LFIAA Developing Better Balance Through TAI CHI Practice.

Over the many years that I have now been practicing and teaching Tai Chi. I can honestly say that there are three aspects that every individual must develop in themselves if they wish to improve their balance, irrespective of their age. Firstly they must learn to remain relaxed & loose (Song) within themselves and try not to tense or lock up their muscles and joints. Especially the more elderly individuals who can some times become very anxious and stressed mentally, which can obviously effect their confidence in being able to simply balance on one leg.

Secondly every individual has to develop their leg and core strength. This is developed in the practice of Tai Chi by firstly connecting their waist to their legs, then by making sure to place their bodyweight fully onto one leg at a time, alternating their bodyweight by shifting it from one leg to another as they perform their Tai Chi Movements. The next aspect to learn, is to then learn how to lift and lower the foot slowly onto the ground, irrespective of what direction the individual decides to step. For the individual to lift their foot off the ground they must learn to involve the gentle turning of the waist, using their core muscles and the big muscles in the thighs to lift and lower their foot back onto the ground.

Thirdly, each individual must perform their Tai Chi Stepping Methods (Bu Fa) in a very slow action. Moving slowly is the key trick to improving and maintaining each persons balance, as moving slowly really strengthens the weighted standing leg, as the individual lifts and lowers the foot off and back onto the ground they must develop a sense of control in the lifting and lowering of the foot. This can only be attained from the strength of the standing leg and for each individual to fully place their bodyweight fully onto it.

Obviously it is only through the regular daily practice of the Tai Chi sequence, remaining relaxed/loose both physically and mentally, making sure to shift the bodyweight onto one leg at a time and not to be caught using “Double Weighted Stances” (Shuang Zhong Shi), and to move as slowly as you can to develop the standing leg & core strength, and the great mind & body control that allows you to step lightly, smoothly and effortlessly in any direction. Individuals who have practiced Tai Chi with me in my classes and on my courses and workshops have quickly noticed how fit and strong their leg muscles become only after a few months of training in Tai Chi. To develop leg strength and fitness in Tai Chi it is not through fast, jerky kind of movements or exercises, but through very slow, relaxed, precise, controlled stepping and shifting of the bodyweight.

Advertisements

LFIAA Swimming Dragon Qigong For Back, Hip & Spinal Stiffness & muscular Tension Suffers.

Within our community’s there are many individuals who suffer with lower and upper back muscle tension, stiffness of the spinal column and hip joints. This can have a very debilitating effect on many individuals ability to live a normal lifestyle, as the Chinese say that “You are as old as your Back” and if you have ever suffered with a back problem then you can understand the saying, as you cannot straighten you back and stand fully upright, you are hunched over from the waist and look like an old man or women.

Many individuals who work long hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer, or who do long distance driving as part of their livelihood, even those individuals who do a lot of manual heavy lifting jobs can all suffer with back muscle tension, stiffness of the spine and hips. Simply practicing some of the Swimming Dragon Qigong (You Long Gong) 32 Step Form movements can greatly help individuals from suffering from muscle tension and stiffness of the joints through its combination of both passive, soft actions that look like Tai Chi and its dynamic, vigorous actions that involve Yoga type stretches.

Energetically the practice of the Swimming Dragon Qigong cultivates, gathers the Qi as well as mobilising the Qi throughout the whole body. But it uses a spiralling, coiling, reeling action of the whole body to guide & lead the Qi into the extremities to nourish and strengthen the bodies health and wellbeing. This spiralling, reeling type of action that every individual is taught how to move in the practice of the Swimming Dragon Qigong gently stretches the tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints releasing muscles tension and joint stiffness that will then help to develop a more relaxed, supple body.

Unlike many types of standing qigong (Zhan Zhuang Gong) that are practiced today by many individuals. The Swimming Dragon Qigong involves four practices of Qigong which are 1). Standing Post Qigong (Zhan Zhuang Gong) 2). Moving Qigong (Dong Gong) 3). Rocking/Swaying Qigong (Yao Ye Gong) and Walking Qigong (Zuo Gong). These four practices are involved within the thirty-two Step Swimming Dragon Qigong Form.

Practicing of the Swimming Dragon Qigong Exercises can greatly benefit those who suffer with back, hip and spine stiffness and tension. Many individuals take pain killers to aid their problem, whereas simply spending a couple of minutes everyday practicing some of the Swimming Dragon Qigong Exercises can help to maintain and improve a healthy back and spinal column that allows each individual to live a full and active lifestyle.

LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu’s “Martial Qigong Practice” (Wu Qigong Lian Xi)

One particular exercise that is taught to students of the LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu system to help them cultivate their Qi both for their health, wellbeing, and to develop internal strength & power for their defensive & offensive hand & foot methods (Shoujiaofa), is the Eight Standing Post Qigong (Ba Zhan Zhuang Gong) Exercise. These are a series of eight stances with eight different hand shapes that can be performed in a multitude of combinations.

  1. Bear Stance.
  2. Dragon Stance.
  3. Cat Stance.
  4. Leopard Stance.
  5. Scissor Stance.
  6. Eight Stance
  7. Swing Step Stance.
  8. Crane Stance.

