Welcome to the MIT Qigong Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Year One Exercise: Gathering Qi

Try adding 5-10 minutes of Gathering Qi to your daily practice!

Example Session:
5min Gathering Qi
20min Natural Post
5min Gathering Qi

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Qigong in the News

'Yoga standing up' routine provides physical, mental benefits
Excerpts from The Springfield News-Sun (Ohio)
Original Article by Robin McMacken, Staff Writer

May marks Exercise is Medicine Month, an initiative by the American College of Sports Medicine, and Diana Sebaly, 71, can testify regular workouts have not only lowered her blood pressure to the point where she doesn’t need to take medication anymore but also were key to losing weight. The Oakwood resident works out with a personal trainer four times a week, focusing on cardiovascular exercise and strength training, and she also practices Qigong (pronounced chee gung) weekly with Sharon Trekell, director of the Inner Well Institute in Kettering. Sebaly says “qigong is a marvelous way of strengthening and building balance in a calm and controlled way.”

Qigong, which, like Tai Chi, is often referred to as yoga standing up, combines movement, postural alignment, breathing and mental focus to balance and enhance energy, according to Trekell, who is a certified integral Qigong and Tai Chi instructor. Sebaly, who has had both knees replaced, says her doctor is “delighted” with her overall health. “Qigong is so slow, and it’s a wonderful pick-me-up to do in the afternoons. I feel energized,” she said.

Dana Penn, 57, of Washington Twp. turns to Qigong, which she started in January with Trekell, for its calming effects. “I started Qigong to help me with stress, basically,” she said, adding her job as a business analyst for a software company was particularly demanding.  She also does yoga at Inner Dance Yoga Studio in Oakwood twice a week. She practices Qigong daily for 20 to 25 minutes before breakfast and attends Trekell’s class every Tuesday night at the Church of the Cross United Methodist in Kettering. “I think Qigong is so powerful. I am just in love with it,” she added. “I get a lot of peace from it. I miss it when I don’t do it. ... It’s a different type of movement than yoga, and it challenges the body and the mind in different ways.”

According to the National Qigong Association, Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual. Some practices increase the qi (energy); others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit qi to help heal others. Practices vary from the soft styles such as Tai Chi, according to the association, to the external, vigorous styles, such as Kung Fu. However, the gentle movements of most Qigong forms, of which there are 5,000, according to Trekell, can be easily adapted for all age groups and fitness levels.

Trekell began studying Qigong while she was working on her graduate degree in the early 1990s, and she, too, was looking for a way to ease the pressures of daily life. “It’s a wonderful contemplative practice that keeps you in state of equanimity,” she said. “I just don’t get ruffled much. It’s very grounding and centering. ... Qigong is fabulous for increasing vitality and longevity. We have an extraordinary medicine, called qi, in ourselves, and if we can circulate that, we will have optimal health and stress relief.”

Mary McDonald, 70, of Yellow Springs, cites Qigong as instrumental in helping lower her blood pressure, to the point where she doesn’t need to take medications, and lose weight. With regular Qigong and yoga, McDonald said “my energy level is sufficient for my age, and I am a lot more attuned to my body and what it needs and wants.”

“Qigong in the U.S. is parallel to yoga, in the sense that people want something to feel more alive in their bodies and to be able to calm themselves from the overstimulating qualities of our culture,” said  her instructor, Brad Fraley.

Penn encourages people to consider Qigong as one way to get active. “You have to experience it, and you need to go in with an open mind. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like it’s very much physically, but it is very powerful. It’s not easy to do; the more I do it, the more I am able to focus inward and be very mindful of the movements and what their purposes are. “I am just happy I discovered Qigong,” Penn said. “I am glad I was led to where I am. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I can’t imagine not having in my life.” 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Medical Qigong Improves Lives of Cancer Patients

New Cancer Study Finds Benefit in Old Therapy
News Medical || May 24, 2011

Cancer patients who used a 5,000-year-old combination of gentle exercise and meditation experienced significantly higher wellbeing levels, improved cognitive functioning and less inflammation compared to a control group, new University of Sydney research has found. Dr Byeongsang Oh, a clinical senior lecturer at the Sydney Medical School who led the study, said the reduced inflammation in patients who practised medical Qigong, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, was particularly significant.

