LFIAA Taiji Qigong For Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Over this strange period of time where we are all locked down due to the Covid-19 Virus. We cannot travel to the beach or go for a long walk in the mountains or even visit family and friends, it can all take a very heavy strain on our mental health, especially if you are on your living on your own as there are so many who do. At this period of time we need to occupy ourselves by doing chores around the house that need to be done, begin learning a language that you have always wanted to try and learn and obviously get involved with some type of physical activity to maintain your fitness, health and wellbeing.

This is were the practice and study of the Standardised Taiji Qigong Exercises can be of great benefit for thousands of people. As these particular exercises are very easy to learn, but can take a longtime for each individual to master them, as they hold a tremendous amount of information. But they are very beneficial and individuals can immediately gain great benefits from them within a few practice sessions. Not only will they increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles and tendons, they will also improve your ability to balance, coordinate your upper and lower extremities together in a more controlled manner, improve your breathing by being able to breath deeper, longer, slower which will increase your concentration.

But the most important aspect to the practice of the Taiji Qigong exercise is how it greatly benefits each person’s mental health. Because the movements are coordinated with the breathing and all the actions are performed slowly, gradually allows both the mind & body to relax as the whole exercise transforms into a meditative exercise, were the individual is fully focused on timing their movements with the breath, plus opening and closing the joints and learning to move the whole body ad one complete unit without any sudden changes of speed or no isolated movements. If each individual can reach this stage of mental focus, then no thoughts of worry, anxiety, frustration, irritability, fear or sadness should enter. Their mind is empty and free of thoughts and the chaos of the constant chatter going on in their mind. At last they can relax and allow the mind to rest.

Sadly to many individuals who practice the Taiji Qigong exercises have a tendency to move to fast in their actions of each exercise. This sudden feeling of speeding up the movements is were the mind of the individual has become full of thoughts that causes them to feel anxiety and tension. As I have already mentioned above each of the Taiji Qigong exercises are easy to learn, but very hard to master. The more slower the individual can perform their exercises with the breathing the more the mind as to concentrate, gradually beginning to become more calm and still inside, until each individual can achieve the level of balancing “Stillness Within Their Motions”. Once they can reach this level then their mind will be free of the chaos and will always rest in serenity (Ping Jing).

LFIAA Yang Style Taijiquan “Parting The Horses Mane Posture” (Yuma Fenzong Shi)

One of the most popular postures of the Yang Style Taijiquan is the “Parting The Horses Mane Posture” (Yema Fenzong Shi). It can be practiced as a either a standing post exercise (Zhan Zhuang Qigong), or it can be practiced as a standing moving exercise (Jing Qigong), or it can be performed as a moving, stepping exercise (Dong Qigong). Most people practice the Parting The Horses Mane Posture as part of learning the Traditional Yang Style Taijiquan Forms, not many practice this particular exercise on its own as a separate exercise which is excellent for cultivating the Qi towards strengthening each persons health and wellbeing.

The circular actions that are involved within the practice of the Parting The Horses Mane Posture are horizontal and vertical circles draw by each individual. The whole actions are guided and led by the turning action of the waist which strengthens the core muscles and gently stretches the muscles of the back and spinal column. In the actions of the both arms, one arm sweeps upwards and across the body, while the opposite hand gently press downwards alongside the hip. The top hands palm faces upwards towards heaven and the bottom, lower hands palm face downwards towards the earth, hence in a Yin & Yang positions.

The upwards sweeping arm actions uses the two energies of Ward Off (Peng) which is an expanding type of energy that moves away from the individuals body. Whereas, the Splitting (Lie) energy uses a separating, dividing, sweeping action across the body as if to brush past someone or an object. The lowering hand uses a Pressing (An) type of energy to compress something downwards towards the ground to help lower the individuals centre of gravity to allow them to sink into the earth for better stability, root and strength.

