LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu ” Long Staff Training”

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.

  

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LFIAA Sun Style Baguazhang ” Rolling Step Method”

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.

  

LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu ” Standing Post Qigong”

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.

  

LFIAA Lishi Taiji Whirling Hands ( Taiji Lun Shou)

Today many people only take up the practice of taijiquan mainly to improve their relaxation levels and to maintain health and wellbeing. But within the practice of the taijiquan forms there exits  the expression of Taiji eight energies or techniques which are Ward Off ( Peng), Rollback ( Lu), Pressing ( An), Squeezing ( Ji), Splitting ( Lie), Elbow (Zhou), Bump (Kao) and Pluck ( Cai). These eight techniques (Ba Fa) are expressed within the practice of the  taijiquan form in a fixed training method to allow the individual to understand each techniques own particular energy, but within the practice of taijiquan sticking, pushing, coiling and whirling hands exercises these so called eight techniques are truly developed and expressed skilfully by the individuals in a vast amount countless changes.

The Whirling Hands exercise ( Taiji Lun Shou) is a tactile two-person training exercise that is practiced within the Li Style Taijiquan system, both training partners take hold of each other’s hands, standing with their right foot infront and alongside each other. They then both begin to move their hands around drawing different size circles in any direction, with the aim to touch and push each other off balance using their hands, elbows or shoulders. They cannot use strength against strength, if one partner attempts to push, the other partner must feel which hand the partner is going to use and then lead it into empty space. The practice of Taiji Whirling Hands is to develop each individuals sense of touch to immediately feel the change in their partners substantial and insubstantial movements, it develops each individuals timing, reactions, accuracy, balance, coordination and concentration.

Taiji Whirling Hands exercise can be practiced in a fixed position or as a moving step exercise, it mainly develops the techniques of Pressing (An), Elbowing (Zhou) and Bumping ( Kao) there are also joint locking techniques (Qin Na) plus kicking methods directed at the legs and feet of  the training partner. It is great fun and very enjoyable it can be practiced slowly or fast, it truly expresses the inter changing  principles of Yin and Yang in a multitude of transformations that movement is created from stillness.

Sadly today less and less individuals are practicing the tactile training exercises that the Li style taijiquan has to offer like the Whirling Hands exercise for example, which can help individuals to deepen their understanding and bring their taijiquan movements alive helping the individual to raise their skill level to a higher degree of proficiency. To some, simply learning to make contact with another individual can remove many barriers helping the individual to become more open and confident within themselves and around other people.

  

LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu  ” Balancing the Four Techniques” (Si Fa)

Obviously when an individual begins to learn the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu system they will learn each of the four techniques (Si Fa) striking, kicking,wrestling and throwing  techniques individually for many months and years until they become more skilful, confident in each of the four techniques. But gradually through correct guidance from their teacher male or female (Shifu/Shimu) they must be encouraged through various training exercises to combine and balance their  four methods of  striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques into circular, flowing movements that are endlessly changing and transforming.

One of the most difficult aspects to conforming  to the four techniques of striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing together in a skilful way by any practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu is in the application of any of the wrestling joint locking methods (Qin Na).  To apply a successful Qin Na joint lock on an opponent who is striking or kicking with very fast strikes or kicks is an impossible thing to do, especially if you go into the confrontation with your opponent trying to mechanically apply a Qin Na joint lock. If your attempted Qin Na joint lock fails then quickly change to using a strike or kick this then might give you another opportunity to apply a Qin Na technique or even to throw your opponent. Any Qin Na joint locking technique must not be planned, you cannot go into any physical confrontation with an aggressive opponent and simply try applying  a planned Qin Na joint locking technique. Successful Qin Na joint locks must be  spontaneous, skilful and literally come out of nothing, as the practitioner must  seize the opportunity when it arrives.

When learning to balance the four techniques (Si Fa) together the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu must learn to notice the substantial from the insubstantial, true from the false, heavy from the light, fullness from emptyness all concealed within each other,the four techniques must move as one organic, comprehensive  whole  not even one of the four techniques must be neglected.

At the highest level of proficiency for any practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu is that their movements must be flowing, round (circular), active. Their movement must be full of intrinsic power (Jin Li) the four techniques emphasis the substantial and insubstantial changing and transforming freely  and smoothly like that of running water. Everything is circular,continuous and alive there are no gaps,nothing is performed mechanically all actions are spontaneous and skilful adapting to the situation.in this way the workings of heaven and earth are actualised and one is following the Dao, the natural patterns of Yin and Yang  that exist within the world of living things.

