Alongside the learning of the many variations of Joint locking techniques that there are in the study of Taiji Chin Na (Seizing & Grasping the joints, tendons & ligaments). There are just as many more ways you can counter or reverse a particular joint lock back on your opponent.
Before you learn any joint lock counters ( Fan Chin Na) you must first cover three important aspects to help you become successful in your counters against any joint locks. The first aspect is to learn how to relax when someone is applying a painful joint lock on yourself. This takes some time to learn, as the natural response is to resist by tensiing, which stiffens your joints even more and causes the pain from the joint lock to increase more. The more you can learn to relax will allow you some few precious seconds to react against the lock. The second aspect after learning to relax and not resist is to then learn to move in the same direction as the force or pressure against your joint lock is taking you. If you pull back in the opposite direction to your opponents pressure on your joint, you could end up with you having a broken arm, wrist or finger? Again, once you feel the direction of pressure against your joint you must move in the same direction to ride the pressure, this could mean you have to move your whole body by taking several steps to place yourself in a better advantageous position to escape the lock.
The third aspect, after you have learnt to relax and move with the force against your joint is to then change the angle of your locked limb. This could simply be by turning your hand to either the left or right or again to simply bending your elbow up or downwards just to change the angle of the lock, once you have achieved a different angle you are better able to fully escape or in a better position to counter back with another lock of your own choice.
Any successful joint lock counter must be quick, crisp and powerful, as your opponent is not going to apply a slow lock, he or she is going to apply the lock fast and powerful. So you will have match their speed and strength.
Another of the eight energies that is used extensively throughout the various Taijiquan styles is called “Pressing” or ( An Jin). Some people also call it Pushing (Tui Jin) as you can see this particular technique within the many Taiji forms that millions of people practice around the world.
The Pressing technique can be used single handed or with two hands at the same time, the most popular example of the Pressing technique is an individual standing a front bow stance with his or her two hands extended out in front of themselves in a double handed pressing/pushing technique as demonstrated in the photo that accompanies this blog.
The Pressing technique can be used both defensively and offensively and is used alongside the other Taiji eight energies in various combinations such as used in the Yang style Taijiquan’s “Brush Knee Side Step Posture” ( Louxi Aobu Shi) where the rear hand uses a single Pressing technique, while the front hand performs a Ward Off “Peng Jin” technique. Another example is in the “Single Whip Posture” ( Danbian Shi) where the rear hand is using the “Plucking” Technique ( Cai Jin) and the front hand is using the Pressing technique of (An Jin).
In the traditional forms of Taijiquan the Pressing technique is also called the striking palm method when used offensively, as it can issue energy (FaJing) out of the palm when used to strike an opponent either using one or both hands. Two fully become skilful in using the Pressing technique you must then practice the Taiji Pushing Hands exercise ( Taiji Tuishou) which will teach you to apply the Pressing technique alongside the usage of the other eight energies and also help to develop your stick (Nian), adhere (Zhan) and listening (Ting) skills to make your eight energies become proficient in all areas of your Taijiquan practice.
Within the Lishi Feng Shou -Kung Fu system there are many different methods of footwork (BuFa) . One of the most popular is the triangular footwork pattern known as “Zig Zag Steps” (San Jiao Bu) many practitioners of Feng Shou-Kung Fu think that the Zig Zag steps are used purely as a defensive method to evade or dodge the opponents in-coming attack. But, in actual fact the Zig Zag Steps can also be used as an offensive method to attack your opponent using either strikes, kicks or both at the sometime.
Zig Zag Stepping can be used in a short attack method which basically means if you start with a right leading fighting stance, then you will remain in the right fighting stance as you move towards your opponent using Zig Zag Steps as shown in the picture at the top of this blog. Or you can use a long attack stepping method which means you can alternate from right to left fighting stance as you Zig Zag Step towards your opponent.
Obviously, you would properly only be able to Zig Zag Step once or twice, before your opponent reads what you are doing and adjusts to your stepping strategy? So it is important that once you step out using the Zig Zag Step that you take advantage of the position you have placed yourself in to launch a successful attack. By Zig Zag Stepping to the outside of your opponent striking arm or leg will place you in a safer position to attack, than stepping to his or her inside where you could run into his or her rear hand or leg.
