Yi Quan or the mentality Chuan, also called Da cheng Quan, was created by Wang Xiangzhai during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908) of the Qing Dynasty. Wang (1885-1963) was born in Shenxian County in Hebei Province. From a young age, he followed Xingyi Quan master, Guo Yunshen to learn the art. After years of hard practice, Wang mastered the art of Xingyi Quan, got its gist, and ventured off the track to create Yi Quan by absorbing the suppleness of Tai Chi Quan, and the agility of Bagua Zhang.
Yi Quan centers on standing stances and uses the mind to guide the movements and actions in order to achieve the coordination and cooperation between the mind, the body and the external world. It stresses the development of energy and potential of the human body. The mentality boxers believe that looseness and tightness form the basic contradiction of the movements of the human body. The physical qualities-power, speed, agility, coordination and endurance-are all conditioned by the looseness and tightness of the muscles. Yi Quan, therefore, is intended to solve the question of how to correctly control and use looseness and tightness through practice. When we talk of looseness or tightness, we talk not only of loose or tight muscles but also of a loose or tight mind. The latter is in fact more significant. Therefore, this style of Chuan came to be called the mentality Chuan (Yi Quan).
The major features of mentality Chuan lie in the fact that it does not have fixed routines and that it stresses mental function. It requires relaxation, concentration and calmness-its movements are like running water, while its standstills are like floating air. It passes explosive forces throughout the body. Mentality boxers do not expose their bodies to the attacks of the opponent during a fight, nor do they display their thoughts. They seldom generate power but when they do they do it completely and thoroughly and often benefit from the force of the opponent.
XING YI QUAN
Theory 1- The Bodiharma from India created Xin Yi Quan.
In 527 AD the Bodiharma came to China from India. He went to the Shaolin Temple at Songshan and meditated facing a wall for nine years. In the years after his death, a number of Martial Arts’ techniques were attributed to the Bodiharma, including Xin Yi Quan. Evidence of this can be seen in “The origins of Xing Yi Quan” by Ling Shan Qing (1928), in which he stated that “In the time of the six dynasties, the Bodiharma came to China to spread the Martial Arts of the Western regions (i.e. India)…the styles he taught included Xin Yi Quan”.
Ling Shan Qing’s view was the accepted theory with contemporary scholars until 1930 when Xu Zhe Dong presented his “A brief account of Chinese Martial Arts” and Tang Hao produced his “An investigation of Shaolin and Wudang”. They suggested that Chinese Martial Arts had nothing to do with the Bodiharma and claims that he created styles were “counterfeit”. They also proposed that claims that Zhang San Feng practiced Xing Yi Quan were equally false.
None of the ancient books recounting the life of the Bodiharma mention him creating Xin Yi Quan. And none of the ancient texts of Xin Yi Quan even mention the name of the Bodiharma. In terms of the actual nature of Xin Yi Quan, a close look at the basic philosophy behind it reveals that it is firmly based on traditional Chinese philosophy. The principles of Internal Kung Fu are based on “The Book of Changes” from the Zhou Dynasty (1027-777B.C.). The 5 elements fists are based on the theories of yin and yang and the 5 elements, which are again theories from the Zhou dynasty, while the existence in the Chinese psyche of the 12 animals, e.g. dragon, tiger, snake, horse, monkey, chicken etc., can be traced back to the ceremonies of early tribal societies.
Considering that the Bodiharma “came to China to spread the Martial Arts of the Western regions” it is strange that the Arts do not contain any Indian characteristics and are so undeniably Chinese in nature. And considering the short amount of time the Bodiharma was in China, is it possible that he would be able to take the essence of ancient Chinese culture and create a Martial Art with wholly Chinese characteristics? It is also important to remember that the Boddiharma was facing a wall meditating for the majority of his stay in China, so he did not have the time to create a complex Martial Arts system which incorporated aspects of ancient Chinese philosophy. The issue of time is a very important aspect in the investigation of the origins of Chinese Martial Arts’ styles. Without ample time, it is not possible for someone to be able to invent a complex style.
Theory 2: General Yue Fei created Xin Yi Quan
Even today, people still propagate the theory that General Yue Fei of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) created Xin Yi Quan and Xing Yi Quan. This fallacy has can be traced back several hundred years where texts attribute the invention of Xin Yi Quan to Yue Fei. It was not, however, until the years of the Chinese Republic, that scholars, led by Xu Zhe Dong, started to question the viability of this theory.
