The study and practice of all Chinese internal martial arts involves the development of two individual practices. Firstly the practice of energy cultivation and circulation (Neigong) both for the purpose of strengthening the connections between the mind & body, health maintenance and the development of internal power source for martial arts usage. The second method of development within the internal martial arts is the external or (Waigong) which is building and strengthening of our fitness, flexibility, tendon and muscular strength. For many within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu they seem to spend more time practicing and developing their external (Waigong) side of their training, rather than equally spending the same amount of time also developing their internal (Neigong) training side. Basically within the study of the Chinese internal martial arts they consider the internal training development as (Yin) and the external training development as (Yang), so to bring the body & mind into complete balance and harmony in the study and practice of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu each practitioner must be equally practicing both the internal & external aspects.
For many individuals who are studying and practicing the Feng Shou-Kung Fu within many of the association and organisations that promote this particular Chinese internal martial art. It seems that not many have developed a strong internal energy cultivation practice that can be taught to their students to develop their internal cultivation alongside their external practices. Sadly to many teachers only teach their students maybe one or two martial guiding and leading exercises (Daoyin) ever to their students and usually these two particular exercises are the “Four Position Breathing Exercise” or the “Five Lotus Blossom Breathing Exercise” sadly these two Exercise are not enough for any student to strongly cultivate their Qi. Students need a more complete practice that involves a series of exercises that they can perform on a daily basis to strengthen their health, promote Qi circulation and martial power.
Within the LFIAA students are taught the “Eight Standing Post Qigong Methods” (Ba Zhan Zhuang Gong Fa) which are a series of eight exercises using such stances such as the Bear, Dragon and Cat each involves stretching movements that not only help to develop each persons joint, muscle, tendon flexibility they are also used in conjunction with the breathing and concentration to guide & lead the Qi into the extremities. Once students are taught the Eight Standing Post Qigong Exercises they are expected to maintain it’s practice on a daily basis to develop their mind, body connections, plus their Qi strength for health & wellbeing as without it they will not be able to study and develop this unique Chinese internal martial art.
In the above photo that accompany this blog Shifu Garry Owen is seen practicing one of the Eight Standing Post Qigong exercises which are performed on both sides to promote both energy and blood flow, whole body flexibility & strength. The exercise can be practiced either as a static “Standing Stake” exercise or as a “Moving” practice. It is important that all practitioners and students of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu study and practice both the internal & external disciplines equally, simply practicing two breathing exercise only when you attend your class is really not developing your internal practice.
The true usefulness of the practical application of the Poison Hand Striking Methods is in its ability to change and adapt its striking tools. As it is the angle of attack that is the most important and not the striking tool applied, for example in the very first Poison Hand Striking Set the actual striking methods taught are a downward splitting palm strike (Pi Zhang) alongside two linear spear palm (Qiang Zhang) strikes which can be applied at various heights of attack. But these three striking methods could also be delivered using the same angles of attack, but using different striking tools, such as a vertical downward chopping palm (Kan Zhang) alongside two straight punches (Zhi Quan Da) again targeted at different heights. Approaching the Poison Hand Striking Methods (Du Shou Da Fa) with this mind set allows for every Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner greater adaptability and practicality within their offensive hand methods (Shou Fa).
Its alright to still practice the Poison Hand Striking Sets in the traditional way as taught to us by Master Chee Soo, but no one actually attacks you in the same way as you practice the traditional sets. So they have to practiced alongside other types of soft and hard party’s, deflections or ward offs. Striking tools can differ according to the angles of attack, plus learning how to combine the many other types of Kicking Methods (Jiao Fa) that everyone practices in their Feng Shou-Kung Fu classes, other than just the front kick that is normally taught within the traditional Poison Hand Striking Sets allowing for practitioners to achieve greater adaptability and practicality of the Poison Hand Striking Methods.