Because of its large, circular flowing movements which are a recognisable characteristic of the Yang Style Taijiquan. Which can obviously be seen in the practice of the Parting The Horses Mane Posture (Yema Fenzong Shi) Helps to develop flexibility within the soft tissues of the body such as the muscles, tendons and fascia. It also gently stretches the joints to release stuck tension and stiffness that may have become stuck within the joints and muscles affecting the blood, lymph and Qi circulation. These large circular actions of the Yang Style Taijiquan helps to maintain a more relaxed and supple body to improve or maintain health, fitness and wellbeing.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI “ Practicing Its Qigong Exercises Alongside The Square Yard Form”.

It’s surprising how many individuals do not practice any of the Li Style Tai Chi Qigong exercises that can be found within its Square Yard Tai Chi Form. There are some individuals who practice the Daoyin Exercises more frequently, which are taught separately and have no link or connection to the Li Style Tai Chi Form, rather than actually practicing the Tai Chi Qigong Exercises that lay within the form itself. The reason for this is that there are many teachers of the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form who where never taught or told that there are qigong exercises with the form that should and can be practiced to improve the quality and proficiency of the Li Style Tai Chi Form In general and give more depth to its practice.

To many individuals who come into the practice of the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form. Immediately are encouraged to start learning the movements of the Tai Chi Form firstly, rather than being taught how to perform the qigong exercises that corresponds to every posture of the Li Style Tai Chi Form. These qigong exercises not only help to improve their relaxation, health and wellbeing. But it also teaches each individual to improve their accuracy, discipline, timing and precision which begins to develop a higher level of quality and proficiency in the practice of their Li Style Tai Chi Form.

While individuals are being taught the Tai Chi Qigong exercise of the forty-two postures that make up the whole of the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form. They are also being taught the guiding principles that gives them more discipline and accuracy in their actions, over the many years that I have been practicing and teaching the Li Style Tai Chi, I have come across many teachers who are self interpreting the movements to suit themselves, such as using linear movements instead of circular movements, no continuity of the circular movements blending together smoothly, isolated movements where one arm is moving, while the other arm is not or the upper body is moving, but the lower body is not.

Practicing its qigong exercises alongside the Tai Chi form gradually develops more confidence in each individuals ability to make their movements flow smoothly and slowly together, with the five components of the whole body fully connected together and moving as one unit. Qigong practice of the Tai Chi Forms actions helps each individual to achieve a higher level of quality within their practice, that sadly is missing from the practice of the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form In general that I currently see many, many teachers and students performing. Sadly the Li Style Tai Chi Form is being watered down to the point that the movements have no longer any benefit in strengthening the body and mind, so as to help maintain and improve health and wellbeing of its practitioners who study and practice this particular style of Tai Chi.

LFIAA Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu “ The Six Harmonies & Eight Methods” (Liu He Ba Fa)

In the study and practice of the LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu the Six Harmonies and Eight Methods (Liu He Ba Fa) are greatly emphasised in every defensive and offensive fighting technique that every practitioner performs. By combining the Six Harmonies and Eight Methods especially in the practice of the Poison Hand Striking Sets (Du Shou Da Fa) allows each practitioner of this Chinese Internal Martial Art (IMA) to deliver tremendous power into their striking techniques.

Learning to develop greater connections between our external and internal qualities allows the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner to issue power into their striking and kicking methods. To achieve this they must train to develop a well coordinated mind & body that can issue power effortlessly, as without this ability to issue (Fa Jin) power, then each person attacking techniques are useless against a strong and aggressive opponent. Hence why we at the LFIAA train our students to become aware of harmonising their six combinations and using the eight body methods to develop power.

To many students who practice the Poison Hand Striking Sets use uncoordinated body movements that are isolated from the rest of the whole body, which affects their ability to issue any power into their striking methods. Their actions are very big and not refined enough that their power is very obvious and telegraphed to their opponent. Sadly there are many, many students who are still practicing this way after many years of training who have not been taught by their teachers how to correctly refine their over-al movements to skilfully issue power that is hidden from their opponents.