Study of the ancient text “The complete works on Yue Fei” offers a description of the martial arts study of Yue Fei, revealing that his martial ability was attained before he was 19 years old. Historical evidence states that the following 19 years of Yue Fei’s life, before his death at 36, were full of tension and war. Wushu scholars argue that Yue Fei would not have been able to create a complex Martial Art before he was 19, and the war filled years that made up the second year of his life would not have left Yue Fei with enough time or energy to develop a complex Martial Art. Another point made by scholars is that it is surprising that none of the soldiers under Yue Fei’s command learnt Xin Yi, and it did not resurface until 500 years later.
When considering the position that Yue Fei holds in the heart of the Chinese people, even today, it is easy to understand why people want to attribute the invention of Kung Fu styles to one of the great heroes of Chinese history. For one, it makes the style seem more important- who wants to learn a style created by an everyday guy, when you can learn the style of a heroic general idealized in a romantic tradition?
However, the evidence suggests that Xin Yi Quan was indeed created by an everyday guy. The inventor of Xin Yi Quan himself was aware of the difficulty in getting people to take a new style seriously, and actually was the first person to say it was the creation of Yue Fei.
Theory 3: Ji Ji Ke created Xin Yi Quan
Over the last 20 years, this theory has become the most widely accepted theory in the Xin Yi/Xing Yi Quan world. History states that Ji Ji Ke (also known as Ji Long Feng) started his Martial Arts training at the age of 13.
When he as 20 he went to Shaolin to study for 10 years. The story goes that Shaolin offered Ji Ji Ke a teaching position, but at the same time, many figures who were fighting against the newly instated Manchu Qing dynasty, gathered at Shaolin during their flight from the Qing armies. Ji Ji Ke was then roused by the spirit to reinstate the defeated Han Ming dynasty and committed himself to the rebel cause, thus leaving Shaolin to start his journeys around China. However, this vision of Ji Ji Ke as the patriotic rebel who invented a style to fight the oppressive Qing dynasty again might be fiction intended by his followers to romanticize Ji Ji Ke and to ensure that people took more notice of the style. Ji Ji Ke recounted the story of how he invented Xin Yi Quan in his book “The techniques of Ji Ji Ke”:
“I was going through very hard times. I had nowhere to live so I found an abandoned courtyard in the countryside and made one of the rooms habitable. At night I was often woken by the sound of an animal calling in the darkness. One night I was prepared to kill the wild animal, when I noticed a light shining from out of the other rooms in the courtyard. I climbed in through the window, and, on lighting an oil lamp, saw that the room was covered in a thick layer of dust. There was a light shining from a gap in the dust, and when I brushed it away, I found a sword and a box. I pulled the sword from its sheath, and saw that the inscription read “Yue Fei of Tang Yin”, but the sword itself did not have a name. I thus knew the owner of the sword. Inside the box I found a scroll, titled “Liu He Quan” (Six Harmonies Fists). The scroll explained the principles of the Five Elements, Yin and Yang, emptiness and form, advance and retreat, and I knew I was looking at a highly valuable description of a unique Martial Art. I practiced the art described in the scroll for 10 years, and realized that technique lies in the Six Harmonies, attack and defense lie with the 5 elements and the 10 animals (Xin Yi Quan only has 10 animals), and the movement of the mind (Xin) is called Intention (Yi) and Intention controls movement.”
So at the start of Xin Yi Quan’s life, even its own creator was saying that it was the work of Yue Fei.
Ji Ji Ke, before he went to Shaolin to study, was already proficient at Martial Arts. By the end of his stay at Shaolin he had already reached a very high level. At Shaolin he would have come into contact with various elements of Chinese philosophy, including yin and yang, the Five Elements, the Six Harmonies and so on. Shaolin also had five style of animal fist play, created by Bai Yu Feng back in the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 AD); Dragon, Tiger, Leopard, Snake and Crane. One the basis of his experience, Ji Ji Ke was able to create the Five Elements Fists and the 10 animals. It is also important to note here the large role Shaolin Kung Fu played in the invention of Xin Yi Quan. If you trace the origins of Xing Yi Quan back to the source, you will find yourself at Shaolin. As the saying goes “Shaolin is the home of all martial arts”.
