LFIAA Sun Style Bagua Zhang ” Swimming Body Contnuous Palm Form”

The Sun Style Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palms) was created by Master Sun Lutang who was taught by his Master Cheng Ting Hua.  Sun Lutang devised his Sun Style Bagua Zhang out of the “Cheng Style” as taught to him by Cheng Ting Hua, the “Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form” ( Yong. Shen Lian Zhang Shi) also known as the “Eight Animal Form” ( Ba Shou Shi)  because it consists of the following animals Lion, Unicorn, Snake, Dragon, Sparrow Hawk, Bear, Phoenix, Monkey not including the Single and Double Change Palms which make the whole form consist of ten individual short forms. The Swimming  Body Continuous Palm Form is taught in an orthodox method starting with the Single Change Palm and then moving on in a certain order, once this orthodox method as been fully learnt and the individual has become proficient. They are then taught the ” Unorthodox Method” which means they can be changed in their order to make endless amount of changes.

Each of the short individual forms will develop the individuals balance, co-ordination and concentration. Plus, because the way each of the individual short forms was devised they each will  also improve the individuals joint, tendon,ligament and muscle flexibility, as they all involve opening, closing, twisting, rotating actions of the upper and lower limbs and torso that invigorate blood and qi flow throughout the entire body. Another aspect to the practice of Sun Style Bagua Zhang is that it can be practiced in a linear or circular type of exercise, for those who know of Bagua Zhang it is famous for it “Circle Walking” (Yuan Zou) Practice. It is the twisting, rotating of the whole body and the circle walking aspects that make the over-al practice of Bagua Zhang more dynamic than that of Taijiquan.

Practicing Sun Style Bagua Zhang is also beneficial towards certain ailments that some individuals might suffer with, such as both high and low blood pressure problems, from my own experience of teaching taijiquanr for example especially teaching the taiji form is beneficial for suffers of hypertension ( high blood pressure)  but not so for those who suffer with hypotension ( low blood pressure), whereas practicing Bagua Zhang is very beneficial for both. Obviously ailments like anxiety, tension, stress, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, back & spine stiffness, poor circulation, chronic fatigue etc can all benefit of practicing Bagua Zhang.

Hidden within each of the ten short forms of the Sun Style Bagua Zhang Swimming Body Continuous Palm Forms is also a tremendous amount of martial art techniques including striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing methods. When you actually see a practitioner performing any of the Swiming Body Continous Palm Forms it is hard to believe that they can be used for self defence purposes, but they techniques are very practical and efficient as the art of Bagua Zhang is based upon fast footwork.

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LFIAA Taijiquan “Remaining in control”

Thousands of people are learning and practicing  taijiquan. Admittedly many are practicing it simply for relaxation purposes, but not many are studying it as a form of Chinese internal martial arts which it is  also practiced for. Many individuals simply believe that the movements and actions of taijiquan are to be performed slowly, yes this is so if you are practicing it for relaxation, health and meditation,but if you are studying it as a internal martial art then it has to speed up its movements, so obviously there are two speeds that taijiquan can be performed at, you could say that moving slowly (Yin) is for health and wellbeing, while moving fast (Yang) is for martial arts practice.

Let’s look at the those who study taijiquan for health, wellbeing, relaxation or meditation. What the practice of taijiquan form work helps to develop is the individuals balance, co-ordination  and concentration, moving slow enhances the development of the these three attributes as the individual has to learn to remain the n control at all times.  At anytime a sudden lose of balance or concentration can effect the individual performance of their taiji form making them hesitate, completely stop or speed up their movements, which means the smooth continuous slow movement that each individual must try to achieve has been disturbed and they must start from the beginning again.

Another aspect to the maintenance of moving slowly at an even speed in the practice of taijiquan is the individuals ability to breath deep, slow, even and long.  It is the breathing that is supposed to dictate the speed of each individuals actions,sadly not many individuals who practice taijiquan work on developing their breathing,which is also very important in strengthening their health. Again it is all about remaining in control while the individual attempts to move slowly at an even speed.

On the other hand for those who practice taijiquan as an internal martial art,  at first they begin to learn and practice slowly, but gradually they have to start learning how to speed their taijiquan movements up both defensively and offensively. This means greater levels of concentration ,agility and co-ordination as in the practice of taijiquan as an internal martial art the individual has a far greater amount of information to learn and master than those who practice taijiquan for health or meditation reasons.

Irrespective if you study taijiquan for health or martial arts, the one over riding principle that governs everyone’s practice is are you totally in control of your being at all times in the practice of taijiquan. This to me is what taijiquan practice it all about, this is why we try to develop and improve our balance, co-ordination and concentration through the practice of taijiquan, so that we can learn to remain in control of our selves physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically  staying  balanced not just in our practice but hopefully in our daily life.

