Many have claimed that the practice of the Eight Diagram Palm exercise (Baguazhang) looks like a Dragon twisting and turning its body.To the Chinese a Dragon is a sign of spirituality and creativeness not a symbol of evil as seen in the west, in the practice of The Eight Diagram Palms when you see a top quality performance of a Baguazhang practitioner twisting, turning,extending and contracting his or her whole body, while walking around in a circle constantly changing direction is said to bring to life the energy of a Dragon to help themselves generate and cultivate the internal energy ( Nei qi) from their surrounding environment to improve and maintain their health and well-being.
The twisting and turning actions of the limbs and torso that are involved in the practice of Baguazhang are aimed at developing a more supple and relaxed individual. As the twisting and turning improves joint,tendon and ligament flexibility that releases muscle tension and joint stiffness that helps each individual to attain a more relaxed body with strong blood and energy circulation throughout the entire body.
The walking of a circle and constantly changing the direction of the circle and its size from large to small improves the agility and footwork of the individual, plus it promotes strong legs and cardiovascular fitness as the speed that the circle is walked can vary from slow to fast developing better balance, co-ordination and concentration.
Unlike Tai Chi which usually need plenty of room to practice in. Baguazhang canbe practiced within a small area of space, as the form is performed in a circular direction and not in a long linear direction as found in the practice of Tai Chi. Baguazhang is suitable for everyone,any age or gender.
One of the most unique massage techniques within the structure of the Lishi Bodywork Massage system is the Rolling technique (Gun Fa). This particular technique uses a vertical rolling action of pushing and pressing, it involves using mainly the back of the hand, the knuckles, fist and wrist as seen in the accompanying photo withi this blog.
The rolling technique can be used directly or indirectly on the skin or it can be used through the clothing. So it can be used to give immediate relief by bringing warmth and energy into the painful area. Another aspect of the Lishi Bodywork Massage system is that the practitioner him or herself must have strong energy ( qi) flow in their own palms, so that they can quickly bring energy and heat to the affected area of the patient and bring them comfort and reassurance..
My teacher the late Grandmaster Chee Soo used to call the Lishi Bodywork Massage push & pull as it was another term he would use to express the Yin & Yang principle. Within the Lishi bodywork massage there are numerous amount massage techniques that can be used to manipulate the circulation of the patient energy within his or her meridians and channels ( qi mai) that cover the entire body. Plus the techniques can be used to treat various muscular skeletal ailments like frozen shoulder, stiff neck, back pain, leg cramps and muscle fatigue for example.
Just like in acupuncture where the needle is inserted into the energy point ( qi xue) along a certain energy pathway to either stimulate or sedate the circulation of energy in the patiients body. The practitioner of the Lishi bodywork massage must also, be able to do the same through his touch in being able to either raise, lower, enter or exit the energy within your patients body using the numerous manipulative techniques that are taught in the Lishi bodywork massage system.o
Alongsiide the learning of the various massage techniques there are to learn. The most important training is to develop, cultiivate,, harness and strengthen your own internal energy so that it can be used to connect to your patients energy and be used to guide and lead ( Daoyin) their own energy around their own body to help treat many types of ailments from chronic to acute.
The LFIAA as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers does not only just offer classes and course on Taijiquan, Gongfu or Qigong but now are offering courses on the Lishi Traditional Chinese Bodywork Massage system to anyone who would like to study and learn Traditional Chinese Medicine .
Because Feng Shou-Gongfu is considered to be a Chinese internal martial art. It should involve three aspects of practice. 1). Qigong, 2). Waigong, and 3). Neigong. Over the many years I’ve have seen more and more individuals train in the internal martial art of Feng Shou-Gongfu and concentrate mainly on developing their external/physical ( Waigong) side. Emphasing more physical strength in their martial arts movements and still calling themselves internal.
Neigong or inner work is the use of the mind, breath and body to co-ordinate together in the cultivation and circulation of the internal energy ( Neiqi) to flow smoothly into the extremities adding both power and strength to the external work (Waigong) movements of your martial art techniques. Obviously, this means that the practitioner of the Feng Shou-Gongfu system must involve the practice of Qigong or energy work into their own practice. Which includes both 1). Standing Post ( Zhan Zhuang Qigong), 2). Guiding & Leading ( Daoyin) and 3). Moving exercises ( Dong Qigong).
