, it does not matter the choreography, lineage, etc (boring). The exciting part is what you FEEL! Stay relaxed the entire time, and keep your mind in the prana mudra – careful not to break the shape,  yet careful not to add tension into it.
  7. After a few reps, go to quiet standing (sword in one hand, if your experienced, you know how to hold the sword – as you would hold it before starting a form). Keep the sword in one hand, and prana mudra as the other.
  8. FEEL.

NO GRASSHOPPER. To much tension:

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Now THIS is difficult! 2 postures, let alone an entire form ?! A lifetime of practice is right within this practice alone. I bet most will tense up or drop the hand posture all together.

With good practice, you should feel a sensation of crackling streaming down the fore arm, ulna-line, and clearly cutting to the palm, then blasting to the fingers. The curved – touching fingers will give you a different sensation altogether, which makes this mudra especially fun to play with. The crackling will eventually get stronger, and stronger, and smoother, and intense to where it is not a flimsy crackle; but more of an electric surge and beyond.

If you can feel that, you will be able eventually feel it within the sword holding hand as well, and entire body, but most will be to tense at first. Something about holding the sword can either help draw the mind, or, with most just creates tension. It is a paradox to work with.

Aside from just being a great, fun process to play with – I have noticed an increase in ability and different jing’s for push hands and push swords bouts. But, I always suggest to do these internal art for self discovery first… Have fun with it, it is incredibly interesting once you start feeling things.

Most of all, thank you to my teacher who resurrected this mudra from the dungeons of theatre and bliss bunnies into something workable.

Enjoy!