The practice of harnessing, and collecting the internal energy (Neiqi) to develop power and strength in the defensive and offensive techniques of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is of vital importance for every single practitioner, as the gathering and transportation of the internal energy will also help to maintain and improve the practitioners health and wellbeing and that is why every practitioner should regularly be practicing methods of gathering the internal energy both within their classes and on a daily basis as a solo practice of their own. Sadly today not many individuals who study Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu are taught any methods of how to harness and transport the internal energy other than performing a single “Four Position Daoyin Breathng Exercise” usually at the beginning of each class training session or they are encouraged to participate in learning Tai Chi.
If we consider that Feng Shou Uuan-Gongfu as an internal martial art then the practice of cultivating the internal energy for its usage within its martial art techniques and health should be practiced more on a bigger scale. Laying a much better foundation with a variety of qigong training methods that every practitioner can perform both within the class training session, but more importantly to be encouraged to practice them daily on their own. These qigong exercises should resemble the movements and actions that are already being used both defensively and offensively as part of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu training. Students should not be old to go and learn another system of qigong that does not resemble the actions and movements of their own martial art style.
Within he LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu students are taught a series of individual martial Qigong exercises that are then linked together in a continuous martial Qigong form (Feng Shou Quan Wu Gong Shi). Each of the martial Qigong exercises are performed slowly at first to allow the student to develop their awareness and sensitivity to gather and transport their internal energy throughout their whole body but especially into their extremities. Secondly each student are then taught these martial Qigong exercise to release their martial power (Fa Jing) at a much faster pace. Alongside the martial qigong form exercises the age also taught eight standing post Qigong methods that again can be performed singularly on their own or linked together in a variety of different forms. The Eight standing post Qigong postures are.
- Riding Horse (Ma Bu Shi)
- Dragon (Long Shi)
- Cat (Mao Shi)
- Leopard (Pao Shi
- Snake (She Shi)
- Scissor (Jian Dao Shi)
- Monkey (Hou Shi)
- Dog (Gou Shi)
Each of the above eight individual postures each have their own hand/arm held postures to encourage the blood (Xue) and energy (Qi) to flow into the extremities. All the postures can interchange with each other in a multitude of variations, they are all performed with deep breathing to cultivate and harness the internal energy (Neiqi) and to strengthen the physical, mental and energetic aspects of each individual. In the accompanying photo Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen holding the “Dragon Posture” (Long Shi) one of the Eight Standing Post Qigong exercises (Ba Zhan Gong Fa).
Lao Zi mentions that “Difficult and easy compliment each other, Long and short contrast each other, High and low rest upon each other, Front and back follow each other , Opening and closing mirror each other”. Lao Zi Daodejing.
As Lao Zi says above when we perform our Lishi taijiquan form the individual should become more aware of the transformation of their taijiquan form practice, by concentrating on the changing of Yin to Yang and vice-versa as they perform each of the movements that make up their Lishi taijiquan form. The study and practice of any style of taijiquan form work has many levels to them that each individual must progress through if they truly want their taijiquan practice to achieve a high standard of skill. Unfortunately there are many individuals who are lazy in their practice and think that simply practicing the Lishi taijiquan form moving from one posture to another in a slow and relaxed manner is high quality Lishi taijiquan practice. Actually this is the lowest level of taijiquan practice as the individual does not wish to apply the changing of Yin and Yang which will gradually encourage them to connect and involve their mind, body and spirit together into their practice.
