In the practice of the “Eight Diagram Palm” ( Baguazhang) there are many different Palm shapes used such as the Ox tongue palm, the Willow Leaf Palm and the Dragon’s Claw Palm. The Palm shape that is used in the practice of the Sun Style Baguazhang is the Willow Leaf Palm (Liu Ye Zhang) .
The Willow Leaf Palm shape involves the fingers of the Palm to be apart, especially the space between the index finger and thumb known as the Tigers mouth ( Hu Kou) which is kept open and round with the index finger pointing upwards. The centre of the Palm is hollowed and concaved and held upright. The arm is extended out in front and bent at the elbow with the elbow pointing downwards , the hand is held higher than the elbow.
When the practitioner of the Sun Style Baguazhang performs his or her circle walking practice by standing in the ” Green Dragon Turns its Body Posture” ( Lu Long Zhuan Shen Shi) his or hers eyes are looking through the Tigers mouth ( Hu Kou) the space between the thumb and index finger of the leading extended hand which is pointing towards the centre of the circle. Energetically it is important that the extended hand and eyes are in line and held horizontal with the head held upright. This allows the energy of the body to remain balanced within the practitioners body.
The Sun Style Baguazhang ( Eight Diagram Palm)) version of the Single Changing Palm ( Dan Huan Zhang) is rather plain and simple when compared to the many other Baguazhang styles, which involves more complicated and intricate movements, Unlike the Sun style version which uses less flowery and unnecessary movements.
The Sun Style Bagua Single Changing Palm is a short form that is practiced on both sides of the body and consists of just four postures which are repeated on both sides.
1. Green Dragon Turns its Body.
2. Green Dragon Contracts its Tail.
3. Green Dragon Turns Its Head.
4. Black Tiger exits Cave.
The movements involve a twisting of the upper and lower limbs, plus the torso also rotates horizontally which increases both joint, tendon, ligament and muscle flexibility. The constant twisting and releasing actions of the joints also flushes and increases the blood and energy to flow smoothly throughout the entire body, allowing the internal organs to function correctly by the blood nourishing them so helping to maintain and improve health and well-being.
Because the Sun style Bagua Single Changing Palm is performed walking around in a circle. It can also be used as a form of moving meditation to help bring calmness to the mind and a deep feeling of relaxation to the body. Because of its circle walking practice the Sun style Bagua Single Changing Palm can be practiced within a small confined space unlike some styles of Taijiquan which need quite a large area to practice in.
Within the practice of the Single Changing Palm there are also hidden within the movements the “Eight Energies” which are 1.Moving, 2. Hindering, 3. Knocking, 4. Pushing, 5. Hooking, 6. Supporting, 7. Carrying, 8. Lifting. Which allows the Sun style Baguazhang to be used as a means of self defence against an aggressive situation.
Throughout the whole Chinese arts of qigong, taijiquan, gongfu and Chinese medicine practitioners have all been categorised into three levels of proficiency. Even in the Yellow Emperors book on treating Internal Diseases (Huang Di Nei Jing) ) which is over two thousand years old. It states that a lower practitioner is the one who can treat successfully 5 out of 10 people and a middle level practitioner treats only 7 out of 10. While a high level practitioner treats 9 out of 10 people.
It is the same for those individuals who practice either qigong, taiji or gongfu they are also categorised into either a high level practitioner ( Shang Zhi Ye), a middle level practitioner ( Zhong Zhi Ye) or a low level practitioner ( Xia Zhi Ye). Today many individuals only attend one class a week within there chosen Chinese art and never practice at home in their own time, Which means they will never move above the lower practitioner/ student level ( Xia Zhi Ye) until they commit more time and energy to their practice.
It is only a very rare few individuals who will reach and attain the middle practitioner/student level and even only one or two individuals who have dedicated their lives to their chosen Chinese art be it Taijiquan, qigong or the internal martial arts of Gongfu who will ever reach the highest practitioner/student level (Shang Zhi Ye).
In the practice of the Li style Dao Yoga system where there are loads of exercises that are aimed at releasing muscle tension and joint stiffness , which will obviously improve each individual’s flexibility and relaxation levels. It is through the regular practice of the Dao Yoga exercises that will and can help to improve and maintain your health and well-being.
Personally, I believe that by maintaining a supple and relaxed body through the practice of Dao Yoga and eating a balanced diet is the best way to live a long life. As a supple body allows the blood and energy to flow smoothly throughout the entire body. The stretching of the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles allows the body to attain a large range of motion, irrespective of how old you are.
