For a student of the LFIAA to study and practice the Energy Bodywork Massage system as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers they have to practice both Neigong (Internal) and Waigong (External) work before they become skilfull enough to treat a patient. Obviously the eternal (Waigong) work involves the study and practice of the many different bodywork massage techniques. So that the student becomes very familiar with each bodywork massage method and how to use them on various parts of the body, plus the student must learn about improving their posture and stance so that the student can use their body weight effectively enough to aid their bodywork massage techniques. Sadly there are many practitioners of the Lishi bodywork massage system and many other styles that simply rely on this external (Waigong) method to treat many musculoskeletal ailments.
The Neigong (Internal) development of the Energy Bodywork Massage involves the practice and study of Daoyin (Guiding & Leading) exercises to mobilise the energy (Yun qi) of the student, so that they can learn how to manipulate the energy (qi) within themselves to better manipulate the Qin of the patient. This means regular practice of Daoyin/Qigong exercises to cultivate, nurture and mobilise their own qi developing a fine sensitivity to its movement inside themselves, so that they can tangibly feel and manipulate the qi more skilfully to treat both external and internal illnesses.
To become a true and highly skilfull practitioner of the Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na) the student must learn both internal (Neigong) & external (Waigong) development, simply learning the physical techniques means that the practitioner can only effect the muscles, tendons, joints and blood, but they will not be able to connect to the patients qi that lays deep inside and be able to gather, rise, lower, enter or exit the patients qi because they have not developed their own energy (qi) strength to connect to the patients own qi and be able to guide & lead it anywhere in the patients body.
The LFIAA offers both internal ( Neigong) and external (Waigong) bodywork massage training to its interested students so that they can become skilfull practitioners of this Traditional Chinese Medicine System.
Developing the skill to apply practical, fast, effective joint locking techniques that can be used within a actual fighting situation can take the student of any martial art several years of disciplined and diligent training. Firstly the student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu has to begin developing their own catalogue of joint locking techniques that involve finger (Zhi), wrist (Wan), elbow (Zhou), shoulder (Jian), head (Tou), knee (Xi) and ankle (Huai) locks (Suo). This obviously can take many months or even years for each student to gradually be able to remember each locking technique and develop their skill to apply them agains strikes, punches and kicks.
Usually students are taught joint locking techniques (Qin Na) from various types of grips and holds, then they move on to being able to apply them against pre-arranged strikes, punches and kicks from a variety of angles. This sadly is where many students feel safe and remain practicing their joint locking methods and do not progress any further in their development of skilfully using them. Once the student has built up enough joint locking techniques the next stage of development is to learn how to apply them from a spontaneous counter, counter flow exercise were the student is forced to react quickly and seize the opportunity to apply a particular joint locking technique. Their attempt must be fast, crisp, hidden, strong and powerful like that of an eagle seizing its prey.
In the study of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu joint locking methods a student must learn how to use them defensively as well as being able to use them offensively. The difference being that defensive Qin Na jont locking techniques are performed from your opponents attempts to strike, punch, kick or even grap a hold of your body, whereas, offensive Qin Na joint locking techniques are performed on your opponents as they attempt to block, deflect or ward off your attacking strikes and kicks. The offensive Qin Na methods are more difficult to apply and ask for a higher level of skill in being able to effectively apply them from each student, the practicing of sticking hands (Tuishou) and rolling hands (Gun Shou) is also vital for the student of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to develop their tactile ability to listen (Ting), stick/adhere (Zhan Nian) and follow (Sui) through their sense of touch and contact.
Learning to achieve the high level skill of being able to change and adapt to any aggressive fighting situation that may occur using evasion, dodging, blocking striking, kicking and seizing/grasping techniques takes a tremendous amount of diligence and effort from each student over many months and years to reach the level of skill to apply them in a real fighting situation.
Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palms) has its origins within China’s past, but this unique Daoist internal martial art transcends cultural and language barriers. It’s theory and practice is suitable for many people for many different purposes, Bagua Zhang has a broad range of applications for many areas of human life that cross cultural boundaries, self defence, strengthening health, increasing longevity, fitness exercises and cultivating the body, mind and spirit. Because of its Daoist roots Bagua Zhang instills in the practitioner a practical philosophy of living and at the same time provides a path towards spiritual growth and transformation.
Sunshi Eight Trigram Palms (Bagua Zhang) involves both passive and vigorous actions that increases the practitioners joint, tendon and ligament flexibility of their entire body. This development of a supple and pliant body is needed as the practice of Bagua Zhang also involves various stepping actions that allow the practitioner to constantly change direction in a fluid, smooth manner, promoting a nimble, agile and flexible individual.
