LFIAA Taiji Qigong Standardised 18 Exercises Form. “ Developing Skilful Actions to Manipulate the Circulation of the Qi”.

Many individuals have joined our local taiji qigong classes, as well as our weekly online Zoom taiji qigong sessions. Some of the individuals have been studying and practicing for a few years, while others have only recently began their interest in the participation of taiji qigong exercise. Obviously many attend our classes to help improve their health, fitness and wellbeing, many participate to improve their relaxation and flexibility. While others participate to strengthen their balance, coordination and concentration levels, there are many reasons why individuals begin their practice.

For those who have been practicing the taiji qigong exercises for a few years, and can easily remember the order that each of the exercises are connected to each other and flow slowly, accurately, from each exercise into another without pausing, hesitating or suddenly changing the speed of their movements, have began to raise their proficiency levels to a high degree. Sadly many of these more accomplished individuals can easily fall into complacency with their practice, by just focusing on the physical actions that transition smoothly from one to another. The next stage of development in the practice of the taiji qigong exercises is to begin the more deeper, subtle, skill of opening & closing the joints and certain, important Qi cavities (Qixue) to pulsate the circulation of the Qi throughout the entire body to attain good health and wellbeing.

Because many individuals can easily get stuck in the development of their taiji qigong exercise, by firstly learning to remember each of the individual 18 exercises, secondly developing the accuracy, precision, and timing of the five components of the body to harmonise as they perform each of the 18 exercises, thirdly connecting the whole of the 18 exercises to flow smoothly from into the other. This is still very much on the physical level that many individuals can easily stagnate and remain at, practicing for many, many years at this level. The next stage of developing their taiji qigong exercises is the “Internal” level, this means that the individual as to use more subtle actions of their joints and their soft tissues, skin, muscles, tendons and fascia to pump and pulsate the Qi through the body. So that each individual can gradually develop their body to listen to the movement of their Qi as it circulates inside their bodies.

There are many taiji qigong exercises were the individual will have each of their palms facing each other, as if holding a Qi ball. As the individual performs these particular exercises, they should become aware of the sensation within their fingers, palms and forearms as they form the “Qi Ball” (Qi Qiu), basically they should begin to feel a tangible tingling, warming, fullness or heaviness sensation, gradually these sensations will increase in their strength as the individual practices more on a daily basis to a point we’re they tangibly feel as if they are holding a ball between their two hands. There are some benefits that an individual will begin notice in themselves as their Qi builds more in its strength and starts to flow through the body, they will notice that they don’t suffer with bruises appearing, after they have bumped their arm against an hard object by accident. They seem to have plenty of energy and stamina that they don’t need a great amount of sleep, their body remains warm throughout, even in the winter period.

LFIAA Sun Style Baguazhang “ The Natural Stepping Method” (Ziran Bu Fa).

In the study and practice of the Sun Style Eight Trigram Palms (Baguazhang) there are many stepping methods (Bu Fa) used within its practice. The most common and popular stepping method that is performed in its circle walking practice is the natural step (Ziran Bu), which uses the heel to toe stepping action which is also known as the rolling step (Gun Bu). This particular stepping method allows the practitioner of the Sun Style Baguazhang to rapidly move around the circle and to quickly change their direction. The founder of the Sun Style Baguazhang was Master Sun Lutang who was famous for his ability and agility to walk in a circle very fast using the natural stepping method.

Using the natural step in the practice of the Sun Style Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form. Allows every practitioner to rapidly walk the circle at various speeds, which will develop and improve their fitness and stamina levels, increase their leg strength, and develop the flexibility within the ankles, knees and hips joints of the lower extremities, allowing for better blood and Qi circulation into both feet.

As the practitioner walks the circle using the natural stepping method with the bodyweight shifting from one leg to another allows for every practitioner to quickly and easily change their direction. Using either the toe-in hooking step (Kou Bu) or the toe-out swing step (Bai Bu) all according to wether the practitioner chooses to do an inwards or outwards direction change, can only happen quickly and smoothly if the practitioner can shift their bodyweight smoothly from one leg to another, making sure not to get caught with their bodyweight double weighted (Shuang Zhong) between both legs.

