My teacher Master Chee Soo called the “Pulling Qi Exercises” that are practiced in certain Taiji Qigong styles as the “Daoist Wand” (Daojia Mo Zhang) Methods. What exactly do I mean by “Pulling Qi Exercises” well nearly everyone who has studied Taiji Qigong would have been taught various exercises on how to feel, listen and sense the movement of their own energy (Qi) as it moves inside themselves, usually everyone is taught the basic exercise of “Pulling Qi” by pointing their both palms towards each other and slowly begin to pull their both hands apart from each other and to then slowly push both hands towards each other, as the individual pulls both hands apart they inhale, when the both hands are pushed towards each other the individual exhales, co-ordinating the breathing and movements together. This is then repeated for a few minutes until the individual begins to feel warmth or heat being generated in the both palms, or a sense of tingling in the fingers this is a very basic sensation that many beginners should feel. A more developed sense of Qi sensitivity that the individual should try and feel as they pull & push their both hands should be a feeling of a magnetic ball developing in the space between their both hands, as the individual pushes his both hands towards each other they should feel a slight resistance between the both palms and when the individual pulls the both palms apart they should feel like the stretching of an elastic band. This feeling of the magnetic Qi ball should feel very strong and tangible.
The next stage is to then practice the “Pulling Qi Exercises” with a training partner. A typical exercise that Laoshi Keith Ewers teaches to his Taiji Qigong students is seen in the accompanying photo with this blog. The training partner will simply hold out one hand in front of themselves, while the individual will then place his or her both hands either side of the training partners hand, then the individual begins to slowly pull & push his or her both hands away and towards the training partners out stretched hand, co-ordinating their breathing with the Pulling and pushing action of their both hands. After a few minutes the training partner should then begin to experience certain sensations like warmth and heat on the front and back of their hand, they might even begin to experience a sensation of pressure developing around the whole of their hand.
Obviously, each individual should be regularly practicing their Taiji Qigong exercises to help strengthen and to cultivate their own energy (Qi) development for their health and wellbeing. Plus to also begin to develop their own awareness and sensitivity to listen and sense the movement of their Qi throughout their entire body, only then should individuals be taught the “Pulling Qi Exercises” or as my teacher Master Chee Soo called them the “Daoist Wand Methods” (Daojia Mo Zhang Fa). Over the many years I have seen to many beginners be introduced to these particular Pulling Qi Exercises for which there are many of to early in their Taiji Qigong training. The Pulling Qi Exercises I believe should be only taught to students after at least one or two years of Taiji Qigong practice.
Please don’t think that the Pulling Qi Exercises are taught only in the Taiji Qigong System they are also taught throughout the whole of the Li/Lee family Internal Arts including the Energy Bodywork Massage and Gongfu systems. In the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu System it is important that the student practices their martial qigong (Wu Gong) Exercises to guide and lead their Qi into their extremities, they should develop a strong sensation of Qi in their hands so that when they strike or crush (Dian Xue) the opponents energy cavity’s (Qixue) their own Qi is then issued deeply into the opponent body to disrupt the opponents Qi flow causing great damage internally to their organs.
Irrespective of what particular style of energy work (Qigong) you practice it is purely down to the quality of the connection between your concentration (Yi Intention), your physical movement and breathing methods (Xi Fa) that will allow the individual to manipulate the circulation of Qi within themselves. Sadly to many individuals simply place all of their effort on just learning the physical movements of their Qigong style, just simply moving from one posture into the next until you reach the end of the form is not quality Qigong practice. It is simply a lazy standard of practice that will not cultivate any energy, as there is no intention on trying to connect and feel the Qi within themselves and be guided by its movement.
It is only through good quality Qigong practice by the individual paying great attention to the co-ordination of their breathing and movement together, which focuses the intention (Yi) to then connect to the body, to then connect to the Qi and for the Qi to then connect and harmonise with your strength (Li). Your physical movements must involve rising, lowering, opening, closing, expanding and contracting to help guide and lead (Daoyin) your Qi in any direction inside your body and for the individual to gradually begin to develop their sensitivity to listen and feel their Qi as it moves around the whole body. Obviously there are certain sensations that each individual should begin to feel as their Qi begins to grow in strength and starts to mobilise itself inside of themselves. Sensations like warmth, heat, tingling a feeling of fullness, heaviness or lightness are also good signs of Qi movement.