In the Traditional Chinese Internal Martial Arts they have a saying ” That the hands open the doors and the feet win the fight” this means that the emphasis on footwork is greatly important and should be combined with every aspect of your fighting art. The Zig Zag Stepping method is just one of many methods of footwork that is used in the practice of Feng Shou-Kung Fu as taught through the LFIAA by Laoshi Keith Ewers.
Throughout the world many individuals are practicing the ancient Chinese mind & body system known as Taijiquan. Many practice Taijiquan purely for relaxation and general health maintenance through gentle exercise. But, there are also many who practice Taijiquan as a Martial Art and who also specialise in the “Seizing & Grasping Art” of the joints, tendons and muscles known (Taiji Chin Na). Within the many different styles of Taijiquan form work hides a vast amount of Martial Art applications that includes many variations of joint locking techniques. To help develop their skill in being able to apply fast, powerful, practical and effective Taiji Chin Na techniques you must also be skilful in your ability to stick (Nian), adhere (Zhan) to your opponents attacking limb and use your sense of touch to listen Ting) to your opponents intent. By practicing the Taiji Pushing Hands exercise (Taiji Tuishou) you are able to enhance your sensitivity as shown below in the video blog below to help develop your listening, sticking and adhering skill.
The importance of practicing the Taiji Pushing Hands (Taiji Tuishou) exercise is vitally important in the learning of Taijiquan in general, as it allows the. Taiji practitioner to fully utilise the eight energies of Taijiquan ( Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Lie, Zhou, Cai, Kao) which in turn benefits the skill needed to apply the many Taiji Chin Na joint locking techniques. Because as soon as your opponents make contact with any part of your body, you are able to to feel or listen to his or her intention and are able to stick and follow your opponents force and then quickly apply a practical and effective Taiji Chin Na technique. The most wonderful thing about learning Taijiquan as a Martial Art, especially using the Taiji Chin Na joint locking skills is that anyone can learn them and become very proficient. As you only need to use a minimum amount of strength to effectively apply these Taiji Chin Na techniques so they are very useful for women and girls to learn how to break free of grips and holds.
As with all the many different Taijiquan styles they all have the something in common and that is the use of the Eight Energies or Doors (Bamen). This blog will be covering the Squeezing Technique or method (Ji Fa). The Yang style Taijiquan uses the Squeezing technique in many variations, the most common method is what is demonstrated in the photo that accompanies this particular blog. The front arm is held horizontal in a Ward Off technique,( Peng Fa). while the rear hand gently presses against the wrist of the front arm, using a Pressing technique (An Fa) giving the impression that the two methods are Squeezing towards each.
The Squeezing method is basically a compression technique, where your two hands are facing each other and are gently Squeezing towards each other as if Squeezing the air out of a ball. As already mentioned above the Squeezing method can be combined with any of the other Eight energies, such as using the Ward Off and Pressing combination, or you can squeeze your two hands towards each other like holding ball between your hands, while using the Rollback method.
To achieve a powerful Squeezing technique it must involve the whole body moving in the correct direction. Starting from the feet and passing through the waist and shoulders into the two hands that are performing the Squeezing technique to either bounce your opponent away or to help pull his or her root so that your opponent is taken off balance.
In the practice of the Yang style Taijiquan the Squeezing method is used regularly throughout the many variations there are of the Yang style Taijiquan forms from the Simplified to the Traditional. But the testing ground for all of the Eight energies of Taijiquan is not found in the forms practice, but is found in the Taiji Pushing Hands exercise (tuishou). This particular exercise it the laboratory for many practitioners of Taijiquan to understand and develop their skill in applying the Eight energies of Taijiquan in its many combinations. Which in-turn will deepen their knowledge in the true art of Taijiquan.
Because Chin Na is the art of seizing & grasping the joints, tendons and muscles. Then it is quite obvious that part of the Chin Na foundational exercises ( Jibengong) is that each practitioner goes through a series of warming up exercises that develop flexibility within the joints,tendons and ligaments. As shown in the photo that accompanies this blog is a typical wrist warming up exercise that is used in Chin Na. it is important to gently stretch the wrist joint ( Wan Gu) for example with a series of wrist exercises that stretch the tendons and warm the joint up before you begin your Chin Na joint locking techniques.
