It is important that when an Original Feng Shou Quan student attacks their opponent that they take the opponents time & space away from them. This means that their attack or counter attack has to be fast and continuous until the opponent has been finished off, not at any one time must the student of the Original Feng Shou Quan allow their opponent time and space to manuver or react. We have all seen beginners defend against a certain strike or kick by either evading and moving to an advantageous position to counter attack from, but because they pause or hesitate they allow their training partner to react and escape from their own counter attacking methods.
Just as much as we all learn to try and improve our defensive techniques, we must also learn to improve our offensive techniques as well and giving your opponent and training partner no time to react or space to move and escape into has to be worked on and developed by each student of the Original Feng Shou Quan. By each student trying to improve their offensive techniques giving each one no time & space for their training partners to react or manuver, will only improve each students defensive techniques as well.
The “Rollaways” two-person flow exercise that all Original Feng Shou Quan students practice is a very good exercise in both developing the students defensive and offensive techniques, especially when the student is actually trying to hit or touch their training partner with multiple strikes and kicks and taking their training partners time & space away from them to defend, all students have to concentrate just as much on being successful with their attacking techniques by making sure that all their strikes, kicks, joint locks and throws are effective in finishing the situation as this can lead to weak attacks and develop a false sense of security in the student believing that their offensive techniques are strong and effective.
The importance of maintaining the correct distance between your opponent that you can easily evade or dodge their attacks, but at the same time close the distance quickly enough allowing them no time and space to manuver or react defensively to escape is a very important skill to learnn and master for any student of the Original Feng Shou Quan. The Original Feng Shou Quan that is taught by the LFIAA is very much based upon each student developing a high level of fast defensive and offensive footwork as it is this particular skill that enables the student to manta in the correct distance at all times.
One of the benefits of practicing Taijiquan on a regular basis is that it can slow down the aging process of our body by what the Daoist called ” Washing/Cleansing the Marrow” (Xi Sui). Bone Marrow is a soft, fatty substance that lays within the cavity’s of our bones where our blood cells are produced. As we all get older this substance begins to dry up and the production of our blood cells declines. In our youth the bone marrow substance is plentiful and our bones are soft and pliable, but as we grow older and the bone marrow gradually dries, our bones become hard and brittle and we begin to age quicker.
Daoist recognised the health and longevity effects of heating the bones to cleanse and strengthen the marrow. But this cannot be done by heating the bones from an external processes. It has o be done internally by the blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) to fully replenish the marrow. In the practice of taijiquan the rejuvenation of the marrow begins with the free circulation of the qi which starts with the individual focusing their breathing on the lower abdomen or lower elixir field (Xia Dan Tian). When we breath from the lower Dan tian, the fluids in our body are heated much more fully. When we practice taijiquan movements with co-ordinated breathing which is naturally warm the blood will begin to heat up and the circulation of the blood will increase. Heated fluids will move, while cold fluids will stagnate. So by heating the blood it is better able to flow throughout arteries, vessels and capillaries.
It is through the free circulation of the qi and the breath heating up the fluids within our bodies, especially our blood through our actions of performing our taijiquan movements that allows the active qi and warm blood to spread into the sinews, joints and cavity’s of the body. Over time the sinews and joints become saturated with new fresh blood and qi, and then gradually with continued practice the heat of the qi will begin to penetrate into the bones and marrow, thus making it softer, moister and more pliable, hence producing more blood cells, which helps to slow down the aging process. This then is the basis for Washing/Cleansing the Marrow through taijiquan practice and study.
Not everyone who practices taijiquan will be able to achieve the method of being able to ” Wash/Cleanse the Marrow” and slow down the aging process if they simply practice taijiquan for relaxation, or that there is no continued, regular practice on a day to day basis. Achieving the ability to Clease the Marrow can only come with the free mobilisation of the qi throughout the entire body.
Within the practice of the Li style (Lishi) taijiquan there are many postures were the student has to turn their whole body in a 180 degree motion. It is important that when the student begins to turn their body that it is fully connected so that the whole body moves smoothly and effortlessly under total control. When turning the body around in a half circle the body weight has to shift and transfer first moving from the substantial (Shi) leg to the unsubstantial ( Xu) leg. The waist then turns, but as the waist turns it also controls the back non-weighted foot to turn at the same time.
