Wuji Qigong is a Daoist life nourishing exercise (Yangsheng) which involves a series of gentle stretching movements that develop flexibility within the individuals joints, tendons and muscles, which in-turn opens the energy pathways (Jing Mai) of the whole body helping to remove any blockages that may have accumulated within the body, due to illness, injury, or lack of exercise. The word Wuji is made up of two words placed together, the first word (Wu) means emptiiness or nothingness and is connected to the Daoist belief of the great “Stillness” before the Big Bang that formed our universe. The second word (Ji) means Supreme or Ultimate and is associated with Way (Dao), when the two words (Wuji) are placed together they can mean Supreme Emptiness , Ultimate Emptiness or Supreme Nothingness, the time of great stillness before the Chaos (Hundun).
When an individual begins their practice of the Wuji Qigong form which is a series of eighteen exercises, that excepte for the very first and last exercises can be performed in any order which relates to the Chaos after the Big Bang. As for the individual while practicing the Wuji Qigong form aims to fully become relaxex and to try and achieve a feeling of calmness and stillness within, which is especially important for many individuals who suffer from high stress and anxiety levels due to their working invironment and fast lifestyle. The exercises that are performed within the Wuji Qigong form are especially good for people who suffer with either neck, shoulders and back problems, as the gentle stretching actions will gradually allow the muscles, tendons and joints to release any tension and stiffness that as built up over time. This sudden release of muscular tension and joint stiffness will allow the individual to become more relaxed with better blood and energy flow that will increase the vitality levels of all individuals.
Within the Wuji Qigong forms eighteen exercise there are a few that can be held as a “Standing Post Qigong” (Zhanggong) practice which places great emphasis on strengthening the individuals concentration, and to develop a more deeper feeling of inner stillness and quietness or as Laozi mentions in his book the “Way and Virtue” (Daodejing) “Empty the Mind and Fill the Belly” meaning to quiet the mind and allow the qi to gather and transform within the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) located within the abdomen. Because the middle sixteen exercises of the Wuji Qigong form can be practiced in any order allows the individual to create a routine that better suits themselves and can differ each time they practice, hence within the ability to change the routine the individual must still attain the ability to develop a deep feeling of inner calmness and stillness.
I personally cannot emphasis enough for all practitioners and students of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to study and practice their Martial Guiding & Leading Exercises (Wu Daoyin Fa) to Cultivate (Pei Zhi). Store (Shou Cun) and Transport (Yun) the internal energy (Neiqi) to both strengthen each individuals health and wellbeing, but to also harness and develop their power source that every student and practitioner needs to make their defensive and offensive fighting methods effective and practical useful for there purpose. When I started to learn this fascinating and unique Chinese internal martial art I was taught to start every class training session with a particular Martial Daoyin exercise like the “Four Directional Breathing Exercise” and to also every training session with a closing or finishing Martial Daoyin exercise like the “Five Lotus Blossom breathing Exercise”. Obviously there are a load more Martial Daoyin exercises that can be performed to help store and circulate the qi around the whole body, the two Martial Daoyin exercises that I mentioned was properly the two most popular breathing exercises taught, but there are also many other types of Martial Daoyin exercises that are taught and practiced, especially within the LFIAA.
I was always told by Master Chee Soo that the Martial Daoyin methods practiced within Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to enhance each students ability to Cultivate their power source must be closely related to the actual movements that are used in the defensive and offensive actions of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu system. For example it is no good practicing a Martial Daoyin exercise that involves loads of muscular tension as it will hinder the flow of qi, also there should be no holding of the breathe. The Martial Daoyin exercises that are taught by Laoshi Keith Ewers of the LFIAA also involve slow and fast movements, the student or practitioner will perform a typical Martial Daoyin Breathing Exercise slowly to encourage the blood and qi to naturally flow into the extremities and to teach the student to mindfully guide and lead the qi co-ordinating their breathing and movements together. So that each student can feel the tangible sensations of tingling, warmth, fullness and the movement of their qi as it transports itself around the whole body. Once the student has practiced a certain Martial Daoyin exercise slowly and with accuracy they are then taught to speed up their actions developing a more explosive power (Fajin) to their movements.