As we get older we will naturally lose our ability to maintain good balance. As our body ages our joints get stiffer and the body tightens up. Plus, our concentration becomes weaker, which then effects our agility and
co-ordination. Through the practice of Dao Yoga on a regular basis you can slow down the ageing process of the body and still maintain a flexible body and strong concentration into your old age. Giving you the independence to still live your life full of vitality and strength.
The practice of Dao Yoga can also help to maintain a balanced state of your emotions. As many individuals in the world today are guided by their own emotions. Which can range from being happy to suddenly being sad or from being scared to becoming angry. Usually this means that the energy (qi) of the body is stagnated in a certain part of the body for example if you feel angry all of the time, then this means that the energy is rushing or raising upwards to much and causes the individual to feel heat rising upwards into the head causing the person to become aggressive. Through the regular practice of Dao Yoga you can learn how to lower the energy and bring your emotions back into balance through a feeling of relaxed contentment.
Most individuals who are practicing the Chinese Bodywork Massage known as Tui Na (push & grasp), An Mo (press & touch) or Dian Xue (acupressure). Today are mainly working on the muscles and blood and usually involve a lot of physical techniques that also needs a lot of strength from the practitioner to perform them.
Whereas, in the Li style Chinese Bodywork Massage as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers the emphasis is based upon moving the energy (Qi) first within the patient. To do this the practitioners own energy must be full and strong so that he or she can use their energy to connect to the patients energy and then be able to guide and lead (Daoyin) the patients energy by either lowering, raising, entering or exiting it to help them treat various external or internal illnesses.
It is vitally important that the practitioner of the Li Style Chinese Bodywork system also practice Daoyin/Qigong exercises to strengthen their own energy levels, maintain their own health and be able to feel the same sensations of energy like tingling, warmth, fullness and movement within their own bodies. So that the same sensations that you feel, you are able to tell your patient what exactly they should feel when you treat them.
As for strength being second. You must have the physical and mental strength and endurance to perform a particular technique for over ten minutes or more on each patient. Especially when you consider that you might treat over twenty patients a day, plus, with some of the techniques that work directly on moving your patients energy, could mean that you end up staying on a certain part of your patients body for a longer period of time. Holding a technique for over ten minutes or more which obviously means that the practitioner must have a great amount of both mental and physical strength.
The whole aim of practicing the Daoist Kunlun Rising Hands Qigong “Shang Shou Gong” is to maintain & improve the strength of our health and well-being by using passive and dynamic movements in co-ordination with our breath and concentration to invigorate the smooth circulation of our blood (xue) and energy (qi) and to remove any blood stagnation or blockages of energy.
The hand, arm and leg movements of the Rising Hands Qigong exercise will cause a lengthening and traction of the joints, tendons, ligaments to dynamically stretch open allowing more blood and energy to flow in between the spaces created by the traction and stretching actions of both the upper and lower limbs. Removing any blood stagnation and flakey bits of bone that has been lodged between the joints and re-place it with nourishing blood and energy to heal both chronic and acute illnesses.
The dynamic traction and stretching actions of the Kunlun Rising Hands Qigong also improves whole body flexibility of the upper & lower back and spinal column releasing muscle tension and joint stiffness improving the whole feeling of relaxation and stopping the compaction and tightening of the joints, tendons and ligaments which can hinder the flow of blood and energy affecting each individual’s vitality levels and emotional balance.
During the Tang and Yuan Dynasties the practice of Chinese Bodywork Massage was at its most highest with many high quality practitioners. This was mainly due to the wars between the Mongols and the Chinese army’s they each had their own healers who would treat the soldiers who suffered many war injuries and then send them back into the army. Many of the healers where bodywork massage practitioners who would only have their hands and their healing skill to treat broken bones, dislocations and many types of external and internal ailments.
Another reason why Chinese Bodywork Massage became so highly rated and popular was in the treatment of the very rich. Who did not want to have a needle as in acupuncture stuck into their body, nor did they want to have an operation, especially with the royal family like the emperor and his family who if you left a mark or bruise or even caused great pain and discomfort could cost you your life. Hence the Chinese Bodywork Massage practitioners had to come up with powerful techniques that could be used to treat many ailments without leaving any marks, bruises or pain and could also be performed through the clothing to treat both external and internal diseases.
Today many of these Chinese Bodywork Massage techniques have been lost through time. But many can still be found and used in the Li Style Bodywork Massage system, many of the techniques can be used on the musculoskeletal system to promote blood flow and release tension from the muscles and stiffness out of the joints. Plus, it can be used to work on the energy pathways known as meridians and channels or you can work directly on the internal organs of the body through the individuals clothing.