It is only through dedicated and disciplined practice with the emphasis on quality, accurate practice of your Qigong exercise that each individual will then begin to receive the health related benefits that all of their hard work (Gongfu) and effort will then produce. As you can also practice Qigong but pay no attention to quality practice and instead of feeling strong with plenty of vitality, peaceful and calm inside you are still stressed and get tired quickly as your energy levels don’t seem to improve and you remain just the same as when you began your Qigong practice.
As with everything there is a correct way to study and practice and there is also an incorrect way to practice and sadly to many seem to take the more easier route to practice Qigong which sadly is sometimes the incorrect way. Hence there is no Qi development as they pay to much attention to just practicing the physical movements.
Many individuals who study and practice Massage, especially those who use acupressure methods which involves the action of pressing or rubbing a particular energy cavity (Qixue) located along a certain acupuncture meridian or channel (Jingluo) to stimulate or sedate the flow of Qi flowing through that particular channel to treat many types of illnesses such as headaches, migraines, toothache etc. The Pressing points methods (Dianxue Fa) which are practiced and taught within the LFIAA Tuina Qigong System involve not just using one finger of each hand to press into a certain energy cavity, it also involves using at least three fingers of each hand to press into multiple energy cavity’s at the same time. As the use of the fingers to press into a patients energy points or cavity’s can be used to replace the usage of a needle as used in acupuncture.
Today many Massage practitioners use Acupressure techniques by using their fingers to press into a patients energy cavity’s hoping that the actually physical pressing into the energy cavity will do the trick in treating the patient for a particular ailment. When in actual fact it should be the practitioners own skill to immediately, when pressing into the patients energy cavity be able to connect to the patients own Qi with their own, like a magnet drawing metal filings to it. Once the practitioner as made a good connection to the patients Qi with their own and can sensitively feel the patients Qi through their own sense of touch with their finger or fingers can they then begin to treat the patients ailment by manipulating the patients energy by guiding it along the meridian or channel to either rise, lower, gather, enter or exit out of the body.
To successfully use the Acupressure techniques of Pressing into Points methods ( Dianxue Fa) to treat a wide range of ailments. A practitioner of the Lishi Tuina Qigong System as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers must regularly practice “Energy Guiding & Leading Exercises” or ( Daoyin Fa) to develop their ability to become sensitive to the movement of Qi within themselves before they are allowed to use any Pressing Point method on a patient as part of the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage System. A great emphasis is placed on the principle of “Qi first and Strength Second” by Laoshi Keith Ewers when he teaches the Energy Bodywork Massage System as taught and passed onto him By Master Chee Soo. To many practitioners place to much emphasis on the physical or strength side of their massage techniques rather than developing their ability to build their own Qi strength to then be able to sensitively connect and guide & lead the patients Qi through their skilful touch in any direction within the patients body that they need to move it, so as to treat their particular ailment. As seen in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers treating a patient using the Pressing Point Technique (Dianxue Fa) using his both thumbs to press into Kidney 1 Gushing Spring Points (Yongquan) to treat low energy levels, tiredness, fatigue or hypotension low blood pressure.
Once the thumbs have been pressed into the Gushing Spring Points Laoshi Keith Ewers will then develop a good connection to the patients Qi with his own Qi and he would begin to guide & lead the patients energy towards their own head, raising their Qi upwards through their body where the patient would then experience certain sensations which Laoshi Keith Ewers would tell them before treatment begins.
As the individual gradually develops their Li/Lee style taijiquan form practice, becoming more accurate and precise with their actions on both sides of the body. Emphasising the opening, closing of the joints and the rising and sinking of the whole body, connecting each of the movements and postures together in a slow , smooth and continuous motion. The next stage of development is to then “Seek the Circle within the Straight” what is exactly meant by this comment, well as we all know the practice of taijiquan should be circular in its actions, meaning that the individual should create small and large circles all interchanging sizes that blend from one into the other. When a beginner performs their taijiquan movements their actions are very linear with very sharp and harsh angles as they change direction, whereas a very good skilful practitioner will use circular actions that blend smoothly together, interchanging from one into the other even as they change their direction in a continuous movement.
There are many subtle levels to the practice of taijiquan in general. But I personally place students and individuals into three levels (San Deng) obviously the first level is the basic or foundation (Jiben Deng) level for which everyone starts from and what we would call the beginners level. At this stage individuals are struggling with remembering the movements and their actions are stop/ start, very stiff with no flow. The next level is the intermediate stage (Zhong Deng) this is an individual who has been studying and practicing for over two years or more. They are very confident in following the correct order of each Of the taijiquan postures and have the ability to connect and flow with their actions. But their movements are still very linear with sharp angle of changes of direction, no awareness of continuous circular movements. The third stage of development is the (Sheng Deng ) or high level, this is someone who has been studying and practicing for over ten years or more and their actions are totally circular with small and large circles and vice-versa all naturally blending smoothly into each other. There are no linear or straight line movements and no sudden sharp angles of change that make their actions look stiff, but their whole body actions are circular in everything they do.
