Over the many centuries the Chinese have explored and created many different styles and exercises that are aimed at holistically helping the human being to become more healthier through natural movements of the body that strengthen the connections between the body, mind & spirit through the promotion and cultivation of the vital energy Qi that flows through everything within the universe.
One of the main schools of thought within China who were the creators of many different styles of using natural holistic movements, which we are now aware off and is called “Qigong” ( Energy Work). Where the Daoist school of maintaining a natural balance with nature and the Way (Dao). One of these particular styles of Qigong that has become a very popular exercise within the LFIAA is the “Swimming Dragong Qigong” which promotes the connection of the body, mind & spirit through the development of the co-ordination, balance and concentration. This qigong style is really beneficial towards the promotion of a soft, supple and relaxed body, through its spiralling movements that twist, totate and stretch the whole body’s joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles that releases the accumulated build up of stiffness and tension that can attack the individuals body and mind on a day to day basis.
I personally believe that everyone should take up the practice of qigong as a tool to be used to help keep your body and mind in a healthy state. The stresses and strains that many people suffer with on a regular day to day basis and who turn to taking anti-depressants or pain killers which in themselves can become addictive, causing more harm than good especially if takers for to long a period. The practice of qigong exercise like that of the Swimming Dragon Qigong can help many individuals to become more relaxed with a body and mind full of vitality and strength, simply taking the time each day to take a 15 or 20 minute break to practice some qigong exercise can greatly change your outlook on life to become more calmer and healthier and help you to fight against the stresses and strains that life throws at each and everyone of us.
As the Daoist believe learning to maintain “Softness” moves the individual towards life, whereas “Hardness” moves one towards death.
The Daodejing mentions that “We are born soft and supple, yet we will die hard and rigid, hence attaining softness moves towards life, whereas attaining hardness moves towards death”. No matter how old you are there is no reason why you cannot help to change your own health and wellbeing, today many people go to gyms, participate in jogging or bike riding they buy all the fashionable clothes that go with their chosen activity mainly to help themselfs loose weight or simply to get fit. Practicing the above activities only develop the physical qualities of each individual,but do not strengthen the connections of the body, mind or spirit.
Practicing the Lishi Dao Yoga system as taught by the LFIAA allows the individual to soften their bodies with both passive and dynamic stretching actions that releases joint, tendon, ligament and muscle stiffness and tension which each person can suffer with on a regular basis, Joint stiffness and muscle tension can always attack each persons body on a day to day occasion, it can be caused from simply sitting at a desk for to long or from lifting heavy objects at work or at home etc. If this joint stiffness and muscular tension is left to build up within each persons body it can then lead towards certain individuals suffering with such ailments as high blood pressure, sciatica, fatigue, insomnia, headaches. Emotionally it can make the person become irritable, frustrated, depressed or argumentative to their loved ones, friends or work colleagues.
Learning the Lishi Dao Yoga exercises is truly a great way for everyone to exercise and help maintain a soft, supple and fully relaxed mind & body, especially as we grow older our bodies will naturally harden and become stiff which will effect the smooth flow of blood and energy to slow down or even stagnate. Practicing any of the Lishi Dao Yoga exercises can be performed within a small confined space, you do not have to wear a certain type of clothing to practice any of the exercises, all you simply need to wear is loose clothing that allows your body the freedom to move in any direction without any restriction and allows you to feel relaxed.
Because our life styles can sometimes be very fast, stressful and strained our mind can also become chaotic and very tense. This accumulated tension can cause migraines, headaches, dizziness due to the raising of the blood pressure caused by the mental stress that we are under at work or at home which can effect our bodies health and wellbeing.learning a few simply Dao Yoga exercises can not only soften the individuals joints, muscles and tendons. It’s mindfulness practice of the Dao Yoge exercises will also help the individual to release and calm the chaos that their minds are suffering with, they will in-time be able to attain a longer sense of stillness and relaxatiion within their mind and body after only a few weeks of practicing some of the Lishi Dao Yoga exercises.
The Sun style Eight Trigram Sword is broken down into three sword practices, the orthodox sword set follows the Fu Xi eight trigram sequence of Heaven (Qian), Earth (Kun), Water (Kan), Fire (Li), Thunder (Zhen), Mountain (Gen), Wind (Xun) and Lake (Dui). The second method of practicing the Eight Trigram Sword is called the “Changing Sword Practice” and this follows the “King Wens” trigram method of constant change. The third method of the Bagua Jian is where the practitioner from a state of stillness creates movement, movement creates change and more change, until there is transformation and with transformation there is an awakening of the Dao.