In my long time of practicing and studying the Li style taijiquan I have seen both beginner and senior students actually turn both their front and rear foot while their body weight is still kept on that leg. This is obviously the wrong technique as it can cause the student to strain and tense the muscle of the substantial leg, causing injury in the long term to the joints of the leg which can stop the student practicing their taijiquan. I was taught that there should be no isolated movement in the practice of taijiquan, but that the whole body should move as one complete unit “if one part moves, the whole body moves, if part stops the whole body stops”.
When we practice taijiquan we are taught that the power travels up from the feet through the legs to the waist, the waist then guides the power through the spine into the shoulders were it then travels and emits out of the palms and fingers. The control of the waist ( Yao) is vital in connecting both the lower and upper portions of the body to move smoothly.many students especially those who practice the Li style taijiquan do not concentrate enough on developing a supple waist that dictates and directs the movement of the unsubstantial foot turning inwards or outwards. One of my criticisms of the many practitioners of the Li style taijiquan is that there are too many senior students of Master Chee Soo teaching a very rigid version were the torso is kept square on, with no action of the waist in directing and harmonising the upper and lower body together.
It as come to my understanding hat there over the many years since Master Chee Soo has died that there are two versions of the Li style taijiquan being taught and practiced. The first version and most popular and easier style to learn is what I term as the “Box Style” version of the Li style taijiquan. This particular style as a stiff torso with very little turning of the waist if any, it is simply a hand and leg action with students being taught to turn on a weighted leg. The second and best version of the Li style taijiquan is what I term as the ” circular Style” we’re the whole body is fully intergrated and moves as a whole unit were the use of the waist ( Yao) is evidently seen in its use in guiding the power from the feet to the fingers.
Most people have properly come across the Daoist Eight Standing Brocade Daoyin exercise, many properly are practicing this very ancient and still popular holistic exercise for the maintenance of health and wellbeing. The Eight Standing Brocade Daoyin exercises each work on one of the five yin organs ( lungs, heart,kidneys, liver & spleen) using external physical movements combined with breath and mind-intent to stimulate the flow of the blood ( Xue) and energy ( Qi) around the whole body. Each of the Eight Standing Brocade Daoyin exercises are easy to learn and very beneficial towards strengthen health and wellbeing.
Alongside the Eight Standing Brocade Daoyin ( Shu Ba Duan Jin) exercises is the Eight Sitting Brocade Daoyin ( Zuo Ba Duan Jin) exercises. I personally believe that the Eight Sitting Brocade Daoyin exercises are more subtle and powerful in the development of restoring and regenerating each practitioners health and wellbeing leading to each person being able to live a longer life. The Eight Sitting Brocade Daoyin exercises are very meditative in their practice which asks for a strong sense of concentration, patience and discipline by the practitioner. As with the Eight Standing Brocade Daoyin Exercise which mainly works to maintain the functioning of the five yin organs,whereas the Eight Sitting Brocade Daoyin exercises are practiced to refine the essence ( Jing) into energy (Qi) into spirit ( Shen) into nothingness ( Dao).
Today many individuals and groups are encouraged to practice “Mindfullness Meditation” to help them relax and release the pressures on themselves like anxiety, depression, irritability, frustration etc. The Eight Strands of Brocade Daoyin standing and sitting exercises can be considered both as a “Moving & Non-Moving Mindfullness Meditation” exercise which can greatly benefit everyone. I practice the Eight Sitting Bracade Daoyin exercises more as I find them very beneficial in releasing stress and tension.
What can also be good for you can also be bad for you. Most people have taken up the practice of taijiquan, meditation, yoga and qigong exercise to help them selfs to become more relaxed, healthier and fitter. But there are those individuals who do not take care of them selfs when practicing, so individuals take it their exercising to the excess and this can cause injury and some times a serious illnesses. Obviously individuals can at some time in their life suffer with a physical injury from either over stretching, poor posture, to much repetitive movement causing the muscles to become tense and strained which can effect the individuals flow of blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) to stagnate lowering their energy levels and weakening their immune system. This is were the treatment of Energy Bodywork Massage can be of benefit in helping each individual to recover their wellbeing to continue correctly with their practice of qigong or yoga etc.
Where the real benefit of Energy Bodywork Massage treatment can be of great help to certain individuals, are those who suffer with symptoms like insomnia from practicing qigong ,meditation or yoga were the individual has undertaken a long and vigorous workout which has caused their Qi and blood pressure to rise and remain up in the upper portion of the body long after they have finished with their training. Individuals can find it hard to sleep,becoming restless,irritable and exhausted the next day. Through energy bodywork massage treatment the practitioner can lead the trapped Qi back down the body to ground the individuals Qi and stop it from raising upwards, also the individuals blood pressure can be lowered helping them to become more relaxed.
