Studying the seizing and grasping art (Qin Na) of applying joint locks comes under the wrestling fighting range of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu. I personally believe that every student should learn how to skilfully flow from one particular joint locking technique to the other, especially against an opponent who is very strong and is able to resist and and possibly escape from your joint lock, you simply flow into the next joint lock making your opponents think that he or she has escaped, but to only find themselves in another joint lock that is more painful than the last one making it easier for you to subdue and immobilise them, or to lead them into a powerful throwing technique that could completely finish the confrontation off . Usually when we teach any Qin Na joint lockflow form to a student they can consist of up to eight or ten different joint locking techniques ranging from finger, wrist, elbow, shoulder and head locks on the upper extremities to ankle, knee and hip locks on the lower extremities.
Alongside the practice of Qin Na Joint lockflow forms for which the student will learn various joint locking techniques. The student will also learn how to escape from certain joint locks using what we call “Yielding Body Methods” (Rou Shen Fa), plus they will also learn correct footwork methods to allow them to place themselves in a more safer position to apply a certain joint lock technique and making it more difficult for your opponent to strike or kick their way free of your joint locking methods. Skilfully footwork is also taught so that the student is able to escape and counter back with a variety of Qin Na Joint locking techniques if the opponent happens to place a joint lock on yourself.
Progressively when a student begins to learn the wrestling techniques of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system they will start by learning how to apply individual joint locking techniques from various holds, grips, strikes or kicks. Usually after a few years of developing a large variety Qin Na joint locking techniques they are then taught a training exercise what my teacher Master Chee Soo would call as “Grip and Breakout” which is a free style wrestling exercise were each training partner attempts to apply any type of joint lock for the other to counter and return with a joint lock of their own. Obviously there will be certain joint locks that the student has not learnt how to counter and escape from and as to be shown. This is were the practicing of Qin Na Joint Lockflow forms come into their own, as not only does the student learn a variety of joint locking techniques they are also taught how to escape and counter these same joint locking methods.
Over-al the study and practice of Qin Na Joint Lockflow Forms by the student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu allows them to develop the ability to adapt, change and overcome any situation that the student might come up against if someone was to aggressively attack them.
Over the last ten yeas or more the Standardised Taiji Qigong exercises have become a popular form of exercise for many individuals, especially the first set of eighteen exercises known as “Shibashi”. But there are two sets of Taiji Qigong exercises both of which consists of eighteen exercises each, which when both sets are combined together becomes known as the “thirty six (Sanliushi) Taiji Qigong exercises or form. The exercises of the second set of eighteen Taiji Qigong exercises are more dynamic in their actions than the first set and involve the use of various hand shapes or mudra’s (Yin Shou). Such as “Sword Fingers” (Jian Zhi) and the “Dragons Head” (Long Tou) shapes which are formed in some of the second set of Taiji Qigong exercises to guide and lead the individuals qi.
One of the most popular exercises is the “Moving a Rainbow” exercise which is from the first set of the Taiji Qigong eighteen exercise set or form and is demonstrated by Laoshi Keith Ewers in the accompanying photo that comes with this blog. Every individual exercise of the thirty six Taiji Qigong exercises involve the usage of the “Five Sections” ( Wu Jie) of the body, which are the legs (Tui), body (Shen), hands (Shou), eyes (Yan) and breathe (Xi), without combining these five sections of the body together when practicing any of the Taiji Qigong xercises will greatly hinder the quality and standard of each exercise from being good to very poor, which in turn effects the benefits that each individual can receive from quality practice..
Manu individuals enter the practice of the Taiji Qigong exercises because of three main reasons, firstly because they are easy to learn and perform, secondly they help with their ability to relax and thirdly they can help improve their balance. But obviously they can offer all three of these reasons and a lot more benefits one can receive from good quality practice, such as developing their flexibility, mobility, strengthening their tendon and ligaments, toning their muscles, improving blood and energy circulation throughout the whole body, strengthening their concentration. Personally I believe that the best benefit that one can receive from Taiji Qigong practice is that it can help to maintain and improve one’s health and wellbeing as we all grow gracefully older.
