There are hundreds of people who are practicing the standardised taiji qigong 18 exercises for health and wellbeing. Because the exercises are easy to learn, does not mean that individuals should interpret the movements to suit themselves, but should follow the guiding principles that all taijiquan styles follow. This means that when individuals practice the taiji qigong exercises that they are circular in their actions and should be using straight line movements, as this is not real taijiquan.
As with all the many different styles of taijiquan, the practice of the 18 exercises of taiji qigong should be no exception in that they should involve the circular shapes of horizontal, vertical and sidewards circular actions, that can also blend together in some of the taiji qigong 18 exercises. For example the taiji qigong exercise what we call “Rolling/Reeling Hands” (Gun Shou), involves the both arms to move in an alternating action, either side of the body using big vertical circles, while the torso gently turns from the waist in an horizontal circle side to side.
Even thou the taiji qigong 18 exercises seem easy to learn, they are in actual fact hard to master. As not only will each exercise develop each individual’s co-ordination, balance and concentration, they will greatly improve each person’s joint, tendon, muscle flexibility, increase their range of mobility and strengthen their legs. There is a tremendous amount of timing, accuracy, precision and discipline that also needs to be taken into account.
Lastly, we must also mention that each individual must learn how to breath deeply, long, slow and smoothly in co-ordination with their taiji qigong movements. The breathing will dictate the speed of each exercise, which obviously must be slow and smooth with no sudden changes of speed and no pauses or hesitations. The whole body should be harmonised together as one unit, there should be no isolated movements, were the arms are moving, but the rest of the body is static, as in taijiquan practice there is a saying that “If one part moves, everything moves, if one part stops, then everything stops”.
The Kidneys are the most Yin organ of the five Zang (visceral organs) and is some times called the “Root Of Life” because this is were our original essence (Jing) is stored our prenatal Qi that was given to us by our parents and make us who we are today. The Kidneys are responsible for our growth, development, reproductive functions, bones, marrow they control the fluids within our body. The Kidneys are paired with the Urinary Bladder and belong to the season of winter were they can become Qi deficient and need to be cared for at this time of the year.
The Eight Healing Sounds Medical Qigong For The Kidneys involves a gentle turning of the torso that stretches the area of the Kidneys to open and close the muscles that surround the Kidneys to give them a gentle massage, alongside the breathing and making of the “Heng” sound either in an audible or non-audible tone to tonify or disperse the excessive or deficient Qi, that is effecting the functioning of the Kidneys and in some cases to cause illness.
The practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong can be performed from a lying, sitting, standing or walking method of exercise. If an individual is seriously ill with a Kidney ailment and is confined to their bed, then the Healing Sound for the Kidneys and actions can still be practiced to change the functioning of the Qi within the Kidneys to benefit the individuals health. The most powerful method to practice any of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong is through the walking practice which can be performed in any direction.
The practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong should also be practiced by those who are fit and healthy to help maintain and improve their health and wellbeing. The more regular each individual can practice the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong the better they are in being able to maintain the balance of their Qi within the five Zang internal organs to nourish and strengthen their health.
As seen in the accompanying picture that comes with this particular blog. You can see the application of what we call “Breaking the Chickens Wing Wrist Lock” (Fen Ji Chi Wan Suo), this particular Wrist Lock Method (Wan Sao Fa) is a very strong, effective and practical technique that can be applied from various holds, grips and strikes. Once applied it can cause serious damage to the wrist joint, mis-placing the joint and tearing the tendons, causing terrific nerve damage and tremendous pain.
The practitioners hand grips the back of the opponents hand between the “Tiger Mouth” (Hu Kou) area of his or her hand, which is the gap between the thumb and index finger, the practitioners thumb also passes through and between the opponents thumb and index fingers. The four fingers of the hand grips the little finger edge of the opponents hand and forces the wrist to bend at the wrist, while the practitioners opposite hand reaches towards the opponents elbow joint and bends it, so that the opponents arm is bent like a letter “S”. The hand that is controlling the opponents hand twists the little finger edge of the opponents hand forwards, while the free hand which is placed on the opponents elbow gently presses it downwards, so that both of the practitioners hands are moving in opposite directions of each other to apply this wrist lock.
The “Break The Chickens Wing Wrist Lock” can be applied from a standing position, once applied the practitioner as the option to then lead the opponent to the ground to subdue or immobilise them on their front, face down, were then can then transform into another joint lock (Jie Suo) to comfortably control and pin the opponent to the ground. This lock once applied needs little strength to control a much bigger and stronger individual, using a superior knowledge of angles, leverage and balance the Li Style Qin Na practitioner can effectively and practically use this joint locking method to defend themselves.