The total aim of a practitioner of Li Style Bodywork Massage is to allow the patients energy and blood to flow and circulate freely around his or her body, to gently stretch his or her joints, tendons and ligaments open allowing the nourishing blood and energy to flow into the spaces created between the joints and flush all the impurities out that has accumulated due to illness, injury, lack of exercise or old age. By working on the energy pathways you will also affect the seven emotions which can cause the energy of the patient to raise, lower or scatter etc you must try and bring balance back to the patient .
When I first started to learn the Li family arts of Taijiquan, Feng Shou-Gongfu and Dao Yoga from my teacher Master Chee Soo who would always mention that all of the Chinese Mind & Body arts that he taught as part of the Li family system are all connected to each other.
Practicing the many Dao Yoga exercises will allow the individual to relax by releasing muscle tension and stiffness out of the body, plus it allows the mind to release worries, stress, anxiety and mental tension again improving the over-Al feeling of deep relaxation. As the body becomes more relaxed and supple this will increase the blood flow and energy to fully circulate around the body, removing any blood stagnation or energy blockages that could cause various ailments.
Regular Dao Yoga practice will also increase whole body flexibility and strength allowing the individual a greater range of mobility. By practicing the Dao Yoga I found that it helped me with my Taijiquan training by increasing my physical strength and vitality levels, as for my Gongfu training it greatly improved my flexibility to kick higher, but more importantly I could move my body much more faster as I had less tension and resistance within my muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Practicing Dao Yoga can also be very beneficial towards controlling and preventing certain health ailments like arthritis, chronic fatigue, weak leg strength, back stiffness and pain, headaches, migraines, blood pressure problems and much more. Another aspect that connects of the Li family arts together is that they all work on strengthening and improving the balance, co-ordination and concentration and Dao Yoga will do exactly the same.
The Li Family Style of Chinese Bodywork Massage (Tui Na) consists of 16 massage techniques that can be used to work on the musculoskeletal system and the acupuncture meridians and channels (Jingmai) to treat many types of ailments.
The Li Style 16 Bodywork Massage techniques range from using a light touch to heavy pressure, from point pressing to structural manipulations giving the practitioner of the Li Style Bodywork Massage a wide spectrum of techniques that can be used in a clinic to treat many ailments.
There is no place or area of the body that the Li Style Bodywork Massage techniques cannot be used. They can even be used through the clothing of an individual, unlike Acupuncture which cannot insert needles into the area of the neck, nor can they be inserted through the clothing of individual’s .
My teacher Master Chee Soo would always say that the Chinese mind & body arts of Taiji, Qigong, Gongfu and Bodywork Massage that my teacher taught are all connected and benefit each other. Practicing Taiji or Qigong improves the correct alignment of the posture, which allows the qi to flow strongly into the hands and rest of the body this is then carried on into the practice of the Li Style Bodywork Massage has good posture is vitally important to maintain a strong qi flow into the hands especially, the same hand shapes and techniques used in either the practice of Taijiquan, Qigong and Gongfu are also the same used in the Li Style Bodywork Massage but used in a different context.
In the practicing of the Shape & Mind Boxing (Xingyiquan) there are twelve animal forms which can develop each individuals fitness, strength and flexibility, plus it can help to improve their general health & well-being. One of the most popular of the Xingyiquan”s twelve animals is the Dragon Shape Form ( Long Xing) which is considered to be the most powerful of the twelve animals.
Practicing the Dragon Shape Form benefits the functioning of the heart and kidneys which in Chinese medicine controls the circulation of the body and the vitality levels. Energetically it opens up the energy pathways of the yang governing channel n the back, pus the yin conception channel that travels directly down the front of the body. These two channels are the primary channels that control the amount of energy that flows into the twelve yin & yang meridians that connect and aid the functioning of the internal organs in their maintenance of balancing our over-Al health and well-being.
Because of the physical actions that goes into the practice and performance of the Xingyiquan’s Dragon Shape Form the individuals fitness, stamina and leg strength greatly improves, plus the development of their agility, mental concentration and co-ordination also vastly strengthens.
As for the self defence aspect of the learning of the Dragon Shape Form it develops and improves the connection of the upper and lower body and the development of cross body co-ordination of using the opposite hand and leg to defend and Attack simultaneously . The Dragon Shape Form both covers the centre line as used in a defensive situation, plus it can also be used to take control of your opponents centre line by using the Splitting, Drilling and Pounding fists.