T’ai Chi Massage: the Inner structure of Bones, Muscles, and Tendons.

Tai Chi Massage:

Tai Chi massage is a modality that was taught to me by my massage teacher Sifu Nancy Bloomfield back in 2005 when I attended Qi elements school of Tai Chi and Massage. She was a Master massage therapist who learned this modality from C.C. Liu in DC’s Chinatown. C.C. Liu was a student of Xiang Yangho (Hsiung Yang-ho) of Taiwan who was student of Yang Shao-Hou.
Yang Shao Hao| Xiang Yang-ho| C.C. Liu| Nancy Bloomfield| Matt Stampe|

Oral history
Some of the back story behind Tai Chi massage is that in the old schools of Tai Chi, the younger students had to do massage on the senior students for several reasons: to understand the various acupoints (cavity strikes or acupressure healing), muscle and tendon groups (seizing and grasp tendons/muscles, or massage healing), joint and bone locations (breaks and dislocations, or tramatology healing and bone setting). Either way it was for both knowledge and experience of anatomy for both fighting and healing.

In my entire time at massage school and TCM mastery program school, the more modern discussion of fascia was never discussed. We did touch upon myo-fascia release, but that modality is used to massage the muscles to smooth out muscular adhesions and tension. We believe the modern talk on fascia is a marketing ploy over-emphasized by under educated practitioners, usually not certified in any massage or body work field. We will not talk about fascia as it was never discussed in Tai Chi massage.

Matt with Virginia Board of Nursing Massage Therapist and bodyworker license. More at combatsportsmassage.com

Tai Chi massage differs from other forms of massage in that it is a experience which enhances a deep feeling of contentment. The massage is very relaxing and works not only with the physical body, but with the Qi energy in the channels. The techniques used vary from light strokes to deep tissue work.

Light brush strokes trace the channel lines and help them to run smoothly and efficiently. This energy work enhances the physical aspects of the massage as waves of Qi are released throughout these healing channels of the body. This technique nurtures the parasympathetic nervous system, invigorates every organ and carries life force into every cell.

Inner structure of Tai Chi massage: Bones, Muscles, and Tendons.






Images of the muscle-tendon regions in TCM




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Taijiquan’s “Circle of Trust” list of approved instructors

Last update: 10/3/2015
If you do not see a particular teacher, it may be due to two reasons: 1) please see if your teacher is there and we do not know you or 2) that we’ve excluded some of the people we feel do not represent the art truthfully with woo-woo claims (woo-woo is unrealistic fantasy martial skills that would not work in real self defense situations) and excessively silly compliant demo videos which misrepresent the martial arts.

This list is comprised from networking, seminars, competition events, and interactions with well know masters in the Taijiquan martial arts community. It was done with the help of many teachers, competitors, push hands competitors, full contact fighters, interviews, private messages, and conversations. This is peer choice, the Taijiquan community’s choice to bring clarity and awareness. It is not my list but everyone who chimed in with knowing this is a much needed work.

Top “Cream of the Crop”: Must see Highest recommended Taijiquan teachers! (No particular order)
click on link to enter their website.

Tai Chi Symposium masters here

Chen style Taijiquan
4 Diamonds of Chen Taijiquan
Chen Xiao Wong- has done the most in getting Chen taijiquan out to the public.
Chen Zhen Lei- a very open teacher, very serious, excellent seminar experience.
Zhu Tien Cai- another very open and friendly teacher, great seminar experience.
Wang Xian- another top master of Chen taijiquan.

Yang Taijiquan’s Top representatives:
Fu Sheng Yuan- 5th generation, is son of Fu Zhongwen and heir of Authentic Yang style.
Yang Jun- is 6th generation and works tirelessly to bring about good Taijiquan, coordinates Tai Chi symposium with masters from Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao, and Sun style Taijiquan masters.
James Fu- is 6th generation master and son of Fu Sheng Yuan.

Wu style Taijiquan
Wu Kwong Yu- 6th generation representative of Wu Style Taijiquan.
Ma Hailong descendant from Wu QuanYu and top Wu style master.
Ma Jiangbo

Wu/Hao style Taijiquan
Zhong Zhenshan leading instructor of Wu/Hao taijiquan world wide. Scroll down link to read more.

Sun Style Taijiquan
Sun YongtianHe is the leading representative of Sun Taijiquan. Invited to speak at Taijiquan Symposium. more info in the link.

Cheng Man Ching style Taijiquan:
William CC ChenWorld class instructor, fighter, teacher.
Ben Lo- one of Cheng Man Ching’s top disciples. no link available. Mostly retired these days.