In the practice of the Sun Style Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm form. It is the use of the natural stepping method (Ziran Bu Fa) that allows the practitioner to be able to perform their various palm changing techniques within a tight and confined space. The practice of Sun Style Baguazhang can adapt to what ever space is available for the practitioner to perform in, the tighter and confined the space the more emphasis will be placed on the flexibility within the practitioners joints to allow the body to turn and rotate the whole body as they perform their circle walking practice. Whereas the bigger and more open space the practitioner has to move around in, the more it will work the practitioners fitness and stamina levels.

The Sun Style Bagua Natural Stepping Method

LFIAA Sun Style Baguazhang (Eight Trigram Palms) Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form.

The Sun Style Baguazhang’s Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form, consists of ten individual forms that are made of eight animals which are the Lion, Unicorn, Snake, Sparrow Hawk, Dragon, Bear, Phoenix, Monkey the other two forms are the Single Changing Palm & Double Changing Palm Methods. The Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form is taught firstly, as an orthodox method, where each form is performed in a particular set order which allows the practitioner to develop the accuracy, timing, and precision needed to perform each of the ten individual forms.

At first each of the Sun Style Baguazhang Swimming Body Continuous Palm Forms are performed in a straight line. So that the practitioner can develop the unique footwork methods that corresponds with the various palm methods that make up each of the particular ten Swimming Body Continuous Palm forms. Once the practitioner has mastered the linear footwork and palm movements of each of the forms, they then progress to the famous Bagua Circle Walking Practice.

The theory behind the practice of the Sun Style Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm is “Change”. Constantly changing the direction that the practitioner walks the circle, changing the side of the body that each form is performed on, changing the speed that each form is performed at, from slow to fast, changing from one particular animal form into another, mixing them up in many variations. Regular practice of the Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form will develop each persons balance, coordination, concentration, breathing, and whole body flexibility.

The practice of Sun Style Baguazhang (Eight Trigram Palms) will promote better blood, lymph and Qi circulation throughout the entire body to strengthen, nourish and repair each practitioners health, fitness and wellbeing. It is excellent at developing flexibility within the joints of the body and stretching of the soft tissues of the body like the muscles, tendons, fascia and skin, it can help to remove blood stagnation in various areas of body and blockages of Qi within the Yin & Yang Meridians and Channels (Jing Mai) of the whole body to boost the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems.

LFIAA Taiji Qigong “Pick the Needle Up” Exercise, Opening the Yin & Yang Channels of the Legs.

The standardised taiji qigong exercise known as the “Picking the Needle Up“ helps to promote better Qi flow into the both legs by guiding and leading (Daoyin) the Qi through the Yin & Yang channels (Jingluo) of the legs, removing blocked and stagnant Qi that can accumulate in the leg channels, due to the build up of muscular tension, stiffness in the joints from long periods of time sitting at a desk during work, or through standing on your feet for long hours the blood and Qi can slow down in its circulation and stagnate leading towards various ailments like muscle atrophy in the legs, oedema, coldness in the lower extremities etc.

Combining slow, gentle, smooth, flowing movements that are coordinated with the breathe, which allows for each individual to increase their concentration levels. The taiji qigong’s pick the needle up exercise will gently stretch the individuals spinal column and the muscles within the back, shoulders and legs helping to release trapped tension within these areas of the body, allowing for the body to become more relaxed. As the individual leans forwards they place their both hands either side of their front leg at upper thigh height, he then slowly bends forwards from the waist and moves the both hands down the length of the leg to the toes. The inside hand tracks the three Yin channels of the Spleen, Liver and Kidney, while the outside hand tracks the three Yang channels of the legs the Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder and the Stomach.

The practitioner uses the pericardium 8 (Laogong) Qi cavity points, which are located in the centre of each palm to guide & lead the Qi through the Yin & Yang channels of the legs. As the practitioner slowly moves their both hands down the length of their leg they should begin to feel various sensations like tingling, warmth, they might even feel movement like a vibration or flushing sensations. These are all signs that their Qi is being moved by the strength of the Qi in their both hands through the energy pathways of the legs. The more regularly each individual performs the Pick the Needle Up taiji qigong exercise, the stronger the Qi circulation will increase through the Yin & Yang channels of the both legs of the individual, removing any Qi blockages and stagnation that can lead to weakening the immune system and lead towards illness.