Practicing any mind & body discipline can cause harm to every person especially if it is wrongly taught and practiced. Learning to circulate the Qi around the body can cause it to become trapped in some individuals and can seriously cause both mental and emotional illnesses to occur in the individual, such as psychosis, seeing illusionations. Emotionally the individual can become more angrier, irritable, argumentative in themselves and to those loved ones and friends around them. Energy bodywork massage because it can work on effecting the individuals mental (Shen), emotional (Qi) and physical (Jing) can greatly benefit individuals who have practiced wrongly and suffer with their Shen being outside of their own body, it can help to ground the individuals energy and bring their Shen (Spirit) back into their body,emotionally energy bodywork massage can remove and disperse any trapped Qi that is causing the individuals emotions to spike helping them become more calmer and still within.
For those individuals who practice the Chinese internal martial arts,especially the “Hand of the Wind Boxing” ( Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu) we have all seen or had suffered some sort of physical injury from our training, such as a dislocation of a finger, wrist, elbow or shoulder joint. Bruising and swellings on the arms, legs or face caused by a heavy blow, bleeding nose,black eyes all these can happen due to lack of concentration on each training partners behalf, accidents can happen. At anytime during a class training session. From my own personal experience of physical injury in a class training session, I can honestly say that the most type of injury that I have seen most students suffer with is dislocated fingers caused by mis-timing to deflect a kick and the individual as their fingers bent backwards and dislocated.
Learning the energy bodywork massage system as taught by the LFIAA is very important for teachers of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to be able to relocate a dislocated finger, elbow and shoulder joints that could happen during a class training session. Learning how to remove a swelling or bruising like a black eye by simply using a massage technique to disperse the accumulation of blood and energy and remove the swelling and ease the traumor and shock caused to the student.
In my own experience of practicing the Energy Bodywork Massage techniques I have as a teacher had to realign many students fingers, elbows, shoulder and knee joints caused by applying joint locks (Qinna) on each other, plus I have used the massage techniques taught to me by my teacher Master Chee Soo to remove swellings and stop a nose bleed, I have had to remove stiff necks, lower back strain and muscle tension caused by a heavy fall during training. My teacher used to mention that all of the Li family arts of healing, meditation,martial arts and health are all connected to each other and this is why it is important that everyone study the Energy Bodywork Massage system not just for accidents that could happen within the practice of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to the students. But to also help treat many individuals with various ailments outside of the class training.
More and more people are enjoying the practice of taijiquan in general for the maintenance of health and wellbeing. But since the LFIAA introduced the practice of the taiji fan (Shan) form into various classes individuals are loving its practice. Taiji fan can be performed using either a single or double fan, obviously individuals are advised to start practicing with a single fan as many individuals have trouble in being able to open and close the fan smoothly without dropping it.
The practice of the taiji fan form is very beneficial for suffers of arthritis within the fingers and arms, as taiji fan practice develops flexible fingers and wrists promoting good blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) flow into the extremities. Regular practice will also enhance each individuals balance, co-ordination and concentration to much higher levels as each individual as to be able to smoothly open and close the fan while maintaining the slow, graceful taiji movements with co-ordinated breathing.
The Chinese consider the practice of various taiji weapons such as the taiji sword (Jian) and taiji fan (Shan) as simply an extension of the hands. Taking up the practice of any of the taiji weapons such as the fan allows interested individuals who who are just practicing the solo taijiquan form to further their study and journey of taijiquan in general, deepening their understanding and knowledge of this popular holistic exercise.
Practicing the taiji fan form develops each individuals precision, timing, accuracy and flow, as the opening and closing of the taiji fan has to be timed correctly with the rising and sinking of various taiji postures. Plus the fan must fully open and close smoothly and accurately so that the individuals fingers and wrist must remain soft and supple in being able to control the opening and closing of the fan skilfully. Once the individuals has become proficient practicing their taiji fan form with a single fan they can then practice using two fans, one in each hand. Obviously this takes a lot of practice time and patience on behalf of each individual to master.
Once the individual has been studying the Chinese internal martial art of ” Hand of the Wind Boxing” (Feng Shou Quan) for at least three years they should have developed a good foundation to progress their training in the weapon side of this internal martial art. Usually students within the LFIAA are taught the Staff ( Gun) as.their first introduction to the weapon training aspect of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu. But obviously it is up to the teacher what he decides to teach, one of the most popular weapons to practice is the Straight Sword ( Jian) as many hundreds of people around the world practice the taiji sword for both health and martial arts training.
