LFIAA Yang Style Taijiquan “Grasping The Sparrow’s Tail Posture” (Lan Quewei Shi)

Another iconic posture that everyone who studies the Yang Style Taijiquan would immediately recognise is the “Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture”. When I teach this posture as a Taiji Qigong exercise to my students I much prefer to teach the “Rocking” (Yao Fa) practice, rather than the standing as I believe it connects the whole of the body much more than the standing practice and every student increases their circulation.

The Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture involves the first four basic energies of taijiquan. Which are Rollback (Lu), Ward Off (Peng), Press (An), and Squeeze (Ji). Each time one of these particular four energies are performed the student will also shift their bodyweight from their front or rear leg. If you are practicing your Taijiquan form or sequence for the maintenance of health and wellbeing, then the whole forms actions will be performed slowly, dictated by the individuals breathing and their ability to lengthen their breath. Whereas, if the student was practicing their taijiquan form as a martial art, then their movements would combine both slow and fast actions. In the practice of the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture as a martial art, the Rollback is performed slowly, the Ward Off, Press and Squeeze Methods would be performed fast to release power and strength (Fa Jin).

When the student performs the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture the torso is held upright even if it is practiced for health or self defence reasons. As with all of taijiquan movements it is the waist that leads the movements, so each individual as to develop a loose and pliable waist, which means the core muscles of the abdomen and the muscles of the back must remain relaxed, they should not held in a tense or rigid way.

For every action of the four energies of Peng, Lu, An, Ji which make up the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture. The both hands must also change their shape as they draw various circular patterns that interchange with each other smoothly, there should be six wrist changes performed by the individual as they go through the actions of the Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail Posture. These particular wrist actions also help to pulse the blood, lymph and Qi to flow strongly into the palms and fingers, as well as strengthening the tendons.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung fu Daoist boxing. “Go across on the outside & go straight on the inside”.

As a Daoist fighting art the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu emphasis is to use the opponents aggression, strength and balance against themselves, never to meet strength with strength. But to attack from angles, mainly from the outside, hence the saying “Go across from the outside and go straight on the inside”. The Daoist Boxing Style of Feng Shou-Kung Fu that is taught within the LFIAA utilises a great amount of defensive and offensive footwork methods (Bufa), it is not a static toe to toe martial art that relies on great physical strength to defend oneself, but uses a superior knowledge of angles using skilful footwork methods to evade and dodge the opponents attacks and to position themselves in an optimum position to counter attack from.

I was always taught by my teachers to attack from the outside of the opponent and go across his or her body, as this is the most safest position to defend from and to launch your own attacks. Every time your opponent changes their fighting position you should change as well, trying to maintain that you are on either side of your opponent, but trying to stay on the outside of their attacks, so that once you enter from the outside you cut across their body. When you enter into the opponents defence from the outside and cut across their body, you will begin to twist the opponents body, the top half of their body will go in one direction, while the bottom half goes in the opposite direction, this will completely knock them off balance and allow you to take their space.

If you are to find yourself on the inside of your opponents attacks and you cannot re-position yourself to move to the outside. Then you must go straight down the centreline to launch your attacks, which must be fast and powerful. Getting to the inside of your opponents defence is properly the most difficult position to get, as it is well protected. But if you do find yourself on the inside of your opponent, then all of their vital targets are available to strike and kick at, causing them serious damage that can quickly end the confrontation. If however your opponent gets to your inside position, then you must learn to quickly and immediately manoeuvre yourself to their outside position, as this is the safest position to be.

The most best position to attack your opponent from is properly from behind them. But you must develop skilful footwork to place yourself into this optimum position, as the back door to your opponent is always open, but getting to this position takes plenty of tactile skill and footwork.

LFIAA Li Style ( Lishi) Taijiquan “Standing Post Work” (Zhan Zhuang Qigong)

As with all of the many different styles of taijiquan that are currently being taught and practiced by thousands of people from all around the world. Many advocate the study and practice of the Standing Post Work (Zhan Zhuang Qigong) usually taught separately on its own alongside the more popular moving (Dong) practices of taijiquan. Within the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan as taught by the LFIAA we to also advocate the practice of Standing Post Exercises, which are taken from the square yard taijiquan form to develop each individuals ability to cultivate their Qi through the ‘Still’ (Jing) practice of (Zhan Zhuang Qigong).

We start our students on the journey of learning the Standing Post Work. By using the first few postures of the Li Style taijiquan square yard form, the first posture is the “Emptiness Posture” (Wuji Shi) which is were the student stands with their feet apart in the Bear Stance (Xiong Shi), both knees pointing in the same direction as the big toe of each foot, the knees are slightly bent with the bodyweight passing through the centre of each foot, the hips (Kua), gluteus and stomach naturally sink, the arms are held away from the body with the armpits open and the elbows sinking downwards, the chest sunk and the back rounded, the chin is slightly tucked in to stretch the cervical spine and the crown of the head pushed upwards. The students would then concentrate on their breathing and making sure to push their body in the six directions of upwards, downwards, left, right, front and back.

