One of the most iconic movements of the Yang Style taijiquan that nearly everyone will recognise is the “Single Whip Posture” (Dan Bian Shi). This is were the individual gently pushes forwards with the front open hand, while the opposite hand performs the Cranes beak hand shape by touching the finger tips and thumb together in a claw shape, as seen in the accompanying photo of Laoshi Keith Ewers performing the Yang Style Taijiquan Single Whip Posture. Not only can this posture be performed alongside other taijiquan postures with each of the postures blending and connected together in a flowing sequence of movements. The Single Whip Posture can also be practiced as a Standing Post Qigong Exercise (Taiji Zhan Zhuang Gong) which offers individuals another option to its practice in being able to strengthen the whole body in it maintenance of health & wellbeing.
In the practice of the Yang Style’s taijiquan Single Whip Posture means that the six components of the legs in the shifting of the body weight from one leg to another, the turning of the waist to lead and guide the arms into their correct positions, plus the circular movements of the arms and hands to perform the Single Whip posture accurately. The use of the eyes to follow the direction of the turning of the waist to lead the two hands into their positions, connecting the mind (concentration) and body together, lastly the co-ordination of the breathing and movements to be joined together, allowing the breath to dictate the speed of movements, inhaling on the raising and closing actions, while exhaling on the lowering and opening actions. Above all the movements must be well timed together in a relaxed, soft and gentle manner with the movements performed in a smooth and even speed.
The actual actions of the Yang Style Taijiquan Single Whip Posture are very beneficial for the functioning of the Lungs and heart organs. As the individual performs the Single Whip Posture with one hand opening, extending out to form the Cranes beak hand shape, the other arm is gently drawn inwards close to the body, before it is then extended and opened out in a sweeping action finishing in front of the body. This closing and opening of the both arms allows the Lungs and heart to be gently massaged by the muscles that surround them, helping to gently exercise them and maintain their functioning in circulating the Qi, blood and oxygen around the entire body. Today many people simply take up the study and practice of taijiquan just to learn how to relax, obviously some practice to help improve their balance, and concentration, but very few are actually aware that correct taijiquan practice is practiced to maintain and improve the functioning of our internal organs, fore which true health and wellbeing is only attained.
The first of September sees the beginning of the Autumn three month season for which the Daoist’s signify as the period of the “White Tiger” which is associated with the functioning of the Lungs. Gradually as the Summer heat turns to a cooler Autumn the Lungs can be affected by the excessive heat of summer and can become weaker as the the excess heat becomes trapped within the Lungs causing them to become dry which lowers the Qi of the Lungs, which can then allow individuals to catch colds or influenza and coughs weakening their immune system. Practicing the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong (Si Ji Zuo Gong) especially for the three months of Autumn can help to repair and strengthen the functioning of the Lungs by gradually removing the excess heat that has become trapped within the Lungs and help the Lungs to become moist rather than dry, especially as the seasons are changing from a Yang (warm) period of Summer into a much Yin (Cooler) period of Autumn into a greater Yin (Cold) of Winter.
The exercises are easy to learn and practice, they involve various breathing (Tu Na) Methods, gentle stretching, Guiding & Leading Methods (Daoyin) alongside self massaging methods (Tui Na) for which, when all methods are connected together can give each individual a deep sense of mindfulness meditation exercise. Studying and practicing the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises allows each individual to change and protect their own health and wellbeing as each season goes by. As each season arrives they all bring their own external pathogens that can greatly effect the health and wellbeing of every individual, causing various ailments to come to the fore if the individuals own protective Qi has become weak due to lack of regular practice of the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong or tired from over working or eating a poor diet or burnt out from excessive workouts that have lowered your energy levels, weakening the immune system. I have personally witnessed this during the cold of Winter with many of my friends who do excessive workouts during the winter and catch colds and influenza because they are burning up all of their energy in a period were each individual should learn to cultivate, store their energy as excessive workouts can tire the Kidneys which are the storage of our vitality levels.
For those already practicing or wishing to practice the Four Seasonal Seated Qigong exercises will bring individuals into harmony with nature and the Dao (Way). Allowing individuals to become more in balance and sensitive to the energy of each of the seasons helping them to maintain their health and wellbeing to living a long life irrespective of age, gender or ability.
There are a numerous amount of Poison Hand Striking Sets taught within the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu as passed onto us by Master Chee Soo. These particular Poison Hand Striking Methods must then evolve from its basic, some times rigid method of practice to be then combined and blended alongside other types of soft and hard Ward offs and deflections that allows the practitioner of this Chinese internal martial art to enter deeply into the opponents defence and then be able to use the Poison Hand Striking Methods alongside your kicking, joint locking and takedown techniques to defeat your opponent. The ultimate aim of any practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu is to be able. to naturally flow combining all of their defensive and offensive techniques together in a practical and effective manner. This means learning how to use the Poison Hand Striking Methods in a variety of ways using different types of Ward Off and deflections other than what is taught in the basic forms using the same rigid arm Ward offs.