As we said before, the creation of a Martial Art requires considerable time and effort. Ji Ji Ke’s experience can be split into three sections: his time practicing Kung Fu at home, his study at Shaolin, and his journeys around China. It was only in the later stage that Ji Ji Ke’s technique would have been mature enough for him to be able to develop his own style, and it was fortunate that he had time to focus so much on his martial arts. Without sufficient time, Ji Ji Ke would not have been able to create a new style of martial art.
The first recorded acknowledgement of Xin Yi Quan is seen in “A Query of to the origins of Fist styles” written by Wang Zi Cheng in 1735. “There are many styles of fist play, and the creators of them are largely unknown, but we do know that Liu He Quan originated in Shan Xi province and was taught by two members of the Ji family, Ji Long and Ji Feng, at the end of the Ming dynasty…” The author obviously made a mistake when he recorded Ji Ji Ke’s other name, Ji Long Feng, as ‘Ji Long’, but this is the first evidence in writing that ji Ji Ke created Xin Yi Quan.
The Evolution of Xing Yi Quan from Xin Yi Quan:
In order to understand how Xin Yi Quan evolved into Xing Yi Quan, it is necessary to look at the students of Ji Ji Ke and the roles they played in Xin Yi Quan’s development.
Cao Ji Wu
In 1750, Dai Long Bang, in “The Six Harmonies Fists” stated “Ji Ji Ke, also known as Ji Long Feng, born at the end of the Ming Dynasty, discovered the text of Yue Fei, and taught Cao Ji Wu in Qiu Pu”. From this text we have confirmation that Cao Ji Wu was the first student of Ji Ji Ke.
Cao Ji Wu was born in 1665 and studied with Ji Ji Ke for 12 years. In Chi Zhou, Cao Ji Wu taught Dai Long Bang, author of the statement above.
Dai Long Bang and his creation of two new animal forms.
Dao Long Bang studied what Ji Ji Ke had passed on to Cao Ji Wu, and received some of the works of Ji Ji Ke including “Fighting theory- a summary of the 10 techniques” and “The techniques of Ji Ji Ke”. In Chi Zhou, Dai Long Bang often practiced by the Yang Zi river. It was here he observed the “Tuo” (Chinese alligator) using its front and back legs to power through the water. This gave rise to “Tuo Xing”. Today it is still unclear as to what a “Tuo“ is, because some claim that it alligators did not exist. Some believe that a “Tuo” was a water boatman insect, skating on the water’s surface, so the movement imitates the insects coordinated movement of its front and back legs. Dai Long Bang also observed the movements of a “Tai” (a type of fish).
The government bans Kung Fu practice
Due to the Han people resisting the Manchu Qing government, the government banned the practice of Kung Fu in 1727. Therefore, when Dai Long Bang returned to his home in Shanxi, he only passed on his techniques to his immediate family. In 1801, Dai Long Bang’s dying words to his son, Dai Wen Xiong, were “Xin Yi Quan can not be passed on to outsiders”. Therefore, due to Dai Wen Xiong’s respect for his father’s dying words, Xin Yi was kept a secret for 38 years. As a result, Xin Yi also became known as “The Dai Family style” and some people have accredited the creation of Xin Yi to Dai Long Bang. However, we have proof from Dai Long Bang himself, in his book “The Six harmonies fists”, that he did not create Xin Yi Quan.
Li Lao Nong (Li Luo Neng)
In 1836 Li Lao Nong left his family to travel to Shanxi province to learn “The Dai family style” from the renowned Dai Wen Xiong. The fact that Li Lao Nong left his family, traveled hundreds of miles, and stayed despite the repeated refusal of Dai Wen Xiong to accept him as his student, is testament to Li Lao Nong’s determination and the reputation that Xin Yi already had. Rather than give up and go home, Li Luo Nong found a plot of land to grow vegetables, and everyday he would deliver them to the Dai family free of charge. Dai Wen Xiong gradually saw the sincerity of Li Lao Nong, and, on his mother’s insistence, finally accepted Li Lao Nong after three years of waiting. This history is documented in Li Guang Xiang’s “The Essence of Xin Yi” (1895) and many other books document that Li Lao Nong learnt Xin Yi from Dai Wen Xiong.