The Sun style eight trigram sword involves the eight methods of Walking meaning the basic footwork methods, Circling means to walk the circle in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, Wrapping means that the sword hands wrist turns inwards, Over-Turning means that the sword hand wrist turns outwards, Threading means to pierce with the sword tip, Raising means the sword hand palm faces upwards or downwards using a semi circle or full circle, Lifting means the the sword handle is lifted upwards, Pushing means the sword hands palm is pressing downwars.
There are also ten sword actions that the practitioner applys while performing the eight trigram sword form which are Carrying, Propping, Smearing, Hanging, Slicing, Gathering, Sealing, Sweeping, Complying and Checking all of the sword fighting two-person drills are found within the Sun style eight trigram sword form ( Bagua Jian Shi). I have been personally practicing this sword exercise for many years now and I practice it daily as a method of health and wellbeing, every time that I practice this sword form I always find some interesting aspect about refining its smooth, flowing actions of the whole body and sword as one complete unit.
As a method of cultivating and building the vital energy (Qi) the practitioner must spend more time walking the circle and less time practicing the many, many changes. A good practitioner will walk at lest ten rotations of the circle before changing direction. This can make the duration of practicing the eight trigram sword very long which develops strength of both body, mind & spirit.
The Chinese say that the practice of qigong (energy work) is a form of preventive medicine and that is why is should be practiced by everyone on a daily basis. Through the regular practice of qigong exercise the practitioner will learn how to cultivate strong internal energy as well as the promotiion of a smooth flow of energy (qi) throughout the entire body to improve or maintain their health and wellbeing by removing both blood stasis and energy blockages caused by the stresses and strains of everyday living
The Chinese believe that illness is caused by the six external pathogens of hot, cold, dryness, dampness, wind and summer heat which can attack the body by entering through the pores of the skin which can then attack the internal organs (Zangfu) causing a variety of serious type of illnesses that can be life threatening. Regular practice of qigong strengthens the external energy which is known by various names such as the defensive qi, guardian qi or protective qi (Wei Qi) which is a thin layer of qi energy that emanates from the interior of the practitioners body to extend to the outside, if this external defensive qi is weak or as gaps missing then the external pathogens can easily attack and enter into the interior of the body causing I’ll health.
Qigong exercise is the development of the individuals essences (Jing), energy (Qi) and spirit ( Shen) known as the three treasures ( San Bao) through either sitting, standing or moving exercise that combines the body, mind and breath together to promote the smooth circulation of qi through the acupuncture channels (Jing), Vessels (Mai) and collaterals (Luo). The Chinese like to view the acupuncture pathways like the movement of water flowing from the land to the sea for example the collaterals (Luo) are considered to be like streams flowing into the rivers which are the channels (Jing)which flow into the sea which are the vessels (Mai). It is through the connection of the energy pathways of the collateral, channels and vessels that through the regular practice of qigong the qi flows to all areas of the body from internal to external. As the qi enters into the body and naturally expands forming our defensive qi field that surrounds our entire body protecting us from the external pathogens.
When our body is attacked by any external pathogen it is the collateral channels (Jingluo) that are the first acupuncture channels to be attacked as they connect to our skin, if left undone the external pathogens will then pass through the collaterals into the main channels (Jing) and into our internal organs. But through the practice of qigong the practitioner is able to maintain a strong flow of qi from the meridians into the collateral channels which end at the surface of our skin and which Iin-turn strengthen our defensive qi field. This is why everyone should take up the practice of some sort of style of qigong as a way to prevent ill health happening.
One of the reasons why many individuals take up the practice of taijiquan is to improve or maintain their sense of balance. Especially as we grow older we can lose our confidence to balance on one leg, in fact there is an ailment called ” Falls Snydrome” and it is the highest cause of death within the elderly. Because of the particular stepping action that is performed in the practice of taijiquan each individual can gradually improve their leg strength to be able to support their body weight and be able to balance on one leg.
This particular taiji stepping action of opening, shifting, raising, lowering and closing should be performed by the individual no matter what direction they decide to step. The stepping method of taijiquan corresponds to the theory of the “Five Elements” (Wu Xing) stepping forwards “Jin Bu” (Metal), stepping backwards “Tui Bu” (Wood), stepping left ‘ Zuo Gu” (Water), stepping right “You Pan” (Fire) and remaining in the centre “Zhong Ding” ( Earth). The five methods of taiji stepping opening, shifting, raising, lowering and closing also corresponds to the “Five Elements” sadly not many individuals apply this understanding of the five element theory to their taiji practice.
“Opening” is the action taken by the individual to point their toes outwards to open the hip, knee and ankle joints, “Shifting” is the action of transferring the body weight onto the leg that is opening, ” Raising” is the action of lifting the knee and foot of the insubstantial leg as if you were stepping over an object, “Lowering” is the action of placing the raised leg onto the floor and shifting the body weight onto it so it becomes substantial, ” Closing” is the action of the toes of the back foot turning slightly inwards to close the hip, knee and ankle joints.