Philosophy, life cultivation and self defence are seemlessly combined into Bagua Zhang’s theories and training methods. Both the inside and outside of an individual are cultivated and nurtured simultaneously. Bagua Zhang’s training methods of “Changing Palms” and “Circle Walking” exercise will strengthen muscles, tendons, sinews and bones, while simultaneously harmonising the functions of the internal organs (Zangfu), stimulation the brain and nervous system, unblocking the energy pathways known as the meridians (Jingluo), boosting the development of a strong spirit (Shen).
Regular practice of the Sunshi Eight Trigram Palms will help to cultivate ones life (Ming) and their inner nature (Xing). Cultivating ones life refers to Bagua Zhang’s practices of health building, fitness exercise, longevity and self defence. Whereas, cultivating ones inner nature relates to Bagua Zhang’s meditation, philosophy , mental cultivation and spiritual growth practices. The study and practice of Bagua Zhang is suitable for everyone, any age or gender, unlike the practice of Taijiquan which has become a popular exercise practiced by thousands of people all over the world. Bagua Zhang is still a very little known mind & body system.
One of the levels that each student of taijiquan strives to acquire is the smooth continuation of movement with no breaks or change of speed. The Chinese masters called it “Pulling Silk” the student was told to imagine that strands of fine silk threads was connected to their body and limbs, the student had to maintain a constant state of movement so has not to break the imaginary silk threads, this can be done by suddenly changing the speed or using a jerking action or simply hesitating.
Another meaning to the practice of “Pulling Silk” is for the student to use their mind intent to guide and lead (Daoyin) their qi smoothly from one movement to the next in a continuous.action. This particular practice allows the student of taijiquan to develop an internal strength to their movements, the old masters used to call this the “needle hidden within the cotton”. Meaning that on the outside the student of taijiquan’s movements look soft and graceful, but on the inside their movements are full and strong with qi, it is not until you actually make contact with the student you realise how strong and powerful they are, this is the balancing of Yin & Yang soft on the outside and strong on the inside.
For a student to achieve this level of taijiquan involves plenty of self practice time and also training with a quality teacher who can help guide you and give good advise. The practice of taijiquan constantly needs refinment by each individual if they wish to reach the more higher levels of taijiquan. Today, sadly more individuals are happy just to practice taijiquan simply to feel relaxed and are not interested or committed to attaining the more higher levels of its practice.
As Lao Zi mentions in his book the Daodejing “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” once you have decided to take this step on the journey of studying taijiquan, then make sure you intend to travel far on the journey and immerse yourself in reaching the deeper layers of its practice.
The movements of the Wild Goose Qigong (Dayan Gong) combine soft, smooth, flowing actions that resemble Tai Chi and dynamic stretching actions that resemble Dao Yoga. These two methods of passive and vigorous movements that make up the over-al flavour of the Wild Goose Qigong help to mobilise qi (Yun Qi) circulation through the energy pathways (Jing Luo) of the whole body, nourishing the internal organs (Zangfu) to maintain their functioning towards attaining good health and wellbeing.
Practice of the Wild Goose Qigong movements are performed at various heights, which correspond to each of the three elixir fields (Dantian) allowing the practitioner to cultivate, nurture, transform and refine their energy to help prolong their life. This combination of passive movement, breathing and intent (Yi) allows the practitioner to guide and lead (Daoyin) their qi to the extremities and back into their body entering and passing through the three Dantians of the lower, middle and upper elixir fields. The more vigorous and dynamic stretching actions allows the practitioner to maintain a more relaxed, soft and pliable body allowing for greater blood flow throughout the entire body. As Lao Zi mentions in his book the “Daodejing” chaper 76.
“When born, people are soft and pliant. At death, they become hard and inflexible. As with all things, when plants and trees begin to grow they are flexible and pliant. Yet, when dying they become dry and rotten. Thus, hardness and inflexibility are the approach to death, while softness and pliancy are the approach of life”
I personally believe that maintaining a supple body allows you to remain youthful no matter how old you are. At sometime in our lives we have all suffered joint stiffness or trapped muscle tension which can have a negative affect on our mental, emotional and physical state, slowing us down, trapping our vitality and making us feel old. Practicing Wild Goose Qigong (Dayan Gong) is a very special exercise that allows its practitioners to remain soft and pliant, teaching us to manage and slow down the aging process that life itself can throw at us like stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure problems.
Wild Goose Qigong is over one thousand years old and is just as much beneficial now, than when it was first created by the Daoist Dao An. As like then, we will all grow old and our bodies will begin to grow stiff and hard and unless we begin to practice regularly with such holistic exercises like that of the Wild Goose Qigong or Tai Chi then our vitality and body will gradually weaken. As Lao Zi mentions softness and flexibility moves towards life, whereas hardness and inflexibility moves towards death.
