Senin, 17 Mei 2010

The Future Of Exercise

Powerful strategies for optimzing your body and mind

I believe that practicing martial arts or going through your life without practicing Qigong is like driving a car and never topping up the air in the tyres. The air is our Qi, it gets us places. Take the air out of the tyre and the car will go nowhere, take the air out of our bodies and we die. It is as simple as that. On a basic level Qi is breath, it flows where the blood flows, but on a deeper level it is the energy matrix of the body and when we do Shaolin Training we optimize it on daily basis to get the most out of ourselves.

This is what the Shaolin Temple mean when they emphasise the importance of internal and external. The external is the kung fu, the things we can see, the internal is what is going on inside of us, and to optimize our energy we mix internal and external together.

Shaolin Steel Jacket

A good example of this is Shaolin Steel Jacket. In order for me to be able to do this, I have to have good stamina but I also I need to practice Qigong. It is the Qi that protects my body. I direct my Qi to my ribs or my back and I deflect the pain away so it acts like a mirror, when a person kicks me, their power is deflected and turned back on themselves so it hurts them instead of me. That is the amazing power of Qi.

The Competitive Edge

The majority of people use Qi to unblock the channels and optimize the efficiency of the body. In China, top-level businessmen and women practice Qigong so that they can focus and have full energy for the day ahead. They believe it gives them a competitive edge. Martial artists use it to make their bodies into weapons or simply to give them a stronger and longer martial art's life.

The balance of yin and yang

When I first went to the Shaolin Temple to begin my training, I was fourteen years old and 90% of my training was kung fu – external - training and only 10% was Qigong – internal - training. To be honest, I used to find internal training boring and I wasn’t convinced that there was such a thing as Qi. But I wanted to learn Shaolin Steel Jacket and in order to do this I had no choice. It was only when I saw the effectiveness of the Qigong movements that I became interested in Qi.

As I get older I don't need to practice 90% kung fu, and if I did I would quickly burn myself out. The reason boxers and footballers usually retire in their thirties is not only because their stamina is not as strong but also because their body feels weaker, and this is one of the ways in which martial arts differs from sport. As martial artists, our thirties are the time when we have the maturity and experience to go deeper into the internal techniques. We change the yin and yang of our training so that we may do 60% kung fu and 40% Qi Gong but as I get older this may become as much as 90% Qi Gong and 10% kung fu.

The key to staying young isn't to work out until our endorphins make us happy but to be clever and learn how to balance our external training with our internal training.

How far can you go?

If we have a car, every now and again we check the air pressure, especially if we are about to go on a long journey. We need to do the same thing with our body. What is it telling you? How much can you do today? How much can you push yourself?

This is something, which is difficult for a martial artist to judge because we know we have to push ourselves to improve. Martial arts are about taking us beyond our limits. The training challenges us and this is one of the reasons why we love martial arts so much. It takes us away from the smallness of our self and connects us with a tradition that is thousands of years old and it also gives us unity with our fellow martial artists. There is something exhilarating about our body being able to do something that we never thought possible.

But no matter what martial arts you do, or even if you don’t do martial arts, if you want to sustain your martial art's life then you need to do internal training. If it's not part of your tradition then take it from another tradition.

Right Now

The history of the Shaolin Temple was built on monks going out to different provinces and taking the good things then bringing them back and finely tuning them. It's important that we don't stay stuck but we keep evolving. Remember the lesson of impermanence. Nothing is fixed and solid. Just as our bodies are impermanent and constantly changing so should our training change and adapt to where our bodies are right now in the present moment.

Less is more

My advice is at the end of your martial art's or workout session, finish with some Qigong. In the beginning, you may – like I did – feel bored. But if this happens remind yourself that Qigong has been around for thousands of years. If it were rubbish then it wouldn't be practiced anymore. It is a time-tested technique of putting energy back into your body but it yields nothing to an impatient bored mind. The practice needs to have quality so it's best to start off with doing less, just five minutes a day.

