Tuesday, September 27, 2011
William Liu’s health was a mess. Arthritis had invaded his joints, he lived with a chronic cough, and the skin on his palms looked diseased. In flu season, he was always the first one infected and he frequently took sick leave from his job as a mechanical engineer in charge of fire sprinklers for Vancouver City Hall. He saw many doctors and tried everything those doctors recommended: steroid creams for his skin, steroid injections for his joints, church and temples for his attitude, a healthy diet and exercise. He learned from the Arthritis Association how to manage his pain, but nothing he did ever cured him of his problems. Then in 1996, he decided to try health qigong (pronounced Chi Kung). Within a month and a half, he says, he felt much better. Soon, one after another, his problems disappeared. Within four months, all his arthritis, lung and skin problems were gone, never to return. His colleagues were so impressed with his recovery that they encouraged him to teach a lunchtime class at city hall, and it has continued for many years. About 40 city workers attend health qigong class every Thursday, even though Liu has since retired. Health qigong is an important element of traditional Chinese medicine. Loosely translated, qi (or chi) means vital energy, and gong means work plus effort. It is a form of exercise that involves slow movements, similar to tai chi, combined with breathing. The movement is said to open vital energy meridians to the body’s organs and allow the oxygen in to massage and heal them. It is believed that it works by strengthening the body’s immune system thereby increasing the body’s ability to self heal and recover. “In traditional Chinese medicine, chi and blood are believed to complement each other,” explains Liu, adding that scientists now believe that chi is bioelectricity circulating inside the human body. “There are twelve primary chi meridians [invisible energy channels] running inside our body. Each primary meridian is associated with one internal organ and is connected to a toe or a finger.” Chinese doctors in ancient times learned that specific body movements combined with deep breathing could improve the chi circulation in specific organs. They developed the qigong exercises which could prevent or heal many chronic illnesses and slow the aging process, says Liu. Ken Low, a Vancouver sifu (martial arts master) says health qigong differs from martial arts in that the poses are not defensive or offensive. It is considered a sport in China. “The movement is all designed to strengthen the body,” he says. “It has no self-defence purpose. It is all health enhancement.” Liu says it could be considered the Chinese yoga. Both forms are ancient and both emphasize breathing combined with movement. And, like yoga, health qigong is an omnibus name, given by the Chinese government 100 years ago to encompasses thousands of forms. The form Liu learned first was wah tor, but he has since learned dozens of others. He practises every morning. This weekend, the Chinese Health Qigong Association hosts the 4th International Health Qigong Tournament and Exchange, the first time it has been held outside of China. Teams of practitioners from more than 20 countries, including Belgium, Iran, Iraq, Greece, Korea and the United Kingdom are coming to the War Memorial Gym at the University of B.C. to be judged by a panel of masters and exchange culture and friendship. “They will look at their form and their focus,” said Low who is organizing the tournament and exchange with the Canada International Health Qigong Association. Low says the tournament is a good opportunity for Vancouverites to be introduced to the sport, or test their skills if they are already practitioners. The weekend tournament is open to the public at no cost. Then on Monday Sept. 19 and Tuesday Sept. 20 masters from China will teach two forms of health qigong at the Richmond Sheraton Airport Hotel. Monday’s lesson will teach Yi Jin Jing (transforming tendon exercise), which strengthens the muscles and tendons, and Tuesday’s seminar will teach Mawangdui Daoyin Shu (based on the Daoyin Tu chart, unearthed from a Han Dynasty tomb), which provides guidance along meridian channels and synchronicity of mind and body. Each seminar costs $100. On Wednesday, Sept. 21, competitors who wish to have their form graded can be examined by the masters. Kathy Bengston, who works in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, and who learned several forms of health qigong from William Liu, says she will be part of a team entering the tournament. While she has no chronic health problems, she says the practice relaxes her and she hopes is preventing health problems.
At a glance
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Monday, September 26, 2011
For the past number of months, Coach Jim has been writing a Kulo boxing column (The Inner Circle) for Wing Chun Illustrated magazine. Yesterday they launched their new webpage:
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“A fundamental study of the art’s tools and dynamics are learned in the first four skills of the Twelve Fists. From this point in the art’s progression, the practitioner begins a refined study of the art’s skills, which are done in specific hand combinations that relate to the range and dynamics being trained.”
-- Jim Roselando Jr., Issue 2 of WCI. Like this? Then please spread the word by clicking the “Like” button.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
by Glenn Gossling
by Glenn Gossling
The meditative aspect of Taijiquan is known as Zhan Zhuang, which is commonly referred to as “holding” or “embracing the tree” in the West. It is one of the best known of all meditation postures.
