This very rare Gongfu form known as the “Balanced Fist Form” Ping Quan Shi of the original Feng Shou Quan “Hand of the Wind Boxing”- system was only taught by Master Chee Soo to only a few top senior students. There are three main forms that was taught by Master Chee Soo and these were the 1). Poison Hand Striking Sets-these particular sets are designed to develop fast striking combinations using your fingers, knuckles, fists, palms, forearms and elbows to target the vital areas of your opponent.
2). Active Mist Defensive Sets- these are designed to develop fast ward offs/blocks against strikes or kicks aimed at various heights and angles.
3). Balanced Fist Sets- combine both the elements of fast striking combinations of the Poison Hand Sets and the fast ward offs/blocks of the Active Mist Sets, plus it’s own principle of simultaneous ward off and strike.
The Balanced Fist Forms are rarely taught openly as there were only a few senior students that Master Chee Soo passed this information onto and now Laoshi Keith Ewers is teaching it through the LFIAA to his students alongside the other two forms of the Poison Hand Sets and the Active Mist Sets.
The Balanced Fist Forms are small individual sets hat combine instant attacks with defence. They can be used as entering techniques to open up your opponents defences, which can then lead to adding either a kicking, joint locking or throwing technique alongside.
Within the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu system as taught by the LFIAA under the guidance of Laoshi Keith Ewers there are three fighting forms that are taught 1). Poison Hand Stiking Form ( Du Shou Da Shi) , 2). Active Mist Defence Form ( Huo Yun Tang Shou Shi), 3). Balanced Fist Form ( Ping Quan Shi).
This blog will look at the Feng Shou-Gongfu “Active Mist defensive Form” Huo Yun Tang Shou Shi. These are a series of short forms that develop fast double deflective/ward off techniques alongside various striking techniques. The aim is to develop the Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioners defensive skill and awareness to defend against both high and low attacks that are both simultaneous in their attacks against striking and kicking techniques . As the saying goes ” if you have confidence in your defence, then you can focus on attack”
Each of the particular Active Mist Defensive Forms move in three directions and what is performed on one side of the body is repeated on the opposite side. So they develop each individual’s balance, concentration, timing, precision, Co-ordination and continuity of movement. Each of the Active Mist Defensive Forms combine fast and slow actions, the defensive actions are performed fast, while the attacking actions are performed slow. As the emphasis is on developing the individuals defensive skill.
Once the Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner has become familial with a certain Active Mist solo Form. He or she will then turn it into a two or three person application form. Where you have to defend against two training partners who are attacking you with striking and kicking techniques at various angles and heights and you have to use double ward offs using just the one hand or arm to defend against their attacks.
The practice of taijiquan sensing hands ( tuishou) is an important practice for individuals who would like to take their practice of taijiquan deeper in their understanding, knowledge and obviously their skill level.
Basically the practice of taijiquan develops two types of energy. Through the practice of the taiji solo form you are mainly working on the cultivation and circulation of the vital energy (qi). Whereas, in the practice of taijiquan sensing hands exercise ( Tuishou) you are learning to develop your intrinsic energy ( jin). Because the practice of tuishou involves constantly remaining in contact with each other and trying to up root each other’s balance, you must begin to learn how to detect your partners intention to push, pull, rise or sink. To do this you must develop your tactile awareness in developing your intrinsic energy (jin) to listen ( ting jin), to your partners intention and be able to understand and neutralise (dong Jin) the direction of force he or she offers you as they push towards you and then issue your energy ( Fa Jin) to up root their balance.
Many people take the sensing hands exercise (tuishou) into just using brute force to take your partner off balance. It can sometimes look like a wrestling match. And sadly many miss the point that sensing hands is about the development of the intrinsic energy and not about just knocking your partner off balance. The taijiquan Classic mentions “that if my opponent does not move I do not move, but if my opponent moves I have already moved first” this comment lets you understand that the practice of taijiquan sensing hands exercise is about learning and developing the skill of over 40 different intrinsic energies (Jin) and not about just learning to up root their balance.
The spiralling hands qigong exercise promotes strong blood and energy into the extremities of the hands and feet, plus it’s opens and develops both the lower and middle dantian’s to cultivate and store your vital energy.
Spiralling hands qigong is performed walking in a circle using the mud wading step ( tang ni bu) which gently stretches the lower back and spine allowing your energy to sink downwards. While walking the circle your both hands are continuously spiralling around each other keeping the both palms and energy points (qi xue) of the hands facing each other. So that you begin to have a tangible feeling of energy between your both hands, like as if you are holding two magnets that attract each other or you may feel warmth and tingling within your fingers and palms.