The Eight Treasures Qigong

The Eight Treasures Qigong is possibly the most popular Qi Gong form in China. I teach it in my book Instant Health and also my DVD The Way Of Qigong. It consists of eight sections so it's easy to break them down. Take one section from The Eight Treasures Qi Gong and practice this movement, and then build up a little bit more each day until you are working through a whole form. Try to get into a daily routine. We don't think about brushing our teeth because it's a habit. Try to make a habit of doing Qigong.

It's important to have patience. Our minds are like puppies, we know when we bring a puppy into the house it's naughty and we have to train it. This is the same with our mind. We have to give it direction and leadership and soon our body will start to enjoy the increase in energy and we will want to do Qigong.

Beginner's mind

Shaolin Qigong comes from a Ch'an or Zen tradition so we don't think about where the energy is going. The important aspect of this is to have a no thinking beginner's type mind. Practice with a heart and mind placed firmly on the practice and from this your own experience will grow. You will become aware of energy naturally; your body will direct you. Don't complicate things. The secret to a successful Qigong practice is to make sure your breathing is one with your movement. Don’t add anything more. Keep it simple.

The Shaolin Energy Massage

Just as top-level Olympic athletes have regular massages, we also finish our Qigong practice with a self-massage. And we use The Instant Health Massage Brush to do this. I use a metal one because I practice Shaolin Steel Jacket but The Instant Health Massage Brush that my students use is made from bamboo and consists of 108 bamboo rods. It is designed for a person seeking health, and for martial artists it is also the first step to body conditioning.

Not only does it relieve tight muscles but it also assists in unblocking the acupuncture channels, and helps the body to detox through the stimulation of the lymphatic system. This is a natural battery charger for the body. We do this massage when we have finished our Qi Gong training and it takes about five or ten minutes.

The future of exercise

The future of exercise is changing, just as yoga has become more mainstream, I believe Qigong will follow. New research is proving its effectiveness and I hope to see not only martial artists use it but boxers and athletes and runners and footballers.

Life is about energy. When we love something or feel passionate about something then we have a lot of energy. Our love for martial arts gives us the mental energy to keep training. The Qi in our bodies gives us the physical energy to keep training.

I like to think that even when I'm in my sixties I'll still be kicking and punching bags and running up mountains. I'll still be discovering more and more about martial arts because martial arts is like the ocean, it's never ending and I am a beginner who is always learning. It is only through the Qi that I can continue to do this.

Go for it!
If I explain to you the taste of an apple, it's not the same as you actually taking a bite from an apple. It's the same with Qigong. I believe it will help you to run faster or punch quicker and it will give you more energy not only for your martial art's training but your day-to-day life. But I ask you not to take my word for it but go and try it out for yourself.

Kamis, 06 Mei 2010

Shaolin Xi Sui Gong

“Bodhidharma travelled to the East to teach these two Yi Jin and Xi Sui classics. A bird like the crane is able to live long, an animal like the fox can be immortal, a human who cannot learn from these classics is worse than the birds and animals.”

The Mind and Body of a Buddha

Ee Jin Jing makes your muscles and tendons strong, flexible, fast and powerful while building up the health of your internal organs. Xi means wash and Sui means bone marrow.  Xi Sui  means clean your bone marrow. The aim of Xi Sui Gong is to detoxify the body and cleanse the unhealthy aspects of the mind. The highest aim is to help us reach enlightenment and give us the mind and body of a Buddha. But even if we can’t gain enlightenment in this lifetime, the least this Qi Gong can do is give us a long, healthy, and peaceful life.

