Sun Style Baguazhang ( Eight Trigram Palms) has eight animal forms which are the Lion, Unicorn, Snake, Sparrowhawk, Dragon, Bear, Phoenix and Monkey. The Sparrowhawk ( is associated with the Li Trigram which is made up of a broken Yin line between to solid Yang lines, the Li Trigram connects to the “Fire Element” which is also associated with the Heart internal organ. Practicing the Sparrowhawk form involves nimble footwork and a pliable body as the form involves rotating the body in conjunction with various hand movements like piercing palm,crouching palm and chopping Palm methods.
When you first begin to learn the Sparrowhawk form a beginner will perform it in a linear practicing method until they become smooth and continuous with their hand, body and footwork skill once they are able to achieve this, they then move on to learning how to “Walk the Circle” using the natural stepping action (Ziran Bu Fa) of heel/toe method. Walking the circle and employing the Sparrowhawk form develops the individuals flexibility, fitness and energy (qi) cultivation and focuses on the energy of the Heart which is also closely connected to the Spirit (Shen). If the individual can perform the Sparrowhawk form and maintain a calm Heart then the individuals Spirit will also become tranquil.
As a martial art the techniques of the Sparrowhawk form involves a large variety of striking, kicking, joint locking and throwing techniques which are all hidden within the form itself. The Sparrowhawk form involves the rotation of the body which known as “Big Python turns its body” in a complete circle, this develops flexibility, nimbleness and speed within each individual ability and skill.
Many thousands of people are either already practicing or just beginning their own journey of studying this ancient Daoist body, mind & spirit discipline to improve their health and wellbeing. But many individuals only concentrate on learning the moving taijiquan forms which will develop the individuals balance, co-ordination and concentrating, but I have found that many individuals suffer in being able to strengthen their concentration levels and this stops them from achieving a high standard of taijiquan performance. So within my taijiquan classes I also teach the “Standing Post Qigong” meditation exercises (Taiji Zhan Zhuang Gong) many of the taijiquan postures that are practiced within the moving forms can be used to practice taiji Standing Post QIgong.work to help strengthen each persons concentration.
Again practicing the taiji Standing Post QIgong exercises which are not for everyone, as each individual must hold a static posture for a long duration, focusing on their breathing and relaxation into the posture. This is the opposite to the taiji moving form practice were the individual is aiming to achieve stillness within the movement, in the taiji standing post qigong exercise the individual is seeking the movement within the stillness. Not only will the practice of taiji standing post qigong exercises help improve the persons health and fitness levels it will greatly improve their concentration levels to improve the performance of their taijiquan moving form practice.
Another exercise that can also improve each persons concentration levels is the practice of ” Sitting Meditation” (Jing Zou). As many individuals do not like the practice of standing for a long period of time holding a particular taiji posture, so sitting meditation can also be practiced to help strengthen the individuals relaxation and concentration levels. It can take an individual a long time to strengthen their mental focus from simply practicing the taijiquan form. But by practicing either the standing post or sitting meditation alongside the taijiquan form practice can greatly aid each individual developing their concentration to improve the quality of their taijiquan form standard and ability.
To fully learn the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the student must begin to study and practice the four main fighting ranges of Striking (Da), Kicking (Ti), Wrestling (Na) and Throwing (Shuai). Many students will practice and develop their skill within the Striking, Kicking and Wrestling ranges, but only a rare few will practice and attain good skill in the Throwing range. Over my many years of training and teaching this unique Chinese internal martial art I’ve have began to realise that many students try and avoid learning the throwing technique, this I find silly as throwing techniques are just as important as striking or kicking.
Practicing and developing your skill within the throwing range will only help you to adapt and change your fighting art to suit the situation that stands before you. Sometimes a good fast, powerful throwing technique might be all you need to escape from an aggressive situation. A really skilful practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu learns how to use any part of his or her body to use as a weapon against your opponent for example the use of the shoulders to strike with or your hips to kick with. This allows you the ability to attack your opponent from various angles at both close and long range,this then must be the same with the practitioner being able to flow from Striking to a Throwing technique or from a Wrestling technique to a Kicking method. Being able to naturally flow from the four fighting ranges gives the Original Feng Shou-Gongfu practitioner the ability to be spontaneous, changing, adapting their fighting skill with great accuracy, precision and timing to overcome their opponent.
Learning throwing techniques is not for everyone, as some are afraid of hurting themselves, as the ground can be very unforgiving to everyone even thou you are practicing on 40mm judo mats. Many women are obviously nervous of practicing throwing techniques, but I have seen many females start nervously and then go onto be very skilful and confident individuals. Personally I am a great believer that everyone who study’s a Chinese internal martial art should cover all of the fighting ranges to help them become a more balanced practitioner. Simply learning a handful of fast throwing methods that are easy to perform alongside your striking, kicking and joint locking techniques is all you need to give you many options of how to defend yourself against an aggressive individual.