Che Yi Zhai (1833-1914)
After leaving Dai Wen Xiong, Li Lao Nong moved to Tai Gu to be a bodyguard at the request of the wealthy Meng Bo. It was here that Li Lao Nong met Che Yi Zhai (a.k.a. Che Er) and once he had the permission of Dai Wen Xiong, started teaching him in 1856. Li Lao Nong also started teaching his boss, Meng Bo. In 1863, because Li Lao Nong was busy with bodyguard work, Che Er went to study from Dai Wen Xiong.
Xing Yi Quan is born
After the death of Dai Wen Xiong, Che Er, who had received the text “The six Harmonies Fists” written by Dai Long Bang, worked with his master and ‘brothers’ including Jia Yun Xiang, and Li Guang Xiang to research and improve Xin Yi Quan.
Li Guang Xiang (1845-1929)
Through their research of “Xin” (Mind) and “Xing” (Form) they came to the conclusion that “Xin” was the internal mind, while “Xing Yi” incorporated “External form” and “Mind Intention” and was thus the unity of internal and external. It was Li Lao Nong who first suggested that the word “Xin” be changed to “Xing” as he believed it better represented the principles of “Xin Yi Quan”.
The first Xing Yi form
In 1866 Che Er created the first Xing Yi form called “The Five Elements Canon”. After Li Lao Nong returned to his old home, Che Er continued to refine Xing Yi and created a set of two people practice routines. As Che Er created more and more, the style become more popular in Tai Gu and by the beginning of the reign of Guang Xu, Xing Yi had spread to Taiyuan, Yuci, Xu Gou, Ping Yao and other areas of Shanxi. With most of the Xing Yi masters living in Tai Gu, Tai Gu became known as the “The home of Xing Yi” and the Tai Gu masters were instrumental in ensuring that Xing yi earned its place as one of the “Four famous styles” (Shaolin, Tai Ji, Ba Gua, Xing Yi)
Li Cun Yi
Li Cun Yi first went to Tai Gu in 1898 to study from Che Yi Zhai (Che Er). He returned in 1900, after the failure of the Boxer Rebellion, looking for a place to hide. Che Er even got him a job as a security guard in Meng’s household. During his stay there, Che Er taught Li Cun Yi everything he knew. Song Shi Rong passed on to him the “4 channels internal Kung Fu”.
In 1911, Li Cun Yi moved to Tian Jin, a major port city to the east of Beijing, where he formed “The Martial Artists’ Association of China”, spreading the teaching of Xing Yi. As the reputation of Xing Yi grew, so did the its number of students, and the practice of Xing Yi spread all over northern China, splitting into various schools such as the He Bei school, The He Nan school (which only has 10 animals) , the Shan Xi school and the Shaan Xi school. Each of these schools have their own characteristics.
Despite the continued threat to the existence of Xing Yi in the twentieth century, with war and revolution, Xing Yi was able to survive, and today Xing Yi is as alive as ever before, with martial artists researching and refining techniques. Like Ba Gua, Xing Yi is still a maturing style, and martial artists today are able to continue and add to the rich tradition of the Tai Gu forefathers.
The art is divided into two main systems, the Ten Animal and Five Element respectively. The Five Element system is further divided into two major branches, the Hebei and Shanxi styles. The Ten animal style is closest to the original Xin Yi Liu He Quan in form and practice. The movements in the forms are patterned after the spirit of various animals in combat, including the:
The Five Element based systems have five basic forms:
These elements are used as the foundation of the art. These basic energies are later expanded into Twelve Animal forms which include variations of the animal forms found in the Ten Animal styles as well as two additional animals:
The Tai (a mythical bird)
The Tuo (a type of water lizard, akin to the aligator).
Training in all systems centers on repetitive practice of single movements which are later combined into more complicated linked forms.
The direction of movement in Xingyiquan forms is predominately linear. Practitioners “walk” through the forms coordinating the motions of their entire bodies into one focused flow. The hands, feet and torso all “arrive” together and the nose, front hand and front foot are along one verticle line when viewed from the front (san jian xiang jiao). The arms are held in front of the body and the practitioner lines up his or her centerline with opponent’s centerline. A familiar adage of Xingyiquan is that “the hands do not leave the (area of the) heart and the elbows do not leave the ribs.” There are few kicks in the style and the techniques are of a predominately percussive nature. Great emphasis is placed upon the ability to generate power with the whole body and focus it into one pulse which is released in a sudden burst.