Obviously the Standing Post Work (Zhan Zhuang Qigong) is were the body remains as still as possible. Each student can hold each posture for a few minutes before changing to a new posture, learning to stand longer in various positions will strengthen the tendons, making them thicken as each individual progresses in their practice. Standing still develops our Qi (Vitality) and our physical strength (Li), hence Qi nourishes our Li. But our Qi is directed by our intention (Yi) and our intention (Yi) is directed by our Will (Zhi), making the over-al practice of the Standing Post Work (Zhan Zhuang Qigong) a deeper practice that connects both the external (Wai Gong) with the Internal (Nei Gong), strengthening our mind, body & spirit through the many practices of the Li Style (Lishi taijiquan.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing System “ Returning To Simplicity”

As many of us gradually continue our journey through the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing System of Feng Shou-Kung Fu. Many of us can get bogged down by the amount of training information that there is to learn and become proficient at. Because there is so much flexibility within the training methods of the Li Style Hand of the Wind Daoist boxing, it is purely up to each practitioner to train and master the techniques that they feel are better suited to their own natural attributes and to gradually simplify their Feng Shou-Kung Fu to a few techniques.

To many practitioners of the Li Styles Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing System get caught up to much in taking part within examinations to attain grades that will lead them to achieving a Black Sash (Dengji) to then go onto teaching and running their own classes. Sadly many become very good teachers, but not many of these teacher/practitioners reach a higher enough standard of martial art ability within the Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing to defend themselves against all comers. To many get caught up in the learning and teaching of the Art.

To make the Hand of the Wind a practical and effective fighting art, each practitioner must begin to strip away what does not work for them, gradually reducing and refining until they reach a level we’re their own Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing as now become a very simplistic fighting art with methods that they can trust and work with to defend themselves. In Daoism we are taught not to over accumulate, but to reduce what we need to live, simplifying life. Hence it should be the same with your Hand of the Wind (Feng Shou-Kung Fu) training its adapting and changing it to suit you.

The Li Style Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing System is wide and deep with information. Most times because to many get caught up with taking part in gradings and following the standard training syllabus. Which obviously is guided towards practitioners who are more interested in achieving grades rather than developing a proper fighting art. To develop the Li Style Hand of the Wind Daoist Boxing as a practical fighting art, then its practitioners need not follow the grading syllabus.

LFIAA Yang Style Taijiquan “Rooster Stands On One Leg Qigong” Exercise. ( Xiong Zhan Yi Tui Shi)

Many styles of taijiquan have “The Rooster Stands On One Leg Posture” or exercise within their sequences and individual exercises, some use other names such as “Golden Cockerel Raise It’s Leg” Or the “Crane Stands On One Leg” etc. As an individual taiji qigong exercise the “Rooster Stands On One Leg” helps to strengthen the muscles, tendons and bones of the legs, it also works the core muscles to help improve each individuals balance.

The five components of the whole body the Legs, Torso, Arms, Breathing and Concentration all have to be actively involved in the exercise. Obviously the whole exercise is performed slowly with the breathing dictating the actual speed that each individual performs the entire exercise, there should be no sudden change of speed, such as lifting the leg slowly, but placing the foot back onto the ground much faster, the lifting and lowering of the foot must be at the same speed.

The movement of the both arms draw alternating sidewards circles which are generated from the shoulders (Jian), which gently opens (Kai) and closes (He). So that the individual can also feel the scapular moving gently away from the spine, stretching the soft tissues of the upper back to release any stuck tension that has accumulated in the area. Whereas, the raising and lowering of the legs also draw alternating sidewards circles that are generated from the the hips (Kua) opening and closing the hip joints to stretch the soft tissues around the hips and lower back to improve flexibility and to release any muscular tension and joint stiffness.

As an individual exercise the “Rooster Stands On One Leg” can be performed within a small confined area, just slowly and smoothly raising and lowering the arms and legs at the same time and speed. Or it can be performed as a walking taiji qigong exercise by simply taking a few steps forwards and then turning around to walk back in the opposite direction. The slower the individual can perform the exercise the more stronger the connections between the mind, body & breath will develop to benefit their health, fitness and wellbeing.

LFIAA Kunlun Qigong For Mind, Body, Spirit Health & Wellbeing.

