Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong

by Gong Lihui 2012

Breathing practice is one of the important exercises in practicing Health Qigong. Only when the exerciser is aware of the importance of breathing, using the correct breathing posture with right methods to make the most of breathing, can he learn Health Qigong well and reach the goal of dispelling diseases and strengthening his body.

Breathing is an Important Part of Health Qigong

Health Qigong is a traditional Chinese physical exercise, the movements of which mainly combine exerciser’s body movement, breathing and psychological regulation together. Health Qigong is characterized by its breathing exercise, which makes it fundamentally different from other physical exercises. In a sense, Health Qigong is the practice of inhaling and exhaling. Therefore, before practicing Health Qigong, one should be clear about the importance of breathing, and take it as a key exercise in Health Qigong.

The Breathing of Health Qigong is an Active One

Different from our normal breathing, which is inborn, instinctive, automatic and unconscious, the breathing of Health Qigong is active, conscious and can be regulated by the exerciser. The instinctive breathing of human beings is controlled by nervous centralis in lower brain stem such as medulla, mesocephalon, and spinal marrow. The breathing regulated by Health Qigong is controlled by the upper brain respiratory center like cerebral cortex. These two control centers are totally independent. And this is the difference between the kind of breathing system and some biological systems controlled by automatic nerves, such as cardiovascular system, digestive system and endocrine system. Health Qigong is just based on the regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system. By making full use of this regulatory subjective awareness of the breathing system and through conscious practice, Health Qigong helps one regulate and strengthen his breathing activity in a scientific way, facilitate the flow of one’s qi and blood so as to achieve the aim of dispelling illness and keeping fit.

Breathing Regulation is the Central Link of the “Three Regulations”

The regulations of body movement, breathing and psychology are the three elements of Health Qigong, which are also known as “three regulations”. The regulation of body movement means adjusting the figure and posture of body to make it suitable and relaxed to do the practice. Breathing regulating means adjusting the rhythm of breath, making it flow naturally to promote blood circulation and massage internal organs, meridian and collateral. Psychological regulation means adjusting one’s mental activities through eliminating distractions to improve the practice effect. The regulation of body movement is the premise; the breathing regulation is the core, dominating the other two; and psychological regulation is the guarantee and is subordinate to breathing practice. The three regulations are interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. They combine with each other organically and none of them is dispensable. As ancient people put it, “without correct body movement, your qi will not flow well. Without a well flow of qi, your mind will get no peace. Without peace in mind, you will have your qi decentralized.” Only when your spirit and body harmoniously combine together, can qi flow smoothly inside your body, thus achieving the effect of keeping in good health.

Breathing Makes Health Qigong Safe and Effective

Breathing is the Key to Keep Vitality

According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, “the qi between heaven and the earth keeps a man alive.” “Men live by the qi between heaven and the earth according to the law of four seasons” (Su Wen• Bao Ming Quan Xing); “qi is the foundation of human beings” (Nan Jing • Ba Nan); “Everything in the universe relies on qi.”(Lei Jing • She Sheng Lei); “Human beings live with qi, and qi is inside one’s body. None can live without QI.”(Pao Pu Zi by Ge Hong in the Jin Dynasty). All these sayings show that “qi” is the living root of human beings and every other thing in the universe. Qi is the way how life exists. With good qi, one can keep fit; otherwise, one will get disease. Without qi, one would die. The end of breath means the end of life.

The theory of traditional Chinese medicine also believes that genuine qi, the qi inside one’s body, is consisted of source qi, ancestral qi, nutrient qi and defense qi. Source qi is the intrinsic qi, which is the qi of kidney. Nutrient qi is made of the qi generated from digesting food and water; it is the nutrient qi that moves through blood and across five internal organs. defense qi is generated from the qi of water and food, running outside the veins and across the skin; it is defense qi that protect one from disease. ancestral qi is the qi one takes from nature; it is breathed into one’s lung and heart, promoting the movement of nutrient qi and defense qi. This is to say that ancestral qi, which comes from the breath, is the fundamental drive to maintain one’s life. This is where the medical science of keeping fit lies by using breathing to guide qi and blood flow.

Breathing Helps One Keep Healthy

Talking about learning Health Qigong, some people will ask, “Is it safe? Can you feel the qi?” People raise such questions because some exercisers of Qigong suffered instead of gaining health because of their misbehaviors during practice. Therefore, they do not dare to practice Qigong any more.

The feel about qi is the feeling exercisers sensed about the movement and concentration of qi and blood inside their bodies. Only when exercisers have practiced Health Qigong to a certain level and only when there are abundant qi and blood inside their bodies with smooth meridian and collateral and high concentration, can they have this feeling of qi. Ignoring assiduous and hard practice, trying to find a short-cut way to keep fit and just pursuing the feeling of qi will do no good to one’s health. In the past, some people got hurt during the practice of Health Qigong, mainly because they ignored the dominant position of breathing and only pursued the feeling of qi.

Since 2003, the GASC Health Qigong Administration Center has successively introduced four sets of methods to practice Health Qigong, that is, Yi Jin Jing,Wu Qin Xi,Liu Zi Jue,Ba Duan Jin, and five new sets of methods, that is Health Qigong • Da Wu, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Shi Er Duan Jin, Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang. These methods have absorbed the essence of traditional Chinese Qigong methods, basing on Chinese and Western medicine, physical exercise and related modern scientific theories, and have established the core position of breathing regulation among three regulations. These methods are not only scientific, effective, with diversified types, but also easy to learn and can effectively prevent improper practice and safety risks.

The Breathing Methods of Health Qigong

The Categories of Breathing

Health Qigong is a physical exercise focusing on breathing practice. Therefore, one must thoroughly understand and master different methods of breathing and practicing tips. The breathing of Health Qigong has two basic methods. One is thoracic breathing,that is natural breathing. The other is abdominal breathing, which can be further divided into smooth abdominal breathing and reverse abdominal breathing. And reverse abdominal breathing can be divided into loose anal reverse abdominal breathing and levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

The natural breathing used in Health Qigong is almost the same as people’s instinctively natural breathing. The two breathing styles are all relaxed, natural, with exerciser’s chest rising up and down at a relatively higher rate, and his defense has the slightest movement. The difference between these two breathing styles is that the breathing rate of Health Qigong is relatively slower, and it has to change according to the body movements, and between inhaling and exhaling there are transitional movements such as breath-hold and pause, which is completely absent under the instinctive state of natural breathing.

When the exerciser uses abdominal breathing, his abdomen will rise up and down with the breathing rhythm, and at the same time, his chest will also expand and contract. Smooth abdominal breathing means exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he inhales, and bulged when he exhales. On the contrary, if exerciser’s abdomen is adducted when he exhales, and bulged when he inhales, he is doing reverse abdominal breathing. What’s more, if his muscles of the anus and perineum get loose when he inhales, he is using loose anal reverse abdominal breathing; if his anus and perineum muscles tighten up when he inhales, he is using the levator anti reverse abdominal breathing.

Basic Exercise and Requirements of Breathing

The breathing of Health Qigong, regardless of its styles, is made up by four movements: inhale, exhale, breath holding and breath pause. When you inhale, holding the air you breathe in for a very short time is called breath holding; when you exhale, stopping your breathe temporarily is called breathing pause. An inhalation and an exhalation make up a breath. A breath must include one inhale and one exhale, but not every breath must include breath holding and breath pause. Breath holding and breath pause should be practiced in a flexible way according to needs of body movements such as when you stretch your limbs with tension, lift or twist your body, and when you want to have a rest or relax yourself. According to ancient people, “improper exhale of breath and breath pause would do harm to one’s health.” Therefore, your inhale and exhale should go slowly and smoothly, without straining yourself by inhaling too much air and exhale all you have. Breath holding and breath pause should also be practiced in a gentle way. Doing this for too long or with too much force is not good for your health.

Breathing is usually done by inhaling and exhaling through nose. For those with needs to make sound, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Three Plates Falling on the Floor in Yi Jin Jing, the exerciser should inhale through nose and exhale through mouth. As an energy-saving and low-oxygen physical exercise, Health Qigong will help exercisers gradually develop a deep and fine breathing style, with their breathing rate dropping from 16 to 18 times per minute (the normal rate for natural breathing) to 5 to 6 times per minute. However, this must be a gradual process of practicing, and the exerciser should not hurry and rush to next stages. Otherwise there will be three uncomfortable responses, that is “wind response”(with sound in your breath), “puff response”(breathing without sound but feel stagnating and dry in your nose) and “gasp response”(with your nose flapping). These will do no good to your health, but also will upset you and reduce the effect of exercise.