Thousands of people all over the world are practicing taijiquan for health related benefits and just as many are also practicing the taiji Jian straight sword forms, furthering their own development of taijiquan to maintain and improve their general health and wellbeing. Within the city parks of China it is popular to see large groups of people regularly practicing taiji sword (Jian) form and two-person sword exercises, like the practice of taijiquan which involves soft, relaxed, slow graceful flowing movements that mobilise the qi (energy), the practice of the taiji sword (Jian) does exactly the same but with more single leg balancing postures and low crouching postures which stimulate strong blood and qi circulation around the entire body.
The Chinese tells us that the practice of the taiji sword (Jian) is just simply an extension of the hand. But when practicing the sword its movements must be generated by the actions of the stepping and the rotation of the waist (Yao). The aim is to co-ordinate the whole body and the taiji sword (Jian) smoothly together to mobilise the qi through the legs, body, arms into the tip of the sword blade. The Yang style taiji sword (Jian) is made up of 13 sword techniques combined with the five element stepping actions, which allows for a tremendous amount of depth of knowledge and understanding in the development of wielding the taiji sword (Jian) with great skill.
Many students of taijiquan are put off the learning of the taiji sword (Jian) as its postures can be a little bit more demanding for many. But for a large majority of students the practice of the taiji sword (Jian) can be a great experience that allows them to develop all-round skill of studying and practicing both taijiquan bare hand forms, plus its weapons. The two-person taiji sword (Jian) exercises that are taken out of the taiji sword forms allows the student to bring the 13 taiji sword (Jian) techniques alive in a variety of exercises that are both enjoyable and informative to the student.
These two-person taiji sword (Jian) exercises teaches the student to develop their ability to become tactile, to feel through either the wooden or metal taiji sword to develop their Listening (Ting Jin), Sticking (Nian), Adhereing (Zhan) energies to develop and improve their skill of the taiji sword (Jian), which can them improve their performance of the taiji sword form to reach a higher standard.
A really proficient practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu should demonstrate within their defensive and offensive fighting methods a natural balance of gentleness and firmness. If the opponent attackers with firmness I will use gentleness to absorb their attack and redirect they strength into nothingness. if the opponent attacks using gentle power, I will use firm power to deal with it. When I was taught Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu by Master Chee Soo he would mention that there is a soft (Yin) side and a hard (Yang) side to this particular internal martial art and that a practitioner should develop their skill to naturally inter-change this soft and hard principle to overcome any situation.
It is important that the student of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu quickly understands that they need to learn how to combine and inter-change both gentleness and firmness into they techniques. This will then allow them to become elusive to their opponents. Sadly to many practitioners of this unique internal martial art seem to spend to much practice time with the emphasis on developing the soft (Yin) defensive aspect, rather than also developing their firm (Yang) power.
“Firmness appears first with gentleness hidden inside. Gentleness comes first with firmness following”
The saying above describes how the Feng Shou Quan practitioner issues they power using firmness, but through gentleness hidden inside their techniques they are able to change and issue power instantly. This teaches the practitioner to remain relaxed and use their evasive footwork as gentleness to overcome firmness, then suddenly use direct firmness to attack into the opponents gentleness. A skilful practitioner understands that fighting involves various rhythms and tempos and that they should try to break the opponents tempo and rhythm by changing and adapting their own. For example the practitioner in their defensive techniques can be totally soft (Yin) in their defensive manuvers by using skilful footwork to dodge and evade the opponents attacks, or they could combine their evasive footwork to dodge the attack and then suddenly use a firm (Yang) ward off that forcefully redirects the opponents power by damaging their attacking limb.
At the highest level of expression of this unique internal martial art a practitioner should be able to naturally demonstrate both gentleness and firmness with skilful ease. Over-al their movements should be smooth, flowing, precise and accurate, but they can be suddenly soft, passive and elusive then suddenly hard, firm and direct within a blink of an eye. It is this ability to adapt and change that allows the Feng Shou Quan practitioner to skilfully use their techniques to overcome any aggressive situation.
The practicing and study of traditional Chinese acupuncture (Zhen Bian) is also related to the practice of (Daoyin) “Guiding & Leading” the energy (qi) through the actions of the body (Shen), mind (Yi) and breathing (Xi). Once the needle has been inserted into the patients body the practitioner must be able to connect to the patients qi with h their own energy (qi) through the insertion of the needle. The practitioner will feel through the tip of the needle a tangible sensation of pressure, whereas the patient will feel warmth or heat locally in the area of were the needle was inserted gradually getting stronger and stronger as the practitioner uses their body and mind to gather the Qin at the tip of the needle.
