LFIAA Lishi Taijiquan’s, The Five Components “Breathing” (Xi Yang)

Within the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taijiquan Square Yard Form (Taiji Zheng Ma Shi) there are five components of the body that have to be fully connected and active during the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Square Yard Form. These five components are the legs, torso, arms, eyes and breathe, this blog will cover the component of using the breathe to dictate the speed that an individual should use while practicing the Lishi taijiquan form and how the breathe can greatly help to boost each individuals health and wellbeing.

Firstly, the breathing should be performed through the nose both on the inhale and exhale. The tip of the tongue should gently touch the hard palate just behind the top teeth, known as the making the “Magpie Bridge” (Que Qiao). This touching of the tongue to the roof of the mouth connects two major acupuncture vessels together, the Governor (Dumai) which travels directly up the length of the spine and the Conception (Renmai) which travels down the front of the body.

Obviously the breathing and the actions of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Square Yard Form that are performed by each individual must be co-ordinated with each other. The breathing must be long, slow, deep, smooth and quiet, it will take plenty of long hours of practice by each individual to develop their skill in their breathing to become slower and slower, fully opening the air sacs within their Lungs, so that they become used to the great amount of oxygen entering the body, as at first some individuals can become very light headed and dizzy, even fainting from not being used to the amount of oxygen entering the body.

Combining the breathing to the movements of the Lishi Square Yard Taiji Form will greatly strengthen each individuals cardiovascular system. It will increase the blood and Qi circulation throughout the whole body, but especially into the extremities were some individuals will begin to feel tangible sensations of their Qi mobilising within them self’s, by experiencing tingling, heat, fullness or heaviness or even movement of the Qi through the limbs or body like a flushing, vibration or a trembling sensation.

Over-al, combining the breathing (Xi Yang) with the movements of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Square Yard Form will greatly slow down the practice of the form by each individual. It will develop each individuals ability to connect their mind & body, as it takes a lot of concentration by each individual to maintain a slow speed, making sure that the breathe is balanced with the same length of inhale as with the exhale, it should not be strained or held.

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LFIAA Original Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Hand & Foot Methods While on the Move” (Shoujiaofa)

It totally bewilders me when I see individuals studying and practicing the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu how static they are. Especially when there are so many different stepping methods that every student can practice like the Ladder, Box, Scissor and pivot steps etc, which every practitioner should be practicing and combining along side both their defensive and offensive hand & foot methods (Shoujiaofa). To many practitioners and students of the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu still practice their paired Rollaways exercise in a very static linear way, only using the Cat to Dragon Stance method of stepping which really limits their ability to involve other offensive striking & kicking techniques. Basically, just using the Cat to Dragon stepping method in the Rollaways only allows the practitioner to concentrate on their defensive hand methods, and sadly to many practitioners have become stuck for many years, simply practicing this very static exercise.

In this particular blog, I am only concentrating on the linear Rollaways paired exercise to try and help students and practitioners of the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu develop not only their defensive tools. But to be allowed to explore and develop their offensive tools in a far greater way, than just being stuck in the very static Cat to Dragon exercise. Firstly, just learning to combine the linear Ladder Stepping Methods (Ti Zi Fa) into the paired Rollaways exercise, especially when you attack, allows you to enter and penetrate deeper into your training partners own space, allowing you to then deliver not just one strike, but a series of strikes and kicks at various heights. In the defensive aspect, using your Ladder Step to either do a small or longer defensive step, allows you to control the space between each other, so that you don’t allow your training partner to get to close to land several strikes and kicks, but to be ready and close enough to counter attack back in an instant.

The benefit of combining your skilful footwork alongside your defensive and offensive hand & foot methods (Shoujiaofa), allows each practitioner of the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu to develop how to issue greater strength and power especially into their defensive & offensive techniques using whole body power (Zheng Shen Li). Hence the strength or power is drawn up through the feet, into the legs, it is then guided through the waist and spine into the shoulders and then issued out through the palms and fingers. Each practitioners balance, correct body alignment, concentrating, timing, accuracy, reactions and precision are all developed to a much greater level, than just using the Cat to Dragon method of Rollaways, that to be honest is a very lazy way to study and practice this fascinating Lishi Internal Martial Art.