The Feng Shou Straight Sword is also a very enjoyable weapon to training with, as regular practice will also develop the individuals balance, co-ordination, concentration, timing, precision, accuracy and whole body movement. The Feng Shou Straight Sword form is only a short form that allows individuals to learn it quickly giving them a complete weapon form that they can practice with at home to use as a method of exercise for health and relaxation purposes. But even thou the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form is only 18 postures in length it as plenty of practical two-person training exercises within it.
One of my biggest criticisms about learning weapons forms is that some are to long with over two hundred movements or more in length, they can take to long to fully learn. It is far better to learn a small to medium size weapon form that is packed with training information that a student can learn and complete in a short period of time, this then gives them a form or exercise that they cane explore, transform and master into a much deeper practice either at home, in the park or within the training class itself.
The Feng Shou Straight Sword Form has plenty of practical sword fighting techniques that can be easily turned into two-person matching exercises that develop the individuals proficiency in learning how to use the straight sword skilfully both defensively and offensively.
Once a student has been practicing and studying the Chinese internal martial art of “Hand of the wind boxing” (Feng Shou Quan) for at least three or more years and has attained a good standard of ability and self awareness the next stage for them to develop and discover is the learning and mastering of various traditional Chinese weapons such as the staff (Gun), Broadsword (Dao), Spear ( Qiang), Straight Sword (Jian) etc.
The Chinese consider the learning and practicing of weapons as simply an extension of the hand. It is very important that each student has developed a good foundation within their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu as this will greatly help them to advance quickly in the studying of any of the particular weapons mentioned above. Various weapons develop certain attributes of a student for example the practicing of the Staff ( Gun) will strengthen and emphasis the use of the students fingers, arms, shoulders and waist, whereas the Broadsword (Dao) will strengthen the students back muscles.
When learning a particular weapon the student will practice both solo forms and two-person matching forms and exercises that will develop the students footwork, defensive and offensive techniques, improve their agility, co-ordination, concentration, timing, precision, accuracy and reactions. Plus it will develop their sense of distance from being at long range and then moving through middle and short ranges interlinking and mixing the ranges to fully become skilfull in the full use of any weapon that the student chooses to learn and master.
Taking the next step in the journey of the students progress in the learning of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu weapon system should be a natural next stage of development that every committed and serious student of this Chinese internal martial art should evolve towards. Learning weapons with high level of skill and performance will and can transform the student to a higher standard of ability in their journey towards mastering the Feng Shou Quan -Gongfu system as taught by the LFIAA.
Over the many years I have witnessed many individuals and groups of people practicing various qigong exercises, especially like taiji qigong and the Kunlun qigong styles. Many of these individuals learn to become accurate and precise with their qigong form movements and exercises, but sadly they do not progress any further in their qigong practice.the actually word “Qigong” is made up of two words, the first word “Qi” means energy. In the practice of qigong there are three main types of energy that we as individuals must learn to absorb, cultivate and transform in our qigong practice. The first type of energy that each individual absorbs into their bodies during their qigong practice is called “Heavens Energy” (Tian Qi). This is the energy (qi) that is in the air around us as we breath it inwards, the second type of energy that we also absorb in is called “Earth Energy ” (Di Qi) this particular energy emanates from the plants and trees and is why everyone should be encouraged to practice their qigong exercises and forms outside. The third type of energy that is absorbed and transformed is what the Chinese call as “Human Energy” (Ren Qi) this is a mixing of both the Heaven and Earth Qi which is then transformed into our personal qi.
The second word that makes up the word QIgong is the word “Gong” which actually means “Work”. This means that to cultivate and circulate the Qi to nourish our bodies and maintain good health and wellbeing we must work at it by using natural physical movements that are co-ordinated with our breathing and concentration to absorb the energy around us. Sadly many individuals get stuck within their qigong practices by concentrating to much on the physical movement rather than connecting to the movement of Qi within themselves.
The whole aim of any style of qigong practice is for each individual to be able to develop their own sensitivity and awareness of their own Qi moving inside themselves and to use this internal energetic movement guide their own physical qigong actions,so that there is both an external and internal harmony. Qi can move in eight particular methods when you practice your qigong you should become aware of its direction and movement as you practice, for example can you feel your qi rise upwards as you slowly raise your both arms above your head,obviously can you then feel your qi lower and sink back down through your whole body into the ground as you slowly lower your both arms.