Each of the Taiji Qigong exercises looks very simple and easy to learn, but there many subtle levels to each exercise such as combining the Body, Mind & Breathing together that gradually transforms each exercise from a simple method of exercise into a skilfull exercise that involves timing, accuracy, precision, sensitivity, patience. Which in turn develops a more calm, still, relaxed and strong individual from the study and practice of Taiji Qigong.
The Self Defence ttraining within the LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu consists of learning how to break free or escape from a wide variety of holds and grips from either a Standing, Sitting or Lying position. We have a saying within Feng Shou-Kung Fu that a man is mostl likely to be attacked with punches and kicks, whereas a women or girl is most likely to be attacked by being held And immobilised. But over-al it is best that everyone learns how to effectively escape from any hold or grip that can be used to try and control themselves by either one or more attackers, basically all of the Self Defence techniques that are taught within Feng Shou-Kung Fu comes under the Wrestling ( Kuai Jiao) range of fighting which includes escaping from any type of joint lock (Qin Na)
To escape effectively from any hold that can be placed on yourself means that the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu can use Striking (Da), Kicking (Ti), Joint Locking (Na) and Throwing (Shuai) methods to escape quickly causing great harm to your attacker. When Master Chee Soo taught Self Defence training he would break it down into three sections of training, the first method was to simply break free of any hold which could be performed in a passive or aggressive manner. The passive method was simply to off balance the opponent forcing them to break their hold or grip to save their own balance or to just escape by twisting and turning out of their grip. Whereas the aggressive method would be to use either a strike or kick or a combination of the both targeting the vital areas of the opponent body to cause serious pain. The Second training method was to escape, but using a joint locking method (Qin Na Fa) to subdue or immobilise the opponent. The Third training method was to apply fast throwing methods (Shuai Fa) to forcefully flip your opponent onto the ground using such throwing techniques as shoulder, hip, leg hand or arm throws methods.
In today’s fast, stressful and some times very competitive lifestyle that many individuals live, on any holdwe can all at some point in our lives run into a tricky situation were someone becomes aggressive towards you and attempts to physically hold or grip you in some manner. This is when learning a little or lot of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu Self Defence methods (Zi Wei Fa) comes really useful in being able to escape freely from any hold in a passive non-aggressive manner or to simply teach the person a very quick lesson on how effective Feng Shou-Kung Fu can be. Obviously it is completely down to the individuals own decision on how much force is needed to escape safely from the situation common sense must prevail. As you would not break someone’s wrist for example if it was a friend or family member who was a little bit out of order, you would simply control and subdue them to calm the situation, whereas if it was someone who you did not know then you could be more forceful.
It is important that the student be they male or female learn all the areas of The Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu training as to offer, which includes the Self Defence training both armed and unarmed situations and not to just focus their training on free fighting. The ultimate aim of all Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu practitioners is to be able to adapt, change their fighting ability to over-come any aggressive situation which includes breaking free or escaping from any hold or grip.
It as now been well over thirty years since I was taught the Daoist Six Secret Words or otherwise known as the Six Healing Sounds Guiding & Leading Methods (Liu Zi Jue Daoyin Fa) by my teacher Master Chee Soo as a method of fighting diseases that may attack the internal organs of the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, Liver Kidneys and the Triple Heater. These particular Six Secret Words o sounds can be used alongside various guiding & leading movements that are associated to each particular organ, which can be performed from a Standing, Walking, Seated , or Lying down positions that can help individuals to better manage, control or prevent their illness.