Xingyi is characteristically aggressive in nature and prefers to move into the opponent with a decisive blow at the earliest opportunity. The style prizes economy of motion and the concept of simultaneous attack and defense. As the name of the style implies, the form or “shape” of the movements is the outward, physical manifestation of the “shape” of one’s intent. A fundamental principle underlying all styles of Xingyiquan is that the mind controls and leads the movement of the body.
Training in Henan (Ten Animal) Xin Yi Liu He Quan includes basic movements designed to condition and develop the striking ability of the “Seven Stars” (the head, shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, knees and feet). From there the student will progress to learning the basic animal forms. Form practice consists of repeating single movements while walking foward in various straight line patterns. Later, the single movements are combined into linked forms. The techniques are relatively simple and straightforeward and rely on the ability to generate force with almost any part of the body (the Seven Stars). Also included at more advanced levels are weapons forms (including the straight sword, staff and spear).
The Five Element based styles of Xingyiquan (Shanxi and Hebei) traditionally begin training with stance keeping (Zhan Zhuang). The fundamental posture is called “San Ti” (Three Bodies) or “San Cai” (Three Powers, refering to heaven, earth and man). It is from this posture that all of the movements in the style are created and most teachers place great emphasis upon it. After stance keeping the student begins to learn the Five Elements (Wu Xing). These are the basic movements of the art and express all the possible combinations of motion which produce percussive power. After a certain level of proficiency is acquired in the practice of the Five Elements, the student goes on to learn the Twelve Animal and linked forms. The Twelve Animal forms are variations of the Five Elements expressed through the format of the spirit of animals in combat. There are several two-person combat forms which teach the student the correct methods of attack and defense and the applications of the techniques practiced in the solo forms. Five Element based styles also include weapons training (the same weapons as the Henan styles).
As mentioned above, Xingyiquan is divided into three related yet distinct styles:
Henan Xin Yi Liu He Quan
Henan Xin Yi Liu He Quan is characterized by powerful swinging movements of the arms and the ability to strike effectively with every part of the body. This system is very powerful and aggressive in nature and the movements are simple and straightforeward.
Hebei style Five Element Xingyiquan emphasizes larger and more extended postures, strict and precise movements and powerful palm and fist strikes.
Shanxi style Five Element Xingyiquan is characterized by smaller postures with the arms held closer to the body, light and agile footwork and a relatively “softer” approach to applying technique (Shanxi Xingyi places a greater emphasis on evasiveness than the other styles).
Dachengquan (Yiquan) is an internal martial art which shares many of the same principles of Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang.
The Great Accomplishment
Da Cheng Chuan, the Great Accomplishment, is widely regarded as the most powerful of all Chinese martial arts. The practice of Da Cheng Chuan develops the full spectrum of human energy: health, martial arts, philosophy and personality. Da Cheng Chuan’s foundation is an age-old Chi Kung style: Zhan Zhuang, Standing Like a Tree. An increasing number of people of all ages and from all walks of life worldwide are now practising this profound art and experiencing its benefits.
The Great Accomplishment Lineage
In the summer of 1990, a delegation of more than 40 Da Cheng Chuan practitioners from 15 countries was brought to China by two internationally known masters of the art: Master Lam Kam Chuen and Master Henry Look. The following report by Richard Reoch takes you on the journey to the sources of Da Cheng Chuan.
Please visit the Zhan Zhuang Qi Gong pages at http://www.yiquanbrasil.wordpress.com for an introduction into Zhan Zhuang Chi Kung, the foundation of Da Cheng Chuan, and for details of current events.
A Brief History of Dachengquan
Wang Xiangzhai was a native of Shenxian County, Hebei Province. As a child he was poor in health and at he age of 14 he began his lifelong study of the martial arts with Guo Yunseng, first learning Xingyiquan. After the death of Master Guo, the 20 year old Wang Xiangzhai decided to travel the country seeking competent teachers and helpful friends to help him to perfect his skills. Important among his encounters was his meeting with Taijiquan master Yang Shaohou and Bagua master Liu Fengchun. Learning from each of them proved of great value to his founding of Dachengquan many years later.