Circle of Trust

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Extractions of the ‘Huang Di Nei Jing’ (HDNJ) “Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal medicine” and Ling Shu “Spiritual Axis”

last update: 9/29/2015 come back and check on updates. Ongoing project.

Huang Di Nei Jing (HDNJ) is one of the “Bibles” of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the classic that sets the pace for many of the health philosophy and practices that come from Taoism. Many of the theories from this book are adopted and encoded in Traditional health practices of Dao Yin (Breathing + limbering exercises), Du Na ( breathing gongs), and later Tai Chi Chuan, Neijia, and Qigong. What separates Qi in TCM vs. mystical “woo-woo” Qi in martial arts and fighting? As a TCM doctor and fighter once said, “Internal qi and external power are completely different. One deals with functions of the body and of mind to be able to strengthen and control the bodily functions, and the other is being able to extend an force through space.” -Alex Shpigel

This is my second reading of HDNJ and chose Taoist Master Ni Hua-Ching’s son Maoshing Ni’s PHD translation of this classic. This book is a must for serious students of TCM and also Taijiquan. The book can be found here. hdnj

Chapter 1: Universal Truth. This chapter discusses the importance of protecting ones jing/essence, as you are only born with so much and once you deplete your essence, you will so begin to age quickly. We live in a society where we indulge in our passions and destroy this essence base. Jing/essence in women has a 7 year cycle and men it is 8 years. By the age of 35 in women and 40 in men, our jing/essence will decline rapidly. There are methods of preserving essence and it is based on diet, proper exercise that does not exhaust body, lifestyle of not overindulgence, and calm mindfulness as to not get caught up in negative emotions. The chapter ends with the 4 types of people who have successfully extended their life force via discipline of preserving their jing/essence: the immortals, the “achieved ones”, the sages, and the naturalists.

Chapter 2: The Four Seasons. This is the chapter that outlines how to live in harmony with the changing seasons. If you do not go with the flow of the changing seasons, various illnesses can occur. This chapter sets a guideline of what to do and how to deal with the various attributes a season will produce.

Chapter 3: Union of Heaven and Man. This is a very important chapter on the discussion of Yang Qi and how it protects the body and life force. It discusses various health issues when the Yang Qi is weak and external pathogenic forces(wind, cold, heat, damp, fire, dryness) get inside the body and reek chaos.
-Excess sweating in summer: causes irritability, “heat attacking exterior”.
-Summer heat interior: mind/spirit delerium, fever. Open the pores to release the heat.
-Damp invasion- head heavy, large muscles and tendons contract, spasm, atrophy.
-Qi deficiency- swollen limbs, impaired movement, exhausted yang qi.
-Anger and Impulsive desires: Yang qi disperses, qi outpours, body is vulnerable to invasion.
-Overworked/over stressed: Yang qi will overheat and deplete jing/essence and body fluids/yin depletion, dehydration.
-Jian Jue: consumed yin fluids.
-Bo Jue: w/anger, energy flows recklessly, damaging qi and blood.
-Tendon damage:mobility impaired.
-Pian Ku: one side of body sweating, indication of hemiplegia.
-Zuo Fe: pores open, damp invasion, rashes, dermatitis.
-Ding chaung: overindulgence in rich and greasy foods- lesions with pus.
-Zha: red spots on nose from heavy exertion and sweating, allows wind cold invasion.
-Zuo chang- wind-cold invasion over a long period of time, causes rectal ulcerations and boils.

“Yang Qi transforms Jing/essence to nourish shen/spirit and harmonize yang qi to sustain the tendons” HDNJ p.9
Pathogenic cold enters and damages yang qi, tendons loose nourishment and body becomes stiff and movement painful.

-Lou- Pathogenic cold reaches blood level (very deep) can cause scrofula of the neck.
-if pathogenic cold reaches muscle level- lesions and wounds will not heal properly.
-if cold invades the Shu points- will cause fear, fright, and nightmares.
-Yong zhong: ying qi blocked by pathogenic cold, muscles blocked: cysts and pus conditions.
-Feng Nu: weak and sweating_> wind-cold gets into pores causing fluid build-up in the muscles “wind malaria” alternating chills/fever, headache and irritability.
- Pathogenic wind as “Root of all evil” when wind gets inside, yang qi gets stuck, wind moves around up/down, left/right and must be purged with herbs and sedated with acupuncture, other wise “wind stroke” or death can occur. wind leads to heat.
-Spring: wind causes spleen digestive issues.
-Summer: heat malarial issues chills/fever.
-Autumn: dampness, lung and cough, cold limbs (Wei jue).
-Winter: cold…febrile diseases in spring.