The student can move from one posture to another in a flowing sequence combining their breathing with their movements, or they can hold a certain posture for some time before moving onto another posture. While changing from one posture to another, the student will also change the shape of their hands and arms. Each of the postures will stretch the students muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints to increase their flexibility and allow for their blood and Qi to flow smoothly throughout the whole of their body.

Holding any of the Eight Standing Post Qigong Exercises will not only strengthen the students physique. They will also strengthen the students concentration and their ability to guide & lead (Daoyin) their Qi and to gradually connect their mind, body & spirit. The Chinese say that if you just train the external (Wai Gong) then your fighting Methods will become empty and weak as you grow older, whereas, if you train the internal (Nei Gong) alongside the external. Then your body will grow in strength and the fighting methods will remain strong and powerful well into old age.

Because the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu is considered to be an internal Chinese martial art (IMA). Then obviously there should be a wide range of exercises taught to all students to help them develop, cultivate, strengthen and harness their own Qi and the Eight Standing Post Qigong is one of these exercises particular that is taught within the LFIAA that allows every student to cultivate their own Qi and to be able to give their fighting techniques more strength and power.

All Chinese internal martial arts have their own unique Qi cultivation methods and practices. So the Eight Standing Post Qigong is just one particular method taught to students who study the Feng Shou-Kung Fu to strengthen their mind & body.

LFIAA Eight Healing Sounds Daoyin “Vocalising the Sounds to Effect Vibration”

Because our bodies are 75% percent water the ancient Chinese realised that making certain vocalised sounds could have an effect on the functioning of our internal organs (Zangfu). By making both vocalised and non-vocalised Sounds could either tonify, strengthen the Qi within the internal organs, or by making a vocalised sound could help disperse or remove stagnant, blocked Qi or blood within any of the internal organs that could cause ill health if left to accumulate for a very long period.

When we decide to practice any of the Eight Healing Sounds Daoyin exercises. We can practice them by simply concentrating on making each of the particular sounds that are connected to each of the internal organs. If we concentrate on making a vocalised sound, then we need to be able to prolong the breath and sound, so that the longer the duration of the sound we can make and the maintenance of the same frequency of the sound. Then stronger the vibration will be on the internal organ that we are targeting with our sound, the more the sickly Qi and stagnant blood (Xue) will be removed and dispersed. Sometimes when a patient comes to my clinic for a treatment I will also teach them to perform one or two of the Eight Healing Sounds, sometimes without performing the movements, just the sounds, to help them change the Qi within the organs that affect their ailment.

Usually, when the Guiding & Leading movements are taught alongside the breathing and making of the sounds. To many individuals can concentrate to much on the physical actions and not on making the correct right sound, or by prolonging the same frequency, so that each individual can actually feel a vibration being caused within their internal organs. As there are three practice to every one of the Eight Healing Sounds Exercises, the first practice is the correct physical movements that work the muscles around the internal organ, helping to gently massage the organ by opening closing, stretching and squeezing them. The second practice is the correct making of the sounds to vibrate the fluid within the internal organs to either strengthen or disperse the qi. The third practice is through the breathing method (Tu Na) were breathing inwards draws clean Qi in and exhaling the breath helps to dispel sickly Qi out.

Obviously, each of the three sections of correct movement, breathing or sound to any of the Eight Healing Sounds is just as important as each other. As it can take an individual a very longtime in their practice before they can feel that the three practices have developed to a high level, were they feel much benefit from their practice towards improving and maintaining their own health & wellbeing.

LFIAA Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI’s “Eight Hand Methods Connection To The Eight Trigrams” (Lishi Taiji Ba Shou Yi Jing)

Within the study and practice of the Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI there are Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou). Which are used within the movements of the Li Style TAI CHI Square Yard Form that are related to the Yi Jing Eight Trigrams, which many practitioners of the Li Style TAI CHI are not really made aware of its connections between the ancient Book of Changes (Yi Jing) and TAI CHI.

The Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou Fa) of the Li Style TAI CHI are as follows.

  • The Palm facing upwards is known as the Heaven Palm or Tai Yang.
  • The Palm facing downwards is known as the Earth Palm or Tai Yin.
  • The Palm facing forwards is known as the Valley Palm or Shao Yang.
  • The Palm facing inwards is known as the Mountain Palm or Shao Yin.
  • The Palm facing sidewards with the little finger edge pointing down and fingers forwards is known as the Water Palm or Zhong Yin.
  • The Palm facing sidewards with the little finger edge pointing forwards and fingers pointing upwards is known as the Fire Palm or Zhong Yang.
  • The Crane’s Beak is known as the Wind Palm or Lao Yin.
  • The Fist is known as the Thunder Palm or Lao Yang.

In the following picture is the Heaven Palm or Tai Yang Hand Shape which is used extensively throughout the Li Style (Lishi) TAI CHI Square Yard Form.

and is connected to the Heaven (Qian Gua) Trigram from the (Yi Jing) Book of Changes, which is pictured directly below. There are many other connections to the ancient Book of Changes (Yi Jing) that can be found within the practice of TAI CHI. The Eight Hand Shapes (Ba Shou Fa) are just one particular connection and insight into the philosophical connections to the Yi Jing’s Eight Trigrams.