Zhan Zhuang is common to most styles of Taijiquan and some systems of Qigong. This meditation is one of the foundations of the Chen system and is to be recommended for students of all levels. Zhan Zhuang is a standing meditation and emphasizes many of the basic principles of correct posture that relate to Taijiquan as a whole. Most importantly the posture should look and feel smooth and flowing. The body should be relaxed. Zhan Zhuang begins in the same way as a form. We start by standing with our feet together, arms by our sides, upright and alert. The knees should be slightly bent. It is helpful to take a few moments to calm down, relax, and correct the posture before opening. To open, the left heel is lifted and then the foot is stepped out to shoulder width. We centre our weight and sink into the posture. How deeply you hold this stance is up to you. The deeper you go the harder the exercise is. The important thing is that the posture should be correct no matter how deeply you hold the stance. It can be quite difficult to get the stance correct if you are a beginner, but the principles are very simple. The weight should be centred. It is possible to check this by moving the body slightly and feeling where your weight falls on your feet. Try moving backwards, forwards, left and right until you are confident about where the centre is. The spine should be upright and vertical. It is possible to check this by moving as well. The hips and the shoulders should both be level. The head should be upright. It can be very helpful to work with a partner to get your posture correct. Most of us are far more used to working with our visual rather than our tactile senses. Initially it is a lot easier to correct someone else from the outside than ourselves from the inside, but with a lot of practice considerable sensitivity can be developed. To check someone else’s posture there are a number of factors to look out for. The spine should make a nice clean line from both the side and the back. It should be positioned centrally between the feet. The spine is distorted if the hips or the shoulders are not level. The hips should also be tilted slightly forwards so that the lower back is not arched. Taiji postures need to be “sat into”. If the legs are too straight or the stance is too high it is difficult to correct the spine. The ears, the shoulders and the ankles should all be on one vertical line when viewed from the side. Once the basic posture is correct the arms are slowly raised and the eyes closed. The arms form a circle in front of the body, with the palms facing inwards and very slightly upwards. The circle can be held at a variety of heights but most people aim to train at shoulder height. At this height the elbows should be slightly lower than the shoulders or palms. Once the arms are raised the posture should be checked and corrected again. Particular attention should be paid to making sure the weight is still central, the body is not leaning and the shoulders are relaxed.
The Zhan Zhuang posture can be held for some time, one hour is a basic standard. Any tension in the body will cause physical discomfort. Tension can be a particular problem for beginners. Most commonly it occurs in the shoulders, especially if the arms are held at shoulder height. Part of the key to the posture is letting the skeleton do its share of the work. The shoulders should be back and relaxed so that the weight of the arms is transferred to the collarbone and spine. Once in the Zhan Zhuang posture one should place one’s attention on the Dantien. The idea is to relax and breathe deeply so that the Qi can be felt circulating. The more you practise the stronger the Qi will become, and the more smoothly it will flow. Just relax, but stay alert. Meditation is not like going to sleep. Pay attention to the different sensations that happen and keep your attention on the exercise. The mind should remain focused and the body still. Zhan Zhuang primarily trains the legs and the skeleton, but it is also very useful for improving general posture, sensitivity, and mental concentration. It is a powerful exercise for developing energy and like other methods of meditation can be beneficial for stress reduction and health promotion. It should be one of the most important components of daily training.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
From: Jim firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Fall Semester "1st Session"
A big thank you for such a wonderful 1st class to begin our fall semester @ MIT. Room 491 in the Student Center was certainly a full house last night. It was also so nice to see many new people coming to test out our technology for health cultivation. Anyone can train Zhan Zhuang Qigong. From the young to the old our art is suitable for all. Natural Conditioning, Natural Meditation, Natural Healing & Natural Dynamics all from standing still!!! Come train for FREE every Monday night and experience the rewards of this profound art!
Training Session 9/12
10 Gather Qi
5/5 Heaven & Earth Post
5/5 Half Supporting Post
5 Gather Qi
5/5 Strength Testing (shi li)
15 Universal Post
Seal & Wash
Welcome back everyone and I look forward to next Monday!
Monday, September 12, 2011
From: Jim email@example.com
Subject: Student Center (Rm 491)
Tonight we begin the Fall Semester of Qigong @ MIT. I am looking forward to working with everyone and wanted to remind all that our classes are now being held in the Student Center/Room 491! This summer was nothing short of fantastic for our MIT Qigong Club and I know that this semester we will continue to spread the art of nourishing life to all those who are interested in training with us. Simple, effective & challenging are just a few words that describe our Zhan Zhuang Qigong art. Join us every Monday @ MIT!