The human body is said to be made up of seventyfive percent water, so if we can take one of the Six Healing Sounds for example associated with the Lungs which is the sound of (Si) and begin to vocally sound this word it will cause a vibration within the body and especially effect the Lungs by either strengthening the Qi of the Lungs or by dispersing the turbid, sickly Qi out of the Lungs. Obviously the ability to tonify or disperse the Qi within each of the internal organs is controlled by the gentleness or strength of each of the Six Secret/Healing Sounds by the individual themselves. The Daoist’s of old realised that each of our internal organs runs on a certain fequency and just as some type of music that we hear we like and find it to be very calming and beneficial, we can also hear some music that irritates us and affects our mood in a negative way.
Daoist’s realised that our five Yin internal organs each have a special sound that can effect the strength and functioning of the Qi within each of the five Yin internal organs to maintain a balanced healthy state and to fight of any external pathogens that may attack and cause illness. These particular Six Secret Words or Sounds should be practiced by each individual on a daily basis to maintain their health and wellbeing. When I learnt these Six Secret Words from Master Chee Soo he taught them alongside specific body actions for each associated sound and internal organ as seen in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the standing movements and sound to effect the Qi of the Lungs.
Obviously when using the Six Secret Words Guiding & Leading Methods (Liu Zi Jue Daoyin Fa) in treating the very poorly ill individuals who are only able to perform the Six Secret Words from their beds. Then according to how ill they are they can just perform the sounds on their own with no body movements, or they can do very gentle movement alongside the sounds connected to the diseased internal organ to help them tonify the Qi within that organ to fight off the disease.
November sees the end of Autumn or other-wise known by Daoist’s as the period of the White Tiger which is associated with the Lungs. December until February is the Winter period or Black Tortose which is associated with the Kidneys, usually an individual’s energy levels are at a low period and so the individual should concentrate more on conserving, storing and cultivating their energy by practicing the seated Seasonal Winter guiding and leading (Daoyin) exercises on a regular daily basis alongside some sitting or standing Meditation exercise to harness their energy (Qi) to strengthen their health and wellbeing. Winter is a period of coldness and quietness which means that individuals can suffer from ailments such as poor circulation, arthritis and depression as our protective qi sinks deeper into the centre of our body and our vitality levels greatly diminishes .
To practice the Winter Seasonal Seated Daoyin Exercise the individual sits cross legged on a meditation cushion known by Daoist’s as a “Cloud Bed” (Yun Pu) they must face the direction of north which is associated to the Kidneys for which the Winter period can harm as the kidneys energy is depleated at this time of the year. Stretch your both legs out in front and bend forwards to grasp the toes of each foot with both hands 15 times, then rub the ball of each foot stimulating the “Bubbling Spring Kidney 1” acupuncture energy point (qixue) thirty times on each foot. Lastly make two fists and rub the kidneys on the lower back again thirty times. If you wish to involve the breathing alongside these particular methods then I would advise you use the Embryonic Breathing method (Tai Xi) making sure that the exhalation is longer than the inhalation which will raise the protective qi allowing it to increase and strengthen. Practicing the Winter Seasonal seated Daoyin exercise on a regular basis will help the individual to nourish, strengthen and repair their kidney qi levels.
As the Winter period obviously last three months from December until February the individual is encouraged to practice these Seated Seasonal Daoyin exercises daily to help maintain their health and wellbeing during the Winter period. Practicing some meditation alongside the Winter Seasonal exercises is. also recommended to help cultivate your qi to boost your health and wellbeing. It is said that when we practice the Four Seated Seasonal Daoyin exercises throughout the whole year that in the Spring time we generate more energy, in the Summer time we grow and strengthen, in the Autumn time we collect or gather and in the Winter time we store and harness. This allows our body, mind and spirit to be in harmony with the changes of the Seasons and for us to guard our energy (Qi) levels to maintain our health and long life as each season changes.
