For those who study and practice Taijiquan will know that there are eight energies that are expressed in a variety of variations that make up the movements of the many styles of Taijiquan forms. It is exactly the same when you see individuals practicing the Taiji Sword (Jian), but instead of using and expressing just eight energies, there are a total of thirteen Taiji Sword Powers (Taijijian Shi San Li) performed within the Taiji Sword Forms, these thirteen Taiji Sword Powers are 1. Piercing, 2. Splitting, 3. Striking, 4. Lifting, 5. Slicing, 6. Bursting, 7. Stirring, 8. Whipping, 9. Pointing, 10. Obstructing, 11. Intercepting, 12. Pressing, 13. Leading. It is a natural progression for those interested individuals to begin studying the Taiji Straight Sword, once they have learnt the Taijiquan barehand form, as the Chinese say that the weapon is just an extension of the hand.
As the individual begins to become more accomplished with the Taiji Sword form and can distinguish between each of the thirteen Taiji Sword Powers the next stage is to then practice the two-person Taiji Sword training drills. These particular Taiji Sword drills or exercises brings alive the Taiji Swords thirteen powers into actual skilful usage with the individual and training partner using either linear or circular footwork methods to help control the distance between each other. As within the practice of the Taiji Pushing Hands (Tuishou) exercise were both training partners learn to remain in contact with each to develop their listening (Ting), sticking (Zhan) and adhering (Nian) tactile skills. The same is required within the practice of the Taiji Sword two-person drills, each individual must learn to stick and adhere staying in contact with each other’s Sword, so as to be able to listen to each other’s sudden change of direction and intention.
There are a numerous amount of Taiji Sword two-person drills were the individual can develop each of the thirteen Taiji Sword powers which will also help them to transform their Taiji Straight Sword form to a much deeper level. Traditionally the study and practice of the Taiji Sword was the only way that certain people could use to defend themselves and their family from a violent situation. Nowadays because of modern weapon technology the study and practice of the Taiji Sword is only performed as a method of cultivating ourselves to help improve our health, fitness and wellbeing.
Above all things that are taught and learnt I thin the study and practice of the Lishi Chinese Internal Martial Art of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu ( Hand of the Wind Boxing) is the ability to issue power into your defensive or offensive fighting techniques. As without being able to issue power (Fa Jing) correctly and effectively leaves your fighting techniques hollow and useless, to be able to issue power correctly a student must look to how to enhance their body mechanics on how to move their body in a more co-ordinated, smooth and precise manner. Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu we have a series of striking sets that we call the “Poison Hand Striking Sets” (Du Shou Da Fa), theses sets were created to teach every student how to use a wide variety of hand & arm shapes to strike an opponent with, sadly to many students concentrate to much on learning these many different hand & arm striking tools than on learning correct body mechanics to deliver the power into the poison hand striking tools. As without the power your poison hand techniques are useless.
Mostly in every set of the Poison Hand Striking Sets that are taught there are always a series of three striking methods (San Da Fa) used. Many students are taught to believe that it is the multitude of strikes that you use that actually finishes the opponent off. This is wrong, for if you have learnt how to issue power correctly through developing correct body mechanics, then every strike that you use within your Poison Hand Striking Sets should be able to finish off your opponent. How can you develop power into your defensive and offensive fighting methods by learning the principle of “Moving the Root to Move the Tip” (Wei Cong Dong Shao Xian Dong Gen) simply put if I want to land my hand strikes onto my opponent, then I have to move my feet to close the distance. Another example, if I want to use my hand to strike my opponent then I should concentrate on moving my shoulder first, hence “Move the Root to Move the Tip”.
Often I see many students practicing their striking techniques from the Poison Hand Sets, but I don’t see many working on how to issue power correctly into their strikes by developing and understanding how to use and move their body mechanics more skilfully. Once an opponent can feel your power they will give you a lot more respect, especially if you have refined your issuing of power to such a high level of skill that they cannot see it coming. Within the traditional internal martial arts (Neijiaquan) they call this method of striking as “Hidden Power” (An Jing). Obviously to reach and attain this level of striking skill means plenty of hours of dedicated training over many weeks, months and years to achieve their deep skill (Gongfu).