Some notes on Qigong from Master WXZ:
"After training for only ten days the student will get results naturally. Written words cannot describe its marvel. What must be avoided the most during Zhan Zhuang is the use of force with the body and mind. Using force makes the Qi sluggish, when the Qi is sluggish, the mind stops, when the mind stops, then the spirit breaks, and this breaking of the spirit leads to foolishness!"
Location: Student Center/Room 491
See you in a few hours!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
From Qi Magazine (Issue 43 - 1999)
Qigong is the study of energy in the universe and our relationship with it. It is a form of meditation which seeks to make us aware of our bodies and how they are affected by internal and external forces. Qigong also teaches us to listen to our body and its messages and then provides techniques to help insure that we remain in a balanced condition.
Qigong meditation as a study is on an evolutionary journey. In ancient times, Qigong was a closely guarded “secret”. Teachings were confined to inner sanctums of monasteries, passed from father to child or teacher to disciple and so forth. Today there is an ever-increasing supply of books and information on the subject and people are studying Qigong for health, self-fulfilment, spiritual goals, to become healers, and the list goes on. Qigong is emerging as a well-respected tool in the increasing array of techniques available to assist wellness; it is also becoming an important part of integrative medicine (the integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine). I welcome this newfound acceptance of a very old friend. The current interest in Qigong has provided wide spread interest and an expanded student base. The increased focus and attention must, over time, result in advancement in Qigong techniques through increased interest in Qigong as a field of study, a science and an art. In ancient times the search for a wellness elixir began through the search for a magic elixir, herb or pill which, when consumed,would insure health and longevity. However as time passed, it was discovered that an elixir could not be found in an external process or product, rather it was concluded that the elixir could only be found within. It was realised that each person contains a personal internal elixir that can be identified, strengthened, balanced and used to create wellness and increase longevity. Qigong meditation is one of the best methods of accessing our internal elixir and helping us to identif your personal internal strengths. Through Qigong’s ability to link the Qi and the mind, a person can learn to guide the body to turn to wellness and longevity. The Qigong meditative practice, like all studies, has progressive levels of execution and understanding. When a person begins Qigong practice they first learn what the energy is, how it flows in the body, how to access the energy and connect the mind and Qi and so forth, in order to produce balance. At the intermediate level the student expands this knowledge and continues to learn to lead and focus the energy throughout the body. At advanced levels students’ attention often turns to higher level physical and spiritual goals. I believe that all students should begin at the beginning, progress slowly and proceed step by step through advancement in Qigong study at a pace appropriate for them. A teacher is needed and should be the critical guide on this journey. Generally Qigong exercises move from the general to the specific, that is in the initial practice larger areas and more general approaches to the energy are learned. As experience is gained through practice the student then is able to focus on more specific energy(ies), areas, circulations and goals. The broad phases of Qigong study are often defined in terms of the three treasures. The three treasures simply defined are Jing/essence, also related to sexual energy; Qi/vitality; and Shen/ spirit. Each of these exists in the prenatal (that with which a person was born) state and the acquired (that which is obtained after birth) state. The process of nurturing and moving between the three treasures on their two states leads to the ultimate goal of meditation – the obtainment of the void, their return to nothingness: Jing (essence) becomes Qi; Qi (vitality) becomes Shen Shen (spirit) becomes nothingness (the void). A person affects their prenatal and acquired Jing, Qi and Shen positively based in the choices they make in living their life. It is important therefore that we choose how we live wisely so as not to damage any of the three treasures.
