Within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system (Tui Na Qigong Fa) that is taught and practiced by the LFIAA involves two practices. The first method is the cultivation of Qi and the development of its tangible sensitivity within the patients body to be able to guide and lead (Daoyin) anywhere, in any direction in the patients body to treat a wide range of ailments. The second and most popular practice of using any style of massage is to use the techniques to work on the musculoskeletal system to treat various ailments, basically within the Lishi Tui Na Qigong Energy Bodywork Massage we have an internal work (Neigong) development and practice, plus an external work (Waigong) development and practice. Today many practitioners of an style of massage mainly develop and practice their external practices (Waigong) as it does not take many hours of self practice to develop, they simply use physical massage techniques to work on the patients muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints mainly to stimulate the. circulation of the blood (Xue) around the whole body.
When we use Tui Na Qigong to treat head, neck and shoulders ailments we immediately have a tremendous amount of techniques that we can use. But when we add these physical manipulative methods alongside our ability to connect, guide and lead the patients own energy (Qi) it is then that we can penetrate deeply into the patients interior to either gather, rise, lower, disperse the patients Energy to treat a particular ailment. For example if a patient suffers with a frontal headache that could have been caused by the build up of stress, anxiety, tension, the practitioner of the Lishi Tui Na Qigong system would then use a combination of energy work (Neigong) and physical method (Waigong), when using the energy work to manipulate the patients blocked qi the practitioner would spend a quite a long time staying in one particular area of the patients body to connect, lead and guide the patients energy. In the photo that accompanys this blog you will see that the practitioner has placed his both hands on the patients head as if holding a ball. He will then connect to the patients energy with the hand that is on the forehead, the patient will feel increasing heat building on their forehead, the practitioner will then guide and lead the patients qi to the hand placed at the back of the head the patient will then feel pressure and warmth building at the back of their head.
Once the practitioner has moved the blocked energy that caused the headache to form from the front of the patients forehead and has moved it from the front to the back of the head, he will then use a certain physical massage technique to then draw the blocked energy (Qi) from the back of the head downwards into the body were it will be dispersed. Obviously to skilfully be able to connect, guide and lead the tangible qi through the patients body means that the practitioner must regularly practice Qigong exercises to cultivate their own Qi to be able to use it within the treatment of many illnesses. Today there are many practitioners or therapist of massage who do not practice any self cultivation exercise (Neigong) to strengthen and cultivate their own qi to help treat many internal ailments and to maintain and improve their own health and wellbeing, but would rather spend their time working and practicing on the more physical massage techniques (Waigong). Which are much more easier to learn and develop.
The Daoist Qigong exercise known as “Walking with an Energy Ball” (Zuo Qi Qiu Gong) involves the individual holding their both hands in front of the chest at the height of the Middle Elixir Field (Zhong Dantian) or otherwise known as the “Crimson Palace”. The individual then begins to rotate their both hands around moving in a vertical circular motion, making sure that the energy cavity (Qixue) located in the centre of both palms remain facing each other while the both hands rotate around each other. It is important that the individual also involves the movement of the both shoulders and scapulars, so that the upper back gently stretches invigorating more blood and qi to flow into the both arms and hands giving the individual a more tangible sensation of holding an energy ball (Qi Qiu) within both hands. The exercise can be practiced from a static standing position and it should be performed slowly with deep breathing and the rising and lowering of the legs in time with the actions of the arms, hands and breathing.
When practicing the rotating of the energy ball while walking either in a linear or circular direction. The stepping method that is chosen to walk with is the “Mud Wading Step Method” (Tang Ni Bu Fa), this particular stepping method is performed by the individual taking a step forwards and placing the whole of the sole of the foot onto the floor at the same time, the front leg should be kept straight with no body weight placed on it. The body weight remains on the rear supporting leg which is bent at the knee, the individual will then shift their body weight forwards onto the front leg, while the rear leg then performs the Mud Wading Step placing the whole foot onto the floor at the same time with the knee kept straight. As the individual steps forwards the both hands will begin to rotate the energy ball, it is important that the same arm and leg of the same side of the body move forwards at the same time alternating from side to side moving slowly with co-ordinated breathing.
