LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Eight Standing Post Work” (Ba Zhan Zhuang Qigong).

This is a subject that I can honestly say is very little taught never alone practiced by many teachers and students of the Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu. My teacher Master Chee Soo always mentioned that Feng Shou-Kung Fu was an Internal Martial Art, and for many, many students and teachers over at least the last forty years thought that an Internal Martial Art was just about learning to give way to strength and force. Many could not get they head around Master Chee Soo teaching qigong breathing exercises within their training sessions, all they focused on was just the physical striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing aspect to this martial art.

But the importance of learning the “Internal” development to the Feng Shou-Kung Fu as sadly only been practiced by only a few individuals. Alongside the practice of the qigong breathing exercises there is also the Standing Post Work (Zhan Zhuang Qigong) which should also be regularly practiced alongside the striking & kicking techniques. We at the LFIAA teach the Eight Standing Post Postures (Ba Zhan Zhuang Qigong) which students will learn and practice moving from one into another in a variety of variations.

Once the student can hold each of the eight standing post postures for at least five to ten minutes, breathing deeply into the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian). The next stage is to then focus on guiding and leading (Daoyin) the Qi through the Eight Extraordinary Meridians (Qi Jing Ba Mai), this is were the student has to use their Intent (Yi) Mind to lead the energy (Qi) through the Eight Extraordinary Meridians throughout the entire body, combining their breathing with their concentration to harmonise with their Qi.

For any student and teacher who practice’s the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu if you want longevity in your martial art. Then you need to practice the Standing Post Qigong to strengthen your health, but more importantly to develop your internal power to combine with your external physical strength adding more power to your defensive & offensive fighting methods.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Poison Hand Hand & Foot Methods” (Du Shoujiaofa)

When I was first taught the Poison Hand Striking Sets (Du Shou Da Fa) by my first teacher of the Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu Shifu Derek Williams 4th Dengji. I was taught a linear method of how to perform each of the Poison Hand Sets which moved in two directions forwards and backwards. It was not until I started to learn from Master Chee Soo that I was taught to perform each set using angular footwork methods, but the kicking techniques that was used within each set was limited to just one basic kicking method, it was not until you were taught the higher numbered sets that the kicking techniques increased.

Over the many years that I have been studying and practicing the Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu as allowed me to expand my Poison Hand training by combining various stepping actions, kicking methods alongside the Poison Hand Striking Sets. This particular training involves linear, angular, circular footwork methods with defensive and offensive striking and kicking methods (Du Shoujiaofa) that is practiced on both sides of the body to develop a better coordinated individual.

Because of the continuous circle walking that each practitioner performs before and after each Poison Hand & Foot Set is performed, will develop each practitioners fitness and stamina, as there is no stopping, hesitations or pauses, which allows each practitioner do as many repetitions, changing of direction from right to left or vice-versa. This then begins to develop the individuals breathing to promote blood, lymph and Qi circulation throughout the whole body, plus it develops their ability to issue whole body power (Zheng Shen Li) into each of their Poison Hand Strikes & Kicks.

Obviously, for Qi cultivation and fitness development the emphasis is to walk more circles and perform the Poison Hand Sets less. Whereas, for the martial art development walk less circles and perform the Poison Hand Sets more frequently. But if you can try to balance the circle walking & Poison Hand Sets practice on a more even scale.

LFIAA Taiji Qigong “The Cloud Hands Exercise” (Yun Shou Fa)

The taijiquan exercise known as “Cloud Hands or Waving Hands in Clouds (Yun Shou Fa) is a very iconic image they you see many individuals perform or have photos taken of them in the Cloud Hands Posture. But the exercise itself is not just found within the practice of taijiquan in general, in fact the Cloud Hands Exercise is universally found throughout many ancient Chinese Daoist qigong exercises and forms and was properly added to the taiji practice from qigong itself.

The practice of taijiquan Cloud Hands Exercise is usually performed from a standing position, either in a fixed position or as a moving step exercise. The benefits related to this exercise are many, firstly it can be used to relax the individuals body and mind, strengthen their digestive system, and boosts the vitality levels, it strengthens the core muscles, shoulders, back, arms and legs and stretches the back muscles and spinal column.