Qigong at all levels directs attention to the nurturing of the three treasures. In addition through the progressive study of Qigong, a student works to move through the three transitions noted above. One stage should be successively achieved prior to moving to the next. Therefore students at the beginning levels first work on issues related to nurturing and balancing of Jing and Qi in terms of their prenatal and acquired states. Then as experience is gained as students move on to themore advanced levels of dealing with Qi and Shen and finally moving from Shen to nothingness. Further in moving through the process outlined above a person needs to take each step at a time (e.g. Jing becomes Qi) and insure that they are well and balanced at each stage prior to moving to the next. Students generally begin Qigong study working with a meditative practice that allows them to work on issues related to Jing and Qi. It is primarily the beginning practice that will be discussed for the remainder of this article. Qigong practice can be considered to be a meditation on several levels. First as practices in Xuan Ming Dao Qigong. Qigong as a whole is a meditation. In addition within the Qigong practice there are active (Yang) and passive (Yin) aspects. The Yin aspect can be thought of as a specific meditation segment within the total practice. On a larger scale, as Qigong becomes part of a person’s life and accessible and usable in daily situations, the Qigong meditation becomes an ongoing method of establishing and maintaining balance throughout the day – or more appropriately Qigong becomes an approach to living. At this level life itself can be thought of as a meditation because the individual has come into harmony and balance with the universe and is therefore one with everything around them, adjusting and adapting naturally as needed. In Xuan Ming Dao Qigong study, prior to beginning the Qigong practice, students strive to attain a level of relaxation, quiet and naturalness. This approach assists students in preparing for the practice by beginning to physically andmentally prepare themselves for themeditative practice session. Relaxation means not being in a stressed or nervous condition. Many factors can prevent relaxation; for example,weakness or fatigue can prevent one from relaxing (since the mind has more difficulty controlling the body when one is fatigued). Three things are necessary to relax completely: 1) the mind and emotions must relax; 2) the joints of the whole body, especially the waist, the neck, and the shoulders, must relax; 3) the internal organs must relax. Quiet can be thought of as a state which is peaceful, free from disturbance of noise, emotions, the mind’s chatter and so forth. Three types of quiet can be considered: a quiet environment; and physical quiet of the body; and a quiet of the mind. Many practitioners pay attention to the environmental and mental quiet, ignoring the lack of physical quiet in the body. A serious practitioner must pay attention to all three kinds of quiet. Naturalness is to be in our essential form, unaltered, not artificial, in harmonywith nature and the environment. Four aspects of naturalness can be considered: 1) the surroundings must be natural; 2) the posture must be natural; 3) the breathing must be natural; 4) the thoughts (one’s mind and mood) must be natural. During the practice of Qigong, everything has to be natural. Human beings are an inseparable part of the universe, not distinct entities existing apart from nature. In practising Qigong, a person strives to become aware of and sensitive to this connection to the universe, to understand the relationship. The ultimate goal of Qigong practice is for the body, mind, spirit and universe to become one.
By HuangYu-Cheng, LAc
Adapted to English by Laurie Manning and Robert Poile
About theAuthor: HuangYu-Cheng, L.Ac. has a background that combines aspects of both traditional Chinese healing and Chinese Martial Arts. He is a 31st generation disciple from the Shaolin Temple in China, Qigong Advisor at the South China University, NCCA certified in the US, as an author and lecturer in his field and Master of the Jing Ying Tai Qi Kung Fu Association in Stickie, IL.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Qi Magazine (Issue 40 - 1998)
By Michael Tse, Editor
By Michael Tse, Editor
Recently, one method of Qigong has become quite popular. It is taught free of charge and like many things that are free, easily attracts a lot of people. However, this Qigong is more concerned with your soul and your spirit and if you want your soul to progress beyond that of a normal human being, you have to follow many rules, you have to be true to certain things and cannot do other things. You are not allowed to have any negative thoughts. With this method there are so many restrictions, and personally I find that it is more of a religion rather than Qigong. Qigong is for health. Qi means vital energy and gong means work. So when you do Qigong you are working for your energy. It is that simple and very grounded. When Qigong gets confused with religion, it can be very dangerous.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
For most of the Fall and Spring Semesters, Monday Night MIT Qigong Sessions will be held in the MIT Student Center (84 Massachusetts Avenue) in Room 491. Exceptions are written in purple below.
Fall 2011 Semester Schedule:
9/12: Student Center (Rm 491)
9/19: Student Center (Rm 491)
9/26: Student Center (Rm 491)
10/3: Student Center (Rm 491)
10/10: Student Center (Rm 491)
10/17: Student Center (Rm 491)
10/24: Building 1, Rm 242
10/31: Student Center (Rm 491)
11/7: Student Center (Rm 491)
11/14: Building 1, Rm 242
11/21: Student Center (Rm 491)
11/28: Building 1, Rm 242
12/5: Student Center (Rm 491)
12/12: Student Center (Rm 491)
12/19: Student Center (Rm 491)
January 2012 Schedule:
1/9: Building 1, Rm 242
1/16: Student Center (Rm 491)
1/23: Building 1, Rm 2421/30: Student Center (Rm 491)
3/19: Building 1, Room 242
3/26: Student Center (Rm 491)
4/2: Student Center (Rm 491)
4/9: Student Center (Rm 491)
4/16: Building 1, Room 242
4/23: Student Center (Rm 491)
4/30: Student Center (Rm 306)
5/7: Student Center (Rm 491)
5/14: Student Center (Rm 491)
5/21: Student Center (Rm 491)
Summer 2012 Schedule:
6/11: Student Center (Rm 307)
6/18: Student Center (PDRS 1&2 on 3rd Floor)
Spring 2012 Schedule:
2/6: Student Center (PDRS 1&2 on 3rd Floor)
2/13: Student Center (Rm 491)
2/20: Student Center (Rm 491)
2/27: Student Center (Rm 491)
3/5: Student Center (Rm 491)
3/12: Building 1, Room 375