As Mr. Wang rose to fame in the 1920’s as an instructor of martial arts, he discovered that students paid undue attention to patterns and postures and neglected the training of the mind and spirit. Thus, to constantly remind his students of this misunderstanding, he changed Xingyiquan (form and mind boxing) to Yiquan (mind boxing). By Yi (will or mind) he meant that in practicing boxing, every movement must be guided by a certain idea. When practiced in this way, the idea of boxing exists in every movement, whether it be walking, standing, sitting or even lying.
The completely new form of boxing incorporated the completeness and solidness of Xingyiquan’s mechanism of force, the quintessence of qigong (breathing skills), Taijiquan’s four skills of attacking, sticking, joining and following as well as its soft style of exerting force and finally Bagua’s leisurely bodywork and flexible and changeable handwork and stepwork. In the mid-1940’s, the name of Dachengquan or Great Acheivements Shadow Boxing was adopted.
Dachengquan (Yiquan) is distinguished for its effective combat skills and its value for actual combat. The strength spoken of is not that produced by blood and muscles, but the living strength characterized by its ready availability achieved by the coordinated contraction and relaxation of all muscles with the mind in command.
The practice of Dachengquan also has an important effect on health. Good health is preserved because the training of the mind and the body is done simultaneously, and quiet and active skills reside within the other. This distinguishes it from some other forms of breathing exercises that stress only the body or only the mind.
The Practice of Dachengquan
The basic skills of Dachengquan are:
Jijizhuang (Combat Pile-stance) – Jijizhuang is the skill to stand steadily and should be done under the principle of “motion residing in stillness”. Through this practice the muscles will strengthen and the nerves will receive nourishment despite the fact that there was no conscious effort to do so. Strength will develop from within.
Shi Li (Strength Testing) – Slow movement is better than quick movement, and gentle movement is better than violent movement. The slighter the movement the greater the concentration of the mind. The practitioner should be able to feel that he can’t help halting when he wants to move and he can’t help moving when he wants to halt.
Mocabu (Friction Steps) – The practitioner imagines that his two feet are walking in shallow water, overcoming resistance. All movements should be steady and flexible, flowing easy and comfortable.
Fali (Exerting Force) – In practicing this skill, the force takes root in the feet and is released through the spinal cord. The strength of the whole body reaches the finger tips and beyond.
Trial of Breath – The breath should come up from the dantian (a point about 2 inches below the umbilicus). In the beginning of practice a sound should be heard. After a period of training no sound will be heard and that is when the body is filled with Qi.
Tuishou (Push-Hands) – One should guard his center (Ren channel in the chest) from attack while trying to control his opponent’s center with his own softened strength and wait for the chance to exert force against him.
Actual Maneuvering – Actual combat practice between two partners.
In addition, there are 18 attacking methods and 21 single techniques.
Health Maintenance Through Dachengquan Practice
Qigong, the “art of nourishing life”, in its modern meaning embraces a wide variety of exercises including meditation, calisthenics, deep breathing, self-massage, etc. The traditional aim of qigong practice was to achieve a healthy life by nourishing Man’s essence (Jing), vital breath (Qi) and spirit (Shen) ? terms broad in scope and difficult to define. These were achieved by regulating the body through posture, regulating the respiration and regulating the mind through meditation and by avoiding emotional disturbances. Proper diet and exercise were vital keys to good health. Even in modern times, few people would dispute these ideas, and yet even fewer would apply them to daily qigong practice.
The standing pole exercises (zhan zhuang) of the Dachengquan system of martial arts are but one form of qigong. They were adapted by the founder ofDachengquan, Wang Xiangzhai, for cultivating health. The more advanced forms are used for combat training. The standing pole exercises are not complex. There are no complexities of form, mental activity, forced breathing or theories of Qi to understand. Thus, these exercises are completely accessible to anyone regardless of background.
Qigong movements are guiding movements that induce healing by enticing the blood and Qi to the place of illness. Qigong exercises must be gentle by nature in order to relax the muscles and loosen the joints, thus allowing the free circulation of blood and Qi throughout the body. If such exercises were too strenuous, they would cause tension and stiffness thus obstructing free circulation and resulting in even further exhaustion and illness.