The reason why each practitioner practices the Poison Hand Striking Sets is to develop their ability to issue whole body power into their offensive techniques. This can only be achieved by developing correct body methods that harmonises the whole body skilfully to issue great power. To many place their focus on what hand shape (Shou Yin) they are using to deliver the striking combinations used within each particular Poison Hand Striking Set. Rather than focusing on their body mechanics to be able to issue the power into their strikes, hence why we at the LFIAA teach the Six Harmonies and Eight Methods (Liu He Ba Fa) to our students and practitioners.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Striking The Vital Points On The Body”

The reason why the Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu has various striking sets known as the Poison Hand Methods (Du Shou Fa). Is that these strikes are aimed at vital Qi cavities (Qixue) on the opponents body that can cause either a knockout, paralysis or death. The Chinese call this acquired skill Point Pressing (Dianxue) or Fall Strike (Dim Mak) or the term that I quite like is the Crushing Points Strike (Ya Sui Da). The Poison Hand Strikes that are taught to each and every practitioner of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu are directed at these same vital Qi-points on the opponents body, the word Poison (Du) is the type of power (Jin) that the practitioner emits into the opponents body to disrupt, disperse and scatter their natural qi flow within their body, which will cause damage to their internal organs (Zangfu), hence poisoning the body.

Some of the areas of the opponents body that the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner targets, has more than just one of these vital Qi points passing through the area. If you can imagine a roundabout where more than three roads connect to it, then this is what some of these vital Qi points are like, they can have three to four meridians or channels passing through the same area. For example the clavicle as the Stomach channel, the Kidney channel and the Large Intestine channel passing through the area. So a well timed strike aimed at this area can cause tremendous internal damage and Qi disruption to the opponent.

But irrespective that each practitioner might have a good knowledge and understanding of the location of these vital Qi points on the opponents body. But without being able to issue any power into their Poison Hand Strikes that can then cause disruption to the opponents Qi makes them ineffective and useless. The ultimate aim of every Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner is to issue power (Fajin) out of their Poison Hand Striking Methods, which means that every practitioner has developed their ability to coordinate their whole body mechanics in a smooth, well timed and precise way so as to issue power.

Developing a relaxed, aligned body with skilful body methods (Shen Fa) so as to issue power is really what every practitioner must achieve. If they truly want their strikes to become poison to the every opponent to crush their vital points.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Taijiquan “The Importance Of Qigong Practice”.

In my early days of studying and practicing the Li Style (Lishi) Taijiquan System. I was once told by my teacher Master Chee Soo that the qigong exercises can be found within the practice of the Li Style Taijiquan square yard form. But after many years of watching the Li Style Taijiquan’s progress from year to year and over the last forty five years that I have been teaching and practicing this particular style. I am sad to say that many, many of its practitioners still do not practice, nor teach to their own students any Li Style Taiji Qigong Exercises which can be found within its main taijiquan form.

Many still go straight into the practice of the square yard form without practicing any of the qigong exercises that can be found within the form itself. Teaching the qigong mechanics of each of the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Forms postures develops each practitioners proficiency in connecting the five components of the bodies movements more accurately together as each practitioner performs their form work. It helps them to strengthen the connections between the body, mind and breath to increase their blood, lymph and Qi circulation to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing.

Learning to refine and transform the movements of the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Form to help develop a more soft, relaxed, flowing set of movements on the outside, with a strong flow of internal Qi mobilisation on the inside and with a strong focused mind, is much more quickly achieved through the practice of the Li Style’s Taiji Qigong Exercises alongside the form work itself. Than just simply practicing the form from start to finish as many, many still do.

Practicing the Li Style Taiji Qigong exercises alongside the practice of the form itself, adds more depth and meaning to the over-al study of the Li Style Taijiquan. It stops certain teachers from interpreting the forms movements that do not correspond to its guiding principles, for example using straight linear movements, rather than performing circular actions and blending together in a smooth, flowing actions of interchanging circles. The practice of its qigong exercises is more important than the practice of the form itself.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu. Sabre & Shield Training Methods (Dao Pingbi Fa).