Self cultivation is vitally important for every individual to look after their own health as the practice of the Four Seasonal Seated Daoyin exercises (Si Ji Zuo Gong) can easily be practiced by everyone in the comfort of their own homes. Practicing the Four Seasons Daoyin exercises can help any individual to prevent or manage their ailments as these Seasonal exercises are very powerful and beneficial to everyone of any age or gender.
When an individual practices the taijiquan form there should be a constant feeling of the body rising and sinking as they perform their actions. This is applied by the individual shifting their body weight from one leg to the other in an alternating action, but making sure not to simple make the mistake of transferring the body weight in a swaying action hat moves in a straight line as many individuals can do who are complete beginners to taijiquan practice. This method of rising and sinking in the practice of taijiquan is technically known as “Bouncing” as the body weight is placed onto one leg the individual will have the feeling of sinking and becoming substantial, solid (Shi. While the other leg becomes insubstantial, hollow (Xu), the individual will then press the weighted foot into the ground and raise the bodyweight upwards through the weighted leg and transfer it into the opposite by making an arching action of rising and sinking and not swaying.
Once an individual begins to apply the rising and sinking (Bouncing) action of transferring the body weight from one leg to the other. This will then send a wave of upwards energy into the upper body and the extremities, while on the sinking action give the individual a better feeling of “Rooting” (Gen) connecting to the ground to improve better balance and stability. Another benefit of an individual applying the bouncing action of the body weight alternating from one leg to the other is that is will have an affect on the strengthening the individuals cardiovascular system. In China they consider the pumping of the leg muscles as a “Second Heart” as the more these muscles are worked the more the heart needs to pump more blood and energy around the body, hence raising the heart rate and developing fitness, while the individual remains relaxed (Song) and slow in their taijiquan actions.
Many beginners when performing their taijiquan movements and the transference of their body weight, simply sway their body weight from one leg to the other and do not bounce by rising and sinking. This swaying will not develop leg strength to improve balance, nor will it affect the heart rate to improve the individuals blood circulation and fitness to benefit their health and wellbeing. To many individuals base more emphasis on the practice of taijiquan to develop their ability to relax and not pay any attention on rising and sinking to strengthening their health and develop internal power.
The main ain of an individual when they begin their practice of taijiquan (Supreme Ultimate) is to remain as relaxed and loose (Song) as possible. This does not just mean to be relaxed and loose mainly within the arms and hands, but to maintain a loose waist (Yao) and a relaxed back (Bei) as many individuals over twist (Ning) their body when performing their taijiquan movements causing the waist and back muscles to become stiff and tense. Some individuals have a tendency to practice taijiquan like that of yoga, they seem to always try and stretch that little bit further, which can over extend the body and cause the muscles and tendons to strain and become tight and tense especially when turning the body. The principle of maintaining relaxation (Song) in the practice of taijiquan is far more important than stretching and twisting which causes tension.
When we turn the body (Shen) in taijiquan we allow the body to rotate around our central line (Zhong Ding) which is an imaginary line that passes through the top of our head and runs directly through our body and between our legs into the floor. The aim is to turn the body around this central line, but still maintaining correct body alignment by making sure to keep the shoulders (Jian), hips (Kua), knee (Xi) and ankles (Huai) in alignment so that there is good body structure and strength within each taijiquan posture. Sometimes an individual can over twist their torso by allowing the shoulders to point directly forwards and mis-aligning with the hips causing the whole body structure to become weak and bringing tension and stiffness into the body.
The more the individual can learn to maintain a relaxed body while in motion will allow the bodies tension to be released downwards into the ground. Which in-turn will develop each individual’s ability to sink their energy (Qi) downwards through their body and out of the soles of their feet and into the ground to develop their “Root” (Gen) . Which is a technical term used by taijiquan practitioners to develop a stronger connection with the Earth to enhance their ability to balance and to issue (Fa Jing) power into their taijiquan actions. Over twisting of the body (Shen) not only can weaken the individuals body structure it can also cause the body to accumulate more tension into the body make the individual feel stiff and clumsy when they perform their taijiquan movements.