Once you begin to learn the many Poison Hand Striking Sets (Du Shou Fa) of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu it is important that these particular striking sets transform and develop and do not simply remain set in their rigid form were the only time that these striking methods are used is when the each Poison Hand Striking set is practiced.It is entirely up to each practitioner to research the many different ways that each of the Poison Hand Striking techniques can be applied alongside various ward offs, kicking techniques, joint locking and throwing methodss, by learning to practice and research how the Poison Hand Striking sets can be added alongside other elements of this unique internal martial art will only deepen each individual’s understanding, knowledge and skill level.
To make the many Poison Hand Striking techniques become practical and effective in their usage each student will need combine other elements like footwork (Bu Fa) for without good stepping skill the student will not be able to get close enough to their opponent to attack with their Poison Hand Strikes, plus the stepping skill can add a great amount of power and force to each strike. The next element to be combined is different types of ward offs, in the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the use of a “Ward Off” (Dang Fa) can be used to deflect or bounce away an in-coming blow, or it can be used as an entry technique to open up your opponents defence. Obviously this means that the entry technique of your Ward Off and your Poison Hand Strike as to be performed simultaneously at the same time so as not to telegraph your intention to your opponent.
Once you have practiced your Poison Hand Striking techniques alongside using many Ward Off methods as different methods of entering into your opponents defence.you can then begin to add a variety of kicking techniques which can be used to attack your opponents lower extremities causing a great amount of damage directly to there joints, or you can use your kicking techniques to trip, sweep and throw your opponent to the ground. Lastly alongside the practice of your Poison Hand Strikes the student can then combine various types of joint locking techniques (Qinna) which of cause can be turned into throwing techniques (Shuai Fa).
In the video that accompanies this blog you will see a student applying techniques from the third Poison Hand Striking Set But he is using a changing hand ward off entry technique to open up his opponents defence and then using a lifting palm, upward elbow strike combination to a arm wrap and leg throw takedown. This is just one particular application of using the Poison Hand Striking techniques alongside other elements of this fascinating internal martial art.
The ultimate aim of every student of the LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan is to make their Poison Hand Striking techniques ( Du Shou Fa) practical and effective. The actual usage of these destructive striking techniques has to be combined with other elements of the Feng Shou-Gongfu system, for example direct ward offs that can be used to enter into an opponents defence and create openings for your Poison Hand Strikes to become very effective. Simply thinking that the basic Poison Hand Striking sets that every student learns as part of taking their gradings is enough for them to work is really deluding themselves.
I fully agree that practicing the basic Poison Hand Striking sets will teach each student various striking tools uing their fingers, palms, knuckles,fist, forearms, elbows and shoulders that can be used to strike with effectively. But for these Poison Hand Strikes to become effective then they need to be combined with fast, practical entering techniques. When you actually see these Poison Hand Striking techniques being used skilfully by a good practitioner who can combine other elements of this unique Chinese internal martial art in a natural spontaneous way that they can adapt and change these Poison Hand Striking techniques against any situation.
Once you have learnt the many Poison Hand Striking sets that there is to learn within the Original Feng Shou Quan. Then it is up to the practitioner to transform them into a practical and effective method that the practitioner themselves creates their own new striking methods that is a mixture of the basic Poison Hand Strikes. To develop a high level of fighting skill in the usage of the Poison Hand Strikes the practitioner has to learn to combine other elements alongside them to make them become more effective and practical. As I have already mentioned good entry methods, another is skilful footwork and kicking techniques that can help to create an opening for the Poison Hand Strikes to work effectively.
No matter what particular style of taijiquan that you practice or study all involve the action of “Opening and Closing” movements. Closing is considered to be (Yin) while Opening is considered to be (Yang), Closing is contracting and Opening is expanding. Obviously there must be a sense of balance within the movement so that the individual does not perform the Opening action to its extreme by fully locking their joints, nor do they fully Close their joints tightly. There must be a balance to the Opening and losing actions so that the blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) can flow smoothly into the extremities.
The Opening and Closing movements act as a pumping action to circulate the blood and energy around the whole body each joint as it Opens allows a strong flow of blood and energy to circulate freely into a limb,while the Closing action of the joints can slow down the blood and energy flow into a particular limb allowing for one limb to become substantial, full (Shi) and the other limb to be unsubstantial empty (Xu). This also happens within the spinal column,as the individual rotates their body from their waist from side to side the spineal joints slightly stretch Open and then Closecausing the spinal fluid to flush up and down the length of the spinal column.
At a much deeper level of the Opening and Closing actions that are used in the performance of their taijiquan form, the individual can then learn how to Open and Close certain major energy points (Qixue). For example when the individual extends his or her hand out to push forwards as each joint gently opens allowing the blood and energy to move freely down the limb into the hands. The individual then gently stretches open the fingers of the pushing hand and flattens the centre of the Palm pushing the (Laogong) energy point in the centre of the Palm forwards which emits the energy outwards and Opens the acupuncture point. Immediately the fingers relax and the Palm hollows allowing the (Laogong) energy point to Close drawing the (Qi) energy back into the body.
