The Dao Yoga exercises that are practiced and taught by the LFIAA can be practiced as a lying, sitting, standing exercise. Each exercise is then further broken down into two particular sets, the Yin-passive set and the Yang-extension set. Usually the two sets are practiced alongside each other with the Yin-passive set performed first then immediately followed by the Yang-extension set. I much prefer to just practice the Yang-extension exercises as I personally find that they have a far more powerful effect on my body in developing and maintaining my joint,tendon, ligament and muscle flexibility, plus in the circulation and cultivation of the blood and qi to maintain my health and wellbeing.
Obviously, some individuals might prefer to just practice the Yin-passive set exercises, especially the much older individual who finds the Yang-extension set exercises to dynamic for themselves. Or for certain individuals who suffer with various ailments such as hypertension, severe back problems, chronic fatigue etc. No matter wether you practice the lying,sitting or standing Dao Yoga exercises they must not just be used to improve your flexibility, they must also be used to cultivate the strength of your qi. At a much deeper level of practice the practitioner of Dao Yoga must become aware of the storing and sealing of the qi into the three Elixir Fields (Dantian) which are located just below the navel, the centre of the chest and within the centre of the head
As the Dao Yoga practitioner performs their exercises they must become aware of the height that they perform their movements, the speed they move in any particular direction and their intention. For example if the practitioner raises their both arms upwards above their head using a very slow speed. Then this will make their qi rise upwards to the upper dantian and if they lower their both arms downwards at a much faster speed, then most of the qi will remain up in the head and chest. It is important that the practitioner understands were their intention his to either raise or lower their qi upwards or downwards and does not simply do the movements without understanding the effects what the actions will have on moving their qi. In the practice of Dao Yoga each individual should be made aware of the purpose of each exercise according how to improving a particular section of the body’s flexibility, the direction of moving their qi, the correct speed that they should be moving in a particular direction, where they should focus their intention to guide and lead their qi.
When a beginner starts their tentative journey learning either taijiquan or qigong they can easily get over whelmed with the learning of new sometimes complicated movements and the trying to understand the guiding principles and concepts that the teacher expects you to learn in the practice of taijiquan or qigong. All of which can make the beginner very tense, anxious and at times irritable. Obviously after a few weeks of regular practice they will begin to master the movements and their over-al practice will improve as they become more confident in their understanding of what the teacher expects them to achieve.
Many individuals begin there practice of taijiquan or qigong for many reasons such as to develop more flexibility within themselves, improve their balance, lose weight, learning how to relax. Many individuals have also taken up the practice of taijiquan or qigong because of various health problems like arthritis, hypertension, osteoporosis, stress, chronic fatigue etc. Learning to relax while practicing taijiquan or qigong is vital in allowing for the blood and qi to flow more smoothly around the entire body and for the individual to learn how to release the accumulation of stress,tension or anxiety that may effect them.
The reason why taijiquan and qigong movements are performed slowly is to learn how to quite the mind, so that the individual begins to develop a deep inner feeling of Stillness within themselves. During the practice of either taijiquan or qigong the individual on the outside should be soft and relaxed in their actions,while mentally they should be calm and still. The more the individual practices their taijiquan or qigong sequences the easier it will be to find this place of inner calmness and stillness within them, the main key is to then maintain this deep feeling of calmness and stillness inside as the individual continues to go about their life, seeing how long they can remain relaxed and calm while returning back to their work enviroment, or being around their family or friends.
The benefits one receives from the regular practice of taijiquan or qigong should not be left in the class room. It should emanate into your everyday life helping you to remain relaxed and calm irrespective of how chaotic things around you might be. The more you can develop and prolong this deep inner feeling of relaxation and stillness within you from a day to day basis will greatly benefit your health and wellbeing.
As the practitioner starts to learn the original Feng Shou-Gongfu they will begin to learn various footwork skills to develop their ability to strike and kick while being constantly on the move. One such stepping method is the ” Clock Face Eight Directional Evasion Sets” (Zhong Mian Ba Feng Bu) which there are eight particular sets to learn and practice. A practitioner will learn each of the clock face eight directional evasions sets using three training methods, which are foundational, alternating and freestyle.
The foundational training method ( Jiben Fa) is we’re the practitioner dodges his training partners strikes by stepping out to eight different angles always returning back to a neutral position to face their training partner. The alternate training method ( Lun Liu Fa) is the intermediate level training method were the both the practitioner and their training partner take it in turn to attack and evade by using any of the eight angles to step out to and dodge the in-coming attack.. The advance training method of any of the clock face eight directional evasions sets is the freestyle method ( Sanshou Fa). This is were both the practitioner and their training partner can move freely out to any angle to dodge it he in-coming attack,but then counter attack from the angle that they stepped out to evade.
