Internal Martial Arts for Women

What are the benefits that women can receive from practicing the Internal Martial Arts. We’ll other than developing their fitness, flexibility and self confidence. It’s will also improve and maintain their health throughout their life, as the Internal Martial Arts are about developing a more relaxed body and mind by learning to release muscle tension and stiffness out by correcting their posture and body alignment. Also with in its practice there is also Qigong and Neigong practice which is the practice of strengthening the body and mind through meditative guiding and leading the energy ( Qi) throughout the entire body.
Most martial arts today as mainly male dominated and are based upon strength verses strength contests. But the Traditional Chinese Internal Martial Arts is based upon using your opponents strength against themselves, which makes it more easier and more enjoyable to train alongside both genders. As the person who is the most strongest does not have an advantage. But the person who can develop their fast evasive footwork and skill in their martial art techniques of tactile manipulation, timing and accuracy will have an advantage.
I have seen many individuals join in our Internal martial Art classes and transform from a shy, quiet individual into a confident, positive and helpful person. As the Internal Martial Arts are not based upon competition or building a massive ego, they are based upon turning you into a more healthier, confident, stronger individual who is ready to take on the stresses and strains of their own lives. Most people who study the more harder or external martial art styles stop their training due to injury or age, as their body can no longer take the punishment of their chosen martial art. Whereas, the Internal Martial Arts can be practiced throughout your entire life, helping to keep your body and mind fit and strong.

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Learning is easy,But Practice takes Discipline.

There are many individuals and groups of people who take up the learning of either Tai Chi or Qigong. Sadly there are two kinds of interested students. There are the followers or robots, these are individuals who come along to a particular Tai Chi or Qigong class and enjoy following the teacher as he takes them through a sequence of movements, but never take the information in that the teacher is giving to them to be able to practice on their own. This particular type of student will always stay on a basic level and will never reach the higher levels of the particular style.
The second type of student is known as the intelligent student. This person can remember what his or her teacher as shown them and practices it in their own time, refining the movements and developing their skill level. This particular person will be able to reach the higher levels of their chosen Tai Chi or Qigong style.
Because the arts of Tai Chi and Qigong are have many different layers it is important that students take time to practice what they have learnt. So that the teacher can see that their skill and understanding is moving in the right direction and obviously if you are learning Tai Chi or Qigong to balance the state of your well-being and health. Then the more you practice on your own on a regular basis then the more you will reap the benefits towards a more relaxed, calm and healthier you. I have always said that the learning of new things in your Tai Chi or Qigong class is good fun. But regular practice takes discipline. The Chinese have a term which they call “Gongfu” and no it has nothing to do with martial arts. It actually means time and energy and is a kind of compliment given to someone who has achieved a high level of work or skill.
So to achieve a higher level of Gongfu in your Tai Chi or Qigong or anything, then you must put the “Time & Energy” into your practice in your own time and not just once a week when you decide to turn up at your local Tai Chi, Qigong or Martial Arts class to participate. Your teacher will know immediately if you have been practicing or not, just because you pay for your class, does not mean that you have the right for your teacher to show you more information a good teacher makes you earn it by your actions and not your words or money. So please do not become a lazy robotic student who does not have the respect to learn or practice what as has been given to them to help them develop I and improve themselves.

The Yin & Yang Strikes of the Internal Martial Arts

When you see a practitioner of the internal martial arts perform a particular form or sequence of movements. You will see a combination of both open hand and closed fist strikes being shown. The reason is many, but one particular reason is that we use the theory of Yin & Yang in such way that the open hand strikes which are considered to be Yin are used to strike against the more firmer or hard areas of your opponent. Like his or her head or joints which would be very painful to us if we used a fist. The use of a closed fist strike which is considered to be Yang would be used to strike the opponents more softer areas. Like his or her stomach, ribs, groin or lower back.
If you have ever used a closed fist strike against an opponents head, such as his jaw for example then you know how much it can hurt and possibly damage the knuckles on your fist. Whereas, you would be better of using a palm strike. Again on the other side of the coin, if you where to use a palm strike against your opponents groin you could possibly bend your fingers back breaking them.
Obviously there are areas on the body where you could use either a fist or palm strikes such as the torso, arms or legs. Usually it’s the bone areas of the body that you would be better off using a soft palm strike. Soft strikes include not just the palm, but all areas of the hand, including the fingers, whereas the hard strikes include the whole fist and various knuckle strikes, such as the Leopard fist, Tigers Paw Fist and the Eye of the Phoenix fist strike which are used to attack the opponents soft areas.
This is one reason why the practitioners of the internal martial arts uses a combination of both palm and fist strikes, as depicted by the salute that is used to greet and show respect to each other by covering the closed fist with an open hand.

LFIAA Residential Weekend Course 2014

There are many benefits to running a weekend or week long residential course on the Traditional Chinese Internal Arts of health, self healing, meditation and martial arts. Of cause the location of the venue as to be just right and in our case I think we totally got the location spot on. It was based in the rial area on the coast, it was easy to access with beautiful country side walks a fantastic beach and most of all it was quiet. The accommodation was basic but comfortable and big.
The LFIAA residential weekend started with Early morning Patting Qigong to help stimulate the internal energy and gently wake the body and mind up after a nights sleep. After breakfast the attending students progressed through the Li style Taijiquan slow and fast forms, Taiji Pushing Hands, Taiji Staff Form and much more. On the days that it was warm and sunny the group practiced outside in the fresh air drawing in the strong energy (Qi) from the environment. After a long lunch break the students practiced the internal martial art of Feng Shou-Gongfu covering various striking and kicking techniques and applications, plus they went on to practice the Eight Directional Stepping exercise using broadswords and staffs to develop their weapons training.
After another short break the last session of the day was an hour long class covering the Daoist Yoga system of the Li family system. Which was of great help to the students in helping them to recover from a hard days training in the Daoist Arts.
The great benefit of training on a residential course is that you can live and breath the internal arts with nice like minded individuals in a relaxed, stress free environment and make new friends that can last a life time.

