Martial Arts And Chi From Abdomen

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This exercise helps you to regain conscious control of the muscles in your abdomen. The lower Dan Tien is the main residence of your Original Chi. The Chi in your Dan Tien can be led easily only when your abdomen is loose and relaxed. The abdominal exercises are probably the most important of all the internal Chi Kung practices.

Horizontal Separated Abdominal Muscles
Figure 3-3. Figure 3-4.

To practice this exercise, squat down in the Horse Stance. Without moving your thighs or upper body, use the waist muscles to move the abdomen around in a horizontal circle (Figure 3-7). Circle in one direction about ten times, and then in the other direction about ten times. If you hold one hand over your Lower Dan Tien and the other on your sacrum you may be able to focus

Figure 3-5. Figure 3-6.

Figure 3-7.

your attention better on the area you want to control.

In the beginning you may have difficulty making your body move the way you want it to, but if you keep practicing you will quickly learn how to do it. Once you can do the movement comfortably, make the circles larger and larger. Naturally, this will cause the muscles to tense somewhat and inhibit the Chi flow,

Figure 3-7.

your attention better on the area you want to control.

In the beginning you may have difficulty making your body move the way you want it to, but if you keep practicing you will quickly learn how to do it. Once you can do the movement comfortably, make the circles larger and larger. Naturally, this will cause the muscles to tense somewhat and inhibit the Chi flow, but the more you practice the sooner you will again be able to relax. After you have practiced for a while and can control your waist muscles easily, start making the circles smaller, and also start using your Yi to lead the Chi from the Dan Tien to move in these circles. The final goal is to have only a slight physical movement, but a strong movement of Chi.

There are four major benefits to this abdominal exercise. First, when your Lower Dan Tien area is loose, the Chi can flow in and out easily. This is especially important for martial Tai Chi practitioners, who use the Dan Tien as their main source of Chi. Second, when the abdominal area is loose, the Chi circulation in the large and small intestines will be smooth, and they will be able to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. If your body does not eliminate effectively, the absorption of nutrients will be hindered, and you may become sick. Third, when the abdominal area is loose, the Chi in the kidneys will circulate smoothly and the Original Essence stored in the kidneys can be converted more efficiently into Chi. In addition, when the kidney area is loosened, the kidney Chi can be led downward and upward to nourish the entire body. Fourth, these exercises eliminate Chi stagnation in the lower back, healing and preventing lower back pain.

b. Diaphragm:

Beneath your diaphragm is your stomach, on its right is your liver, and on its left is your spleen. Once you can comfortably do the movement in your lower abdomen, change the movement from horizontal to vertical, and extend it up to your diaphragm. The easiest way to loosen the area around the diaphragm is to use a wave-like motion between the perineum and the diaphragm (Figure 3-8). You may find it helpful when you practice this to place one hand on your Lower Dan Tien and your other hand above it with the thumb on the solar plexus. Use a forward and backward wave-like motion, flowing up to the diaphragm and down to the perineum and back. Practice ten times.

Next, continue the movement while turning your body slowly to one side and then to the other (Figure 3-9). This will slightly tense the muscles on one side and loosen them on the other, which will massage the internal organs. Repeat ten times.

This exercise loosens the muscles around the stomach, liver, gall bladder, and spleen, and therefore improves the Chi circulation there. It also trains you in using your mind to lead Chi from your Lower Dan Tien upward to the solar plexus area.

After loosening up the center portion of your body, extend the movement up to your chest. The wave-like movement starts in the abdomen, moves through the stomach and then up to the chest. You may find it easier to feel the movement if you hold one hand on your abdomen and the other lightly touching your chest (Figure 3-

Figure 3-8.

Figure 3-9.

Figure 3-9.

Wellness Martial Arts

Figure 3-10.

Figure 3-11.

10). After you have done the movement ten times, extend the movement up to your shoulders (Figure 3-11). Inhale when you move your shoulders backward and exhale when you move them forward. The inhalation and exhalation should be as deep as possible, and the entire chest should be very loose. Repeat the motion ten times.

Figure 3-12. Figure 3-13.

This exercise loosens up the chest and helps to regulate and improve the Chi circulation in the lungs. It also teaches martial Tai Chi practitioners to lead Chi to the shoulders in coordination with the body's movements. In Tai Chi martial applications, Jing (power) is generated by the legs, directed by the waist, and manifested by the hands. In order to do this, your body from the waist to the hands must be soft and connected like a whip. Only then will there be no stagnation to hold back the power. If you are interested in reading more about Tai Chi Jing, please refer to "Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, Vol. 1" by Dr. Yang.

Figure 3-12. Figure 3-13.

This exercise loosens up the chest and helps to regulate and improve the Chi circulation in the lungs. It also teaches martial Tai Chi practitioners to lead Chi to the shoulders in coordination with the body's movements. In Tai Chi martial applications, Jing (power) is generated by the legs, directed by the waist, and manifested by the hands. In order to do this, your body from the waist to the hands must be soft and connected like a whip. Only then will there be no stagnation to hold back the power. If you are interested in reading more about Tai Chi Jing, please refer to "Advanced Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, Vol. 1" by Dr. Yang.

Once you have completed the loosening up of the chest area, extend the motion to your arms and fingers. First practice the motion with both arms ten times, and then do each arm individually ten times. When you extend the movement to the arms you first generate the motion from the legs or the waist, and direct this power upward. It passes through the chest and shoulders, and finally reaches the arms (Figure 3-12). When you practice with one arm, you also twist your body slightly to direct the movement to the arm (Figure 3-13).

