The Sun Style Bagua Zhang (Eight Diagram Palms) was created by Master Sun Lutang who learnt it from Master Cheng Tinghua. who was taught it by the creator of Bagua Zhang Master Dong Hai Quan The Sun Style Bagua that he developed is not has flowery in its actions as many of the other ten styles of Bagua Zhang that have been developed since it was first introduced by Master Dong Hai Quan. The Sun Style Bagua is very plain and simply in its movements, but it is also very practical and effective for both the maintenance of health and wellbeing, through the cultivation and circulating of the vital energy (qi) and blood (xue), plus it can be used for self defence as its actions are easy to learn and straight forward.
The first palm (Zhang) that is taught and introduced to any student of the Sun Style Bagua is known as the “Single Changing Palm” (Dan Huan Zhang). This particular Bagua form is performed on both sides of the body, which obviously develops each individual’s balance, co-ordination and concentration. Through its dynamic turning, twisting of the whole body it develops flexibility within the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles, releasing stiffness and tension and promoting blood flow and improving relaxation.
As for Self Defence the “Single Changing Palm” incorporates striking, kicking, joint locking and throwing techniques that are endless in its amount of variation that it holds. Because of its unique “Circle Walking” footwork that develops fast evasive footwork for both defensive or offensive techniques. Another benefit of practicing the Sun Style Bagua is that it can be performed within a small confined space which is ideal for those who do not have enough room in their house to practice.
As a method of exercise it is excellent for everyone, any age or gender. It is a superb way to exercise either slowly for relaxation, energy cultivation or circle walking meditation practices, or it can be used to exercise vigorously, walking the circle quickly to develop the individuals cardio fitness and stamina. No matter wether you practice it slowly or fast it can benefit everyone health and wellbeing.
As with those individuals who practice Tai Chi or Qigong the maintenance of good body alignment is very important in allowing for a good flow of both blood (xue) & energy (qi) throughout the entire body. And so it is with the practice and treatment of Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong). Especially if you are treating over 20 to 30 individuals a day, if your posture is incorrect because you are leaning over in awkward positions then your body will begin to tense up. This will immediately have an effect on your energy circulation and strength and will also affect your treatment of your patients.
In the practice of Energy Bodywork Massage we are taught to move from our lower dantian ( Xia Dantian) or elixir field, which we consider to be the centre of the body, the body must be kept upright with no over leaning of the body. The legs are kept directly underneath the torso and firmly connected through the Bubbling Spring points ( Yongquan Kidney 1) on the balls of the feet, with both knees slightly bent.
The shoulders must be kept relaxed and should not rise upwards, the elbows should be kept below the height of the shoulders and should not be bent out of shape at shape angles that allows the energy of the practitioner to rise upwards into his or her chest. By keeping the shoulders and elbows down will help the energy of the practitioner remain in the lower dantian. The energy flow into the both hands must be strong and smooth, it is important that the practitioner has warm or hot hands at all times during his or her treatment and practice.
Each practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) should have a balanced connection between the Bubbling Spring points on the balls of the feet, the Labour Palance points (Laogong Pericardium 8) at the centre of each palm and the lower Dantian located just below the navel or centre of the body. This will allow for good energy flow and connection between the ground (Earth) through the practitioners body into his or hands, where he or she will be able to fully connect to the patients energy and be able to guide and lead it anywhere in their body.
There are thousands of individuals who are practicing Taijiquan and do not even realise that within the practice of Taijiquan there are weapon forms and two-0person weapon exercises like the practice of the Taiji Sword ( Taiji Jian). The Chinese say that the weapon is just an extension of the hand meaning that what ever weapon you decide to practice with will determine the way your body moves to weld it skilfully.
In the practice of the Taiji Sword it is said that it takes 1000 days on a regular basis to fully master the use of the weapon. Obviously this means solo practice and two-person Taiji sword drills. Each particular Taiji weapon develops a certain part of the practitioners body for example in the practice of the Taiji Staff it is said to develop the waist, whereas, in the practice of the Taiji Sword it is said to develop the flexibility and strength in the tendons of the arms, especially the wrists.
When you practice the Li Style Taiji Sword solo form as in the practice of the Taiji bare hand solo form it will greatly enhance your agility, co-ordination and concentration to even higher levels. It involves postures standing on one leg as well as low level postures that develop strong legs and flexibility. Alongside various Taiji sword techniques like pointing, chopping, slicing, raising and cutting etc. but more importantly it will strengthen your energy (qi) circulation throughout the whole body and into the sword tip. Because the Taiji sword is at lest two foot in length beyond your hands reach, this will allow your energy to expand further away from your body.