“Patients who practiced medical Qigong experienced significant improvements in quality of life, including greater physical, functional, social and emotional wellbeing, and enhanced cognitive functioning, while the control group deteriorated in all of these areas,” Dr Oh says. He also found the patients in the medical Qigong group reported increased satisfaction with their sex lives.

The study involved 162 patients, with those assigned to the medical Qigong group undertaking a ten-week program of two supervised 90-minute sessions per week. They were also encouraged to practise at home every day for at least half an hour.

The mean age of participants in this study was 60, with ages ranging from 31 to 86 years. The most common primary cancer diagnosis among participants was breast cancer (34%) followed by colorectal cancer (12%). When the study began there were no significant differences in measurements of quality of life, fatigue, mood status and inflammation between the intervention and control groups.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first statistically significant, randomised controlled trial to measure the impact of medical Qigong in patients with cancer,” Dr Oh says.

About the medical Qigong session in the study
Each session consisted of a 15 minute discussion of health issues, 30 minutes of gentle stretching and body movement in standing postures to stimulate the body along the energy channels, 15 minutes of movement in seated posture (Dao Yin exercise for face, head, neck, shoulders, waist, lower back, legs, and feet), 30 minutes of meditation, including breathing exercises and relaxation and feeling the Qi (nature’s/cosmic energy) and visualisation.

Yiquan from Warriors of China Movie

A clip featuring Yiquan or Mind Fist Chinese Martial Art. This is the remote training center of Cui Rui Bin, a famous Yiquan master. This is part of the Warriors of China DVD, available at www.emptymindfilms.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Notes on Wuji Qigong

Qigong - Essence of the Healing Dance
By Francesco Garri Garripoli

Wuji Hundun Qigong, is a 1,200-year-old health maintenance system from China handed down by 95 year-old Master Duan Zhi Liang of Beijing, China. Drawing on Taoism, Buddhism, the Wuji form conforms to the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which in fact sprung from Qigong concepts that go back 5,000 years. Like all Qigong in this way, the enhanced movement of Qi (life-force, bioelectric vitality) is promoted throughout the body as well as the storing and strengthening of Qi for good health. TCM believes stagnant Qi leads to all pain and disease. Proven useful for healing many diseases, this simple style actually has it's roots in ancient wushu swordplay and gong fu (Kung Fu) inner cultivation of Qi--as useful for the healer as it is for the warrior...and soon we understand how they are one in the same…

Wuji Hundun Qigong is a unique blend of inner (Nei Qi) and outer (Wei Qi) cultivating techniques. Master Duan comes from the practical "old school" of healing arts. He believes a practitioner must also be a teacher. A healer must be a warrior. An intellect must pursue the arts. Our prayer is to seek balance…and we seek balance by letting go of "form"…and seek the essence of all things.

Wuji Qigong is an exercise and stretching system, focusing on synchronizing the breath with slow movements and guided visualizations. Upon deeper study, the transformative nature of this health maintenance modality becomes apparent. Balancing the Taoist and Buddhist traditions of China, Wuji Hundun Qigong seeks to strengthen the body (the mandate of the Taoists) while enhancing spiritual life (the essence of the Buddhist doctrines.) Ultimately, a merging of the two takes place, not intellectually, but through "wu xing" or deep, emotional understanding. Written and oral teaching can only seek to trigger and stimulate you, the true wu xing must come from within--as the truth derives from nature and is constantly accessible. Through cultivating your inner Qi and spirit, you become strong, not as an "individual" against the world but as an integral part of the world; a mirror reflecting light…Sincere practice with an intention to remain receptive is the key…as we come to realize the holistic nature of Wuji Qigong will effect the body, mind, and spirit. 

When all aspects of our life are embraced and brought into balance--from our diet to our daily activities--Qigong's true benefits will emerge. The accompanied reduction in stress will allow our natural healing abilities to work efficiently and we will begin traveling the path of true healing and well being.