For example when a student learns any of the first six Poison Hand Striking Sets they will always be taught to use a single outside arm Ward Off to deflect or block the opponents attack. To evolve and make the Poison Hand Striking Methods more practical and effective. Simply try and use other types of Ward offs and deflections like a single, changing or double palm Ward Off, or a single high downward hook Ward Off or a swans wing Ward Off or a low willow tree Ward Off. Usually when practicing any of the Poison Hand Striking Sets with a training partner they are always performed against a single punch attack. Try using other soft and hard Ward offs in a variety of methods against a one/two punch combo alongside your Poison Hand Striking Methods to develop a vast amount of ways to enter into your opponents defences.
Sadly to many students practice the Poison Hand Striking Sets still in a very basic and rigid format that is very unpractical for use to defend oneself in the street. The effectiveness of the Poison Hand strikes is greatly enhanced when combined with other types of Ward Off, party’s and deflections as entry’s other than what is taught within the Poison Hand Striking Sets. Master Chee Soo would always mention that a practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu should learn how to change and adapt and overcome a violent situation through their skilful usage of applying this principle to this Chinese internal fighting art. Simply practicing the Poison Hand Striking Sets in their basic and rigid format will not be enough to develop a high proficiency level, which can only be achieved through the blending of other types of soft and hard Ward Off in various amounts of combinations that allow the practitioner to enter deeply into the opponents defences from either the outside, inside or in a more direct straight line route.
Learning to defend yourself and how to use any of the Poison Hand Striking Sets effectively against multiple punches from many different angles of attack must be fully researched and practiced by every practitioner of the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system if they truly want their Feng Shou-Kung Fu to become an effective and practical method in being able to defend themselves against an aggressive opponent. Learning how to use different ward offs and deflections against a One/two punching combination or from a hook or uppercut punch and then be able to flow naturally into any of the offensive Poison Hand Striking Methods must be fully practiced, as not always will an opponent simply attack you with a single straight punch as is what is taught and practiced by many students in other Li/Lee family associations and organisations.
Today to many people are frantically living their life’s wasting their energy , weakening their immune system and allowing their health to suffer in the pursuit of economical gain. For a bigger house, a flashier car and lavish holidays, even the way that they exercise is stressful on their bodies, burning up their life energy that they will obviously need in their old age to help them maintain a youthful, fit, supple and relaxed body & mind. Today there are not many individuals who try to incorporate a little time for them to return to stillness, weather it be through sitting in meditation or performing some slow, gentle flowing movements of either taijiquan or Qigong that allows each individual to cultivate, harness their energy and slow down the ageing process and learn how to regenerate the bodies health and wellbeing by storing and strengthening your life energy (Qi).
Bringing a sense of balance into your daily routine and allowing yourself to become more aware of finding a time just to slow down and develop a time to become calm and still through simply walking into a park and practice some Qigong that gently opens and stretches the joints, muscles and tendons can greatly revitalise your energy levels, plus through its deep breathing it can develop a deeper sense of calmness and relaxation. Obviously if you cannot go into a park because there is not one near to you or the weather is to bad to go outside. Then find a perfect time of the day or evening to just do some mindful practice that allows you to slow down and find some stillness and peacefulness inside yourself.
“Returning to the Root” means to return to stillness or nothingness. As we came from nothing and at the end of our lives we will return to nothing. Some people will get there quicker than others because they burn up their life energy (Qi) through living their lives to frantically, wasting up their Qi through bad diets, over working living their life’s to fast that cause to much anxiety and stress affecting the circulation of Qi by allowing it to slow down or. Even stop and stagnate, which then causes their immune system to gradually weaken and suffer with ill health.
Practicing the life nourishing arts of taijiquan, Qigong, baguazhang or even meditation are not there just to simply learn how to relax. But to help you strengthen the connections between the body, mind & spirit. Which can only be achieved through slowing your life down and spending time to develop the feeling of inner calmness and stillness inside yourself each day to cultivate, store and build your Qi to allow you to live a long life with good health and vitality in your old age, living your life independently, what matters more self or wealth.
We all at some time during the day or week will suffer with low energy levels within ourselves that can cause our mood to change making us feel low, grumpy and a little depressed. Through the regular daily practice of taijiquan in general it can help to balance your emotions and big changes of energy levels that could affect your emotional state, for example performing the slow, gentle, smooth flowing actions of taijiquan which involve rising, lowering, opening and closing actions that are repeated throughout the entire Lishi Taijiquan form will gradually allow the energy (Qi) of the body to follow suit, which allows Qi that has been trapped in various areas of the entire body to be moved and released. This sudden release of trapped energy within an individual’s body can allow certain emotions to also be released that have laid hidden deeply within the body for some time and some individuals will experience a sudden surge of energy and realise that there mood as changed from being low to suddenly to being more lively and alert.
Obviously simply performing your Taijiquan movements will not move the Qi around your body unless you are fully connected with your mind, body & breath and you can gradually begin to experience certain sensations within yourself which again takes a longtime to develop. But the first step to developing this sensitivity of energy (Qi) movement within our bodies is through regular day to day self practice, whereas the longer periods of were we do not practice for a few days or weeks can cause our Qi to slow down or stagnate and cause us to feel greater mood swings in ourselves as the Qi becomes stagnant or trapped in various parts of our body.