Another benefit to the linear paired Rollaways exercise, especially when you are combining the Ladder stepping methods into your defensive and offensive hand & foot methods. Is that it also develops each person fitness, stamina, mental and physical strength, as constantly moving your both legs in your defensive and attacking techniques will have a greater effect on your cardiovascular system. Increasing more blood and oxygen to be pumped through your body, increasing your Qi flow to reach your extremities. The longer the training practice between you and your partner lasts the greater your fitness, concentration, agility, co-ordination and Qi circulation will develop as the whole body is working by being constantly on the move.

LFIAA Lishi Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise “Using the Bumping Method” (Kao Fa).

The study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise is sadly not everyone’s favourite exercise, as it obviously crosses the line between practicing taijiquan just for health and wellbeing to practicing taijiquan for self defence. My own personal understanding is that you should practice taijiquan for both health & self defence, as if you were suddenly confronted by an assailant who intends to cause you harm. Then this is were you wished that you had also learnt the self defence aspect to taijiquan practice, as it could one day help you escape a serious life threatening situation.

The over-al study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise is simply a continuation of the practice of the taijiquan form. As within the form the “Eight Energies” of taijiquan are used within the actions that are performed by every individual. Whereas, the practice of the Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise aim is to bring these “Eight Energies” alive into a practical and skilful method of using the Taiji Eight Energies for Self Defence reasons.

This particular blog will look at using the Taiji Eight Energy method of “Bumping” (Kao Fa) to help uproot your training partner, knocking them off balance. The Bumping method basically means to use any part of your own body to knock against your partner using either your Shoulder (Jian), Hips (Kua) or Thigh (Da Tui) etc to knock them off balance. Obviously in the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise the Bumping Method (Kao Fa) can be used after you have yielded or Rollback (Lu Fa) from the strength issued by your training partner and as he comes forwards, closer to yourself you can then bring him or her onto your Shoulder to Bump them off balance or help to create an opening to follow up with either a Pressing Method (An Fa) or an Elbowing Method (Zhou Fa).

As I have already mentioned above, sadly the study and practice of the three sticking hands exercises that make up the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Self Defence Practice like the Whirling Hands (Lun Shou), Whirling Arms (Lun Bei) and of cause the Sticky/Pushing Hands Exercises (Tuishou) are not everyone’s favourite exercise, as many individuals simply concentrate on the practice and study of the Li Style Taiji Square Yard form.

LFIAA Wild Goose Qigong “The Embracing Palm Method” (Bao Zhang Fa).

Within the practice and study of the Daoist Kunlun Wild Goose Qigong there are eight different Palm shapes that each person must learn to help them manipulate and mix both the environmental Qi with their own internal Qi while performing the Wild Goose Qigong form. In a series of blogs, I will intend to cover each particular Palm shape in detail to help individuals who are practicing and studying the Wild Goose Qigong to improve their skill in being able to gather, rise, lower, open, close, enter, exit and store the Qi to benefit their health & wellbeing to live a long life.

So firstly we will look at the “Embracing Palm” (Bao Zhang) shape, which is used extensively throughout the whole of the Daoist Kunlun Qigong System. The Embracing Palm shape is were either both or just a single hand points the centre of the palm towards the body, with either the fingers pointing towards each other, upwards or downwards. The Acu-Point located in the centre of the palm (Laogong PC 8) should be hollow with the fingers held apart and slightly rounded, as if you were holding or embracing your Qi in your hands. Obviously, when you hold the Embracing Palm shape with the centre of the palms turned towards the body they should also line up and connect to another Acu-Point (Qixue), for which are usually the three Dantians of the lower, middle and upper elixir fields.