It is important that the speeding up or fast actions of a Martial Daoyin exercise is not taught to early to a student. As they must place relaxation, accuracy and precision of a typical Martial Daoyin exercise above all, developing their breathing to become deep, long, slow and smooth using what Master Chee Soo would call a “Yin & Yang Breathing” method, co-ordinating their actions and breathing together so that they can actually experience the sensations of qi movement within themselves. Only after a long period of practicing a typical Martial Daoyin exercise should the student then be encouraged to speed up their Martial Daoyin Breathing exercise, so as to begin developing a more explosive power within their actions that transports the qi much more quickly into the extremities with a very strong sensation. The breathing actions changes as the inhale is long and slow, but the exhale is short and fast this is what Master Chee Soo would call a “Yang Breathing” method that produces tremendous internal power into the hands and feet.
In the photo that accompanys this blog Laoshi Keith Ewers is seen perform the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu “Scooping the Moon Martial Daoyin” exercise which is openly taught to students alongside a wide variety of other Martial Daoyin exercises to help each student and practitioner to cultivate their qi to maintain and improve their health and longevity and to produce their internal power source for their fighting techniques,
Within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system (Tui Na Qigong Fa) that is taught and practiced by the LFIAA involves two practices. The first method is the cultivation of Qi and the development of its tangible sensitivity within the patients body to be able to guide and lead (Daoyin) anywhere, in any direction in the patients body to treat a wide range of ailments. The second and most popular practice of using any style of massage is to use the techniques to work on the musculoskeletal system to treat various ailments, basically within the Lishi Tui Na Qigong Energy Bodywork Massage we have an internal work (Neigong) development and practice, plus an external work (Waigong) development and practice. Today many practitioners of an style of massage mainly develop and practice their external practices (Waigong) as it does not take many hours of self practice to develop, they simply use physical massage techniques to work on the patients muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints mainly to stimulate the. circulation of the blood (Xue) around the whole body.
When we use Tui Na Qigong to treat head, neck and shoulders ailments we immediately have a tremendous amount of techniques that we can use. But when we add these physical manipulative methods alongside our ability to connect, guide and lead the patients own energy (Qi) it is then that we can penetrate deeply into the patients interior to either gather, rise, lower, disperse the patients Energy to treat a particular ailment. For example if a patient suffers with a frontal headache that could have been caused by the build up of stress, anxiety, tension, the practitioner of the Lishi Tui Na Qigong system would then use a combination of energy work (Neigong) and physical method (Waigong), when using the energy work to manipulate the patients blocked qi the practitioner would spend a quite a long time staying in one particular area of the patients body to connect, lead and guide the patients energy. In the photo that accompanys this blog you will see that the practitioner has placed his both hands on the patients head as if holding a ball. He will then connect to the patients energy with the hand that is on the forehead, the patient will feel increasing heat building on their forehead, the practitioner will then guide and lead the patients qi to the hand placed at the back of the head the patient will then feel pressure and warmth building at the back of their head.
Once the practitioner has moved the blocked energy that caused the headache to form from the front of the patients forehead and has moved it from the front to the back of the head, he will then use a certain physical massage technique to then draw the blocked energy (Qi) from the back of the head downwards into the body were it will be dispersed. Obviously to skilfully be able to connect, guide and lead the tangible qi through the patients body means that the practitioner must regularly practice Qigong exercises to cultivate their own Qi to be able to use it within the treatment of many illnesses. Today there are many practitioners or therapist of massage who do not practice any self cultivation exercise (Neigong) to strengthen and cultivate their own qi to help treat many internal ailments and to maintain and improve their own health and wellbeing, but would rather spend their time working and practicing on the more physical massage techniques (Waigong). Which are much more easier to learn and develop.
The Daoist Qigong exercise known as “Walking with an Energy Ball” (Zuo Qi Qiu Gong) involves the individual holding their both hands in front of the chest at the height of the Middle Elixir Field (Zhong Dantian) or otherwise known as the “Crimson Palace”. The individual then begins to rotate their both hands around moving in a vertical circular motion, making sure that the energy cavity (Qixue) located in the centre of both palms remain facing each other while the both hands rotate around each other. It is important that the individual also involves the movement of the both shoulders and scapulars, so that the upper back gently stretches invigorating more blood and qi to flow into the both arms and hands giving the individual a more tangible sensation of holding an energy ball (Qi Qiu) within both hands. The exercise can be practiced from a static standing position and it should be performed slowly with deep breathing and the rising and lowering of the legs in time with the actions of the arms, hands and breathing.