The Walking with a Qi Ball Qigong exercise when performed with the Mud Wading Step can be performed moving in a linear direction for as many stepping actions as the area that they are practicing in allows. The linear stepping method is a great exercise to practice and prepare yourself before moving onto the more difficult circular Walking with a Qi Ball method, again using the Mud Wading Stepping method which will promote strong blood and Qi flow into the both feet, gently flushing the Yin & Yang channels of the both legs clean of any stagnant energy by the opening and closing of the hips joints (Kua).
Over-al the Walking with a Qi Ball Qigong (Zuo Qi Qiu Gong) exercise will strengthen and improve the flexibility of the muscles, tendons and joints of the whole body, promoting strong blood and Qi flow into the extremities removing any stagnant blood or blocked energy that can cause an imbalance in the individuals health and wellbeing. Due to the slow breathing which will strengthen the respiratory and cardiovascular systems (Lungs & Heart) as well as soothing the nervous system to help relax and release any anxiety or stress.
I have spoken about this topic before and would like to emphasis the importance of students of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practice some Standing Post Qigong to cultivate their qi and to strengthen their body. Master Chee Soo would always mention that Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu was a “Soft Style” meaning that to make its defensive and offensive techniques work adiquately ment that it relied on the practitioner to develop an abundance of internal energy (Neiqi). This can only come about by the practitioner of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practicing some Qigong exercises that can range from practicing either guiding and leading breathing exercises (Daoyin) to standing Post work (Zhangong) to some sitting Meditation (Jing Zuo Gong). it is vitally important that every teacher and student practices Qigong alongside their striking, kckng, wrestling and throwing methods, as without it you can no longer call your Feng Shou-Gongfu an internal martial art.
When I first started to learn the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu I was always fascinated by the saying that was quoted on all of Master Chee Soo’s posters and leaflets about Feng Shou-Gongfu using the “The Softness Of A Butterfly’s Wing, Yet As Strong As Steel”. When I finally had the opportunity to ask him exactly what it meant, as I found it very paradoxal, how could you be soft yet hard at the same time. Master Chee Soo then went on to say that Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu looked soft and relaxed on the outside, but its strength came from the inside from the development of cultivating and transporting our qi around our body to add strength and power to our defensive and offensive techniques. To do this meant that every student must practice their Guiding and leading breathing exercises (Daoyin) on a regular basis to empower themselves.
We at the LFIAA offer students of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu three different training methods of cultivating and circulating their qi to empower their defensive and offensive fighting methods and to also maintain and improve their health.
- Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercise (Daoyin)
- Standing Post (Zhangong)
- Sitting Meditation Work (Jing Zuo Gong)
Firstly the Martial Daoyin exercises that are taught to students are closely related to the defensive and offensive movements of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu and are not something completely different to what each student practices. As the Gongfu is Qigong and Qigong is Gongfu both are closely linked. Secondly the Standing Post Qigong methods that are taught also involve both the stances and arm actions of what are actually used within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.
Again, sadly today many other organisations and associations that also teach the Feng Shou-Gongfu do not advocate any practice of Martial Daoyin or Qigong work to their students. If they do then its either taijiquan or some other non related method that it used and taught to their students. Original Feng Shou Martial Qigong has it own unique style that is related to it actual defensive and offensive methods as they are all one and the same. But without the practice of Daoyin/Qigong exercises then the fighting techniques that each student performs will be empty, weak and hollow and not internal.
When practicing taijiquan be it the Yang or Li/Lee styles if we consider that the whole body is an army. The mind (Yi) is the emperor or king, the waist is the general and the extremities are the troops, as we begin to perform our particular style of taijiquan actions, it is the mind or emperor that makes the decision to act and the waist the general organises its troops, the extremities to move in accurately in the correct direction, shape and speed. Everyone knows that the practice of taijiquan uses and strengthens the core muscles of its practitioners, but this can only happen if the practitioners uses their waist (Yao) to direct the movements of their Taijiquan movements, allowing the whole body to become unified in its actions and not allowing any part of the body to become an isolated movement on its own.
