Original Feng Shou-Gongfu “Evasive Footwork”

To become proficient in the Chinese Internal Martial Art  Original Feng Shou-Gongfu ( Hand of the Wind Boxing) system means that you must develop fast evasive footwork that allows you to easily escape your opponents aggressive strikes and kicks by dodging past them. The main concept of the Internal Martial Arts and especially so within the practice of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu is that you must use “Softness to overcome Hardness”. 

This means that we do not use “Strength against Strength” as the strongest of the two opponents will win, whereas, learning to use your opponents balance, aggression, strength against themselves means that it’s down to how you use your tactile and evasive footwork skill that allows you to overcome the stronger more aggressive opponent. This means that the weak can overcome the strong, the smaller, thinner individual can overcome the much bigger, heavier individual, plus age does not limit you to use your skill to defend against a much younger individual.

The Original Feng Shou-Gongfu system involves a tremendous amount of various footwork exercises that teaches the practitioner to develop a high level of agility, plus cardio fitness and stamina. The ultimate aim of an Original Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner is to be able to ” Constantly Change Direction” at any moment placing themselves in the most advantageous positions  like either side of the opponent or behind them, where the practitioner can then counter back with fast, powerful and effective offensive techniques.

To effectively develop the skill to ” Change Direction” quickly, means that the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner learn how to subtly transfer their centre of gravity by sightly shifting their body weight from one leg to another without being to obvious to their opponent. This then allows the practitioner to develop their agility to change direction, but they must still maintain their “Rooted Stepping” ( Gen Bu)  their foundation with the ground so as to maintain balance and to give power to their defensive and offensive techniques. Another aspect to developing your agility to shift your body weight from side to side to evade or dodge, is that the practitioner must also learn how to raise and lower their centre of gravity  skilfully to allow them to perform kicking techniques and still maintain their “Root” or foundation with the ground.

This is why the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu spends many hours practicing both solo and two-person exercises that develops their evasive footwork to a high level of proficiency.  Thus allowing them to bring their Chinese Internal Martial Art to life in a practical and effective way that develops their confidence, fitness, health and wellbeing.

  

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Li Yi Yu Fourth Poem

Carrying on with the Five Character Poems (Wu Xin Di Shi) by Li Yi Yu this is the fourth saying or poem. I hope that these poems will give great insight to the study of Taijiquan and especially to the students of the LFIAA in their practice, understanding and knowledge of the Li Style Taijiquan.

Li Yi Yu’s Fourth Poem.

Jin is integrated. The entire body’s Jin when trained, becomes one family. Distinguish clearly insubstantial and substantial. Emitting Jin must have root and origin. Jin begins at the foots root, is controlled by the waist, expressed by the fingers, emitted by the spine and back. You must also lift the entire spirit of vitality. When the opponent’s Jin is about to be emitted, but is not yet emitted, my Jin already accepts it in ( senses it). Just right, not late, not early.

It is just like the skin (senses) fire. Like a spring bubbling up from the ground. Forward, backward, not the slightest scattering or confusion. Look for the straight within the curve. Store and then emitt, then you will be able to follow the opponents hands and act effectively. This is borrowing the opponents strength to strike the opponent and using four ounces to repel a thousand pounds.

The above saying or poem advises how you must learn to coordinate all parts of the body as one unit into your techniques. The strength originates in the feet and is guided by the waist and it emitted out of the hands and fingers. Developing your listening skills through your sense of touch to stick, yield, neutralise quickly to read your opponents intention before he or she can emitt their strength is vitally important. Your movements must be smooth and continuous flowing like a spring that bubbles upwards from the ground. You are continuously moving in curves and circles, this allows you to bend like a bow or coil like a spring to accumulate  energy within your posture. This also helps you to accumulate energy in the spine and Dan Tian, when you neutralise you curve or bend your body and then you attack in a straight line. If you learn these skills you will be able to defeat your opponent easily.