The study and practice of the Yang Style Taiji Straight Sword Sixteen Step Simplified Form is a great way for beginners and intermediate students to be introduced to the practice of the Sword (Jian). Basically the Chinese consider the weapon, irrespective of what weapon you decide to study with as an extension of the hand and in the case of the Taiji Sword the actions are similar to the practice of the Taijiquan barehand form.
- All of the sword movements should involve either small or large circular actions.
- The body is kept fully relaxed and upright.
- The speed of the movement should be performed slowly.
- The movements should flow smoothly together at the same speed.
- The body weight should alternate from one leg to another.
The practice of the Taiji Sword offers the individual another discipline that they can perform to strengthen their physical, mental and energetic attributes to maintain and improve their health and wellbeing. As we grow older our bodies will become stiffer and harder and unless we begin to look after ourselves through correct mind & body exercise we will gradually lose our ability to balance or even concentrate and we could suffer with various ailments that could effect the quality of our life.
Adding the practice of the Taiji Sword to your personal training routine can only help to keep your body and mind healthy and active. As with the practice of the Taijiquan barehand solo form which utilises the eight energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Cai, Lei, Kao, Zhou within its movements. Likewise the practice of the Taiji Sword utilises the thirteen techniques of Ci, Lan, Sao, Pi, Dian, Gua, Liao, Mo, Tuo, Chou, Ji, Dai, Jie these particular thirteen techniques can be found within the practice of the Yang Style Taiji Sword Sixteen Step Simplified Form. Once the the individual has a good understanding of the Taiji Sword thirteen techniques through the study of the Taiji Sword form, the next stage or development for the individual is to then practice the many two-person Taiji Sword train8ng exercises that bring the thirteen sword techniques alive in there defensive and offensive methods. These two-person Taiji Sword Training Methods can be associated with another Taijiquan exercise known “Pushing Hands” which is aimed at bringing the eight energies as already mentioned above alive, as with the Taiji pushing Hands exercise that develops the individuals ability to feel through their sense of touch what their training partners intention are. Likewise the two-person Taiji Sword training exercises also will develop the individuals ability to feel through the contact of each other swords to feel each other’s next move.
As more and more people are turning to the practice of Taijiquan to help them maintain and improve their health, fitness and wellbeing, gradually the awareness of practicing the Taiji Sword is also growing in its popularity as another option to exercise and to strengthen the mind, body & breath to help slow down the ageing process by developing a more relaxed, calm and pliable body.
Once an individual has began their study and practice of the Taiji Qigong 36 exercises form (Sanliushi) many obviously concentrate on the accuracy of each particular exercise. Making sure that the five components are all involved with each of the 36 exercises, the five components are:
- The Legs.
- The Torso.
- The Hands & Arms.
- The Eyes.
- The Breathing.
It is important that each individual involves the five components of their body into each of the 36 exercise, all according how often the individual practices the Taiji Qigong 36 exercise form, usually after a year or so the individual should begin to experience a few sensations happening within themselves when they practice any of the 36 Taiji Qigong exercises. These sensations can begin with the feeling of tingling, warmth, heaviness or fullness within the hands and arms at first, then gradually they should experience the sensation spreading throughout their entire body. These sensations are the first signs of the individuals energy (Qi) beginning to circulate, gradually over time the sensations should become more quickly, stronger and regular as the individual maintain their practice.