It is the angle of attack that the strikes are delivered that is the most important factor in learning the Poison Hand Striking Sets and not the actual striking hand tool used to issue the power into its intended target. Understanding the importance of the angle of attack in the deliverance of each of the Poison Hand Striking Methods allows for each practitioner to have great adaptability in being able to use many other types of Hand striking tools that can be delivered using the existing angles of attack as described in the first Poison Hand Striking Methods that are taught to every beginner and then throughout the whole Poison Hand Striking Sets..
Another example of the importance of the angle of attack can be applied in the practice of the Poison Hand Striking Set Three. Traditionally it is taught with an uppercut palm strike to a seizing arm circle to arm lock, followed by an horizontal chopping palm strike (Kan Zhang). The same angles are used but instead of a palm uppercut change it to a closed fist uppercut, the arm lock can remain the same, but the horizontal chopping palm can be replaced with an horizontal hammer fist strike (Chui Zi Quan Da) or Elbow (Zhou). Understanding the angles of attack will then allow for the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner develop a greater skill within their hand fighting methods ((Shou Fa).
Irrespective of what particular style of taijiquan you decide to study and practice they all involve circular actions of the joints, with each particular circle no matter what direction or size you perform all must blend into each other. Everyone knows that there are no linear movements in the practice of taijiquan everything should be circular. Circular actions allows the individual to maintain the flexibility and range of mobility in each joint and increases the blood and Qi circulation throughout the whole body. In the practice of the Lee/Li style taijiquan the circular action of rolling the shoulders allows the movements of the arms to connect to the spinal column which helps the Li/Lee style taijiquan practitioner to develop a more relaxed and supple back and spinal column. The shoulders are considered to be the root of the both arms, meaning that to move the hands or the tip, the shoulders should move firstly in a circular and then the arms and hands will also move in a circle. Sadly there are many people who are practicing and learning the Lee/Li Style taijiquan and simply just move their hands from the elbows and do not include any movement of the shoulders, nor do they try to even draw a circle.
The practice of taijiquan in general irrespective of the style is only beneficial for the health and maintenance of strength of the body & mind as long as it is performed correctly involving circular movements of the joints of the whole body that act like pumps to generate a better and stronger c flow of blood and Qi through the body. Whereas, taijiquan can also be performed incorrectly, meaning that there is no circular actions of the joints, no connection of the arms to the spinal column, no continuity of each circle blending into another just semi circles or linear actions that do not develop or improve the individuals flexibility and maintains their range of mobility.
Taijiquan is considered to be a high level exercise that is excellent at helping to maintain health and wellbeing, irrespective of how old the individual may be. Once an individual begins their journey in the study and practice of taijiquan gradually developing their accuracy, self awareness and skill in the manipulation of their joints to perform circular movements of various sizes and in many directions they then must try and maintain its practice to attain a high level of proficiency. If they do not and only practice their Li/Lee style taijiquan form every now and then, with long gaps of not practicing the standard and quality of their practice will suffer and hence the benefits they receive will be little.
Every movement that is performed in the practice of taijiquan in general should be circular with each circle flowing into another. These circles are performed by gently rotating the joints of the body, especially the shoulders and hips as these joints are the major joints that connect to the spinal column and allows for the bottom and top of the body to become fully connected and for the whole body to receive the benefits of the soft, gentle, flowing self healing movements of a quality taijiquan practice can offer.
Within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu there are a lot of weapons like the Staff (Gun), Broadsword (Dao), Straight Sword (Jian), Knife (Xiao Dao) and Two/Three Section Whips (Sanjiebian). The most popular and usually the first weapon taught to students of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu is the Staff (Gun), sadly today many of the groups, associations and organisations that also teach and promote the Feng Shou-Kung Fu style only seem to practice the Staff Form and Staff swinging exercises. But irrespective of what weapon you use it is still only considered to be an extension of the hand, so practicing with the Staff should involve blocking, striking, disarming, joint locking and throwing techniques which are obviously trained and developed through paired partner practice.