Obviously it takes time for each individual to learn how to direct their movements from the action of turning the waist. The waist acts like a big spring that allows the practitioner to open and expand and to then close and contract their movements. The taijiquan classics mention that the power begins in he feet, travels upwards o the waist, were it is then directed into the arms and hands, thus allowing the whole body to issue strength throughout every small or large action. Practicing any style of taijiquan without co-ordination the upper and lower portions of the body through the skilful useage of the waist will mean that there is no whole body strength being fdirected into any of the movements, leaving them hollow and weak.
Another reason why in the practice of taijiquan you are encouraged to direct all of the movements from the turning of the waist and core muscles is that the lower elixir field (Dantian) is also located in the lower abdomen area. The dantian is also called the “Ocean of Qi” (Qihai) as all students of taijiquan are always told to concentrate on gathering and transporting their own energy too and from the lower dantian when performing their taijiquan movements. The importance of using the waist to lead the movements within the practice of taijiquan works both on an external (Waigong) and internal (Negong) level, externally the practitioner learns to involve the use of their core muscles to guide and lead their taijiquan actions, which develops strength and flexibility within the waist and lower back area. Internally the practitioner uses their minds/intent (Yi) and breathing (Xi) to gather their Qi in the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) and to then circulate their Qi throughout the entire body through the movements of their taijiquan movements.
Learning to harmonise both the external and internal mechanics of the waist and of the lower dantian in he practice of taijiquan will begin to develop a great strength and power that flows into every part of the body to help nourish and strengthen each individuals health and wellbeing leading towards them Iiving to a long life. On the outside their body is kept relaxed and loose (Song) while performing their taijiquan movements which are soft, light and flowing, yet on the inside their body feels full, warm and strong as if an iron bar passed through them and was wrapped in cotton wool.
Within the Li/Lee Family’s (Lishi) healing system of its Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) there are a wide variety of massage techniques that can be used to treat patients who suffer with various problems of the head and neck. Such as headaches, migraines, facial paralysis, stiff neck, insomnia, stress and anxiety ailments. The practice of the Energy Bodywork Massage system is seen simply as an extension of the other mind & body disciplines of Tai Chi, Gongfu, and Qigong that are also taught within the LFIAA, as the body mechanics, breathing and hand techniques used withing these different but related systems all have the same connections, which are used to develop and manipulate the tangible sensations of Qi to enter and exit the body of the practitioner and the patient. When it comes to using the many Lishi Tui Na massage techniques to treat patients with head and neck problems then there is a wide variety of techniques that the practitioner can decide to use.
One of the main characteristics of the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system is that we will spend a longer time staying in one particular area, rather than quickly moving all over the head or neck like other massage styles would do. The main reason for remaining in one area for a much longer time is to allow the Lishi practitioner to connect, guide and lead the patients Qi and begin to manipulate their Qi by either gathering the Qi into one area to nourish, strengthen and repair a deficient or weak area of the body. The practitioner can also lower and raise the patients energy (Qi) if there is to much excess or deficiency of energy within one area, the Lishi practitioner can also enter Qi deeply into the patient or exit sickly Qi out of heir body through the skilful hand manipulative methods.
Today there are many types of different massage styles that do not advocate using a wide range of manipulative techniques on the head such as patting for example. This is I believe mainly down to the lack of confidence in the individual, as Patting is a great technique to use obviously with caution on the amount of strength being used to Pat the patients head to treat ailments like numbness, tinnitus and poor circulation etc. The use of the Combing Technique (Sho Fa) that is taught and performed within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system can be used to gently relax the patient and treat a wide range of ailments like insomnia, headaches, and anxiety. It is the skill of the Lishi practitioner hand manipulative methods to be able to connect with the patients energy Qi) and to then be able guide and lead their energy anywhere within their body to bring balance, good health and wellbeing back.
