LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI’s “Eight Hand Methods Connection To The Eight Trigrams” (Lishi Taiji Ba Shou Yi Jing)

Within the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI there are Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou). Which are used within the movements of the Li Style TAI CHI Square Yard Form that are related to the Yi Jing Eight Trigrams, which many practitioners of the Li Style TAI CHI are not really made aware of its connections between the ancient Book of Changes (Yi Jing) and TAI CHI.

The Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou Fa) of the Li Style TAI CHI are as follows.

  • The Palm facing upwards is known as the Heaven Palm or Tai Yang.
  • The Palm facing downwards is known as the Earth Palm or Tai Yin.
  • The Palm facing forwards is known as the Valley Palm or Shao Yang.
  • The Palm facing inwards is known as the Mountain Palm or Shao Yin.
  • The Palm facing sidewards with the little finger edge pointing down and fingers forwards is known as the Water Palm or Zhong Yin.
  • The Palm facing sidewards with the little finger edge pointing forwards and fingers pointing upwards is known as the Fire Palm or Zhong Yang.
  • The Crane’s Beak is known as the Wind Palm or Lao Yin.
  • The Fist is known as the Thunder Palm or Lao Yang.

In the following picture is the Heaven Palm or Tai Yang Hand Shape which is used extensively throughout the Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI Square Yard Form.

and is connected to the Heaven (Qian Gua) Trigram from the (Yi Jing) Book of Changes, which is pictured directly below. There are many other connections to the ancient Book of Changes (Yi Jing) that can be found within the practice of TAI CHI. The Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou Fa) are just one particular connection and insight into the philosophical connections to the Yi Jing’s Eight Trigrams.


LFIAA “Learning How To Protect Your Knees, While Practicing Taijiquan”

Over the many years that I have been studying & teaching taijiquan I have come across many individuals who suffer with arthritic knees. Also quite recently I have had a few individuals who have had knee & hip joint replacements, usually these are individuals who come into the practice of taijiquan who are over forty-five years of age, and have been told that the practice of taijiquan is good for them, as it helps to maintain flexibility within the joints of the lower extremities, plus it helps to maintain their leg strength and fitness.

Firstly it is important for everyone who wishes to participate in taijiquan practice, no matter if it is within their local taijiquan class or on their own. That they gently warm up their body with correct exercises, especially their knees if they have knee problems before they perform their taijiquan, so that the blood and Qi within the legs is stimulated to warm the bodies joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles allowing for them to become more relaxed. There are a few guidelines in the practice of taijiquan to help individuals to protect their knees while their are participating.

  • Firstly the knee (Xi) should not extend further than the toes.
  • The knee must point in the same direction as the toes.
  • The both knee’s should open & close (Kai/He) in the practice of taiji.
  • The both knee’s must be kept moving at all times.

So let’s us look at some of the above points. Firstly the knee (Xi) should not extend any further than the toes of the foot, as this can cause the knee to strain and become tight and tense, which will hinder the flow of the Qi and blood to circulate through the knees (Qi Xue Yun Xing).

Secondly the knees must point in the same direction as the toes, as a mis-aligned knee can cause tendon & ligament problems within the knee joints again causing pain and discomfort to the individual.

Thirdly, the both knee’s (Xi) should bend and straighten. Usually the leg that carry’s the bodyweight should be bent, while the non-weighted leg should straighten its knee, but not to the point were it is fully locked and stiff. As locking the knee’s can cause tension in the knee and plus raise the individuals centre of gravity weakening their ability to maintain their “root” (Gen).

The fourth reason for protecting the knee’s in the practice of taiji, is that the individual must keep both knees moving at all times while performing their taijiquan form. There should not be any posting (Zhan) were the individual pauses for a while with their bodyweight trapped on one leg, as again this can cause pain and discomfort for individuals with knee problems.

If practiced correctly and by using some of the guidelines mentioned above. Then there is no reason why individuals with knee problems cannot enjoy the practice of taijiquan in helping them to maintain leg strength, fitness, flexibility and Qi & blood circulation within the joints of the lower extremities to help maintain & improve their health & wellbeing. For those who do not suffer with any knee discomfort at all, then following the same guidelines as shown above in the practice of their taijiquan can also greatly benefit in protecting their knees and help develop their longevity in being able to maintain and practice taijiquan for many years to come.