When practicing the rotating of the energy ball while walking either in a linear or circular direction. The stepping method that is chosen to walk with is the “Mud Wading Step Method” (Tang Ni Bu Fa), this particular stepping method is performed by the individual taking a step forwards and placing the whole of the sole of the foot onto the floor at the same time, the front leg should be kept straight with no body weight placed on it. The body weight remains on the rear supporting leg which is bent at the knee, the individual will then shift their body weight forwards onto the front leg, while the rear leg then performs the Mud Wading Step placing the whole foot onto the floor at the same time with the knee kept straight. As the individual steps forwards the both hands will begin to rotate the energy ball, it is important that the same arm and leg of the same side of the body move forwards at the same time alternating from side to side moving slowly with co-ordinated breathing.
The Walking with a Qi Ball Qigong exercise when performed with the Mud Wading Step can be performed moving in a linear direction for as many stepping actions as the area that they are practicing in allows. The linear stepping method is a great exercise to practice and prepare yourself before moving onto the more difficult circular Walking with a Qi Ball method, again using the Mud Wading Stepping method which will promote strong blood and Qi flow into the both feet, gently flushing the Yin & Yang channels of the both legs clean of any stagnant energy by the opening and closing of the hips joints (Kua).
Over-al the Walking with a Qi Ball Qigong (Zuo Qi Qiu Gong) exercise will strengthen and improve the flexibility of the muscles, tendons and joints of the whole body, promoting strong blood and Qi flow into the extremities removing any stagnant blood or blocked energy that can cause an imbalance in the individuals health and wellbeing. Due to the slow breathing which will strengthen the respiratory and cardiovascular systems (Lungs & Heart) as well as soothing the nervous system to help relax and release any anxiety or stress.
I have spoken about this topic before and would like to emphasis the importance of students of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practice some Standing Post Qigong to cultivate their qi and to strengthen their body. Master Chee Soo would always mention that Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu was a “Soft Style” meaning that to make its defensive and offensive techniques work adiquately ment that it relied on the practitioner to develop an abundance of internal energy (Neiqi). This can only come about by the practitioner of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practicing some Qigong exercises that can range from practicing either guiding and leading breathing exercises (Daoyin) to standing Post work (Zhangong) to some sitting Meditation (Jing Zuo Gong). it is vitally important that every teacher and student practices Qigong alongside their striking, kckng, wrestling and throwing methods, as without it you can no longer call your Feng Shou-Gongfu an internal martial art.
When I first started to learn the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu I was always fascinated by the saying that was quoted on all of Master Chee Soo’s posters and leaflets about Feng Shou-Gongfu using the “The Softness Of A Butterfly’s Wing, Yet As Strong As Steel”. When I finally had the opportunity to ask him exactly what it meant, as I found it very paradoxal, how could you be soft yet hard at the same time. Master Chee Soo then went on to say that Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu looked soft and relaxed on the outside, but its strength came from the inside from the development of cultivating and transporting our qi around our body to add strength and power to our defensive and offensive techniques. To do this meant that every student must practice their Guiding and leading breathing exercises (Daoyin) on a regular basis to empower themselves.
We at the LFIAA offer students of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu three different training methods of cultivating and circulating their qi to empower their defensive and offensive fighting methods and to also maintain and improve their health.
- Martial Guiding & Leading Breathing Exercise (Daoyin)
- Standing Post (Zhangong)
- Sitting Meditation Work (Jing Zuo Gong)
Firstly the Martial Daoyin exercises that are taught to students are closely related to the defensive and offensive movements of the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu and are not something completely different to what each student practices. As the Gongfu is Qigong and Qigong is Gongfu both are closely linked. Secondly the Standing Post Qigong methods that are taught also involve both the stances and arm actions of what are actually used within the Original Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu.
Again, sadly today many other organisations and associations that also teach the Feng Shou-Gongfu do not advocate any practice of Martial Daoyin or Qigong work to their students. If they do then its either taijiquan or some other non related method that it used and taught to their students. Original Feng Shou Martial Qigong has it own unique style that is related to it actual defensive and offensive methods as they are all one and the same. But without the practice of Daoyin/Qigong exercises then the fighting techniques that each student performs will be empty, weak and hollow and not internal.
When practicing taijiquan be it the Yang or Li/Lee styles if we consider that the whole body is an army. The mind (Yi) is the emperor or king, the waist is the general and the extremities are the troops, as we begin to perform our particular style of taijiquan actions, it is the mind or emperor that makes the decision to act and the waist the general organises its troops, the extremities to move in accurately in the correct direction, shape and speed. Everyone knows that the practice of taijiquan uses and strengthens the core muscles of its practitioners, but this can only happen if the practitioners uses their waist (Yao) to direct the movements of their Taijiquan movements, allowing the whole body to become unified in its actions and not allowing any part of the body to become an isolated movement on its own.