Another important training method is the many Two-person Taiji sword drills. These Taiji Sword drills are aimed at developing your ability to stick ( Nian) and adhere ( Zhan) to your training partners sword, plus they will develop your reactions, timing and accuracy in the skilful use of the Taiji sword techniques. The ultimate aim of learning a large amount of Taiji sword two-person drills is to reach a level where you can practice a free form ( Sanshou) Taiji sword sparring drill, where the aim is to remain in contact with your training partners sword, while using both defensive and offensive techniques alongside your Taiji stepping and stance work.
For every individual who practices the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu system who wants to develop strength and power in their defensive and offensive techniques must have an understanding of connecting their “Ground Path”. What is exactly meant by the “Ground Path” well it means to connect the legs with the torso and tthe waist to the hands, so that your whole body is fully connected and used as a whole unit in every technique that you perform.
Assume that you have an aggressive individual in front of yourself, who is larger in height and heavier in size than yourself. This individual throws a heavy punch towards you and you decide to block it with your arm, suddenly the force and weight of his blow just smashes through your block causing your arm to be bounced out of the way knocking you off balance and to the floor. The reason why this has happened is that you only used your arm strength to try and block a far more heavier blow than you thought you could handle and realised that you lack the strength to defend yourself against heavy blows.
The aim of developing a good “Ground Path” ( Di Liu Jing) is to make you realise that true strength in the practice of Feng Shou-Gongfu comes from the whole body being fully connected and used as a whole unit When you raise your arm to block a heavy blow the strength, force or power within your blocking arm should be generated from your feet and legs, by pressing your feet against the ground you will develop a stronger “Root” or connection to the ground. This then generates an upward force or strength that travels up through your legs and this force is increased by your both knees bending and then straightening, which it then continues on directing the force, strength upwards to the waist and back muscles and spine, the turning, twisting of the waist and shoulders again continues and increases this rising force or strength from the legs into the arm that you have decided to use to block the in-coming blow. But now instead of your arm bouncing off the in-coming blow, your attackers has thrown. It is now his arm that is deflected or bounced off away knocking him off balance. This happens because you have developed a good connection with the ground through proper alignment of your posture to issue power and strength into you martial art techniques.
Issuing power into your offensive techniques is also down to developing a good connection to the ground and a smooth continuous path through your body for the strength and power being generated to be released or issued out of your arms and hands. This is why in the practice of the Chinese Internal Martial Arts like Feng Shou-Gongfu a practitioner will spend many hours in practice learning to develop whole body power (Quan Shen Li) in their defensive and offensive techniques through development of a strong “Ground Path” structure that can issue power and strength into every technique.
In the practice of Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) as taught and practiced by the LFIAA the emphasis is based upon ” Qi first and Strength Second”. But what is meant by ” Qi First”, when we treat a patient we first make connection with their energy by using our own. If you imagine that your energy is like a magnet and your patients energy is like metal filings. Then no matter were the practitioner places his or her hands they should be able to attract, draw the patients energy to their location, the practitioner his then able to connect strongly to the patients energy and is able to then manipulate it by making it tries, lower, gather or disperse etc.
When the practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) connects to his patients energy the patient will experience certain sensations as their own energy is being moved within their body by the practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage. These sensations can be felt locally or distally and can be felt like warmth, tingling, fullness, heaviness or movement anywhere in their body. For the practitioner of Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) he or she will not place any of their own energy into the patient, but use the patients own energy to heal themselves.
What is meant by ” Strength Second” in the practice of Energy Bodywork Massage. Firstly, it means to work on moving the blood throughout the patients body by working on the musculoskeletal system which can give a more physical type of massage. This also means that the practitioner might need to work on one part of the patients body for quite a long time, this takes plenty of stamina and strength within the practitioner to maintain their quality of massage work using the same technique for a long period of time.
In the practice of Energy Bodywork Massage there are certain massage techniques that work on manipulating the patients energy, there are certain massage techniques that can work on both moving energy and blood within the patients body and there are certain massage techniques that work better on moving just the blood. In most massage systems to many individuals simply work directly on the physical by moving the blood and do not work on the energetic level. Within the Energy Bodywork Massage ( Tui Na Qigong) we work on three levels of the patients body the first level is the Heaven (Tian) level and this works on the energetic aspect of the patient, the second level is the Human (Ren) level, this level works on the patients blood, the third level is the Earth ( Di) level which works on the patients bone structure.