LFIAA Daoist Kunlun Qigong ” Self healing through natural movement”

The practice of qigong can be a very powerful exercise that can transform an individual’s life for the better, helping them to become a more confident and relaxed individual with a great amount of vitality even into their old age. Today there are many people who are practicing qigong to help them relax and manage certain health problems like arthritis, insomnia, hypertension, and even cancer. The Daoist Kunlun Qigong system is a very powerful self healing exercise that many individuals today in our fast, modern lifestyle can greatly benefit from in helping to develop their physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual strengths and awareness.

Many individuals suffer with some form of serious trumour or shock that can greatly change their outlook on life. This trumour can enter into the individuals body and lay deep inside affecting their emotions, causing the individual to carry negative energy inside them through their lives which can sometimes manifest itself to the surface in individuals by suffering with anxiety attacks, being frustrated, being argumentative, being irritable, being depressed and also being aggressive with your family,friends and work colligues. Within traditional Chinese medicine when an individual suffers with some kind of shock or trumour the negative energy lays deep in the acupuncture channels and meridians (Jing Ming) which are all connected to our internal organs (Zangfu). This negative energy or sickly energy (Bing Qi) can then effect our emotions causing us to suffer with our health and wellbeing.

In the practice of the Daoist Kunlun Qigong exercises there are various techniques that are used to help remove or disperse the build up of negative sickly energy from within us. These techniques allow the individual to dredge clean their acupuncture channels and meridians of the sickly energy ( Bing Qi) allowing the individual to become more emotionally relaxed and calm deep within. In the accompanying video with this blog of the LFIAA students is demonstrating one of the Daois KunlunQigong forms and shows a particular technique to help disperse negative qi to help maintain and improve the health and wellbeing.

LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Gongfu “Fast Throws”

As in all traditional Chinese internal martial arts learning practical and effective fast throwing techniques (Kuai Jiao Fa) is vitally important. To the Chinese fast throwing techniques are used to finish off a violent situation, as it is more than likely that the attacker when thrower will land on a very hard surface like concrete or solid earth, obviously this can seriously damage the attacker if they were thrown heavily on their head, back or hips, hence the situation is over.

Unlike in other martial arts were they use a forward roll to escape certain throws, in the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu they teach many throwing techniques that the attacker cannot roll out off, as the aim of a good effective throw is not to let the attacker escape from it by placing them in an arkward postition by tying up their arms and legs. Within the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu principles like leverage, angles, torgue, weight, gravity etc are all to be understood if  the practitioner of the Original FengShou-Gongfu wants to develop a good level of proficiency in their fast throwing techniques.

If the practitioner can fully master and understand all the principles that are needed to use fast,powerful,practical and effective throwing techniques. Then it does not matter wether you are a lighter person against a heavier person you are still able to apply effective throws or for example a female against a male, she can also perform powerful, light, fast throws as seen in accompanying video that comes with this blog. Learning practical throwing techniques is just one of four fighting ranges that a practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu must learn,the other three ranges are of cause striking, kicking and wrestling.

In all my years studying and teaching the traditional Chinese internal martial arts it always amazes me how many students do not want to learn fast throwing techniques. They eagerly learn striking, kicking and joint locking methods,but when it comes to participating in a throwing class or seminar the numbers quickly drop. To become a whole rounded Chinese internal martial artist you must learn the four fighting ranges, there should be no areas in your internal martial art that you do not train in, as this can make certain practitioners become dis-advantaged against an individual who uses fast throws on them,as they cannot recognise or respond back with a counter throw because they don’t practice throws.

LFIAA “Time & Energy” Personal Training

One of the most important aspects to learning any of the traditional Chinese internal arts of health, healing, meditation or martial arts that are taught within the LFIAA is that the student is encouraged to practice on their own in their own time and place of their choosing. I personally believe that participating in your own personal training allows the individual to develop their skill and discover deeper aspects to the art that they practice so that they have a greater understanding and knowledge of both themselves and how they can apply themselves to their art to get the best out of it. Personal  training on ones own or with a training partner should never stop, irrespective of how many years that you have been practicing and learning under a teacher of a particular style.

Sadly in today’s world there are many lazy students,who think that just because they pay you for a lesson that you should instantly make them become excellent at what they are learning. Many of these individuals only attend one class a week,they don’t practice what they have been taught to help improve and raise their own standard and ability. But expect the teacher to keep showing them new techniques or methods. A teacher is there to point out the students weaknesses and help correct them and then take the student to the next level, but if the student does not give the ” Time & Energy” to their art by practicing on their own on a regular basis the teacher will notice and  realise that the student does not deserve to be progressed further until their standard improves.

