As with many martial art styles and system they all employ kicking methods, some styles only use only a few select methods, while other styles offer a very wide range of kicking methods. Within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu (Hand of the Wind Boxing) there are a numerous amount of kicking techniques to learn and practice, some are just the same as used in other martial art styles and some are rare and unique to the style of Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu such as the Lifting Kick or the Coiling Kick which are taught and practiced within the LFIAA Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu as taught Laoshi Keith Ewers. The Coiling Kicking Method (Chan Ti Fa) is always used in conjunction with strikes, joint locks, takedowns and throwing techniques, the kick can be used to wrap around the opponents lower extremities to trip and throw the opponent to the floor, it can also be used to wrap around the opponents body either from the front or from behind.
As with all the other types of kicking methods that are performed within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Kung Fu they can all be combined together to create a wide range of practical and effective leg techniques. For example once the individual as applied their Coiling Kick against the opponents front leg, they can easily use the same leg to perform a second type of kick to attack the opponents rear leg or groin using such kicking methods as a “Treading Kick”(Tai Ti) or otherwise known as the “Buffer Kick” (Huan Chong Ti) which is what Master Chee Soo used to call it, to attack the opponents rear legs joints causing them to fall to the floor.
Another practical usage for the Coiling Kick is when the individual manages to get behind the back of the opponent and is about to take him to the floor the Coiling Kick can be used to either wrap around one of the opponents legs from behind to trip and throw him forwards to the floor. Or the Coiling Kick can wrap around the waist of the opponent from behind and use their heel to smash into the groin of the opponent causing them to fall onto ground. Obviously the Coiling Kicking Method is a close range Kicking Method and the individual will have to use their striking techniques and skilful stepping methods (Bu Fa) to close the distance between themselves and their opponent to skilfully apply this particular Coiling Kick Method.
In the accompanying photograph that comes with this blog one of our students is seen applying the Coiling Kick in combination with a hand striking method (Shou Fa) to trip and throw the opponent to the ground.
The actual stretching actions that are used in the study and practice of the ancient Chinese’s Daoist Wild Goose Qigong (Dayan Gong) exercise are performed throughout the whole body and not simply the bigger muscles of the back and legs. Stretching within the Wild Goose Qigong Exercise are directed at developing flexibility of the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia, helping to release stiffness, muscle tension, improving blood and Qi circulation, improving relaxation and a feeling of lightness within the body. There are many reasons why each individual can accumulate joint stiffness and muscular tension in their body such as poor posture, bad working conditions, illness or injury. Allowing this stiffness and muscular tension to remain in the body over a long period of time can affect the health of the individual causing blood stasis and Qi blockages which in-turn can lower the individual vitality levels, weakening their guardian energy (Weiqi) and immune system leaving them vulnerable to catching colds or influenza.
Obviously everyday that goes by we as individuals can all accumulate tension and stiffness into our body,s and that is why you must try and practice your Qigong on a daily basis to help release this build up of stiffness and tension into the body which as mentioned above if left over a long period of time to accumulate can then lead to the individual to seriously suffer with various ailments. Regular practice of the Wild Goose Qigong stretching actions can also improve the range of mobility and develop a more balanced emotional state, for example if you have ever suffered with a bad back which causes a lot of pain and discomfort, it can make you feel very old, depressed, irritable, slow and limited in your ability to move around freely or to inter act with your family and friends. So stretching is vitally important in allowing the individual to relax, have the freedom of movement and to nourish the whole body increasing their health and wellbeing.
Wild Goose Qigong Exercise opens and stretches the joints, tendons, muscles of the whole body such as the spinal column, the bigger muscles of the back, but also the arms and legs, it involves and works the core muscles of the body unifying the whole body within its passive and vigorous actions.
Over the many years that I have been studying, practicing and teaching the Chinese’s Internal Martial Arts I have seen many types of individuals come and go. They all want to become skilful within this particular Internal martial art, but when it comes to studying this Internal Kung Fu style they soon realise that they will need plenty of dedication, patience and hard work from themselves to become proficient. Sadly to many fall to the way side and give up after only one or two years of practice., I simply put this down to three reasons.