LFIAA Original Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Martial Daoyin Breathing Exercises” (Wu Daoyin Fa)

Because the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu is considered to be an internal martial art. Then every student should be taught its Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises (Wu Daoyin Xi Fa) to help cultivate, strengthen & circulate their own Qi both for the maintenance of their own health and to develop their martial power in their defensive and offensive fighting methods. There are two main training methods in learning a traditional internal martial art, there is the external physical training methods such as striking, kicking, wrestling & throwing for which many students focus all of their attention on developing. Then there is the internal training methods which involves the practice of Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises that develops the connections between the Mind/Intent (Yi), with the physical Strength (Li) and the Internal Energy (Nei Qi).

Master Chee Soo would always start and end his Feng Shou-Kung Fu training sessions with a Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercise (Wu Daoyin Xi Fa). Sometimes this would include students sitting on the ground and practicing what he would call “Semi Meditation” simply concentration on their breathing to help calm each students mind & body and to connect to their Qi before taking part in a Feng Shou-Kung Fu training session. Obviously more of the internal training must be emphasised in the developments of every students Feng Shou-Kung Fu training.

We in the LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu practice a wide variety of Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises which involve standing post (Zhan Zhuang) Practice, moving practice (Dong Fa), walking practice (Bu Fa) and sitting meditation practice (Zuo Jing Fa). The moving and stepping Daoyin practices are performed at two speeds, slowly to develop the breathing and the ability of the mind (Yi) to guide & lead the Qi into the extremities, then they are performed fast to develop the issuing of power (Fa Jin) and to harmonise the strength (Li) with the internal energy (Qi) into the extremities for martial arts usage.

The student of the Original Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu should spend more time on the cultivation, strengthening and circulation of the Qi through the many Daoyin practices that are taught and not place all of their attention on just the practice of the external physical training methods. A student should be able to tangibly feel their Qi moving inside themselves through the sensations of tingling, heat, fullness, flushing and vibration sensations which occur inside every student if they focus more on their practice of cultivating their Qi through the martial Daoyin exercises. Then connect their external with their internal training to develop powerful defensive & offensive fighting methods.

LFIAA Taiji Self Defence “Practical Applications of Using Taiji’s Eight Energies”

Thousands of people study and practice taijiquan exercises for health and wellbeing from all over the world. They regular perform its Eight Energies (Ba Jing) of Peng, Lu, An, Ji, Cai, Lie, Zhou, Kao as they perform certain movements from the practice of their taijiquan forms, yet many are unaware that these same Eight Energies that are part of their taijiquan movements can also be used to protect themselves from a violent situation that can occur at anytime. Today people are physically attacked within their homes, place of work, at schools or university, even outside while socially being with friends or family.

Learning how to use taiji’s Eight Energies to escape and break free from many types of holds and grips that an aggressive assailant could use to assault you, and to then apply punishing, practical, effective joint locking methods (Taiji Qin Na) to immobilise or subdue the assailant or to cause them serious harm is a serious skill that everyone who studies taijiquan should also learn and obtain alongside its health & wellbeing exercises. As being physically attacked can seriously effect your health and life for many years after the violent event, causing trauma that effects the individual’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing.

Simply learning some of taiji’s self defence methods could help to save your health & life from a violent situation that could come from either a complete stranger, a work colleague, a friend or family member who suddenly becomes aggressive and violent to yourself. Maybe you have to step in to protect an innocent individual who is being assaulted, or maybe a close friend or again a family member? Our society is gradually becoming more & more violent and dangerous and to simply spend many hours, days, weeks, months and years practicing taijiquan as an health exercise and do not take advantage of learning its self defensive techniques that one day might save your life is something that I believe everyone should study.