Yang Style Tai Chi Elbows Sink, Shoulders Droop.

As I go around teaching Yang style Tai Chi to many classes. The one thing that I notice is that to many individuals concentrate to much on learning the movements, rather than learning how to relax and release the tension within their backs, shoulders, elbows and wrists. The more you can make your upper body movements soft and loose (Song) the more you will increase the flow of blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) into your fingertips and palms.
By learning to concentrate on allowing your elbows to droop towards the ground at a 45 degree angle while performing the movements of your Tai Chi form will stop your shoulders from rising up. The drooping of the elbows and the sinking of the shoulders is not just important for the benefit of relaxation. It is taught so that you are allowing your body weight to sink downwards to the ground, helping you to ground your energy by lowering your centre of gravity. This will make the lower part of your body feel heavy and the upper part of the body feeling light. This is the correct Yin & Yang balanced feeling that you must maintain through the practice of the whole Tai Chi form.
On a health basis, the more you can learn to relax and release the tension within your shoulders and joints by allowing them to sink downwards can also help in lowering the blood pressure, it will also calm and soothe the nervous system helping to release any anxiety or stress both physically, emotionally and mentally.
When you practice your Tai Chi pay more attention to drooping your elbows and sinking the shoulders. Above all concentrate on relaxing the joints of the upper body and watch carefully where you might be holding the tension in to your body. So many times have I seen many individuals unaware that they have locked their elbows or tensed their wrists or allowed their shoulders to rise up. Alongside going through the soft, graceful, flowing movements of your Tai Chi, you must also be constantly observing yourself, watching and feeling for any tension being caused through a locked joint or leaning in any direction due to poor posture and in-correct body alignment. The more you can maintain accuracy in your movements, alongside soft and loose movements the more you will reap the benefits of your Yang style Tai Chi practice towards balancing you state of well being.

Yang Style Tai Chi Footwork

For anyone who practices Tai Chi no matter what style you practice if you do not master the particular Tai Chi style’s footwork methods then your quality of Tai Chi will be hampered and you will not achieve a high level of proficiency.
Within the Yang style Tai Chi footwork you have various stepping methods like the forward stepping (Jin Bu) which uses a heel/ toe stepping action. Backward stepping ( Tui Bu) which uses a toe/ heel action, side wards stepping (Heng Bu) which again uses a toe/heel action. The forwards, backwards and side steps are known as Five Element Stepping (Wuxing Bu).
Over-al the stepping action of Yang style Tai Chi no matter what direction that you step in must be light and agile. A good Tai Chi practitioner moves like a big cat, graceful, light, springy as if you were floating over the ground, yet very powerful. Yang style Tai Chi develops very strong legs as the essence is not to be double weighted (Shuang Zhong) with the weight evenly distributed between both legs. The aim is to shift the body weight from one leg to another, overtime your legs will become strong so that you can begin to lower your body down closer to the ground. Most beginners start they Yang style Tai Chi in a high stance, gradually after a long period of time as your legs become stronger than the height of the stance can be lowered.The lowering of your stance will help to develop your cardiovascular fitness which will increase blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) circulation throughout the entire body.
Obviously, developing strong leg strength through the practice of Yang style Tai Chi will also improve each individuals balance and their confidence and ability to stand on one leg no matter what their age is. One of the great wonders of practicing Tai Chi is to see the elderly being able to stand upright on one leg while performing their Tai Chi form. There is a saying in China “that if the legs go weak and you cannot move around on them, then old age comes quickly”. This goes to show that the maintenance of strong, fit legs through the practice of Tai Chi can improve an individuals state of well being and help them to feel young even in their old age.

Qigong for Women Embracing Yin & Holding Yang.

Participating in qigong for any women would be of great value and benefit towards balancing the state of their well being and health. As regular qigong practice can help to either control, manage or prevent various ailments that a women can suffer from such as, Menopause and it’s related side affects like night sweats, emotional mood swings. It can also help with other ailments like fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, back pain, sciatica, migraines weak leg strength, osteoporosis and much, much more.
The movements of qigong involve gentle, passive flowing movements that have a great effect on soothing the nervous system, releasing tension out of the muscles allowing a greater feeling of relaxation. Alongside the gentle actions, qigong also uses more vigorous and dynamic movements that stretches the tendons and ligaments, opening the joints of the body allowing the circulation to increase and flow without any restriction. The vigorous actions also help to disperse any blockages on a physical, emotional, mental and energetic level.
Qigong practice can give women more vitality, boosting their immune
system and improve their stamina and strength to fully enjoy their life. Through qigong ‘s deep breathing, movement and visualisation techniques any women or girl can change their outlook on life and become more
confident, happy and more in tune with themselves.
Qigong has even been taught to individuals who suffer with cancer to help them cope and recover from the intense treatment that many go through to help them fight against cancer. Qigong can be practiced from an early age right up into old age helping to maintain your well being and as a female who embraces Yin, help develop, build and hold onto their Yang promoting a long and healthy life.