Most martiail arts systems mainly teach there students to strike and kick only using their hands and feet, some martial arts teach how to use elbows and knees. But very few teach how to use their shoulders (Jian) and hips (Gua) to also be used as weapons, in the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system a skilful practitioner is taught to use all main areas of the body like the fingers, palms, fists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, head, hips, knees and feet as weapons hence the whole body becomes a fist. Obviously if you practice a martial art as a sport then you will be guided by certain competition rules and it can shape what particular tools you can use, whereas, if you practice a martial art as a self defence system that covers all situations then you must develop your martial art to adapt and change to any circumstance, meaning all areas of the body must be used to defend and attack with.
It is important that the practitioner of this Chinese internal martial art Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu learns to not only use their hands and legs to attack with they must also learn how to use others parts of their body like the head,shoulders and hips to be used in combination alongside the hands and feet. True skill in Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is the ability to attack with any part of the body which will make it differcult for your opponents to be save at any fighting range against you as you are able to strike close in as well as long. The next stage is to then combine all the areas of your body that can be used to attack with alongside your joint locking and throwing techniques making all areas of this fascinating internal martial art come together.
Today many students of this unique martial art only concentrate on developing their hands and feet as weapons and do not look towards employing others areas of their body like the head, hips and shoulders. My teacher Master Chee Soo would always emphasis that a practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu must be spontaneous and naturally flow and adapt to any situation and to do this the practitioner must be able to use all areas of their body to either defend or attack with.
The Chinese call the use of the head, shoulders, elbows as the upper seven stars methods “Shang Qi Xing Fa” and the waist, hips and knees as the lower seven star methods “Xia Qi Xing Fa”, both the upper and lower seven star methods are part of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system but very few practitioners are aware that they exists and only a few have developed true skill in their full useage. Once a practitioner combines both the upoer and lower seven stars alongside the use of their hands and feet as weapons they will become very formidable practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.
Today there are many styles of massage that can be used to treat many types of ailments. Within the Lishi energy bodywork massage (Tui Na Qigong) it is important that the practitioner also practices Daoyin/Qigong alongside the practice of massage for a number of reasons, firstly to maintain and improve the practitioners own strength, health and wellbeing as you really don’t want an unhealthy person treating you. Secondly, we emphasis qi first and strength second in our massage system this allows us to use the warmth and heat that is produced in your palms to gently penetrate into the muscles, tendons of the area that needs treatment, more importantly the qi can also penetrate deeply into the patients body to treat internal illnesses. Whereas those who do not cultivate their qi through the self practice of Qigong can really only work on treating the more external musculoskeletal ailments as they cannot affect what is happening on the inside.
Through the self practice of Daoyin or Qigong exercises the practitioner willl begin to experience a variety of sensations like the rising, lowering, gathering and dispersing of the qi as they practice their Daoyin exercises to guide and lead the qi fully around the entire body. This then allows the practitioner to have a greater understanding of what the patient should also be experiencing deeply inside them as they receive a treatment. This what we call a reciprocal response, as at first the practitioner will at times experience the same sensation as the patient, because as the practitioner connects to the patients qi and begins to guide and lead it around the patients body the same sensations are also happening within the practitioner. This is why the practitioner will know if the patient should be feeling a sensation of warmth or heat either locally or travelling upwards from the bottom of their feet upwards through the whole body as seen in the accompanying photo that comes with this blog.
Sadly today many individuals who practice massage only learn the physical massage techniques and do not spend anytime on cultivating their own development of harnessing and manipulating the movement of their qi through their own body, so that they can also have a greater understanding on how to manipulate the patients qi deep within their body to treat serious internal ailments . Another aspect of the Lishi energy Bodywork massage system is that because we emphasis qi first and strength second, means that we can spend a longer time staying on one part of the patients body, rather than quickly passing over the area, as it’s what is happening deep beneath the practitioners hand with the ability to manipulate the patients qi by either tonifying or dispersing it.
mergeWithin the LFIAA Lishi energy Bodywork massage stsytem as passed onto us through Master Chee Soo is the “Rocking Method” (Yao Fa). This particular method works on the Musculoskeletal system to help loosen stiff joints, sciatic pain in the lower back and hips, removing blood stasis and blocked turbid energy (Zhao Qi) that can cause disease. The rocking method is mainly used to work on the middle (Man) and lower layer (Earth) which is considered to be deep as it must reach the patients muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone layers, the rocking method involves a forwards and backwards motion that can be both very gentle or strong in its amplitude and can have a big effect on soothing the patients nervous system to the extent that some of my patients have also fallen to sleep from the affects of the rocking method.