Connecting With Our True Nature 

It is vitally important that we use our heart to train, not just our body. We can train as regularly and as hard as we like but if our heart isn’t present then we will never improve our skill or get the benefit from Qi Gong or Kung Fu. Whether it’s Shaolin, Karate or Taekwondo, the aim of any martial arts is to awaken us to our true nature. Our true nature can only be found in the here and now. Our martial art helps  to plant us in the present moment. This can sometimes be uncomfortable because it confronts us with who we truly are. But once we’ve broken through our smaller self, Qigong helps us to go beyond our small individual selves and find a connection with the very fabric of the Universe. It does not give us anything new; it simply connects us with the body’s internal power and automatic wisdom that already exists within us.

If we train mindlessly then we may as will join a gym and watch TV while listening to music and running on the treadmill. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of training if all you want from your workout is to get fit but it’s certainly not the type of training which will increase our martial arts skill and power.

The Power of Concentration

The more we can concentrate, the more benefit we can gain from Qi Gong. Every movement of Xi Sui Jing is done from a sitting position, this sitting position helps us to develop patience.

When you begin to run through the movements, your mind will be busy at first. This is natural. But as you focus on the breath and the movement together this will calm the mind and you will begin to feel peaceful. This calming of the mind cleanses the mind. With a clean mind, the mind and body can then begin to work in harmony. Once the mind and body are working in harmony, the body can start to self-regulate
itself, unblocking the channels and preventing disease from building up in the body.

Our Body Is Our Own Doctor

This is why we say that our body is our own doctor, the Qi Gong gives us access to the medicine. But this all happens unconsciously. Our body will start to feel better of its own accord without us having to intervene in any way.

This has led many people to shun conventional medicine in favor of Qi Gong or other alternative medicines but I believe we should use the best of both worlds. If a person is suffering from an illness I recommend that they combine  Western medicine with Qi Gong so that it’s not an alternative approach but more of a complimentary approach.

The Challenge

There is a famous story in China about a Ch’an master who was famous for his meditation and a Shaolin martial artist who was famous for his martial arts. One day the Shaolin master challenged the Ch’an master as he belived his skill was much better than that of the Ch’an master. The Ch’an master chose a narrow ledge at the edge of a high mountain, one wrong step and the person would fall to their death. Because they were both unskilled in archery they decided it would be fair if they challenged themselves in this way. The Shaolin master went first, he stood at the edge of the mountain but when he placed the arrow into the bow he couldn’t stop himself from looking down and he became scared at the thought of plunging to his death. This fear meant that he failed to hit the target. The Ch’an master took the bow and arrow, stood at the edge of the mountain, and hit the target perfectly. The Shaolin master was amazed and asked him what his secret was so that he could improve his skill. The Ch’an master said, “No thinking. No reason. Just do.”

No thinking. No reason. Just do.

This is exactly what we must apply to our practice. EE Jin Jing makes our body like stone. Xi Sui Jing turns our body into a Buddha. But we need to practice and find this out for ourselves.

Qi Lifting

Higher level students learn Qi lifting which mixes internal and external together. They practice Qi and at the same time they use Qi. This kind of Qi Gong can only be transmitted master to master. This takes karma and the student needs to be ready. In China powerful businessmen and politicians learn this Qi Gong because they know that the health of their mind and body is the most important thing. But this higher level can never be reached without first learning the authentic Shaolin forms that I teach on my Qigong DVDs. Without learning these forms we can never reach the higher levels.

Shaolin Xi Sui Jing Qi Gong is taught on The Way Of Qi Gong Volume Two. 

Shaolin Xi Sui Jing and Ee Jin Gong Qigong

The most famous Qigong forms that come from the Shaolin Temple in China are called Xi Sui Jing and Ee Jin Gong. Ee Jin purifies the muscles and tendons and Xi Sui purifies the bone marrow. Shaolin monks have trained in these two forms for thousands of years and they continue to train in these forms because they know that this Qigong enables them to be their best at kung fu.