Spring: wind affects Liver, head and nosebleeds: needle GB on the neck.
Summer: wind affect heart: chest and rib acupuncture.
Autumn- wind affects Lungs: acupuncture on shoulders and upper back.
Winter: wind affects kidneys/bi-syndrome: acupuncture lower back.
Late summer: wind affects spleen: middle back points.

Chapter 4: Truth of the golden chamber: This lists and classifies the 5 elements and groups them into data sets. This image here is basically what is talked about: 5-elements-data

Chapter 5 Yin and Yang manifestations in the macrocosm and microcosm: summary of this chapter is in the 5 elements creation, destructive, retraining, cycles.



Chapter 6: interplay of yin and Yang
This chapter discusses some of the Outer and Inner layers of Yin and yang in the body.
Shao Yin- minor yin
Tai yang- major yang, Zhiyin (BL67) lowest point, Jingming (BL1) highest point. (Tai Yang is the yang within Yin).
Tai Yin- major yin
Yang Ming- Bright yang- distal point Lidui (ST45). (Yang ming is the yang within Yin).
Shao yang- GB Zhuqiaoyin (GB44) Minor yang (pivot)
Jue Yin- extreme yin.

Chapter 7: Further discourses on yin and yang.
Importance of the 12 movements throughout the year. See diagram.
Pulses of the seasons:
Spring- wiry
Summer- flooding
Autumn- Floating
Winter- sinking

5 yang pulse is Stomach qi
5 organ pulses
These equal a total of 25 pulses.

3 yang at Ren Ying (St9) Carotid artery
3 Yin: Radial artery (Guan kou)
Both: should be in harmony.

Chapter 8: Sacred Teachings:
Heart- sovereign over all organs, represents consciousness, wisdom, intelligence, spiritual transformation.
Lung- advisor who regulates body qi.
Liver is a general courageous and smart.
Gall bladder- is a judge who makes decisions
Pericardium is a jester who makes the court laugh
ST/SP- Food store houses.
Kidney: Stores vitality and will.
Triple burner: transports water and fluids.
Bladder- eliminates the wastes.

Chapter 9: Energetic cycles of the Universe and their effects on Human beings.
Heaven macrocosm.
6×60 day cycles, 365 days.
Rule o 9. 24 stems through the seasons.

Man microcosm:
10 stems, 12 earthly branches. Jie qi phases.
Those who understand this, master the processes of the universe. Yin/yang process of birth, growth, maturation, and death.

Weather: how it affects humans, seasons, and seasons within seasons. 5 elements creation/destruction cycles.
Unusual and abnormal weather.

Heart- facial color
Lungs- sound
ST and LI- digestion to the 5 zhang
5 zhang- qi that produces jin ye (body fluids both light and heavy.
Jin ye= lubricate, fortify body, marrow, jing/essence, shen/spirit.

Heart- blood vessels (blood) shen.
Lungs- skin and hair (Qi) Po.
Kidneys- jing essence, hair of face and head, bones/marrow/teeth. Zhi- will.
Liver- stamina, Hun , nails, tendons and blood.
ST, SI, BL, SJ: lips and mouth, flesh and muscles.
GB- decision making.

Chapter 10- Dysfunction of the 5 zhang viscera:
Warns not to indulge in the 5 flavors which will damage its respective organs.
Acupuncture: used to move weiqi at the couli “12 spaces between muscles” and expels pathogens from those openings.
Obstructions of the heart: Zhongwen (Ren12).

Chapter 11: further Discourses on the 5 zhang
Brain, Marrow, Bones, blood vessels, Gall Bladder, uterus are Fu organs.
5 Zhang each store essence.
LU9 Taiyuan is an influential point of the vessels.
Stomach is the sea of nutrients six fu organs.
Patients are best served when understanding their:
1. Bowel movments
2. Pulse
3. Emotional/spiritual/psychological mind state.

Chapter 12: Methods of treatment
The superior doctor uses the treatments from all areas:
East- stone needle
West- herbs
North- moxibustion
South- metal needles
Middle- qigong.

Chapter 13- Treatment of Mind and Body.
Face reading, pulse, understanding spirit, wines, herbs, and acupuncture.