May the stretching and opening forms of this style of Qigong, which is equally influenced by the Wushu Martial Arts and Wei Qi healing techniques, help you to remember the natural gifts and tools you possess. The process helps to rebalance stagnation and blocks (the source of all pain and disease.) This process also helps us to cultivate our sensitivity to the subtle forces of Qi…and to bring our conscious intent to where it is required. As the old Chinese maxim states, "Where the mind goes, Qi follows." May we always remember the resonant relationship we have with the world around us.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MIT Qigong Global Standing Gallery

Summer 2011 has Begun!!
Send your Global Standing vacation pictures to: qi@mit.edu

Carmen || Ajanta Caves, India

Six Harmonies

The Right Path of Yiquan
By Wang Xiang Zhai

The six harmonies can be dived into internal and external; the harmony of the heart and the mind, the harmony of the mind and qi, and the harmony of the qi and the strength are the three internal harmonies; the harmony of the hands and the feet, the harmony of the elbows and the knees, and the harmony of the shoulders and the hips are the external harmonies. Also, the harmony of the muscles and the bones, the harmony of the teeth and the flesh, and the harmony of the lungs and the kidneys, are the internal harmonies, while the harmony of the head and the hands, the harmony of the hands and the torso, and the harmony of the torso and the feet are the external harmonies. Summed up, spirit in harmony, strength in harmony, the moving line of the body in movement or posture being opposed to these harmonies, this is called harmony. Terrible indeed, the six harmonies harm people. Students, be careful! be careful!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Notes on Noi Gong

 From Wikipedia:
      Neigong, also spelled Nei Kungneigung, or noi gong, is any of a set of Chinese breathingmeditation and spiritual practice disciplines associated with Daoism and especially the Chinese martial arts. Neigong practice is normally associated with the so called "soft style", "internal" or nèijiā 內家 Chinese martial arts, as opposed to the category known as waigong 外功 or "external skill" which is historically associated with shaolinquan or the so called "hard style", "external" or wàijiā 外家 Chinese martial arts. Both have many different schools, disciplines and practices and historically there has been mutual influence between the two and distinguishing precisely between them differs from school to school.
    The martial art school of neigong emphasises training the coordination of the individual's body with the breath, known as the harmonisation of the inner and outer energy(內外合一), creating a basis for a particular school's method of utilising power and technique.
     Neigong exercises that are part of the neijia tradition involve cultivating physical stillness and or conscious (deliberate) movement, designed to produce relaxation or releasing of muscular tension combined with special breathing techniques such as the "tortoise" or "reverse" methods. The fundamental purpose of this process is to develop a high level of coordination, concentration and technical skill that is known in the martial arts world as neijin (). The ultimate purpose of this practice is for the individual to become at one with heaven or the Dao (天人合一). As Zhuangzi stated, "Heaven, earth and I are born of one, and I am at one with all that exists (地與我, 萬物與我)".
    This type of practice is said to require concentration and internal reflection which results in a heightened self-awareness that increases over time with continued practice. Neigong practitioners report awareness of the mechanics of their blood circulation, peristalsis, muscular movement, skeletal alignment, balance, etc.

From Jim Roselando:
Wai Gong is the external exercises of the muscles, tendons etc..
Noi Gong is the internal exercises of the breath & qi...
So! Soft qigong is actually noi gong.  

The horse also must fall into the "natural" category if it is to work the noi gong. That means your ankles, hips, shoulders line up vertical/horizontal to allow for natural flow. They call that external 6 harmonies.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excerpts from 2007 NYTimes Article

Exercisers Slow It Down With Qigong 
Published: April 5, 2007

“Qigong is growing like crazy in the United States in the past few years,” Mr. Lin said. “People want to be more proactive with their health care.”

The face of exercise is changing in America. Instead of relentlessly pursuing a sculptured physique, people are chasing longevity, stress reduction and improved health through mind-body practices like qigong. “The realm of working out has shifted from people just wanting to build bulk and lean, toned muscles to them understanding that the inner health of the body is just as important as the outer health,” said Bernard Shannon, a medical qigong therapist who works one on one with clients and sits on the board of the National Qigong Association, a trade group. It’s taken decades for qigong — which is an umbrella term for numerous energy-based practices, including tai chi — to spread across the United States, in part because there weren’t enough instructors. That started changing in the 1980s and ’90s, when a handful came from China. Then in the late ’90s, after the Communist party made most forms of qigong illegal, an influx of teachers immigrated to this country.