To many individuals of the Li/Lee style taijiquan seem to get stuck in what I call the Middle Level (Zhong Deng) of development. They know the correct order of the taijiquan form and it’s postures and are quite happy to simply practice their taijiquan form moving from one posture into the other until they complete the form. Sadly they do not seem to spend enough time on perfecting the quality of each movement as they move from one posture into the other. Too many are using straight line movements with harsh changes of direction that do not blend various size circles naturally together in a smooth action. The taijiquan classics say that the waist (Yao) works the lower back and core muscles, whereas, the arms, shoulders should work the upper back and chest area. The waist turns horizontally in a circle and the shoulders should turn in vertical circles, hence why each individual should be Seeking the Circles within the Straight.
Gradually over the many years that I have been studying and practicing the Li/Lee style taijiquan I have sadly seen it become a more weaker, watered down, an easy to learn version of taijiquan. Nobody seems to follow any of the taijiquan classics as guide lines to help them on how to perform their Li/Lee taijiquan at a much higher and skilful manner, but they seem to rather self interpret what they think the movements of the Li/Lee style taijiquan should be and hence the style becomes watered down and much easier to learn. Good taijiquan practice should not have any straight lines or sudden changes of direction that involve ninety degree angles, but should involve circular movements in all of its actions.
Over the many years that I have been studying, teaching and practicing the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu Internal Martial Art System I have noticed that not many practitioners of this Kung Fu style seem to talk about or demonstrate any ground fighting methods (Di Zhan Fa) that are part of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu style. My teacher Master Chee Soo would teach a variety of ground fighting methods ranging from learning how to use your legs to block, kick and bind your opponents limbs to bring them to the floor, usually he would perform this from the main Feng Shou-Kung Fu ground fighting stance known as the “Drunkard Posture” (Zui Han Shi) as seen in the accompanying photo with this blog. Obviously there are many more such stances that are used to defend oneself other than just using the Drunkard Stance, such as the low Leopard Stance (Bao Shi) or the Frog Stance (Wa Shi) etc.
Today most modern martial arts such as MMA mainly use Wrestling techniques with some striking from the floor, but they use very little kicking methods. Plus, usually the ground fighting techniques that are performed in MMA are used when one of the fighters as been knocked to the floor and the opponent then follows them to the floor. Whereas in the ground fighting methods of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu not only can we defend ourselves from being knocked to the floor by using kicking, striking, wrestling and throwing methods. We can also use certain fighting techniques to actually bring the opponent to the ground at the same time were we can then continue our attack by using strikes, kicks or joint locking techniques to subdue or immobilise the opponent.
As for the development of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu to many practitioners seem to only concentrate on the fighting methods that are performed from a standing position and do not place the same amount of emphasis on learning to defend from the ground, which there is always a possibility that if may happen due to many reasons. A fully balanced and all round martial art should also include ground fighting methods alongside its upright fighting and weapon training methods. I personally look at the Feng Shou-Kung Fu ground fighting methods as a backup to the possibility of having to either take the opponent to the floor or because I have slipped or have been knocked to the floor and I still need to defend myself as the opponent continues their aggressive attacks.
In the traditional Chinese martial arts there are three fighting levels or basins (San Pen Zi) that each individual as to be proficient in, the high level position it includes blocking, evasions, striking, kicking including aerial kicks. The middle level position also involves blocks, evasion, strikes, kicks plus takedowns. The lower level position involves kicks, strikes, takedowns using binding techniques which are performed from the ground. Sadly within the Feng Shou-Kung Fu the lower level ground fighting methods seems to be lacking in its development with some of its practitioners, but within the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers the ground fighting methods are still being taught and developed to make Feng Shou-Kung Fu become an all round balanced Internal Martial Art.
One of the most important taijiquan classics I believe is the quote ” That if one part moves, everything moves. If one part stops, everything stops”. The reason why I mention this, is that I have noticed that within the Li/Lee style taijiquan many individuals seem to only keep one arm moving, while the other seems to stop, and in the practice of taijiquan everything has to be constantly moving. Whereas in the Li/Lee style taijiquan first and second ” Brush the Knee & Side Step” Posture taken from the short form, many individuals seem to only move the front hand, while the rear hand remains static. If we return to the taiji classic that I mentioned above, then really if one part of the body become non-active then the whole body must stop its movement, as not all of the body is fully connected, which means the body has become isolated.
