In the practice of Taoist qigong one of its aims is the alchemical transformation of water (Kan) and fire (Li) into strong internal energy. The kidneys are considered to be water and the heart is considered to be fire, when the two work together they transform essences (Jing) into energy (qi) into spirit (Shen).
In Taoist energetic theory there are three areas of the body that can heat up the body and are called fires. In the practice of Kan & Li qigong the fire of the ming men point which is located between the two kidneys is stimulated to heat up the kidneys which are considered to be water. This heating up of the kidneys produces vapour to rise up to the middle dantian, essences (Jing) turning into energy (qi).
The heart which is considered to be fire is stimulated to heat the lungs which is considered to be metal which in turns changes into liquid ( water) and flows downwards through the body, as the lungs heat up more vapour rises upwards changing energy (qi) into spirit (Shen) and rises upwards to the upper dantian where the spirit (Shen) returns to the Dao.
The Taoist kunlun system pressing palm qigong is a typical qigong exercise that puts the Taoist theory of transforming Kan & Li into practical application for the cultivation of strong internal energy that can be used to promote health and we’ll-being.
For individuals who practice either sitting,standing or moving meditation then the alchemical transformation of Kan & Li through the pressing palm qigong exercise could greatly benefit from its practice as it ultimate aim is to return the spirit to nothingness.
The Taoist Kunlun Pressing Palm Qigong works on the Fire of the Heart (Li) and the Water of the Kidneys (Kan). Transforming the essences (Jing) into energy (qi) into spirit (Shen), to do this the fire of the ming men is stimulated to warm the kidneys which are water to produce vapour which rises, turning essences (Jing) into energy(qi) to the middle dantian. The heart fire is then stimulated to warm the lungs which then produces water that flows downwards to the rest of the body, but especially the kidneys. The fire of the heart transforms the energy that rises to the middle dantian into spirit (Shen) which then moves upwards to the upper dantian to connect with the dao.
The pressing palm qigong exercise is broken down into two practices 1. Fixed position practice, 2. Moving step practice which can be performed either in a linear or circular method
The breathing method of the pressing palm qigong exercise uses the post heaven technique (hou tian tu na), which mainly stimulates the ming men fire to produce essences (Jing) into energy (qi) which in turn cultivates strong energy to benefit good health and we’ll-being.
The stepping technique that is used in the pressing palm qigong exercises uses the mud wading step (tang ni bu) which stimulates the kidney point on the bottom the foot ( yongquan) to stimulate the energy to rise upwards from the feet to the kidneys and lower dantian.
The pressing palm qigong uses the Taoist internal alchemical transformation of Kan & Li to produce internal energy that can be used for meditation to attain returning back to the dao, or you can use it for general health and long life.
There are many women and girls who practice Taiji mainly for relaxation and we’ll-being and are unaware that the Taijiquan style that they practice can also offer them a method of self defence.
Taijiquan is purely a non-aggressive form of self defence where you are taught to use the same circular flowing actions that you would use to help you relax. But now use them same movements in a more fast, alive and powerful way as a method of self defence from being held or struck at.
The theory of Taiji Qin Na is to use little strength in applying any of its joint locking techniques, but to use a superior knowledge of angles, leverage, compression and balance to apply fast, practical and effective joint locks to subdue or immobilise an aggressive situation.
The training of Taiji Qin Na for self defence would involve bringing the eight energies of Taijiquan ward off, rollback, press, squeeze, bump, grasp, elbow and split in practical application involving two-person training exercises like Taiji push hands (Tui Shou) and free sparring (sanshou). These training drills will develop each individuals ability to listen (ting) through the sense of touch and to stick/adhere (nian fu) to the training partners limbs and bring the eight energies alive .
The practice of Taijiquan is an all-round exercise that develops not just health and we’ll-being. But it can also develop self confidence, self awareness, self achievement and of cause a method of non-aggressive self defence that is suitable for everyone, especially girls and women as the essence of Taijiquan is to use “softness to over-come hardness”. Properly the most important aspect of Taijiquan for me is that you can practice your Taiji for health or self defence or both right up to your old age, as there is also a possibility that you will also be attacked in your old age and there are not many activities that can offer you health, meditation and self defence in one package like the Chinese internal martial arts can..
Within the practice of Taiji Qin Na there are many variations of joint locking techniques that are used ranging from arm & shoulder, wrist and head locks and properly the most quick and effective are finger locks (Zhi Suo).
Finger locks can be easily used by young children and females to help defend themselves, breaking free of grips and holds, as it takes little amount of strength to bend or twist a finger back than an arm or hand.