For those thousands of people who regularly practice their Kunlun Qigong exercises like the Wild Goose Qigong or the Swimming Dragon Qigong to help maintain and improve their health, fitness and wellbeing. Can receive so much benefit towards developing a much calmer mind and relaxed supple body, especially in our present time with so many suffering from the coved-19 virus. As for many this particular period of time can be very worrying and stressful for so many individuals and family’s.

Simply spending some personal time each day to practice some of the gentle, flowing Kunlun Qigong exercises can really help many individuals to release the mental anxiety and tension of being locked inside the house for many hours. The exercises can be performed indoors or outdoors, I much prefer to practice outdoors as it allows me to connect to nature, if you have a garden to practice in or maybe a park close by to were you live, then practicing outdoors in the warm sun can be really exhilarating and at the same time very relaxing, listening to the birds singing and the warm wind blowing through the trees can be very therapeutic for the mind, body and spirit.

Through the practice of the Kunlun Qigong passive and vigorous movements and especially its dynamic stretching actions that can help to release stuck tension within the soft tissues of the bodies skin, fascia, tendons and muscles. Opening the joints of the body to allow fresh blood and Qi to enter and exit the more turbid, sickly blood and Qi that has accumulated between the joints out. Through the stretching actions of the Kunlun Qigong the body becomes more lighter and relaxed, the blood and Qi circulation is increased giving each individual more vitality.

Practicing the Kunlun Qigong exercises can also help to maintain and improve each persons coordination, concentration, balance, mobility and breathing. Anyone of any age can greatly benefit from the regular practice of the Kunlun Qigong exercises allowing them to look after their own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing.

LFIAA Daoist Boxing System Of Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu “ Refining The Fighting Art”

At first when anyone enters into the study and practice of the Daoist Boxing system of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu. They are usually overwhelmed by the about of information there is to learn, such as form work, footwork, striking and kicking techniques, evasion sets, soft & hard deflections, blocks, joint locking methods and fast throwing techniques. The training syllabus is quite extensive and loads of practitioners get caught up in learning this extensive training syllabus to take part in examinations to receive various coloured sash grades to become teachers (Shifu) themselves, to then go onto teaching individuals and groups within their own classes. Sadly this is the learning and practicing of the “Art” aspect of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu and not the “Fighting Art” aspect.

To train in the “Fighting Art” of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu, a practitioner must focus more on refining their techniques to what they think is useful to themselves. This means to only use certain punching and striking methods that they feel comfortable with, for example they will only work on developing palm and elbow striking Combinations alongside one or two lowline kicking techniques. Defensively they may only choose to use palm and arm deflections and clock face basic evasion footwork etc. The only way that you can learn to refine your Feng Shou-Kung Fu to see what works for you and what does not work for you to become an effective fighting art. Can only be achieved by practicing more of the Feng Shou- Kung Fu’s “Striking Hands” (Da Shou) freestyle fighting exercise to test each practitioners fighting art methods.

Obviously, because there is so much information to learn and cover within the Daoist Boxing system of Feng Shou-Kung Fu there is no way that you can use all of the information that is taught. So it is all about refining, refining, striping back to what only works for you as an effective, practical fighting art. As a teacher you demonstrate, guide and lead your students into the total “Art” that makes up the whole Feng Shou- Kung Fu Style, which means teaching things that you don’t like or use, as well as teaching things that you also like and would use. But as a fighting art you would only use what you have refined to suit your own attributes after spending many hours, days, weeks, months and years of dedicated self practice on daily refining your Feng Shou-Kung Fu as a fighting art.

LFIAA Daoist Boxing Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu “ Applying The Eight Methods To Powerful Kicking Methods” (Ba Fa Jiao Liu Fa)

In the Internal Daoist Martial Art of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu there is a tremendous amount of kicking combinations that an individual can practice and combine with their defensive & offensive hand methods (Shou Fa). But no matter what particular kick you decide to use is not going to be any good if you cannot issue any power into the kick. Traditional all of the foot flow kicking methods that are practiced are meant to be directed towards the opponent from the waist downwards, so targeting their groin, joints, muscles, nerves and Qi cavities (Qixue).

Within the LFIAA Daoist Boxing system of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu we use the Eight Body Methods (Ba Shen Fa) to help generate more power into the kicking methods. The first of the Eight Body Methods that is taught to students is how to use correct footwork (Bu Fa) to add momentum, weight, distance, timing, accuracy. The second principle that is taught is “Turning” (Zhuan) learning how to rotate various parts of the body to add more velocity to the kick, and more bodyweight behind the kick to increase the power, third principle is Open & Close (Kai He) to open and close the joints for better mobility to deliver the appropriate kicking angle to issue the power.

Learning the Eight Body Methods can help to develop effective and practical, fast kicking methods that on their own can easily finish a confrontation. In the study and practice of the Daoist Boxing system of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu we have a saying “ The hands are used to open the doors, but it is the feet that helps to finish the fight”. Alongside skilful hand methods and effective kicking techniques the practitioner of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu become a formidable opponent.