My teacher Master Chee Soo would always mention that all of the mind & body disciplines that are taught within the spectrum of the Li/Lee Family Arts are all interconnected with each other. The practice and study of the Lishi Healng system of Tui Na Qigong is a great method of individuals who are practicing Tai Chi, Gongfu or Qigong to further extend and develop their training to another level that gives them a much more rounded and full discipline.
The Daoist Four Seasons Sitting Qigong exercises (Si Ji Zuo Gong) help to cultivate, nourish, repair and refine the individuals energy to strengthen the functionings of the internal organs of the Kidneys, Liver, Heart, and Lungs to maintain or improve the health and wellbeing of each individual who practices these exercise on a daily basis. The Four Season Sitting Qigong exercises relate to the positioning of the Sun during the changes of each seasons of the year, each of the Four Seasons Sitting Qigong exercises consist of two Daoist practices which are.
- Tu Na Breathing Techniques
- Daoyin Guiding and Leading Methods
Tu Na Breathing Techniques involve Yin breathing, Yang breathing and Yin/Yang breathing as well as swallowing the qi. Whereas the Daoyin techniques involve stretching movements, self massage methods of the acupuncture channels and energy points to stimulate both the blood and qi circulation. The Four Seasons Sitting Qigong exercises involve external methods (Waidan) that gradually develops into internal (Neidan) methods of refining the three treasures of the body Essence (Jing). Energy (Qi) and Spirit (Shen) laying the foundation down towards promoting health and longevity.
The practice of the Four Seasons Sitting Qigong exercise are a great compliment to the practice of the Daoist Meditation (Zuowang) practices to help strengthen and refine the individuals qi. Today we all live in a very fast and sometimes very stressful modern lifestyle and at times we may all suffer with certain ailments like colds, influenza, anxiety and depression which are all caused to our qi being out of balance by being to excessive or deficient which can effect our vitality weakening our body and mind and leaving us open to receiving serious illnesses that can change our life. Simply finding some time to sit and practice the Four Season Qigong exercises alongside some meditation practice on a regular day to day basis can greatly benefit many individuals by gradually strengthening their body and minds, improving their ability to fully relax their body and still their minds releasing tension and stiffness and the chaos that goes on in our minds causing us to become anxious and stressed.
To fully receive the benefits of practicing the Four Seasons Seated Qigong (Si Ji Zuo Gong) one must discipline themselves to practice them everyday. As your health and wellbeing are constantly under attack each and everyday from poor working conditions, long working hours, family commitments, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, it is important that you begin to look after yourself as your health is your own responsibility and no one else’s. Each of the Four Season Seated Qigong exercises should be practiced for the three months that make up a particular season, for example during the the three months of winter December, January and February the individual would simply practice the Black Tortoise Seasonal Qigong exercise that relates to the Kidneys, including its self massaging methods each day with meditation practice to cultivate and refine the qi.
All Chinese martial arts incorporate some level of joint lock (Qin Na) training within their system. The seizing and grasping of the joints, tendon and muscles is considered part of the wrestling range of fighting, as all of its techniques can be performed from a standing, sitting or lying on the ground position. This particular type of Qin Na wrestling training in the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu was called by my teacher Master Chee Soo as “Grips & Breakouts” training. The purpose was to allow each student to apply any type of hold, grip or joint lock including chokes and strangles as well as counters to any of the various holds, chokes or joint locks applied on yourself. This particular type of training not only teaches each student a great variety of joint locks (Qin Na) techniques and reversals, it also teaches them to develop their tactile awareness skill such as learning to remain in contact or sticking (Zhan) to the training partner, which in-turn trains each student to develop their ability to listen (Ting) to their opponent or training partners intention.
At a basic level practicing the Qin Na wrestling exercise both students are only allowed to apply holds, locks, chokes and strangles, plus their counter techniques from a standing position. Then after a while of training they can then move to the next level were they can add strikes or kicks to escape from any type of hold or joint lock, obviously this then teaches each student to be prepared for that type of reaction and to then not just focus on applying joint locks and holds. This begins to start combining striking, kicking ranges with the wrestling range of fighting and using each particular range to counter each other. The next stage would be to add in takedowns or throwing methods (Shuai Fa) that could be performed from a strike, kick or joint lock and to then continue countering each other’s holds and joint locks from the ground.