If you have practiced and developed a good basic foundation structure within your Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu training. Then the practitioner should be able to hold any type of weapon and still be able to defend themselves with a good level of proficiency as the old Chinese saying goes “The Weapon is just an extension of the hand”. One of the key important aspects to weapon training is developing good footwork methods (Bu Fa) and in the practice of Feng Shou-Kung Fu it is still a very important skill that every practitioner must achieve.

At first the practitioner must perform hours and hours of dedicated solo training drills using for example the Sabre and Shield (Dao Pingbi). They will learn how to combine linear, angular and circular footwork methods, alongside defensive blocking techniques and offensive, attacking techniques using both the shield and Sabre in unison with each other. Only after regular dedicated practice training with the Sabre & Shield will the practitioner then move onto practicing two-person counter/counter training drills against various weapons.

The Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu Clock Face Eight Directional Stepping Exercise (Zhong Mian Ba Fang Bu Fa). Which the practitioner now combines with their Sabre & Shield against another training partner who is either armed with their own Sabre & Shield, or just with a Sabre or Just With A Staff (Gun) etc. Brings the whole exercise alive, where both practitioners must learn how to control the fighting distance using skilful evasive stepping methods, which allows them to close the fighting distance to attack with the Sabre from any angle, or even use their shield to knock their training partner off balance. Likewise using their evasive stepping to increase the fighting distance between themselves, but to allow them to evade or dodge to any appropriate angle that allows them to position themselves to quickly counter attack back.

Because of the good foundation structure that each practitioner developed through their basic Kung fu training. Allows the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner to use any type of weapon either long or short, bladed or non-bladed on their own or in combination with each other defend themselves against various other types of weapons, learning defensive blocks and deflections, attacking blows from many angles, disarms, joint locks and takedown. The Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu is a Traditional Internal Martial Art (IMA) that full and alive and very useful into days modern world.

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LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu. Developing Power In Your Poison Hand Striking Methods. (Du Shou Fajin Fa).

For every practitioner who practices and studies the Chinese Internal Martial Art (IMA) of the Li Style Feng Shou-Kung Fu system. It is through their regular and dedicated training that allows them to develop the ability to issue power (Fajin) into their poison hand striking methods, this is applied by learning how to use correct body mechanics (Shen Fa) that allows each practitioner to connect their whole bodies Kinetic power together that starts in the feet, travels upwards through the legs to the waist, were it is then guided through the torso, shoulders and into the hands and fingers in a smooth, fully connected and skilful way to release the power into the poison hand striking methods (Du Shou Da Fa).

Usually there are three striking methods combined together in every poison hand striking set. The first striking method is going to be the most strongest of the three striking methods, as it is applied with a long attack ladder step (Chang Ti Bu) allowing for the whole bodyweight to be placed behind the first strike, which doubles in its power as the practitioners speeds up their whole body as it moves towards it intended target. The second and third striking methods must then immediately follow up quickly to their intended targets on the opponents body using both rotational and spiralling circular actions of the hips, waist, shoulders and arms, which is known as “Reeling Silk Work” (Chansigong) within the Chinese Internal Martial Arts.

Developing correct body mechanics to be able to issue power into every poison hand strike that every practitioner uses, must be the ultimate aim of every practitioner. As with out being able to issue power into each of the poison hand strikes will make them useless in their application to defend oneself from an aggressive and more powerful opponent. The five components of the whole body as to be interconnected the stepping (Bu), the torso (Shen), the hands (Shou), the intention (Yi) and breathing (Xi).

Using the eight body methods (Ba Shen Fa) such as stepping, weight shifting, body rotation, twisting, rolling, whipping, opening and closing in the actions of practicing the poison hand striking methods will greatly enhance the body mechanics in being able to issue power (Fajin) into each of the strikes. To make the poison hand striking methods effective, each practitioner has to learn how to develop correct body mechanics in being able to guide and lead the whole bodies power that is generated through skilful body mechanics into each strike.

LFIAA Wild Goose “Rushes Across The Grass Qigong” Exercise. ( Dayan Bu Dui Mian Cao Gong)

The wild goose qigong posture or exercise known as the “Goose rushes across the grass” is an excellent exercise to develop and improve each individuals balance, but more importantly it can help to remove blood stasis and blockages of Qi within the veins, artery’s and energy channels (Jingluo) of the lower extremities to increase the blood, lymph and Qi circulation into the legs and feet.