1). The style that the individual is learning covers to much information for them to handle.
2). Their passion and enthusiasm to learn the style was not truly deep enough in the individual.
3). Life simple gets in the way.
My teacher Master Chee Soo used to say that only one out of a thousand individuals will go on to learn this Internal Kung Fu style. Sadly within this modern, fast and stressful lifestyle that we are living in to many think that they can become skilful within this Internal Martial Art Style in a very short period of time, usually about two or three months. They then become very disappointed and usually stop their training immediately as with everything around them they expect immediate results like fast food,, fast news and a faster pace of life. Sometimes what takes a rather long time to learn and Master can offer each individual a more profound, deeper discipline that can change their whole outlook on life in general to become a more positive, healthier and confident way of living. There are many kinds of benefits that practicing a traditional Chinese Internal Kung Fu style can offer an individual, such as developing their ability to be more assertive and confident in themselves when confronted by an awkward situation were an aggressive individual stands in front of you. This kind of situation could happen in your place of work or at a school or at home.
Studying and practicing a Traditional Chinese Internal Kung Fu style not only allows the individual to become skilful at being able to protect themselves. It also offers them a way of life, so as to go through the struggles and strains that life can sometimes throw at everyone with a more balanced and calm outlook. Another important aspects to the studying of a Traditional Internal Kung Fu Style is its attitude towards developing good health and wellbeing through various breathing methods to cultivate and circulate the Qi, stretching of the muscle, joints and tendons to develop pliability throughout the entire body to release muscle tension and joint stiffness, improving blood flow and a sense of calm and relaxed body and mind. Whereas, the more modern or so called “Mixed Martial Arts” are more concerned about inflicting damage and pain through competitive sport, which means that it can take a heavy toll on the individuals body causing them to suffer with injuries that may be long term and effect the quality of their life.
Another aspect that I have noticed that puts individuals off about studying. a Traditional Internal Kung Fu Style is that there are no medals or trophy’s to be won or going to be given to you because you have been practicing for five or ten or twenty years. The road is long with a many winding road ahead and the only rewards you will receive are personal to the individuals own development and cultivation over the many years that they have been studying. This could be a healthy long life free of illness and still able to move around freely independently of any aids, fit and active. Life offers no guarantees that you will not be attacked in your old age as in your youth the world we live in is also violent and to learn a particular martial art that allows you to grow stronger, healthier, fitter and skilful as each year goes by well into your old age is off great importance to everyone in nowadays as it was when it was first created.
There are many benefits one can receive from the regular practice of the Internal Mind & Body Arts (Neijiaquan) of Taijiquan, Bagua Zhang, Qigong and Gongfu especially as one begins to grow older. Many individuals simply practice either Taijiquan or Qigong purely for the purpose of helping them to attain a sense of relaxation, but all of the Internal Arts that are taught within the LFIAA By Laoshi Keith Ewers offers each individual the ability to attain good health and fitness into their old age, as through the practice of such Internal Arts like Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu or Bagua Zhang for example you are able to perform such actions like balancing on one leg in full control of your body, or having the flexibility and nimbleness to lower your body close to the floor and then rise smoothly into another movement. It is only when you take a closer look at your friends or work colleagues who are of the same age as yourself and realise how much more fitter and flexible you are, then you realise how through the regular practice of either your Taijiquan or Qigong exercises or your Gongfu martial art practice that you begin to understand how it allows you to grow old and still maintain your youthfulness.
Obviously it takes time to develop a discipline that you can practice on a daily basis in the comfort of your own home or in the company of friends in a training hall or in a local park. At first you do not see or feel any difference in yourself other than feeling more relaxed and maybe a bit fitter. But after a few years or so you notice that you don’t seem to fall ill so much and that you sleep deeply at night. It is then that you suddenly look around and notice how much older your friends look and you see then begin to suffer with ailments such as colds, influenza, arthritis, hypertension and having to have a knee or hip replacements. It is only then that you see the benefits of your daily sacrifice to practice your Taijiquan or Qigong that you begin to see the benefits of its study in helping you to remain young in your old age.