The taiji Picking the Needle Up qigong exercise is taken from the second set of taiji qigong 18 exercises also known in Chinese as (Taiji Qigong Shibashi). Practicing the taiji qigong exercises are a fun and enjoyable way to maintain and improve the connections between both the mind & body, strength the health and wellbeing irrespective of age or gender. Each of the exercises will improve each person’s balance, leg strength, coordination, flexibility, concentration and general fitness.

Taiji Qigong Exercise.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Feng Shou-Kung Fu “ The Whirling Arm Striking Methods” (Lun Bei Da Fa).

Practicing the tactile exercise known as “Whirling Arms” (Lun Bei Fa) develops each practitioners “Listening” skills such as being able to Stick and Adhere (Zhan,Nian) to an opponents limb like glue, being able to Neutralise (Hua) the opponents power when they issue it and lead it away from its intended target. It also teaches the practitioner to yield, transform, and redirect the opponents strength when the practitioner runs in to it and to try not to use force against force. All these very important skills that a practitioner will learn as they practice the Whirling Arms Exercise are vitally important when the practitioner has to use his or her Feng Shou-Kung Fu to protect themselves against a violent situation.

In the mist of an aggressive confrontation, some times the practitioner will have to launch their own offensive attacks to try and open up the opponents defence and then enter deeply with punishing strikes and kicking methods. To open up and enter deep into the opponents defence, means that you are going to force your opponent into some kind of reaction we’re they are forced into a blocking method, for which acts as a bridge for the Feng Shou-Kung Fu practitioner to then apply the sensitivity skills that they acquired from the Whirling Arms Exercise into action. As the opponents blocking arm knocks against the practitioners entry striking method, the practitioner will feel the amount of strength that the opponent uses to block and instead of resisting the practitioner will yield and transform against the strength issued and whirl or coil around the opponents arm to land a heavy blow directed at the opponents body or head.

Being able to apply the tactile skills acquired through the many hours of practicing the Whirling Arms Exercise. Means that a practitioner of the Feng Shou-Kung Fu is gradually becoming an educated, skilled practitioner of this Daoist internal martial art. Not only can the Whirling Arm Strikes be used to open up an opponents defence to land further blows and kicks, it can also be used to allow the practitioner to enter and apply wrestling and throwing techniques against an opponent. To many students who practice the Whirling Arm Exercise have a tendency to take it for granted, and do not take the skills that is acquired from its practice and combine it into other areas of their Feng Shou-Kung Fu practice.

LFIAA Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form. “ The Arms Extend, But Don’t Stretch”.

In the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Square Yard Taijiquan Form, many of its practitioners have a tendency to lock their elbows when they move their both arms or a single arm away from their body. This can have the feeling of over stretching, causing the elbow joints to become locked and stiff, which can cause the blood and Qi to accumulate within the elbow joints and stagnate causing a blockage that can affect the circulation. When a practitioner moves their arms away from their body in a gentle pushing action, they should have the feeling of extending their arm to the point were the elbow joint is kept bent with the tip of the elbow pointing towards the ground.

By using a gentle extending action of the arm, were the elbow joint is kept bent and not fully locked, the elbow must be lower than the hand and not level with the hand, as can happen if the practitioner stretches their arms to a point we’re the elbow joints lock. When a practitioner stretches their arms out to the point of them locking the elbow joints in the practice of the Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form, this means that the practitioner is using strength, which can cause them to accumulate tension within the muscles and stiffness within the joints. Hence they are no longer remaining relaxed and loose (Song) in their practice of the Square Yard Taiji Form.

Allowing for the hand to be held slightly higher than the elbow in the performance of the Square Yard Taiji Form. Means that the practitioner gently extends their arms but not to the point of stiffening the elbows, keeping the elbows slightly bent and below the height of the hands, once they are held up above the waist allows for better blood, Qi and lymphatic fluid to circulate more freely. It is still surprising to me how many practitioners still make this very basic mistake in the practice of the Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form, another mistake that many practitioners do is to allow their arms to touch their body, letting the arms or arm rest on the body means that the arm is no longer doing anything beneficial towards the practitioners health and wellbeing.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) Taijiquan Square Yard Form, “Developing Better Discipline & Accuracy Through Taiji Qigong Practice”.