There are many examples of the principles of Yin & Yang being used in the practice of the Lishi taijiquan form work. One example that each individual should be able to distinguish Yin & Yang from is between substantial meaning fullness (Shi) and insubstantial meaning emptiness (Xu) as their bodyweight transfers from one leg to the other as they perform their stepping actions. Another example is to become aware of the closing and opening of their joints in a balanced, smooth and even manner as they progress from one movement into the other. The closing action of the joints should be performed with a softening, contracting feeling, whereas, the opening actions should be performed with a gentle feeling of expanding to release. As the individual becomes more aware of employing more principles of the changing actions of Yin to Yang and vice-versa then their Lishi taijiquan skill will definitely grow in their ability to manipulate the circulation of Qi throughout their entire body to strengthen and maintain their health and promote long life (Chang Ming)
The growth of each individuals ability to fully connect to their body, mind & spirit can only be achieved through taijiquan practice by developing their skill to manipulate and harmonise the ever changing principles of Yin & Yang and vice-versa. This can only happen through regular daily practice as Lao Zi mentions the “Difficult and Easy compliment each other” sadly to many individuals take the easy option of practicing the Lishi taijiquan form by simply practicing and concentrating on the correct order of the each Taiji posture leading into another rather than concentrating on the quality of each movement through the interpretation of Yin & Yang.
The Summer season covers the three months of June, July and August and is considered by the Chinese to be the period of the Red Phoenix or firebird (Hong Fenghuang) which is associated with the Heart (Xin). The Four Seasonal Seated Qigong Exercise is performed to repair , strengthen and nourish the functioning of the Heart during the summer three month period, the Heart is considered to be the son of the Liver and the mother of the Spleen within traditional Chinese medicine the Heart is known as the emperor of all the internal organs (Zangfu). The practice and study of the Daoist Four Seasonal Seated Qigong (Si Ji Zuo Gong) is typically esoteric with some of its practices that some individuals will find to be strange, but every method that is taught has a beneficial effect on strengthening and nourishing the health and wellbeing of each individual who decides to practice these particular exercise in harmony with the seasonal changes of each month through the year, transforming their essences (Jing)) into energy (Qi), energy into spirit (Shen) guiding each individual towards attaining a long life.
The Red Phoenix Qigong summer time Seasonal exercise contains seven separate parts which involves gentle, slow movements, meditative still practice, self massage on the Heart meridian to stimulate and clean the channel, the swallowing of the breath, the swallowing of the Silvia to aid the digestive system. I personally practice the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises in harmony with the changing of the months and seasons as the year progresses and I find them to be of great benefit towards boosting and strengthening my own immune system, respiratory system they help me to release stress and anxieties soothing my nervous system helping me to fully relax both physically, emotionally and mentally.
These particular Four Seasonal Seated Qigong practices where invented by the Daoist adept Chen Tuan they are around 1000Yrs old and are just as beneficial in today’s present time, as they were when Chen Tuan created them. The Chen Tuans Four Seasonal Seated Qigong Methods are still practiced in some of China’s Daoist temples and monesterays helping to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of its practitioners. I am sure that thousands of individual here in the west can greatly benefit from the regular practice of the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises towards helping them improve or maintain their own health and wellbeing.
The Red Phoenix (firebird) Qigong Summer Seasonal exercise as already mentioned above is associated with the Heart. The Heart is also associated with the emotions of happiness, love, gentleness and kindness which are Yang positive emotions, but the heart can also be affected and damaged by becoming too over-excited, delirious, full of hatred, cruel which are Yin negative emotions. This is what is meant by repairing the Heart ( Xin) when you practice the Red Phoenix Qigong it can be practiced to strengthen and nourish you physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically and spiritually. As each season passes by the body becomes gradually attuned to the seasonal changes from being really cold, dark and quiet with low energy levels in the winter time, then the rising of energy and being more active in the spring time, to feeling warm and relaxed, happy in the summertime with the energy at its full peak, then n the autumn period the energy begins to slowly lower and its a time of conserving, harnessing your energy levels ready for the coldness of winter.
One of the characteristics of the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan is its turning of the body in a 180 degrees to change direction, this happens quite a few times during the form practice. Obviously for any individual to perform the Turning Body Stepping Method (Zhuan Shen Bu Fa) means that the body weight transference from substantial (full) to non-substantial (empty) has to be smooth and even as the individual learns to shift their body weight from one leg to the other. The turning the body stepping method involves one foot pivoting on the heel to perform a toe in hooking step (Kou Bu) which closes the three major joints of the hip, knee and ankle, while the opposite foot performs a toe out step (Bai Bu) which opens the three major joints of the hip, knee and ankle.