A decade ago, most Westerners didn’t know how to pronounce qigong (CHEE-kung). Plenty still don’t, but that hasn’t stopped them from attending classes at YMCAs, gyms, medical centers and college campuses. Roughly 950,000 American adults have practiced qigong in their lifetime, according to a study conducted in 2002 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and released in 2004 by the C.D.C. and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The yoga boom has made mind-body exercise more run of the mill. “Yoga has now become acceptable,” said Judith Hanson Lasater, a yoga teacher since 1971 who now teaches restorative yoga, a form that encourages relaxation. “Qigong is a little further away, but yoga has opened the door.”

Because some forms of yoga are downright strenuous, qigong appeals to yogis tired of the mat race. “I went to power-yoga studios and practiced in heated rooms crammed with people’s mats, shoved over each other,” said Kyle Burton, 27, from Los Angeles. “But once I was introduced to qigong and learned the difference between a muscle-based workout versus an energetic-based practice, I switched.”

Practitioners say that qigong helps alleviate joint and muscle aches, increases energy and deepens their breathing. “It’s taken my body, mind and spirit to a completely new level,” said Shelley Marks, 46, a talent manager living in Los Angeles who started qigong after showing early signs of rheumatoid arthritis. “It’s created a very peaceful feeling,” she said, and her inflammation and pain have diminished.

Scientific evidence or not, plenty of Americans find mind-body exercise a waste of time. To give gymgoers a taste of qigong without scaring them away, health clubs have introduced hybrids like Kung Yo, at the Sports Club/LA, and Qigong Yoga, at Equinox. “If they were to go take a regular qigong class, most people would be bored,” said Steven Leigh, who teaches Kung Yo, a blend of yoga, kung fu and qigong. “I sneak it in at the beginning.”

Qigong practitioners predict the easy-to-teach practice will one day rival yoga stateside. Does that mean a future of designer qigong clothes and S.U.V. ads? Not necessarily. “Qigong probably won’t be as popular as yoga because you can’t really get a beautiful body — it’s such an internal practice,” said Kimberly Ivy, founder of Embrace the Moon School for Taijiquan and Qigong in Seattle. “And qigong does not have the same cult of personality as yoga. How do you get celebrity status when you are standing still, breathing?” 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring/Summer Location Schedule

Date: 5-16-11
Subject: Spring/Summer Schedule

     Many people have been asking, Will the MIT Qigong Club be open during the Spring/Summer school break??? Answer: YES! Our normal Monday night 7-8p class is open all year. The only thing we need to be aware of is our LOCATION SCHEDULE. For the past X months we have been training in Room 306 of the Student Center. This will be the last week in Room 306 so please join the mailing list for updates on class location schedule: http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/qigong

                        May 23: Building 1, Room 242 (1-242)
                        May 30: Break for Memorial Day
                        June 6 - August 8: Kregske Auditorium Rehearsal Room A (W16-033)
                        August 15-29: Building 1, Room 242 (1-242)

Thanks again for all the support!  I look forward to a fantastic Spring/Summer of training @ MIT!

Jim Roselando

Training Schedule from May 16
Gathering Qi (10)
Crane (5/5)
Moving Post (10)
Universal Post (10)
Hun Yun (5/5)
Universal Post (5)

Children's Hospital Stand-a-Thon Receipt

A final congratulations to the MIT Qigong Club for raising over $1300 for the Boston Children's Hospital with over 51 donations and a dozen participants! THANK YOU!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

WXZ: Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon

Wang Xiang Zhai

Body balanced, empty and agile, spirit should be full, you are vigilant like a leopard walking in the fog, you are agile like an attacking rhinoceros, like a galloping horse, like a dragon. Head straight, you feel some pressure on top of your head, whole body is pulsating, as if dancing, everything is connected, toes as if grasping ground, knees as if embracing something and at the same time pressing outside, there is also some lifting upward force, heels slightly raised. You feel a force as if a tornado was about to pull a tree out of ground, as if you were a dragon which landed for a moment, ready to fly again, ready to twist and sway. You feel power great as if heaven and earth were fighting. When you move, you are like a fierce tiger, as if you intend to crush a mountain slope with your hand. Body as if startled snake, as if it was on fire, like a dragon throwing thunders and flying away, muscles are pulsating, force like gun powder, hands like bullets, slight body movement and bird will not be able to fly away, you are full of great courage. No matter what happens, your mind is like a big fishing net, catching everything, like a dance of the branches of lightening, like scales covering body of a fish, like snow and frost on grass and trees.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zhan Zhuang Qigong: You can feel it!