There is a saying that “When we are young we spend all of our time making money, while in our old age we are spending the money we earned in our young age to keep us healthy”. But if you are lucky enough to start studying either Qigong or Taijiquan or Gongfu in your young age and can maintain its practice through your life, then you will be able to still live an active and independent lifestyle retaining your youthfulness as you grow older. I personally believe that your health is your own responsibility and no one else’s and if you look after yourself in your young age and can maintain it as you go through your life. Then you will greatly benefit from your sacrifice and discipline to look after yourself in your old age.
Many individuals study the martial arts mainly to defend themselves from bully’s within the work place or school or even at home. Some individuals enter In competitions to win trophy’s and medals or money, but after a few years of practicing stop due to injury or loss of interest or old age? The Chinese Internal Martial Arts of Feng Shou Quan -Gongfu or Bagua Zhang not only places great emphasis on developing the individual ability to skilfully be able to defend oneself from any aggressive situation. But it also places a greater emphasis on maintaining and improving one’s general health and wellbeing to be able to still practice these mind, body & spirit disciplines well into their old age still attaining their youthfulness.
Within the practice of the Yang Style Taiji Straight Sword form and fencing methods are the Wudang thirteen Sword Powers or Methods (Shisan Jian Fa). These thirteen Sword methods are the equivalent to the Taijiquan barehand forms eight gates of Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Lei, Cai, Zhou and Kao and can be found within the practise of the sixteen step Taiji Straight Sword form, which is the first Sword form that students learn before advancing onwards to the thirty two Sword form and then onto the traditional Yang Taiji Sword fifty two posture form. One of the thirteen Taiji Straight Sword Methods is called “Pointing” (Dian) this is were the practitioner uses the tip of the sword to stab the opponents hands, arms, legs neck or body aiming at their muscles, tendons, joints and at a much deeper level the opponents acupuncture cavity’s (Qixue) to disrupt the circulation of Qi within their body which in-turn will harm the functioning of the internal organs (Zangfu).
Using the pointing sword method (Dian Jian Fa) the practitioner should only use the strength of their wrist to apply the technique , no large arm movement is needed, this allows for the pointing method to be applied very quickly and suddenly without telegraphing its usage to the opponent. The pointing method can be applied downwards, upwards or even side wards targeting the opponents hands or arms to disarm their weapon or to cause more serious harm the pointing method can target the body or head. Usually the Taiji Straight Sword pointing method is used defensively as a blocking method used alongside fast, light evasive footwork.
Within the accompanying photo that comes with this blog Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen delivering a downward pointing method from a movement taken from the sixteen step Taiji Straight Sword form. The pointing method can be easily disguised a used alongside other sword techniques like the Stabbing technique (Ci Fa) or the intercepting method (Jie Fa) at anytime the pointing method can be use to target various parts of the opponents body to either quickly disarm them and finish the confrontation without serious harm or obviously to target the more vulnerable areas of the opponents body to finish the confrontation ore seriously.
Alongside the study and practice of the Yang Style Taiji Straight Sword Forms are the two-person Sword fencing training drills that bring each of the thirteen Sword Powers alive by matching them against each other to teach the practitioner how to use their Taiji Sword skilfully both defensively or offensively. When practicing the two-person Taiji Sword training exercises it is best that both students uses a wooden practice Sword (Lian Xi Jian) to help develop their sword skills before using a proper steel Straight Sword. These two-person fencing drills not only teach the thirteen Sword Powers (Shisan Jian Fa) they also teach correct footwork which is vital for any student to become proficient with the Taiji sword.
