SELECTION OF QIGONG QUESTION & ANSWERS APRIL 2011
Butterfly Dancing in Front of Flowers is one of the simplest and most powerful of Qigong Exercises. It is brilliant for ‘opening the heart’ which makes it very useful for overcoming illnesses like depression.
Q1: Since my balance is not terrific, when I do the Butterfly Dancing in front of Flowers, I find my
toes clenching to hold myself steady and thereby begins an almost full body clench. When you mention “relax shoulders, neck etc, I realize that I’ve been tensing them. In Al Simon’s Chifusion exercises, he tells one to stand farther apart if balance is an issue, but I’m not sure that is what I want to do here. I can definitely do the exercise and my balance is better since I was doing the Chifusion, but the tensing muscles makes me wonder what should be the correct form.
Also, if one forgets a part of the complete form i.e smiling from the heart before beginning the actual form, does one stop upon remembering and begin again from the beginning or what?
A:1 Feel free to widen your stance if you wish to.
If you forget to smile from the heart before starting the form, no problem. It doesn’t matter. Just remember to do it next time.
There is always a learning curve involved when being introduced to new material, so do your best and that’s good enough. The Qigong that you are practicing is very safe. It doesn’t matter if you miss a bit out here and there whilst learning, but don’t miss bits out deliberately – that’s different.
In week 04 of the Qigong Secrets Home Study Course I introduce you to the PERFECT system that I use with my students to help them get the benefits of Qigong, quicker and easier. How? Because it helps you to be confident that you know what comes next in your practice. So instead of stopping and thinking – ‘What now?’ you know.
This means you can focus on your practice and on developing the vital skills of Qigong.
Wuji Stance – makes sure you are standing upright and balanced before beginning your Qigong practice. This helps your Qi/energy to flow smoothly. As many ‘physical’ blockages to harmonious energy flow are caused by poor posture, this stance alone can bring you great benefit.
Q2: I would like you to comment on the stance. I have been doing the wuji form with legs slightly bent and slightly apart. That seems to help my balance, which I have been having a bit of trouble with this past year, and is the way I understood it from my teacher. I notice you keep your feet together. Any comments?
A2: With regards to Wuji stance, I teach it the way it was taught to me by my Qigong teacher – and that’s feet together, nose, sternum, belly button in a straight line. Weight evenly distributed between both feet and then evenly between heel and toe.
So you are stood upright and balanced. We cover Wuji stance in much more detail in week 05.
If you need to modify it slightly by having the feet slightly apart and the legs slightly bent, that’s fine. This is form detail.
More important than form detail is skill level. Do the forms to the best of your ability, but always pay most attention to developing skills.
I remember at one of the first lessons I attended with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, there was a student there whose form was terrible, and yet they seemed to be getting very good results from their Qigong practice.
I asked Sifu why their results were better than mine, even though my form was better – that’s when I was first introduced to the importance of skill over form.
Lifting The Sky – perhaps one of the most well known, and most practiced Qigong exercises in the world. From student to Qigong Master this exercise has so much to offer.
Q3: I’m enjoying progressing with my practice. I have two questions relating to my practice of tai chi chuan. If I practice a pattern like grasping the sparrows tail using the PERFECT method, can I get good results with it? Or would it be better to practice an exercise like lifting the sky?
A3: Taijiquan practiced correctly is Qigong. In that it is a composite of form, energy and mind. So practicing Grasping Sparrows Tail using PERFECT will be of great benefit to your health and wellbeing.
It doesn’t matter whether you practice Lifting the sky or another pattern. The form is the form. Qigong is a composite of form, energy and mind, with mind being the least important part. Many people practice Qigong form and Taiji form, and they get the benefits of form. I.e. gentle external exericse, a gentle stretch, increased blood flow. But they do not get the benefits of Qigong. i.e. overcoming so called ‘incurable diseases’, increased vitality, developing internal force, mental and spiritual cultivation.
Q4: I had a teacher of tai chi chuan once tell me that tai chi chuan was basically a martial art. In his opinion, if tai chi chuan is chi kung, then it’s not very good chi kung, or at least not relative to dedicated chi kung exercises like the 8 piece brocade, small universe, training of stances, etc. I am interested in your opinion on this issue.
A4: I agree with your Taijiquan teacher. Taijiquan is/was a most incredible martial art. But today it is mostly practiced as Taiji dance. I.e. there is little to no emphasis or practice of combat application.
My personal belief is that to gain the benefits of the past Taijiquan masters, you have to practice Taijiquan as a martial art and not a dance. That just seems like common sense to me.
So if you want the benefits of Qigong, practice Qigong. Qigong can give you all the benefits of Taijiquan and Kung Fu, minus one –> combat efficiency. Because contrary to what is written in many places on the web. Qigong is not a martial art. It can be of benefit to martial artists, especially for developing internal force, but it is not a martial art.
Q5:To make the most efficient progress, is it best to practice patterns that were meant to be chi kung, like the 18 lohan hands? Or is tai chi chuan a reasonable practice if somebody enjoys it?
A5: Personally I would recommend practicing Qigong to make the most efficient progress.
Q6: My second question is a little more involved and specific to my personal practice. I am interested in green dragon presents claws, in particular it’s use to develop internal force for tai chi chuan. In the wudang tai chi chuan set, GDPC is included. I’m curious whether it has any connection to tai chi chuan?
I’ve noted that many people who practice shaolin kung-fu focus on developing tiger claw force rather than dragon claw force. What’s your perspective on the pros and cons of each?
A6: I don’t consider myself qualified enough to answer this question as I don’t practice Taijiquan, and I only practice Shaolin Kung Fu for my own enjoyment. I am certainly not an expert on it. So it would be unwise for me to comment.
I do remember one of my very senior colleagues making the following comment:
“Snake likes to stay in contact, Dragon likes to brush past and two finger strike. Tiger likes to grip and tear”.
Whilst many Shaolin Kung Fu practitioners practice to develop Tiger Claw, there are many who practice to develop, Cosmos Palm, Golden Bell, Iron Shirt etc. Shaolin Kung Fu is rich in such martial skills.