The first, and most important thing you need to do is to learn to breathe correctly. I am a sixth degree blackbelt in hung-gar, toy-gar, and choy-li fut styles of kung-fu, and an expert in tai chi, an ancient oriental martial art that practices slow movements, with deep breathing, for health. I have been practicing tai chi for over 34 years. I have been able to control pain, and fight off diseases, and overcome drug side effects, that sidelined other people.
For the most important part of the breathing is actually not that difficult. Simply picture a big circle running down from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. Stand at attention with your head relaxed, and looking straight forward. Your feet should be shoulder length apart with your hands relaxed and pointing palm down at your sides. Slowly raise your hands while slooooooowly breathing in, continue breathing in picturing a circle starting at your hands and continuing down over your head towards your feet. When your hands reach the top of your head, start to exhale slowly lowering your hands at the same time. You should be able to make a 20 count both in and out. Start at 10 if you cannot. Work your way up to 20.
Do 10 repetitions 3 times a day. Morning, noon, and night before bed. You will start feeling more energy in just a week.
The next exercise we will do is another secret oriental technique called the 8 Section Brocade. This exercise is taught in a system of healing called Qi Gong by the Chinese. This incorporates the special deep breathing I taught you in the first section and adds 8 special movements that cleanse and detoxify all 8 major sections of your body, purifying and healing them. The Chinese believe that everything in your body is controlled by a central point called the furnace. It resides in a spot about 3 inches directly below your navel.
8 SECTION BROCADE
The 8 section Brocade is also called the silk thread. These exercises are healing in nature and help to detoxify and cleanse the body. You should do the exercises at least 3 to 4 times a day to get the maximum benefit. You will start feeling better within a week. After a month, even people who are virtual couch potatoes will be moving fluidly and easily, even with most forms of mild arthritis.
The main thing to remember is to RELAX and take it easy. Don’t expect to do everything picture perfect from step one. Remember the tortoise won the race, not the hare. If you can only do 10 reps, do 10 reps. If 5, then do 5. It isn’t a contest.
Just compete against yourself. Add one rep per day.
You need to practice the breathing above until it becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect! The 8 Section Brocade comes from an art called Qi’ Gong.
To understand Qi Gong, we will go into a little bit of history, without going into too much detail. The martial arts originally started with an Indian monk who travelled to China about 4,000 years ago, and taught his system of martial arts to the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin temple. Many traditional Chinese Medical arts started thereafter, and were combined with the martial arts into elaborate and detailed systems of training, weapons, and remedies.
Yoga and tai chi and Qi Gong are very similar, and that is no surprise. After many centuries, these practices became an essential part of the fabric of Chinese society and all of the people from the young to the very old practiced these arts for health, to prevent and cure diseases, to calm the spirit, and for longevity, and virility.
Qi Gong or Dao-yin, has obscure origins, but many ancient manuals of military drills and exercises depict similar movements that date back over 2,000 years. It is interesting that in 1973, archeologists in China found the tomb of king Ma who lived during the Western Han Dynasty dated 206 BC – 24 AD. In the tomb, they found scrolls depicting 44 people in various poses, or Dao-yin diagram, with the name of an animal or the name of a disease that the posture may help cure. Some of the postures are very close to those in the Eight Section Brocade.
Hua T’o who lived circa 110-207 CE is one of the most famous physicians of the Han Dynasty. In the History of the Later Han, Hua T’o wrote:
“Man’s body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion. By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented. It is like a used doorstep which never rots. As far as Tao Yin ( bending and stretching exercises) is concerned, we have the bear’s neck, the crane’s twist, and swaying the waist, and moving the joints to promote long life. Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals, the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane. It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is a form of Tao Yin. If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics. A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat.” – From: Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T’ ai Chi, p. 6
Bodhidharma, the great Founder of the Shaolin temple styles, taught a set of 18 exercise know as the 18 hands of the Lohan. This Shaolin Lohan Qi Gong ( the art of the breath of the enlightened ones), ” is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the “three treasures ” of qi or chi(vital energy), jing(essence), and shen(spirit)”, according to Howard Choy. Sifu or Master Wong Kiew-Kit says that “the first eight Lohan Hands are the same as the eight exercises in a famous set of chi kung (or Qi Gong) exercises called the Eight Pieces of Brocade.”