By Andrzej Kalisz 

In China there are many various forms of exercises known by a common name of qigong. Common element characteristic for almost all qigong methods (also for taijiquan), which are used for cultivating health, is mixing together some mental focus (attention is naturally, without forcing it, focused on body – element of mind and body coordination), some kind of relaxation and some moderate physical effort. Even very simple methods, if they contain right mixture of these three elements, can bring positive results. Hence growing popularity of the quite simple zhan zhuang method, which is part of yiquan.

In yiquan and zhan zhuang method we don’t use classical concepts, which could not be easily understood and accepted by contemporary people. We don’t talk about certain points or channels (those which are used in acupuncture). There is no need to use the term qi. Thanks to this, these exercises are perfect for people who are uneducated in ways of traditional Chinese theories and concepts.

Zhan zhuang method is based on seeing a human being as a unity, where all elements are interrelated and interdependent. The basic assumption is that there is some kind of harmony, which should be guarded, because disturbing and destroying the natural harmony causes negative effects. When illness appears, you should think not only about treating the ill part, but you should try to heal the whole in a way which leads to regaining the harmony. Body has some ability of resistance against pathological factors, and of self-regulating which to some extent enables regaining the state of health. The yiquan exercises will help to strengthen and maintain this natural ability.

When yiquan and zhan zhuang will become more popular all over the world, there will be more possibility of scientific research, which will allow to learn more about these exercises, and use them even more efficiently. Here I will only point to some aspects, noticed by Chinese experts.

Cerebral cortex is controlling the whole nervous system, directing and coordinating functions of all organs. Excessive activation and in result exhaustion of parts of cerebral cortex will lead to disorder. Various functions of body will suffer, which often leads to pathological changes. And the illness or disorders of functioning of some organs are source of signals, which can cause even greater disorder of functioning of cerebral cortex. Meditation, taijiquan, qigong, zhan zhuang help to break this cycle. They let the cerebral cortex rest and regain efficient functioning.

While doing zhan zhuang or shi li exercises, your breath should be slow, deep, natural, flowing freely. There is no stress on controlling breathing. But observing other demands of exercises (e.g. keeping arms in certain position, together with relax and free breathing) will cause breathing naturally become more abdominal, without artificial limiting natural functions of the chest. When you do standing exercises, oxygen consumption increases, and breathing responds naturally to this demand – at beginning it becomes faster and slightly deeper, then slower but at the same time much deeper. This should not be artificially controlled.

Stress is put on relaxing whole body, which helps improving blood circulation. In case of standing postures, there is some moderate effort, which causes some increase of the rate of pulse. After finishing the exercise, the pulse rate is not dropping immediately. There is no sudden expansion of the right atrium, which happens when you suddenly stop typical intensive kinds of training. Deep breathing helps in improving blood transportation (blood circulation is result not only of the heart working, but breathing and body movements, especially legs movements) and creates massaging effect on internal organs. Rhythm of calm breathing is also a positive factor stimulating nervous system.

It is because health, well-being, seeking beauty, balance and harmony are important in human life, that such forms of exercise like yoga, tai chi and chi kung have became very popular all over the world. But until recently yiquan and zhan zhuang were not widely known. Now they are rapidly becoming popular. Some people say that zhan zhuang is a Chinese yoga. Wide use of positional exercises resembles use of asana in Indian yoga. Zhan zhuang is often classified as a method of  qigong (in broad meaning). It has been used as a supplemental means of therapy in hospitals in China since 1950s.  Tai chi of 21st Century – this is another term used in relation to zhan zhuang and yiquan. Presently many taijiquan instructors are including zhan zhuang method in their curriculum or are switching from taijiquan to yiquan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Email from Coach Jim Roselando

Date: 5/9/11
From: JJR info@apricotforesthall.com
Subject: Simple & Effective

Many people are often looking for a simple approach to cultivating their health and well-being but today it is extremely difficult to find this kind of training. It is all too common for someone to learn a complicated set from the Chinese internal schools with the idea if you repeat it long enough the inner mysteries will surface but sadly this tends to not happen. Others head towards the Yogic schools and learn dozens of different stretches and postures all with the goal of cultivating health and well-being. Both roads are without a doubt complicated and require a great deal of effort unlike Zhan Zhuang Qigong.