It is still very surprising to myself, that how many individuals are still being taught to go directly into the form practice of the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Form. Rather than first being taught some of the taiji qigong exercises, which will develop their accuracy, timing and precision of the many postures that make up the whole of the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Form. Introducing students to the practice of the taiji qigong exercise, for which the actions are exactly the same as what would be taught and performed within the Square Yard Form. Because many individuals are taught to go straight into the Square Yard Form practice without any taiji qigong preparation, then it’s no wonder that the quality and standard of many of today’s main Li style Taijiquan Associations and Organisations is very poor.

When it comes to the practice of the Li Style Taiji Qigong. Many individuals are taught “Guiding & Leading Exercises (Daoyin Fa) Methods that have no connection to the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Form whatsoever. So they are left pretty much in no mans land having to go directly into the Square Yard Form practice without any preparation or guide lines to help them understand what exactly they should be doing, it is purely down to watch and follow the teacher actions, who themselves are in the same position as the students. Then as I have already said, it’s no wonder that the standard of the Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form is very poor and low in standard, when compared to the other taijiquan like the Chen, Yang and Wu styles.

Practicing the taiji qigong exercises that are part of the Li Style Square Yard Taiji Form, will greatly develop each persons accuracy, precision, timing & discipline. Each of the exercises has their own guiding principles that relate to the over-al practice of the Li Style Square Yard Taiji Form, allowing students to achieve a higher level of quality practice with a deeper understanding and knowledge of their Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form, as the practice of the taiji qigong exercise and Square Yard Taiji Form are one and the same.

There are so many health related benefits that individuals can receive from the study and practice of the many Li Style Taiji Qigong Exercises. It allows individuals to practice various taiji qigong exercises alongside each other if they don’t have the room space or time to perform the entire Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form. They can help individuals to maintain and improve their breathing, balance, coordination, concentration & flexibility all of which can be found within the forms practice as well. I personally cannot emphasis enough that every individual should be practicing the taiji qigong exercise in preparation to practicing the Li Style Square Yard Taijiquan Form.

LFIAA Developing A Loose & Relaxed Body Through Taiji Ball Qigong Exercise.

For every individual who enters a typical taijiquan class, the first thing that the teacher will mention to them is to “Relax” (Song). But it can take each individual many hours, weeks and months of regular training to achieve the looseness that is required for taijiquan practice. There are three main reasons for developing a more relaxed and loose body in the practice and study of taiji ball qigong practice, firstly learning to loosen the joints by not locking them will stop each individual from developing a stiff and rigid body, a more loose body will develop a lighter looking body that as more fluidity and grace in their taijiquan actions. Many individuals carry tremendous tension and stiffness in their shoulders, wrists and fingers. Learning to make a greater effort to relax and loosen the areas of the body that are stiff, such as the wrists, for which I personally see a lot of within my own students will greatly enhance each students performance of their taijiquan and taiji ball qigong forms.

The second benefit towards developing a more relaxed and loose body in the practice of taiji ball qigong. Is that each individual will be able to connect the whole body together to move as a complete unit, rather than moving isolated areas of the body that are more easier to move on their own. Once the student has developed a more loose (Song) body, the power that they are able to release into their whole body actions is much more powerful, as there is no more tension in the muscles and tendons of each individual that can act as a resistance in stopping the entire body moving in harmony, issuing the soft, hidden, whip like power that taijiquan is famous for.

The third benefit to developing a more loose and relaxed body by ridding the accumulated tension within the tendons and muscles, and the stiffness from the joints. Is that the blood, Qi and lymphatic fluid can circulate smoothly throughout the whole body helping to strengthen, nourish and repair areas of the body that has not been able to function correctly, due to lack of nutrients reaching these areas. Practicing taiji ball qigong or any of the taijiquan forms can benefit many individuals on a physical, emotional or mental health and wellbeing basis. As it s through the accumulation of physical and mental tension that can lead towards various ailments to occur, such as hypertension, depression, anxieties, chronic fatigue etc.

LFIAA Taiji Qigong’s “Separating the Clouds” Exercise. Promoting Physical, Emotional & Mental Health & Wellbeing.