When stepping is applied to the practice of the Cloud Hands Exercise, it begins to develop and improve the individuals leg strength and also their balance, plus it strengthens their concentration and coordination, the stepping that is used allows the practitioner to move sidewards in both directions which balances the flow of blood, lymph and Qi to circulate freely and smoothly throughout the whole body to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing.

The Cloud Hands Exercise is part of the taiji qigong set of eighteen exercise form, which means that other exercises can be connected to it as part of a sequence of exercises, or it can be performed on its own separately as a solo exercise.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Staff (Gun Fa) Linear & Angular Defensive & Offensive Stepping Methods”.

The Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu Staff linear and angular stepping exercise has many variations to its practice. But it is important that every student of this Chinese Internal Martial Art (IMA) learn these stepping methods not just armed with a Staff (Gun) but with other weapons as well. This stepping exercise teaches each student how to control the fighting distance by using both defensive and offensive stepping methods, the straight linear ladder step (Ti Bu) is used to attack the opponent as it is the shortest route between the two of you. Whereas, the angular stepping method (Shu Bu Fa) is used to evade or dodge away from your opponents attack.

As I have already mentioned, there is a tremendous amount of depth and variation to this practice, and it is important that every student study’s and practice’s this exercise before moving onto practicing the same exercise with a training partner. Practicing this solo training exercise will naturally make the students defensive and offensive footwork to become more instinctive and ready to practice with another student.

When holding the Staff the student will use what we call the “Three Section Staff” this is were there are three parts to the Staff a top, middle and bottom. When attacking with the a Staff it will be with the top and bottom ends of the Staff, defensively the three sections are used to block and deflect any in-coming strikes at various angles directed towards you. When adding both the linear and angular footwork to your Staff defensive and offensive methods to begin to develop whole body power into your techniques.

Students should be practicing these solo Staff exercises while learning and practicing the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu Staff Form. As they bring the Staff Form techniques more into real application, especially when you start to commence training with a partner.

LFIAA Kunlun ‘s Fisherman Casts The Net Qigong.

The Kunlun’s Fisherman Casts The Net Qigong exercise combines both passive, slow movements alongside vigorous, fast actions. The whole body must be coordinated the five components of the legs, torso, arms, eyes and breath must be connected smoothly together and performed on both sides of the body. This particular exercise can strengthen the leg muscles and bones, gently stretch the whole back to release tension from the back muscles and stiffness from the spinal column, loosen the shoulders and arms to stretch the soft tissue.

The Fisherman Casts the Net Qigong commences with the both hands forming a Wuji (Emptiness) circle around the navel with the both hands. This is to locate the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) which is located at the acupuncture point known as the (Qihai) Sea of Energy point 4, located on the Conception Vessel (Ren Mai). The both hands will move away and return back to the lower Dantian forming the Wuji circle with the both hands, when the both hands return the individual breaths inwards, whereas, when the both hands move away the individual will breath out. On the returning action with the both hands to the lower Dantian the individual must have a feeling of gathering the Qi.

When the both arms/hands extend away from the lower Dantian they will speed up and will have a flicking, shaking action of the whole arms, hands and fingers. This flicking, shaking action is there to disperse the sickly energy (Bingqi) out of the entire body, like wringing water off your both hands. The shaking, flicking action helps to relax the muscles, tendons of the arms to increase blood, lymph and Qi circulation into the hands and fingers, but more importantly the action is used to disperse stuck emotional energy that has accumulated deep in the individuals body due to a traumatic incident which has left the individual feeling anxious, tense, irritable, angry fearful and depressed. Obviously, it can take some time to gradually remove this blockage but with dedication and regular practice each individual can gain a terrific benefit from this exercise in learning to simply “letting go”.

At a much deeper practice the individual must try to make the whole body spiral, twist and circle from the feet to the head. This is known as “Silk Reeling Work” (Chansigong) the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists & fingers must begin to draw small to large spiralling circles. This allows the joints to gently open and close to strongly pulse the blood, lymph and Qi into the extremities, the soft tissues of the body the skin, fascia, tendons and muscles are gently stretched to release any stuck tension that lays within them to hinder the circulation.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Single & Double Sabre Training” (Dan Shuang Dao Fa).

The Chinese have a saying that is used within all of its many internal & external martial art styles. That, “The Weapon Is Just An Extension Of The Hand”, meaning that if you have developed a good training foundation within the particular martial that that you are training in, then you should be able to pick up and use any weapon within the structure of your martial art practice. Usually in the LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu each practitioner will begin training within the Single Broadsword (Dan Dao), practicing forms, two-person defensive & offensive exercises, evasion sets, disarms, joint locks, takedowns etc.