I personally find that there are only a few serious practitioners of taijiquan within my own classes who understand that there are subtle levels of taijiquan practice that each individual must learn and pass through to enable them to progress to the next level or stage of their taijiquan journey. A practitioner must be constantly trying to refine their taijiquan actions to a higher skill level of performance and usage. Sadly many individuals who enter our taijiquan class doors are only happy to simply practice their taijiquan form not really paying attention to remaining fully relaxed, accurate and precise. again sadly these particular individuals will not attain a high level and will not fully receive the benefits that taijiquan practice can offer to maintaining health and wellbeing.
A great Vessel is late in completion is a quote taken from Laozi Book of the Way &Virtue (Daodejing) Chapter 41. Basically it means that to develop anything that is of a great value or to achieve a high level of skill can take a very long time, and in the case of a student attaining a high level of proficiency within the internal martial art of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu takes many years, not weeks or months but years. Sadly today many beginners do not have the stamina,, dedication and discipline to spend a long time just simply learning and practicing, they immediately expect to achieve quick results by practicing less. There are some who only participate in Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu only when they attend their local class, they do not practice within their spare time, yet they expect to advance quickly.
When does a hobby turn into a way of life. To many individuals who come into the practice of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu looking to take up a new sport or activity, sadly many of these individuals do not stay long, usually around four to six months then they decide to pack it in. The reason for this is that the art asks to much of them, meaning that they have to give more of their “time & energy” (Gongfu) to the study of this particular internal martial art to raise their standard and for many this is to much of an effort and to much like hard work, so they give up. My teacher Master Chee Soo used to say that only one out of ten individuals will continue with their practice of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.
There those individuals who study other types of external martial arts and have to stop their training because the actual martial art that they are practicing ends up damaging their bodies and health. Usually after they reach the age of forty or fifty years of age they completely stop their training altogether. But because Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is an internal martial art who’s emphasis is not just placed totally upon learning how to defend yourself. It also places a great amount of emphasis on attaining good health and wellbeing through its martial guiding & leading exercises (Wu Daoyin Fa) which develops flexibility, fitness and strength to help each serious student maintain their study and practice well into their old age. As you are just as much more likely to be attacked in your old age as you are in your youth and that’s when you need your health and martial art skill to defend yourself.
I have lost the count of how many times that I have been asked by beginners on how long will it take them to learn this internal martial art. When I tell them it will take properly all of their life timet they obviously don’t believe it. It is quite natural for individuals to enter into the practice of any martial art to first learn how to protect themselves, some maybe join in to develop their over-al fitness, some join to compete and win trophies. But very few take up a martial art and turn it into a way of life that not only helps them to protect themselves and family members, but that also strengthens their health and wellbeing and gives them a moral code or philosophy that they can use to guide them through life’s more difficult times.
A fully balanced martial art should strengthen the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of every individual who decides to commit themselves to the study and practice of it and especially with the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system. As Laozi said ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” sadly many individuals get side tracked or lost on the way and give up the study of this unique internal martial art easily. only a small few will still walk its path and attain a deep knowledge and a high level skill of this internal martial art.
The practice of taijiquan and Qigong form work is built upon many subtle layers that each individual must learn if they wish to advance their practice to much higher levels. Sadly today many individuals will only practice their taijiquan or Qigong form only when they attend there local classes and will not place any time a side to practice regularly on their own. This then can effect the speed that each individual will be able to progress through their taijiquan and Qigong forms, as the more the individual can practice the more they are able to remember the subtle movements that make their taijiquan or Qigong more accurate and precise, their movements flow smoothly, evenly without any pauses or loss of balance or missing certain movements out. But not everyone puts the time and effort into their taijiquan and Qigong practice and sadly these individuals struggle to remember the movements, they become frustrated and can hold the more serious individuals back because of their lack of interest, usually after a few weeks these types of individuals give up and leave.
