In 2002 I had the opportunity to go to China for two weeks and study advanced Bodywork Massage (Tui Na) and Medical Qigong at the Xi Yuan Hospital of Traditional Chinese’s Medicine, Beijing, China. Each day would begin with early morning Bodywork Massage work in the doctors clinic which started at 7am until 12pm were we would be asked to give many patients a kind of warm up massage to help them relax and stimulate their blood and Qi circulation before they were treated by the doctor herself. Some times there would be up to fifty patients or more each morning that the female Chinese doctor (Yi Sheng) would treat with many types of ailments. Then in the afternoon we would then have a Bodywork Massage Course with various Chinese doctors who would then teach us how to use a variety of massage techniques to treat a wide range of ailments.
During some afternoons after we had worked in the treatment clinic during the morning actually working with sick patients and having the opportunity to see a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine work on a patient using some times Bodywork Massage (Tui Na), or Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy to treat them. We were then taught a Chinese Medical Qigong exercise called “Guigen Qigong” which actually means “Returning to the Source or Root” which was created by Dr Xu Hongtao of the Xi Yuan Hospital. The Guigen Qigong is a Five Element Form Exercise that as an opening form and then five other forms that connect to the Stomach/Spleen, Heart/Small Intestine, Kidneys/Urinary Bladder, Lungs/Large Intestine and Liver/Gall Bladder Internal organs and meridians.
Each of the Guigen Qigong Five Element forms are full of information and involve a lot of movements for eCh individual to learn and practice. They are a great compliment to those who practice and study the Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) in both helping to cultivate your own energy to help maintain your own health and wellbeing, plus to develop your Qi sensitivity and awareness as it moves within yourself and how to connect to your patients own Qi to help treat they ailments. In the accompanying photo Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen perform the Heart/Small Intestine Guigen Qigong Exercise.
As we all should know the practice of any taiji qigong exercise should be performed as slowly as possible, especially for the maintenance of health and wellbeing. It can take a lot of time and practice for any individual to gradually begin to slow down their taiji qigong exercises to the point that each particular exercise becomes more drawn out , with the duration of the exercise lasting several minutes rather than a few seconds. Obviously for any individual to reach this level of taiji qigong practice means that a few other skills need to be developed, such as their ability to lengthen their breathing using long, slow, deep, smooth and silent breathing inwards and outwards through the nose. Secondly their ability to lengthen their concentration and not let their mind become distracted with other thoughts entering their. Mind.
It is the individuals skilful control of their breathing that dictates the speed of their taiji qigong actions, as the breathing and movements should be in time with each other. So learning to breath deeply into their lower Dantian (Elixir Field) located behind the navel takes a long time to perfect as many individuals breath shallow into the top half of their lungs. Learning to develop a still and quiet mind is properly the hardest thing that any taiji qigong student as to learn, as many individuals never learn to achieve this state of mind and they either give up on their taiji qigong exercise or they simply race through their exercises with no mind & body connection.
Lao Zi in his Daodejing says can you remain Still, while the Mud settles. Meaning can you allow your mind to remain calm, clear and still and not allow your thoughts to Muddy the mind. To some this might be an easy task when they are simply practicing just one particular taiji qigong exercise. But it becomes more difficult to achieve when you are practicing a longer sequence of exercises that are all connected together as some individuals have a tendency to speed up which is an obvious sign that their concentration as been disrupted and they are no longer in control.
Many individuals practice the taiji qigong exercises for many reason, but sadly not many aim to deepen their practice by “Seeking the Stillness within the Movement” many are simply happy to just practice their exercises to just try and relax and not concerned at all about cultivating the Qi towards entering into the meditative state by quieting the mind to achieve serenity (Jingping).
For any individuals who are interested in studying and practicing the Li/Lee (Lishi) Energy Bodywork Massage System as passed on to us by Master Chee Soo should make sure that they begin to practice and develop a good Qigong discipline, that allows them to not only cultivate their energy (Qi) for good health and wellbeing, but more importantly to be able to develop an abundance of Qi within the hands which can then connect, guide & lead the patients own Qi to help treat many internal diseases. As each individual performs their Qigong practice, it is important that they develop their awareness to sense the movement of the Qi within themselves as they perform their movements. For example as you slowly lift your both hands up the front of your body and above your head, can you actually begin to feel the raising of the Qi as you lift your body and hands upwards. Obviously it can take a lot of practice over a period of many weeks and months before an individual begins to actually feel their Qi rise upwards, as if you cannot feel your own Qi move inside yourself, then how are you going to be able to connect, sense and feel the movement of the patients Qi inside themselves
To many people concentrate all of their efforts on practicing the many Massage techniques that are involved within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage System (Tui Na Qigong) and do not spend the same amount of time and effort in developing their own Qi. Simply practicing the massage techniques only is just an external practice that will only allow the individual to treat some musculoskeletal ailments, but will not allow them to treat any internal ailments that lay deep inside the patients body like blood clots, tumours and Qi blockages that need to be dispersed.