There are many individuals who when they participate within a taijiquan class do not even try to continue performing the stepping action of “Raising & Falling”. They do not lift the knee and foot,but will just shuffle their feet out to the particular direction that the taiji form is moving towards, they are more concerned with the taiji upper arm and hand actions than developing the correct taiji stepping skills that will greatly improve and maintain their balance, strengthen their legs and improve their cardio fitness and promote the circulation of blood and qi throughout their entire body. Too many people forget that the practice of taijiquan is “Exercise” which is designed to strengthen the physical, mental, spiritual qualities of each individual, but to many people try and make the practice of taijiquan easier through lazy, inaccurate and undisciplined actions which are more concerned with “relaxation” than correct, precise , accurate movements.
When an individual becomes I’ll within traditional Chinese medicine it can be caused by the six external pathogens which are Hot, Cold, Wind, Dampness, Dryness or Summer Heat. These six external pathogens can affect the external functions such as the muscle, tendons, joints causing blood stasis and energy blockages. But they can also enter deeply into the interior of the individuals body affecting their internal organ functioning turning into a cysts, tumours or a gall or kidney stone which can effect the individual quality of life and possibly turning into life threatening illness.
The practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage will learn many massage techniques that can work on the external aspect of the individuals body or they will have developed techniques that can enter deeply into the interior of the patients body to treat very serious illnesses like cysts or tumours that may have formed. One of these Energy Bodywork Massage techniques that can be used to enter deeply into the patients body is called the “Vibration technique” (Chan Fa) which produces vibrated waves of heat and movement deep into the patients body to enter into any tumourous lump and reduce its size and gradually be able to remove it by dispersing its congealed blood and body fluids and allow the attention body tote flush it out.
Obviously the Energy Bodywork Massage practitioner must practice to develop this “Vibrational technique” so that it can be used on any part of the patients body to tonify blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) to flow smoothly without any obstruction within the patients body. Once the practitioner has placed their hands onto the patients body and they begin to use the “Vibration technique” to the naked eye they don’t seem to be moving at all, but the patient will experience waves of “Vibrated” energy flowing throughout their body from head to toe or vice-versa or they may experience a more concentrated wave of vibrated energy entering deeply into their body creating a warm or hot sensation.
The “Vibration technique” can be used directly on the skin or it can be used through the patients clothing. The practitioner can use a single finger, sword fingers, five fingers or the palm of their hands to perform the “Vibration technique”. It can be used on the meridians, channels or directly on the energy points (Qixue) to treat a wide range of illnesses.
More and more people are beginning to gain tremendous benefit towards their health and wellbeing from practicing the ever increasing in popularity taiji qigong exercises. These taiji qigong exercises are simple and easy to learn by anyone of any age, they can be performed in a confined space indoors or out, there are three main levels to learning and mastering the taiji qigong exercises and there is also the harmonising of the internal (Nei Gong) and external (Wai Gong).
In the practice and learning of the taiji qigong exercises many individuals only practice the external techniques (Wai Gong) mainly to help them relax. Simply learning the external methods of each of the taiji qigong exercise will only allow each individual to develop their balance, co-ordination, concentration and flexibility, but it will not strengthen their jing, qi and Shen until each individual begins to develop the internal (Nei Gong) practices of each taiji qigong exercise.
Learning and understanding how to harmonise the external and internal techniques and methods of each of the taiji qigong exercises will allow the individual to circulate the energy (qi) through the small and large heavenly circulation to increase their energy cultivation and strengthen their energy levels to help improve and maintain good health and wellbeing. For any individual to learn how to open their small ( Xiao Tian Huan) and large heavenly circulation ( Da Tian Huan) they must have a good understanding of how to work their internal mechanics to help guide and lead ( Daoyin) their qi through the associated acupuncture meridians and channels (Jing Mai) that help to create and open both the small and large heavenly circulations.
Not many individuals will develop their own practice of the taiji qigong to raise to the level of opening the small and large heavenly circulations. Many are just happy to practice the external taiji qigong exercises just to improve their relaxation levels. But as I ve already mentioned to fully master the taiji qigong you must be able to combine both the external and internal mechanics together as one.
In the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu as taught by the LFIAA weapon training is a natural progression that all students take in their development of learning and mastering this traditional Chinese internal martial art. The first weapon that we teach to students is the Staff (Gun) for which they will begin to learn by practicing the Feng Shou-Gongfu Staff form, solo Staff fighting exercises that combine footwork with defensive and offensive techniques which allows the student to naturally move in a balanced and skilful manner.