The journey of taijiquan and Qigong practice is about constantly refining the movements, breathing and concentration to achieve a high level of ability that has tremendous benefits towards maintaining and improving each individuals health and wellbeing. Sadly there are a few individuals who believe that doing less practice of taijiquan or Qigong is going to greatly improve their wellbeing as if by magic. It is common sense that the more you can practice and study either with a really good teacher or as well as on your own, the more you are going to progress in your over-al standard and will quickly receive the benefits of your hard work.
To many people come into taijiquan and Qigong classes not really knowing what they are entering into. Because they hear the word slow and soft they immediately think that it is going to be easy to learn and that they do not have to engage or try hard. Obviously I understand it can all come down to the quality of the teacher that stands out in front of the class, but if you do find yourself in front of a really good teacher with plenty of years experience behind themselves and that they have a good lineage of quality masters. Then the teacher will immediately expect the individual to engage in their practice of taijiquan or Qigong and are expected to remember the movements and attain accuracy, precision, timing, balance, concentration and breathing. Not simply turning up each week to class and cannot remember what they did in their last taijiquan or Qigong session and have to be reminded every time because they are truely not interested and are very lazy and show dis-respect to the teacher and the style of taijiquan or Qigong by their lack of intent.
On a more positive note there those individuals who do regularly practice and are a great joy for every teacher to work with, as they engage and take in the advice the teacher passes onto them to help them refine and transform there taijiquan or Qigong practice to much higher levels. But gradually these quality type taijiquan or Qigong individuals are far and few in between, it is this type of individual who usually goes onto become a teacher of taijiquan or Qigong themselves and turns a hobby into a way of life.
Wuji Qigong is a Daoist life nourishing exercise (Yangsheng) which involves a series of gentle stretching movements that develop flexibility within the individuals joints, tendons and muscles, which in-turn opens the energy pathways (Jing Mai) of the whole body helping to remove any blockages that may have accumulated within the body, due to illness, injury, or lack of exercise. The word Wuji is made up of two words placed together, the first word (Wu) means emptiiness or nothingness and is connected to the Daoist belief of the great “Stillness” before the Big Bang that formed our universe. The second word (Ji) means Supreme or Ultimate and is associated with Way (Dao), when the two words (Wuji) are placed together they can mean Supreme Emptiness , Ultimate Emptiness or Supreme Nothingness, the time of great stillness before the Chaos (Hundun).
When an individual begins their practice of the Wuji Qigong form which is a series of eighteen exercises, that excepte for the very first and last exercises can be performed in any order which relates to the Chaos after the Big Bang. As for the individual while practicing the Wuji Qigong form aims to fully become relaxex and to try and achieve a feeling of calmness and stillness within, which is especially important for many individuals who suffer from high stress and anxiety levels due to their working invironment and fast lifestyle. The exercises that are performed within the Wuji Qigong form are especially good for people who suffer with either neck, shoulders and back problems, as the gentle stretching actions will gradually allow the muscles, tendons and joints to release any tension and stiffness that as built up over time. This sudden release of muscular tension and joint stiffness will allow the individual to become more relaxed with better blood and energy flow that will increase the vitality levels of all individuals.
Within the Wuji Qigong forms eighteen exercise there are a few that can be held as a “Standing Post Qigong” (Zhanggong) practice which places great emphasis on strengthening the individuals concentration, and to develop a more deeper feeling of inner stillness and quietness or as Laozi mentions in his book the “Way and Virtue” (Daodejing) “Empty the Mind and Fill the Belly” meaning to quiet the mind and allow the qi to gather and transform within the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) located within the abdomen. Because the middle sixteen exercises of the Wuji Qigong form can be practiced in any order allows the individual to create a routine that better suits themselves and can differ each time they practice, hence within the ability to change the routine the individual must still attain the ability to develop a deep feeling of inner calmness and stillness.