OPENING THE GATE TO LONG LIFE
By Robert Gemmell, a leading
Internal Martial Arts Authority
This article will assist
students to commence an inward journey to the
source of the body’s energy Qi (Ch’i)
supply. It is recommended that you consult your
Doctor prior to engaging in any exercise programme.
The article is an overview only designed to encourage
embarking on a path of Chi Gung practise, you
need to understand the basic fundamentals of
Ch'i is and how it was perceived by the ancient
teachers. No one person or organisation be they
Chinese or Western have a complete knowledge
Chi Gung (meaning energy cultivation).
One reason for this is that there are so many
styles or methods of Chi Gung.Secondly translations
have made it difficult for non Chinese to fully
understand the art form The main divisions fall
into two categories :
1/ Nei Gung
Nei Gung refers to Internal
Chi Gung and because it is seldom practised in
the “True” sense of the art, few people
actually develop advanced Nei Gung skills.
practise their chosen Martial Art form as a form
of Chi Gung, be it Tai Chi Bagua H'Sing I or whatever.
Separate to these Art forms exists a powerful
healing art that is not connected to the Martial
2/ Wei Gung
refers to external energy and muscle training.
When one understands Chi Gung it would be easier
to accept that many Martial Arts systems are in
themselves, a form of Chi Gung or Wei Gung. Therefore
most Martial Arts practitioners feel the energising
effects as they train. Karate and Tae Kwon Do
being more linear than circular probably use less
"Internal" power than say Kempo Tai
Chi or other forms of Gung Fu. (Kung Fu.)
For centuries Martial Arts Masters
have had the desire to increase the striking power
of their technique. Options were limited. Those
interested only in fighting arts cared little
as to the reasons why circular movements executed
at the right speed along a carefully planned trajectory
accumulated more power on impact. As time passed
more Masters became knowledgeable about energy,
and CHI, and its benefits,
both for martial purpose and for health. Chi Gung
became recognised within traditional Chinese medicines
as an integral part of healing. Everybody knows
the benefit of exercise. The difference between
Chinese and Western style exercise lies with the
energy circulation or the lack of circulation.
Just as soft and hard affects the outcome of Martial
Arts style, so does soft and hard affect the outcome
of the way the body develops. (See Golden Pearl
YIN AND YANG
Let's review the concept of Yin
and Yang. Everyone knows what this symbol looks
like, but few understand the enormous significance
of it and how it relates to Internal Martial Arts.
The way in which movement is performed largely
decides the content of Ch'i. Yin and Yang refer
to the type of Ch'i when related to Chi. Yin is
soft, Yang hard, with either containing a small
amount of the other. The Yin Yang symbol is used
in Tai Chi to measure Ch'i content in any given
move. An example is shown by measuring across
the fish or baby's head segment of the Yin Yang
diagram. (Shown further on). When we raise the
hand in a given movement we extend and use Ch'i.
(Qi). The force is at its greatest at the highest
point of the movement. Another key factor is the
position of the hand. Palm up releases energy,
palm down accelerates Chi flow. Tai Chi movements
amplify and accelerate Chi flow.
In our school we talk about Internal
Martial Arts as being one family. For those having
minimum knowledge of the family of internal arts
it is better that they simply focus on the idea
of Tai Chi when comparing the hard martial arts
to the soft. Yin and Yang though opposites, exist
all around us. In the body, energy flows through
both Yin and Yang channels. The symbol of Yin/Yang
apart from displaying how two opposites can exist
in harmony despite being opposite, also shows
how Ch'i can be measured in physical movement,
as shown in the example above.
Every form of exercise produces Ch'i. Martial
Artists when practising, constantly tense and
relax the muscles. This not only stimulates Ch'i
flow but it also controls it. The common misconception
is that this is Nei Gung because we talk of Ch'i
being developed and we automatically assume that
this is Nei Gung. Strictly speaking the external
exercise is Wei Gung, the result
is Nei Gung
at its lowest level.
Comparison of Martial Arts movement
movements actually block Chi in an effort to accumulate
energy (Ch'i) at one point, whereas Tai Chi on
the other hand connects the Ch'i by the use of
smooth flowing circular movements. (The rivers
of Chi). This has an added advantage and benefit
to health. Internal power is increased by the
combination of the "rooting of Ch'i to the
ground." "Mother Earth." An example
of how this works is when we lower the body when
lifting to gain more purchase power. Breathing
is the main refuelling technique of Chi Gung.
All Martial Artists know of and use the lower
stance to gain power. The only exception might
be TKD, an Art form that emphasises kicking. Not
a criticism merely an observation.
CHI GUNG TECHNIQUE
THE GOLDEN PEARL
This exercise incorporates a
typical knee bend with the circling of Chi thoughout
the entire body, thus converting the external
knee bend to an internal Chi Gung movement.
Picking up the Golden Pearl,
based on the “Wild Goose Chi
Gung system” is a flowing
set with a flowery name. Yet it is laced with
an overwhelming feel of magnetic energy. A few
repetitions will restore harmony and increase
the whole body fitness. If we compare Chinese
exercise to Western style exercise, you will find
one main difference, that is the use of the whole
body, not just the part being exercised.
Cultivation (Nei Gung) relies
on a good knowledge of the Chi Gung moves that
work in harmony with each other. We need also
to build our knowledge and ability to open gates
and strengthen pathways for Ch'i, the link to
vital organs and understand the terminology of
Chi Gung. Opening "the gates" is not
simply a matter of practise. You need a competent
teacher who can recognise where blockage exists.