There are various versions, both seated and standing, of the 18 Lohan Qi Gong movements. Some of the 18 Lohan have up to 4 levels and scores of movement forms. The only remaining full form of the 18 Lohan Qi Gong remains in the style of Kung Fu known as Choy Li Fut, which I was taught starting at age 10, by my Sifu, Master Ting Fong Wong, a student of the famous Leong Tin Chee, along with Hung Gar, and Toy Gar styles.
I obtained a 6th degree Black Belt from my Sifu, and bested the other instructors running the school on Great Arrow in Buffalo, NY which my brother, Kevin and I ran with Master Wong. Each degree in our style, demanded 3 degrees which means 18 levels once Black Belt had been attained. In China stripes are sewn on the sleeves of your uniform. Belts are not worn.
We were not taught T’ai Chi until we had attained Brown or one Belt level below Black. The same with weapons training. That is because the internal style is much more deadly and advanced than the hard or external style. A violent, undisciplined person should never be taught. They will just victimize others and disgrace their teacher.
I have trained in Judo, jui-jitsu, and Tae-Kwon Do. Also, 7 Stars Praying Mantis Kung Fu. I have recently started training under a Master of Sun style Tai Chi and Qi Gong. I have also contacted the last living GrandMaster or keeper of the Style who decended from the founder of Choy Li Fut, and am trying to find out about continuing my training in that style. So you can see, I am more than qualified to teach you these exercises.
Some instructors tell you to do the exercises at a moderate pace, others very slowly. Many say that you will only really see benefits after 90 days. I think they are correct that the greatest benefit is seen about starting then, but I think you will notice a difference definitely within a week, and dramatically, after a month. Here we go!
Prop the Heaven to Improve the Functions of the Triple Warmers. (R1) Supporting the Sky with Both Hands Regulates All Internal Organs. (R2) Double Hands Hold up the Heavens to Regulate the Sanjiao (Triple Burner). (R3) Scoop the Stream. (R4) Holding up the Sky with both Hands to Regulate the San Chiu (Triple Warmer). (R5) Two Hands Reach Skyward to Balance the Triple Burner. (R6) Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands. (R7) Upholding Heaven with Both Hands. (R8) Supporting Heaven, Support the Void. (R10) Lifting the Sky. (R11)
1. Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands Works upper back, neck, shoulders. 2. Drawing the Bow Works shoulders, arms, and thighs. 3. Separating Heaven and Earth Works middle and upper back, shoulders, and stretches spine. 4. Wise Owl Gazes from Side to Side Works neck and upper back. 5. Big Bear Turns from Side to Side Works hips, lower back, thighs, and knees.6. Punching with Angry Eyes Works thighs, lower back, knees, and shoulders.7. Touching Toes then Bending Backwards Works lower back, hamstrings, abdominals, hips. 8. Bouncing on the Toes Works calves, thighs and lower back.
STARTING AND RESTING POSITION (WU JI)
Stand up straight. Your feet should be shoulder length apart. Toes pointed straight ahead. Both feet should be flat on the floor. Relax. Smile inwards.
Your eyes should be open. Breathe in and out in a relaxed, easy manner.
Keep your lips parted slightly. Your arms should be relaxed at your sides with your hands down and pointed at your thighs. Relax your shoulders and let them droop slightly. Some instructors say your tip of your tongue should just touch the roof of your mouth. Breathe in slowly as above, in through your nose and out through your mouth. It resembles the mountain position of Yoga. Empty yourself and stand strong like a mountain powerful and aloof.
1. Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands
Use the Wu Ji position, and step out to the left. Shoulder width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent , back straight, butt in. Slowly and gently, raise your hands to your waist. Your palms should face upward and your fingers loosely together. The fingers of each hand should point towards each other, and be kept 2 to 4 inches apart. Raise both hands up until you reach your forehead. Inhale as you raise your arms. Relax your abdomen. When you reach your forehead, turn your hands so that your palms face outward. Press your arms upward and outwards in front of your body. Don’t press the arms straight up. Keep your wrists bent, and point your fingers toward each other. Keep inhaling while relaxing your abdomen. Gently stretch the whole body upward as your hands move upward above your head. Move up onto your toes slightly as your arms reach their maximum height. Imagine a circle from your Dan Tien or center of your being(3 inches below and in from your navel), up the middle of your body, and down over the top of your head, and ending at the soles of your feet. Breathe very, very slowly. Use a count of 20, if you can.
Just count the first time or so. Then you will know how to breathe without distraction. Once you hit the maximum height start lowering your hands back down to your side turning them palms outward and slowly exhaling to a count of twenty. Pretend you are breathing down through the soles of your feet.
Repeat Pressing the Sky 6 to 12 times. Breathe as above.
Return to the Wu Ji or empty stance, and breathe naturally a few times to cleanse the air, and normalize your breathing.
You can do the movements seated, standing, or walking and some teachers tell you to interlace the fingers and press straight up. Doing the Qi Gong outdoors in nice weather is always pleasant and advisable.
This exercise helps the Triple burner or the heart, lungs, and stomach, and improves the heart, lungs, stomach, spleen, and liver. All the upper trunk organs are stimulated. Chinese Medicine classes the organs differently than our anatomy. You can look up Chinese Medicine in Google and read to understand the difference.
2. DRAWING THE BOW
Begin in the starting “Wu Ji” Position. Lift up your left foot and step out to the side into a horse stance. Both feet should be facing forward and flat on the floor. The feet should be exactly shoulder width apart and and you should bend your knees. Your back should be straight and your head up and face forward.
Cross your arms your left over your right. Look to the left and pretend you are aiming and pulling the strings of a bow and letting go and releasing the arrow towards a target. As you draw the bow, inhale deeply and slowly. Aim the bow, and release the fingers of the right hand to let the arrow go. As you release the arrow, start to exhale slowly. Relax. Do the movement 5x to the left and then 5x to the right. Breathe slowly and rhythmically, concentrating on each movement so as to perform it correctly. Return to the resting position in between each movement.
As with all the movements, they can be done seated, standing, or walking.
You can increase the number of repetitions to 12 to each side or more if you wish.
This exercise exercise primarily the lungs and the kidneys while the horse stance tones the legs, waist, and back. The mind is helped by the oxygenation.
3. SEPARATING HEAVEN AND EARTH
Lift up and step with your left foot out to the side until you are in a comfortable horse stance with your feet facing forwards and about shoulder width apart. Your arms should be relaxed at your sides with your hands on your thighs. The right hand lifts up along your side and the palm faces downward. The left hand moves to the center of the waist, palm facing upwards. Inhale slowly and deeply as you turn your left hand over so that your palm faces your chest. Bring your left arm up so that your hand moves up the middle of your chest. Slowly lift your right hand to your waist, palm facing downwards. Inhale slowly through your nose. When your left hand reaches eye level, turn your left palm outwards. Start exhaling through your mouth. Press your left arm up at the same time and forward as far as possible, palm facing up. At the same time, press your right arm down and just a little ways back as far as you can, with your palm facing down. Watch your left hand with your eyes while keeping your head facing forward. Start inhaling as you move your left hand in a circular motion out and down. Follow the left hand with your eyes as it moves down. At the same time, while inhaling and moving your left arm out and down, bring your right arm up and out in a circular motion. Bring your right hand to your eye level, palm facing upwards. Bring your left hand to your waist level, palm facing down. As you slowly exhale, press your right arm upward and forward as far as you can, palm facing upwards. At the same time, press your left arm down and slightly back as far as you can, palm facing downwards. Don’t bend your neck to look at your hand. Look at your right hand. Repeat the movements, alternating from side to side, for 6 to 12 repetitions each side. Exhale as your press up and out, inhale as your arms and hands circle out and down.