The basic requirements of Health Qigong for breathing is that when practicing the thoracic breathing, the exerciser should breathe according to his body movement, naturally and gently in a coordinated way without gasp or stagnation; when practicing the abdominal breathing, the exerciser should keep his movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to his navel. No matter which method the exerciser adopts, he should let his body movement guide his breath, and let the breath flow all over his body, reaching the goal of harmonizing both the outside body and inside breath in the end. The basic law to keep body movement and breath in line with each other is to inhale when one starts, to exhale when one finishes, inhale first and exhale latter, inhale to store qi, and exhale to deliver air. Exercisers should follow this law instead of practicing against it. Otherwise, the exerciser will feel uncomfortable such as suppressed in his chest, be short of breath, oppressed in heart and palpitate.

The Similarities and Differences between 9 Breathing Methods

Health Qigong has four breathing methods and five new methods. All breathing styles are determined by the characteristics of each method, which generally can be divided into the following three types.

Using One Kind of Breathing from the Very Beginning to the End

This type can be further divided into another two styles; one is using natural breathing from the very beginning to the end, for example, Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu. Since this method involves very big body movement with complicated changes, excessive pursuit of deep and fine breath will result in “wind” “puff” and “gasp” responses. Therefore, natural breathing is required through the very beginning to the end. Only in this way can body movement and breath always become gentle and coordinated.

Another style is using abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, such as the Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue and Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa. Dao yin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa uses smooth abdominal breathing from the very beginning to the end, keeping body movement and breath in line with each other, with gentle movement and deep breath, guiding every breath to the navel like divine turtle breathing. The Health Qigong • Liu Zi Jue uses reverse abdominal breathing throughout the whole process, which is the only one out of the nine methods that specifically focuses on inhale and exhale exercises. From the very beginning to the end, the exerciser inhales through nose and exhales through his mouth, and at the same time making a sound (one can also only exhale without making any sound after he is very skilled in this practice), paying attention to the deep and fine breathing.

Gradually Transition from One Method to Anther

This type of method means the exerciser starts from the natural breathing, and latter gradually transits to abdominal breathing, mainly including Health Qigong •·Ba Duan Jin, Mawangdui Daoyin Shu, Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang these three methods. Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang require using natural breathing at the beginning stage and gradually transiting to abdominal breathing as his body movement is more skillful and get into a higher practicing level. Mawangdui Daoyin Shu requires exercisers use natural breathing as a base, letting the body movement guide the breath, using his mind to guide the flow of breath inside his body, and finally harmonizing both the body movement and breath. In this way, his body will become gentle. As the body movements such as pitching, reversing, lifting, landing and folding intensify, his breath will become more deep and fine. Then his breathing will transit to abdominal breathing. The difference between the two is that Ba Duan Jin and Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang begin from natural breathing; and transit to abdominal breathing when the movement gets more skillful, while the Mawangdui Daoyin Shu is based on natural breathing, and transits to abdominal breathing with the intensification of body movement.

Frequent Transition between Different Breathing Methods

This type of breathing includes natural breathing, smooth abdominal breathing, reverse abdominal breathing, levator anti breathing and so on, with Health Qigong·• Wu Qin Xi, and Shi Er Duan Jin as two main methods. The transition between different breathing styles doesn’t need to follow any fixed order, and it changes according to the needs and changes of body movements in different practicing methods. In Wu Qin Xi, the body movements of “colliding with the antlers” and “picking fruit” use natural breathing; “seizing the prey ” and “stretch upward” use smooth abdominal breathing, and other six movements use reverse abdominal breathing, among which only “lifting the monkey’s paws” uses reverse abdominal breathing plus levator ani breathing. In Shi Er Duan Jin, “Ming Xin Wo Gu”,“Kou Chi Ming Gu”, “Yao Shen Huang Hai” and “Bei Mo Jing Men” use natural breathing; “Wen Xu Ji Lun” uses smooth abdominal breathing, and the other seven movements use reverse abdominal breathing plus levator anti breathing. No matter what kind of breathing the exerciser adopts, he should relax himself without suppressing his breath. And it is better to inhale and exhale neither too fast nor too slow. By using different breathing methods, the exerciser can regulate the qi and blood in five internal organs, dredge the meridian of his body and reach the effect of physical fitness.

Three Stages of Breathing Exercise

The Initial Stage of Unregulated Natural Breathing

Beginners of Health Qigong can use people’s instinctive natural breathing without subjective control to focus on learning body movement instead of breathing exercise. In this way, exercisers can not only grasp the tips of each movement quickly, but also can keep a smooth and stable breathing. The natural breathing of most people is thoracic breathing, and a small number of people who have received special training can also use natural abdominal breathing. Mankind used abdominal breathing in their early evolution period as natural breathing. After mankind evolved to homo erectus, their lungs rose up and expanded, thus changing from natural abdominal breathing to natural thoracic breathing. New-born babies usually use abdominal breathing at first and slowly change into thoracic breathing. This phenomenon confirms this evolution pattern of human breathing.

The natural breathing of Health Qigong and the completely instinctive natural breathing are not the same. The initial stage of natural breathing naturally follow the principle of letting body movement guide breath, and letting the breath flow all over his body, inhaling when one starts, exhaling when one finishes. This kind of breathing can also be reached naturally by following the body movements. And inhale, exhale, breath holding and pause can also be automatically applied. The basic characteristic of the initial stage of breathing is breathing naturally without any control.

The Intermediate Stage Focusing on Self-regulated Abdominal Breathing

At the intermediate stage, all the nine methods of Health Qigong, except Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, require exercisers to transit from using natural thoracic breathing to automatic abdominal breathing. At this stage, breathing has changed from the laissez-faire state of unconsciousness back to the central role of subjective concern, with the breathing method shifting from thoracic breathing to abdominal breathing. The depth of breath has been greatly increased, and the amount of oxygen exchange doubled. Breathing slowly becomes deep and stable, with the breathing rate falling, getting closer and closer to 5-6 times per minute.

Health Qigong • Yi Jin Jing and Da Wu, using natural breathing from the beginning to the end, also intensify the breathing in the intermediate stage, with internal mind and external body harmonize with each other, the breath flow throughout the whole body and the dominant role of breathing increasingly strengthened. At this stage, the focus of the mental activities shift from body movement to breathing, with every the slightest attention concentrated on breathing. It gradually shows that the body movement serves to breathing. As breathing is intensified, and oxygen is fully exchanged, the regulation and protection effects of breathing towards qi inside one’s body and the five internal organs will become more apparent. As the ancient practice formulas put it, “exhale slowly, and inhale deeply, the inborn qi will be spurred by the cultivated qi.” At this stage, the health effects brought about by Health Qigong will become increasingly apparent. The basic characteristic of breath in the intermediate stage is the “self-regulation”.

The Advanced Stage Focusing on Breathing with Automatic Frequency

At the advanced stage, breathing with automatic frequency is used. It mainly uses abdominal breathing, but can freely switch between a myriad of breathing methods and automatically adjust the breathing rhythm. The human body is a most sophisticated, harmonious, efficient, and automated organism, owning the most perfect self-regulating mechanism that can help the body adapt to various complex environments and maintain a variety of states function well. In the intermediate stage, the self-regulation of breathing is a supplementation and reinforcement to body’s auto-regulation mechanism. This kind of supplementation and reinforcement is very necessary and very useful when one gets sick or is in the state of sub-health, or when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body is imbalanced or lack momentum. But when the automatic regulation system inside one’s body functions well enough, this kind of supplementation and reinforcement is redundant and unnecessary, which may even become unharmonious regulation. Therefore, at the advanced stage, exercisers should breathe naturally, shifting self-regulated breathing back to natural breathing without any regulation.

However, this kind of shifting back is not retrogressive, but a return leaping to a more advanced stage. It is a return looking like the previous one but with totally different nature. It is the negation of negation, a wave-forward progress and upward spiral. The breathing at this stage without regulation does not mean breathing as you like, but breathing naturally, following the whole condition and shifting between various breathing methods. Its rhythm rate may change at random, with body, breath and mind perfectly combined together. The exerciser’s subjective intention is completely in line with the automatic regulation rhythm of the body. Therefore, practicing Health Qigong has become a process of automatically keeping fit and intensification of the body mechanism under the guidance of subjective intention. The basic characteristic of the advanced stage of breathing is “breathing with automatic frequency”.