Me personally I am a great believer in using training equipment like the focus pads or kicking shields to help enhance the student of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to develop and grow their confidence and fighting skill in being able to issue accurate, powerful strikes and kicks at a fast moving target or opponent. Obviously if one is to employ training equipment like the focus pads that they do not turn Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu into another kick boxing type martial were the student has to wear boxing gloves this type of attitude is the wrong way to use the focus pads. In actual fact the use of the focus pads should enhance the students ability to use and express their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu by not wearing any type of protective guards or gloves. But should learn to use the fingers, palms, fists, forearms and elbows to strike with as normal, they should stay true to the style and not change it to boxing or kick boxing.
Learning to use the focus pads or kicking shield allows the student to judge the correct distance to successfully land a typical kick like the foot pattern 4, spinning side kick. Because if you cannot hit the focus pad, chances are you will not be able to hit your opponent or attacker. Another benefit of using training equipment is that it also teaches the student to make the correct contact using the heel of the palm for example, simply performing strikes into the air might help with your co-ordination, but it does not teach you how to issue your power out through the correct part of the hand, plus it does not teach you how to change the angle of palm strike to hit various areas of your attackers body, another example is when a student delivers a palm strike to hit the opponents chin most students will deliver the palm strike with the fingers pointing upwards, once they try and apply this same palm strike on the focus pad they soon realise that their fingers will get in the way and could be bent backwards issuing less force into the opponent,. Whereas, if they slightly change the angle of their palm and fingers to the side they will be able to hit more with the heel of the palm issuing greater power and damage this can only be learnt by striking against a punch bag or focus pads.
There is a stupid attitude within some schools of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu who simply think that practicing the Poison Hand Striking Methods (Du Shou Fa) into the air will be enough for them to successfully stop a much bigger opponent. Until they actually strike against a striking surface like a punch bag or the focus pads will they actually know how weak or strong their strikes are. Simply striking into the air does not develop great confidence in a student to stop an aggressive opponent, but teaching them to use the same striking combinations that they learn and practice within the Poison Hand Striking Sets on the focus pads will teach them more about learning how to deliver a much more heavier strike combination that could stop a much bigger opponent, plus teaching them how to judge the distance between themselves and their opponent and to use the correct type of striking or kicking tool to issue their power (Fa Li) into their opponent.
As with any other type of Chinese external or internal martial art sooner or later the students will have to learn how to hit against a static or moving striking surface to help them further develop their fighting ability. Simply practicing forms alone are not enough to make your Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu become an effective fighting art where the student can issue powerful strikes and kicks successfully at a moving target. There are some teachers who teach more “Art” than the “Martial” within Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu and sadly their students suffer with a lack confidence and belief in their own abilities to use their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practically and effectively.
The Pressing method of the energy Bodywork Massage system as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers and what he was taught by Master Chee Soo can be broken down into three particular methods.
- Pressing In
- Point Pressing
The first method of Pressing is just to simply use the whole palm to press into the muscles of the individual, the practitioner can also use the fist or forearms to apply the Pressing technique to the muscles to break up any tension that may have accumulated due to injury, poor working conditions or lack of exercise. With this particular Pressing method the practitioner mainly learns how to use their body weight to add strength and depth to their Pressing methods to help release muscular tension, obviously due to their practice of qigong the practitioner should be able to bring warmth to the areas of the patients body that they are working on which helps to relax the muscles and allows the tension to be removed.
The second method known as Pressing In allows the practitioner to enter deeply into the interior of the patients body to reach their organs. Obviously this done by the practitioner learning how to connect their own Qi to the patients to help guide and influence the movement of the patients Qi to either gather to tonify to strengthen, or to rise and lower the Qi to move it and improve flow, or to disperse and break up a blockage that has developed over time. Obviously for the practitioner to be able to manipulate the patients energy they will have to be practicing Qigong regularly on a day to day basis to help maintain and strengthen their own development of Qi and the ability to become sensitive to its movement within their own body’s so that they can reciprocate the same sensations within the body of the patient.