At anytime in your life you could suddenly find yourself in a difficult life threatening situation. You could be attacked when you are a young age, middle or even in your much older years. Because taijiquan practice helps to maintain & improve each person balance, co-ordination, concentration, flexibility and strength through its soft, flowing actions. Then these same qualities can also be used to help protect yourself using taiji’s self defence techniques, irrespective of how old you are.

LFIAA Li Style TAI CHI “Practicing The Whirling Hands Exercise” (Lun Shou Fa) To DevelopYour Tai Chi Form.

As with all of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi two-person Exercises and especially with the Tai Chi Whirling Hands Exercise (Lun Shou Fa). The understanding on how to use the Eight Gates (Ba Men) of Ward Off (Peng), Rollback (Lu), Press (An), Squeeze (Ji), Pluck (Cai), Split (Lie), Elbow (Zhou), Bump (Kao) should be openly taught as they are what connects both the solo Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form with the Sticking Hands two-person exercises that are an extended, practical experience of how to use the Eight Gates or Energies.

In the practice of how to use the Eight Gate Methods within the practice of the Whirling Hands Exercise. A student would be taught mainly on how to develop the Four Gates (Si Men) of Ward Off (Peng), Rollback (Lu), Press (An) and Squeeze (Ji), they would practice these particular four energies until both students have reached a good level of proficiency. The other Four Gate Methods of Pluck (Cai), Split (Lie), Elbow (Zhou) and Bump (Kao) would only be taught and used by a student of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi when the first Four Gates or Energies could not be successfully applied by the student.

As with all schools of Tai Chi, the practice of the two-person Tai Chi Sticking Hands Exercises like the Whirling Hands Exercise as mentioned in this blog, are performed to bring the Eight Gates that are practiced within the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form alive. When we practice our Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi Square Yard Form, we not only learn how to recognise and perform each of the Eight Gates (Ba Men) Methods, we also learn how to strengthen our balance by sinking or “Rooting” (Gen) our Qi to help ourselves have a better connection to the earth or ground. When we practice any of the two-person Tai Chi Sticking Hands exercises they are performed to test our ability to perform, not only the usage of each of the Eight Gate Methods. But to test our “Root” or our ability to maintain our balance, while our training partner is trying to knock us of balance using their own Eight Gates or Energies.

If any individual wants to maintain their own progress and development within the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi Square Yard Form. Then they need to also get involved with any of the two-person Tai Chi Sticking Hands Exercises, as they are not only fun and enjoyable to practice, but they offer so much information in strengthening your over-al development of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi. Attached to this blog is a video of Laoshi Keith Ewers practicing the Li Style Tai Chi Whirling Hands Exercise with student Garry Owen.

LFIAA The Eight Healing Sounds Qigong “Opening & Closing Movements” (Kai He Fa).

The physical actions of each of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Exercises are designed to stretch and contract the joints, muscles and tendons to increase the flexibility of each person. Stretching as a feeling of “Opening” (Kai) which allows for stiffness within the joints and muscular tension in the muscles and tendons to be released, allowing for better blood (Xue) and Qi circulation throughout the entire body. Whereas, the contraction of the muscles, tendons and the closing (He) of the joints can act as a method of gathering the blood and Qi, which can effect the circulation by slowing it down or causing the blood & Qi to stagnate. Because the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong is a medical practice to help treat individuals who suffer with various ailments the physical actions of each of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong are used alongside the breathing (Xi) and the sounds (Tian Lai) to relax the muscles, tendons, joints around a particular internal organ (Zangfu) that a particular exercise is targeting to ether tonify or disperse the Qi within the organ.

Some of the the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Exercises are more dynamic in their physical actions than others. Each particular exercises will stretch open (Kai) and contract, close (He) the muscles around a particular organ to gently massage the organ to help tonify or invigorate the Qi to help strengthen and nourish the internal organ back to good health.Many individuals who practice the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong for the very first time are surprised how strong the physical actions of Guiding & Leading (Daoyin) the blood & Qi are, many can ache a little after practicing some of the exercises.