Standing pole exercises include standing postures, sitting postures, lying postures, moving exercises and walking forms. In the static form, as the outer body remains still, the internal organs settle and metabolic functions increase. Movement within non-movement is achieved, providing simultaneous rest and exercise. This is uniquely important in its use as a method of treating certain illnesses in which other forms of exercise may be unsuitable.
The Chinese medical community has previously conducted investigations into the therapeutic value of pile stance exercises. The cycle of illness is explained as follows: When the cerebral cortex becomes over excited or exhausted, the body’s functioning suffers as a result to the point of illness. Likewise, illness, as a malfunctioning of the organs, sends out harmful stimuli to the cerebral cortex, placing an even further burden upon it. The aim of standing pole exercises is to break the illness cycle by providing the cerebral cortex with beneficial stimuli, thus causing it to relax.
Relaxation is achieved through the manner in which the standing pole exercises are practiced. One must assume the required body posture and then hold it for a period of time. The cerebral cortex eventually finds a soothing and pleasing object of focus in order for the body to maintain the physical posture. When the object of focus in not overly stimulating, the very relaxed sensation felt by the cerebral cortex leads to muscle relaxation, improved blood circulation and deeper respiration. The initial aches and numbness associated with a beginner’s practice will gradually disperse and will be replaced by a warm, slightly numbing but very comfortable feeling. This feeling is a most beneficial stimulus to the cerebral cortex and the longer it lasts the cerebral cortex achieves even deeper relaxation, concentration and an inhibitory “quiet” state.
Electroencephalogram investigations have demonstrated this (quiet) state to be quite different from sleep or hypnosis. It is characterized by the appearance of beta wave in the front portions of both hemispheres, which increases in amplitude and expands towards the back of the hemispheres as practice progresses and the inhibitory state deepens. The alpha wave, however, undergoes little change, though sometimes exhibiting a slight increase in amplitude, cycle extension and a trend towards a gradual slowing of rhythm.
Mental activities such as worry, anger and even thought as well as unnecessary and excessive tensing of the body’s muscles cause fatigue and body aches. Tension can especially be felt in the chest and shoulders and seen in the face. The steady practice of standing pole exercises extends outside practice to daily life so that excess tension and thus fatigue are permanently reduced or eventually eliminated.
It has been observed that during the standing pole exercises the pulse rate increases steadily and then eventually levels off. Immediately after practice the pulse rate does not drop suddenly. This makes it suitable for practice by those with heart trouble or the very frail. Breathing is allowed to respond naturally to the gradually rising needs of the metabolism. Breathing is not artificially slowed for that would deprive the body of oxygen . As with other strenuous types of exercise when oxygen intake cannot keep up with its consumption, as evidenced by labored breathing, there occurs a harmful build up waste products in the body such as lactic acid.
With steady practice, chest muscles eventually relax, allowing for very deep and perfectly natural breathing. There is an accompanying increase in lung capacity and with it a beneficial increase in the permeability of the pulmonary alveolus wall and expansion of the lung’s capillaries. Further, greater chest expansion during inhalation increases pressure in the thorax, helping to draw blood out from the veins into the heart. Exhalation releases the pressure, helping the heart to push out blood. Lastly, there is a beneficial massaging effect of deep breathing on the internal organs as with each inhalation the diaphragm sinks and the mediastinum expands and with each exhalation the diaphragm rises and the mediastinum contracts.
Relaxation of the abdomen allows the abdominal organs to settle, while the movement of abdominal respiration coupled with pressure changes in the thorax creates a massaging motion on them. Investigations have shown that such a massaging action on the liver causes an increase in choleresis, aiding digestion, prevents stasis of the bile system and expands the blood capillaries in the liver. Such massage also helps to prevent stasis in the stomach and intestinal system, working against the development of ulcers, gastroenterits, constipation and other abdominal disorders.
In summary, the standing pole exercises are a viable and effective method of self-treatment. As a non-strenuous but thorough mental and physical exercise they can be practiced by even the very frail, combating illness and strengthening the body without the side effects of other forms of treatment.
(Contributors: Wang Xuanjie, J.P.C. Moffet)