Rollaways (Da Shou Fa) is a two-person Feng Shou-Kung Fu training exercise that can be performed with or without weapons. In the LFIAA Original Feng Shou Kung Fu as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers students are taught a “Three Step Rollaway Method” (San Bu Da Shou Fa) which is also performed using the Staff (Gun). It can be practiced using linear, angular and circular stepping methods and allows the Feng Shou-Kung Fu student to develop and improve their Staff fighting techniques like high & low Blocking methods ( Lan Fa), a variety of angled striking methods (Gun Da Fa), dodging/evading methods (Shan Duo Fa) joint locking (Qin Na and throwing Methods (Shuai Fa). Practicing the Rollaways Three Step Exercise with the Staff also develops each students ability to better improve their timing, reactions, accuracy, speed and power with the Staff (Gun).
It is only through the two-person paired practice that an individual can truly become skilful with the use of the Staff using practical, effective techniques that can be used to change and adapt to overcome any situation wether the opponent is armed or unarmed. Feng Shou -Kung Fu advocates skilful footwork methods that allows the student to dodge and evade and change their angles of attack, not just attacking the opponent from the front as many other styles of martial arts use, but to attack the opponent from either side or from behind which means that the Feng Shou-Kung Fu student must not only develop fast evasive footwork methods, but also skilful Staff fighting methods that can be combined with their ability to be constantly on the move.
As I have already mentioned above to many groups and organisation that teach and promote the Feng Shou-Kung Fu mainly practice the Staff Form, or pre-arranged Staff fighting sequences. Which only covers very basic techniques and does not teach the student to be skilfully spontaneous, and natural in the use of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu Staff to be able to adapt and change their Staff fighting techniques appropriately to overcome any situation.
Osteoporosis is on the growth with thousands of people all around the world suffering with this bone wasting ailment. Osteoporosis can begin to be found within some individuals from the age of 40 plus, once an individual as been diagnosed with this ailment the doctor will prescribe certain drugs for them to take, plus they will advise them to change their diet and eat certain foods as well as participate in some regular exercises. For which the practice of Swimming Dragon Qigong is a really beneficial form of exercise for osteoporosis suffers as it helps to strengthen the bones of the body by its weight bearing actions and passive stretching movements that allows the muscles, tendons and fascia to gently massage the bones to help keep them soft and pliable.
Swimming Dragon Qigong is mainly practiced to stretch the joints, muscles and tendons of the whole body to help release muscular tension and joint stiffness manly within the back, hips and spinal column and is especially effective for those who suffer with back problems. But because of its wide range of stepping methods and its Spiralling, coiling actions of the both arms and learning and bending of the torso which also supports the weight of the body can be especially good for those who suffer with osteoporosis, as the more weight bearing the exercise can be the better it will be to help maintain the strength and bone density of osteoporosis suffers.
Another benefit of practicing the Swimming Dragon Qigong for individuals who do suffer with osteoporosis ailment is that its movements are performed slowly with no fast jerking actions that jolt or jar the joints of the body, making it a suitable exercise for everyone of any age. Regular practice of the Swimming Dragon Qigong Exercise can also help each individual to become more relaxed and calm inside taking away the anxiety and stress of having to live with osteoporosis. A great fear for many osteoporosis suffers is “Falling down” onto the ground due to loss of balance which obviously could cause severe problems, again practicing the Swimming Dragon Qigong Exercise can also help to develop each persons confidence in maintaining and bettering they sense of balance.
The practice and study of qigong in general as been used to treat many types of ailments in China with great success for hundreds of years and I have also personally seen its benefits of how regular practice of Qigong as done for many of my own students who have come to my classes suffering with many types of ailments and see them regain their strength, vitality and independence to still live life to the full using Qigong exercise to help them better manage their ailments.
With this blog is a video attached of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing an exercise from the Swimming a Dragon Qigong form.