These exercises will loosen up every joint in your body from the waist to the fingers. These exercises are in fact the fundamental practice of Jing manifestation in Tai Chi Chuan.

Once you have loosened up your body, you can work on specific areas with special movements. All of the following movements are part of the fundamental training for Tai Chi Chuan. You should

Figure 3-14. Figure 3-15.

practice each movement until it is smooth and natural and you can feel the Chi starting to flow following the pattern of the movements.

2. Rotating the Wrists

First, rotate both wrists at the same time. The motion is generated by the legs or waist, moves upward through the chest and arms, and finally reaches the wrists. Hold your arms out in front of you, and rotate both hands first inward ten times (Figure 3-14), and then outward ten times (Figure 3-15). Next, rotate each wrist individually ten times in one direction (Figure 3-16) and then ten times in the other direction (Figure 3-17). Again, the movement is generated from the waist or legs, so that as the wrist turns, the whole body is also moving to generate power for the wrist.

3. Coiling Forward and Backward

Now extend the motion so that you are coiling your arms. The motion is still generated from the legs or waist, is directed upward and passes through the chest and shoulder, and finally generates the coiling motion of the arms. Start with your hands in front of your chest with the palms facing downward (Figure 3-18), then coil both arms forward (Figure 3-19) and then backward (Figure 3-20). Repeat ten times. Then coil the arms individually. Your right arm coils forward clockwise (Figures 3-21 and 3-22), and backward counterclockwise (Figures 3-23 and 3-24). The left arm coils counterclockwise forward and clockwise back. Exhale with the forward motion, and inhale when coiling your arm back. Do ten repetitions with each arm.

4. Settling the Wrists

This movement is used frequently in Tai Chi Chuan. Practice first with both hands, and then practice with each hand singly.

Practicing Taiji Ball

Figure 3-17.

Figure 3-16.

Figure 3-17.

Figure 3-18.

Figure 3-19.

Figure 3-18.

Figure 3-19.

Figure 3-22. Figure 3-23.

Again, the movement starts with the legs or waist and is directed up to the wrists. To practice using both hands, hold your arms out in front of you, with the palms down and the fingers pointing forward (Figure 3-25). Generate a coiling motion with your legs or waist and, as the motion reaches the hands, lower your wrists so that the palms face forward and the motion becomes a push forward with the palms

Figure 3-22. Figure 3-23.

Again, the movement starts with the legs or waist and is directed up to the wrists. To practice using both hands, hold your arms out in front of you, with the palms down and the fingers pointing forward (Figure 3-25). Generate a coiling motion with your legs or waist and, as the motion reaches the hands, lower your wrists so that the palms face forward and the motion becomes a push forward with the palms

Figure 3-24.

Figure 3-25.

Figure 3-24.

Figure 3-25.

Figure 3-26. Figure 3-27.

(Figure 3-26). When you practice single handed, you need to twist your body forward and backward slightly so that the pushing power can be directed to the pushing hand more efficiently (Figures 3-27 and 3-28). Practice the two hand press ten times and then each hand singly ten times.

Figure 3-28. Figure 3-29.

5. Rotating the Ball

Rotating the ball is one of the most basic exercises to connect your upper body together so that it moves as a unit. Imagine that you are holding a basketball, and rotate it every which way in front of your chest. As always, the motion starts with the legs or waist (Figure 3-29). After rotating the ball about ten times in front of your chest, move the imaginary ball down to in front of your abdomen and rotate it about ten times there (Figure 3-30). There is no fixed pattern for rotating the ball. As long as your arms and body move as a unit and you maintain the sense of holding a ball, you may rotate the ball any way you like. This exercise is an excellent way to thread the entire body together. A more complete explanation and several exercises for Tai Chi ball training will be discussed in the book "The Root of Tai Chi Chuan," which will be published by YMAA at a later date.

Figure 3-28. Figure 3-29.

5. Rotating the Ball

Rotating the ball is one of the most basic exercises to connect your upper body together so that it moves as a unit. Imagine that you are holding a basketball, and rotate it every which way in front of your chest. As always, the motion starts with the legs or waist (Figure 3-29). After rotating the ball about ten times in front of your chest, move the imaginary ball down to in front of your abdomen and rotate it about ten times there (Figure 3-30). There is no fixed pattern for rotating the ball. As long as your arms and body move as a unit and you maintain the sense of holding a ball, you may rotate the ball any way you like. This exercise is an excellent way to thread the entire body together. A more complete explanation and several exercises for Tai Chi ball training will be discussed in the book "The Root of Tai Chi Chuan," which will be published by YMAA at a later date.

6. Pushing to the Sides

Hold your arms extended to the sides with the fingers pointing to the sides (Figure 3-31). Generate a feeling of motion from the legs or waist and direct it out to the arms. When the motion reaches the hands, settle (lower) your wrists and press to the sides with your palms (Figure 3-32).

Although these exercises are used as warm-ups, if you add your Yi (intention) to each movement you will feel a strong Chi flow. If you are using your Yi to lead your Chi in a relaxed movement, you are already doing Tai Chi Chuan. Remember that these warm-up exercises are offered only as suggestions. They can start you off on the correct path for Tai Chi Chuan or Tai Chi Chi Kung, but once you

Figure 3-30.

Figure 3-31.

Figure 3-32.

are familiar with them, you may combine them with exercises from other sources or even create exercises of your own.

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