Two wings of a bird

I am always emphasising how important it is to train in both Qigong and kung fu. Or internal and external. Even if you are not a martial artist, for good health and longevity you should train in Qigong. It is like the two wings of a bird. Qigong helps you to stretch better, kick better and punch better. Not only does it increase your speed, power, and stamina but it also increases your concentration and balances your mind and body. It gives you the strength and foundation to practice intense physical training without the fear of burn out. Qigong insures our internal organs work properly, only when our internal organs work properly can we be at our most efficient. The Shaolin monks used Qigong to help them gain enlightenment, the Taoists to live the longest life possible. We can use Qigong to stay healthy and maximise the power of our martial art. You don’t need to do Shaolin kung fu to practice Qigong, you can do Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, what ever martial art’s you do, Qigong will take you to the peak of your power.

Shaolin Energy Massage

One important aspect of Xi Sui Jing and EE Jin Gong is the self-massage that we do when we’ve finished the form. At first we use a bamboo brush which has a hundred and eight bamboo rods. Massaging with the Shaolin energy brush create vibrations which relieve stress and tension in the muscles, assist in unblocking the  channels, and help the body to detox through the stimulation of the lymphatic system. It cleans the skin and helps the Qi and blood to flow properly. It acts as a natural battery charger for the body. If we are only interested in health then we continue to use this bamboo brush but if we are a martial artist then - when we move to Volume 3 of The Way of Qi Gong - we begin to use the metal brush.

Massage for fighters

When you get to this stage, it means you can use power to hit yourself and the power of vibration goes inside your bone marrow. This is one of the reasons why it cleans your body. If you want to be a fighter then you must use the iron brush to hit yourself. The stronger you are, the harder you can hit yourself and your body will feel happy. If your body can’t take the pain then it means there’s something wrong. You have to be very careful with this training as you don’t want to risk damaging your internal organs. There should never be any feelings of pain. If there are this means that your internal organs are not strong enough and you need to slow down, check your training programme and see where you are going wrong. You should never hit use the metal brush unless you are under the supervision of a qualified master.

Body of stone

The combination of Qigong and self-massage is enough to make our body strong like stone but a stone isn’t a weapon. So how do we go on to use our body of stone and turn it into a weapon? I come back again to the two wings of a bird. We need both internal and external. In this modern world, I feel that some people have lost the true meaning of Shaolin. They believe that all they need to do is focus on their fighting skills to be a good fighter, or they believe that all they need to do is focus on their Qigong and forget all about external. Or they think of Shaolin as something that looks nice but is useless. Shaolin does have performance in it but it should never be reduced to that or it becomes little more than a dance. A dance is not a martial art. A dance can not help us in the ring, it can not help us to defend ourselves, and neither can it help us to live a long and healthy life. But authentic Shaolin can. All we need to do is step onto the path and follow the steps that your master shows you or I demonstrate on my Shaolin Warrior series of DVDs.

House of health

Qigong is not a secret. It just takes practice. Focus on the breathing with the movement together. This is the key to unlocking the door. The Qigong forms are the blueprint for you to build your house with. Day by day, moment by moment your practice is the bricks that build your house of health.

It takes time and patience. When you master Qigong, your Qi begins to circle around your body from your head to your feet and back again.  You can then use your internal organs and your Qi to lift weight that wouldn’t be possible with muscle alone. This increases the feeling and power of the Qi just like we need water pressure for water to run through our taps, we practice with weights to increase the power of our Qi.

But this level of training can never be practiced alone but only with a qualified master where as Xi Sui Jing and EE Jin Gong and the Shaolin Energy Massage can all be learnt and mastered directly from my books or DVDs. These Qigong’s are not only safe but powerful. Even if done wrong, they can’t harm the body, it just means they are little more than a stretching exercise.
I believe that the practice of Qigong is as vital as eating and now that I’m thirty-six it’s only through my Qigong practice that I can continue to train in kung fu and keep my power, stamina and fitness level at a high level. If you are skeptical, then don’t take my word for it but discover for yourself  and see what Shaolin Qigong can do for you.