All in all, those who know the importance of breathing, the key aspect in practicing Health Qigong, have mastered the core skill of the breathing, and give full play to the role of breath regulation, will enjoy greater benefit with less effort.

Reference: Breathing Methods and Practice Tips of Health Qigong jsqg.sport.org.cn

Exploring Analysis on Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field

No matter you are a Health Qigong beginner or an experienced exerciser for years, you might not feel unfamiliar the term “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(qì chén dān tián)”, because nearly every stance emphases that “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is essential for exercising Health Qigong. However, few of exercisers can clearly explain how it is when asked how is ” Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Analysis finds that it is influenced mainly by conventional way of thinking, which results in a tendancy of ambiguous perceptual mastering of many terms of Health Qigong, and just making use of it rather than discussing it in depth. In fact, with the change in the context of modern people, if some classic terms originated from tradition can be illustrated with modern language, it can not only enrich the basic theoretical knowledge of Health Qigong so as to promote discipline building and scientific development of Health Qigong, but also help people correctly understand Health Qigong and scientifically exercise Health Qigong. In order to arouse people’s serious attention to this issue, I hereby attempt to make a brief analysis of ”Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”, hopefully it could serve as a modest spur.

I. Location and Functions of Cinnabar Field

According to the origin of history, Cinnabar Field is an important position for Taoist practitioners to regulate mind and build up will. In A Brief Talk on Diantian Theory by Chinese Taoists, Xiao Zhicai expatiated the records in various ancient literatures about the location of Cinnabar Field and its important functions. Cai Mingzong also made meticulous discussion on Diantian in his doctoral dissertation “Discussion on Cinnabar Field Mystery and Research on the Function of Delaying Aging of Female Ovariectomized Rats by Catgut Embedment in Cinnabar Field Area. In their opinions, Cinnabar Field is a very special and important position in one’s body. It is called “Mingmen (Life Gate)” in Neijing, located between the eyes and joining in encephalon, which is the vital position. It is called ”Dynamic Qi between Kidneys”, located between the two kidneys, for men to store essence and women to tie ovicell, which is the origin of vitality. One is the Upper Cinnabar Field, and the other is the Lower Cinnabar Field; between the two there is the Middle Cinnabar Field, which is in charge of human being’s Qi, blood and water and food, covering heart, lungs, liver, spleen and stomach, etc. These three need and work mutually, containing human being’s essence, Qi and spirit. The three Cinnabar Fields are not a point but an area. The Upper Cinnabar Field is located in Yintang Area, the Middle Cinnabar Field is located in the Area below Heart and the Lower Cinnabar Field is located in the Area below Umbilicus. The ancient literatures gave the most detailed description of the Lower Cinnabar Field Area, pointing out that that the Lower Cinnabar Field is located three cun (Chinese inch) below Umbilicus, between the two kidneys and back, and in the middle of human body, covering an area of four cun.

The Taoist cognition of Cinnabar Field is somewhat different from Medicine’s cognition thereof. Specifically, the common standpoint of both lies in that Cinnabar Field is the residence of original essence, original qi and original spirit. According to this standpoint, Taoism regards Cinnabar Field as the position for keeping qi with ideation, as well as a main site and fundamental place for condensation of essence, qi and spirit. This kind of cognition produced profound influence on the Qigong Science and even Neijiaquan (internal boxing) of later generations. Medicine regards Cinnabar Field as the origin of life, which dominates all activities of life. In terms of physiological structure, it is “the foundation of five viscera and six bowels, the root of twelve meridians, the gate of breathing and the source of triple energizers”, and it is the physical basis for the formation of human body. In terms of functions, it is the innate level higher than the acquired level of five viscera and six bowels, and it dominates the growth, development and functions of five viscera, six bowels, limbs and skeleton, and plays decisive roles on short or long lifespan, disease and death of human beings.

II. Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field in the Eyes of Researchers

What does “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” refer to specifically? How can we “Sink Qi to Cinnabar Field”? Through consulting literatures, we find that, different researchers have somewhat different views. In the article “Can Air be Inhaled into Cinnabar Field?”, Lin Yongjiang believes that, air breathing can be conducted only in lungs, while Cinnabar Field is located in lower abdomen, and air cannot enter lower abdomen directly. Breathing not only functions exchange of air, but also results in a series of phenomena of physiological changes. He further points out that, so called “internal work” means that, under the domination of “ideas” “which use ideation but no force”, taking actions as the guidance and breathing as the driving force, so as to enable internal qi to run in the whole body at will, which is the mechanism of running of internal qi.

In the article New Comprehension of Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field, Zang Baodong believes that, the qi in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is not the air breathed, but a reflection of a kind of biological pulse which is transmitted into nerves and to cerebral cortex after various receptors of nerve endings receive external and internal stimulations of human body; qi can also be regarded as a kind of special reflection of nervous function under certain condition. When human body is exercising under a relaxing and quieting state, capillaries open under such impacts as innervation, muscle flexing and biochemical and bioelectrical changes, these perivascular nerve receptors are stimulated and then transmit nerve impulses to the brain’s sensory center, causing such feelings as “numb, hot and distending“, which is “qi” or so called “internal qi”. The running of qi is closely related to the running of blood, which coincides with the views of traditional Chinese medicine that “Blood runs if qi runs, and blood stagnates if qi stagnates”, and “Blood is the mother of qi”. He also emphasizes that both air inhalation and air exhalation can “sink Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Upon air inhalation, due to that rhythmic slow actions cause breathing to gradually become natural, deep and long, inspiratory diaphragm moves down more, and will give a kind of beneficial gentle extrusion massage to abdominal organs, thus transforming the stimulations of intra-abdominal receptors into bioelectrical impulses, which are transmitted via sensory nerves to the sensory center in brain, hence causing the feeling of “qi” rushing to the lower abdomen, which is the so called “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”. Upon air exhalation, due to that diaphragm moves up, sphincter ani relaxes, lower abdominal pressure reduces, and the closed capillaries in abdomen suddenly open, there will be a kind of warm nerve feeling in abdomen, which means a success in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field”.

In the article Cinnabar Field·Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field·Ideation of Cinnabar Field, Jiang Shan points out that, the Cinnabar Field referred to in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” can be located in the lower abdomen and the entire pelvic cavity of human body, namely the area in abdominal cavity below umbilicus till the bottom of pelvic cavity. In the infra-umbilical abdominal cavity, there are mainly such organs as small intestine, large intestine, kidneys, nephric duct, etc. In the pelvic cavity, in addition to bladder and rectum, a male also has an ampulla of deferent duct and a seminal vesicle; the pelvic part of deferent duct ranges from sidewall of pelvic cavity, upper back part of bladder to the bottom of bladder; and there is prostate below bladder. In the pelvic cavity of a female, there are also ovaries and oviducts, and there are uterus and vagina between bladder and rectum. “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” means that genuine qi sinks from thoracic cavity via adbominal cavity down to the bottom of pelvic cavity, and it sinks slowly among various organs in thoracic, adbominal and pelvic cavities. Ideation of Cinnabar Field means that using an idea to think of that genuine qi is filled among the aforesaid organs in infra-umbilical abdominal cavity and pelvic cavity, and genuine qi gently infiltrates these organs.

III. Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field and Abdominal Breathing

The term “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(qì chén dān tián)” sounds very abstruse at first, actually it means deep breathing in modern language. Generally normal breathing is thoracic breaghing, which is shallow breathing relative to abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing not only makes thoracic cavity to expand and contract more fully, and improves the air-inflation rate of pulmonary bubbles, but also causes various viscera and bowels as well as various tissues and structures such as secreting glands, junctional membranes, membrane envelopes, nerves, meridians and muscle fibers in abdominal cavity and thoracic cavity to generate relative movement, and hence gently squeeze and massage each other, which is the so-called “surging of Cinnabar Field(dān tián gǔ dàng)”. The air inhaled into pulmonary alveolis by a person in breathing is impossible to enter adbominal cavity through the tissues in his body.A person has the feeling of sinking qi when he “sinks Qi to Cinnabar Field”, just because that the tissues in abdominal cavity relax and sink down. The aforesaid viewpoint was also proved when I interviewed experts, and it is found that, when a person sinks Qi to Cinnabar Field, his caudal vertebra sinks downward and contracts forward, which changes the backward bending radian of the waist, and is more advantageous to relaxing and sinking of abdominal organs.