To apply the rocking method the practitioner can use either one or both hands that are placed opposite or alongside each other, then with a gentle pressing of both hands to attract and gather the patients own qi to the area that is affected . The practitioner can also apply a little traction of both hands to stretch the joints, muscles, and tendons open and then with the rocking method begin to flush fresh blood and qi into the affected area by removing the stagnant sickly energy (Bing Qi) that has accumulated between the joints, the backwards and forwards rocking motion is used to nourish and strengthen the affected area.
The rocking method of the Lishi Tui Na Qigong massage system is an excellent technique to be used on patients who suffer with stiff or frozen shoulders. Simply place both hands either side of the affected shoulder and warm up the area by gathering your patients qi and then deeply enter your warmth and qi into the centre of your patients shoulder joint by using the pressing in technique (Ya Fa). Once the area has become hot and your patient can feel the heat penetrating into the shoulder joint, you can then begin to use the rocking method ( Yao Fa) in a upwards and downwards action starting with a gentle small rocky night motion and then gradually increasing the amplitude to a large motion that causes the whole shoulder area to be moved. and loosened up. To finish the practitioner gradually reduces the amplitude from a large rocking motion to stopping the treatment.
Today the standardised Taiji Qigong exercises that are some times commonly known as the ( Shibashi). Which means eighteen exercises form have become a very popular exercise for thousands of people from all around the world. As with all traditional Chinese mind & body arts there are many subtle layers to each of the Taiji Qigong exercises that with an experienced teacher individuals can explore and develop their understanding and knowledge of each particular Taiji Qigong exercise that allows each individual to unify the whole body to manipulate the cultivation and circulation of their internal energy qi and blood (Xue) to strengthen their health and wellbeing.
As each of the eighteenn Taiji Qigong exercises are performed from a standing position this means that the lower and upper parts of the body have to connect and work in harmony with each other. Many individuals place their attention on the upper body and the moving of the hands and arms, not many actually pay attention to the movements of the legs. Within some of the eighteen Taiji Qigong exercises the individual is allowed to raise their heels off the ground with only the toes and ball of foot remaining in contact with the ground. If we use the picture that accompanies this blog with myself performing the “Lifting the ball” exercise as an example you will notice that my back foots heel as lifted off the floor, basically this allows my body to rise allowing the Qi to travel upwards from the ground through my leg because my leg as become insubstantial (Xu), whereas my front leg now becomes substantial (Shi) as my body weight transfers onto it allowing the Qigong to sink downwards into the ground.
The raising of my back foots heel pushes my hip upwards and forwards, opening the hip joint and giving momentum to the upper body to lift the arm upwards as if balancing a ball in the hand. My front leg sinks downwards as it supports the whole body weight onto it, the hip joint becomes closed and the muscles and ligaments of the front leg are stretched inwards in a gentle spiralling, twisting action. As I move the lifting arm in a circular action from the right side of my body to my left side and begin to press my palm downwards I simultaneously transfer my body weight onto my back leg, allowing the raised heel to lower downwards onto the ground pulling my hip backwards and downward which now makes my leg become substantiial (Shi). My front leg now becomes insubstantial (Xu) as the body weight is lifted of the leg, this sudden release of the body weight allows the blood and qi to travel into the leg giving a feeling of a warm flush, tingling sensation into the feet and toes.
The lifting and lowering of the heels allows the knees and hips to move in a circular action as the body raises and lowers, this then guides the qi to travel upwards from the ground through one leg and lower back downwards through the other leg in a circular pumping action that makes the blood and qi nourish the legs to maintain health and wellbeing by removing any blood stasis and blockages of qi that may accumulate due to poor working conditions, lack of exercise or old age. As the upper extremities gather heavens ( Yang) qi into the body through their actions the lower extremities gather earth (Yin) qi into the body by there actions, both energies are then both gathered and mixed together within the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) and refined and transformed into a more pure type of energy that is then circulated throughout the entire body to achieve illumination (Shenming).