Zhan Zhuang Qigong is the root method of evoking healing for the mind, body and breath! The platform utilizes the principle of softness to loosen up the physical body, relax the breathing and quiet the mind. All three aspects gradually and smoothly return the body to the Natural State and can be practiced by people of all ages. With minimal effort you will revitalize your entire being and experience the wonders of a truly holistic and core internal art. Twenty Minutes per day is all you need! It would take longer to drive to the local fitness center than it would to get in a session of Zhan Zhuang Qigong.

Training Schedule:
10min Moving Post
5min Gathering Qi
10min Moving Post
5min Gathering Qi
10min L/R Hun Yun
5min Universal Post
5min Moving

See you tonight!

Jim Roselando


"The ordinary is the extra-ordinary" WXZ

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wing Chun Illustrated Premier Issue Article

Leung Jan's Kulo Wing Chun: The Foundation of Pin Sun Boxing

"Like" the teaser for the upcoming Wing Chun Illustrated article to support Jim!! Facebook link: 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Benefits of Meditation (MIT News)

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

In a study published online April 21 in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms. 

The researchers did brain scans of the subjects before the study began, three weeks into it, and at the end of eight weeks. At eight weeks, the subjects who had been trained in meditation showed larger changes in the size (amplitude) of their alpha waves when asked to pay attention to a certain body part — for example, “left foot.” These changes in wave size also occurred more rapidly in the meditators. 

Subjects in this study did not suffer from chronic pain, but the findings suggest that in pain sufferers who meditate, the beneficial effects may come from an ability to essentially turn down the volume on pain signals. “They learn to be aware of where their attention is focused and not get stuck on the painful area,” says Kerr, first author of the paper.

The subjects trained in meditation also reported that they felt less stress than the non-meditators. “Their objective condition might not have changed, but they’re not as reactive to their situation,” Kerr says. “They’re more able to handle stress.”

The researchers are now planning follow-up studies in patients who suffer from chronic pain as well as cancer patients, who have also been shown to benefit from meditation. 

Catherine E. Kerr, Stephanie R. Jones, Qian Wan, Dominique L. Pritchett, Rachel H. Wasserman, Anna Wexler, Joel J. Villanueva, Jessica R. Shaw, Sara W. Lazar, Ted J. Kaptchuk, Ronnie Littenberg, Matti S. Hämäläinen and Christopher I. Moore"Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex." Brain Research Bulletin. 2011 Apr 8

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Changing One's Strength with Zhan Zhuang

The Right Path of Yiquan
By Wang Xiangzhai

To achieve wonders in the martial arts, one must have the changing of one's strength with zhanzhuang as the foundation and starting point. This means changing weak into strong and clumsy into nimble. Like a student of Zen, who starts with religious discipline, becomes skillful in quietude, has an insight, finds evidence of the fountainhead of one's spirit, comprehends the void and then finally reaches the highest achievement; only then can one learn the Tao. What Zen is, the martial arts are as well. When one starts to study, the methods of zhanzhuang are rather numerous, for example, xianglongzhuang ('subduing the dragon' zhuang), fuhuzhuang ('taming the tiger' zhuang), ziwuzhuang ('midnight-noon' zhuang), sancaizhuang ('Heaven, Earth, and Man' zhuang), etc. Now, get rid of the numerous and move towards simplicity, take the strong points of each zhuang (pile) and combine them into one, namely hunyuanzhuang. It is good for developing strength, convenient for actual fighting, contains the essence of striking and defending, and is connected to the study of qi. After training for ten days the student will get results naturally. Written words cannot express its marvel. What must be avoided the most during the study of zhangzhuang is the use of force with the body and mind. Using force makes the qi sluggish; when the qi is sluggish, then the mind stops; when the mind stops, then the spirit breaks; and this breaking of the spirit leads to foolishness. What one should avoid as well, is raising the head or bowing forward, bending the elbows and legs too much, or keeping them too straight; they should always seem bent but not bent, seem straight but not straight, and the muscles and joints should be stretched. The head should be upright, the sacrum and the spine should be straight, the qi should sink, and the mind should be calm. The tips of the fingers and toes slightly used force, the teeth seem closed yet not closed, the tongue is seemingly rolled up yet not rolled up, all over the body the pores seem relaxed by not relaxed, and thus the internal power is issued outward and the weak points are changed into great power. It is not difficult to grasp its essentials. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wang XangZhai on the Essence of True Martial Art