Tai Chi and the other two Internal Arts Bagua
and H'Sing I create the relaxed body and waist
capable of releasing Ch'i. (Energy. Breath control
is the other key ingredient to successful Chi
YIN YANG SYMBOL
Yang organs in the body are:-
There are six Yin and
six Yang meridians. These should be understood
as channels, i.e. the pathways that Ch'i travels
along. For more information, refer to Meridian
Yin and Yang are not terms used to refer
to quality of Ch'i. Instead the reference
to Yin and Yang Chi is used to indicate where
the level of Ch'i is greater or less. In this
sense we could understand Yin and Yang as a measurement
of Ch'i. (This will be easier to understand as
we learn more about what Ch'i itself is). Too
much Yang Chi in the body can be dangerous. Yang
Chi is generated by a number of sources including
exercise, and for this reason the correct balance
of the kind of exercise we do is important.
What Ch'i is actually requires
some form of western terminology. So we could
give it any of a number of names - some examples
are; Breath, Energy, Power, the will,
Electromagnetic Field, etc.
If we perceive Chi as electricity or an electro
magnetic field we will better understand Chi.
This is because of the flowing nature of electricity.
Westerners generally speaking prefer to use scientific
terms to understand Chi. Simply calling it “Chi”
may well be accepted by the Chinese but
it will not suffice for Westerners without an
indepth study of Chinese culture, the belief of
how Ch’i works and the philosophy of Ch’i
will be perceived differently.
Western scientists have established the existence
of an electro magnetic field in the body. This
is also referred to as “Bio Electric”
energy. Everyone understands a little about electricity,
the need to generate it and the way in which it
works, i.e. a positive or negative path (wire).
If we continue this orthodox comparison to the
existence of “magnetic field”
we can then appreciate how Chi Gung techniques
might influence that field.
Meridian special vessels centre front
and rear of body known as
Governing and Conception vessels. Also shown are
three important gates.
Just as our veins or arteries
carry and convey the vital blood supply to the
body’s organs, our channels (meridians)
carry and convey the vital Ch'i to the organs.
Conductivity in the body can be measured. The
channels could be likened to wire or rivers. Conduct
could mean “to control the movement of,”
and in this sense we mean Ch'i, therefore there
must be parts of the body’s energy flow
where higher or lower conductivity is possible.
THE SPECIAL CHANNELS
In the Chi Gung theory we learn
of the 8 Special Channels. It
is believed that these act as “lakes”
or “vessels” where
Ch'i is accumulated until required, (not unlike
a hydro dam). These lakes are like storage tanks,
and one theory is that the conductivity is greater
within the area of the Special Vessels. Just as
copper wire is a greater storer or mover of electricity
flow, the 8 Special or Extraordinary vessels also
hold and convey greater amounts of Ch'i. In other
words the “Potential”
to flow energy is greater.
This article has been written
for the purpose of understanding the outline of
how Ch'i works as related to Chinese Martial Arts
and Tai Chi. Robert Gemmell trains in China on
a regular basis. (Most recent trip December 2004).
He runs Advanced Courses on related Chi Gung,
Fa Jing and Internal Martial Arts at the "Insights
Centre" in Picton New Zealand.
WHITE CRANE SPREADS
CHAN SI JING
OF CHEN TAIJI
" the essence of Taiji Quan"
This is a question that will
remain long after students take their first lesson.
Integral to Tai Chi is the centre core of body
Unlike the usual analysis of fitness which is
often perceived to be something akin to a romp
around the football field or a five mile run,
Taiji (Tai Chi) is a more subtle way of shedding
a few pounds, toning up the nervous system or
shedding a few layers of stress, which may be
far more beneficial than lining up at the local
fitness gym. What actually makes Taiji
work is that it triggers the inner response we
come to know as harmony.
This may well be connected to a term known
as “Chan Si Jing”. In Western
terms we can appreciate this better if we use
the analogy of Chinese women weaving silk. In
fact Chan Si Jing is generally described as the
production of “Silk Cocoon energy”.
Just as the silk worm gently weaves each strand
of silk within the walls of the cocoon so does
the human body act as the factory of internal
energy. Continually our mental and physical activity
creates more and more electrical impulse or “energy
Letting go of this energy should be a natural
process of the body. In a modern thinking world
this does not occur. Locking in rather than releasing
becomes the process. Opposing the natural release
of built up energy we create a pressure cooker
system. In plain terms we explode at intervals
- regulated only by our personal levels of stress.
Overall Taiji (Tai Chi) brings
some relief to our daily build up of anxiety.
So what is the problem you may ask? Just do Taiji.
Yes, that is the solution, but when you eventually
front up at a class it becomes patently clear
that this art form is not what you thought it
was. The graceful movements are easier said than
done.The realisation that the movements are both
complex and difficult to master soon shake our
initial confidence. Yet amidst the first disappointment
this temporary stumbling block can be overcome
by the regular practise of the Reeling Silk Energy
exercise. Chan Si Jin is a specific exercise that
assists the student to develop their Tai Chi.
This gentle rolling action offers the student
a way of repeating a key part of the form even
if a beginner.
Taiji relies heavily on Chan Si Jing to train
the body to “reel up” the Ch'i (Qi)
circulate the body and release the surplus. Central
to the fundamentals of Chan Si Jing is the connection
of three main areas of the body.
1. The leverage point or the sinking of Chi
- Ground and feet
2. Transfer and control point of spiralling
energy - The waist
3. Great circulation point - The hand
Chan Si Jing exercises were designed to
facilitate the close unison of these three
parts of the body. The following sketches
show the basic first exercise of Chen Taiji
Quan Reeling Silk exercise. Each sketch
shows the beginning
the vital positions required to coordinate
and harmonise key points of the body. Side
stepping is used in this sequence. This
is varied from stationary, horse, rear,
bow and arrow, to forward stance, as students
CHAN SI JIN EXERCISE AS
TAUGHT BY CHEN XIAO WANG
Avoid over use of