It is good to see that students are enjoying the Hun Yuan Tai Chi system! Although we are only a few weeks into the term, the response so far has been very positive and encouraging. Students have reported an opening g up of shoulders, back and waist. More and more students are beginning to feel the qi, internal energy, in their hands and the body centre, the Dan Tian.
How did the Hun Yuan System develop?
Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang (1928- ), the founder of the Hun Yuan system, is one of China’s foremost martial arts masters. He can demonstrate the internal power of Tai Chi to a high level, both in self-defence and in healing. Grandmaster Feng had the unique opportunity to learn from two of the most well known and respected teachers of their time, Hu Yao Zhen (1879-1973) and Chen Fa Ke (1887-1957). Hu Yao Zhen was a famous traditional Chinese medical practitioner and an expert in Xin Yi Chuan (Heart-Mind Boxing). Chen Fa Ke, 17th generation of Chen Style, was well known for his martial arts prowess. Due to the knowledge and insight that Grandmaster Feng has gained from his two teachers, he has been able to develop the Hun Yuan Tai Chi system which enables practitioners to achieve noticeable results quickly.
What is Gong Fu?
“Hun” means mixed and “Yuan” means circle. Hun Yuan refers to the movement of the universe or the Tao which is the force behind all phenomena. In the Hun Yuan Tai Chi system, Gong Fa is very important. It is the foundation of the system. The training of Gong is to nurture and cultivate qi, internal energy. When one’s qi is strong, one appears vibrant and spirited. If one merely practises movements without developing this internal aspect of the training, one will have nothing much to show when one is older. It would be like returning empty-handed after spending many years in a goldfield. It is precisely the emphasis of this internal aspect from the very beginning of the training which makes this system so special. Having such an emphasis means that the system is geared to help practitioners to experience deep relaxation. Cultivation of qi is only possible within a state of deep relaxation. Each part of the foundation training has been designed to help students to feel different aspects of the internal training so that they can ultimately be combined in the Tai Chi form.
Some Components of Gong Fa
Hun Yuan Qigong, Fa Soong Gong, Quiet Standing, Tai Chi Ruler, Chan Si Gong (Silk Reeling Exercises) and Tai Chi Bang are all parts of this Gong Fa foundation training.
The Hun Yuan Qigong trains one’s intention to direct the qi. It prepares the mind and body for higher levels of training. It increases the sensation of qi and helps to train the mind to lead the qi. It specifically focuses on fostering a deep level of relaxation and cultivating energy in the Dan Tian (the body centre) to nurture oneself. This practice produces a strong sensation of qi through the meridians and at different acupuncture points. All students are encouraged to learn this Qigong form at some time during their Tai Chi journey. It is easy to do and very enjoyable. Every time one practises this Qigong, one can expect mental clarity and abundance of energy. People who usually experience a lack of energy due to some medical conditions, such as Chronic Fatigue, are surprised how well they feel after the practice.
Fa Soong Gong induces relaxation. Many students enjoy the Fa Soong Gong because it is easy to feel relaxed and experience the sensation of qi in the hands when doing these simple yet profound movements. Many students found that doing the Fa Soong Gong before the Quiet Standing helps to settle the mind.
Quiet Standing cultivates qi. Many students were pleasantly surprised to find themselves deeply absorbed in the Standing practice – ten minutes seem like only a couple of minutes. You will feel content and refreshed after dwelling in the state of tranquillity. This state is most conducive to qi cultivation. Once you can enter into this state of calmness regularly, this same feeling will gradually accompany you through all aspects of your training. The Quiet Standing is an essential practice - one which is easily overlooked by beginning students. Do not under-estimate the kind of strength developed from this form of relaxation. Although the practice looks soft and gentle, the type of strength built from the training is flexible but powerful like a wave.
Tai Chi Ruler enables students to feel the sensation of qi quickly. Students who find it difficult to quiet their minds find this practice especially effective. Holding the ruler with both palms help them to focus and be in the moment. The movements of the Ruler imitate the movement of the qi inside the body. It furthers the development of qi circulation.
Chan Si Gong loosens the body and develops silk reeling power. When first learning the Chan Si Gong, students may easily mistake them as simply great movements for opening up the joints – for freedom of movement. Some students commented that they have never felt so loosened in their upper bodies. As one practises more, one will also feel how these silk reeling exercises develop one’s internal energy. One will sense qi enveloping the body.
Tai Chi Bang or Stick is a special Tai Chi method for training hand, wrist and arm strength. The flexibility of the joints in the arms is further improved by manoeuvring the Tai Chi Bang. It helps students to feel and integrate the back with arm movements. It develops eagle claw power and chin na which are joint locking skills. It also helps to further develop one’s internal energy. The Tai Chi Bang develops all these skills without the practitioner even being aware of it. It just comes about through diligent practice.
Gong Fa gives substance to one’s Tai Chi form. Without this internal aspect, one’s Tai Chi form will merely be a bunch of fancy movements. The Tai Chi form is the union of internal energy and external body, especially the tendons, ligaments and muscles. Training in the Tai Chi form is training the intention, that is, the mind to guide the qi. Grandmaster Feng always says, “Use mind or intention instead of hard force to move the body. This is the way to develop internal power.” He summed up the method and secret of cultivating internal energy in those simple words. Until one experiences how the qi moves the body, one will not realise the profundity of those words.
The Hun Yuan Tai Chi system is a delight to experience and rewards its practitioners with noticeable results. The tools to enjoy relaxation, the calmness of mind, freedom of movement and good health are at your disposal. The more regular your practice, the more your mind and body will benefit, the more joy you will feel!