Central Pivot of the Way of Fist
By Wang XiangZhai

As for jumping over walls and roofs, it is all fantasies from novels, you can only smile when you hear about it. As for those stories about crushing big rocks and resisting cuts of a saber, those are the worst absurd inventions. There is no point in discussing something like this.

There are people who don't possess abilities and their knowledge is shallow too. But they are quite sincere and honest. They master what teacher passes them, they have some achievements, they develop some specific skills. Although those skills are partial, many people don't listen to explanation of their basis, they only watch the effects and because their knowledge is shallow, they see it as something magic. They don't understand that this is a mistake. This comes from lack of knowledge, lack of thinking, lack of experience in some field. Even if sometimes they understand some bits, they are not able to understand it thoroughly and to reject their usual views. Each time when they encounter something difficult to understand, they see it as something supernatural. And if someone is practicing long time and achieves real understanding, it will become something familiar, easy to understand, and there is no need to seek for using supernatural concepts. It's the same in any field. Why should it be any different in martial art?

There is no limit for development of science. There is some knowledge and some skills. What kind of level of skill could be regarded as true skill, true knowledge? I'm not able to tell. But if someone knows about something and can do it, if he can do something and he understands he is doing this, it can be seen as a beginning of unity of knowledge and practice. If you don't understand something well, you will not be able to achieve the level of really deep skill. If you cannot do something in practice, it cannot be said that you have real knowledge about it. Knowledge and practice cannot be separated. It is the same in any science.

Martial art people of present time boast that they know so many forms and techniques. Even those who don't have much idea about martial art laugh at them. What a pitiful situation! Isn't it forms and artificial techniques which caused the fall of martial art? Unfortunately after several hundred years this way of practice has become habit. It is difficult to change this situation now. The wave is moving. And most absurd concepts, like theory of four manifestations and five elements, nine palaces and eight trigrams, mythical scriptures on turtle shell were absorbed. In result students don't understand the essence, stupefied by the rubbish which they hear, they follow illusions. How the true art would not be destroyed? 

Lately there are many people who speak about Buddhism, talk about spirits and demons, tell lies about cultivating Tao and how to meet immortals. This is extremely absurd and harmful. How dare they presently, in the era of science flourishing, popularize such wild, false heories and publish them in magazines? How is it possible that those plain idiots can commit such shameful deeds? What Buddha, if he knows about it, can think about this category of people, who popularize false views? There are many ways of earning living. Why must they use the weak points of society, deceiving themselves and others? When I'm talking about it, I'm so sad, sighing over the world and people. 

It can be said that the essence of martial art is as wonderful as principles of nature. It can be said that it is as deep as mysteries of heaven and earth. Practicing without understanding the principles, you will never reach the essence. Even if you practice according to the principles, you can learn for your whole life and you will never use up the opportunity of further development. Why keep secrets then? 

I don't call myself a a master. What is important is appreciating the spirit, the feelings, and not concentrating on names and titles. I'm teaching real stuff. Although I don't call myself a master, those who benefit from my teaching are treating me as a master. The empty title disappeared, but the essence remained. Has anything been lost? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Zhang Zhuang as Self-Treatment

Traditional Chinese Therapeutic Exercises - Standing Pole
By Wang Xuanjie, J.P.C. Moffett

The Chinese medical community has previously conducted investigations into the therapeutic value of pile stance exercises. The cycle of illness is explained as follows: When the cerebral cortex becomes over excited or exhausted, the body's functioning suffers as a result to the point of illness. Likewise, illness, as a malfunctioning of the organs, sends out harmful stimuli to the cerebral cortex, placing an even further burden upon it. The aim of standing pole exercises is to break the illness cycle by providing the cerebral cortex with beneficial stimuli, thus causing it to relax.