Many people do not know or realise that the Chinese also have a long sword (Chang Dao) weapon and what the Japanese based there Samari sword on. The long sword is also known as the “Grain Leaf Sword” (Miao Dao) and there are many different styles of its use. One of the basic long sword forms that I had the opportunity to learn back in early 2002 is known as the “Four Roads Form” ( Chang Dao Si Lu Shi) it is a small basic ( Xia Jiben Shi) form that has plenty of sword fighting applications and two-Person fighting exercises. Obviously the long sword is held with both hands to issue power and strength into its defensive and offensive techniques
The long sword four roads form is the first form that beginners learn to develop the basic defensive sword blocking and offensive chopping and thrusting methods, The footwork is both linear and angular using a large variety of stances that develop agility and leg strength. As is usual with all traditional Chinese martial arts they all combine circular movements that naturally blend into each other in a continuous, smooth and even way allowing for the individual to generate whole body strength and power into they long sword fighting techniques. As I have already mentioned within this form there are many two-person training exercises that will develop each persons long sword skills, these two-person sword exercises are very enjoyable and will develop each persons reactions, timing, precision and accuracy, whereas practicing the solo form will develop the individuals body mechanics which then needs to be used into the two-person exercises.
I personally believe that the practice of the Staff ( Gun) is a great weapon to learn before moving onto the learning and practice of the long sword (Chang Dao). As both weapons needs the individual to use their both hands to hold onto the weapon, whereas the broadsword (Dao) and straight sword (Jian) only need one hand to weld the weapon. Because of its length the long sword and Staff both use large sweeping circular actions and develop the same body mechanic actions, so both weapons have in my eyes a lot more in common with each other and practicing with the Staff benefits the learning of the large sword and vice-versa.
The practice of the long sword is not part of the Lee Family Arts as taugh by Master Chee Soo. I was taught this particular sword form while studying in China and I kept up the practice of it mainly for my own personal training and find it very enjoyable. I do intend to offer it to my own LFIAA students to help them widen their knowledge and nderstanding of traditional Chinese weapon training.
The practice of Rolling Hands ( Gun Shou) is to develop the students tactile ability for when fighting in-close to your opponent. Because the distance between yourself and your opponents is so close, you will not be able to see any of their attacks. So it is important that the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu develops their ability to stick, adhere ( Zhan Nina) to the opponent and through their tactile skill be able to feel and react to the opponents attacks. No matter what particular martial art you decide to practice and study be it external or internal style they all have to cover three fighting distances Long ( Chang Ju), Middle ( Zhong Ju) and Short (Duan Ju) the practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu must be prepared to use their fighting methods in all of the three fighting distances. Especially at the close distance and the practice of the Rolling Hands exercise will teach the practitioner to fight in-close.
The Rolling Hands exercise is practiced from a fixed static position and then progresses to a moving step practice. The fixed position practice allows the practitioner to develop their hands skills ( Shou Fa) both in defence and offence, through being in constant contact with your training partner the both of you develop the ability to listen (Ting Jing) and react to each other’s strikes and are able to ward off ( Peng) them off. Striking in the Rolling Hands exercise does not only mean using the fingers, palms and fist. It also includes the forearms, elbows and. shoulders. The moving step practice allows the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practitioner to develop their stepping and kicking skills(Jiao Bu Fa) in harmony with their hands methods ( Shou Fa).
Above all, the practice of the Rolling Hands exercise will develop the practitioners sensitivity skills, like the ability to stick, adhere, listen, follow and connect to the opponent so that the practitioner can then change and adapt their fighting techniques to over come the situation. The Rolling Hands exercise allows the practitioner to use all areas of their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu training and begin to express their internal martial art to the best of their ability. My teacher Master Chee Soo uses another name to teach this sensitivity exercise which he called ( Lun Bei) or Whirling Arms. It is also known by other names like Soft Hands ( Rou Shou) or Striking Hands ( Ji Shou) by other internal martial arts
If you are a practitioner that likes the practice of joint locking techniques ( Qin Na Fa) then it is also important that you develop your tactile skill through the Rolling Hands exercise to be able to manipulate your opponent into fast and powerful joint locks which you can then use to apply throwing methods ( Shuai Fa) or combine your joint locking techniques alongside your striking and kicking methods. As I have already mentioned above the Rolling Hands exercise ( Gun Shou Fa) allows the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practitioner to fully explore and express this unique Chinese internal martial art.
Within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system (Tuina Qigong) that was taught by Master Chee Soo there were ten individual Massage techniques taught which are 1. Grasping, 2. Kneading, 3. Pinch/Pull, 4. Pushing, 5. Wiping/Scraping, 6. Rubbing, 7. Circular, 8. Rolling, 9. Pressing, 10. Tapping/Patting. A lot of the individual massage techniques that Master Chee Soo taught were also compound methods meaning that there were more than just one technique, some are hidden. For example in the Grasping technique (Na Fa) there is hidden the Shaking and Vibration methods also within the Tapping technique (Pai Da FA) there is also hidden the Patting, Striking and Shocking tmethods. But before you can use any of the ten Lishi massage techniques (Shi Lishi Shou Fa) on a patient you must first correctly align their body and more importantly palpitate their body checking for further information that can help you make a more beneficial treatment for your patient.