The practice of Feng Shou-Gongfu own Qigong practice is the harmony of both its External ( Waigong) practice and its Internal ( Neigong) practice. Meaning that its Qigong work must involve its own martial art actions so that the whole body strength it behind all of its defensive and offensive techniques giving more strength and power into them.
If you just practise your own Feng Shou-Gongfu without the Neigong or Inner work then you really cannot call it an internal martial art. Just because you remain soft and relaxed within your movements, does not mean you are an internal martial artist. It must involve both mind, body and breath and more importantly it’s internal mechanics ( Neigong).
in the practice of Baguazhang we practice both the single changing Palm ” Dan Huan Zhang” and also the double changing palm “Shuang Huan Zhang” among the many other palm changes. At first we practice them one after the other changing from one side of the body to the other, this constant changing of the many palms from one to another that are contained within the practice of Baguazhang develops a very agile, relaxed and supple body. This is down to the twisting and turning of the joints, tendons and ligaments of the whole body while you practice your Baguazhang forms.
At first when we begin to ” Walk the Circle” practicing our Single Changing Palm form for example, we have the tendency to ” Change More & Walk Less” As I have already mentioned above , the constant changing develops agility and whole body flexibility, which allows the body to relax by releasing both joint stiffness and muscle tension which in turn increase blood and energy flow.
But to actually develop strength both mentally and physically you must learn to ” Walk the Circle More & Change Less” by doing this physically the body develops tendon and ligament strength as the arms are held out in there various postures much longer and because you are turning more circles the cardiovascular and respiratory system is also strengthened. Mentally the mind becomes more calmer and quite as you concentrate on the extended hand looking through the “Tigers Mouth” (Hu Kou) into the centre of the circle.
There are many individuals who are both teaching and practicing the Chinese Internal Martial Art known as Feng Shou-Gongfu ( Hand of the Wind Boxing). Sadly, many think that just because you must remain relaxed and loose while practicing you are performing an internal martial art
Firstly practicing Feng Shou-Gongfu must involve the studying of “Neigong” or internal work alongside the practice of ” Waigong” external work of striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques. Like Yin & Yang ifthere is an loutside then there must also be an inside and sadly many practitioners who are studying Feng Shou-Gongfu spend more time developing their ” Waigong” and do not practice any ” Neigong”. The practice of Inner Work must not involve movements that are completely different to the movements that you already use within your Feng Shou-Gongfu. Inner work involves the body, mind and breathing to guide and lead ( Daoyin) your internal energy (qi) into both your upper and lower limbs to add more power to your techniques.
Obviously remaining loose and relaxed (Song) in your movements will allow your blood (Xue) and energy (qi) to flow smoothly, as any tension will just hinder the flow around the body, especially into your limbs. Becoming more aware of the main energy points ( qi xue) and energy pathways ( qi mai) that are used within the movements of your Feng Shou-Gongfu techniques will also help to co-ordinate the mind & body to strengthen the internal cultivation and power that is much needed to make your Feng Shou-Gongfu become a well respected internal martial art.
When you begin your practice of the ancient Chinese exercise known as “Qigong” (energy work) the first aim of its practice it to allow the body to relax by releasing the tension and stiffness out of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. This is achieved through slow passive and active movements that gently stretch and open the whole bodies joints and muscles, which will increase the feeling of relaxation and blood circulation throughtout the entire body.
Once the body as become more softer and relaxed from the practice of the qigong movements. The next aim is to try and calm the mind and release the chaos inside. This particular aspect of developing the mind through the practice of qigong is properly the most hardest to achieve and can take many years of dedicated practice. Gradually by concentrating the mind with the breath and co-ordinating the breathing with the passive and active movements of your qigong practice your concentration will strengthen and you will notice that less thoughts enter into your mind. After a while your mind will become more quite and calm. To achieve this level will take plenty of repetitive slow practice over and over until your mind and body fully connect.
What is meant by the “mind and body fully connect” (Yi shen Lian) as the mind and body become more relaxed and still, calm, quite. This allows the mind to look inside of the body and become more aware of the movement of the blood (Xue) and energy (qi) as it moves in various directions as you perform your qigong practice. This awareness of the movement of the blood and energy is achieved through the feeling of various sensations that the mind picks up such as warmth, coolness, tingling, fullness, heaviness and movement. The mind cannot feel these sensations if the mind is not calm and still with weak concentration, the feeling of the energy sensations inside of the body is just the beginning the next stage, the next stage is to use the minds concentration to guide and lead ( Daoyin) the energy (qi) to any part of the body in conjunction with the actions of your qigong exercises.