Once the practitioner as developed a good structure in the practice of the Single Sabre, then they can progress to learning and practicing the Double Sabre’s (Shuang Dao). Practicing the Double Sabre’s will develop each practitioners coordination as they have to be of equal skill with both hands. Again students will learn the Double Sabre forms, two-persons defensive & offensive exercises, disarms, takedowns etc. Sadly, nowadays it is very rare to find students who are fully committed to learning and maintaining their practice of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu weapons and especially the single & double sabre’s, as in today’s martial arts community the sabre is considered to be too traditional for our modern society.

But the actions of the single & double sabre’s are actually the same as if you were using a single or double knife, but only bigger in their actions. The Chinese word for knife is (Dao), the Chinese consider the sabre as a knife (a rather big one).

LFIAA Taiji Qigong “Reeling Hands Exercise” (Chan Shou Qigong).

The taiji qigong exercise known as “Reeling Hands” (Chan Shou Qigong) is taken out of the traditional taijiquan practice and is known as “Repulsing the Monkey”. This particular exercise develops the coordination, as its movements are repeated on both sides of the body. The body must rise and sink through the upwards, lifting and sinking, pulling actions of the both legs, the the body raises the waist turns to one side and the both arms are lifted upwards to shoulder height, with the both palms facing upwards, the both eyes look in the direction that the navel is pointing.

As the body raises and the waist turns the both arms are lifted to shoulder height. The right hand then continues to rise and performs a salute to the right side of the head at eye level, all this is done while inhaling. On the exhale the body sinks downwards, the waist turns back to face front, but the right hand now gently pushes forwards, passing over the top of the left hand, momentarily the both palms face each other. The left hand slowly pulls back towards the waist, but must not touch the body. The whole actions are then repeated on the opposite side of the body.

When performing the “Reeling Hands” taiji qigong exercise the whole body must move at the same speed with no sudden changes of speed or any hesitations. The over-al movements should be slow, smooth and soft and it is the breathing (Xi) that should dictate the speed of the movements. The five components of the whole body should be fully connected and harmonised together with no isolated movements.

Regular practice of the “Reeling Hands” taiji qigong exercise can help to develop a more relaxed body & mind. It can develop the flexibility within the shoulders, back muscles, spinal column and waist, it strengthens the leg muscles, bones and core muscles of the trunk promoting better blood, lymph and Qi circulation throughout the entire body.

LFIAA Wild Goose “Flap & Shake The Wings Qigong” Exercise.

The Wild Goose Qigong exercise known as “Flapping the wings & Shake the wings” is a really powerful exercise for many individuals to help maintain a more relaxed body and a calm mind. Regular practice with a high repetition of the exercise can also mobilise the blood, lymph and Qi to circulate around the whole body removing any blood stasis, blocked Qi that many have accumulated within certain areas of the body. The actions of the Flap & Shake the Wings Qigong exercise involves rolling, pushing, twisting, flicking and shaking actions to help stretch the soft tissues of the body and opening the joints to release stuck tension & stiffness.

Physically the rising and sinking of the whole body will help to strengthen the leg muscles and bones. The actions of the arms will stretch the muscles and tendons to maintain their strength, the breathing which is coordinated with the movements can help strengthen the respiratory system, calm the nervous system and help invigorate the cardiovascular system to develop fitness and stamina. The flicking and shaking actions can help to bring balance into each individuals emotions, especially if certain individuals are feeling any anxiety, tension, irritability or frustration. The flicking, shaking actions can help to release this frustration or irritability that one may be feeling some times with a quick result or gradually over time.

The Flap & Shake the Wings Qigong exercise combines to speeds, a slow, passive, even speed when flapping the wings and then a more vigorous, faster speed when shaking the wings. When practicing the “Shaking Wings” part of this particular qigong exercise, it is important that the individual shakes the whole arm the shoulders, elbows and wrists should gently bounce, the muscles should shake in a relaxed feeling. Over-al each individual should have a feeling or sensation of simply just “letting go” and not holding anything in. No tensing of the muscles, no locking up of the joints, no holding the breath, no holding back emotionally just “let go”.