Once the practitioner has developed a strong feeling of gathering the qi at the tip of the needle and the patient can also feel a tingling and heat sensation. The practitioner can then begin to direct their qi to travel up the length of the patients body or limb, this is done through the practitioner moving their body very slowly towards the needle, moving from their lower Dantian and using their mind (Yi) to guide and lead their qi through their body and into their fingers, through the needle and into the patients body where the patient will gradually begin to tangibly feel a sensation of warmth, heat or tingling or even maybe a strong sensation of movement of their qi raising up the length of their body or limb to a certain point like their head, chest or shoulders, basically to were ever the practitioner can skilfully manipulate the qi to travel towards and reach.
For a practitioner of acupuncture to achieve this level of skill to manipulate their own qi to connect and move the patients own energy inside their own body through the needle, means that the practitioner must be also practicing regularly a series of Daoyin or Qigong exercises that allows them to develop a deep feeling of energy sensitivity and cultivation within themselves. Without this development of energy sensitivity through the practice of Qigong or Daoyin would mean that the practitioner is simply inserting a needle into the patients body without connecting to the patients qi.
There are plenty of acupuncturists who would insert the needle and then leave the patient alone for about twenty minutes, making the patient believe that the needle is doing the work. Sadly this is wrong and it should be the practitioner through their ability to connect to the patients qi through the needle that does the work in being able to treat the patient for a wide range of illnesses.
The Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu that was taught to me by Master Chee Soo was based upon developing Skilfull evasive stepping method (Bu Fa) to be used to quickly close the distance between yourself and your opponent to unleash your offensive fighting techniques or to skilfully dodge and evade your opponents attacks using your defensive techniques in being able to lead the opponent into nothingness. The style of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu that I still teach to my own students is based upon this legacy that was taught and passed on to me by Master Chee Soo to develop the ability to strike and kick while constantly being on the move.
There are such stepping methods as the “Ladder Step” (Ti Bu) short or half step method and the long or full step method which allows the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu student to move in a linear backward or forward direction. Students are taught to firstly practice these particular “Ladder Stepping Methods” combined with both defensive and offensive fighting techniques as a solo practice. This allows the student to develop their co-ordination, balance and concentration levels, but more importantly it teaches them to explore a large variety of defensive and offensive techniques combined together with their fast,evasive stepping methods.
“Move the root first before moving the tip. Fast hands are not as good as following with a half step. Walk a half step in advance and retreat. Calmly evade strokes and conquer the opponent”.
Once the student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu has spent sometime practicing and developing their linear “Ladder Stepping Methods” with their defensive and offensive fighting techniques as a solo practice, the next stage of development is to then pair up with a training partner (Pei Lian) to practice the linear “Ladder Stepping Methods” and their defensive and offensive fighting techniques, allowing each student to naturally develop and research , express freely their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu fighting techniques to become fast, practical, powerful and effective. Correct and proper training will strengthen the students confidence in their ability’s to raise their standard of skill to much higher levels and help them to believe in the fighting strategies of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu as passed on to us by Master Chee Soo.
Today there is a push within the NHS for the more elderly individual to become aware of participating within some type of exercise that will help them to improve their sense of balance and stop them from falling over and injuring themselves causing them to go to hospital. The best exercise to improve an individual’s balance is through the regular practice of the ancient Chinese holistic exercise of Taijiquan, as its movements are performed slowly it is a very gentle exercise for the elderly person to practice , through its exercise the individual will not only strengthen their legs to help them maintain their balance, But it will also strengthen their concentration which can also be the reason why more and more elderly individuals are falling over and being rushed to hospital.
Through regular Taijiquan practice the elderly individual will be taught how to step correctly in any direction by learning how to place their feet onto the floor in the correct manner that allows them to distribute their body weight evenly across the whole foot to help them owner their centre of gravity and gain a better sense of balance. Because of the particular way that Individuals are taught how to walk in the practice of Taijiquan, it’s action of shifting the body weight from one leg to the other in an alternating action teaches the individual how to centre their body weight fully onto one leg developing their leg muscles to become strong enough to support the individuals body weight on one leg.
But as I have already mentioned above its not just that the more elderly individual tends to fall over due to weak leg strength which affects their balance. It is also down to their ability to concentrate, as we know the older we become our minds can become weak, our concentration level is poor and this can also be the cause why so many elderly individuals suffer with the falls syndrome. So practicing Taijiquan will not just strengthen the individuals leg muscles and bones it will also improve their ability to concentrate for longer periods. Developing our concentration level is vital has it allows us to remain in control of our body actions, everything we do is with the mind-intent guiding and leading our every action allowing our mind & body to become fully intergrated.
Another benefit for practicing Taijiquan by the elderly individual to help them from falling over is being able to relax their bodies muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Stopping them from stiffening up and tensing up which again can cause them to fall over easily. Whereas learning to develop a sense of softness within their joints and muscles allows them to lower their centre of gravity improving their sense of balance.