Obviously like all Daoist Kunlun qigong practices they all include movement, breathing and concentration. In the spiralling hands qigong exercise the breathing is co-ordinated with the hands and stepping so that it slows the whole exercise down which encourages each individual to concentrate by maintaining the timing of the breath and movement together.
Spiralling hands qigong benefits individuals who suffer arthritics, poor circulation, stress, tension or anxiety, osteoporosis, hypertension etc it is a very enjoyable exercise that can be practiced in a small confined area. Over all it improves the individuals balance, co-ordination and concentration and is suitable for everyone, any age, gender or ability.
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Within the practice of the Li Family (Lishi) Dao Yoga system there are a numerous amount of exercises that can help to gently open the joints, stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments to help in releasing any tension or stiffness that may hinder the circulation of both the blood (xue) and energy (qi) to flow smoothly, plus to help the individual to become more relaxed.
One such Dao Yoga exercise that develops flexibility of shoulders, elbows, wrist and fingers, plus strengthens the tendons of the arms is the Leopard stance hand reeling exercise as seen in the picture that accompanies this blog. This exercise dredges both the yin & yang energy channels of the both arms, promoting strong blood and energy flow into the extremities by removing any blockages or stagnation that may have accumulated. Because this Leopard stance reeling hands exercise is performed from a standing position. The legs are used in co-ordination of the arms by rocking the body weight from one leg to the other as the left or right arm performs the reeling, drilling action. By shifting the body weight from one leg to the other also promotes blood and energy flow into the both legs and feet and also strengthens the leg muscles.
The Leopard stance reeling hands exercise is an excellent exercise for those individuals who suffer shoulder tension or stiffness, especially those who work at a desk or have to work using their arms to lift or carry heavy objects, as tension can be easily trapped within the muscles of the shoulders and arms. Using the reeling hands method of the Dao Yoga Leopard stance exercise can release the muscle tension and improve relaxation.
All of the exercises that are practiced in the Lishi Dao Yoga system all combine the body, breath and mind and so it is with the Leopard stance reeling hands exercise. As you rock the body weight and perform the reeling/drilling action you should breath out the eyes focus on the drilling hand. As you relax you breath inwards and then switch to the opposite side and breath out as you perform the reeling/drilling arm action on the opposite side rocking the body weight from one leg to the other.
Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu or “Hand of the Wind Boxing” has its own unique style and characteristics that make it stand alone alongside the other traditional Chinese Internal martial arts. When I first started to learn Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the emphasis of maintaining its soft, flowing, fast, changing of techniques and direction was constantly being expressed upon each individual.
As my teacher Master Chee Soo would always mention that Feng Shou Quan -Gongfu gets its name from emulating the “Wind” which is a Daoist attitude of studying nature and trying to connect and understand how it can be used to nourish life (yang Sheng). Because the Wind can sometimes be like a gentle breeze and sometimes as strong and has devastating as a tornado. This gives the practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu another Daoist perspective of balancing the opposites of Yin & Yang or soft, hard, slow, fast etc Another aspect of the “Wind” is that it can suddenly change direction from blowing directly towards you and then quickly changing its direction to come from another angle. Hence, another characteristic of what an original practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu should be expressing within their own individual style.
Over the many years I have seen this unique style of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu be slowly eroded with many so-called teachers adding in a kick boxing style, where students spar with gloves and foot pads. Which limit and diminish the over all style and techniques of the original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu. But one of the most worrying aspects is of certain teachers turning Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu into an extended version of the Li style Taijiquan and letting it become a form of exercise for fitness and not internal martial art.
The original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is both defensive and offensive and must combine striking, kicking, joint locking and throwing techniques, while maintaining its own unique style and character.
For thousands of individuals who practice Taijiquan for health and well-being many will have asked themselves the question, what to learn once they have fully mastered the Taijiquan solo form.
Well, one of the most popular alternatives is the taiji fan (Shan) form, the fan can be easily carried to your class by being placed into your training bag, unlike the taiji sword which will need a sword holding case. Plus the fan does not look to threatening, unlike the taiji straight sword or taiji sabre
The practice of the taiji fan like all the other weapons that are used in the practice of Taijiquan are considered to be just an extension of the hand. It is said that the taiji straight sword develops the wrists and forarms, the taiji sabre develops the back and spine, the taiji staff develops the waist and the taiji fan develops the dexterity of the fingers and wrists.
The beauty of the taiji fan form is in the performers grace and elegance of movement and his or her skill in the timing of the opening and closing of the taiji fan in co-ordination with the whole body movement, breath and concentration.
The health benefits that are associated with the practice of the Taijiquan solo form are the same with the practice of the taiji fan form. In some cases many individuals would properly chose to practice the taiji fan form over the solo form as they find it more invigorating and beneficial.