The ultimate aim of learning each of the eight evasion sets of the Clock Face Eight Directional Evasion exercises is to develop the Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioners ability to dodge effectively any angle strike or kick that is aimed at them and to then place themselves in an advantageous position to counter back with devastating offensive techniques of their own. Learning the clock face eight directional evasions develops a fast, nimble and agile practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu that can quickly use his opponents strength, balance and aggression against themselves by skilfully stepping around their opponents attacking techniques allowing them to fall into empty space, while placing themselves in a far more better advantageous position to counter attack.
Practicing the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu Clock Face Eight Directional Evasions at the ” Freestyle” level of training develops a high level of fitness and stamina within the practitioner. Has they are constantly on the move using both defensive and offensive techniques moving the whole body as one complete unit to any direction in a smooth, controlled and stable manner. Because of the physicality of the ” Freestyle” training method both the blood and qi is greatly increased in its circulation around the body, but especially into the extremities which are used to defend and attack with. Regular practice at the “freestyle” training level of the Clock Face Eight Directional Evasions is also a great way to remain fit and healthy.
The importance of learning and practicing ” Guiding & Leading Exercises” (Daoyin) is not just important for the Medical Bodywork Massage ( Tui Na Qigong) practitioner. It is also important when the practitioner chooses to apply treatment using the Acupuncture needle. We are taught in the martial arts that a weapon is just simply an extension of the hand and so it is the same with the Acupuncture needle. When you practice any of your Daoyin or Qigong exercises you should be trying to become more sensitive the tangible movement of your qi as it travels around your body into your extremities, especially the hands and fingers for those practicing the Traditional Chinese Medicine arts of Medcal Bodywork Massage and Acupuncture this is vitally important.
In the practice of Daoyin you should be developing your qi strength through the cultivation, circulation and storing methods. A practitioner should be able to feel tangible sensations of qi movement within themselves like warmth, tingling, fullness and flow during their practice of various Daoyin exercises. In the practice of offering treatment to a patient through the practice of Acupuncture, once the practitioner has inserted the needle into a particular acupuncture point (Qixue) on a certain meridian or channel. The practitioner should be able to create the same sensations that they felt themselves during the practice of Daoyin in their patient.
The Acupuncture practitioner should be able to direct their own qi through the hand and fingers, through the needle which is being held and into the patient to connect to the patients qi. Once the practitioner has gained a good connection they are able to gather the patients qi to the needle giving the patient a sensation of heat building and developing at a particular area of their body. Or the practitioner is able to travel the meridian by sending the patients qi upwards or downwards the length of the meridian or channel, were the patient will tangibly feel tingling, fullness and maybe even movement locally or distally within their body. Once the practitioner has been able to cultivate a strong sense of qi strength in themselves through regular daily practice of correct daoyin exercise they are able to connect and manipulate the patients qi by using either their hands through bodywork massage or through the needle in Acupuncture.
The practice of Daoist Meditation (Daojia Ming Xiang) can be practiced in a lying, sitting, standing, moving method. Today many individuals are taking up the practice of ” Mindfullness” Meditation to combat the build up of stress, anxiety and tension and to help them relax. Daoist Meditation can also be used for stress relief , but more importantly it can be used to strengthen each individuals general health and wellbeing through the cultivating and circulation of the individuals blood and qi to maintain the functioning of their internal organs.
One of the practices of Daoist Meditation is to ” Attain empty state” this is the ability to remain still both on the outside and inside. There are five main exercises that can be practiced either lying, sitting or standing, three of the five exercises are aimed at cultivating the qi into the three main energy centres of the body what the Daoist call the ” Elxir Filds” (Dantian) which are located in the abdomen, chest and head. The other two exercise are aimed at nourishing and storing the individuals qi into their internal organs An individual will practice holding each of the five postures which each have different hand shapes at various heights of their body. While holding the various positions the individual listens to the changing sounds that surround them like for example a birds song, the wind blowing in the trees or the gentle flow of water,obviously if you practice in-doors or live in a city then the sounds will be different. But no matter what sound is around you the individual listens to the changing sounds but does not get caught up with them.
Mentally the individual will experience many types of thoughts, again they must not concentrate on any of them,simply allow them to form and disappear until the mind becomes ” Still”. Physically while holding any of the five postures an individual will scan their body for areas were thety feel muscular tension and then place their focus on softening and relaxing the area, while all of the time holding their positions. The longer the individual can hold any of the postures while using deep whole body breathing technique the more energy they will cultivate and then store into any of the three dantians.
Attaining Empty State means that the individual remains motionless and mentally still. Changes are happening all of the time around us and inside of us, we must allow the changes to happen naturally and be aware of them, but not to actually concentrate on any one thing, just concentrate on the breathing and the feeling of your qi moving inside. In the practice of Daoist Meditation we seek to feel for the ” Movement within the Stillness”.