In the study and practice of the Standardised Taiji Qigong 18 Exercises Forms. For which there are ten individual such forms of 18 exercises to learn, which means there are a tremendous amount of exercises to practice. One such exercise that many individuals like to practice is the “Separating the Clouds” which can be performed in two methods, the first method is the more popular standing exercise, were the student stretches their both crossed arms upwards above their head, reaching for the clouds. They then gently separate their both arms above their heads and begin to lower them down each side of the body and then they repeat the routine again as many times as they wish.

The second version to the “Separating the Clouds” Taiji Qigong Exercise is the rocking method. This is were the student steps forwards with their right foot and then transfers their bodyweight forwards onto it, their both hands are held at waist height with both palms facing each other, they then gently push their both hands forwards, as if separating or dividing some thing. Then the student separates their both arms outwards in an horizontal circle to either side, transferring their bodyweight onto their rear leg they bring their both hands back in front of their body at waist height with both palms facing each other to repeat again.

Does not matter which particular “Separating the Clouds” Exercise you decide to practice. Both offer great benefits to those who choose to practice this exercise, it can help those who suffer with hypertension ( High Blood Pressure), Asthma, Bronchitis, Heart Disease, Falls Syndrome, Osteoporosis and many, many more ailments. I much prefer to practice the rocking exercise version were the bodyweight is shifted from one leg to the other, I find that this particular exercise is really beneficial for strengthening the leg muscles and bones and produces more blood and Qi circulation around the entire body.

Practicing the rocking version of the “Separating the Clouds” Exercise with the both palms facing each other and then dividing, separating them apart, allows for the student to feel and sense the movement of their Qi flowing smoothly through the both arms and into their palms and fingers. Each student will begin to feel various sensations like warmth, heat, tingling, heaviness, fullness and movement like flushes, gentle shaking and vibrating sensations. Which are signs of each person Qi beginning to mobilise inside themselves.

LFIAA Sun Style Eight Trigram Palms (Sunshi Bagua Zhang) “The Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form”.

The Sun Style Eight Trigrams “Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form” (Sunshi Bagua You Shen Lian Zhang Shi) is made up of ten short forms that are performed on both sides of the body. These ten short forms consist of 1. Single Palm Change, 2. Double Palm Change, 3. Lion, 4. Unicorn, 5. Snake, 6, Sparrow Hawk, 7, Dragon, 8, Bear, 9. Phoenix, 10. Monkey. These are firstly performed in an orthodox method in the order given above, this is done so that each practitioner can learn each particular form accurately with good discipline. Once the practitioner has been practicing the orthodox method for some time, they can then begin to practice the unorthodox method, this is were the practitioner can mix up the 10 short forms in a large variety of ways, which keeps the practice exciting and interesting for every practitioner.

No matter wether you decide to practice the Sun Style Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form in an orthodox or unorthodox method. It will strengthen the tendons and bones and stretch the practitioners muscles and joints to increase their flexibility and range of mobility. It promotes good blood, lymph and Qi circulation to nourish, strengthen and repair the health and wellbeing of the practitioner. Due to its circle walking practice which can be performed at various speeds can greatly develop each person’s general cardio fitness and stamina.

The practice of the Eight Trigram Palms (Baguazhang) is a rare body, mind & spirit system that not many individuals have come across. As many individuals now practice the more popular Tai Chi and Qigong forms and exercises, but the practice of Baguazhang is a fascinating discipline that involves the practitioner constantly turning and twisting their whole body, while walking around in a circle and then suddenly changing direction constantly. It is said that a practitioner of the Eight Trigram Palms resembles a Dragon spiralling and coiling in the air.

Although many practitioners study and practice the Sun Style’s Bagua Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form for its health related benefits. Like a Tai Chi which can also be used as an Internal Martial Art to protect oneself, so the same can be said of the practice of the Eight Trigram Palms as an Internal Martial Art of devastating fighting techniques that are hidden with its circle walking, spiralling and coiling actions of the whole body. When you actually see a practitioner perform any of the Sun Style Eight Trigram Palms Forms, it is very hard to believe that it is a powerful and devastating Internal Martial Art that involves Striking, Kicking, Wrestling & Throwing techniques.