  

LFIAA Original  Feng Shou-Energy Cultivation Exercises

As with all traditional Chinese internal martial arts each will have its own unique methods of cultivating the vital energy through “Guiding & Leading Exercises” ( Daoyin). Because the internal martial arts (Neijiaquan) do not rely on using physical strength to aid power in their fighting techniques, they need to develop another power source and this power source comes from connecting the mind & body through breathing exercises that develop an intrinsic energy that fills the body.

Within the Li Style Feng Shou-Gongfu that I was first taught by Master Chee Soo such energy cultivation exercises like the ” Four Directional Breathing Exercise” (Si Fang Xiang Lian Xi Daoyin) and the ” Five Lotus Blossom Exercise” (Wu Lian Hua Lian Xi Daoyin) where regularly practiced at the beginning  and end of every training session. The aim was to stimulate the circulation of the energy (Qi) throughout the whole body and the actual training of the Feng Shou-Gongfu would strengthen the cultivation of the energy, then we would then finish by gathering or harnessing the Qi  with the “Five Lotus Blossom Daoyin Exercise”

It is vitally important that the “Guiding & Leading”  Daoyin exercises that are used to cultivate the vital energy actual comes out from actions that are used within the practice of Feng Shou-Gongfu. This not only includes strikes, but it also involves kicksas well, as within Feng Shou-Gongfu we not only need powerful strikes, but powerful kicks as well. Learning to “Guide & Lead” the vital energy into the feet is just as important as the hands. So Daoyin exercises must be varied  and include strong energy flow throughout the whole body both for martial usage and the maintenance of good health and wellbeing.

Not enough emphasis is placed upon the cultivation of energy within the practice of Feng Shou-Gongfu. To many individuals get caught up in just practicing the many striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques and do not realise where their power source is coming from. If we consider that Feng Shou-Gongfu is part of the internal martial art society then it’s  important that each practitioner begin to study and develop their knowledge and understanding of the Daoyin practice to develop their own proficiency levels and longevity within Feng Shou-Gongfu. 

 

Original Feng Shou-Gongfu “Rollaways” Partner Exercise.

All traditional Chinese internal martial arts will all involve various two-person exercises and so it is the same with the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu System as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers of the LFIAA. Within this particular internal martial art there are at lest four two-person exercise methods that each practitioner must learn, these are.

1). Rollaways ( Gun Bi Kai). 2). Rolling Hands ( Gun Shou), 3). Three Star (San Xing Yuan Li), 4).Slow Free Fighting ( Huan Man Sanshou).

The very first two-person exercise that each practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu is introduced to is “Rollaways”(Gun Bi Kai). The ultimate aim of this two-person exercise is to develop each practitioners attributes like concentration, coordination, agility, timing, precision, accuracy, reaction and tactile awareness. Allowing each practitioner to develop their strikes, kicks, offensive and defensive footwork, ward off and deflections, joint locks and throws. The ” Rollaways” exercise is a controlled exercise where each individual takes it in turn to attack and defend, alternating back and forth with each other.

Over the many years that I have been practicing and teaching the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu I have  seen many individuals only reach a very basic level in their practice of the ” Rollaways”exercise. There are many who still use basic cat and dragon postures with passive strikes and ward offs using linear footwork. At its highest level the “Rollaways” exercise should involve both linear and circular evasive and attacking footwork methods, all angle strikes and kicks, both soft and hard ward offs and deflections using the hands, arms and legs, even locks and throws.

On a spectrum within the practice of ” Rollaways” at its lowest level of the spectrum it simply involves single pushing strikes, basic ward offs, drawing back into cat and stepping forwards into dragon stance, it is very limited and fully controlled and disciplined. Whereas, at the highest end of the spectrum practicing the ” Rollaways” two-person exercise should look like two skilful practitioners free fighting using various angled strikes and kicks, offensive and defensive footwork that are both linear and circular,soft and hard ward offs. This highest aspect of the ” Rollaway” spectrum allows each practitioner to fully express their own Feng Shou-Gongfu in a controlled manner.

Sadly not too many individuals fully research and  develop their ” Rollaways”exercise to reach the highest level of proficiency and hence this can affect their over-al ability to combine their techniques together that allows them to  fully express their internal martial art in a natural flowing and responcive way that changes and adapts to over-come any situation that your training partner attempts to attack  you with.