It is when the individual begins to feel the tangible sensations of their Qi circulation that they should then allow their Taiji Qigong movements to be lead by the flow of their Qi. To many individuals, even the ones who have been practicing for many years still concentrate on using their physical actions to lead and guide their Qi, rather than using their Intent (Yi), Breathing (Xi) to lead their (Qi) to blend with their (Li) strength or physical movement. The word “Qigong” is made up of two words “Qi” pronounced as (Chee) means to accumulate and circulate the energy of your environment within yourself to strengthen and improve their health and wellbeing. The other word “Gong” means work or exercise or skill and it is through the correct skill of combining their mind, body, breath that the individual can manipulate the Qi around and within themselves through the practice of Taiji Qigong exercise.
Sadly to many individuals spend to much time concentrating on the “Gong” rather than on developing and being lead by their Qi. We are taught that when we practice any of the Taiji Qigong 36 exercises the speed that we move should be controlled by our breathing which should be slow, deep, long, smooth and quiet. Gradually as the individual begins to feel their Qi they should then be lead by the feeling of their Qi as it raises, lowers, expands, contracts, gathers, disperses, enters and exits.
Within the Original Feng Shou Quran-Gongfu as taught by Master Chee Soo there are a numerous amount of palm striking techniques taught from spearing, pushing to chopping palm techniques for just an example. What earns the respect of any opponent is your ability to issue power (Fa Jing) effortlessly at anytime, it is through this ability or skill to issue power into your fighting techniques that makes every opponent scared of being struck by your hard or heavy palm strikes (Gang Zhang Fa) as it can easily finish the confrontation at anytime. For a practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quran-Gongfu they have to spend many hours learning and practicing correct Bodywork mechanics to be able to issue power into their fighting methods, as without this power their techniques will be useless against a more aggressive and stronger opponent.
To issue power (Fa Jing) into both the defensive and offensive techniques of your Feng Shou Quan fighting methods involves the use of the whole body to fully connect and move as a unified unit. We are taught that the power begins in the feet and then travels upwards through the legs into the torso and is issued out through the palms and fingers. It is through this action of unifying the whole body skilfully that the practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu can issue strength and power into their techniques. Correct physical mechanics combined with a strong intent (Yi) that can control and manipulate the internal energy (Qi) to combine with the physical strength (Li) to then be able to issue the power (Fa Jing) effortlessly only coms about through hours and hours of dedicated self practice.
Obviously whilst in the middle of a serious confrontation it is purely down to the individuals own skill and training to be able to fully use their martial art effectively. They have to hide their hard, heavy palm strikes by combining them with fast, light ones, using feints to draw a reaction from your opponent, creating gaps and windows within their defence were you can then quickly deliver your hard palm strikes to cause damage to your opponent and bring the situation to a close. Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu like all of the other internal martial art styles uses the principle of Yin & Yang to help guide their fighting techniques, hence the practitioner must learn how to deliver both light and hard palm strikes both in their defensive or offensive methods
Once the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu has developed good body mechanics and is able to deliver power into their palm striking techniques. They must then take the next step to pit their skill against a training partner, students who are taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers are taught to explore and develop their light and hard palm striking methods through the practice of the Eight Trigram Rollaways two-person Flow Exercise. This teaches them to be aware of the correct fighting distance to be able to freely express their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu fighting techniques.
One of the most difficult skills that an individual can learn through the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi is the ability to develop internal strength throughout every movement. Making sure that every small or large movement that is performed should involve the actions of the whole body being linked and connected together as a whole unit, So for every movement that the individual performs in the practice of their Lishi Tai Chi form does not lack any internal strength (Nei Li Qi). We are told by the old classics of Tai Chi that within the study and practice of Tai Chi that the strength begins in the feet and it then travels upwards through the body to the hands and fingers were it is then released out, it is through the individuals dedicated practice were they skilfully develop the precision and timing of the their Tai Chi movements to produce the internal power/ strength needed to improve their health and wellbeing.