The Opening and Closing actions that are performed in the practice of the taijiquan form can be greatly enhanced when the individual co-ordinates their breathing with the Opening and Closing movements. This strengthens the mind (Yi) ability to guide and lead the (Qi) energy throughout the whole body to benefit each individual’s health and wellbeing.
One of the skills that a practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu must develop is the use of combining the top with the bottom. This means skilfully using the arms/hands in harmony with the feet/legs in both a defensive or offensive techniques. Examples of this is the use of dodging using various stepping methods alongside tight defensive ward offs and deflections using hands or arms, or correct stepping to aid powerful strikes or punches. This teaches the Original Feng Shou Quan practitioner to move the whole body as one complete unit which promotes very powerful techniques as nothing is performed in an isolated manner.
This development of the the top and bottom (hands & legs) working together in a smooth, tactile manner is also performed in the use of the fast throwing methods (Kuai Shuai Fa) of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu. Many of the kicking techniques (Ti Fa) that are taught and practiced can also be used to throw an opponent successfully in combination with the hands. Such kicking techniques like Hooking (Gou), Springing (Beng), Scooping (Ju), Blocking (Dang) can all be used to control the opponents lower extremities to manipulate their balance, lock their joints to quickly throw them to the ground.
To be successful in the throwing techniques of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is to learn to have many points of contact with your opponent. This means not just to use the hands to seize your opponents arms,but to use your torso to press against your opponents body helping to keep them off balance and to use your legs to block or joint lock your opponents lower limbs giving the practitioner full control of the opponents body to lead them into a fast powerful throw. The usuage of the legs can be used to joint lock your opponents knee and ankle joints to cause serious damage to your opponent as you throw them, irrespective of how heavily they land on the ground possibly causing more damage to their back, hips, shoulders or head.
Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the hands make the opening but it is the legs that do the finishing. This means that through skilful use of your strikes and ward offs your opponent does not see the kick, but only feels it’s effect when they are used to trap or block your opponents lower limbs to directly attack their knee joints leafing them into a fast,powerful throw.
As with many of the traditional Chinese internal martial arts all of them comprise a wide variety of fast throwing techniques (Shuai Fa). The Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu also has within it many throwing methods, but many teachers do not teach them to their students because the teacher himself has not fully trained in them and has not developed a deep amount of information and skill in their usae, or the teacher does not like practicing throwing techniques, hence why they are not taught. My teacher Master Chee Soo was a a great advocate of using throwing methods alongside striking, kicking and joint locking techniques.
In my own experience of teaching the throwing techniques of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu I have found that many students including the so called black sash students/teachers are nervous of practicing them to the point that they will openly say that they do not want to participate. Learning fast, practical and effective throwing techniques can greatly add a powerful tool in your internal martial art arsenal giving the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the ability to adapt and change to the situation at hand.
The Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu throwing methods that are taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers of the LFIAA involves the students making many points of contact with their body against their opponent to allow for better control of the opponents body to leverage them into a throwing technique, plus to stop them from trying to escape out of the throw itself. Another principle that Laoshi Keith Ewers teaches to his students in the Feng Shou Quan throwing methods is not to allow the opponent to roll out of the throw as seen in some martial arts like Aikido. This means that the opponent must be placed into a position were they are twisted in their posture with there body moving in one direction, while the lower body is being guided to move in the opposite direction making for a very effective throwing techniques that they cannot escape out of.
Fully tying up your opponent into an awkward position and then throwing them heavily to the ground can cause tremendous damage to your opponent especially if they are thrown on to a hard surface like damaging their hip, spine or head. This is why the Chinese consider throwing methods as a finishing technique.
When you see beginner students practicing their taijiquan movements you will notice how many seem to pause, hesitate and even completely stop their actions. This obviously does not encourage the Qi to flow smoothly, it can cause the Qi to stagnate or slow down which means that the student does not feel the sensation of their Qi within their hands and arms like the sensations of tingling, heat, fullness or heaviness. When you see intermediate students practicing their taijiquan form their movements naturally flow from one movement into the next in a smooth, slow and accurate method. You cannot see were the one posture ends and the other posture begins, there is no pausing or hesitating in their actions,but a fluid sequence of circular movement.
Developing your taijiquan form movements into a smooth, flowing action will only help your Qi and blood to circulate freely unhindered throughout your entire body. Sadly to many students spend to much time learning the physical movements, but do not connect their mind,body and breath to their Qi to be able to guide and lead their energy anywhere within their body. Practicing taijiquan takes plenty of patience from the interested individual as there are many subtle levels to discover and learn and this can take many years to achieve.
Over-al the practice of taijiquan, especially when the movements are smooth and fluid in their action will greatly benefit in strengthening the individuals health and wellbeing. For so many students just to reach this stage of being able to combine their taijiquan movements together into a continuous motion of ” movement & stillness” takes many individuals years to reach and achieve, many give up along the way as they get frustrated and irritable because they cannot see any progression their own development. Whereas those who do persivear with their practice will receive many benefits from regular taijiquan practice in improving their health,wellbeing and longevity.