In the practice of the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu there are plenty of footwork drills that allows the practitioner of this fascinating Chinese internal martial art to be able to move confidently in any direction combining strikes, kicks, wrestling and throwing techniques while on the move. One of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu evasion exercises is called ” Box Step Evasion” (Xiang Bu Dou Shan) which basically means to place your both feet on at lest two corners of a square or box that is on the floor with your posture side on to your opponent.
The practice of the Box Step Evasion footwork within Feng Shou-Gongfu has over eight various extensions or sets that are taught to every student or practitioner. These so called training sets can involve simply taking just two or three steps to quickly dodge out of the way of your opponents on-coming punch or kick and place yourself in a better advantages position to counter attack. The training of the Box Step Evasion footwork also includes rotating the whole body in a small tight circle as you enter towards your opponent to knock him off his centre, or it can be used to completely dodge or evade away from a single or multiple opponents.
One of the most difficult aspects of training and developing the Box Step Evasion footwork for any student of Feng Shou-Gongfu is to combine it with their offensive and defensive fighting techniques.it is quite easy to just simply practice the Box Step Evasion as a defensive method to escape from your opponents punches and kicks by just dodging and evading out of the way. But to use the Box Step Evasion footwork to be more offensive takes a high level of skill in each practitioner, as they will have to learn how to combine various hand manipulative methods to create openings in your opponents defences,so that you can effectively use your Box Step Evasive footwork to your advantage alongside the use of your strikes, kicks, joint locks and throws as being demonstrated by my son in the accompanying video.
Energy Bodywork Massage is Traditional Chinese Medicine that works on the acupuncture meridians, channels and energy points, plus it works on the muscularsketeal system to treat both external and internal diseases. In China this particular method of massage as been called by many names such as “An-Mo Massage” which means to press and touch. Or “Tui Na Massage” which means to push and grasp. Or even ” Dian Xue Massage” which means to press energy points.
Energy Bodywork Massage works on the energetic, physical, emotional and mental/spiritual aspects of each individual to help them recover both good health and wellbeing by using a wide variety of manipulative massage techniques that mainly make use of the fingers, palms and forearms to work on the patients body. As a practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage system it is important that he or she regularly practices energy cultivation exercises like Daoyin or Qigong to maintain a high level of internal energy ( Neiqi) circulation and strength. So that the practitioner can better connect and guide the patients own energy around their body to help them treat various ailments.
If you imagine that the Energy Bodywork Massage practitioner own energy is like a magnet and the patients energy is like metal filings. Then when the practitioner places his or her hands onto the patients body he or she can immediately attract and connect to the patients energy and be able to guide and lead the patients own energy anywhere in their body to help themselves recover from illness. I no way does the practitioner put any of his or her own energy into the patients body, it is because that the practitioners own energy is strong and big in volume due to his or her regular practice of their Daoyin or qigong exercises that allows them to connect, guide and lead the patients own energy.
Once the Energy Bodywork Massage practitioner has developed and cultivated strong energy within themselves they can then use various massage techniques to help them manipulate the patients energy by either making it rise, lower, gather or disperse etc. this also means that the practitioner must also have developed a high level of sensitivity through their own sense of touch to be able to feel the movement of energy (Qi) within the patients body. Without developing this sensitivity to feel the patients energy then the Energy Bodywork Massage practitioner cannot connect, guide and lead the patients own energy to help treat them.
Another aspect of the Energy Bodywork Massage system is that you can also work directly on the muscles, tendons and joints, which is mainly working on the blood to remove blood stasis, using various massage techniques like traction to create space between the joints and tendons to allow the blood to enter into the space created by your traction technique to wash clean the stuck, sickly turbid blood that is causing I’ll Heath and allow fresh nourishing blood to strengthen the area of the body helping to maintain health.
The next of the Eight Basic Palms (Ba Jiben Zhang) of the Eight Diagram Palms ( Baguazhang) system is known as the “Scooping Palm” (Liao Zhang). This particular palm is connected to the ” Water Trigram” (Kan Gua) as the whole arm and hand are pointing downwards, giving the impression of water flowing down. The palm shapeis with the fingers pointing downwards either with the palm facing inwards or outwards. If the palm is facing inwards the Tigers mouth ( Hu Kou) is facing directly to the front, but if you decide to point the palm to face outwards, then the Tigers mouth will be facing yourself.