Different breathing patterns produce different impacts on human body. “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” is a manifestation of deep breathing, and it can help human body strengthen oxygen supply and discharge large amounts of carbon dioxide, so it plays very big roles in the metabolism exchange process. The reasons lie in that, on one hand, slow and conscious deep breathing can improve the alkali content in human body, accelerate heart beating and blood circulation, thus transmit more oxygen and nutrients to human body through blood; on the other hand, trash and toxins in body are discharged out of body through deep breathing and sweats, which can effectively reduce the acid content in body, and maintain a balance of chemical compositions in human body. In addition, deep breathing can also promote shock of blood and lymphatic fluid and hence free circulation thereof, restore the connections among various nervous systems, as a result, various nerve endings also cheer up, and directly or indirectly stimulate blood vessels, which enhances the nutrition of muscle due to improvement of metabolism. Furthermore, abdomen is the place where the yin meridians among twelve meridians of the conception vessel joint together, and where many important acupuncture points and autonomic nerve plexuses of human body are distributed; deep breathing makes abdominal muscles to generate regular ups and downs, which can not only effectively stimulate relevant acupuncture points and autonomic nerves, but also massage the liver, intestines and stomach. Thus it can be seen that, abdominal breathing is a kind of scientific method in life nurturing and health care through Health Qigong for promoting the running of blood and qi.

It can be found through the aforesaid discussion that, the feeling of sinking qi in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” does not mean that the air in breathing enters abdominal cavity, but mean that various tissues in abdominal cavity relax and sink downward, due to the change in intra-abdominal pressure caused by increase in the amplitude of up and down movement of diaphragm. For beginners, they can succeed in “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” from two aspects, namely changing the external shape of spinal column and changing the breathing pattern. In aspect of shape of spinal column, it focuses on changing the radian of thoracic vertebra and lumbar vertebra; while in aspect of breathing pattern, it focuses on changing thoracic breathing to abdominal breathing.

When an exerciser succeeds in reaching the state of “Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field” through efforts, he not only makes his thoracic cavity to expand and contract more fully, and improves the air-inflation rate of his pulmonary bubbles, but also causes various viscera and bowels as well as various secreting glands, junctional membranes, membrane envelopes, nerves, meridians and muscle fibers in abdominal cavity and thoracic cavity to squeeze and massage each other, which exerts active roles in life nurturing and health care.

Reference: Exploring Analysis on Sinking Qi to Cinnabar Field(pdf) by Lin Zhihua Chinese Health QiGong Association jsqg.sport.org.cn

The Heat of Movement the coldness of stillness

by Liu I-Ming

Generally speaking, when people are active, this gives rise to heat; when people sit quietly, this gives rise to cold. When one is cold, if one moves about this will again produce heat. When one is hot, if one sits still this will again produce coldness. In other words, cold and heat do not depend on the weather but on the person.

What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of taking over the creativity of yin and yang. That which is strong is associated with yang, that which is yielding is associated with yin. If one is strong but not aggressive, humbly lowering oneself, then one will not be irritable but will be peaceful, and equanimous. If one is yielding but not weak, deliberate in action, then one will not be ineffective but will ascend to high illumination.

Able to be strong, able to yield, according with truth and according with the time, knowing when to advance and when to withdraw, able to be great and able to be small, able to stop and able to step down, able to be passive and able to be active, one can thereby take over Creation, turn around life and death, reverse the mechanism of energy, leave death and go to life. This is like activity producing heat and quiet sitting producing cold; human power can reverse nature.

Reference:
Awakening to the Tao
by Liu I-Ming translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala Publications Inc.,U.S., 2006.
ISBN: 159030344X

p. 20-21

Mind Exercising of the Health Qigong

The Health Qigong is one kind of Qigong exercise combining the mind, Qi and body exercise rather than the single muscle exercise. Regulating the mind, breath and body, called as three regulations in the following, are three basic elements of practicing the Health Qigong. The key word for three regulations is to regulate and adjust the body and mind intentionally. Therefore the spiritual activity is needed to be done in three regulations with the active mental activity. Yi generally means the consciousness or thinking of which is the functional activity of the brain. Mind exercise is to concentrate the mind on some points or something, which is called Zhuyi in Chinese words. In fact we use the mind exercise in doing everything but it is different in the exercise of the Health Qigong.

Man often initiatively think about something apart from his own body with mind activity, which is exterior. It is just in contrary with the former that the practicer concentrates the mind on his own life activity, which is interior. The practicer should cut off the connection of the sensory organs with outer world and initiatively control himself with consciousness and gain the gnosis for the relation of the life and nature. The process is called the introspection. Interior mind application is basic characteristics for exercising the Health Qigong. Correct and appropriate understanding the criteria of mind application can overcome or surpass the routine skills taken the movements as the main ways of the exercise. The healthy effect of the Health Qigong is mainly embodied in the mind exercise. For this reason, the practicer should aim at exercising the mind and get oneself into the state of natural relaxation of which is inner active and outer quiet by ways of regulating the breath and body in order to obtain the target of strengthening the body and prolonging the life. Mind application should be set in the first position and kept in the whole course of the exercise. The contents and orders of mind activity can be different at the different stage of the exercise.

The stage of stressing on the body instead of the mind

The Health Qigong is one kind of Gong emphasizing both the body and mind. But it is hard for the beginners to understand and grasp the actions of the Health Qigong and impractical for them to lay stress on the mind activity. In this stage, the attention of the practicer should be paid to imitation and exercising the body movements rather than the mind regulation, which is not specially emphasized. However, it is required that the practicer should concentrate on the routine itself such as the change of the direction and line, how to move the hands and feet, the main points, how to connect the different parts, etc. The mind is concentrated on some point, line or part with relaxation of other parts to form one natural and relaxed moving body. The first task for the beginners is to learn and correctly and proficiently accomplish the routine. It is one kind of mind activity of low level as the mind is concentrated on the figure itself and aimed at learning and grasping the routines. Practice makes perfect. The routines can be correctly and proficiently grasped after the repeated exercise. Thereafter the practicer can start to concentrate on the mind itself and get into the next stage. It is one kind of the gradual comprehension for the practicer.

The stage of emphasizing both the body and mind

On one hand, the practicer should lay stress on the specifications and standard of the routine and deformation is unacceptable in this stage; on the other hand, the practicer should explore the inner essence and quintessence of the Health Qigong and regulate the mind in high level. The basic style of mind activity is inward vision and imagination such as inner vision of the Dantian, inner vision of the Qi and blood circulation, imagination of entrance of some mental state, etc. The practicer can harmoniously combine the inner mind with the body to make more proficient and standardized routines, further know the meaning of the movements and store the inner strength based on the transformation of motion and quietness, opening and closure, being imagined and factual, being hard and soft, yin and yang and twist etc. The routines can be done in the state of running like flowing water without interruption. The practicer can gradually attain the aim of running the Qi by heart and running the body by the Qi and eventually reach the stage of interior and exterior integrity, body and spirit containing for the Health Qigong.

The stage of emphasizing on the mind instead of the body

The practicer naturally gets into the stage of emphasizing on the mind instead of the body with the automation of the routines after the long-term exercise. Routines are already automatic for the practicer just like walking after the repeated exercise in the long run. The practicer has already comprehended the essence of the movements and coordinately combined the body, mind and outer world according to his own characteristics and understanding for the Gong and had his own gnosis. The routines won’t deviated from the basic principles even the practicer doesn’t pay attention to the movements themselves any longer in this stage. Therefore, the practicer lays stress on the exercise of the inner mind and concentrates on the genuine mind of which is self-consciousness under the condition of quiet consciousness. That it should be stressed is to pay attention to the moderate degree in the mind activity as the mind is like water and fire, water can carry and capsize the boat; the fire can warm the man or burn the fire-player to death. The practicer should abide by the rule of mind activity, which is not to intentionally or absent-mindedly seek for the mind activity. Intentional mind activity will deviate the body, being absentmindedness will be fruitless.