Within the practice of the Lishi Tai Chi each individual will be taught that there are three anchors or leverage points within the body that the student of the Lishi Tai Chi develops to allow the internal strength to travel through the body from bottom to top. The first anchor is located in the both feet, as the student steps they press their feet into the ground which will then produce a sensation of strength that travels upwards through the both legs into the pelvis and sacrum. The pelvis and sacrum are considered to be the second anchor, it is entirely down to the individuals ability to use their waist, spine and back muscles during the practice of their Tai Chi movements to draw the strength up that has been produce by the both legs upwards through the torso. Once the strength has been guided upwards through the legs and torso it then reaches the third anchor which are considered to be the actions of the two elbows, again it is purely down to the skill of the individual as they perform their Tai Chi movements to connect their elbows to the spinal column were they are able to manipulate the internal strength that has travelled upwards through the both legs through the torso and into the both arms, hands and fingers were it is emitted outwards.
Obviously, it takes plenty of time and energy by each individual to develop the accuracy and precision needed to produce strength within their Lishi Tai Chi movements. To many individuals who practice the Lishi Tai Chi form spend to much time on just practicing empty, hollow movements, they concentrate only on their arms and legs, but do not concentrate enough on the correct action of the torso to allow the strength in the legs to reach the arms and hands. This lack of understanding on how to produce whole body strength within the movements of the Lishi Tai Chi by certain individuals will only hinder the individual from being able to reach a high standard of Tai Chi skill and ability.
There are quite a few variations on the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu two-person counter/counter training exercise known as “Rollaways”. We in the LFIAA are taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers to perform the “Eight Trigrams Method” for example one student will perform the Li (Fire) trigram method, while their training partner will perform the Kan (Water) trigram method and then vice-versa alternating from one trigram to the other. The Eight Trigram Rollaways Method combines linear, angular and circular defensive and offensive footwork using single, and multiple striking and kicking techniques, alongside soft and hard blocking and deflecting techniques, joint locking and throwing methods. The ultimate aim of practicing the Eight Trigram Rollaways Method is to allow the student of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to freely explore and express themselves and their fighting art, developing and strengthen their co-ordination, balance, concentration, precision, accuracy, timing and reactions for which we will all need to develop if we are to protect ourselves from an aggressive confrontation in a real life threatening situation.
There are four levels of training within the Eight Trigram Rollaways Method as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers to his students. Once his students as covered tall four training levels of EightTrigram Rollaways Method they will be allowed to practice the Free Fighting exercise known as (Sanshou). By the time that any student has reached this level they should have attained a high level of proficiency to naturally adapt and change their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu fighting techniques to overcome any situation that their opponent should throw at them. Master Chee Soo taught his students many different types of the Rollaway training exercises, sadly many of Master Chee Soo’s senior students have not spent their own time developing or furthering the Rollaways exercise that they were taught, some still only practice a limited version of the exercise to their own students,. This limited version of the Rollaways exercise does not allow their students to be able to fully explore and develop their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to the best of their ability.
The Eight Trigram Rollaways Method as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers is based upon using skilful footwork, every defensive tor offensive technique that a student performs must be accompanied with a typical series of stepping methods. This means that the students are constantly on the move combining linear, angular and circular footwork with their striking and kicking techniques. Because the students are encouraged to be on the move all of the time this will develop their fitness and stamina, invigorate their cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which will in-turn stimulate their Qi circulation to flow naturally throughout the entire body, but especially into their extremities.
Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers of the LFIAA The Eight Trigram Rollaways Method is the main focul point within every students training within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu. All of the students defensive and offensive fighting techniques that each individual learns and develop s as to be freely performed and expressed within the Eight Trigrams Rollaways Method as a way to sharpen each students tools and raise their level of proficiency to a very high standard before moving onto the Free Fighting exercise.
At some point in everyone’s life while learning and practicing the various disciplines of the Chinese internal arts like Taijiquan, Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu or Qigong for either health maintenance or martial arts reasons, we will all at sometime experience highs and lows within our practice and training and it is important that we learn to recognise when we are experiencing a low Yin period within our training, as if left for to long time without trying to change the circumstances can develop into a more serious result were the individual decides to stop their training and practice for good due to lack of motivation. There are many reasons why an individual begins to experience a low Yin period within their practice.