  

Li  Yi Yu Third Poem on Taijiquan

This is the third poem or saying by Li Yi Yu it is my hope that this will encourage the more interested student to look deeper into their Li Style Taijiquan practice.

Third Saying: Qi condenses.q When the qi is dispersed and diffused, then it is not conserved, and the body can be easily scattered and disordered. In order to make the qi condense into the bones your exhalation and inhalation must flow smoothly. The entire body is without gap. Inhalation is storage, and exhalation is emitting. That is  because inhalation lifts up naturally ( the Spirit of Vitality). It can also lift ( Control) the opponent. (When you) exhale, then (your qi) can sink naturally. ( You) also can release (Jin) out to the opponent. That means use Yi (Your mind)  to move your qi, don’t use Li ( strength).

Basically, the third saying means  that the practitioner must learn to control their breathing using Yin & Yang  smooth circular breathing,  the breathing has to be in time with the body’s movements, if the body is disorganised  and undisciplined causing the practitioner to hold the breathe  or lose  the timing of the inhalation and exhalation in time with the natural  movements of the body. Then this can scatter and disperse the qi within the practitioners body.

Firstly the practitioner must calm the mind, then allow the qi to build within the lower Dan Tian and spine. On the exhale lead the qi from the spine through the shoulders, into the arms, hands and fingers. When you exhale qi must also travel downwards to the tailbone (Weilu point), at no time should the practitioner use strength in their actions the torso, arms and hands must remain soft and loose (Song) at all times. 

 

LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu “Short Side Kick”

The side kick is a formidable weapon and within the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu  it is used  often alongside its striking, joint locking and throwing techniques. My teacher Master Chee Soo used to give each particular kick a number, as he thought it was easier for his students to remember them using  certain numbers to make loads of kicking combinations. The side kick was known as a “Foot Pattern Eight” and could be performed both in a long and short version.

I have already mentioned the long “Foot Pattern Eight” in the previous blog, this particular blog will cover the short side kick or short foot pattern eight. This type of kick is used when your opponent is very close or is rushing in at you, the short side kick uses the rear leg to deliver the kick itself, which is combined with either defensive or offensive hand techniques that can disguise create an opening to land the actual side kick.

The accompanying video with this blog sees Shima Sara Keane demonstrating the “Short Foot Pattern Eight” side kick using defensive and offensive hand methods. When the short or long side kick is combined with the three linking kicks of “Foot Pattern One, Two or Three” they allow the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu  to use his or her front or rear leg to deliver the side kick.

LFIAA Li Style Taijiquan “Grasp the Birds Tail” Posture

Carrying on with the next posture of the Li style (Lishi) Taijiquan form is the posture known as ” Grasping the Birds Tail” ( Zhua Que Niao Wei Yu). As we move from the previous posture of ” Drive the Tiger away to the Mountain” the leading right hand gently closes into a tight fist, the body weight is then transferred backwards onto the rear leg and the waist turns to the left pulling in the right fist and hiding it under the left raised arms elbow. The front foot then draws up onto its ball of foot holding a right Cat stance ( You Mao Shi). Once the body weight is placed onto the left rear leg, it is important that the individual sinks into the rear leg by bending the knee and lowering the pelvis. Many individuals have the habit of rising their body by locking their left legs knee.

Once you have drawn up to Cat stance with the right fist under the left arms elbow. You then step to your right side with your right foot into a right Dragon stance (You Long Shi) the right fist swings horizontally across the body to finish infront of the right shoulder, at the same time the left hand follows the right arm on the inside of the right elbow, but does not touch the arm, it simply covers the inside elbow.

When I have seen many individuals perform this particular posture they all seem to look and move stiffly. They never seem to move from the waist their torso is held rigid and it is their arms and legs that move them into the position. The whole movements should look soft and supple with the waist leading the over-al actions of the arms and legs, there should be no rising or lowering the body height must remain the same level. But there must be good “Root” (Gen Xu) connection with the ground through the feet, the arms and torso must be full of internal strength with the whole body fully connected.