Da Mo (Figure 2-1), whose last name was Chadili •$•*)). and who was also known as Bodhidarma, was a prince of a small tribe in southern India. From the fragments of historical records that exist it is believed he was born about 483 A.D. At that time India was considered a spiritual center by the Chinese, since it was the source of Buddhism, which was becoming very influential in China. Many of the Chinese emperors either sent priests to India to study Buddhism and bring back scriptures, or else they invited Indian priests to come to China to preach. Da Mo was an invited priest.
He is considered by many to have been a bodhisattva, or an enlightened being who had renounced nirvana in order to save others. Briefly, Buddhism is a major religion based on the belief that Gautama, the Buddha, achieved nirvana, or perfect bliss and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, and taught how to achieve this state. Buddhists are divided into three principal groups practicing different versions of the Buddha's teaching, which are called the "Three Conveyances or San Sheng (-=-&). The first of these is Mahayana or Da Sheng (* fc), the Great
Vehicle, which includes Tibetan Buddhism and Chan (#) or Zen (&) Buddhism, which is very well known to the West. The second is Praktika or Zhong Sheng (t the Middle Way, which is the Buddhism of action, and is mostly practiced by wandering preachers. The third is Hinayana or Xiao Sheng (-1> £), the Lesser Conveyance, which is generally practiced by ascetic monks and aims for the personal achievement of enlightenment.
Da Mo was of the Mahayana school and came to China in 526 or 527 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Liang Wu of the Liang dynasty ■$•). He went first to the Guang Xiao Temple in Canton & & # The governor of Canton, Xiao Ang ( M $ ) recommended Da Mo to the emperor, who invited Da Mo to visit. The emperor, however, did not like Da Mo's Buddhist theory, and so Da Mo traveled to the Shaolin Temple 0*&^)(Figure 2-2) in Henan province (¡Tii?^) where he spent the rest of his life.
Figure 2-2. Shaolin Temple
The Shaolin Temple was built around 400 A.D. on the Shao Shi £) peak of Song Mountain Jj) in Deng Feng Xian fe), Henan province A % ), by order of Emperor Wei (ft). It was built for a Buddhist named Batuo (si K. & Sf ) for the purpose of preaching and worship. In the beginning no martial arts training was done by the monks.
When Da Mo arrived at the temple, he saw that the monks were generally in poor physical condition because of their lack of exercise. He was so distressed by the situation that he retired to meditate on the problem, and stayed in retirement for nine years (Figure 2-3). During that time he wrote two books—the Yi Jin Jing (Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic, ft fi At) and XiSuiJing (Marrow/Brain Washing Classic, fata ¿ft). After he came out of retirement, Da Mo continued to live in the Shaolin Temple until his death in 540 A.D. at the age of fifty-seven.
Lu You (& *), a poet of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1280 A.D., A £), wrote a poem describing Da Mo's personal philosophy:
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Feeling not disgusted by corwption and evil, Nor eager grasping after desire and gain, Sacrificing not wisdom for the company of fools, Nor abandoning wonder to preserve the truth, Reaching the great Dao without excessiueness, Attaining the Buddha heart without uindictiueness, Keeping not to the path of mere normal holiness, Transcendent of its own creation.
For more than fourteen hundred years, the monks of the Shaolin Temple have trained using the Da Mo Wai Dan exercises. These exercises used to be secret, and only in the twentieth century have they become popularly known and used by the Chinese people. These exercises are easy and their benefits are experienced in a short time. The Shaolin monks practice these exercises not just to circulate Qi and improve their health, but also to build their internal power by concentrating Qi to affect the appropriate muscles. Because these exercises are moving Wai Dan, there is the risk of San Gong or Energy Dispersion, as mentioned earlier. To avoid San Gong, the monks also practice Nei Dan meditation to keep their Qi channels clear after they stop practicing the Da Mo exercises.
When practicing the Da Mo exercises, find a place with clean air, stand facing the east with your back relaxed and naturally straight, and your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. Facing the east takes advantage of the earth's rotation and the energy flow from the sun. Keeping the legs apart will relax the legs and thighs during practice. Keep your mouth closed and touch your palate with the tip of the tongue without strain. In Chinese meditation this touch is called Da Qiao & ) or Building the Bridge because it connects the Yin and Yang circulation (a detailed explanation of this will follow in chapter 3). Saliva will accumulate in your mouth, swallow it to keep your throat from getting dry.
The key to successful practice of this exercise is concentrating on the area being exercised, and concentrating on your breath. Without this concentration, the original goal of Qi circulation will be lost and the exercise will be in vain.
