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.