But the main reason for warming and stretching the wrist joint for example, as it is for the other joints of the fingers, elbow and shoulder. Is that your flexibility will allow you enough time to escape from any lock. Say your opponent as managed to successfully apply a wrist lock (Wan Suo) on your right wrist. Because you have been working on your basic joint warming exercise, has you feel the pressure being applied to your own right wrist, you are able to absorb your opponents pressure enough so that you can quickly change the angle of your wrist and ride your opponents wrist lock to either escape or even apply a counter lock. To the ordinary person in the street who does not practice maintaining joint flexibility in their upper limbs, then the wrist lock would have most possibly broken their wrist, due to their own wrists being to stiff and tense.
Within the practice of Chin Na the basic foundational exercise must involve strengthening exercises for improving your grasp, which should feel like a vice. But you must also work on developing joint, tendon and ligament flexibility. Supple joints allow the practitioner of Chin Na to be able to absorb enough pressure of a lock to give them time to escape by changing the angle. Another key factor to being able to escape from any lock is to relax and not resist by tensing up. To escape from any joint lock is known as (Fan Chin Na) which means to escape and counter back with a mother lock the key skills that needed by a practitioner of Chin Na to escape and counter is 1. Relax, 2. Improve joint, tendon & ligament flexibility, 3. Have good tactile listening skills (ting Jing).
The word Daoyin means to “Guide & Lead” and is a series of exercises that can be practiced from either sitting on the floor or from a chair. The Sitting Guiding & Leading exercises are known as ” Life Nourishing Exercises” (Yang Sheng) as the aim is to strengthen the functioning of the energy ( Qi) and blood ( Xue) to flow freely from the head to the toes to nourish the internal organs and boost our immune system to promote health and well’ being.
There are over forty exercises that involve self massage on the acupuncture meridians and energy points of the face, head, arms, torso, legs and feet. Each exercise is performed a set number of times and are also co-ordinated with deep breathing in a long flowing sequence. They are very easy to learn and can be practiced by anyone of any age, usually the best time to practice these exercises are in the morning, as they are a great way to gently wake the body and set you up to take on the stress and strains of your working day.
The Chinese have been practicing these exercises for thousands of years. They can be practiced on there own individually or in a set sequence, also they can be used alongside other practices like Tai Chi or Qigong. In actual fact there are many Qigong exercises that have added the Guiding & Leading exercises into their forms practice.
A typical Guiding & Leading Daoyin exercise would be for you to rub your both palms together to generate blood and energy flow into your hands. Then place your hands over your face either side of your nose, breathing in as you place your hands on your face, and then wash your face upwards over your head and down behind your ears, breathing out as you massage your face. This exercise helps to freshen your face and improve blood flow, it will also help to release any stress, tension or anxiety. There are fifteen Daoyin exercises performed on the head and face alone as part of the Guiding & Leading Daoyin exercises sequence to help improve blood and energy circulation and to release facial tension, and stress.
Today, still these exercises are being practiced by millions of people around the world to help maintain their health as they slowly grow old.
One of the benefits of practicing the Swimming Dragon Qigong Form ( You Long Gong) is its dynamic stretching of the whole body. Primarily it s aim is to release back muscle tension and stiffness from the spine and hip joints , allowing the body to become more soft and relaxed which is extremely beneficial for individuals who suffer with back problems.
But it is not just the back that benefits from the coiling and twisting actions of the Swimming Dragon Qigong, it is also the shoulders, elbows and wrists joints that benefit as we’ll. because the tendons of the arms are stretched and the three major joints of the arms are gently opened and extended using the unique “Serving the Tea Cup” ( Duan Shang Cha Bei) coiling actions of the upper limbs that are used in the Swimming Dragon Qigong Form. Which Releases both muscle tension and stiffness from the joints, improving the individuals over-al feeling of relaxation and increased range of mobility.
The dynamic twisting, turning and coiling actions of the Swimming Dragon Qigong Form are not just performed by the upper body. They are also used to develop joint flexibility within the hips, knees and ankles of the lower limbs, plus the actions are used to stretch the tendons and ligaments of the lower limbs, releasing muscle tension, improving blood and energy circulation into the feet.
