LFIAA Lishi Dao Yoga’s “Opening the Joints” Exercises

Over my many years of practicing the Li Family’s (Lishi) Daoist health, healing and martial arts the one thing that I have really benefitted from is its Dao Yoga exercises that allows my body to remain supple and pliant, especially as my body grows older and more tension and stiffness attacks my body and  can effect my health and wellbeing and my mobility. To still have the freedom to move around. As a Chinese saying goes ” once we lose the use of our legs,  our body grows old quickly”.

Through the Lishi Dao Yoga’s sitting and standing exercises each  particular method will allow the individual to develop a  relaxed, supple and strong body by gently opening the joints of the four extremities improving blood and Qi flow into the fingers and toes to nourish the tendons, muscles and joints. Opening the joints allows for fresh blood and Qi to enter and remove the more blocked, stagnated sickly (Bing Qi) and turbid (Zhao Qi) that has been stuck causing the vitality levels of each individual to become low, weakening their immune system and causing external pathogens to attack their body causing illness.

Another great benefit of practicing the Lishi Dao Yoga exercises is that they will gently stretch open the joints of the spinal column helping to keep the spine soft, supple and pliant. Because we all know, as we all get older our spine can be easily injured causing great discomfort to the individual for the rest of their life, sadly to many individuals suffer with back and spine problems and through the practice of Lishi Dao Yoga each individual can chose from a wide range of exercises that can help them to either prevent or manage their back and spine problem much more better allowing them to live a more active lifestyle.

Learning to look after your spine will also improve your energy levels as the main Yang Vessel/Meridian the Govenor  (Du Mai) travels up the length of the spine and is the controller of all the Yang channels. A healthy back and spine will mean that the Qi circulation is unhindered and individuals Guardian Energy (Wei Qi) is strong to stop any external pathogens attacking the body of the individual.Regular practice of the Lishi Dao Yoga exercises are obviously not just aimed at developing the individuals flexibility and relaxation, they are also aimed at strengthening the individuals health and wellbeing by nurturing, cultivating  and harnessing their vital energy (Qi).

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LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu “Leg Locking Qin Na”

An aspect of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu seizing and grasping joint locking techniques (Qin Na) is the ability to effectively apply Leg Locking techniques (Tui Suo Fa). Usually most of the Leg Locking techniques applied by a student of this Daoist Internal Martial Art is done from an opponent attempting to deliver a kick, which obviously means taking the opponent to the floor to apply the Leg Locking technique. There are some Leg Locks that can be applied on the opponent while he is standing, for example the picture that comes with this blog is of an individual attempting to apply what we call in the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu as the “Old Tree Coils Its Roots” Leg Locking method.

Like most joint locking techniques (Qin Na) Leg Locks can be used effectively and devastatingly to finish an aggressive situation off very quickly. Or they can be used to subdue or immobilise an aggressive individual causing tremendous pain. But applying a Leg Lock against more than one opponent is not advised as it can take to long and the other attacker will be upon you very quickly. But against one opponent they can be very powerful techniques, especially against an opponent who likes to use kicks against you.

Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu there are three types of Leg Locking techniques that are performed,there are bent leg locks, straight leg locks and entwined leg locks. A Leg Lock technique is when pressure has been placed on the knee joint, or by bending it at an arkward angle causing great pain to the opponent. An entwined Leg Lock technique can be used to wrap around their seized leg tying up their both legs. Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu the practice of Leg Locking techniques is rarely practiced as many students are taught to seize and control the upper limbs joints, rather than locking the lower limbs.

LFIAA Taijiquan “Intent goes first, Form follows”

Within the study and practice of taijiquan it is said that the Intention and Qi are King, while the bones and tissues are the court. Sadly today many people practice taijiquan as an aerobic exercise, mainly concentrating on learning the physical, external movements with no understanding of connecting the external with the internal. During the practice of taijiquan each individual must concentrate and use Intent, letting the mind guide and move the qi, allowing the qi to circulate throughout the entire body, hence the Mind is the commander in chief and the bones, muscles, tendons and skin are the messengers .

This is why students of taijiquan should learn to develop and strengthen their concentration to build their ability to use their Intention to connect and move their qi. Rather than just practicing the external movements without developing their Intention the students taijiquan form work will become empty. Their movements are  strength based and not qi based. Using Intent instead of strength is the supreme principle of the practice of taijiquan, the students every movement is constantly driven by the Intent to be light and agile, with out using brute strength.

