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.
I believe there are two types of Wild Goose Qigong Practitioners there are those who simple just practice the physical movements of the Wild Goose Qigong forms and have no understanding on how to manipulate their Qi. Then more importantly there are those practitioners who are guided by the movement of qi within themselves and have learnt how to skilfully use the movements of the Wild Goose Qigong to manipulate the qi that surrounds them, drawing in the clean qi into their body and dispersing the turbid, sickly energy (Bing Qi) out of their body.
Within the practice of the Wild Goose Qigong forms there are eight palm shapes (Ba Zhang Xing) that each practitioner must skilfully learn if they wish to manipulate the qi of their environment into themselves to nourish, repair and strengthen the functioning of their own internal organs (Zangfu) to give themselves good health and wellbeing. Sadly to many practitioners simply think that by just repetively practicing the Wild Goose Qigong forms they will begin to experience the sensations of their qi, by practicing in this particular method will take a very longtime for them to feel the very first sensations of qi movement within themselves. It is only through the subtle, skilfull usage of the eight palm shapes, breathing and concentration that each practitioner will be able to manipulate the qi.
The qi that is gathered into us from the earth, including trees and bushes is considered to be Yin qi, whereas, the sky, including sunlight is considered to be Yang qi. It is through the skilful movements of the Wild Goose Qigong and the practitioners ability to use the eight palm shapes to skilfully manipulate both the earth Yin qi and heaven Yang qi into themselves, where it is then mixed with their own qi and transformed into a stronger type of qi that can boost the practitioners health on many levels such as their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. For those who just concentrate on practicing the physical actions of the Wild Goose Qigong will not be able to “put the qi into their Qigong” hence it just a sequence of hollow movements.
To skilfully use the eight palm shapes within the practice of the Wild Goose Qigong means to subtly combine and change one palm shape into another. Sometimes within one circle of your arm you could make at least three different palm shapes to manipulate the qi by raising, lowering and then gathering the qi into a specific energy point (qixue) located on the body to allow it to enter and nourish the body. Or you could again within one complete circle be able to open, and expand your qi, and then suddenly close drawing in qi to then disperse it out of the body.