The third method of the Pressing method is known as Pressing Points Method (Dian Xue Fa). Here the practitioner can use their fingers, thumbs, various areas of the palm or the whole hand to press into the energy cavities (Qixue) which are located on the Yin & Yang meridians of the patients body to treat both external and internal ailments. Again the emphasis that is taught and encouraged within the Energy Bodywork Massage method of Laoshi Keith Ewers is “Qi first and strength second”. Sadly there are too many practitioners of the Lishi Bodywork Massage system who were taught by Master Chee Soo who simply practice the many massage techniques on a physical level (Waigong) and do not emphasis or work on the energetic or internal (Neigong) level which obviously takes much longer to learn, develop and master.
As my teacher Master Chee Soo always liked to mention to all of his students “The various health, healing, meditative or martial arts that he taught were all connected to each other” this means that the energy cultivation, circulation that one learns from their practice of either taijiquan, Dao yoga or the many Daoyin exercises for health or martial art that are taught, should also be used within the practice and treatment of the Energy Bodywork Massage system so that all of the arts are connected and useful on many levels.
The use of Patting & Striking has been used naturally by humans for thousands of years it is a natural response by everybody during their lifetime to Patting or Strike themselves to invigorate themselves. For example a mother will use gentle Patting on the back of a baby to remove trapped wind, an individual will use Patting or Striking on their leg when they suffer with a “dead leg” feeling to remove the numbness. Over the thousand of years the ancient Chinese Masters realised the importance that Patting & Striking has on benefiting the body towards strengthening, repairing and nourishing it towards good health and long life (Chang Ming). Hence why today we have many variations on the Patting & Striking Qigong forms passed down to us through the ages that many individuals practice on their own or alongside other disciplines like taijiquan, yoga or meditation.
Patting involves the use of the fingers and palms to send vibrations into the muscles, tendons and joints, the vibrations that are sent shallow or deeply into the body help to break up muscle tension and joint stiffness, it can help to remove blood stagnation and Qi blockages that have accumulated due to lack of exercise, poor health, injury or old age. Patting can be used to affect the immune system and give it a boost, it can also sooth the nervous system, cleanse the digestive system and invigorate the cardiovascular, respiratory systems. Energetically Patting & Striking can help to strengthen the guardian energy of the body (Wei Qi) to fight off external pathogens like cold, heat, wing, dampness and dryness that can attack the body and cause illnesses.
Striking involves the use of the finger tips and closed fist to Strike the muscles and tendons again to send a strong shocking force deeply into the body to treat various ailments. Whereas Patting mainly targets the Yin & Yang meridians, Striking is used to target the Qi cavities (Qixue) which are considered to be gates that allow the Qi to exit and enter the body, Striking or Patting the meridians and Qi cavity’s help to disperse sickly energy (Bing Qi) out off the body and allow the clear energy (Qing Qi) to flow stronger. Patting & Striking Qigong can obviously can be performed regularly on its own or it can be used to compliment other practice like either taijiquan, yoga or meditation as I have already mentioned above as a method of warming up or cooling down after a strenuous workout.
Many individuals practice some style of qigong or Taiji or yoga as a way to help them relax and improve their health and wellbeing. But not many individuals will add Patting or Striking Methods to their own qigong exercises as a way to strengthen, repair and nourish their body to increase their flow of Qi and essences (Jing) to achieve good health and long life (Chang Ming). There is nowhere on the body that you cannot use Patting to disperse muscle tension, remove blood stagnation and Qi blockages, Patting can involve the use of the fingers and palm of the hand to use either a light tapping/patting force or you could use a more heavier force that sends a deeper shocking force to penetrate the interior of the body to treat both external and internal diseases. Whereas, the Striking method which involves the use of the finger tips, little finger edge of the palm or a closed fist shape to again Strike the body using a light force or to use a heavier force to penetrate deeply into the muscles to break up blood stasis or Qi stagnation.