Within the Lishi Tuina Qigong massage system there does not exist an individual palpitation method ( Mo Fa) as taught by Master Chee Soo. It is a combination of individual methods like wiping, pressing, squeezing techniques that the practitioner will do has they gently run there hand over the entire body of the patient using their hands as an educated tool seeking as much information from the patients body to help plan a treatment protocol. As he practitioner moves their hands over the patients body they are looking for different areas of heat and coolness, tense hard areas, painful areas that the patient has forgotten to mention or did not know of, a misaligned joint all this information has to be found and taken in by the practitioner before they begin their treatment. The palpitation method can also be used to gently relax the patient into the correct state ready to receive a treatment, as we say ” Palpitation is treatment and treatment is palpitation”, this means that as you are treating your patient you suddenly come across an are of the patients body that you need not notice and are now made aware of another area that is either a separate problem or an extension of the ailment you are treating.
It is important that the practitioner of the Lishi Tuina Qigong massage system incorporates the palpitation method into their practice as it can offer a lot of information that might be vital to treating the patient to good health and some times the patient is unaware of these symptoms. I have added this particular massage technique to my own and use it extensively in my treatments, sometimes my palpitation treatment can take a few minutes as I am gradually introducing myself to the patients body and seeking further information that might be vital to my treatment plan. Obviously when you first use the palpitation technique you are feeling the surface of the patients body, but through subtle pressure from your hand you can also move deeper beneath the surface and feel what is happening , again this can take a long time to develop this sensitivity of your palpitation hands to seek information beneath the surface.
The connection between the Lishi Tuina Qigong massage system and the other related arts like Lishi Taijiquan, Feng Shou-Gongfu and Qigong they all use the same hand methods (Shou Fa) to help manipulate the gathering, rising, lowering, dispersing, opening, closing, entering and exiting of Qi as it circulates around the whole body for the purpose of health, wellbeing or self defence.
When a beginner begins to learn and study the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu, their training must begin with basic foundational (Jibenfa) training methods which they will practice for at least two or more years. This means that practicing striking and kicking techniques are practiced separately so that each student can begin to develop their accuracy, precision, timing, agailty and over-al skill within the performance of these fighting techniques. After a few years of dedicated practice the student will then progress to combining these Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu hand & foot techniques together in a large variety of combinations that include both defensive and offensive techniques.
It is important that the teacher of the Original Feng Shou Quan-gongfu has developed a correct training method that allows their students to progress forwards with their own skill. This means that the teacher (Shifu) has developed a few layers for their students to reach on raising and deepening them knowledge, understanding on how to develop and achieve a high standard of skill within the Feng Shou quan-gongfu fighting methods. For example when a beginner student starts to learn one of the Poison Hand Striking Sets (Dushoufa) after a few years of developing proper body mechanics (Shen Fa) to actually learn how to issue power and strength (Fa Jing Li) into their defensive and offensive techniques. They can then progress to combining these Poison Hand Striking Methods alongside the many kicking techniques (Jiao Fa) that are practiced within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.
Once the beginner student has began to combine both defensive and offensive hand techniques (Shou Fa) with their kicking techniques. They can then progress to practicing these combined techniques into practical applications of what my teacher Master Chee Soo would call “Three Star Principle” (San Xing Fa) training. This allows the student to research and on is that comfrondevelop fast, practical and effective fighting techniques that can involve Striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing methods in a variety of combinations. Once the student as achieved this level they will also learn how to change and adapt their Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to any situation.
The ultimate aim or highest level of development for any student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to achieve is the natural ability yo flow, combining all areas of their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu training together in a natural (Ziran) spontaneous skill that the student reaches a level of non-action (Wuwei). Meaning that it is no longer thought or planned it just naturally happens. Obviously to achieve this level of proficiency takes many years of dedicated practice, but it must be correctly developed with the student being guided correctly by their teacher with a layered training programme that allows the student to develop their skill.