By practicing and developing a good Qigong practice alongside the practice of the many Lishi massage techniques can an individual then have a balanced method of healing. As through their ability to connect their own Qi with that of the patients Qi can they then be able to move the patients Qi in any direction inside their own body to treat a wide range of ailments. It is like a reciprocal practice as you the individual begins to connect and move the patients Qi by either raising or lowering it, they too will also begin to feel the same sensation inside of themselves. Because it is the individuals Qi that is moving by guiding & leading ( Daoyin) the patients Qi.
My teacher Master Chee Soo mentioned that there were over 150 foot patterns (Kicking Methods) to practice and master within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system. Today many of Master Chee Soo’s senior students still only allow their own students to practice these particular foot patterns as an exercise to develop their students fitness, agility and flexibility. Sadly they are not taught how to be able to actually use these foot patterns (Kicking Methods) in conjunction with their defensive or offensive hand methods. Usually for example a student would be taught how to perform a certain type of foot pattern, such as a round kick, followed by a turning back heel hooking kick that involves the use of both legs to apply the kick. The Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu System as taught by Master Chee Soo would call this Kicking method as explained above as a “Foot Pattern twenty eight”. Once the student as learnt how to perform the foot pattern twenty eight kicking method, but rather than learning how to apply this particular kicking method, they would then be taught how to defend against it.
Surely once you have learnt a particular foot pattern like the foot pattern twenty eight, you would then like to know how to apply the kicking method in combination with your hand methods (Shou Fa) against an opponent as seen in the accompanying video that is attached with this blog of Laoshi Keith Ewers applying the foot pattern twenty eight kick with both defensive and offensive hand methods to a fast takedown. All of the many foot pattern methods that there are to be learnt and practiced in the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu should be used alongside your strikes, joint locks, takedowns and throwing techniques. They should not be taught or practiced simply as an exercise without developing the skill in how to effectively apply them, as all of this wonderful information that we have becomes useless because we lack the skill and understanding on how to practically use them all.
In my own opinion the reason why so many students only perform the foot patterns as an exercise is because it is easy. Whereas, learning to connect them with the defensive or offensive hand methods takes a lot of dedicated practice and a lot of patience and time to be able to smoothly and skilfully combine these many foot patterns methods into a practical, effective fighting techniques. This fascinating and unique Chinese internal martial art will only release its many hidden secrets when you begin to learn how to connect all the areas of your fighting methods together in a wonderful amount of variations that are beautiful and amazing.
In the study and practice of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system there are many Seizing & Grasping Methods (Qin Na Fa) that are practiced which can then be applied alongside striking & kicking techniques . But to make the many Seizing & Grasping Methods that a student can learn and more importantly how to make them more practical and effective, then each student of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu must then learn how to take the assailant to the ground quickly and efficiently using a variety of joint locking techniques that are Combined with strikes, leg sweeps and trips that off balances the assailant to be taken down to the ground were they can be then immobilised and subdued on the ground in a variety of positions.
Ultimately it is much safer for the student of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu to decide to engage an assailant and bring them to the ground were they can be subdued, captured, rather than leaving them to remain standing were they could possibly continue their assault. Obviously to decide to apply a “takedown technique” (Jiao Huo Fa) means that the student must enter with a series of striking and kicking techniques that cause pain to allow the student to set up a particular joint lock that can then be used to quickly to take the assailant down. The student must be confident in their ability to skilfully apply their takedowns by having as many contact areas with the assailant to make sure that they have full control.
Takedowns can be used to passively to immobilise or subdue an assailant on the ground in a variety of positions, this is ok if you are attacked by just one assailant. But some times you could be attacked by more than one assailant, so to apply a passive takedown method is not going to really work, in this fast and changing situation your takedowns must be combined with finishing strikes and kicks that are designed to hurt the assailant once you have taken them down onto the ground, allowing you to then defend against the other assailants who are closing in quickly. Another option that you have by applying a fast takedown against multiple assailants is that you can use each assailant to trip and fall over each other by projecting them into each other which can gain you vital seconds to escape.
learning how to efficiently apply takedown methods is a vital important skill that every student of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu should learn to acquire. Simply learning around three or five takedowns methods that can be accompanied with both defensive and offensive hand & leg Work is all a student really needs to defend themselves. Again they all need to be trained against different scenarios, such as punches, kicks holds and of cause against weapons.