There are many individuals who are both teaching and practicing the Li/Lee style taijiquan form today and really do not follow any guiding principles to help them connect their whole body movements together in a smooth, accurate and unified order. For example as I have already mentioned above, they seem to do isolated movements were one part of the body is moving, while the rest of the body becomes static. There does not seem to be any understanding about maintaining movement throughout the whole body all of the time until they finish the form and return back to “Stillness”.
The movement of the hands and arms should be guided by the turning of the waist. Many individuals who perform the “Brush Knee & Side Step” Posture do not use their waist to guide their arms, but rather keep their waist rigid and move their arms in an isolated action separate from the rest of the whole body. Another Taiji classic says that the whole bodies joints should be smoothly linked together like a “String of Pearls” simply moving one arm separately from the rest of the body is not linking the joints of the whole body together like a sString of Pearls nor can you call it quality taijiquan.
The purpose for linking the whole body’s movements together while being guided by the waist allows for the blood and Qi to be smoothly circulated throughout the entire body. As all parts are linked and moving together. Whereas, if you have isolated movements while the rest of the body remains static, how does this allow for the blood and Qi to be circulated smoothly around the entire body when the greater part of the body has stopped moving. Sadly to many individuals perform the Li/Lee style taijiquan because they think it is easier to learn and so they can pick up the movements quickly, they seem not to follow any of the guiding principles laid down by the Taiji Classics like other taijiquan practitioners of other styles seem to do. Hence why there seems to be such problems like “Double Weighted ” stances, isolated arm movements not linked to the rest of the body, no emphasis of using the waist to lead the arms & legs etc. Over-al this just leads to a very low standard of the Li/Lee style taijiquan in general, as individuals just seem to follow each other like sheep and do not question their actions by following the principles of the Taiji Classics.
Another aspect to the study and practice of the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu is to be able to connect your energy (Qi) with your Strength (Li). This is part of the Six Internal Harmony theory (Nei Liuhe) that every Internal Martial Arts practitioner must learn and skilfully acquire if their defensive and offensive fighting methods are going to be effective enough to defend themselves. Firstly every student must regularly practice the Martial Qigong (Wu Gong) like the “Basic Four Corner Blocking Qigong Exercise” (Jiben Si Jiao Zu Gong Fa) that is taught within the structure of the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu training syllabus, at first they must learn to perform the exercises slowly, co-ordinating their breathing and movements together to allow their Intention (Yi) to connect to their body (Xing) and secondly for their Intention (Yi) to connect to their energy (Qi). Obviously they need to perform each exercise slowly to develop their awareness and sensitivity of the movement of their Qi as it begins to flow throughout their bodies, they should begin to experience sensations like tingling, heat or warmth, a feeling of fullness, heaviness, lightness and even movement as the Qi flows along a limb or raises and lowers inside the body.
My teacher Master Chee Soo always mentioned that for a complete beginner to be able to feel their own Qi, at least take up to twelve months of practice before they began to feel warmth or tingling in their limbs. Again the more the individual can spend practicing their Four Corner Blocking Qigong Exercises the quicker they will be able to cultivate and mobiles their Qi. At first every student should practice the Four Corner Blocking Qigong slowly until they experience the sensations of Qi movement inside of themselves, once they can experience the Qi moving inside and can activate it quickly into their limbs, then the next stage is to then connect their Qi with their Strength (Li).
In the accompanying video that comes with this blog Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen performing the “Moving Four Corner Blocking Qigong Exercise” (Dong Si Jiao Zu Gong Fa) with issuing energy (Fajing) allowing his Qi to connect with his Strength (Li) to create whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) both in his defensive and offensive fighting techniques. This particular stage of Martial Qigong practice must not be practiced until the student can actually feel and sense their Qi move inside of themselves, as the exercise will just become a physical practice and not an Internal/External Yin & Yang harmonising together practice.
Today within the world wide community of the many Feng Shou-Kung Fu individual, clubs and associations that represent the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu Style as taught by Master Chee Soo. Sadly to many simply place their concentration on learning and practicing the striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques. Rather than spending the same amount of time cultivating their energy (Qi) and strength (Li) development through the correct practice of their Feng Shou-Kung Fu Martial Qigong practice which delivers their power source not only to their fighting techniques but to their over-al health and wellbeing..
I hope you all enjoy.