Putting  the ” Time & Energy” into your personal training can also be so rewarding in allowing you to maintain your health and wellbeing. It can help you to release stress, tension and anxiety helping you to fully relax and become more calmer in yourself. The hardest aspect to personal training is obviously setting a regular time that best suits you,especially if you have a very busy lifestyle. But no matter what excuses you come up with to place obstackles in your way to stop yourself from training on your own, the only one who you let down is yourself. If you truly want to excel in any of the traditional Chinese internal arts that are taught by the LFIAA then it is important that each student takes the opportunity to put the ” Time & Energy” into practicing on their own as they will not progress to a higher standard of skill and depth of knowledge that can only be experienced through practice.

Even the top Chinese masters practice on their own and it is only natural that they expect their students to do the same. Today, to many individuals expect a lot when they attend a class, but are not prepared to give any  extra time or effort to achieve it,many have a lazy attitude and do not really understand that there are so many different levels that they must pass through to reach a high standard within any of the Chinese arts of health,healing,meditation or martial arts.

  

LFIAA Swimming Dragon Qigong ” Breathing dictates the speed”

For many individuals learning to move slowly can be the most hardest thing to do.especially within the practice of traditional Chinese mind & body exercises like qigong and taijiquan. To really move slowly the individual must remain calm and achieve a deep inner feeling of stillness, while practicing the Swimming Dragon Qigong form the practitioner must try and maintain the same speed of motion from the very beginning to the end of the form, any feelings of anxiety, irritability or frustration in wanting to speed up must be dissolved and replaced with patience, relaxation and stillness.

I always advise my students to learn to move their body slowly,just using normal breathing at first, simply to develop their discipline in being able to move slowly and control the speed so that it remain even throughout the whole form. Some teachers will immediately start teaching their students to co-ordinate deep breathing with their movements from the very beginning of their practice. This can be very differcult for some as they cannot breath deeply and need to be gradually taught how to breath to strengthen their respiratory system.

I find that it is better to teach one or two postures of the Swimming Dragon Qigong form to individuals and get them to practice them with deep breathing, co-ordinating the breathing and movements together, but slowly increasing the length of breath on both the inhale and exhale to develop the skill in being able to be in control of the breath. Obviously once the student has developed their concentration to move as slowly as they can and has practiced to breath deeply. The ultimate aim is to then allow your breathing to dictate the speed that you practice your Swimming Dragon Qigong form.

Learning to breath helps to cultivate strong energy (Qi), Learning to breath increase your vitality, Learning to breath improves your concentration, Learning to breath strengthen your respiratory and cardiovascular systems, Learning to breath boost your immune system, Learning to breath soothes the nervous system, Learning to breath improves and maintain your health and wellbeing.

   

LFIAA Li Style Taiji Whirling Hands “Eight Energies”

All the many different traditional styles that there are within taijiquan all practice some type of two-person tactile exercise that allows them to bring the “Eight Energies” of Ward Off, Rollback, Press, Squeeze, Pluck, Split, Elbow and Bump that are all found in their many variations within the taiji forms alive and useful. Sadly today many individuals just practice the taiji forms and do not even know that there are two-person exercises in Taijiquan.

Within the Li style Taijiquan as taught by the LFIAA all students will start their learning of Taijiquan tactile exercises with the practice of what we call “Whirling Hands” (Lun Shou Fa). This exercise involves the ” Eight Energies” of Plucking, Pressing, Squeezing, Elbowing, Bumping , Ward Off and Rollback. Because both training partners are in contact with each other by the holding of each other’s hands, the aim is for each partner to feel the difference between each others Substantial and Insubstantial actions or full (Shi) and empty (Xu). The Whirling Hands exercise is at first taught with both partners remaining standing static, no moving of the legs to adjust each other’s balance. This is to develop each partners ability to “Root” themselves to the floor, after a while of static or fixed position practice each individual will them practice the moving step exercise, meaning that each partner can step to any direction to help close or increase the distance between each other.

The ultimate aim of practicing the Whirling Hands exercise is for each individual to be able to develop a high level of tactile awareness skill. To implement the ” Eight Energies” both in defence or offence from a static or moving step position bringing alive the principles of Yin & Yang and its constant ability to change from one to another, while maintaining the ability to remain “Still while in constant motion”. Practicing the Whirling Hands exercise can help each individual to improve their taijiquan form bringing alive the “Eight Energies” that are hidden within alive.

As I have already mentioned that there are many people who practice taijiquan but only the forms, these people think that they are master teachers of the art of taijiquan.  But they have not developed the skill to spontaneously bring  it alive in its many variant ways, but can only do it in a structured form method. The practicing the tactile sensitivity exercise of taijiquan like the Whirling Hands exercise of the Li style taijiquan will bring individuals closer to developing a more alive, natural and adaptable taijiquan skill than just simply practice the form structure.