1. "Cleansing the Bone Marrow"
By circulating Chi in the Microcosmic Orbit and cleansing the "inner marrow" (which, as described in Chapter 1, increases the quantity of blood cells, a vital source of life-force), your system is cleansed of pollution. With the routes cleared, Chi flows freely to where it is needed and then it is said that the whole body is filled with Chi. When a person ages, the bone marrow begins to dry out and produces fewer blood cells. At that time, the body fills the empty space within the bones with fat. In order to fill the empty bones with renewed energy to revitalize the marrow to a youthful condition, we need to transfer sexual energy which can be stored in the bones while simultaneously burning out fat.
Cleansing the bone marrow, maintaining healthy organs and changing the tendons lead to a strengthening of the muscles, tendons and ligaments, a condition described as one in which the inside of the body is clean and the outside is strong. All three levels of Iron Shirt practice are involved with strengthening and rebuilding the fasciae, tendons and bone marrow.
2. "Changing the Tendons"
Using various methods, Chi can be gathered from internal organs and led out to the fasciae surrounding them whenever necessary. When sufficient Chi has been accumulated, it is guided out along the fasciae between muscle groups and finally to the tendons which themselves are included in fascial sheaths until the entire body is filled with energy.
Tendons connect muscles to bones, are stronger than muscles and last longer. Fewer cells and smaller blood supplies are required to maintain and develop the tendons. Iron Shirt is designed to strengthen and develop the tendons so that movement no longer depends strongly upon the muscles.
In Taoism your health is said to be impaired if your tendons are crooked, loose or weak. Diseased and crooked tendons will cause you to be thin and if the tendons are no longer resilient, this causes you to be easily fatigued as well. The fasciae can become restricted due to injury, resulting in scar tissue which is tougher and tends to contract and pull upon the surrounding tissues and tendons, impeding blood flow and interfering with the passage of Chi. Emotions can also be traumatic and can chronically alter your way of seeing the world and, thereby, the way in which you present yourself to the world. This is evident in many ways, most obviously by the way in which you hold yourself physically.
Fasciae and bone tendons take a longer time to grow and, when injured, take a much longer time to heal. When, however, the tendons are strong, relaxed, and long and full of strength, they are also full of large quantities of Chi and have ready access to more of it when needed. Once developed, they will be much stronger, last longer and work harder. They will use very little nutrients and will require very little maintenance.
Some therapists have worked on loosening what has become overly restricting fascial tissue, thus often liberating emotions and memories that had created a constant drain on a person's energy reserves. Sometimes the person experiences a new lease on life by being able to function with a range of freedom of motion that he might otherwise never have known.
As previously mentioned, "Changing the Tendons" and "Cleansing the Bone Marrow" will be dealt with further in Iron Shirt II and Iron Shirt III, respectively.
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