Obviously for those who are seriously ill and maybe are bed ridden. Then if they cannot perform any of the physical actions from their bed, then they will concentrate on just the sounds to help vibrate the internal organ and change the Qi within the organ by either tonifying, building, strengthening the Qi or by dispersing, spreading clearing the turbid Qi (Zhuo Qi) out of the infected organ. But for those individuals who can maybe perform some of the movements from their bed alongside the making of the a certain sound, then the effect can be made stronger on the organ itself.

LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Broadsword Form” (Feng Shou Dao).

When I started to learn the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu weapons under my teacher Master Chee Soo, sadly not many students actually finished and completed any weapon form that he was teaching. Such as the Staff (Gun) & Broadsword (Dao), the reason being, was that the forms were so long in their sequence with over two hundred movements per-weapon form. So we in the LFIAA teach our students in the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu shorter weapon forms that an individual can learn within a shorter period of time, as long as they sacrifice some of their own time & energy to study and practice the forms to perfect them.

Even thou the weapon forms like the Broadsword (Dao) that we teach within the LFIAA are much shorter in their duration than the traditional Broadsword forms that I learnt from Master Chee Soo. They are still packed with information on how to use the Broadsword defensively or offensively, plus within the Broadsword form there are plenty of two-person training drills that teaches each student to Stick & Adhere (Nian/Zhan) to each others weapon, plus there are disarm methods and joint locking methods (Qin Na) that gives practical application alongside the weapon form practice.

The benefits of learning a shorter weapon form allows each student to have practiced a complete weapon form, that they can develop and improve over time, building their own proficiency in wielding that particular weapon, plus it means that they have something that they can now practice at home which that has a start, middle and end. Whereas, if you were learning the much more longer traditional weapon forms that was taught by Master Chee Soo, chances are you won’t have a finished or completed a form to take home and study for many years to come. Another aspect to learning a much longer weapon form is that you have to practice and maintain the quality of the said weapon form, which again means a lot of sacrifice of time & energy on the behalf of every student.

The learning of a typical Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu weapon form that is taught by the LFIAA not only teaches each student how to use a particular weapon in a defensively or offensively manner. But it should also help to develop each students leg, arm, back and core strength, develop their agility, co-ordination, concentration, flexibility, fitness & stamina. Practicing the weapon forms should also benefit the health and wellbeing alongside the martial art techniques, so that strength & fitness are maintained and developed as we all get older.

LFIAA Yang Style TAI CHI Sword 16 Step Form (Yangshi Taiji Jian Shiliu Shi)

For those individuals who are studying and practicing the Yang Style Tai Chi Simplified Forms and would like to progress further with their practice. Then the practice of the Yang Style Tai Chi Sword Simplified 16 Step Form is a great introduction for beginners to learning the weapon side to the Yang Style Tai Chi System. As with the practice of the Tai Chi Form the Tai Chi Sword (Taiji Jian) will still develop each individual’s balance, co-ordination and concentration, plus the breathing is co-ordinated with the movements as in the practice of the Tai Chi Solo Form and will add another dimension to the practice of the Tai Chi Sword Form.

Learning to control the movement of the Tai Chi Sword in a smooth flowing action takes a lot of skill and control from the individual. Practicing the Tai Chi Sword offers each individual the same health related benefits and strength development as the Tai Chi Solo Form, learning the Yang Style Simplified Tai Chi Sword Form will introduce each individual to the 13 Sword methods (Shisan Jian Fa) which are Drag, Cut, Lift, Block, Strike, Stab, Dot, Stir, Press, Split, Intercept, Collapse, Clear. Which are equivalent to the Tai Chi Solo Forms Eight Gates of Ward Off, Rollback, Press, Squeeze, Split, Pluck, Elbow, Bump.

Even thou we call the Yang Tai Chi Sword Form a Simplified Method, there is still a tremendous amount of depth and knowledge to be attained from its practice that can challenge each individual to reach a high level of proficiency within its practice. Sadly to many people are put off from the study of the Tai Chi Sword because they think it is to dangerous and violent, but for those who already study and practice the Yang Style Tai Chi Sword Simplified Forms, they will tell you that it is a great way to exercise in helping to maintain & improve one’s health and wellbeing as it also compliments the Yang Style Tai Chi Simplified Bare Hand Form.