- It could be caused by having no time to practice more regularly.
- It could be caused by not being able to take in the information
- It could e caused by the slowing down of new information.
Usually certain individuals can only attend a class once a week and obviously it can be hard to make progress. Gradually they will begin to realise that they are not developing quickly enough and find that they are being left behind in the class. This is the point were they begin to lose motivation and usually stop altogether with their training. We all have some kind of pressure and responsibility in our lives that can take up a lot of our time, be it work related or family related it can all get in the way of you continuing your training within the internal arts discipline of your choice. This is were you need to recognise that you are experiencing a low Yin period and to be patient in yourself to just maintain your practice until you can find more three time to practice more.
There are some individuals who decide to stop practicing because they find it very difficult to take in the information in the internal art discipline that they have decided to learn. Some individuals place a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves by giving themselves a target to learn a Taijiquan form within 6 months and then stop because they realise that it will take much longer to learn. There are also some who think that because they are old that they cannot take the information in and improve and so they stop, rather than just enjoy what they are practicing and simply be patient and persevere with their development. “Master Sun Lutang would mention that the study and practice of the internal arts is easy to learn, but very hard to Master”.
Another reason why many individuals stop with their practice and training within the internal arts is because they have become stagnated and plateaued in their training. This can be caused by not attending classes and courses not being able to train frequently enough, hence the learning and progression slows down. Or it can be caused by not being motivated by the teacher enough, as the teacher simply coves the basics and limits the individuals ability to grow.
It is important that you have a good teacher with a strong lineage and years of practice and teaching experience within the internal arts under their belts. As a good teacher will recognise when you are suffering a low Yin Period in your training and can help by offering you some good advice to help motivate yourself. A good teacher is someone who you can approach and ask questions about how to help motivate and progress your training to the next stage as we all suffer good and bad times within our journey to Master the internal arts.
Most martial arts teach their students the Shadow Boxing (Yingzi Quan) exercise, irrespective whether you are studying an internal (Nei Jia) or external (Wai Jia) martial art Shadow Boxing allows the student to develop and improve their basic fighting techniques (Jiben Shi) of the style of martial art that they are learning, it also allows each student to develop a freedom to explore their particular martial art and express themselves, allowing the student to find their own unique style. Obviously because the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu involves a vast amount of defensive and offensive techniques that uses evasive footwork, striking, kicking and blocks & deflections the student must learn how to combine these techniques together in a continuous flowing action, using their own imagination and visualisation to help stimulate themselves to develop their agility, co-ordination, concentration, precision, timing, accuracy, flexibility and fitness.
When a student is taught how to Shadow Box within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu they are taught to focus mainly on visualising on just one opponent in front of themselves. They must then demonstrate a combination of defensive and offensive fighting techniques of their own choice using many types of fighting rhythms that vary from defend, attack, defend or attack, defend, attack rhythms. The student must combine linear, angular and circular footwork methods into their defensive and offensive techniques which will only help them to naturally express the fighting methods of this particular Chinese internal martial art style.
Learning how to Shadow Box within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu gives the student an immediate feeling of of a sense of enemy standing in front of themselves. It also is a great exercise to gently warm up the student before allowing them to progress and participate within two-person training exercises were there is actual contact between each other. Basically practicing Shadow Boxing only allows the student to practice, combine and express there footwork, blocks, strikes and kicks in many different variations, but when it comes to learning and practicing joint locking methods (Qinna Fa) or throwing techniques (Shuai Fa) then you are better off studying and practicing them with a training partner.
Traditional solo forms are another variation of the Shadow Boxing exercise were the student performs a series of set pre-arranged movements that develops stances, footwork, blocks, strikes , kicks, joint locks and throws like the “Feng Shou Hand Formation Form” (Shou Pai Fa Shi). But it is only through the free style method of Shadow Boxing that the student can be allowed to fully explore and express themselves as they gradually develop their own unique style of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.