The stage of emphasizing on neither the mind nor the body

The Qi flowing is sloshing all the body instead of the feeling of the figure in the brain of the practicer when the exercise is done to the highest level. That is called the state of non-body. At that time, the brain naturally is entering the state of unconsciousness (non-mind) without any distracted thoughts. In fact, the state of non-mind and non-body is the stage of forgetting the body and obtaining the mind of which is the milieu of the Health Qigong that the vital Qi flows normally with tranquilized mind. It is said that consciousness is unconsciousness, which can produce the genuine consciousness in the narrations of the Quan (one kind of traditional boxing skills). That is to say, unconsciousness is not to stop mind activity but the true knowledge of the essence of the mind. The practicer needn’t adhere to the concrete actions in the stage of getting mind essence. It is also the stage of forgetting the body just as it is said by Lao Tzu( a renowned philosopher and the founder of the Taoism) that the great Tao is formless. The practicer can be thought as comprehending the essence of the Health Qigong only when he can reach the stage of free receiving and dispatching without body or mind restriction. The practicer can gradually feel the delicate alteration of the nature and bring about the essential change in the body and mind and concentrate on the state of reversion to the baby-like innocence, which can sublime the constitution, disposition, personality, and accomplishment to the state of elegance at last.

Above all, the Health Qigong can regulate all the unreasonable nervous state deviated from the physiological characteristics and bring into the potentiality constrained by the nervous state full play. Therefore, mind exercise should be strengthened in order to improve the effect of the Health Qigong.

(Writing/ normal university of inner Mongolia Zhang Cai Qin)

Reference: Mind Exercising of the Health Qigong Chinese Health Qigong Association

Theory of essence Qi and spirit

Basic contents of theory of essence, Qi and spirit
Essence, Qi and spirit is substance basis and basic elements consisting and sustaining life activity. It is commonly said that there is three kinds of treasure in the heaven, which is sun, moon and star, three kinds of treasure in the earth, which is water, fire and wind, three kinds of treasure in the body, which is essence, Qi and sprit. The theory of essence, Qi and spirit, which study the relation of essence, Qi and spirit with the life activity play an important role in the health Qi Gong.

Essence
Essence is the basic substance of body structure and it is the basis of substance sustaining all kinds of functional activity and general name of varieties of nutrients. It is different in the conception from the aspect of narrow meaning and extensive meaning. Essence is commonly essential substance for reproduction in its narrow meaning and it is a vague reference to all essential substance including Qi, blood, normal body fluid and nutrients taken from the food in the aspect of extensive meaning. Its conception also has the difference of the congenital essence and the postnatal essence. The former is essential substance for reproduction and origin of life originated from parent and the latter is nutrient substance transforming from water and cereals. The congenital and postnatal essences complement each other and the former depends on the successive breeding and cultivation of postnatal essence to take physiological effect. The latter also depend on the energy assistance of congenital essence to make generations on.

Qi
Qi is nutrient substance of which immerse and nurture the body and motive power of which push about the life activity. There are two kinds of Qi, which are comparatively congenital Qi and postnatal Qi. Congenital Qi is also called archaeus, which is the most basic and important Qi as well as motive power of life activity. Although it comes from the congenital Qi of parent, but it can help the growth and development of human body as well as warm and stimulate the physiological function of Zang Fu and meridians only through successively being supplemented and nourished by the nutrient Qi and inhaled air. Postnatal Qi, which is transported and transformed from the nutrient Qi and inhaled air, include thoracic Qi, nutrient Qi and Wei Qi. Choracic Qi, which only comes out of the respiratory tract and be in charge of respiration and utter but also passes through the blood vessel to propel and regulate the pulsation of heart and stores in the Dantian by way of descending action of lung, is combined of nutrient Qi transformed from the spleen and stomach with nature air inhaled from the lung. Nutrient Qi, which runs in the vessels with abundant nutrient, is mainly the essential part of water and cereals transported and transformed from the spleen and stomach with the function of nurturing and producing blood. Wei Qi is transported and transformed from the essential part of water and cereals. Its main function is to regulate the open and close of muscle and viscus, discharge of sweat, and sustain the stable temperature along with guarding the outer part of body and the invasion of exogenous pathogen and warming the Zang and Fu, the outer part and skin and hair etc.

Spirit
Spirit is the appearance of thinking and consciousness as well as internal Zang Fu essence. It has the same substance basis as it arises from the essence and Qi. Spirit embodies its function depending on the existence of Qi and body. Man’s normal life activity depends on the normal activity of spirit from the whole body to brain, from five sense organs and seven facial orifices to meridians, Qi and blood, essence, body normal fluid and limbs activity. There is narration in the ancient books that patient with spirit will live well and patient without spirit will die. It is thus evident that spirit is very important in life activity. Spirit can be divided into congenital spirit and postnatal spirit. That organic integration of male essence and female essence result from the birth of life is called congenital spirit, which can dominate the life activity without the governing of the mind, consciousness and thinking. Postnatal spirit eventually means the function of brain including mind, consciousness and thinking. It is the image of surroundings in the brain and dominates all the psychological activity as well as behaviour of body, in the meantime, it can affect the harmony and balance of all the physiological function. Based on the congenital spirit, postnatal spirit is also nurtured by the postnatal essence and Qi. In order to bring into the inherent action of congenital full play one should suppress the postnatal spirit and guard the former.

Application of the theory of essence, Qi and spirit in the health Qi Gong
Essence, Qi and spirit are the whole body among which can use, promote and transform each other just as the life-cultivation practicers said: accumulating spirit produces Qi, accumulating Qi produces essence, refining essence transforms into Qi, refining Qi transforms into spirit. The exercise of health Qi Gong plays a markedly promoting role in the mutual sprouting and transforming among the essence, Qi and spirit.

How to exercise the essence, Qi and spirit with the health Qi Gong, different Gong has different methods. Most of them implement that through dredging the meridians, regulating respiration and nourishing and cherishing the spirit step by step including mind concentration, inward contemplation and specific exercise and regulation of breathing of some meridians, acupoints three Dan Tian in the upper, middle and lower part of human body, especially the lower Dan Tian of which is centered between the kidneys and acupoints such as Tan Zhong, Lao Gong and Yong Quan etc. Mind concentration on abdominal Dan Tian, of which is centered on the umbilicus, mainly exercises the spirit and Qi. Except for exercising the spirit and Qi, mind concentration on Ming Men, Guan Yuan and Hui Yin mainly exercises the essence. The exercise of mind concentration on Lao Gong and Yong Quan is more helpful to induce the ascending of clearing Qi and the descending of dirty Qi. As Dan Tian, which is centered on the umbilicus, and kidneys are closely related with the Zang Fu and meridians, it decides their specific position and important action.

The health Qi Gong enhances the Qi Hua of human body by way of exercising the respiration for cultivation, which means the motion and change of Qi, and it thinks highly of life-cultivation and regulating respiration. With strong vigor, Qi is flowed and filled in the whole body. The motion of Qi including ascending-descending and coming-in and going-out is called activity of Qi. It can endlessly flow in the Zang Fu, meridians, limbs and all orifices to sustain, promote, arouse, coordinate and balance the physiological function of human body only when the activity of Qi is unblocked. The body is healthy with the smoothly movement of Qi activity. The pathological state such as Qi stagnation, abnormal rising of Qi, Qi sinking, Qi stasis, Qi depression and Qi-stagnant dysuria etc will ensue under the condition of disorder of Qi activity. As soon as the Qi activity stops, the life activity will end as well. So the Qi is the primary substance sustaining the life activity of human body. How does the health Qi Gong cultivate the life and regulate the breath? Firstly, it can arouse and invigorate the primary Qi by ways of daoyin, running Qi and kneading; secondly, it can enhance the Qihua function and improve the circulation of Qi and blood by ways of varieties of regulating mind, regulating breath and exercising the body.

Nurturing of mind is especially paid attention in the exercise of the health Qi Gong of which constantly regards the body and mind with the same origin, life and existence as the two important elements. It advocates cultivation of body and mind together and thinks that man can live a long life only when he makes the body and the mind together. The cultivation of body and mind together means that one should stress the nurture of body along with the regulation of mind in the practice of the health Qi Gong. Besides the body health, together with the happy mind, one still should make the body and the mind develop in the balanced state. To nurture the body to sustain the life and cultivate the mind. To keep the mind to settle the mind and cultivate the character. Exercising like the above-mentioned methods in a long run can cultivate and mould the noble integrity and achieve the aim of cultivating one’s heart with full essence, abundant Qi and harmony mind.