When an individual uses the Embracing Palm shape (Bao Zhang) they should have the feeling of gathering, holding or anchoring the Qi to a certain area of the body before guiding and leading (Daoyin) it throughout the entire body. This feeling of gathering can be a sensation of heat, fullness or heaviness building in the area that the individual is holding the Embracing Palm shape, their fingers, palm, and arms should feel hot and may tingle like pins & needles effect. Using the Embracing Palm to Anchor the individuals Qi is mainly used by having one hand using the Embracing Palm located usually at the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian), while the other hand is used to either rise, disperse, lower or exit the Qi out in another direction, it is important that the Embracing Palm is used as an anchor to help each individual be able to return their Qi back to help ground themselves.

All according to were the individual wants they Qi to gather within their body, the Embracing Palm can also be used to gradually raise their Qi upwards into their chest to the (Shanzhong Ren 17) Acu-Point and allow the Qi to fill and gather at the Middle Dantian or they can move further upwards towards the head and hold the Embracing Palms opposite the (Heavens Eye “Yintang” Extra Acu-Point) located between the eyes also known as the “Upper Dantian”.

Each of the eight different Palm shapes that are used to manipulate either the external or internal Qi in the practice of the Wild Goose Qigong, is understandably down to the skill of each practitioner how they can interchange the eight different palm shapes smoothly to gather, open, close, rise, lower, enter, exit or disperse the Qi towards balancing their health and wellbeing.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Practice (Taiji Lun Shou Fa) “Applying the Taiji Four Energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji.

Once the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji practitioner has become more familiar with the practice of the paired Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise (Taiji Lun Shou). Especially in the understanding how to interchange the three circular shapes of vertical, horizontal and sidewards circles, being able to smoothly lead & receive, giving way to strength and resistance, so that neither individual is totally dominant over the other, and that the five components (Wu Yuan Qi Jian) of the legs, torso, arms, eyes and breathe are actively involved, making sure that each individual are not just standing still with the bodyweight evenly distributed between the both legs. Then each individual is then ready to utilise the Taiji Eight Energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao into the practice of the paired Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise.

Firstly, this particular blog will only discuss how to apply the first Four Energies (Si Jing) of Taijiquan into the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Whirling Hands Exercise. The Ward Off (Peng) energy is constantly used by each individual in the practice of Taiji Whirling Hands. It is used to stop yourself from touching your both arms onto your body. Ward Off (Peng) Energy as an expanding shape so that you maintain the “V” shape of your both arms at all times, closing the “V” shape allows for your partners both arms to be closer to your own body, whereas locking your arms means that you can be easily taken of balance.

The Rollback energy (Lu) is used in conjunction with your Ward Off Energy. Rollback is used when your partner pushes strongly with either their both arms or just a single arm, once you feel the strength of their push coming towards yourself, you simply shift your bodyweight onto your rear leg and turn your torso to one side, yielding against the strength issued by your training partner, but making sure that your both arms still maintain a feeling of Ward Off (Peng) energy within your arms, stopping yourself from allowing your both arms to touch or rest on your body.

The Pressing energy (An) is used when you try to press the back of your training partners both or single back of the hands onto their own body and continue with your Pressing (An) energy to push against the partners body to knock them off balance. When applying the Pressing energy (An) your gripping hands fingers can be pointing upwards, inwards or outwards to press your training partners back of hand onto their own body there are a few angles that can be used to apply the Pressing energy (An).

The Squeezing energy (Ji) is firstly used when you and your training partner Squeeze each other’s palms against each other when gripping and attempting to press the back of each other’s hands against each other’s body. The second method of applying the Squeezing energy is when your both hands are pressing towards your partners body, but by keeping them close together as if Squeezing them into a funnel as seen in the accompanying photo of my student pressing/squeezing the backs of my both hands onto my body.

Obviously there are also another Four Energies of Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao that I have not mentioned in this blog, but will discuss their usage in the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Exercise in another blog which I intend to do in the near future.