I was always taught by Master Chee Soo and Other Masters that all the different areas of training that are taught within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu should at sometime come together as this is the only true way that a student or practitioner can learn how to “change and adapt” their fighting techniques to overcome any situation. Sadly many students are not given the opportunity to begin to combine their Poison Hand striking methods (Dushou Fa) with their Foot Flow training methods (Jiao Liu Fa) and with their wrestling methods (Qin Na Fa) which allows them to find and express themselves developing their ability to make their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu become a more practical form internal martial arts. Simply not allowing each student to learn how to flow from one range of fighting into another does not develop their confidence and belief in being able to use the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu effectively against any type of physical confrontation.
We have a saying within the Li/Lee family internal martial art of the Original Hand of the Wind Boxing (Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu) that the “Hands/Arms are used to deflect, block against attacks aimed above the waist, While the Legs/Feet are used to deflect or block against any attacks aimed below the waist”. So in the case of an opponent directing a variety of low line kicking attacks towards your groin, knees or feet, it is the use of certain stances like that of the Cat Stance (Mao Shi) or Chicken Stance (Ji Shi) and even the Stork Stance (Guan Shi) that are used to protect your lower extremities. Usually if your opponent attacks with kicks aimed above your knee towards your groin area, then it is usually the Stork Stance (Guan Shi) that would be used to deflect or block the kicks, likewise if the opponents kicks were targeting your knees or shins, then it would be the Cat Stance (Mao Shi) and Chicken Stance (Ji Shi) that would be used to deflect and block against them.
Many students who are practicing the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system do not fully understand that every stance that is taught or practiced within this unique internal martial art can be used either in a defensive or offensive manner alongside the striking, kicking, wrestling or throwing techniques. The martial art of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu that was taught to me by Master Chee Soo is a very practical and effective system that teaches you to change and adapt your fighting methods to overcome the situation that lays in front of you. But you must have a teacher (Shifu) who can fully demonstrate your internal martial art of Feng Dhou Quan-Gongfu skilfully in all the areas of its fighting ranges and does not limit the students in being able to express themselves.
The use of the Cat, Chicken and Stork Stances can be used to defend against either a circular or linear types of kick aimed at your lower extremities. The practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu would use their Knees to strike the opponents kicking legs muscles, joints, nerves and energy points (Qixue) and then quickly counter back with their own low line kicks targeting the opponents groin area or supporting leg or counter back with a series of powerful strikes to finish the situation. Learning to apply this principle of using your legs or feet to block any attacks below your waist gives the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu a very compact, tight defence.
Today there are certain teachers of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu who do not fully understand how to use and teach this fascinating internal martial art to it full protential. Some simply think that the Cat Stance is only used in conjunction with the use of the hands/arms in its forms practice and do not understand how to apply all of the Feng Shou-Gongu stances to greatly enhance their fighting methods. Master Chee Soo would always mention hat the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu has its own unique style or flavour that every student and practitioner must develop over their years of study and practice. This particular style should be were the practitioner flows, spontaneously with great skill and flexibility in being able to change and adapt their fighting methods, suddenly being able to flow into striking and kicking to wrestling, alaways being mindful of tactile awareness to feel your opponents physical, emotional and mental intention. Sadly many of those who profess to teach this wonderful internal martial art ruin its unique Style and flavour by adding kick boxing and other martial arts to it.