As with all of the Eight Basic Palms they can be used in a number of ways to promote good health and wellbeing,. One method is through the practice of Standing Post Qigong (Baguazhang Zhan Zhuang Gong) where the practitioner stands in a particular posture for upto thirty minutes or longer to cultivate the vital energy to strengthen both the mind and body. The second method is the famous Baguazhang circle walking qigong practice, where again the practitioner will use the “Scooping Palm” (Liao Zhang) posture using both hands pointing inwards towards the centre of the circle. The practitioner will then begin to hold the posture while walking around in a circle, constantly changing direction and switching sides of the body to face the centre of the circle. The aim to cultivate the internal energy is to walk the circle more and change direction less.
Combining the two methods of practice already mentioned above is a really good way for individuals of any age or gender to strengthen their mind and body, developing their cardio fitness and to gather the vital energy for health,wellbeing & longevity. One of the reasons why the practice of Baguazhang is ideal for everyone is that it can be performed within a small confined area, you can practice all of the Eight Basic Palms circle walking in a small area as the size of the circle should be about eight steps in circumference.
The next of the Bagua’s Eight Basic Palms ( Ba Jiben Zhang) is the ” Upright Palm” (Shu Zhang) which is connected to the “Fire Trigram”. This particular Bagua Palm shape is where the palm is facing away from the body, fingers pointing upwards with the space between the thumb and index finger kept open and rounded (Hu Kuu) as seen in the accompanying photo that goes with this blog. In the practice of Baguazhang the ” Upright Palm” can also change its angle so that it is side on with the fingers turned inwards, outwards and even downwards as long as the Palm faces forwards.
In the practice of Bagua Standing Post Qigong the practitioner usually stands in a Riding Horse Stance (Ma Bu Shi) with his both arms extended out in front with the fingers turned inwards towards each other and both palms facing front. The practitioner will then hold this position for up to 15-30 minutes at a time. Or they can combine the other Eight Basic Palms moving from one posture to another.
The ” Upright Palm” can also be held in various positions while you practice the Bagua Circle Walking Qigong exercise again combining the other Eight Basic Palms into the practice. Both of the above Bagua qigong exercises that I’ve have mentioned are excellent at cultivating strong internal energy for the attainment of good Heath and wellbeing.
Obviously the Baguazhang’s ” Upright Palm” (Shu Zhang) can also be used both defensively or offensively to protect yourself from an aggressive situation and when combined with all of the other Eight Basic Palms will give a massive variety of attacking and defensive techniques that can also be added to your kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques.
The practice of qigong involves three aspects from each individual which are Concentration, Co-ordination & Balance and Breathing. Each one of these three methods benefit each other, but it is supraising how many practitioners of qigong do not actually breath correctly when they practice their qigong exercises. Many practitioners do not breath deeply, nor do they co-ordinate their breathing with there qigong movements. It should be the breath work that determines the speed that each practitioner should move and the aim is to breath long, slow and smoothly which obviously develops concentration.
Learning to breath correctly in the practice of qigong has many benefits towards improving our health and wellbeing. Firstly, by breathing deeply it will help to strengthen your concentration as the brain needs oxygen to function properly, secondly on a celluar level learning to breath deeply on a regular basis brings more energy into our cells which can help us to slow down the ageing process and helps us to rejuvenate ourselves. I have lost count of how many times that I have meet my old friends and each time they mention that I have not changed in my appearance, for which I have put down to my own qigong practice.
Qigong means “Energy Work” which means to gather and cultivate both Heaven and Earths energy (Qi) into ourselves through our qigong movements and breathing. This must be maintained on a regular day to day basis which will obviously strengthen our health and wellbeing. Learning to breath correctly in the practice of qigong can also prevent you from suffering from various ailments, as regular practice can boost your immune system, strengthening your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to fight off any external pathogens that may attack your body making you become ill. In China the practice of qigong is also known as a preventive form of medicine to keep you healthy.
As my teacher Master Chee Soo used to say to all of his students ” You can go without food for a week, You can go without water for a few days, But you cannot go without breathing for a few seconds. The Daoists were all over the correct way to combine breathing with your qigong movements and have left us many a quote to remind us of its importance. As the Daoists adept Zhuang Zi mentions that the men of old could breath through their heels.
Learn to breath and you will live, learn to breath well and you will have good health, learn to breath deeply and you will attain longevity.