Sadly there are teachers of this unique internal martial art that after many years of teaching their students still have their students learning and practicing their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu fighting techniques separately not allowing them to combine, link these areas together into one. I still see some teachers teaching their students to perform their kicking techniques (Foot FLow Patterns) with no defensive or offensive hand techniques (Shou Fa) they teach them to learn how to apply kicking techniques in a very relaxed way with their arms hanging down by the sides of there body. This is a poor way to teach and practice this fascinating internal martial art.
When I see individuals or groups practicing taiji qigong exercises many are unaware that they should be moving in six directions and not just simply moving their body up and down. This means that the individual must have a good understanding of weight transference through the length of the whole foot and to combine this with the turning of their torso and the movement of the hands. I have had many of my own students complain that after a class session of taiji qigong that they feel their knees begin to ache and become stiff. This is caused by them putting to much pressure on their knee joints by rising and lowering their body in a vertical direction and not in a circular action. By learning to move the whole body in a circlular method will take the pressure of the knees.
Learning to move the whole body in six directions means that the entire body must move in a circle, this circular action will help to unify the whole body. Some times the body will make a vertical circle or an horizontal circle or a combination of the both circles at the same time. For example the lower body action of the legs could be moving in a vertical direction, while the upper body including the arms could be moving in an horizontal direction like that of the taiji qigong “Wave hands in clouds” (Yun Shou Fa) exercise. This means the body is raising upwards in a forwards and backwards and downwards motion, while the torso and hands are turning from side to side allowing the body to move in six directions.
No matter what particular taiji qigong exercise you practice it should rise, lower, move forwards and backwards as well as turn to both sides, while co-ordinating the breathing with the movements in a smooth and even (Pinghua) motion,while maintaining a peaceful and calm (Pingjing) manner. Each taiji qigong exercise that is practiced must also be fully connected with the mind, so that the mind is present at all times and does not switch off by allowing other thoughts to distract your concentration. Sadly today to many people practice the name “Taiji Qigong” and nots of it’s method of changing and balancing the principle of Yin & Yang actions in a clear and obvious method of practice.
Today many people practice the many different taiji qigong exercises to mainly learn how to relax physically. Rather than learning its depth of practice to strengthen, repair and nourish the entire body to help slow down the aging process of the body and mind to rejunervate your health and wellbeing to live a long life (Changming) to do this means that you must become determined to practice on a regular basis and improve your skill and quality of practice to achieve a high standard. This will take time so you must be patient and with perseverance you will deepen your understanding and knowledge of your taiji qigong practice.
The sword obviously being metal hard (Yang) and the hand that holds the sword (Jian) is soft (Yin) this is the beginning of unifying the principle of hardness and softness in the practice of the “Hand of the Wind Straight Sword Form” (Feng Shou Zheng Jian Shi). We all know that the sword is an extension of the hand and that the student must aim to issue their power and strength into the tip of the sword, there are three methods that strength is issued into the sword. The first method is the whip action of the wrist, the second method is the swinging of the sword arm and thirdly the using of whole body through correct body mechanics (Shen Fa), the aim is to unify the three methods into one whole unifying unit to produce great strength and power into the tip of the sword.
)It is important that the student remains relaxed (Song) throughout the whole body, their mind must be still and peaceful (Pingjing) and the hand/arm that holds the sword to be soft (Rou) so that their internal qi (Nei Qi) can travel through the hand and into the full length of the straight sword (Zheng Jian). Within the movements of the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form the student must try to balance the actions of softness and hardness within the defensive and offensive sword fighting techniques so that they can develop the ability to issue strength into their sword methods (Jing Li). While practicing the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form the student must really work hard at developing their sword actions including their body movement into an even and smooth action (Pinghua Shenfa). This is softness of the body working in harmony with the hardness of the sword itself.
Another aspect to the learning, understanding and practice of the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form is the ability to develop lightness (Qing) and heaviness (Zhong) within the actions of the Straight Sword techniques. Developing this ability to change from lightness to heaviness can take the student many hours of dedicated practice over a period of a few years. This then as to be attuned with the various sword fighting techniques such as blocking sword (Lan Jian), sweeping sword (Sao Jian) or splitting sword (Pi Jian) techniques that are found within the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form.
To practice the skill that is hidden within the Feng Shou Straight Sword Form can take the student a very long time to find and develop. The solo practice of the Straight Sword Form allows the student to develop correct body mechanics to emit strength into their sword methods (Jian Jing Li Fa) and to understand the balance of softness and hardness, lightness and heaviness. There are many two-person Straight Sword exercises that can also be taught to bring the sword fighting qualitys of this Feng Shou Straight Sword Form into practical application.