Once an individual has been studying and practicing the Yang Style Simplified Tai Chi Sword for some time and has achieved a reasonably level of proficiency. They can then move onto the practice of the two-person Tai Chi Sword training drills which will increase each individual’s skill to control the actions of the Sword while performing its thirteen Sword methods (Shisan Jian Fa) with a training partner.

LFIAA TAI CHI Joint Locking Methods For Self Defence “Taiji Qin Na ZI Wei Fa”.

There are many benefits to the study and practice of Tai Chi. Many choose to practice to help maintain & improve their health and wellbeing, especially as we will all get older and our bodies will degenerate and regular prac active of Tai Chi can help us to remain fit and strong. But another aspect to the practice of Tai Chi is its Self Defence Methods, which sadly not many individuals are interested in learning. But in our growing violent world we’re we hear about the elderly being attacked in their own homes, innocent people being attacked in the street, children and teenagers being bullied in schools and university’s, work colleagues physically assaulting each in the other work place the study and practice of Tai Chi’s Self Defence is just has important today as it ever was.

I think that the reason why many individuals who practice Tai Chi for its health benefits, and not for its Self Defence, is that they think it will take to long to learn. But if they only placed the same amount of time & effort to the Tai Chi Self Defence as they already do for its health practice, then they would be very skilled in both. Another reason why many won’t practice Tai Chi for Self Defence, is that they are scared about getting hurt, but with correct teaching and practice each individual will gradually develop and strengthen their own self confidence, self control & self awareness.

In today’s violent society were the elderly are attacked in their homes, children and teenagers bullied in schools and university’s, innocent people assaulted in the street. Learning some of Tai Chi’s Self Defence Methods could one day save you from a violent situation, or you could one day save another innocent person from being attacked. To us who have been practicing Tai Chi as a whole discipline, there is no difference in practicing Tai Chi for its health benefits and practicing for its Self Defence, to us it’s just on the same spectrum. As being attacked could really effect your health and wellbeing for many years after the assault, considering the emotional and mental trauma that come with an assault.

Learning how to use the Eight Energies of Tai Chi to help break free from many types of holds and grips that could be placed on yourself, using little strength, but a superior knowledge of angles, leverage and whole body strength to help you escape and then apply fast, practical & effective joint locking techniques that can be used to immobilise or subdue any assailant, irrespective of their strength or size can be learnt, practiced and applied by children, women and men to help protect themselves.

LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu’s “Yin & Yang Connected Palms.

A skilled practitioner of the Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu should be able to connect both their defensive (Yin) and offensive (Yang) Hand Methods (Shou Fa). Within a multitude of variations, blending and combining a single hand defensive method with a series of offensive palm strikes (Zhang Da) that can involve either alternating palm strikes alongside double palms strikes off just the one hand.

Many teachers advocate to their students that the many palm & arm ward offs, deflections and parry’s practiced in the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu are purely used for defensive reasons only. But we in the LFIAA are also taught to look at the many defensive hand methods as entry’s that can open up the attackers own defences, this then means that each practitioner has to learn how to develop practical, fast and effective lines of attack, that involve a series of striking combinations that are delivered from various angles.

A typical example that is practiced by members of the LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu is to use an inward arm ward off/deflection, using the same arm to then immediately counter strike back with a reverse Chopping Palm strike ( Fan Kan Zhang Da), then using the same palm deliver a straight crushing palm strike (Ya Zhang Da) and then follow up with a rear straight crushing palm strike. There are many combinations that can be used and it is up to each practitioner to research and experiment with different defensive ward offs/deflections and blend them with different offensive striking angles.

Each of the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu defensive hand methods are used in a very manipulative way, as to not just only block the attackers blows. But to create openings by tactfully sticking to the attackers limbs and to then move the attackers arms away to create enough space to deliver strikes into. This is what we call skilful hand methods, as it takes each practitioner lots of time and effort to reach this level of high standard within the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu System. As many non-experienced individuals would look to just ward off/block and strike using a single strike, and not try to use multiple strikes aimed at various angles using just one hand or both.