Over the many years that I have been practicing and teaching the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu I have noticed for a very longtime how many teachers and students seem to spend more time on practicing the external, physical (Wai Gong) aspects of Feng Shou-Kung Fu, such as performing all of the striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing techniques, forms and drills. Sadly no one seems to advocate the importance of practicing and developing the internal, mental (Nei Gong) aspects of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu, this is mainly down to the fact that many teachers of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu do not have not developed a good martial qigong practice that they can pass onto their students to help them strengthen their Qi cultivation, strengthen their ability to concentrate and improve their mind & body connections.Teachers should spend enough time encouraging their students to practice their martial qigong Internal/mental practice, just as much as they practice and perform all of the external/physical training methods.
Many teachers of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu will properly only teach two Daoyin/Qigong exercise to their students, usually right at the beginning of the class and then at the end of the class, again it is usually the same Daoyin/Qigong exercise taught in every class and only a short period of the class training session is spent on practicing them. The more the teacher can develop a good Daoyin/Qigong routine that consists of a series of Daoyin/Qigong exercises that can be performed either on their own or connected together in a sequence or form. To become a complete practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu the individual should be training and developing both their external/physical and internal/mental qualities, so that our whole being is nourished, strengthened and maintained.
To many individuals are caught up in simply improving their fitness, stamina, physical strength and flexibility through their Feng Shou-Kung Fu training. Don’t get me wrong this is important, but it should not be the only thing that is developed and over trained. Developing your mental strength, awareness to connect and become sensitive to the cultivation, storing and circulation of your vital energy (Qi) to then combine with your external qualities together in harmony must be the true aim of every practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Knight Fu.
Within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers students are taught many types of martial qigong exercises to allow them to cultivate their Qi and strengthen their mental qualities to help them improve their Feng Shou-Kung Fu skill in being able to issue whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) and strength into both their defensive and offensive fighting methods. Another aspect to developing both the external and internal aspects of ourselves and properly the most important reason of them all is the maintenance of good health and wellbeing. If you spend to much time simply training on the more external/physical aspects of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu. Then there is a possibility that there is a chance that as each individual gradually gets older they begin to suffer with physical injuries from their training such as pulled muscles, joint problems, blood pressure problems etc. Which then leads to them having to completely stop their training of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu.
Whereas, if they balanced their Feng Shou-Kung Fu training with some martial qigong practice that taught them how to maintain a relaxed, supple body, a strong mental intent that taught them how to cultivate their internal strength the chancers are that they would still be tra8ning their Feng Shou-Kung Fu into their old age with good health and wellbeing. Obviously like everything else in life each individual must be prepared to train regularly from day to day both on the external and internal aspects of their Feng Shou-Kung Fu if they wish to prolong their Feng Shou-Kung Fu training into they old age.
One of most asked questions that I am always asked by many individuals about studying, practicing the Chinese internal martial arts is how long will it take me to learn? For which I will always mention that it can take a few years to truly become proficient. Sadly for man6 individuals in today’s very fast modern lifestyle is that they expect everything to be delivered quickly, they do not want to be sacrificing a number of years to learning a discipline that could greatly benefit them and change they lives positively. In today’s society individuals would like to learn a martial art that can be learnt in a short period of time as their lives are very busy with work, family and friends and they do not seem to have plenty of time to just give to learning an internal martial art that may take many years to Master.
So this is were learning the Chinese martial art of “Seizing & Grasping ” (Qin Na) the Joints, Tendons, Muscles, Blood Vessels and Meridians can be easier to learn and become proficient in within a short period of time. Seizing & Grasping Methods can be performed from various types of holds, grips, punches and kicks they are applied to effect the assailants kinematic chain system which governs everyone’s ability to freely move around, they involve the understanding of body physics such as leverage, angles, fulcrum and power source methods like extending, twisting, rotating, bending techniques that can help each individual to apply fast, practical and effective joint locking techniques that can take very little strength to apply in being able to subdue or immobilise an aggressive assailant.