Within the practice of taijiquan in general all of its arm and hand movements but involve circular actions, be the circles small or big the individual must draw circles. This principle also corresponds to the actions of the legs when performing any stepping action, if the uppper extremities perform circles then so must the legs. Th action of drawing circles with he upper and lower extremities as well as that of the torso, places great emphasis on relaxing the joints and through gentle movement begin to develop greater flexibility to improve over-al mobility and balance. Sadly when I watch students practicing the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan they place great emphasis on the intergration of small and big circles being drawn by the actions of their arms and hands. But there is hardly any circular action of their legs. when stepping in any direction. I have actually seen students drag or slide their feet across the floor, rather than lifting it off the floor and then placing gently back down using a much more circular action of the hip and knee of the moving leg. This sliding action actually makes the legs become more tense as greater strength is needed to draw the feet together by sliding them across the floor.
The circular stepping actions of the legs will also develop the same benefits that the arms and hands receive from there circular actions, such as greater relaxation of the joints, more flexibility, an increase in blood and qi flow into the extremities fingers and toes. But because the legs perform a raising and lowering action which will greatly benefit the individuals leg fitness, strength and improve their ability to balance. The stepping actions of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan can at times look very lazy, as the emphasis on lifting and lowering of the leg is not emphasised enough there seems to be more sliding actions than actually stepping. This sliding action of the foot is not a circular movement it is more of a linear action that should not be used, as all actions of taijiquan should be circular in their actions.
In the practice of taijiquan in general there should be a connection between the movements of the upper portion of the body and the lower portion. If the elbows remain slightly bent, then so should the knees, but if you use a method of stepping that involves the sliding action. Then there is a possibility that the knee will and can become straight causing stiffness within the joint., which in-turn does not allow the qi to sink downwards into the feet and ground. As with the actions of the arms if the shoulders, elbows and wrists perform circles, then the hips, knees and ankles should also draw circles, this cannot be made if the students are taught to slide their feet across the floor.
As the period of the “White Tiger” Autumn as arrived which means that the body is now beginning to change from the sSummer Yang state into a more Yin state. The lungs are also associated as being Yin and so are the first of all the internal organs (Zangfu) to experience the Autumnal changes. Practicing the Sitting Guiding & Leading exercises (Daoyin) at this time period of the year will repair, strengthen and nourish the functioning of the lungs which are also associated with the “Metal Element”. Each of the Sitting Daoyin exercises involve gentle stretching movements, self massage on the acupuncture channels and meridians to help guide & lead the energy (Qi) and blood (Xue) through the whole body, bringing in the clean energy (Zhengqi) into the lungs and whole body, as well as dispersing the more sickly energy (bingqi) out.
Practicing the seasonal Daoyin exercises can be performed during anytime of the day and can be a great practice before entering into any Style of meditation or practicing them alongside your taijiquan or Qigong exercise. Obviously you will need to find the perfect location to practice them in were you will not be disturbed, it should be a quiet place with no distractions and it must be warm and comfortable to sit for a long period of time to practice and maybe finish with some meditation. Personally I believe that the Sitting Daoyin exercises are more of a self practice and not really suitable for group practice, as group practice can easily distract and break the concentration. Whereas, the more self practice allows the individual to enter mindfulness more easier.
When you practice the seasonal Sitting Daoyin exercises you must discipline your self to sit & practice on a daily basis. This might be difficult for many individuals as they live a very busy lifestyle. But looking after your health is an everyday practice as we are constantly under the pressures of stresses and strains that life can throw at us. At anytime we can be affected by health problems , so your health maintenance is your own responsibility and as Laozi says “What is more important your Health or Wealth” . Practicing the Seasonal Sitting Daoyin exercises ones not just nourish and strengthen the physical aspects, it also benefits your emotional, mental and spiritual qualitys so that the whole of your being is being strengthened, repaired and nourished to maintain and improve your health and wellbeing.
When I practice the Seasonal Sitting Daoyin exercises I always like to enter into some siting meditation practice afterwards. I find that the Seasonal Sitting Daoyin exercises places you mind and body into a very warm and relaxed state ready to practice some meditation which greatly compliments and adds to the whole mindfulness experience. Whereas the Seasonal Sitting Daoyin exercises help to promote the circulation of both blood and qi throughout the whole body, while focusing on the functions of the internal organs associated with each of the seasons. The meditation practice helps to cultivate, strengthening and store energy to boost the over-al health and wellbeing.