The Chinese consider any weapon to be just an extension of the hands, if your base martial art is a well balanced and deep system then you will naturally progress to learning weapons. The true learning of any weapon and especially the Staff is to be found in the two-person fighting exercises that develop each students agility, dexterity, concentration, reactions, timing, accuracy and precision. In the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu a student will start learning the two-person Staff Linear Rollaways exercise which allows the student to develop fast footwork and the skilful use of the Staff to defend or attack with using either end of the Staff at various heights.
Once the Feng Shou-Gongfu student as become proficient at the ” Straight-line” Staff Rollaways exercise, they will then progress to the Angular Staff two-person exercise, which combines the Linear and Angular together into one exercise which means each student can now attack each other from various angles as well as defend themselves from such angles raising their skill level in the use of the Staff (Gun) to much higher levels of proficiency. The final stage of Staff training for the student is to then learn the Circular Staff training method, they can only learn the Circular Staff training method once they have excelled at the Linear and Angular training methods.
At the final stage of learning how to use the Staff the student of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu will spontaneously flow in a freestyle exercise that fully allows them to express their skilful understanding of how to wield the Staff using the concepts and principles of Yin & Yang constantly changing and adapting to any situation.
Within the practice of the Chinese Internal Health, Meditation, Energy cultivation and Martial Art known as the Eight Trigram Palms (Baguazhang) there are many methods of stepping that a practitioner of this fascinating mind, body & spirit exercise should learn to become proficient at constantly moving their whole body in a fast or slow smooth and continuous way that allows them to change direction effortlessly.
Many people are aware that the Eight Trigram Palms (Baguazhang) is known as the “Art of Change” because of its sudden and constant change in direction while walking the circle for which Baguahang is famous for. While learning to walk the circle the bagua practitioner will learn various stepping techniques that are smoothly combined with its coiling, twisting, rotating body and arm movements. One of the best stepping methods used in the practice of the Sun Style Baguazhang is the “Rolling Step” ( Gun Bu) which is a heel to toe stepping method that should raise, fall, open and close as each foot is placed forwards into its stepping action. The “Rolling Step” is also known by many other names such as the Lion Step or the Tiger Step, this particular stepping method is a much more natural stepping action than the more popular Mud Wading Step ( Tang Ni Bu) that many other styles of Baguazhang advocate in their stepping methods.
The “Rolling Step” allows the practitioner of the Sun Style Baguazhang to move around the circle in a slow or fast fluid motion, changing direction effortlessly . As the practitioner begins to step the foot must Rise ( Sheng) and Fall (Luo) so that the body weight is placed entirely on one leg, as the foot touches the floor with the heel first the toes will either point out (Bai Bu) to Open (Kai) the hip, knee and ankle joint or the toe can be placed to point inwards (Kou Bu) to Close (Guan Bi) the hip, knee and ankle joints. All the time the body weight shifts and alternates from one leg to the other while the practitioner walks the circle.
The practice of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu involves the development of both the internal ( Nei Gong) and external (Wai Gong). Many practitioners of Feng Shou-Gongfu over-al train the external (Wai Gong) aspects like striking,kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques and hardly practice or develop their internal (Nei Gong) selfs by the practice of sitting, standing or moving qigong/ meditation exercises for the cultivation of their “Jing, Qi and Shen” essences, energy and spirit.
In the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu as taught by the LFIAA all students are encouraged to practice the “Eight Standing Post Qigong” exercises ( Ba Zhan Zhuang Gong) for the development of their Jing, Qi and Shen to improve and the maintain their own health and wellbeing. But to mainly harness enough internal strength that can then be combined with their external techniques giving them tremendous powerful defensive and offensive methods, the Eight Standing Post Qigong exercise can be performed in numerous amount of different routines. Each of the Eight Standing Post Qigong exercises helps to develop strong body Alginments, strong body mind connections, muscle, tendons and joint flexibility and balance.
The book of the “Way and Virtue” ( Dao De Jing) by Lao Zi mentions that “Stillness is the Mother of Movement” that all activity begins from nothingness and will return to nothingness. In the practice of the Eight Standing Post Qigong exercise the practitioner will stand perfectly still holding a particular posture for several deep breathing repetitions and them slowly and smoothly change into another Standing Post posture. Standing still allows the essences (Jing) and energy (Qi) to gather in the lower dantian ( Elixir Field) located just below the navel at the Sea of Energy (Qihai) acupuncture point (Ren 4), while the practitioner stands holding a particular standing post posture they will then breath deeply using long, smooth, soft breathing to help maintain their concentration by counting there breathing and to also use their breathing to guide and lead their energy ( Qi) around their bodies.