Move your left foot back so you are resting in the wuji stance.
Again, you can perform the movements while you are seated, walking, or standing.
Most practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, believe that this exercise helps heal the spleen and the stomach.
4. THE WISE OWL GAZES BACKWARD
Lift and step with your left foot and place your feet at a shoulder’s width apart. Look straight ahead. Your hands should be at your hips with your palms facing down. Press down with palms. Stand up straight and relax. Lift your head up, with your chin tucked in slightly. Hips and butt are tucked in. Don’t move your shoulders during the movement. Inhale slowly and deeply. Slowly and gently turn your head to the left side. Look behind you as far as you can. Exhale slowly and deeply as you look behind you. After you have completely exhaled, start to return your head slowly and gently to the front position. Look straight ahead. Then turn your head slowly and gently back towards the right side. Continue to slowly inhale as you turn your body to the right and look behind you as far as you can exhale slowly as you look behind you. After you have completely exhaled, start to return your head slowly and gently, to the front. Look straight ahead. Repeat the movement gazing to the front, left rear, and right rear a total of 8 times each side.
Pretend you are an owl, turning his head from side to side. Move your left foot back to a wuji stance.
Breath easily. Relax. Move slowly. Don’t strain yourself and only move back as far as you can comfortably. Remember, you can perform this movement sitting, walking, or standing.
This movement exercises the neck and eye muscles. Balance and brain are improved by the coordination practiced during the movements. Deep breathing oxegenates the body and kills toxic infections and viruses.
Add Amazon link to book below.
According to the Ancient Way to Keep Fit, written by Zong Wu and Li Mao , “Referring to the seven factors causing impairments by overstrain, viz., (1) overfeeding that impairs the spleen; (2) fury that causes adverse flow of Qi and impairs the liver; (3) forced overloading or prolonged sitting in damp places that injures the kidneys; (4) cold weather or drinking cold beverages that injures the lungs; (5) sorrow and anxiety that injure the heart; (6) wind and rain, cold and summer-heat that impair the constitution; and (7) great shock and intemperance that impair mentality.” p. 113-Regarding “Turn head to look back to allay five strains and seven impairments.”
5. PUNCHING WITH AN ANGRY GAZE
Step out with the left foot into a horse stance. Start as usual from a wuji stance. Look straight ahead and relax completely. Arms are at the waist and close your hands gently in a soft fist. Slide your right hand slowly forward along the body and when your hand leaves the waist, start turning your fist over slowly and deliberately and extend your arm until the arm is almost, but not quite completely extended. Your arm should be slightly bent and your fist flat forwards, with your thumb over your fingers and your fingers completely together and closed. Now, strike forward slowly with your left hand, turn over your fist as it leaves the body and slowly extend your arm, until your fist is almost completely extended. Leave your arm ever so slightly bent at the elbow. Do not tense your fist or strike hard. This is like tai chi. Slowly. Gently. Breath out as your fist extends out, and in as your fist returns to the body. Do the movement 8 times on each side.
Return to the wuji, resting stance.
This movement strengthens the muscles and improves the Qi, or Chi.
Again, this movement can be done walking, standing, or sitting.
6. BOUNCING ON THE TOES
Relax and assume the starting or wuji stance. Start the movement with your right foot forward and your right foot on your toes. Your arms should be at your hips, with your palms facing downwards. Press down with your palms. Bend your knees and move your torso down. Straighten your knees and move your torso up. Always keep the knees slightly bent. Raise your body slowly up and down.
Your back heel stays flat on the floor. This movement is exactly like what we called the “upper horse”. Others call it the “cat stance”. Stretch out your spine as you move up on your toes. Breathe in slowly as you move up on your toes, and exhale slowly as you return to the starting position. Do 8 repetitions on each side. Move slowly and don’t strain yourself. Imagine yourself on a sunny beach, or in a forest, on the seashore, move up and down like the tide and waves rolling in and out. Relax and hear the sound of the water. Or imagine you are below a beautiful waterfall, watching the water cascading down over the rocks. Use whatever imagery relaxes you. Some do up to 160 repetitions for an excellent whole body workout. Remember, the movements, like all the others, can be done sitting, walking or standing.