Correct taijiquan practice involves  training the qi (abdominal breathing), the body training ( exercising the body both physically and internally), the intent, breathing and movements are tightly intergrated together, showing the wholeness balance of taijiquan training. To many individuals are only concerned in learning the physical movements of the taijiquan form, but lack strength in their ability to concentrate for long periods of practice time, this inability to concentrate will diminish their progress within the practice of taijiquan to reach deeper levels.

Individuals should learn to use their Intent to move their qi and for the qi to make their body move, rather than using the strength of the body to move the qi. Obviously this will take time for each individual to strengthen their concentration. I have noticed for many years now that within my own classes that it is the students own inability to concentrate on using their Intent to guide the qi that stops them from furthering themselves in the study and practice of taijiquan.

LFIAA Original Feng Shou Staff Two-Person “Rollaway Exercise”

As the Chinese say the weapon, in this case the Staff (Gun) is an extension of the hand. So for those who practice the Feng Shou-Kung Fu as taught by Master Chee Soo and who practice the two-person counter/counter exercise known as “Rollaways”  should be well experienced with this wonderful exercise as a training aid to sharpen their offensive and defensive hand and leg techniques. The next stage for any student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu  is to expand their Rollaway exercise by training with Staffs and to reach the same high skill level training with the Staff in both a defensive and offensive manner as they would reach when practicing hand and foot techniques.

Practicing the “Rollaway” two-person flow exercise with Staffs ( Gun) can be practiced in a linear, angular or circular method. A beginner would be taught the linear exercise which allows each training partner to work with each other in a particular training rhythm that involves singular or multiple strikes using either end of the Staff, directed at various targets on the body, obviously this means that each training partner  would then use either a singular or multiple blocking technique to defend themselves. After awhile the beginner students will be taught how to disarm each other using various Staff fighting techniques and fast footwork to close the distance and increase it to escape. Once the student has reached a high level of skill in the linear training stage, they would then be progressed to learn the angular Staff exercise and then finally the circular Staff training exercise.

The ” Rollaways” Staff two-person training exercise allows the student to develop fast, practical and effective  techniques that are real and alive, rather than movements that are rigid and dead that are found within many forms, these particular actions do not develop the students timing, reactions, precision, accuracy and speed  as the “Rollaway” exercise provides. sadly  to many old students of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu  put all their efforts into the practice of the Feng Shou Staff forms, rather than practicing the “Rollaways” Staff two-person exercise for where the true skill of mastering the Staff fighting techniques is to be found and developed to a high degree of skill.

Below in the accompanying photo that comes with this blog is a picture of students of the LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu under the guidance of Laoshi Keith Ewers practicing the ” Rollaways” Staff two-person counter/counter exercise developing  their understanding , knowledge and skill within the use of the Feng Shou Staff fighting techniques.

LFIAA Lishi Dao Yoga’s “Continuous Slow Movements”

Unlike many other styles of yoga which will perform an exercise and then hold the position for a few seconds to develop their flexibility and strength. The Li style ( Lishi) Dao Yoga method is to not hold any of their exercises, but to gradually increase their flexibility through extending further beyond their maximum reach each time the exercise is repeated. It is through plenty of slow, continuous repetition of an exercise that the student will develop their tendon, ligament,muscular and bone strength.

The Li style Dao Yoga (Lishi K’ai Men) exercises are taught in a two set training method what we call a ( Yin) Sequence set and a ( Yang) Extension set. The ( Yin) Sequence set is a passive exercise that promotes a smooth flow of energy (Qi), it is important that the student focuses on the important acupuncture points (Qixue) that are used within each particular action and that their breath, movement and concentration are used to guide and lead (Daoyin) their energy throughout their body. Whereas, the (Yang) Extension set is a more dynamic exercise that stimulates the lymphatic system strongly, plus the circulation of the blood, because the (Yang) Extension set is more vigorous and stronger in its actions it has a greater effect on the individuals respiratory and cardiovascular systems which obviously will strengthen their fitness and stamina levels.

“Heavy below and light above” this is a saying that many individuals who practice Taijiquan will know well, but it is also what a student of the Li style Dao Yoga should experience as well, especially when they are practicing any of the standing Dao Yoga’s exercises. Within each exercise that the student practices their movements must be directed from and returned back to their lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) which is located deep within the lower abdomen behind the navel. This allows the student to harness, cultivate and nurture their vital energy to boost their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and strength.