There are several circumstances when practice should be avoided. Do not practice when you are very hungry or too full. If you are very hungry it interferes with proper concentration. If you have eaten, wait at least thirty minutes, and preferably one hour before practicing so that the Qi is not so concentrated in the digestive system. Avoid practicing one day before or after having sex. Do not practice when you are so tired that your attention wanders uncontrollably Do not practice after drinking alcohol. And finally, do not practice when you are very worried, for it will be too difficult to concentrate.
The forms should be done continuously, one after the other, in order to conserve the energy you build up. For example, the first form will build up the energy at the wrist. The second form will transfer the energy already built up at the wrist to the fingers and palms while continuing to build up energy. The third form will transfer the energy from the palms and wrists to the arms, and so forth.
Repeat each form fifty times. A repetition consists of inhaling while relaxing the muscle or limb and then exhaling while imagining that you are tightening the muscle and imagining energy flowing to that area. The muscles may be slightly tensed. The arms should not be fully extended in these forms. After fifty repetitions, begin the next form in the sequence without stopping.
Beginners may find it hard to complete more than five forms if they do fifty repetitions of each form. Do not be concerned. Five forms is a good number to practice because this means a practice session will take approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. Alternatively, you can practice all twelve forms and do fewer repetitions of each. For example, twenty repetitions of each form of the complete Da Mo set would take approximately twenty minutes. If you practice once or twice a day, you should be able to complete the entire form in six months. If you continue this training for three years, you can build a tremendous amount of power and energy. These exercises will increase the nerve and muscle efficiency so they can be used to their maximum in martial arts. If you are practicing for health purposes only, five forms daily is sufficient.
Form 1 (Figure 2-4). Keep your hands beside your body with the palms open and facing down, fingertips pointing forward. Keep the elbows bent. Imagine pushing the palms down and lifting your fingers backward when exhaling, and relax them when inhaling. This form will build the Qi or energy at the wrist area, and your palms and wrists should feel warm after fifty repetitions.
V* Figure 2-4 Figure 2-5
Form 2 (Figure 2-5). Without moving your arms, make fists with palms fac-¿' ing down and thumbs extended toward the body. Imagine tightening your fists and pushing the thumbs backwards when exhaling, and then relax when inhaling. Keep your wrists bent to retain the energy built up in the first form.
Form 3 (Figure 2-6). Again without moving your arms, turn the fists so that the palms face each other, and place the thumbs over the fingers, like a normal fist. Imagine tightening your fists when exhaling, and relax when inhaling. The muscles and nerves of the arms will be stimulated and energy will accumulate there.
Form 4 (Figure 2-7). Extend your arms straight forward at shoulder height, palms still facing each other. Making normal fists, imagine tightening when exhaling, and then relaxing when inhaling. This will build up energy in the shoulders and chest.
Form 5 (Figure 2-8). Lift your arms straight up, palms facing each other, keeping the fists. Imagine tightening the fists when exhaling and relaxing when inhaling. This builds energy in the shoulders, neck and sides.
Form 6 (Figure 2-9). Lower your arms so that the upper arms are parallel to the ground, the elbows are bent, and your fists are by your ears. The palms face forward. Imagine tightening the fists when exhaling, and relaxing when inhaling. This builds energy in the sides, chest, and upper arms.
Figure 2-10 Figure 2-11
Form 7 (Figure 2-10). Extend the arms straight out to the sides with the palms facing forward. Imagine tightening your fists when exhaling and relaxing them when inhaling. This form will build energy in the shoulders, chest, and back.
Form 8 (Figure 2-11). Hold your arms in front of your body at shoulder height with the palms facing in, and your elbows slightly bent to create a rounded effect with the arms. Imagine tightening the fists and guiding the accumulated energy through the arms to the fists when exhaling; relax when inhaling.
Form 9 (Figure 2-12). Pull your fists toward your body, bending the elbows. Keep your fists just in front of your face, with the palms facing out. Imagine tightening your fists when exhaling, and then relax when inhaling. This form is similar to Form 6, but the fists are closer together and forward, so a different set of muscles is stressed. This form intensifies the flow of energy through the arms.
Form 10 (Figure 2-13). Lift your forearms vertically. Your palms face forward and your upper arms are out to the sides and parallel with the floor. Imagine tightening your fists when exhaling, and then relax when inhaling. This form will circulate the energy built up in the shoulders.
Form 11 (Figure 2-14). Keeping your elbows bent, lower your fists until they are in front of the navel, palms down. Imagine tightening your fists, and guide the energy to circulate in the arms when exhaling. Relax when inhaling. This is the first recovery form.
Form 12 (Figure 2-15). Hold your arms straight out in front of your body. Open your hands so that your palms face up. Imagine lifting up when exhaling, and then relax when inhaling. This is the second recovery form.
After practicing, stand for a few minutes with your arms hanging loosely at your sides. You can also lie down and relax completely. Breathe regularly, relax, and feel the energy redistribute itself.
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