Throughout each day we are constantly placed under some stressful situation, especially in the work place having to meet the pressure of a deadline, or mixing in with difficult Work colleagues, plus family commitments such as illness all can have a great effect on your emotional state. Learning to simply practice a little taijiquan during each day can greatly help in boosting your energy levels and maintaining a more balanced and healthy emotional state. If you do not have the time to perform your Lishi Taijiquan form each day, just simply practicing the Lishi Taijiquan first opening “Gathering Heavens Energy Posture” a few times slowly raising the both arms above the height of the shoulders will gradually raise the Qi of the individual upwards towards the head and change their mood from being low to being more lively and present.
Within the LFIAA Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu as taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers there are a wide variety of kicking methods (Jiao Fa) taught that are both practical and functional for everyone to use to defend themselves from a violent and aggressive attack. One particular kicking method that Laoshi Keith Ewers teaches and has added to the Kicking Methods that was taught to him by Master Chee Soo is the use of the Hips (Kua) which is a close range kicking method that can be used alongside many other types of kicks plus defensive and offensive hand methods (Shou Fa). The use of the hip as a kicking method was not taught by Master Chee Soo, but was added by Laoshi Keith Ewers because it is a very effective and versatile kicking method that can be easily applied by both genders.
If the hip (Kua) strike is delivered correctly it can easily put a fully grown man onto the floor with ease. Today many of the Master Chee Soo’s students still practice the kicking methods or Foot Flow Training Methods as Master Chee Soo used to call them by still applying the cross leg step that allows them to retreat from there training partner. Whereas, the kicking methods taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers the cross leg stepping method is not taught or applied, as when the student performs the Hip strike he must get close to his opponent or training partner and to do this he must either step in to get closer, using either defensive or offensive hand methods (Shou Fa) to disguise the step or the student could use a kicking method aimed at his opponents legs to get close in were he could then apply the Hip strike.
Usually the Hip strike technique is applied alongside either a leg sweep (Tui Sao) or simply used to Off balance the opponent before you enter with a particular throwing method (Shuai Fa) or joint locking technique (Qin Na). The Hip strike is a very unique kicking method that Laoshi Keith Ewers has included to the many kicking techniques that are taught within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu system. It is both a practical and functional kicking method that is easy to learn and combine with other kicking or hand methods.
Many individual’s do not recognise that within the Original Feng Shou-Kung Fu System the kicking methods (Jiao Fa) can be broken down into two ranges of fighting. Which are long and short range, obviously the long range kicking methods only use the many areas of the foot like the toes, heel and instep etc. Whereas, the close range kicking methods use the knees, stamping, knee & ankle sweeps and also the use of the Hip (Kua).
Over the many years that I trained and studied under the guidance of the late Master Chee Soo he taught to all his students a wide range of energy sensitivity & awareness exercises what he would often term as (Qi Expressing Exercises) or traditional known as the Daoist Wand (Daojia Mo Zhang) Methods. These particular methods or exercises are also widely taught within many other styles of taijiquan and Qigong systems by many other teacher. I also teach them within my Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage System for individuals to get a better feeling and understanding of Qi and being able to connect to their own before they then connect to a patient Qi and then learn how to guide & lead it in any direction inside the patients body. Master Chee Soo would often teach and demonstrate these Qi expressing exercises mainly on his Lishi Taijiquan courses and they included lying, sitting, standing exercises that the individual could perform on their own or with one or more partners.
When practicing the Qi expressing exercises with a training partner they could be performed in a variety of ways. Firstly you project your Qi towards your partner by slowly pushing your hand towards a part of their body, usually it would be aimed towards an energy cavity point (Qixue) located anywhere on the partners body, then your training partner would try and sense, feel your Qi as you slowly closed the distance with your hand. Usually the training partner would experience warmth, tingling or even a feeling of pressure coming towards themselves, or they would simply feel nothing at all. There are many reasons why this possibility could happen, one particular reason was the delivery of you extending your Qi towards your partner did not involve the whole body moving as a unit, but you simply just moved your hand.
Over the many years that Master Chee Soo taught these particular Qi expressing exercises many students of his jmainly got caught up in trying to simply feel the Qi being pushed, pulled, raised or lowered towards them by their training partners and a lot of them could not perform the more advanced methods of actually moving their training partner. This was down to not concentrating on using their body mechanics in a correct and skilled manner, for example when you perform a taijiquan posture or a Qigong posture you are taught that the five components (Wu Duan Fa) of your whole body the legs, arms, torso, concentration and breathing must all be involved within every action that you do and there should be no difference when practicing any of the Qi expressing exercises. It is how you deliver your Qi towards or away from your training partner using the whole body and not just simply moving an arm or hand.
To many individuals get caught up just wanting to sense the movement of Qi and are quite happy to just feel warmth, tingling, heaviness or lightness when practicing with a partner. But as with everything within the Daoist energy arts there are always lower and higher levels of proficiency and to attain these higher levels of Qi manipulation each individual must pay great attention to their posture and whole body movement.