“Breaking the Chickens Wing Wrist Lock Method” (Fen Ji Chi Wan Suo Fa) is just one of many joint locking methods (Jie Suo Fa) that are taught and practiced within the Li Style (Lishi) Qin Na-Kung Fu system to help defend against an aggressive opponent who wishes to cause you harm. These particular joint locking techniques are suitable for both females and males to learn to help them escape from various type holds, grips and punches, the Li Style Qin Na is an extensive system that is an ideal self defence system for our fast, stressful modern lifestyle we’re you could be physically attacked within your place of work, school, university, home or out socially by a complete stranger, family member, friend or work colleague.
The Lungs are one of the five Zang (visceral organs) and in Traditional Chinese Medicine are considered to be the lid of the internal organs. The Lungs are the controller of the Qi and descends the Qi downwards to the rest of the internal organs in cooperation with the Spleen to help them maintain their functioning, the Lungs control the ability to inhale and exhale and are connected to the large intestine (Fu) organ to help transport and discard the waste materials. The Lungs are also called the delicate organ in Chinese medicine as they can easily suffer from seasonal climate changes.
The Lungs are connected to the Autumn period of the year and at this time of the year individuals with weak lung Qi can easily suffer with colds, influenza, sore throats or a stuffy nose. Practicing the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Exercise for the Lungs can help to tonify the lung Qi and begin to strengthen them, there are three main methods that every individual much take into account if they wish to practice the Eight Healing Sounds for the Lung. Firstly the movements have to stretch open and close the muscles that surround the lungs to gently massage and strengthen them, secondly the breathing has to be long and deep by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, thirdly is the making of the “Ah” sound which can be made audible or non-audible to either tonify or disperse both the clear (Qing Qi) or turbid (Zhuo Qi) in the Lungs.
As with all of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Exercises they can all be performed from either a lying, sitting, standing or walking position. Making these particular holistic exercises accessible to everyone to help maintain or improve their health and wellbeing. The emotion that is associated to harming the Qi of the Lungs is excessive sadness or grief which can dissipate or weaken the Qi of the Lungs leaving each individual vulnerable to external pathogenic conditions that can cause illnesses. Regular practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Exercise for the Lungs can help to regulate the Qi within the Lungs for those who suffer with asthma, bronchitis and for those who smoke.
The one particular stance that every student of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu recognises as a ground fighting stance is the “Drunkard Stance” (Zui Han Shi). But it can not only just be used to defend oneself from the ground, it can also be used to throw the opponent to the ground by the student moving from a standing position into the ground Drunkard Stance. Sadly not many practitioners of this Li Family Internal Martial Art (Lijia Quan) seem to understand fully how to use the Drunkard Stance fighting methods, other than defending themselves from the ground.
As I have already mentioned the practitioner can begin their defensive methods from a standing position. But to then fall to the ground in a specific variety of ways moving into the Drunkard Stance, so as to trip or throw the opponent to the ground, applying joint locks, strikes or kicks to finish the confrontation. The joint lock techniques applied on the opponent include leg and ankle joint locks (Qin Na), as the practitioners legs can be used wrap around the opponents legs to trip them over in a forwards or backwards direction.
Within the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu the Drunkard Stance is properly the least used Stance by many of its practitioners. Because there are many who have not been taught how to use the Drunkard Stance not only as a defensive ground fighting stance. But also as an offensive fighting method that allows the practitioner to quickly trip or the throw their opponent to the ground. Offensively, the use of the Drunkard Stance could be used by a much smaller person to trip or throw a much bigger or stronger individual, such as a female using the whole of her bodyweight to throw a much bigger Male to the ground. Or maybe the environment that you are in is wet, icy making the ground very slippery and difficult to stand upright, so you decide to fall to the ground tripping your opponent up at the same time, causing them to fall heavily to the ground.
The Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu is a very comprehensive internal martial art that not only does stand up fighting methods. But can also include aerial kicks and ground fighting methods. As Master Chee Soo would always mention, that at the highest level of fighting ability the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner must be able to change and adapt their fighting methods to overcome any situation.
Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the functioning of the Spleen which is one of the five Zang (visceral organs) has three main functions. Alongside working with the Stomach (Fu) internal organ they both help to regulate the transport and metabolism of water and nutrients. The water absorbed is transported upwards into the lungs to generate Qi, and the excessive water plus the metabolic wastes are then transported downwards to the kidneys for excretion. The Spleen also helps to regulate the circulation of blood (Xue) especially in carrying the nutrients within the blood to maintain healthy skeletal muscles and strengthening the immune system.
The practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong (Ba Zi Jue Gong) especially for the functioning of the Spleen involves the gentle twisting of the torso, turning both left and right to stretch open the muscles around the Spleen and as well to contract the muscles to squeeze the Spleen. The both are arms folded around the waist locating to their specific acu-point cavities (Qixue), as the individual twists their torso to the left and right folding their arms around their waist, they will then make either a non-audible sound or an audible sound out through the mouth, either in a long smooth, gentle tone or in a loud, strong tone. The sound that should be made by each individual is the “Mei” sound, which is the sound much like an Ox would use, hence why we call it jokingly the Mad Ox Sound.
The aim of combining both the physical actions with the making of the “Mei” sound is to either gently or strongly stretch open and vibrate the Spleen organ to either tonify the Qi within it, if it is to deficient, or to disperse the Qi within the Spleen if it is to excessive. Individuals who suffer with digestive problems like peptic ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is associated with anxiety who come into my clinic for treatment using Acupuncture or Bodywork Massage, I would also teach them the Qigong movements and sound for the Spleen for them to practice at home daily to help regulate their Spleen Qi and anxiety issues.
The practice of the Spleen Qigong exercise and sound should also be practiced daily to help maintain the balance of Yin & Yang energies within everyone to help promote good health and wellbeing, irrespective of how old you are. The Spleen Qigong exercise and sounds can be performed from a lying, sitting, standing position, even performed as a walking exercise in any direction.
Within the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu we have a training method what we call as “Takedowns”. This is were students of this Li Family Internal Martial Art (Li Jia Quan) learn how to apply various takedown methods against an opponent who either try’s to grab a hold of you, or delivers a punch or kick at yourself. The Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner then practices various techniques on how to take an aggressive opponent to the ground using joint locking techniques (Qin Na Fa), pressure point methods (Dianxue Fa) or fast throwing methods (Kuai Shuai Fa) which are all accompanied with effective striking methods.
When the opponent is placed onto the ground from a successful takedown method (Di Ya Shou Fa). They are placed onto the ground in Five positions which are (1). lying on their back, (2) lying face down, (3 & 4) lying on their right or left side or (5) sitting upright on their butt. The practitioner can be standing alongside the opponents body, or kneeling alongside or on the body, or they can actually sit on the opponents body to help pin and control them. One thing that the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner’s are not taught to perform is to lay on the ground as seen in modern MMA Martial Arts, as against multiple opponents this can leave the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner very vulnerable.
Against multiple opponents the takedown methods have to be practical, effective and simple in their applications, with quick joint locking techniques that can cause serious damage to the opponent leaving them in great pain, while they place their attention onto the next attacker. Whereas, if the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner was just defending themselves against a single attacker, then the takedown method that would be used, would be to subdue or immobilise the opponent to control them.
Out of the five takedown ground positions that are taught to students of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu. The first position were the opponent is placed face up onto their back is properly the most dangerous. As obviously, the opponent can still see you and can easily escape from the takedown. Whereas, the face down position is properly the most safest to perform as seen in the accompanying photo that is attached to this blog.
In the study and practice of Tai Chi everyone will come across various names mentioned in its practice like “grounded, being centred, sinking and of cause rooting”. All these terms are talking about the same method, which is to be able to sink your centre of gravity into the ground to aid your stability while performing your Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form. Learning to develop your connection with the earth through the sinking of your Qi (energy) through the Gushing Spring (Yongquan Kidney 1 Point) Located on the balls of your feet will not just benefit your stability, but help to generate strength into your actions.
When practicing your Tai Chi the upper body should feel relaxed, light and soft in its movements. Whereas, the lower body must feel heavy, strong and stable. The pelvis and knee’s must sink downwards to help lower the centre of gravity, allowing the top half of the individuals upper bodyweight to sink downwards and be carried by the both legs. Allowing the legs to carry the bodyweight will gradually strengthen your legs bones, muscles and ligaments to improve your fitness, balance and increase your blood, Qi and lymph fluid circulation.
Because the practice of Tai Chi is also considered to be a “Moving Meditation” practice. Then learning to sink your Qi through the “Gushing Spring” energy points (Qixue) on the balls of each foot into the ground also acts as an anchor that stops all of your Qi from travelling upwards into your head, which can cause some individuals to feel dizzy and light headed even feint. This is because, if to much Qi raises upwards into the head, it can cause the individual’s blood pressure to rise, hence making them feel feint and dizzy. In some serious cases if to much Qi raises upwards it can become stuck within the head and can cause mania or psychosis to develop, that is why it is important to sink, root your bodyweight and Qi into the ground to anchor your Qi downwards.
Developing a better sense of connection with the ground by learning to sink and root your Qi into the ground. Will allow each individual to be able to generate more power (Jin) into their Tai Chi martial techniques to issue power out (Fajin) of any part of their body. This is why in the Tai Chi Classics it mentions that the strength and power travels upwards from the ground (Di) through the legs into the waist (Yao), were it is then directed into the both hands and fingers to be issued out (Fajin).