  

LFIAA Practical Qigong “Efficent Natural Body Movement”

Over the years that I have taught qigong  to thousands of people it always amazes me that they simply think that’s it’s practice is all about learning to relax (Song). Well In actual fact there is a lot more to it than just relaxation as there is the harmonising of our internal and external worlds that greatly effects our health. Externally one of the most important aspects to its practice is aligning the individuals posture and teaching them to use the whole body as one complete unit and not to isolate any action or movement to conserve their energy and vitality levels. Many individuals carry a tremendous amount of tension and stiffness within their bodies which can be caused by many contributing  factors like poor working conditions,  or exercising in a poor way that causes more damage to their body than good, bad posture when relaxing at home or serious illnesses.

One of the best benefits that the regular practice of qigong can help individuals externally with,  is allowing them to release muscular tension within their body that has caused mis-alignment in their posture. For example some people suffer with bad backs which can cause them to have a slight limb or a strange gait when they walk, this can sometimes be caused by the muscles of the back becoming so tense that they mis-align the individuals pelvis making one hip slightly higher than the other. Through the gentle stretching movements of qigong which can help to release the muscle tension within the back the individuals pelvis will slot back into place as the tension in the back which is pulling on the hips is released, allowing for the individuals back to become more relaxed and realigning their hips,the releasing of the back muscle tension will also boost their vitality levels and over-al range of mobility.

Another aspects that is also very beneficial to any individual who takes up the regular practice of qigong is that it teaches the individual to fully connect and move the whole body as one complete unit. In the practice of qigong there are no movements where the arms or legs move on there own independent of the rest of the body, as this causes the individual to use more muscular strength which cause more tension to be trapped into the body. Learning to connect and move the whole body in any direction allows the body to remain loose and relaxed (Fang Song) and it develops more power and strength in the body’s actions as more body parts are used and combined together leaving nothing isolated.

Learning to move the whole body in a relaxed natural and well connected unit actually conserves energy. Whereas, using various actions of the body which are isolated can cause the individual to use up more energy as greater strength is needed to perform the individual action. Learning and practicing qigong  teaches the individual to move their body in a natural and efficent manner that is correctly aligned, loose and relaxed with a body full of unobstructed energy (Qi) and blood (Xue) to help maintain the functioning of the internal organs (Zangfu) prolonging good health and wellbeing.

  

LFIAA Sunshi Baguazhang (Sun Style EIght Trigram Palms)

One of the most beneficial traditional Chinese internal arts that I have practiced and I can say it is properly my favourite  is the Chinese mind, body, spirit system known as the “Eight Trigram Palms” (Baguazhang). I personally practice Baguazhang most mornings as it maintains my flexibility, balance, concentration, fitness and relaxation levels ready to take on the rest of the day. What I like about the practice of Baguazhang is that you can practice it within a small confined area and unlike the practice of taijiquan form work which mainly involves a long sequence of movements performed moving along laterally, the practice of Baguazhang involves walking around in a circle constantly changing direction as you perform coordinated whole body actions.

Sun style Baguazhang involves the practice of many forms,these particular forms are short in their duration, but are practiced on both sides of the body so as to develop a well coordinated and agile individual. Regular Baguazhang practice greatly improves the tendon, ligament, muscle and joint flexibility of the whole body, increasing both blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) circulation which boosts and strengthens the immune system, flushes the lymphatic system, soothes and calms the nervous system. 

Because Baguazhang involves short movement forms which can be each practiced individually or all linked together in a long sequential form that involves the turning, rotating, spiralling, twisting, coiling, stretching, walking, opening and closing of the whole body.  It is the walking of the circle that allows the practice of Baguazhang to become a form of “Moving Meditation” (Dong Ming Xiang)  as the practitioner can walk the circle as many times as they wish before they change the direction. For the cultivating of the vital energy it is emphasised that the practitioner walks around in the circle more, before they change the direction. Whereas, if the individual  practices the movements more by changing direction more and walking the circle less they will develop their flexibility and general fitness more.

Like with the practice of taijiquan which can be used to greatly improve your health and wellbeing it can also be used as a martial art, and so it is the same with the practice of Baguazhang. Each of the Baguazhang forms involve the four fighting ranges of striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques. All of these techniques are hidden within the strange dance like movements. To an ordinary individual watching someone practice their Baguazhang it would be hard to believe that what they are watching is a powerful Chinese internal martial art, as its deadly methods are hidden within the soft, snake like supple movements that are constantly changing  direction.

I honestly believe that Baguazhang is the only true complete Daoist mind, body, spirit art that is still alive and being practiced today in our fast modern world. Unlike the practice of taijiquan which over the many years as been watered down by individuals simply  turning it into a “relaxation exercise”. Baguazhang as managed to remain intact and this I think is because it is not as popular like taijiquan and I hope it remains and is studied by as many people as possible to help keep it alive.