Through the slow,deep,long,smooth breathing that dictates the speed of the Dao Yoga’s movements, the student can begin to relax more and more into their exercises, slowly releasing muscle tension and joint stiffness, which in-turn will lower blood pressure, soothing the nervous system, gradually the students mind will begin to just concentrate on maintaining the timing and precision of the whole exercise, which will allow their mind to become “Still and Calm” seeking the Stillness within the Motion. This will then help them to release any mental anxiety, tension or stress that may have built up during the day or has built up over an extensive period of time.

Today any type of yoga exercise can be really beneficial towards the individuals health. But if you can combine this with some regular Meditation practice, then it will greatly enhance the practice taking it to another level.

LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu “Short Range Kicking Methods”

When a student begins to learn the vast amount of foot flow patterns (Jiao Liu Dong Xing) or kicking techniques within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu they are not taught the difference between short range (Duan Cheng) kicking techniques and long range (Chang Cheng) kicking techniques. Many of the kicks or foot patterns that a student will learn are very effective at long range, how many times have  I seen students trying to deliver a high round kick when standing close to their training partner, firstly, many students do not take into account the distance between themself and their training partner.

So what are short range kicking techniques, well they include the use of the  knee (Xi), the hip ( Kua), stamping (Deng Jiao),  sweeping (Sao Dang Tui), hooking (Gou Jiao)  and swinging (Bai Dang Tui) techniques. Obviously these particular short range kicking techniques are combined with striking methods to either disguise your kicks or as a follow up after you have used a certain kicking method to help finish the confrontation.

As you face off with your training partner or an opponent there is a certain amount of distance between each other, this is considered to be long range, so you will need to bridge the gap between each other to get closer to either your training partner or opponent very carefully, or it could be the case that the opponent or training partner has managed to close the space between the two of your selfs  so now you are forced to fight at short range, your kicking techniques must be fast, practical and effective at this close distance, your kicks will not raise any higher than your opponents waist, you must target their groin, knee and ankle joints, the top of their foot or toes, you can also target the big muscles of the thigh to cause numbness.

The student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system is taught to change and adapt their fighting techniques to overcome the situation. So it is important that the student understands that the distance between yourself and your opponent will be constantly changing some times from long range to short range and vice-versa. This means that even thou the student may attack from long range into short range using their vast amount of kicks, they must also be aware of moving from short range back into long range. This is were it is useful for the student to be skilled at using short range kicking techniques.

LFIAA The Energetic Taiji Pole

No matter what Daoist internal health, healing, meditation or martial art you have chosen to study. If they involve the harnessing, cultivating, nurturing and circulation of the vital energy (Qi), then each individual must be aware of their own energetic mid-line known as the Taiji Pole. The Taiji Pole is a central line that runs from the crown of the head at the (Bai Hui) “Hundred Meetings Du 20” directly through the centre of the body to the (Hui Yin) “Meeting of Yin Ren 1” located between the legs.

The Taiji Pole is made up of three major  energy vessels the Governing Vessel (Du Mai) which travels up the length of the back through the spinal column where it connects to the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai) that travels down the front of the body. The third major vessels is the Thrusting Vessel ( Chong Mai) which does travel through the Taiji Pole. Each of these three major energy vessels store the vital energy (Qi) and circulate it throughout the entire body through the Yin & Yang meridians which are connected to the internal organs (Zangfu).

On the line of the Taiji Pole are to be found the lower, middle and upper three Dantians ( Elixir Field). The word “Dan” represents a cauldron or pot where a pill, medicine or elixir is prepared. “Elixir” means an alchemical mixing  and changing of the Essence (Jing), Energy (Qi) and Spirit (Shen) into a Elixir. The other word “Tian” represents a field or area for the growing of crops, hence the three areas to which the Dantians are located to refine the three treasures of the body the Jing, Qi, Shen into a pure energy to meet the ( Dao) Way.

It is important that each student no matter what discipline they are studying learns to move from their lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) each of their movements must be directed from their lower Dantian, has this is where the Qi is gathered, stored and cultivated,hence it should also be the point of the body where the student flows their Qi into their extremities to use it for the purpose of health, healing or self defence reasons.