Reference:
The Health Qi Gong and theory of essence, Qi and spirit Chinese Health Qigong Association

Three Immortals Cultivation of the Ling Bao Bi Fa

Ling Bao (灵宝) translates as “Spiritual Treasure.” The Ling Bao Bi Fa outlines the San Xian Gong, “Three Immortals Cultivation,” for completing the Ling Bao and thus becoming a Zhen Ren (真人) or Real Human Being. San Xian Gong consists of thee stages: Ren Xian Gong (人仙功) Human Immortal Cultivation, Di Xian Gong (地仙功) Earthly Immortal Cultivation, and Tian Xian Gong (天仙功) Heavenly Immortal Cultivation.

“There are twelve programs of training that should be practiced in sequence. They are the following: [1] introducing yin and yang to each other, [2] gathering and disseminating fire and water, [3] mating the dragon and the tiger, [4] heating and refining the medicines of the pill, [5] ejecting the golden sparks from behind the navel, [6] returning the jade elixir to the tan tiens, using the jade elixir to refine the body, [7] returning the golden elixir to the tan tiens, using the golden elixir to refine the body, [8] moving the refined vapor to the primordial regions, [9] internal observation and exchanging the mundane for the sacred, and [10] transcendence and emanating in different forms.”


–Eva Wong, Teachings of Immortals Chung and Lu

人仙功  Ren Xian Gong
Human Immortal Cultivation

Ren Xian Gong transforms Jing into Qi (炼精化气)

第一 匹配阴阳 Pipei Yin Yang
The First Step: Merging Yin and Yang

第二 聚散水火 Ju San Shui Huo
The Second Step: Gathering and Distributing Water and Fire

第三 交媾龙虎 Jiaogou Long Hu
The Third Step: Dragon and Tiger Mating

第四 烧炼丹药 Shao Lian Dan Yao
The Fourth Step: Forging the Elixir

地仙功  Di Xian Gong
Earthly Immortal Cultivation

Di Xian Gong transforms Qi into Shen (炼气化神)

第五 肘后飞金晶 Zhou Hou Fei Jin Pin
The Fifth Step: The Flight of Golden Sparks

第六 玉液还丹 Yu Ye Huan Dan
The Sixth Step: The Jade Liquid Elixer

第七 金液还丹 Jin Ye Huan Dan
The Seventh Step: The Golden Liquid Elixer

天仙功  Tian Xian Gong
Heavenly Immortal Cultivation

Tian Xian Gong transforms Shen to the void (炼神还虚)

第八 朝元炼气 Chao Yuan Lian Qi
The Eighth Step: Facing the Origin

第九 内观交换 Nei Guan Jiaohuan
The Ninth Step: Internal Illumination

第十 超脱分形 Chaotuo Fen Xing
The Tenth Step: Physical Transcendence

Reference:
灵宝毕法•三仙功 Ling Bao Bi Fa : San Xian Gong Three Immortals Cultivation of the Ling Bao Bi Fa thetaobums.com

Links:
Brief Introduction to Ling Bao Bi Fa longmenpai.blogspot.com

The Twelve Methods of Yin Xian Fa

The main purpose of Yin Xian Fa is to repair the body, regulate the mind, restore the original breath and ultimately reverse and replenish the slow expenditure of pre-natal through the aging process. 

还原法 Huan Yuan Fa 
Restoring Methods

Huan Yuan literal translates as “Returning to the Origin.” These are methods to quiet and collect the mind and regulate the body, breath, and mind. In alchemical terms, this stage could be likened to cleaning out your attic or basement in preparation to build the laboratory. The next stage, Bu Lou Fa, involves repairing the fixtures and finally Zhu Ji Fa will see through the completion of one’s internal laboratory.

第一法 收心静坐 Shouxin Jingzuo
The First Method: Sitting and Collecting the Mind

第二法 调身安体 Tiao Shen An Ti
The Second Method: Regulating the Body

第三法 无视返听 Wu Shi Wu Ting
The Third Method: See Nothing, Hear Nothing

第四法 收视返听 Shoushi Fan Ting
The Fourth Method: Watching and Listening

第五法 调整凡息 Tiaozheng Fan Xi
The Fifth Method: Regulating the Breath

第六法 调心安神 Tiao Xin An Shen
The Sixth Method: Regulating the Heart/Mind

第七法 调养真息 Tiaoyang Zhen Xi
The Seventh Method: Restoring the Original Breath

补漏法 Bu Lou Fa 
Tonifying Methods

Methods for mending leakage. At this stage the cultivator learns to seal the three lower Yin doors (三阴) and seven upper Yang windows (七窍). The Hun (魂) resides in the Liver without leaking out the eyes, Jing (精) resides in the Kidneys without leaking out the ears, Shen (神) resides in the heart without leaking out the mouth, Po (魄) resides in the Lungs without leaking out the nose, and Yi (意) resides in the Spleen without leaking out the pores.

第八法 修无漏身 Xiu Wu Lou Shen
The Eighth Method: Mending all Leakage

第九法 内视返听 Nei Guan Fan Ting
The Ninth Method: Internal Gazing

筑基法 Zhu Ji Fa 
Foundation Methods

The cessation of ego (识神) and birth of the real consciousness (真神). 

第十法 凝神寂照 Ning Shen Jizhao
The Tenth Method: Crystallizing the Spirit

第十一法 听息随息 Ting Xi Sui Xi
The Eleventh Method: Follow the Original Breath

第十二法 养心沐浴 Yang Xin Muyu
The Twelfth Method: Nourishing the Original Spirit

Reference:
引仙法共十二法 Yin Xian Fa Gong Shi’er Fa The Twelve Methods of Yin Xian Fa thetaobums.com

Martial aspects of yiquan and its fighting application

Internal “Intention” for Health and Self-Defense

By Fukui Yang as told to Bob Feldman

A Short History of Yiquan and My Family’s Relationship to this Martial Art
Yiquan is a relatively new Chinese martial art created by the great master Wang Xiangzhai. Master Wang was the last and favorite student of the Xingyiquan master Guo Yunshen. After Guo died, Wang, although he was very young, was already a formidable fighter. He spent more than ten years traveling throughout China meeting other masters and improving his skill. Even as a teenager, Master Wang was already an excellent martial artist who rarely lost a challenge. After spending time at the Shaolin Temple as well as with numerous other masters, Wang incorporated many Buddhist and Daoist principles directly into his practice.

Master Wang originally came from Shen County, Hebei Province, and later moved to Tianjin City which was at that time a crossroads for many Chinese martial artists. In Tianjin there had developed a unique open exchange of ideas and techniques within the martial arts community in the early years of this century, common in the rest of China. My maternal great uncles Zhai Yuwen and Zhai Yongwen became students of Master Wang as their father, my great-great uncle, Zhai Xujin, was friendly with him. Master Zhai and Master Wang were from the same county in Hebei and had much in common. Our family’s traditional martial arts, however, were predominantly Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, as taught by Master Zhang Zhaodong, who had also introduced Master Wang to my family. My great uncles, however, always had a healthy respect for Yiquan and its fighting capabilities, although it was not their predominant system.

Another student of my great grand Uncle, Zhao Daoxin, also began to study with Master Wang and became one of his most accomplished disciples. He later followed Wang to Shanghai where he trained the resistance during the war years but, because of his association with the Guomingdang Nationalist party, was subsequently imprisoned by the Communists, only to be released after the Cultural Revolution. Master Zhao was quite well known in his own right throughout China. He was both educated and had won the 1936 All-China Full Contact Championship in Nanjing. This competition attracted representative competitors for many martial art styles all over China. It was a famous “Leitai” competition and was subsequently banned because of the numerous deaths that occurred during these fights.

After being released from prison and his reunion with my great uncles, Master Zhao agreed to teach Yiquan to both my older brother and myself. He also taught us the system that he created, Xinghuizhang, or “Spirit Meeting Palm” in which he combined Yiquan mind training with the spiralic postures of Taijiquan and Baguazhang, and the explosive movements of Xingyiquan, the “mother system” of Yiquan.

As a child I met Master Wang Xiangzhai on numerous occasions, as he spent his final years in Tianjin. I was finally given a chance to study Yiquan with his closest students in my late teens and early twenties, after I finished my university education at the Tianjin Sports Institute, and studied Yiquan for over 8 years in Tianjin with Master Zhao and several other first generation students of Master Wang.