Patting and Striking Methods have been used naturally by everyone for thousands of years, for example a mother will gently pat the back of a baby to help the baby release trapped wind, another example is for an individual to Strike the chest of an individual who’s heart has suddenly stopped working as a way to shock it back into working again, yet another example is when you suffer with a dead leg feeling your immediate reaction is to Strike the muscles of the same leg to try to regain feeling within the muscles of the leg. So the ancient Chinese realised the benefits of Patting and Striking and their affects on the body to help strengthen the health and to help heal and treat many types of ailments. Patting and Striking can be used to boost the immune system, sooth the nervous system, cleanse the digestive system, invigorate the circulatory & respiratory systems, energetically it strengthens the guardian Qi (Wei Qi ) by bringing the individuals own Qi to the surface of the body to help fight against external pathogens attacking the body like cold, heat, wind, dampness, dryness.
Patting and Striking Qigong can be used alongside other disciplines to compliment them by being used to gently warm up the body before performing a more strenuous type workout or it can also be used as a gentle warm down. Studying and practicing the Patting and Striking Qigong form can also involve both passive and vigorous movements that stretch and open the joints of the body to invigorate the Qi and blood circulation. Patting is used mainly to target the Yin & Yang meridians (Jingluo) of the entire body to disperse any sickly energy (Bing Qi) that may have accumulated within some of the channels, whereas, Striking Methods are mainly used to target the energy cavities (Qixue) which are considered to be a gate for the energy to enter and exit out of the entire body, so Striking the Qi cavities allows the individual to tonify or boost the Qi within the meridian that the Qi cavity is located on, which in-turn will nourish the internal organ that the meridian is connected to.
Within the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan short form there is both the Single Whip (Dan Bian Shi) and Double Whip (Shuang Bian Shi) postures performed. The sSingle Whip Posture involves a bent wrist claw shaped right hand with the four fingers and thumb touching lightly to close the energy cavity’s within the centre of the palm which are the pericardium meridian point 8 (Laogong/Labour Palace) located in the centre of the palm and the Heart meridian point 8 (Shaofu/Lesser Palace) located on the little finger edge of the palm. Not only does the claw shaped hand close the energy points it also gathers the Qi in the hand as the five fingers slowly come together and touch lightly with the wrist tailed. The opposite left hand has the wrist dropped so that the palm stands upright with the five fingers gently stretched and apart from each other. The tigers mouth (Hu Kou) the space between the index finger and thumb should be rounded and open to allow the large intestine meridian point 4 (Hegu/ Joining the Valley) to remain open allowing the Qi to flow smoothly into the hand.
The drooping of the fingers and the raised wrist of the right claw shaped hand opens the Triple Warmer Meridian point 5 known as the outer gate (Waiguan) located on the outside of the wrist about to inches below the crease of the wrist, while at the same time closes the Pericardium Meridian point 6 known as the inner gate (Neiguan) located on the inside of the wrist again about two inches below the crease of the wrist. Whereas the opposite effect happens with the left hand with the outer gate (Waiguan) being closed and the inner gate (Neiguan) kept open.
The stance that is used by many practitioners of the Li/Lee (Lishi) Taijiquan when they perform the Single Whip Posture (Dan Bian Shi) is the Riding Horse Stance (Mabu Shi). This particular stance is a double weighted posture which means the practitioner has to readjust they body weight before moving into the next posture of the form, whereas within the Li/Lee (Lishi) Style Taijiquan that is taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers of the LFIAA individuals are taught to use a Leopard Stance (Bao Shi) which allows them to place their body weight onto their left leg which in-turn helps to strengthen the flow of Qi into the left side of the whole body. As one side of the body becomes full (Shi) the opposite side of the body becomes empty (Xu), this then allows the individual practitioner to transition their body weight smoothly from one posture into another without having to add any readjustments to their movements which could cause them to pause or hesitate their movements, which should be kept slowly moving at an even speed.
Another slight variation that is also performed by some practitioner when doing the Li/Lee Style Taijiquan Single Whip Posture is that some individuals stick their both arms out stiffly to both sides, causing their chest to rise and their shoulder blades to close trapping the Qi up in the chest and not allowing it to sink downwards into the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian). Whereas the both arms should be held in front of the body in a rounded shape allowing for the upper back to rise and open and the chest to hollow and sink allowing for the Qi to sink into the lower Dantian to gather and store.