LFIAA “Learning How To Protect Your Knees, While Practicing Taijiquan”

Over the many years that I have been studying & teaching taijiquan I have come across many individuals who suffer with arthritic knees. Also quite recently I have had a few individuals who have had knee & hip joint replacements, usually these are individuals who come into the practice of taijiquan who are over forty-five years of age, and have been told that the practice of taijiquan is good for them, as it helps to maintain flexibility within the joints of the lower extremities, plus it helps to maintain their leg strength and fitness.

Firstly it is important for everyone who wishes to participate in taijiquan practice, no matter if it is within their local taijiquan class or on their own. That they gently warm up their body with correct exercises, especially their knees if they have knee problems before they perform their taijiquan, so that the blood and Qi within the legs is stimulated to warm the bodies joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles allowing for them to become more relaxed. There are a few guidelines in the practice of taijiquan to help individuals to protect their knees while their are participating.

  • Firstly the knee (Xi) should not extend further than the toes.
  • The knee must point in the same direction as the toes.
  • The both knee’s should open & close (Kai/He) in the practice of taiji.
  • The both knee’s must be kept moving at all times.

So let’s us look at some of the above points. Firstly the knee (Xi) should not extend any further than the toes of the foot, as this can cause the knee to strain and become tight and tense, which will hinder the flow of the Qi and blood to circulate through the knees (Qi Xue Yun Xing).

Secondly the knees must point in the same direction as the toes, as a mis-aligned knee can cause tendon & ligament problems within the knee joints again causing pain and discomfort to the individual.

Thirdly, the both knee’s (Xi) should bend and straighten. Usually the leg that carry’s the bodyweight should be bent, while the non-weighted leg should straighten its knee, but not to the point were it is fully locked and stiff. As locking the knee’s can cause tension in the knee and plus raise the individuals centre of gravity weakening their ability to maintain their “root” (Gen).

The fourth reason for protecting the knee’s in the practice of taiji, is that the individual must keep both knees moving at all times while performing their taijiquan form. There should not be any posting (Zhan) were the individual pauses for a while with their bodyweight trapped on one leg, as again this can cause pain and discomfort for individuals with knee problems.

If practiced correctly and by using some of the guidelines mentioned above. Then there is no reason why individuals with knee problems cannot enjoy the practice of taijiquan in helping them to maintain leg strength, fitness, flexibility and Qi & blood circulation within the joints of the lower extremities to help maintain & improve their health & wellbeing. For those who do not suffer with any knee discomfort at all, then following the same guidelines as shown above in the practice of their taijiquan can also greatly benefit in protecting their knees and help develop their longevity in being able to maintain and practice taijiquan for many years to come.

LFIAA Original Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu “Martial Daoyin Breathing Exercises” (Wu Daoyin Fa)

Because the Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu is considered to be an internal martial art. Then every student should be taught its Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises (Wu Daoyin Xi Fa) to help cultivate, strengthen & circulate their own Qi both for the maintenance of their own health and to develop their martial power in their defensive and offensive fighting methods. There are two main training methods in learning a traditional internal martial art, there is the external physical training methods such as striking, kicking, wrestling & throwing for which many students focus all of their attention on developing. Then there is the internal training methods which involves the practice of Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises that develops the connections between the Mind/Intent (Yi), with the physical Strength (Li) and the Internal Energy (Nei Qi).

Master Chee Soo would always start and end his Feng Shou-Kung Fu training sessions with a Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercise (Wu Daoyin Xi Fa). Sometimes this would include students sitting on the ground and practicing what he would call “Semi Meditation” simply concentration on their breathing to help calm each students mind & body and to connect to their Qi before taking part in a Feng Shou-Kung Fu training session. Obviously more of the internal training must be emphasised in the developments of every students Feng Shou-Kung Fu training.

We in the LFIAA Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu practice a wide variety of Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercises which involve standing post (Zhan Zhuang) Practice, moving practice (Dong Fa), walking practice (Bu Fa) and sitting meditation practice (Zuo Jing Fa). The moving and stepping Daoyin practices are performed at two speeds, slowly to develop the breathing and the ability of the mind (Yi) to guide & lead the Qi into the extremities, then they are performed fast to develop the issuing of power (Fa Jin) and to harmonise the strength (Li) with the internal energy (Qi) into the extremities for martial arts usage.

The student of the Original Lishi Feng Shou-Kung Fu should spend more time on the cultivation, strengthening and circulation of the Qi through the many Daoyin practices that are taught and not place all of their attention on just the practice of the external physical training methods. A student should be able to tangibly feel their Qi moving inside themselves through the sensations of tingling, heat, fullness, flushing and vibration sensations which occur inside every student if they focus more on their practice of cultivating their Qi through the martial Daoyin exercises. Then connect their external with their internal training to develop powerful defensive & offensive fighting methods.