Obviously it takes time for each individual to learn how to direct their movements from the action of turning the waist. The waist acts like a big spring that allows the practitioner to open and expand and to then close and contract their movements. The taijiquan classics mention that the power begins in he feet, travels upwards o the waist, were it is then directed into the arms and hands, thus allowing the whole body to issue strength throughout every small or large action. Practicing any style of taijiquan without co-ordination the upper and lower portions of the body through the skilful useage of the waist will mean that there is no whole body strength being fdirected into any of the movements, leaving them hollow and weak.
Another reason why in the practice of taijiquan you are encouraged to direct all of the movements from the turning of the waist and core muscles is that the lower elixir field (Dantian) is also located in the lower abdomen area. The dantian is also called the “Ocean of Qi” (Qihai) as all students of taijiquan are always told to concentrate on gathering and transporting their own energy too and from the lower dantian when performing their taijiquan movements. The importance of using the waist to lead the movements within the practice of taijiquan works both on an external (Waigong) and internal (Negong) level, externally the practitioner learns to involve the use of their core muscles to guide and lead their taijiquan actions, which develops strength and flexibility within the waist and lower back area. Internally the practitioner uses their minds/intent (Yi) and breathing (Xi) to gather their Qi in the lower elixir field (Xia Dantian) and to then circulate their Qi throughout the entire body through the movements of their taijiquan movements.
Learning to harmonise both the external and internal mechanics of the waist and of the lower dantian in he practice of taijiquan will begin to develop a great strength and power that flows into every part of the body to help nourish and strengthen each individuals health and wellbeing leading towards them Iiving to a long life. On the outside their body is kept relaxed and loose (Song) while performing their taijiquan movements which are soft, light and flowing, yet on the inside their body feels full, warm and strong as if an iron bar passed through them and was wrapped in cotton wool.
Within the Li/Lee Family’s (Lishi) healing system of its Energy Bodywork Massage (Tui Na Qigong) there are a wide variety of massage techniques that can be used to treat patients who suffer with various problems of the head and neck. Such as headaches, migraines, facial paralysis, stiff neck, insomnia, stress and anxiety ailments. The practice of the Energy Bodywork Massage system is seen simply as an extension of the other mind & body disciplines of Tai Chi, Gongfu, and Qigong that are also taught within the LFIAA, as the body mechanics, breathing and hand techniques used withing these different but related systems all have the same connections, which are used to develop and manipulate the tangible sensations of Qi to enter and exit the body of the practitioner and the patient. When it comes to using the many Lishi Tui Na massage techniques to treat patients with head and neck problems then there is a wide variety of techniques that the practitioner can decide to use.
One of the main characteristics of the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system is that we will spend a longer time staying in one particular area, rather than quickly moving all over the head or neck like other massage styles would do. The main reason for remaining in one area for a much longer time is to allow the Lishi practitioner to connect, guide and lead the patients Qi and begin to manipulate their Qi by either gathering the Qi into one area to nourish, strengthen and repair a deficient or weak area of the body. The practitioner can also lower and raise the patients energy (Qi) if there is to much excess or deficiency of energy within one area, the Lishi practitioner can also enter Qi deeply into the patient or exit sickly Qi out of heir body through the skilful hand manipulative methods.
Today there are many types of different massage styles that do not advocate using a wide range of manipulative techniques on the head such as patting for example. This is I believe mainly down to the lack of confidence in the individual, as Patting is a great technique to use obviously with caution on the amount of strength being used to Pat the patients head to treat ailments like numbness, tinnitus and poor circulation etc. The use of the Combing Technique (Sho Fa) that is taught and performed within the Lishi Energy Bodywork Massage system can be used to gently relax the patient and treat a wide range of ailments like insomnia, headaches, and anxiety. It is the skill of the Lishi practitioner hand manipulative methods to be able to connect with the patients energy Qi) and to then be able guide and lead their energy anywhere within their body to bring balance, good health and wellbeing back.
My teacher Master Chee Soo would always mention that all of the mind & body disciplines that are taught within the spectrum of the Li/Lee Family Arts are all interconnected with each other. The practice and study of the Lishi Healng system of Tui Na Qigong is a great method of individuals who are practicing Tai Chi, Gongfu or Qigong to further extend and develop their training to another level that gives them a much more rounded and full discipline.