The unique movements of the Swimming Dragon Qigong Form targets all of the body’s joints from the head down to the feet, gently opening the joints and stretching the tendons and ligaments at the same time allowing the body to become more softer over-al.
Learning to maintain a soft relaxed and supple body as you pass through life will greatly benefit your health and over-al we’ll-being. Than developing big muscles that will tighten the joints and shorten the tendons and ligaments, causing you to hold more tension in the body and limiting your range of mobility. The more you can release muscular tension and joint stiffness from your body the more you will improve the circulation throughout the entire body, plus you will conserve more energy as your body is fully relaxed allowing you to move around more easier no matter how old you are.
” A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled sap.
At their death they are withered and dry”.
“Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life”.
Laozi Dao De Jing CHapter 76
The Chin Na Foundational Strengthening Exercises ( Jibengong) are vitally important in the a development of a strong grip in the Chinese martial art of Chin Na “seizing & Grasping the Joints, Tendons & Muscles” below are various exercises to help strengthen the tendons of the fingers, wrist joint and forearm muscles to develop a powerful grip that helps you to immediately causes pain and take control of the opponents limb. One such exercise that is used in Chin Na to strengthen the fingers is to use a breeze or cinder block. Below are three exercises using the cinder or breeze block .
Exercise 1. Start by standing in a riding horse stance (Mabushi) holding a breeze block in your two hands at shoulder height, then drop the breeze block and catch it in your grip before it hits the ground. As shown in the photo at the top of this article.
Exercise 2. Again hold the breeze block in your two hands at chest height. Then flip the block over and capture the opposite side of the block before it hits the ground.
Exercise 3. Hold the narrow edge of the breeze block in your two hands at chest height. Then spin the block around either in a clock-wise or counter-clockwise direction and capture the opposite narrow edge of the block before it hits the ground.
Repeat each exercise with as many repetitions as you can, the longer you can workout on one of the above mentioned exercises or all three. The more you will strengthen your fingers, wrist, forearm and shoulders.
By practicing the Chin Na Foundational Strengthening Exercises the more powerful your Chin Na techniques will become, raising your over-al skill and proficiency levels.
The exercises are suitable for both men and women to practice. You can start using half a breeze or cinder block at first and then gradually progress to using a full breeze or cinder block to develop your confidence and skill.
The eight energies of Tai Chi are to be found in all the many different styles of Tai Chi and especially within the Yang style Tai Chii, this particular blog will be covering the “Rollback” (Lujin) technique which again is used throughout the Tai Chi Forms.
Rollback (Lujin) is considered to be Yin, as it is a yielding technique that moves away from any in-coming force, absorbing and then re-directing it off to either side of the body. It is the opposite technique to the Ward Off (Pengjin) technique which is an expanding energy and is used to counter someone who uses the expanding energy of the Ward Off technique against you, as you immediately yield against its force or strength.
The Rollback technique is found everywhere in the various Tai Chi forms that exist, some are quite obviously seen like the Rollback technique that is used in the “Grasping the Sparrows Tail”. But some individuals are not aware that there is also a Rollback technique in the very first action of the Yang style Tai Chi “Commencement Posture” as you raise your both arms upwards in front of your body to shoulder height this would be the Ward Off technique. The Rollback technique is where you begin to bend your both elbows and allow your two hands to come towards your chest. This is a Rollback technique. If you look closely when you practice your particular Tai Chi style form you should be able to recognise that the Rollback technique is to be found everywhere in your form. Any movement that allows you to draw your arms back towards your body with the body weight moving onto the rear leg and sometimes with the waist turning to either one side or the other is considered to be a Rollback Technique.
The Rollback technique can also be performed in combination with some of the other eight energies of Tai Chi for example. When you rock backwards with the body weight transferring onto the rear leg your two hands can also pull backwards with the both palms facing each other as in using the Squeezing technique (Jijin) as seen in the photo. Or you can Rollback with your two hand pressing downwards towards the ground at waist height using the Pressing Technique (Anjin) which is another of the eight energies of Tai Chi.