With practice, you may find that the six directional movements presented in this chapter can be practiced with the hands holding an imaginary ball of energy. This will allow you to learn how to make your movements particularly smooth, fluid, and harmonious. Both hands can naturally perform primary and secondary movements in synch with each other when holding the energy ball from two opposite sides. For example, when making a Forward Push with the left elbow, bring the left hand to the right shoulder as if it is resting on the energy ball that you support with the right hand from underneath. The right hand simultaneously makes a secondary movement of Backward Pull until you switch the hands around the energy ball, alternating the actions of your hands. As the hands slide around the surface of this Qi ball, the right hand now reaches the left shoulder making a secondary Forward Push with the right elbow while the left hand supports the energy ball from below performing a primary Backward Pull.
There are several ways to practice these movements. You can start by using one and the same elbow to perform the primary movements of Forward Push and Backward Pull while the opposite elbow is making only secondary movements. You can combine these movements with steps back and forth, making a tap with the foot before it makes a step. Tapping the ground as if bouncing with the ball of the foot off the floor helps generate greater waves flowing all the way to your elbows. The moment of tapping the ground with the foot would ideally coincide with the moment of switching the hands around your ball of energy.
Such timing would also allow you to make sure that the primary movement delivers the impact into the target a split-second before the stepping foot lands on the ground. The tap will delay that foot in the air for a spilt second, which is all you will need to reach the target with the elbow first. Without this delay, the energy of your Natural Step would drain through your foot into the ground instead of impacting the target, which is what would make you resort to using force instead of power.
Alternatively, you can switch from one arm to the other in performing primary movements. For example, moving forward with steps along a zigzag line, as if you are skating, allows you to practice Forward Push as a primary movement with alternating arms. The tap before each step becomes even more necessary in this case, because it enables you to synchronize your steps with the movements of the arms. Another example is going backwards with alternating Backward Pulls. The secondary movement of Forward Push should not be neglected here either, because, among other reasons, it is supposed to empower your primary movement.
Opening and Closing can also be practiced using the image of the Qi ball to facilitate the non-stop movement of the arms following a trajectory resembling the sign of infinity. Start with making Openings as primary movements on both sides alternating your Natural Steps from one side to the other. Coordinate the movements of your arms so that the energy ball comes up on the Centerline and goes down on your side and then comes back to the Centerline again and goes down on the other side. The arm making a secondary Closing movement continuously follows the other arm until the hands switch around the energy ball and trade roles. This moment of switching would ideally coincide with the tap of the foot that is ready to make another step sideways.
You may explore making primary movements of Opening and Closing with the same arm. Please notice that Closing is always done with a Natural Turn while the Opening requires a simple Natural Step sideways without any turning of the torso. This means you will gradually be turning around while practicing these movements. Make sure you switch to the opposite side and perform the same movements while gradually turning in the opposite direction to prevent getting dizzy. To complete this practice, explore Closing as your primary movement with alternating arms while turning around 180 degrees and doing Opening as a secondary movement. You may notice that tapping the floor with the rear foot makes it much easier to perform a Natural Turn and observe the same kind of timing as in Forward Push.
You can practice Downward Press and Upper Cut in a similar fashion, too. Imagine the energy ball in a shape of a round helmet on your head that you can twist around. Each hand can slide around the head from the back of the neck to the same-side shoulder and back. When you perform Downward Press with the right arm, your right hand moves to the right shoulder while your left hand slides behind the back of the neck as you make an Upper Cut with the left elbow; and vise versa. Once again, you may begin by practicing Downward Press as your primary movement with alternating arms. Do not forget to tap before making each step with the foot opposite the elbow performing Downward Press, which will help you lift your center of mass before descending down.
When you switch to practicing Upper Cut as your primary movement, imagine your targets positioned directly to your right and to your left so that you make 180-degree turns with each step. To make your energy field balanced, I suggest you alternate practicing Upper Cut and Downward Press as primary movements with the same arm while doing the secondary movements with the other arm. This will test your coordination and sense of alignment, because you will be turning almost 180 degrees from the higher target for the Upper Cut to the lower target on the other side for the Downward Press.
I hope you remember the Chinese phrase "Qi Dao Yi Dao." With practice, this ball of energy will become your magical ally providing you with guidance and power. Developing a reasonable degree of proficiency in the Harmonious Culture of Movement usually takes three to six months, depending on how much you practice and how quickly you learn. If you combine mastering these practices with receiving Qi Dao Coaching from me or another certified Qi Dao coach, you will be able to receive initiation into the practice of Empowerment. This would also make you a member of our Shamanie tribe of spiritual adventurers, who enjoy various opportunities to travel and practice together promoting each other's levels of mastery and awareness. For more information about the Qi Dao initiation, visit www.qidao.org/initiation.
The practice of Empowerment, which forms the foundation for more advanced Qi Dao practices, can be described as meditation on the movements that spontaneously follow the flow of the energy ball. Instead of moving the energy ball as you please, you will learn to let this field of energy move you in the most spontaneous and unpredictable ways. As I mentioned in the introduction to this book, dream being can be considered both a noun and a verb. The practice of Empowerment is like being in a lucid dream, knowing that everything manifests the way it should and enjoying the ride.
If you want to become an embodiment of being in the flow, you may need to fine-tune your energy awareness. You will find it fairly easy to start perceiving Qi while enjoying the first guided meditation called Lucid Daydreaming from the meditation CD entitled Qi Dao Initiation (which can be ordered online at www.qidao.org/cd101) guiding you to imagine experiencing whatever you can dream of. You can just engage your imagination and experiment with the basic Qi Dao movements while visualizing an energy ball between your hands. You can also boost your energy sensitivity by using a so-called Tai Chi Ruler or a short stick about one foot long. Move around holding its opposing ends between the centers of your palms, so that your hands are constantly a foot apart. It will be challenging to practice Upper Cut and Downward Press with the Tai Chi Ruler, because it will need to be moving side to side behind your head. For that reason, you may use a belt wrapped around your hands to keep them about one foot apart. After a few weeks or months of this practice, you may find you no longer need any device to aid you in feeling the ball of energy between your hands and sensing the flow of Qi.
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