Learning and practicing the Seizing & Grasping Methods (Qin Na Fa) allows individuals to learn a wide variety of self defence techniques that can be learnt within a very short period of time and can fit into the individuals who lives a very fast, busy lifestyle and cannot advocate a lot of time in learning a martial art that may take many years to become skilled in. Whereas, learning how to apply a few Seizing & Grasping Methods from a wide variety of holds and punches can be learnt in a much shorter period of time and are very suitable for children who suffer from bullying in schools, women and girls who are afraid of being attacked and off cause for men who need to learn how to defend themselves as well.
Learning and studying the “Seizing & Grasping Methods” (Qin Na Fa) on how to effectively lock the joints of the body to control and restrain an aggressive assailant do not take a tremendous amount of strength to apply. Most joint locking techniques are applied against the upper limbs as the hands and arms are the most likely to be used to attack with such as trying to hold onto a part of the body or to throw a punch from a particular angle. So an individual who study’s and practices the Seizing & Grasping Methods of Qin Na will mainly apply powerful joint locks against a. assailants shoulders, elbows, wrist and finger joints which cause a tremendous amount of pain and could seriously damage the assailant.
For more information about learning the “Seizing & Grasping Methods of Qin Na then please contact us through our Facebook page at “Lee Family Internal Arts”.
Swimming Dragon Qigong (You Long Gong) is a thirty-two Posture form that combines passive, gentle, flowing movements alongside dynamic stretching actions that develops a supple, pliable body, plus vigorous movements that improve fitness and stamina. Swimming Dragon Qigong mainly benefits those individuals who suffer stiff joints, especially of the spinal column and hip joints through its twisting, Spiralling and coiling actions for which the Chinese have termed as “Silk Reeling” (Chan Si Gong). Which over time will improve the circulation of the Qi and blood (Xue) to flow smoothly throughout the whole body and help nourish the internal organs to help maintain their functioning towards strengthening each individuals health and wellbeing.
As seen in the video clip of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the “Fisherman Casts a Net Posture” that is attached to this blog, there are both gentle, passive and vigorous movements combined together in the actions of the Fisherman casting the net, the bodyweight transfers forwards onto the front leg, while the both arms extend forwards to cast the net, the both wrists are slightly bent until the very last moment were they then flex forwards in a flicking action, allowing the fingers to flick forwards as if shaking water off the hands and finger tips. This flicking action of the wrist and fingers is an energy dispersing technique that allows each individual to gradually release the build up of any sickly energy (Bing Qi) that may have accumulated and affect the individuals health, such as frustrations, irritability and anxieties. The flicking, shaking actions allow each individual to release these anxieties and remain emotionally calm and peaceful.
Once the Fisherman has cast the net forwards he must then draw the net back in. In the drawing back the both arms draw backwards in an horizontal circle with the tigers mouths (Hukou) of each hand facing each other until the both palms draw backwards towards the navel. Not only will the both arms perform a circle, but the both legs will also perform a circular action as the bodyweight is pulled backwards onto the rear leg, the circle is in the same direction as the both arms. So that the whole body action of the Fisherman casting the net posture in its forwards and backward movements are performed in a “Silk Reeling” Spiralling action which are practiced on both side of the body.
The Silk Reeling, Spiralling, coiling actions of the Swimming Dragon Qigong helps to gently stretch the tendons, ligaments and muscles and open the joints of the whole Body to develop a more flexible and relaxed individual full of vitality, irrespective of age, size or gender. Today many individuals live a very busy lifestyle that is sometimes to frantic, everything they do has got to be performed quickly with pressure of deadlines to reach at work, rushing around for family and friends, even the way some people workout is performed fast. There does not seem to be any time or place were they can create a time were they can slow down and find some peace and stillness in their lives. To much of living a fast and stressful lifestyle can cause various health ailments to rise in individuals such as high blood pressure, panic attacks, depression etc learning to find time and space in your life and practice some Swimming Dragon Qigong can greatly change you life, health and wellbeing in a more positive way.