LFIAA Taiji Qigong Practice “Meditative Exercise To Strengthen Mind, Body & Spirit”

Many types of people from all over the world are practicing the taiji qigong standardised exercises for many, many reasons. Some are practicing them to help in developing their relaxation levels, some are practicing to remain fit, some for developing their flexibility, some for improving their balance and some to maintain their health and wellbeing.

As each individual begins to develop more discipline and skill in their practice of the taiji qigong exercise to unify the five components of their whole body together, and to begin to really slow down their actions of each of the taiji qigong exercises, deepening their breathing so that the whole practice becomes more a “Moving Meditation” exercise that combines the mind, body and breath together, rather than just the individual focusing just on the physical movements that involve sudden changes of speed.

To develop the breathing that dictates the over-al speed to each of the taiji qigong exercises, takes a lot of dedicated practice by each individual to gradually begin to slow their actions, this means more regular practice on a daily basis and not just once a week. Sadly not many individuals will sacrifice the time and effort to attain this level of Meditative exercise, many will just attain a very basic level of its practice. But for those who do strive to improve their skill in the practice of each of the taiji qigong exercise will in time reap the rewards of their effort in developing a stronger mind & body. Many will notice that they don’t suffer with colds and influenza or such things as hypertension, aches and pains as it is through the regular practice of their taiji qigong that strengthens their over-al health and wellbeing.

I have mentioned this many times to my own students and in many articles that I have written. That each of the taiji qigong exercise are very easy to learn, but very hard to master. To many individuals are happy to practice the taiji qigong exercise and not really pay any attention to the accuracy and quality of each of the exercises, sadly these certain individuals will only get very little benefit from their Practice. For example, many practice the exercises to improve their ability to relax their body, but due to poor attention to the accuracy and quality of the movements, they actually accumulate more tension and stiffness into their body than what they started with, which in-turn will affect their circulation, lowering their energy levels and weakening their immune system. As with each of the taiji qigong exercises there is a correct way to practice them and there is a wrong way to practice them.

LFIAA Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Practicing Its Many Different Types Of Kicks“

Many beginners who are starting their journey in the study and practice of the martial arts are usually brought into it because they have seen a movie or a tv programme of people doing high spectacular aerial kicking techniques. there are some Chinese kung fu styles that are well known for their kicking ability like the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu styles who advocate both high kicking and aerial kicking techniques. Today many individuals are brought into the more sporting types of martial arts like taekwondo and tang Soo do Korean karate styles because they use both aerial and high kicking techniques.

But in the Chinese Internal Martial Arts (IMA) like the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu. We mainly advocate in using kicks that target the opponents body from the waist down, as we find this to be very practical, fast and effective as the lowline kicking methods can also used in combination with both defensive and offensive hand methods (Shou Fa). In the practice of the Li Style Daoist Boxing system of Feng Shou-Kung Fu we use eight basic kicking methods which are Stamping, Swinging, Springing, Chopping, Hooking, Knocking, Sweeping, Scooping.

These eight kicking methods can be used in a wide range of different combinations alongside each other, but mostly in combination with such techniques as striking, joint locking, or throwing techniques. It is very rare for a practitioner of the Daoist Boxing Style of Feng Shou-Kung Fu to just use kicks on their own, but to use them to enter into the opponents space, so as to bridge the gap between the both of you. Or we can use the kicking methods to finish off the opponent with some serious heavy kicks targeting vital areas of the opponents lower body area.

The basic foot flow training (Jiben Jiao Liu Dong Pei Fa) Exercises that are taught to students introduces them to the basic eight kicking methods (Ba Jiben Jiao Fa). Each student pairs off with a training partner (Pei Lian) facing each other and both takes turn in delivering their foot flow patterns towards each other, both training partners will perform the same kicking methods, but can vary the speed, power and height of delivering the kick. Learning to practice the many foot flow training patterns combinations in this particular way, teaches each student to develop their agility, flexibility, coordination, concentration, timing, accuracy, precision and their awareness to control the fighting distance.

Learning to develop a good self awareness about finding the correct fighting distance, especially when working on how to fully utilise the basic eight kicking methods against an opponent is very important if you want your kicking methods to be really effective. Within the many kicking or foot flow patterns that a student will be taught in the Daoist boxing style of Feng Shou-Kung Fu, there are two fighting ranges where these kicking methods can be used, knowing when to use the correct kick at the appropriate distance is the difference between successfully protecting yourself or getting seriously hurt. Long range kicking methods are were you can reach your opponent with your feet, but are out of range of their strikes. Close range kicking methods are were you can reach your opponent with your knees and hips and are well within their hand punching range.