Another obvious reason for relaxing (Song) and concentrating on sinking and lowering your muscular tension downwards through your body and into the ground. Is to help the whole body to remain soft and relaxed benefiting the circulation of blood and Qi to flow smoothly throughout the entire body to boost, strengthen and nourish the health and wellbeing of each person.
September sees the beginning of the Autumnal period of the year, were the heat of summer is cooled with the freshness of Autumn, this can effect the condition of our Lung Qi to weaken causing loads of people to suffer with colds and influenza as the seasonal temperature gradually cools. The Daoists call this period of the year the “White Tiger” as the colour white is associated with the Five Elements and is the colour for the Metal Element (Jin). Whereas, the Tiger (Hu) is associated with the East, because of the heat of summer the Lungs can suffer with excessive dryness which can harm their functioning, so it is important at this time of the year to consume plenty of water to help keep the Lungs moist and in a much healthier state.
The Autumn seasonal seated daoyin exercises (Si Ji Zuo Gong) for the Lungs are to be practiced daily over the three months of Autumn to help strengthen, nourish and repair the functioning of the Qi in the Lungs after the heat of summer for the maintenance of good health and wellbeing. The exercise involves breathing (Xi), Self massage (Tui Na) and movement (Dong) that gently stretches the body to invigorate the circulation, plus mindfulness meditation to connect and develop the three treasures of the body essences (Jing), energy (Qi) and spirit (Shen).
As the seasons gradually change from one into the other, they can have a great effect on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of every individual. For example each season brings with it a different climate changes in Winter it is cold, in Spring it is Windy, In The Summer it is Hot, in Autumn there is Dampness etc. This natural climate change can have harmful effects on the functioning of our internal organs for example the dampness of Autumn can affect the functioning of the Spleen the heat of Summer can affect the Lungs etc. As for our emotional balance the Autumn period as we know is associated with the Lungs and excessive sadness or grief can harm the balance of Qi within the Lungs, whereas to much anger, irritability, frustration can harm the Qi within the Liver.
The practicing of the Four Seasonal Seated Daoyin Exercises helps to keep our Qi in balance with the seasonal changes of nature to help maintain health and wellbeing. They are practiced to strengthen, nourish and repair the Qi within the internal organs of the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs and Kidneys to maintain our ability to stay healthy and to live a long life. In today’s fast paced lifestyle that many individuals live, no wonder that so many people suffer with physical, mental and emotional ill health as they don’t seem to give anytime to looking after themselves. The practice of the Four Seasons Seated Daoyin Exercise allow the individual to find some peace and stillness within themselves to strengthen their Jing, Qi and Shen. After all what is more important in life other than looking after your own health.
Over the last twenty years or more the practice of the Taiji Qigong’s 18 Exercises Form (Taiji Qigong Shibashi). As become a very popular exercise for thousands of people all around the world, as they can be performed within a small confined area and help to improve and strengthen each individual’s balance, co-ordination and concentration. Each of the 18 exercises are easy to learn, but can take a very long time to master them all, as the whole of the body must be involved with each exercise, with no isolated movements were the arms are moving, but the rest of the body is motionless.
Practicing the Taiji Qigong 18 Exercises means that there are guiding principles that everyone must follow and abide by. The guiding principles or rules are there to improve each individual’s skill level in the performance of the Taiji Qigong 18 Exercises and to stop them from making big mistakes that can hinder their progress and possible harm their health. For example, there are no straight line movements in the practice of Taiji Qigong, only circular actions. The joints must not be locked, but must remain slightly bent, this includes the lower extremities as well. Every movement must be co-ordinated with the breathing and must be slowly and at an even speed with no sudden changes of tempo.
When I see individuals practicing one of the most popular exercises out of the Taiji Qigong 18 Exercises, which is the “Pushing the Wave Exercise” (Tui Lang Qigong). They have a tendency to lock their elbows and knees, and move their hands ahead of the rest of the body, giving a very disconnected action of the whole body. Usually they have a tendency to speed up their movements, which then makes their movements become more linear, rather than circular.
The purpose of each of the Taiji Qigong 18 Exercise is to connect the mind, body & breath together as one complete unit. Moving the whole body actions slowly with deep co-ordinated breathing is the key to strengthening, nourishing and maintaining the health and wellbeing of every individual’s who practices the Taiji Qigong 18 Exercises Form. Regular practice can help to strengthen weak leg muscles, strengthening the bones and fitness of the legs to improve the ability to balance. Developing flexibility within the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles to help release accumulated muscular tension and joint stiffness to help improve blood, Qi and lymph fluid circulation throughout the entire body to improve and maintain a healthy individual.