Performing the turning body stepping method opens and closes the Yin & Yang energy pathways of the lower extremities, as the individual performs the toe in hooking Step this closes the Yin energy pathways located on the inside of the leg which is the Spleen, Liver and Kidney Meridians. But as the three Yin energy pathways close the three Yang energy pathways located on the outside of the leg are opened which are the Stomach, Urinary Bladder and Gall Bladder meridians. As the individual performs the toe out step with the opposite foot and the body weight is taken off the leg the Yin energy pathways are opened and flushed with clean Qi and blood flowing through the entire length of the leg into the foot. This is why the Li Style Taijiquan uses the turning body stepping method extensively throughout its short and long form practice. It’s not just to simply change direction it’s also used to develop flexibility within the lower extremities joints, muscles and ligaments to promote strong blood flow, but to also flush the Yin & Yang energy pathways clean of stagnant Qi blockages that could effect each individuals health and wellbeing.
Within the Li Style Taijiquan as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers who was a senior student to Master Chee Soo the turning body stepping method is also taught on its own as a separate Qigong exercise to his students, preparing them to skilfully perform the turning body stepping method ahead of actually having to perform the movements as part of the taijiquan form. As the turning body stepping method is a characteristic of the Li Style Taijiquan then it is important that students are taught how to perform it skilfully as a Qigong exercise to develop their ability to transition their body weight smoothly and accurately with correct body alignment, co-ordinating with their arms and breathing actions smoothly together.
Because the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is considered to be an internal martial art (Neijiaquan) that emphasises relaxation, pliability and internal power through the body being constantly on the move. Developing whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) within the fighting techniques of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu means that the stepping methods (Bu Fa), hand methods (Shou Fa) and body methods (Shen Fa) have to be fully connected together smoothly to issue full body power and strength into its defensive and offensive techniques. The practitioner of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu learns to apply the Six External Harmonies which are.
- The shoulders align with the hips.
- The elbows align with the knees.
- The Hands align with the feet.
The whole body needs to work together, with the root and start of the movement coming up from the both feet, the power then entering the waist and the connection going through to the both hands. The smoothness of the whole Bodywork is the foundation and goal that every student must learn to develop within their training and fighting techniques. If the hands, feet and waist are mis-timed the whole body will be sluggish and weak and it’s movement will be awkward. An obvious mis-timed movement that can lack power within the defensive or offensive fighting techniques of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu is if the practitioner uses their hands first without moving their feet, whereas they should learn to move their feet first as the hands arrive second, but again it is important that their waist is also involved to skilfully direct the power.
Hand techniques and footwork should work together (Shou Fa Bu Fa Yao Xiang Sui) be it a defensive or offensive fighting method. That is why the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practitioner trains constantly combining their hand techniques with their footwork, hence developing their Six External Harmonies to issue power into their techniques as without power an opponent will not fear you. It is only through a longtime of regular practice that can take many hours, days, weeks, months and even years that the practitioner will begin to develop their Bodywork skilfully enough to issue great power into their fighting techniques, sadly in today’s world not many are willing to put the time and effort into their training to achieve this level .
As with most traditional and some non-traditional martial arts they all contain and practice how to apply fast, practical and effective joint locking techniques to subdue and immobilise an aggressive opponent. These particular joint locking methods can range from applying them from a standing, sitting or lying on the ground position, they can be performed from many types of holds and grips from any direction, they can be applied from punches or kicks as well as from an opponent wielding some type of weapon like a knife for example or a hammer.? Within the Taoist Li Family (Lishi) Chinese internal martial art known as “The Hand of the Wind Boxing” (Feng Shou Quan) there are six sections to study and learn how to skilfully apply joint locking techniques.
- Mis-Placing the Joints .
- Dividing the Tendons
- Separating the muscle.
