Monday, July 14, 2014

Chi kung training for mobility

We stretch because we want to increase our mobility. The most important areas that a practitioner of any sports wants to tackle are the mobility of his shoulder and hip joints. When I was a boy, my father told me that it was a heart-breaking scene, when he was a young boy, seeing kids trained for mobility in the Cantonese opera group his younger uncle ran in Canton (Guangzhou). That was a forced kind of stretching. The quickest and most effective method for kids, and most painful too – all the kids cried, my father told me. For adults training for mobility for a fitter body and mind, fortunately there is a better way – chi stretching.

The essence of training for mobility is relaxing, lengthening and strengthening each piece of muscle around a targeted joint. The degree of flexibility required depends on the objective of our training. The gist of learning stretching is to learn a method (or methods) that can do the relaxing, lengthening and strengthening. Forced splitting and chi stretching are only two methods out of many. The former is most suitable for kids with an objective for maximum flexibility while the latter is most suitable for adults who want to achieve good (not maximum) flexibility while training for whole body fitness at the same time. I shall explain the latter further below.

Tai chi and chi kung is all abouit training our internal sensitivity. When we say chi flowing stronger inside our body we also mean we can feel the tiny bits of individual muscles and muscle/body tissue groups. When we have achieve a heightened level of chi sensitivity we can feel the more targeted or isolated muscles that we need to focus our attention on. And with each hurdle being overcome, we can feel another, deeper, level of blockages (muscles that need to be tampered) that we should work on. This understanding is most important in the training of flexibility the chi kung way. In order to do chi-flexibility training, you must begin with an initial training to cultivate your chi sensitivity. Some training of zhan zhuang is the best way to achieve this initial training objective.

Assuming that you have achieved a certain level of chi sensitivity (which might take about six months’ training time), you can do your own healing. While doing your regular tai chi or chi kung exercises, you should start focusing on identifying specific area of blockages in your body, and you target them for healing. In other words, chi flexibility can be included into your regular training, with different mind-focusing during the exercise.

How to heal (open/strength 松沉) your blockages? It is by synchronizing your breathing with the specific blocked area(s). By single-mindedly focusing on the mechanism of your breathing (abdominal breathing that activates both your diaphragm and your pelvic floor muscles, with your Dantian [a few inches behind your belly button, the exact location varies with individuals] as your focused power point) and your blocked area, you will be able to use your Dantian powerhouse to gradually open your blockage. Synchronization is the key, learning from a teacher will be helpful.

It is a two step method that has to be trained in that order. That means if you have not been trained to have a certain level of chi sensitivity, you cannot be trained using the healing method as taught above. Needless to say, having learned the training method itself is only the beginning. In my father’s day it was called entering the door (入門). And an essential quality for a student to called inner circle student (入室弟子) was that he has entered the door. Entering the door is not everything. It is only the beginning a fruitful journey.

No pain no gain?

1 comment:

  1. Until recently considered taboo amongst polite society, healing meditation is featuring more and more in the ideals of the young and upwardly mobile. Since it was first compared to antidisestablishmentarianism much has been said concerning healing meditation by socialists, who are likely to form a major stronghold in the inevitable battle for hearts and minds. At the heart of the subject are a number of key factors. I plan to examine each of these factors in detail and and asses their importance.

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