Anyone who practices any style of Yoga will understand the term at the top of this blog ” Seeking Strength through Flexibility” or in another words ” Softness Overcomes Hardness”. So it is with the practice of Dao Yoga, what draws many different types of people to the practice of Yoga is its dynamic stretching movements that allows each individual to achieve a deep level of relaxation. Obviously it takes a long time for certain individuals to develop a supple and relaxed body that allows them to move effortlessly in any direction, again through regular practice of Dao Yoga individuals can attain a level of proficiency where they not only have a supple body. But within their soft,flexible bodies there is a great strength that comes from this softness which invigorates their blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) to flow smoothly unhindered throughout their body,strengthening the functioning of their internal organs which in turn improves the over-al health and wellbeing of the individual.
For those who are worried that their own bodies cannot be like those bendy type of Yoga arthletes that you often see in Indian Yoga, and they feel that Yoga is only for younger people because they are to old, or they are new to its practice and are put off because it is going to take a long time to develop a real flexible and bendy body. Obviously there are many different styles of Yoga, there is Indian, Chinese, Japanese and even Malayan versions, some are very dynamic and static, whereas other styles are more flowing and softer in their approach. It all comes down to what particular style of Yoga the individual attempts,it pays to try many different styles until you find the style of Yoga that suits you.
Dao Yoga is the style that I teach and practice it comes from China and is also called “Daoyin”. The actual name of the Dao Yoga style that was taught to me is called “Kai Men” which translated means ( Opening Door). My teacher Master Chee Soo would say that through the practice of Dao Yoga you are “Opening the Doors” to the many deeper levels of yourself be it physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically and spiritually. The Dao Yoga is a well balanced style for everyone, irrespective of age to practice and receive some form of benefit towards maintaining or improving their general health and wellbeing.
Each of the Dao Yoga exercises are broke down into two sets which are called a Yin set or Passive set and the other is a Yang set or Extension set. The Yin passive set of exercises can be used to gently warm up the bodies muscles, tendons and joints, invigorate their energy (Qi) to flow and move. They are well suited for everyone, but for the more older individuals is a great method of exercise for them to maintain a supple and relaxed body for the age they are. Whereas the Yang extension exercises of Dao Yoga are more dynamic and involve a greater sense of stretching of the muscles,tendons,ligaments and joints. Opening the energy cavities of the body and meridians to allow the blood and energy to flow around the entire body, an important characteristic of the Dao Yoga style that I teach and practice is that the movements are kept moving and are never held in a static posture.
In a recent blog I stated that the training in the use of various weapons is just an extension of the hand. As long the Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner has developed and achieved a good foundation, then the next natural step in their advancement of their martial arts education of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu is to then train in the use of various weapons from short, long, single, double, stiff, flexible, traditional and modern. In the LFIAA practitioners are taught the traditional weapons of the Staff, Spear, Straight Sword and Broadsword, plus they are taught how to use a rolled up magazine, a scarf or belt, a walking stick, umbrella and knife defence.
This particular blog is about the training in the use of the traditional broadsword. In the Feng Shou-Gongfu that is taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers practitioners are not taught how to use the broadsword in pre-arranged choreographed routines, we do teach form work and applications . But more importantly practitioners are taught two-person counter-counter exercises that develop the practitioners timing, reactions, accuracy and improves their agility, coordination and concentration. Obviously before a practitioner is able to perform these so called two-Person counter-counter exercises at a very high level of skill and performance they must learn the basic defensive and offensive techniques of the broadsword.
The next stage of the Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner is to then practice in the use of double broadsword against double broadsword or two against one or long and short as in broadsword and knife or to mix the single or double broadsword against the staff or spear. Training in the weapon side of the Feng Shou-Gongfu system is really enjoyable and beneficial especially once the practitioner is able to attain the higher levels of being spontaneous, to adapt and change with the constant changing of their training partners attacks. To develop the skill in the use of any weapon is not found in the practicing of form work. It is found in the Two-person counter-counter flow exercises.
My only criticism to those that teach the weapon side of Feng Shou-Gongfu is that they don’t allow their students to develop their confidence and skill to fully use, train and fully express their own skill level and understanding of how to use various traditional and up to date weapons. They simply rely on teaching form work and static applications, rather than teaching spontaneous counter counter reactive exercises that develops over-al confidence within the weapons that their students will use in the practical sense of Feng Shou-Gongfu. No matter wether it is in the boxing or weapon aspect of this Chinese internal martial art. But more importantly the practitioners themselves will also turn out to be very good all rounded students and teachers that will help keep the full art of Feng Shou-Gongfu alive and not a watered down version that some individuals practice and teach and say that they train in various weapons but actually don’t.