LFIAA Lishi Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu “ Poison Hand Cavity Strikes” (Du Shou Dianxue Da)

A particular Qi cavity that I like to strike is the Liver 13 point (Zhang Men) Systems Door Point. Which is located just below the 11th rib, I personally target this Qi cavity when I perform the Poison Hand Striking Sets (Du Shou Da Fa) Four and six, especially on the set four and its two straight Pushing palm strikes which traditionally are aimed at striking the opponents groin and nose which obviously are effective. But some times the groin strike is not always available to target, so I choose to target (Zhang Men) Liver 13 as it is much easier to get at, if you strike the opponents (Zhang Men) Qi cavity on the left side of their body you can seriously damage their Spleen, whereas, if you strike the (Zhang Men) Qi cavity on the right Side of the opponents body you can seriously damage the opponents Liver. When I perform the double Palm Pushing strike in the Poison Hand Set Six, again I target the opponents (Zhang Men) Qi cavity striking the two cavity’s on either side of the opponents body at the same time.

What makes the (Zhang Men) Liver 13 Qi cavity so deadly is that a heavy blow not necessarily using just the palm heel strike, but a Fist, elbow or knee strike can rupture the Spleen or Liver organ by pressing the floating ribs to penetrate into the organs causing great pain, a laceration to either the Spleen or Liver can cause the opponent to go into shock from loss of blood, nausea,unconsciousness, coma and death usually follows within forty-eight hours if the individual does not seek immediate medical care. Even if the ribs do not fracture and lacerate the Spleen or Liver, to receive a heavy blow can still shock and rupture the organs and cause severe haemorrhage that can be fatal to the opponent. It is said that if the individual does survive from a heavy strike to either the Spleen or Liver organs. They may still suffer with emotional problems long after the confrontation and may suffer with health issues as the Spleen helps us to fight of bodily infections which is an important function.

The reason why I have decided to highlight certain Qi cavity’s (Dianxue) that are targeted within the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu’s Practice of the Poison Hand Striking Sets (Du Shou Da Fa), is to show to all the students and practitioners of this unique internal martial art the depth and responsibility that everyone who learns the Poison Hand strikes has at their finger tips to help protect themselves and should not be used lightly, as they can cause serious harm even death. Please also understand that simply knowing the locations of the Qi cavity’s and their effects on the individuals body it still not enough to actually make them effective. It is through the time and energy given by each practitioner and student spending many hours practicing and developing how to deliver fast, heavy, accurate strikes through proper body mechanics that deliver whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) into each of the Qi cavity (Dianxue) points that makes the Poison Hand Striking sets deadly effective.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Practice (Taiji Lun Shou Fa) “Leading, Receiving & Giving way to Strength”.

The practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taiji Whirling Hands Paired Practice (Taiji Duilian Lun Shou Fa) is simply a continuation of the practice of the Li Style Taiji Square Yard Form. Once you and your training partner have set up correctly, griping each other’s hands and have began to draw the three main circular shapes with each other integrating the five components of the whole body, legs, torso, arms, eyes and breathe at the same time. Then the next stage of development in the practice of the Whirling Hands Exercise is to be able to lead, receive and give way to strength alternating smoothly between the two of you.

The Leading method (Ju Fa) is were you or your training partner move first by attempting to touch anywhere on each other’s body using the back of each other’s own hand, using a pressing (An) or squeezing (Ji) technique, or they could use their elbows (Zhou), shoulder (Jian) to touch anywhere on each other’s body. Obviously Leading means to use strength to try and touch each other, whereas, the Receiving method (Shou Dao Fa) means that the both of you must learn to yield and give way to each other’s strength and lead it away from your body, so that you both don’t use strength against strength.

The third method is to then feel for the change over from we’re you are receiving, yielding against your training partners leading strength. Then you begin to express your ward off (Peng) strength back towards your training partner using the leading method, at anytime both yourself and your training partner can offer resistance (Zu Dang). Once one of you feels resistance the other must give way to that resistance and lead that strength away from the body to dissolve its strength.

Learning how to change over smoothly from the Leading & Receiving Methods without using strength against strength takes plenty of practice time, training with as many different training partners as you can will help to improve your tactile awareness skill within the Li Style (Lishi) Whirling Hands Practice (Taiji Lun Shou Fa). Plus it will also help you and your training partner in being able to intermingle the three different circular shapes moving from a vertical circle into a sidewards circle into an horizontal circle and vice-versa. Attached to this blog is a video of Laoshi Keith Ewers and a student performing the Li Style (Lishi) Whirling Hands Practice.