- Sealing the Blood.
- Sealing the Breath.
- Pressing/Striking Cavities.
To apply any effective type of joint locking method from an aggressive opponent punching or kicking at you asks for the practitioner of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to also have developed their ability to deflect the in-coming blow away and to then stick and adhere (Zhan Nian) to the opponents attacking limb and to then quickly apply a powerful and very painful joint locking technique. At first students are taught firstly to understand the physiology of each particular joint within the human body that can be used to seize and control (Qinna) your opponent. They are taught a wide range of joint locks ranging from fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, hip, knee and ankle locks, these are then taught from various types of holds and grips, they then progress to being taught how to apply these joint locks from a variety of angles against punches and kicks.
Once the practitioner of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu has developed a wide range of various types of joint locking techniques that they can use at any moment. They are then taught to be able to apply these joint locking methods alongside their own striking and kicking techniques. Known in our unique internal martial art as “Striking to Locking” to apply any type of joint lock without using some kind of strike to stun or distract your opponent is a very difficult thing to do, especially against a much bigger and stronger opponent. Using a series of strikes targeting the weaker areas of your opponent gives the practitioner a greater chance to then apply an effective joint lock of some kind to easily subdue or even immobilise the opponent through the pain that it caused by placing pressure against their joints. Obviously like everything that is taught within Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu there are (Yin) passive methods of using joint locking techniques to subdue an opponent to passively calm the situation down or there are (Yang) dynamic methods of joint locking to immobilise the opponent by breaking the joint causing great pain and trauma to the opponent.
Another of the Daoist Kunlun Mountain Schools Qigong forms that is taught by the LFIAA is the “Triple Spitalling Qigong form (San Luo Xuan Gong) this particular Qigong form involves both passive & Vigorous movements that gently open and stretch the muscles, tendons and joints of the whole body increasing the flexibility and mobility of each practitioner. It also involves a few energetic hand mudras (Yin Shou) or shapes like the Sword Fingers Hand Method (Jian Zhi Fa) which is seen being used in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers with this blog. Another hand shape method also performed in the practice of the Triple Spiralling Qigong form is known as the “Plum Blossom Claw Method” (Mei Hua Zhua Fa) which is used to gather the Qi into the energy cavity located in the centre of the palms known as the “Labours Palace” (Lao Gong) and is associated with the pericardium meridian or also known as the Heart protector channel.
Another aspect of the Triple Spiralling Qigong form is that it also combines both linear and circular stepping methods using the “Mud Wading Stepping Method” (Tangnibu Fa) which are obviously combined with hand and arm actions to manipulate both the earth and heaven Qi that passes through everything and everyone. Within certain Daoist temple practices was the method of using circle walking meditation to achieve a trance like state. The. Study and practice of the Triple Spiralling Qigong form also involves this “Circle Walking Meditation” (Huan Bu Jing Xin) to allow the practitioner to gather and harness the Qi around them to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Health -wise the Triple Spiralling Qigong Form will strengthen the individuals circulatory & respiratory systems, soothe their nervous systems, maintain their muscular skeletal strength well into old age helping the individual to slow down the ageing process of the whole body. Wellbeing-wise the regular practice of the Triple Spiralling Qigong movements will gradually develop the individuals ability to relax deeply into themselves, finding a place of stillness and peace. It will also allow them to grow their awareness of being more connected spiritually to their surroundings, meaning nature (Zi Ran) and everyone in it. It will teach them to remain calm when life becomes fast, hectic and some times stressful allowing them to release and disperse negative sickly energy (Qi) that they might have accumulated both physically and emotionally.
I personally believe that regular practice of the Daoist Kunlun Mountain schools Qigong system is a great gift that everyone should learn and practice as it opens many Secret doors (Mi Men) to ourself on a physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual levels that many do not know exists within themselves. It allows you to have a positive tool to combat all the bad stuff that life can throw at you as it effects your own health and wellbeing helping you to live a long independently happy life.