The Martial School of Qigong (Wu Gong)
Over the last year my own personal Qigong practice has shifted from the Medical and Daoist approaches towards more of the Wu Gong methods. The reason for this is I am now a student of Tibetan Burning Palm Kung Fu under the guidance of Sifu Garry Hearfield of Warrior Body Buddha Mind. The journey into this art requires the time and work (gung) to fully appreciate its depths.
I have found the qigong methods in Tibetan Burning Palm quite enjoyable and stimulating compared to some of the more sedate Medical or Daoist methods. It may be due to the fact I like a bit more dynamic movement. To each his own. One should do what one is passionate about. If you hate the practice, find something else. The following is just a brief introduction to Martial Qigong.
Qigong development has always been about the borrowing,synthesizing and further developing and modifying ideas and methods from other disciplines. Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, Medical and Martial forms have all borrowed from one another and used each others methods to better themselves. For example, martial artists learned acupuncture points and meridian systems to understand the flow of qi, for both self healing and improve recovery as well as for striking specific points or cavities to further damage or kill an opponent by disrupting the qi. Classically these were called dian xue (pointing cavities) or dian mai (pointing vessels) or what many modern martial artists refer to as the darker arts of Dim Mak.
The Martial School of Qigong most popularly is traced back to Da Mo's arrival at the Shaolin Temple during the Liang Dynasty in China. He found the monks there had poor physical bodies and less than optimal health due to their sedate meditative practices. He wrote the Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic during this time and instituted mandatory physical and martial training in the monks. Soon they increased their health, built their bodies stronger and greatly enhanced their martial art power. Shaolin monks since that time have been known as legendary martial artists.
Martial qigong techniques continued to develop. This has even lead to the development of Kung Fu styles such as Tai Chi Chuan, Xing Yi and Ba Gua that use internal energy embedded within their movements.
The benefits of Martial Qigong are as follows:
- Greater physical conditioning leading to greater force and power development as well as to withstand physical stikes better. Iron Body/Iron Palm
- Develop "Spring Force" to maximize damage with strikes
- Improve health and healing capabilities. The same energy that can be used to devastate can also be used to heal. It is just a matter of Intent
- Improve vitality. Many of the methods emphasize the Kidneys.
- Facilitates better understanding of the vital points, cavities and meridians
Iron Shirt and Iron Palm are two popular methods that use both internal energy work and conditioning work to build a body that can better withstand blows and develop the strikes do deliver devastating damage. Other areas of the body such as head, groin and appendages also have similiar methods applied to them. The Iron Shirt and Iron palm methods require careful study and practice and should not be rushed to avoid serious injury.
Springy Force is another element to Martial Qigong. This is internal energy that couples with the physical interplay of tension and elasticity of the tissues. Combined they form 'springy force'. I think the image of a coiled rattle snake striking out encapsulates the idea. At the end point of this springy force is an impact strike that delivers greater than normal damage.
So this was just a quick summary of Martial Qigong. One of many elements that make up training for Kung Fu in all it's many branches. For those researching and practicing Qigong, explore the Martial Branch as well. You may find it holds many beneficial methods to incorporate in your own practices.
To your Health and Vitality,
For those interested in Warrior Body Buddha Mind. Here is the link: www.warriorbodybuddhamind.com
photo credit: bozzo2m <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/44703381@N06/4511504384">Shaolin</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>