Finger locks can be used singularly, double or split fingers to either mis-place the bone (Cao gu), or to divide the tendons (fen Jin). In the practice of Taijiquan finger lock Qin Na can be used as a defensive method from grips, holds or from someone pushing and striking at you with an open hand. They can also be used offensively by quickly seizing your attackers fingers to subdue or immobilise them, you can also set your attack up for a finger lock by striking at him or her and then grasp the fingers of his or her blocking arm and bend & twist them.
You must understand that there is no perfect technique for all situations. What you do to defend yourself depends on what your attacker does. And since your attacker is not just going to stand there and let you apply a joint lock on them, you must learn how to adapt your Qin Na to the circumstances. Your Qin Na must respond to and follow the situation, the techniques must be skilful, alive, fast and powerful and your Qin Na must take your attacker by surprise.
It takes a lot of skill to apply any Taiji grabbing Qin Na technique on your attackers body and if he or she is aware of your intention then it makes it extremely difficult to be successful. In that case you will properly need to apply a strike aimed at an energy point (Dian mai) to cause pain or as a distraction.
Within the practice of the Lishi Qin Na (seizing & Grasping) system, there are eight key words that are used to give a student a better understanding of becoming more proficient within this particular Chinese martial art.
These key words are known as (Ba Jing) or the eight energies that are used to seize & grasp the attacker to either subdue.or immobilise them. The key words are:
1. Ward Off (Peng Jin)
2.Pressing (An Jin)
3. Squeezing (Ji Jin)
4. Grasping (Cai Jin)
5. Rollback (Lu Jin)
6. Bending (Wan Jin)
7. Twisting (Ning Jin)
8. Shaking (Zhen Jin)
Alongside the practice of the eight energies you will also need to learn how to stick and adhere to the attackers striking limb and then learn how to listen for his or her response once you have attached yourself to his or her limb and then apply a successful joint lock.
The eight energies can all be used to apply Qin Na joint locking techniques and they are used to give each student a sense of style, other Chinese martial arts that practice joint locks will also have their own version of the eight energies key words which suits their own style.
Qin Na means to (seize & grasp) the joints, tendons and muscles of your opponent to either subdue or immobilise an aggressive situation. As we all know the ancient Chinese mind & body system of Taijiquan is considered a Chinese internal martial art, and covers striking, kicking, wrestling & throwing techniques.
No matter what style of Taiji form you practice in the mornings or evenings they will all have certain movements that contain Qin Na seizing & grasping techniques. Many individuals practice Taijiquan for relaxation and we’ll-being and have no idea at all what the movements that they perform actually do.
Because Taijiquan is known for its soft, flowing circular movements, many of these flowing circular movements are used to up root you opponents balance and apply fast, powerful joint locking techniques.
Taiji Qin Na covers six different levels 1. Mis-placing the bone (Cao gu), 2. Dividing the tendons (Fen Jin) 3. Grasping the muscles ( zhua Jin) 4. Sealing the blood (Dian Xue) 5.sealing the breath (Bi Qi) 6. Pressing energy points (Dian mai)
Taiji Qin Na joint locking techniques are fast, practical and effective they do not need great amounts of strength to apply them , but with a superior knowledge of angles, leverage and compression anyone can use them to full effect..
In the practice of Taijiquan’s inner work (neigong) there is a central line that runs directly through the centre of the body from the top of the head down to the bottom of the pelvis. In the practice of Taijiquan and qigong this central line (Zhong ding) is called the Taiji pole and it connects the heavenly yang acu-point at the crown of the head (baihui) with the earth yin acu-point at the bottom of the pelvis the (huiyin).
The Taiji pole also connects the three main energy centres of the lower, middle and upper dan tians (furnaces). The lower dan tian transform essences (jing) into energy (qi), the middle dan tian transforms the energy (qi) into spirit (Shen) while the upper dan tian transforms the spirit (Shen) into empty ness (Wuji).
In the practice of Taijiquan proper body alignment is of great importance and especially with the correct alignment of the Taiji pole. Any mis-alignment of the body can affect the circulation of energy throughout the whole body. When practicing any of the Taijiquan’s movements the individual is taught to maintain an upright posture and move from the waist (Yao) turning around the central line or Taiji pole keeping the baihui and huiyin in correct alignment at all times.
There are many individuals who are practicing Taijiquan and are unaware of the Taiji pole central line theory. Many times have I seen individuals practice their Taiji or qigong exercises and lean forwards into their movements or are hunched over mis-aligning their Taiji pole and disturbing the flow of their internal energy.