LFIAA Taiji Qigong “Turning To Gaze At The Moon Exercise” (Zhuan Ningshi Yue Fa).

The taiji qigong exercise ” turn to gaze at the moon” is taken from the standardised taiji qigong 1st set of eighteen exercises. The aim is to gently turn the body from the waist, making sure to shift the bodyweight fully onto one leg at a time, alternating from one side of the body to the other. While turning the body the both hands must face each other all through the exercise, with the both (Laogong PC8) Qi points located in the centre of each palm aligned together, the turning of the body must be until the navel faces the right or left foot According to what side of the body you decide to turn to first, the eyes must look in the direction of were the navel is pointing and not to turn the head to far, so that the spinal column becomes mis-aligned.

The five components of the whole body must be harmonised smoothly together. The legs rising & sinking as they shift the bodyweight from one leg to the other, the turning of the body to either side as the body raises and to face front when the body sinks, the movements of the arms and hands must follow the turning of the waist (navel), with both hands moving in a circular figure eight shape on either side of the body, the eyes following the waist (navel) and not the hands as so many individuals make the mistake of, the breathing leads the over-al movements, inhaling as you rise the body upwards and exhaling, while the body sinks downwards.

As mentioned above the speed of the movements are dictated by the breathing. Which should be long, slow, deep, even and soft, there should not be any sudden pauses, hesitations or any changes of speed, each individual has to fully concentrate on remaining in control of the whole bodies actions and motion throughout the amount of repetitions that one decides to do. The more repetitions the greater the mind & body works and strengthens.

The benefits of practicing the taiji qigong turning to gaze at the moon exercise, are quite considerable. Firstly, it allows the individual to develop a more relaxed body and a calm mind, it develops their flexibility by releasing stuck muscle tension deep laying within the soft tissues of the body to help improve blood and Qi flow throughout the entire body. Strengthens the leg muscles and bones for suffers of osteoporosis, arthritis and those who suffer from falls syndrome. It can help to release tension, anxiety, stress and depression, over-al regular practice of the gazing at the moon exercise can maintain and improve health and wellbeing for all.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI “The Importance of Learning Guiding Principles”.

When I first began to learn the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi all those many years ago, there were some guiding principles like remaining as relaxed and loose (Song) within your movements, and making sure you drooped the elbows and never locked your joints mentioned, but that was about it. Because of this lack of guiding principles for students to follow, I believe sadly, that the Li Style Tai Chi has suffered greatly over the many years with many teachers and students interpreting their own ideas. Like adding a sudden change of direction that involves employing a straight line, turning their head in the opposite direction of their body, double weighted stances, both arms not moving at the same time and sudden changes of speed, isolated actions etc.

By learning to follow a set of guiding principles in the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi form. Develops within every student a disciplined, accurate way to practice, which in turn improves the over-al quality and standard of each individual, greatly benefiting their ability to maintain and improve their balance, coordination, body alignment, flexibility, breathing and concentration. Using good guidelines to abide by in the practice of the Li Style Tai Chi form also benefits each individuals ability to remain relaxed and soft in their actions, releasing tension and stiffness that has accumulated within the body to benefit their physical and mental health. Whereas, inaccurate movements that are performed without good guidelines to follow can actually harm the individual by bringing and adding more tension and stiffness into the body.

An example of this bad posture is when you see practitioners of the Li Style Tai Chi turning their head in the opposite direction to their body. This action brings tension into the neck muscles and stiffness into the cervical spine, which can cause stiff neck, upper back tension, headaches. Another example is individuals utilising straight line movements within their Li Style Tai Chi form, this causes the individual to lock up their joints when performing a push, bringing more stiffness into their body which affects the circulation of the blood and Qi.

Because of the lack of following correct guiding principles in the practice of the Li Style Tai Chi form. The standard and quality has fallen to a very low point, you really have to look very hard to find a quality based teacher of the Li Style Tai Chi who performs and teaches the Li Style Tai Chi to a good set of guiding principles that promotes a high level of proficiency. Sadly once students come into contact with a good quality teacher who demands accuracy and skill. Many individuals will stop their practice and study because they have to remember to follow the guiding principles and this is to much for them, as they just want to daydream through the session and not pay attention to the quality of movement as they are lazy. I would rather have one individual with a high standard of proficiency than fifty or more who are poor and lazy in their practice.