One of the most iconic movements of the Yang Style taijiquan that nearly everyone will recognise is the “Single Whip Posture” (Dan Bian Shi). This is were the individual gently pushes forwards with the front open hand, while the opposite hand performs the Cranes beak hand shape by touching the finger tips and thumb together in a claw shape, as seen in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the Yang Style Taijiquan Single Whip Posture. Not only can this posture be performed alongside other taijiquan postures with each of the postures blending and connected together in a flowing sequence of movements. The Single Whip Posture can also be practiced as a Standing Post Qigong Exercise (Taiji Zhan Zhuang Gong) which offers individuals another option to its practice in being able to strengthen the whole body in it maintenance of health & wellbeing.
In the practice of the Yang Style’s taijiquan Single Whip Posture means that the six components of the legs in the shifting of the body weight from one leg to another, the turning of the waist to lead and guide the arms into their correct positions, plus the circular movements of the arms and hands to perform the Single Whip posture accurately. The use of the eyes to follow the direction of the turning of the waist to lead the two hands into their positions, connecting the mind (concentration) and body together, lastly the co-ordination of the breathing and movements to be joined together, allowing the breath to dictate the speed of movements, inhaling on the raising and closing actions, while exhaling on the lowering and opening actions. Above all the movements must be well timed together in a relaxed, soft and gentle manner with the movements performed in a smooth and even speed.
The actual actions of the Yang Style Taijiquan Single Whip Posture are very beneficial for the functioning of the Lungs and heart organs. As the individual performs the Single Whip Posture with one hand opening, extending out to form the Cranes beak hand shape, the other arm is gently drawn inwards close to the body, before it is then extended and opened out in a sweeping action finishing in front of the body. This closing and opening of the both arms allows the Lungs and heart to be gently massaged by the muscles that surround them, helping to gently exercise them and maintain their functioning in circulating the Qi, blood and oxygen around the entire body. Today many people simply take up the study and practice of taijiquan just to learn how to relax, obviously some practice to help improve their balance, and concentration, but very few are actually aware that correct taijiquan practice is practiced to maintain and improve the functioning of our internal organs, fore which true health and wellbeing is only attained.
The first of September sees the beginning of the Autumn three month season for which the Daoist’s signify as the period of the “White Tiger” which is associated with the functioning of the Lungs. Gradually as the Summer heat turns to a cooler Autumn the Lungs can be affected by the excessive heat of summer and can become weaker as the the excess heat becomes trapped within the Lungs causing them to become dry which lowers the Qi of the Lungs, which can then allow individuals to catch colds or influenza and coughs weakening their immune system. Practicing the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong (Si Ji Zuo Gong) especially for the three months of Autumn can help to repair and strengthen the functioning of the Lungs by gradually removing the excess heat that has become trapped within the Lungs and help the Lungs to become moist rather than dry, especially as the seasons are changing from a Yang (warm) period of Summer into a much Yin (Cooler) period of Autumn into a greater Yin (Cold) of Winter.
The exercises are easy to learn and practice, they involve various breathing (Tu Na) Methods, gentle stretching, Guiding & Leading Methods (Daoyin) alongside self massaging methods (Tui Na) for which, when all methods are connected together can give each individual a deep sense of mindfulness meditation exercise. Studying and practicing the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises allows each individual to change and protect their own health and wellbeing as each season goes by. As each season arrives they all bring their own external pathogens that can greatly effect the health and wellbeing of every individual, causing various ailments to come to the fore if the individuals own protective Qi has become weak due to lack of regular practice of the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong or tired from over working or eating a poor diet or burnt out from excessive workouts that have lowered your energy levels, weakening the immune system. I have personally witnessed this during the cold of Winter with many of my friends who do excessive workouts during the winter and catch colds and influenza because they are burning up all of their energy in a period were each individual should learn to cultivate, store their energy as excessive workouts can tire the Kidneys which are the storage of our vitality levels.
For those already practicing or wishing to practice the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises will bring individuals into harmony with nature and the Dao (Way). Allowing individuals to become more in balance and sensitive to the energy of each of the seasons helping them to maintain their health and wellbeing to living a long life irrespective of age, gender or ability.