This movement helps the following muscles and parts of the body:
1. The calf muscles. To increase the workout, use dumbbells to really work the calf. Point your toes in, to work the outside of the calves, point your toes out to work the inside muscles of the calves. Finally, do the movement with your toes pointing straight ahead to work all sides of the muscles.
2. Again, the breathing helps to oxygenated the body and kills bacteria and viruses. Good for the heart and lungs. Great aerobic exercise.
This exercise helps to rid the body of disease and stimulates the immune system. The hips and lower back are also toned. The feet muscles are exercised and stretched. Leg muscles are strengthened, because one leg is worked more than the other. This exercise can be done either walking, sitting, or standing.
7. THE BIG BEAR TURNS FROM SIDE TO SIDE
Start this movement from the starting or wuji stance. Step out to the left into a horse stance. Your feet should be wider than shoulder width. Feet should be pointing forward or at a 45 degree angle. The knees should be bent as you squat down. The depth that you squat depends on your level of fitness. Try to squat lower with every repetition of this exercise. Rest your hands on the side of your thighs. Your elbows should be pointing out to the sides at a 90 degree angle from the direction that you are facing. If you are facing north, your right elbow should point to the east and your left elbow to the west.. Breathe slowly and deeply as you bend down exhale, and as you face to the sides inhale.
Face north. Keep your hands on your hips thoughout the exercise. Slowly turn your waist to the left until your chest is facing east. Your right elbow should be pointing noeth and you should have your head turned and looking north. Inhale slowly and deeply.
Slowly turn to the right as you bend forward to the front. Exhale as you move to the right side towards the west. When you are facing the middle, your head and shoulders should be at the lowest point bending forward. Turn your waist to the right and lift the upper torso. Slowly turn your waist to the right until your chest is facing west. As you turn to the right your left knee will bend more. Your left elbow should be pointing north, and you should have your head turned towards the north. Inhale slowly and deeply.
Repeat the movement, back and forth, from side to side, for 8 repetitions to each side. Get the feel of swinging from side to side. Keep the posture erect as you face east and west and bend the head and shoulders back. Hold the back and place your right palm on your back and and your left hand on your back palm side down on each hand.
This exercise helps heartburn. The horse stance works the thighs and legs. Bending and turning at the waist trims and tones the waist, hip, abdominal and lower back muscles. The upper back and triceps are tightened as you turn from side to side. The spine is gently stretched to help realign your body and relieve stiffness. Kidneys are strengthened, and Qi or chi are made vital and abundant.
8. TOUCHING THE TOES AND BENDING BACKWARDS
Start from the beginning or wuji stance. Step out to the left with your left fot bout 6 to 8 inches. Your stance should be comfortable. Inhale slowly and deeply and relax and push out with your abdomen as you inhale.
Bend slowly backward from the waist and have both of your hands extended out all the way over your head bend as far backwards as you can comfortably. Don’t fall. Then bend forward and exhale slowly as you reach towards your feet your fingertips should touch lightly at the bottom of the movement. Then clasp your hands 2 or 3 times together and release, while remaining in a bent forward position. Remember, inhale as you bend back at the beginning of the movement, and exhale as you bend forward and down. When you come back up to the starting position, start massaging your kidney areas on both sides of your back in semi circles for 30 seconds or so. This movement is called ” Rubbing the Court of the kidneys”.
Repeat the movement 8 times. Move slowly and carefully without jerking or bouncing up and down.
This movement can be done sitting or standing.
This movement strengthens the kidneys and waist.
You can move your hands to massage different pressure or Qi points or meridians on the body.
To end the set, perform the bouncing on the toes movement to end the exercise and close the Qi Gong set. You should feel relaxed and invigorated at th e completion of these exercises. This set is excellent for warming up and stretching for weight training or any other sport. It helps the body and blood flow increase and heals the muscles between sets of weight training or resistance exercises.