Relaxation is achieved through the manner in which the standing pole exercises are practiced. One must assume the required body posture and then hold it for a period of time. The cerebral cortex eventually finds a soothing and pleasing object of focus in order for the body to maintain the physical posture. When the object of focus is not overly stimulating, the very relaxed sensation felt by the cerebral cortex leads to muscle relaxation, improved blood circulation and deeper respiration. The initial aches and numbness associated with a beginner's practice will gradually disperse and will be replaced by a warm, slightly numbing but very comfortable feeling. This feeling is a most beneficial stimulus to the cerebral cortex and the longer it lasts the cerebral cortex achieves even deeper relaxation, concentration and an inhibitory "quiet" state.

Electroencephalogram investigations have demonstrated this (quiet) state to be quite different from sleep or hypnosis. It is characterized by the appearance of beta wave in the front portions of both hemispheres, which increases in amplitude and expands towards the back of the hemispheres as practice progresses and the inhibitory state deepens. The alpha wave, however, undergoes little change, though sometimes exhibiting a slight increase in amplitude, cycle extension and a trend towards a gradual slowing of rhythm.

Mental activities such as worry, anger and even thought as well as unnecessary and excessive tensing of the body's muscles cause fatigue and body aches. Tension can especially be felt in the chest and shoulders and seen in the face. The steady practice of standing pole exercises extends outside practice to daily life so that excess tension and thus fatigue are permanently reduced or eventually eliminated.

It has been observed that during the standing pole exercises the pulse rate increases steadily and then eventually levels off. Immediately after practice the pulse rate does not drop suddenly. This makes it suitable for practice by those with heart trouble or the very frail. Breathing is allowed to respond naturally to the gradually rising needs of the metabolism. Breathing is not artificially slowed for that would deprive the body of oxygen. As with other strenuous types of exercise when oxygen intake cannot keep up with its consumption, as evidenced by labored breathing, there occurs a harmful build up waste products in the body such as lactic acid.

With steady practice, chest muscles eventually relax, allowing for very deep and perfectly natural breathing. There is an accompanying increase in lung capacity and with it a beneficial increase in the permeability of the pulmonary alveolus wall and expansion of the lung's capillaries. Further, greater chest expansion during inhalation increases pressure in the thorax, helping to draw blood out from the veins into the heart. Exhalation releases the pressure, helping the heart to push out blood. Lastly, there is a beneficial massaging effect of deep breathing on the internal organs as with each inhalation the diaphragm sinks and the mediastinum expands and with each exhalation the diaphragm rises and the mediastinum contracts.

Relaxation of the abdomen allows the abdominal organs to settle, while the movement of abdominal respiration coupled with pressure changes in the thorax creates a massaging motion on them. Investigations have shown that such a massaging action on the liver causes an increase in choleresis, aiding digestion, prevents stasis of the bile system and expands the blood capillaries in the liver. Such massage also helps to prevent stasis in the stomach and intestinal system, working against the development of ulcers, gastroenterits, constipation and other abdominal disorders.

In summary, the standing pole exercises are a viable and effective method of self-treatment. As a non-strenuous but thorough mental and physical exercise they can be practiced by even the very frail, combating illness and strengthening the body without the side effects of other forms of treatment. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 2nd: Mr. Ma Exercises

Date: 5-2-11
Subject: Monday Training

      Another weekend has come and gone so that means it is time for our Monday night Qigong session @ MIT!  I am looking forward to training with everyone and will change things up a bit by practicing a few different methods from our Yiquan art.  As always, all classes are absolutely FREE so just show up and train train train.......   Simple and effective our Qigong will promote the most direct method of healing (and strengthening) for your mind, body and spirit known to humanity.  

Time: 7:00-8:00
Location: Student Center/Room 306
Cost: FREE

See you soon!


Jim Roselando