What is Yiquan?
Yiquan can be translated as “intention” or “will” boxing. It is, according to some, the distillation of the “essence” of “Xingyiquan” and other Neijia, or internal martial arts. The core of Yiquan is standing meditation, practiced in a variety of postures, with the goal of merging one’s intention, and internal energy, with the physical power required for martial arts. If in one’s practice one only concentrates on intention, or “Yi,” but not upon energy, or “Qi,” the effects of practicing postures are weak and empty. If there is only energy practice, but no intention, one cannot apply or utilize this energy efficiently for fighting or for healing. Therefore, in order to succeed, one must practice both intention and energy in order to use Yiquan effectively as a martial art.

Master Wang had developed his unique philosophy after studying martial arts and Chinese medicine and was of opinion that one cannot see or feel energy, only the effects of it. If one attempts to focus upon feeling or moving the energy, it is very easy to have mental delusions and misinterpret somatic feelings as being the energy itself. This is perhaps the case historically with many uneducated martial artists who were not capable of explaining their own internal feelings.
In his later years, Wang Xiangzhi made an extensive study of traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as of anatomy and physiology. After the Second World War and the Communist Revolution, he began to work in a traditional hospital, and turned his attention to healing. Master Wang felt that one can feel the effects of Qi or energy, such as an increased vitality, or developing the ability to perform “fali,” that is, the emission of explosive force during fighting, or use the energy for healing. With further refinement as one’s practice advances, the energy increases within the internal organs and within the meridians. The blood circulation is also heightened, which enables us to react faster to challenging physical situations. This internal energy circulating within the organs and the meridians is called “Shen” or “Heart Spirit.”

While it is beyond the scope of this article to present an in-depth discussion of the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine and qigong practice, it should be noted that many current Yiquan students outside of China are taught solely to utilize standing meditation to increase their internal energy. By practicing the standing postures alone, they are not practicing the complete system of Yiquan, and it is difficult to use this energy for fighting.

While practicing the standing postures is excellent for health, it is unfortunate that some Yiquan teachers are either unfamiliar with the complete system of Yiquan or purposely withhold its martial aspects. Such teachers give their students the impression that their standing meditation will, in and of itself, enhance their fighting ability. Usually these students must study other martial arts in order to substitute for their inability to use Yiquan for fighting. While this is especially true for the majority of Western practitioners of Yiquan, in China it is still very possible to find qualified teachers and study the complete system, particularly in Beijing, Tianjin, and in Hebei Province. Personally, I am not familiar with the extent that authentic Yiquan as a fighting system is taught in other parts of China, such as Shanghai or Hong Kong, although Master Wang had some good students who moved there.

The Essential “Mind Set” Needed for Yiquan Fighting
In order to fight, one must use both intention and qi to utilize the power of the standing meditation postures, to conduct the “li” (force) outward. By engaging in standing mediation and in learning how to externalize the internal force, Wang Xiangzhai felt that Yiquan would stimulate both the circulation and the bone marrow to harden the bones and toughen the connective tissues, similar to the “Marrow Washing” which is a part of many Daoist and Buddhist practices. Yiquan does not stress the use of external techniques and applications in order to harden the body as do other systems, but rather it relies predominantly on internal meditation, push hands and fighting to harden the body and test one’s internal strength.

In order to stimulate the bone marrow and specially harden the bones, one should imagine that during both fighting and “Fali” practice, that is, the process of directing force externally outward, that the body is primarily made of bone. When one imagines this, the connective tissue, namely the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia, will relax and not tighten. This is because tense muscles during a fight do not allow the force to be emitted efficiently. Therefore, standing meditation is utilized both to relax the mind and the soft tissues, as well as to create an environment for hardening the bone and centering our mental state.

Paradoxically, in Yiquan, one’s mental state must be both relaxed and focused simultaneously, Intention, or yi, cannot be only concentrated, as this too will lead to tightening of the soft tissues and inefficient force emission during fighting. Although to be both relaxed and focussed at the same time may seem to be paradoxical, in truth, it is not contradictory; both processes can occur simultaneously in a natural state of awareness. For example, one can be both relaxed and attentive when driving an automobile.

In addition, the postures will allow us to sink our energy and lower the center of gravity to the Dantien in order to develop a deeper root. This permits our emitted force to be conducted up from the ground through the legs, hips, waist, shoulders and upper extremities, as opposed to only from one part of the body. This greatly enhances the power and speed of “Fali.”
While the emitted force appears to be sudden and explosive to outsiders, internally one may first sense an internal drawing-in of the energy prior to its emission. This process is called “She Sen,” namely, the ability to gather energy and emit force. If one has a blockage or imbalance of the energy within the meridians or insufficient qi when one emits “Fali,” at best one’s force is minimal; at worst, this explosive stress, particularly if repeated over and over, can be stressful to the internal organs, and cause health problems later. The practice of repetitive Fali, without relaxation during standing meditation, is called “Qijieh.” Such improper repetitive Fali practice can also damage the bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
In addition, Wang Xiangzhai felt that the movement of internal energy was intimately connected to the circulation of blood. When a practitioner “feels” or “senses” the energy circulating, the practitioner may be feeling the results of increased blood circulation; it is certainly not the actual increased circulation of energy, as energy is invisible and not something we can specifically feel, although the energy may be causing it. Wang Xiangzhai advised that during standing meditation, try to “imagine” the energy moving according to whatever internal imaging one is practicing; however, if one does feel “something,” forget about it, don’t dwell on it, let it pass.

When one has sufficient energy, one can focus the intent of the posture and emit force. This aspect of Yiquan practice is called “She Li,” during which the internal energy is accumulated for maintaining health and for fighting. While practicing She Li, one’s mind should attain a state that is relaxed and calm, confident and open during the daily practice of meditation. However, during a fight one must also bring out a “crazy” tenacious intention in order to win. This is similar to what we observe in animal fights. The difference, however, is that animals do not have higher thinking processes as do we humans, and, as humans, we must also confront our habits, fears, prohibitions and predilections during a fight. This “crazy intention” is called “She Shen.”

She Shen is often translated as the use of sound, such as in the Japanese “Kiai.” This is perhaps true in part, but it is not totally correct. She Shen rather refers to the mindset of crazy intention during which sounds may be emitted like those of an animal. The sound should be natural and spontaneous, and should, in fact be emitted from the Dantien. Regular standing meditation helps us not be become tense, not allowing our emotions to take over, thereby greatly increasing our fighting efficiency.

Real fights are usually intense and short in duration. There is little or no time to think of what techniques to utilize. Wang Xiangzhai felt that techniques in and of themselves are not useful in fighting. Rather, fighting applications should be spontaneous and natural and should appear when needed. The “techniques” of Yiquan are therefore infinite variations of natural movements found within the postures. Wang Xiangzhai often said, “The best technique is no technique.” Different postures allow us to open different types of energy. Realistically, however, we need only practice several postures to fight efficiently and naturally, if one has good yi and qi. This is because we are all different in our strengths and weaknesses.

Master Fukui Yang began his practice of internal martial arts at the age of 6 and his practice of external martial arts at the age of 8, under the guidance of his grandfather and great uncles. Master Yang and his brother began their study of Yiquan and the related martial arts of Xinguizhang and Loshuenquan under the tutelage of Masters Zhao Daoxin, Chu Jenhe and Master Zhang Entong, all first generation students of Master Wang Xiangzhai. Master Yang is the Director of Heath Mind Martial Arts (Xinyi Wushu Guan), in New York City.

Reference:
KUNGFU QIGONG – July/August 2001 MARTIAL ASPECTS OF YIQUAN AND ITS FIGHTING APPLICATION xinyiwuguan.com

Links:
Fukui Yang on youtube.com

Soaring Crane

Soaring Crane Qigong forms 1-5

Soaring Crane Qi Gong, also referred to as China Soaring Crane Qi Gong, or Crane Style Qi Gong, was developed in more recent years by qi gong master Zhao Jing Xiang, drawing upon information from other qi gong masters, ancient Taoist practices, and the movements of the crane, known for its peaceful and long life. Since 1980 this specific qi gong practice has been taught to millions of Chinese and has gained the support of the Chinese government. It is a very comprehensive system of practices very cleverly composed to deal with all of the major meridians and many of the significant acupoints to affect all parts of the body.