The exercise involves the use of gentle patting (Pai) using the both hands to pat the both knees while taking several steps forwards. The patting is used to send a gentle vibration (Zhen) into the knee joints, muscles and tendons to release stuck tension within the soft tissues that may affect the flow of blood and Qi. It also warms the knees to ease any stiffness that may have developed within them over a long period of time. Alongside the patting of the both hands, once the knee as been patted the same leg will gentle flick forwards, as if flicking or shaking water off the toes. This flicking, shaking action of each leg has to be performed in a relaxed, gentle and soft manner, with no tensing or stiffening up of the muscles and joints of the legs.

The flicking, shaking action of the legs alongside the use of the both hands to pat the knees. Sends a deep vibration into the joints, muscles, tendons and bones of the lower extremities to help remove any blood stagnation or blockages of Qi that may have accumulated due to lack of exercise, injury, illness or poor working conditions, like having to sit at a desk or drive a vehicle for many long hours. The goose rushes across the grass is really beneficial for individuals who suffer poor circulation and suffer with coldness in the legs and feet.

The flicking action of the feet can also help to remove any trauma that lays deep within the individuals emotions, such as grief, fear and anger, obviously it can take many hours, days, weeks and months for this deep trauma to manifest itself to the surface and to gradually be released. The exercise can also help to ease any mental anxiety, tension, stress and depression that can effect each person’s health, allowing for them to feel more relaxed and calm inside. The wild goose qigong exercise “the goose rushes across the grass” can be repeated as many times as the individual wants to help them maintain and improve their health and wellbeing.

LFIAA Developing Qi Sensitivity & Awareness Through The Practice Of Taijiquan, Kung Fu, Qigong & Meditation.

Irrespective of what particular mind, body & spirit discipline that you are practicing as part of the curriculum that is taught by the LFIAA it be for health, self healing, self defence or spiritual cultivation you will need to develop your own self awareness and sensitivity to the cultivation, circulation and strength of your Qi as you perform your holistic exercises. Usually many individuals only focus on the physical aspects of their taijiquan, kung fu, qigong and meditational practice, mainly working on developing their coordination, balance, accuracy, timing, precision and correct body alignment.

Even when individuals are performing their slow taijiquan or qigong movements, some are oblivious to the awareness of their Qi moving inside of themselves, only focusing on the outside, physical actions. Developing sensitivity to the mobilising of their Qi within themselves is a very important aspect to the study and practice of taijiquan and qigong, but obviously to all of the mind, body & spirit disciplines that are taught within the LFIAA.

Developing a calm and still mind, alongside a relaxed body through the practice of your holistic discipline, will gradually allow each individual to feel the movement of their Qi. Such as feeling and sensing warmth, tingling, heaviness, lightness, fullness and even movement as their perform their actions. Coordinating the breathing with the slow, soft movements can help to focus each individuals mind, and it is the development of a concentrated mind that will allow the individual to feel and connect to their own Qi, and in time be able to guide and lead their Qi in any direction inside of themselves to refine and transform their Jing, Qi and Shen.

For those who practice the internal martial arts for self defence that we teach as part of the LFIAA Curriculum. Then it is also very important that you can also connect to your own Qi development, being able to become sensitive and aware of its movement deep inside your body can help to give more power and strength to your defensive and offensive fighting methods. Cultivating and circulating the Qi is a great part of internal martial arts training, again, sadly to many individuals seem to only focus on the physical training and not on working both mind & body together at the same time. Learning to harness and mobilise your Qi within the internal martial arts training will not just give power to your techniques, it will also strengthen your health and give you longevity.

Learning to develop your Qi sensitivity and awareness in your mind, body & spirit disciplines is the essence of what these arts are all based upon. As (energy) Qi is all around us and passes through us every second of the day and night, it allows us to connect to ourselves, to nature, to the universe and to the Dao.