Soaring Crane Qi Gong consists basically of two parts: The Five Routines, and Standing Meditation. The Five Routines practice consists of a series of relatively simple physical movements accompanied by mental visualizations (focus on the flow of energy, or qi). This practice, when done properly, requires 25 to 30 minutes to complete. It clears various meridians, opens up some specific points, and facilitates the cultivation, flow and balancing of qi in the body.

Standing Meditation, usually taken up only after The Five Routines has been learned, done well and consistently for some time, consists of initially standing in a particular position, as loose and relaxed as possible, to allow for the flow of qi freely in the body. Often referred to as The Wise Doctor, this is a very powerful self-healing practice wherein the qi flows to those areas where there exists an imbalance or blockage of qi (resulting in disease). Through continued practice, the qi will persistently flow to problem areas until the imbalance or blockage has been repaired, thereby restoring health. This action of the qi may result in spontaneous movements of the body during the meditation. This meditation is generally practiced for about 30 minutes.

Reference (text only): www.soaringcraneqigong.com

Links:
China Soaring Crane Qigong (cscq) cscq.webs.com

Litterature:
Chinese Soaring Crane Qigong by Zhao, Jin Xiang (pdf)
Soaring crane qigong
  Chin-Hsiang Chao 1991
Chinese Soaring Crane Qigong Study Aids qi.org

The key points to observe in T’ai Chi Practice

1. Relax the neck and suspend the head from the crown point.
2. The eyes should focus and concentrate on the direction in which the ch’i flows.
3. Relax the chest and the back.
4. Drop and relax the shoulders; drop and relax the elbows.
5. The wrist should be set comfortably while the fingers stretch outward.
6. The entire body must be vertical and balanced.
7. The coccyx must be pulled forward and upward with the mind.
8. Relax the waist and the juncture of the thighs and pelvis.
9. The knees should stay between relaxed and not-relaxed.
10. The sole of the foot should sink and attach comfortably to the ground.
11. Clearly separate the substantial and the insubstantial.
12. Each part of the body should be connected to every other part.
13. The internal and external should combine together; breathing should be natural.
14. Use the mind, not physical strength.
15. The ch’i attaches to the spinal column and sinks into the tan t’ien
16. Mind and internal power should connect together.
17. Each form should be smooth and connected with no unevenness or interruption, and the entire body should be comfortable.
18. The form should not be too fast, and it should not be too slow.
19. Your posture should always be proportionate.
20. The real application of the form should be hidden, not obvious.
21. Discover calm within action and action within calm.
22. First the body should be light; then it will become limber. When limber it should move freely. Whoever moves freely will be able to change the situation as needed.

Reference:
Waysun Liao Tai Chi Classics
ISBN 1570627495
p. 126-127

The sixteen steeps of transferring power

1. Root and twist the foot, allowing power to travel up the leg.
2. Let the power spring upward at the knee.
3. Allow the power to move freely in any direction at the waist.
4. Drive the power upward through the back.
5. Let the power penetrate to the crown point at the top of the head.
6. From the crown point, mingle the power with your chi and circulate it through the entire body.
7. Drive the power to the palm.
8. Push the power to the fingertips.
9. Condense the power into the bone marrow throughout the entire body.
10. Merge the power with the spirit, making them one.
11. Listen with your mind at the ear, almost as if condensing slightly.
12. Concentrate at the area of your nose.
13. Breathe to the lungs.
14. Control the mouth, carefully regulating the breathing.
15. Spread the power to the entire body.
16. Push the power to the ends of body hairs.

Reference:
Tai Chi Classics
by Waysun Liao

ISBN 1570627495
p. 83

Li Yi Yu’s Five Character Formula

When the heart is not quiet, one may not concentrate. Lifting the hands, moving forward, backward, left, and right, will lack focused direction. Therefore, the heart must be quiet. From the moment one initiates motion, its not determined by the self. You must quiet the heart and understand with your body. Your movements follow those of your opponent. Follow bending with extending. Do not let go nor resist. Bending and extending are not determined by you. When the opponent is strong I am also strong. When the opponent is weak I am still strong. My intent always arrives first. You must pay attention at all times. Wherever there is contact, there is a focus of concentration. In the midst of not letting go nor resisting you must gather information and proceed from there. After a long period of practice, you will be able to use this information physically. This is completely dependent upon the use of intent and not on force (jing). Eventually, the opponent is controlled by me, I am not controlled by others.

The Body is Agile
If the body is sluggish, one cannot advance and retreat as desired. Therefore, the body should be agile. When moving the hands, one most not be dull. If I feel the opponents power has touched my skin, my intent has already penetrated his bones. The hands support and all is unified in a single qi. If the left is heavy it becomes empty and my right hand has already struck. If the right is heavy the it becomes empty and my left has already struck. The is like a wheel. The entire body most coordinate its individual movements. If there is any part that does not move in concert with all others, the body will be in chaos and powerless. The root of the problem is found in waist and legs. First, the heart follows the body. Follow the opponent and not the self. Later, the body follows the heart while still following the opponent. If one move without following the opponent, movement will be sluggish. If movement follows the opponent, it will be alive. If one follows the opponent, one’s hands will be sensitive and the opponent’s power may be judged exactly. The distance of the opponent’s attack will not be miscalculated even by a hairs breath. Moving forward and backward, advancing and retreating will be appropriate. The longer you practice, the more refined you technique will become.

The Qi is Stored
If the qi is dispersed and not stored within, the body will easily lapse into chaos. The qi should be held in the spine. The breath should be smooth and fill the entire body. Inhalation is closing and storing, and exhalation is opening and releasing. During inhalation one naturally rises and holds the opponent up. During exhalation one naturally sinks and knocks the opponent away. This involves the intent leading the qi and not the strength leading the qi.

The Force (Jing) is Complete
The force of the entire body is trained into a unified whole. Substantial and insubstantial are clearly differentiated. When issuing force, there must be a root. The force rises from the heel, is controlled by the waist, and manifests in the fingers. It issues from the spine. One must also raise all of one’s spirit. Just as the opponent is about to issue force but has not, my force has already intercepted the opponent’s. I must not issue my force earlier or later. Even if you feel as if you skin is on fire or you are struck by a flood, you most not become the least bit perturbed. Seek the straight in the curved; first store the release; only then can you achieve consistent results. This is called borrowing the opponent’s force to use against him, or using four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.

The Spirit is Concentrated
After allowing the first four requirements, it all comes down to concentrating the spirit. When the spirit is concentrated, then the one qi is stimulated and forged. The essence and qi are returned to the spirit and the qi is active and expansive. The essence and spirit are concentrated. Opening and closing regulated. Insubstantial and substantial are clearly defined. When the left is empty the right is full. When the right is full the left is empty. Insubstantial (empty) does not mean completely without power. Substantial (full) does not mean completely tight. The value of the spirit is concentration. The critical locations are the center of the chest and the waist. Its movements and use is not external. Borrow force from others. The qi issues from the spine. The qi sinks downward; it is pulled in from the shoulders into the spine and concentrated in the waist. When the qi moves downward from above, it is called closing. From the waist the qi moves up the spine and enters the arms. It is issued in the fingers. When the qi moves upward from below it is called opening. Closing is withdrawing. Opening is releasing. To understand opening and closing is to know yin and yang. At this level, power and skill improve daily. Slowly, you will come to the state where you can act at will.

Reference:
A Study of Taijiquan
by Sun Lutang, Translated by Tim Cartmell
ISBN 1556434626

p. 216-18

Four Character Secret Transmission

Spread. To spread means that we mobilize our chi spread it over our opponents energy and prevent him from moving.

Cover. To cover means that we use our chi to cover our opponents thrust.

Check. To check means that we use chi to check our opponents thrust, ascertain his aim and evade it.

Swallow. To swallow means that we use chi to swallow everything and neutralize.

These four character transmission represents what has no form and no sound. Without the ability to interpret energy and training to the highest perfection, they cannot be understood. We are speaking here exclusively of chi. Only if one correctly cultivates the chi and does not damage it, can one project it to the limbs. The effect of this on the limbs cannot be described in words.

(attributed to Wu Yü-hsiang)

Reference:
Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions by Douglas Wile
Sweet Chi Press, April 1989
ISBN: 091205901X

Page: 27