14- Art of Medicine:
Ancients: were healthy and rarely sick they did not need medicines, but used teas and wines as backups in case they did.
Middle ages: people began to lose their ways and had to use teas and wines to cure diseases.
Today: wines and herbs are not enough. People need acupuncture, moxa, lifestyle adjustments, diet, exercise. Some poisons have to be used to kill illnesses so compound.

The Doctor needs to be sincere, compassionate, and responsible. It is very important to heal the emotions of the patient and be aware of their body symptoms and imbalances.
Illnesses are not always from external pathogens.
Yang deficiency of the 5 zhang organs- Qi cannot propel water causing edema. Yin overflows and Qi escapes to the exterior.
Water metabolism imbalance: Qi flow, remove stagnation, diuresis, exercise, get warm, acupuncture.

15- Doctrine of the Jade tablet: How to differentiate illnesses
1. Color /complexion of the person
2. Pulses: look for spirit and Qi.
Diagnosis: pulse as the 4 seasons and 5 elements.

16- Diagnostic importance and discussion of the collapse of channels.
Essential diagnostics is based on Heaven,Man, Earth trinity.
Year is divided into sections:
1 and 2 Feb/March: Qi starts to rise.
3 and 4 April/May: Qi is in the liver, human qi is moderately full, qi solidifies.
5 and 6 June/July: Qi abundant, earth ascends, qi to head. –spleen
7 and 8 Aug/Sept.: Turning point: Heaven begins to descend, earth qi consolidates. Qi in lungs.
9 and 10 Oct/Nov.: Heaven qi quiescent/Earthly qi full and deepens. Heart.
11 and 12 Dec/jan. Coldness. Heaven Qi dormant, earth is crystallized and solid.

Acupuncture according to the seasons:
Spring: 30 minutes, bleeding ok, use Shu points.
Summer: use more Luo connection points, bleeding ok, allow it to stop on own.
Autumn: superficial needling, wait until the spirit/complexion of patient changes to remove needles.
Winter: deep to bone level, can wiggle and push/pull needle, insert extra needles.

Various points to avoid in seasons:
Season| Do not needle| Injures
Spring| summer positions| Heart fire
Spring| autumn positions| Lung qi
Spring| winter positions| Kidneys
Summer| Spring positions| Liver
Summer| autumn positions| Lung Qi and voice
Summer| winter positions| Kidney to cause Liver fire
Autumn| Spring positions| causes Liver fire rising
Autumn| winter positions| kidneys creating chills
Winter| Spring positions| Liver Qi/Hun causing lethargy/insomnia
Winter| summer positions| Heart Qi and pulses
Winter| autumn positions| Lung Qi

-Warnings to not puncture an organ, use a cloth on the front of body or one can die. Know the locations.
Heart- one can die in 30 minutes.
Lung- 5 days
Spleen- 5 days
Kidney- week
Diaphragm- 1 year.

Area should be quiet for patient. The doctor needs to have Qi and be in tune with patient to avoid accidents.

Channel Collapse Symptoms before Death
Tai Yang| stiffness of back, spasm, paleness, sweating
Shao yang| deafness, joints loose, bones dislocate, eyes stare out, face changes from green to white.
Yang Ming| Facial paralysis, delirium, yellow face, swelling muscles and spasms in limbs then stiff.
Shao Yin| Face becomes black, gums recede, teeth blacken, abdomen distended and stagnant.
Tai Yin| abdominal distention, fullness, shortness of breath, vomiting.
Jue yin| feverish, chest pain, dry throat, urination frequent, tongue stiff.

check back later for more updates.

Ling Shu “The Spiritual Pivot”

Scroll 1 Of Nine needles and 12 source points. The Laws of Heaven.

Fine needles that penetrate channels harmonize blood and Qi, currents, and counter-currents, assemble exit and entry points.
Fundamentals of classic acupuncture:
9 needles and the priorities of their ways. “Easy to say, difficult to master”.
Ordinary acupuncture, physical health.
High skill: is of spirit and guest (disease/pathogen) If host is strong, then guest is weak. If guest is strong, then Host is weak.
Ordinary technique guards the gates.
High level technique: controls the moving power “Qi” or vital force.
Moving power at the center of space is quiet, clear, subtle.
Wu Wei er wu bu wei: nothing but accomplishes everything, it’s coming cannot be hurried, it’s going cannot be chased.
Understand the moving power and its way, to do this you must understand the Tao.
Coming and going by understanding the cycles of time, day, and year.

Tonify- hollowness
Disperse- Fullness.
Dredge- Stasis.
Slow the quick- tonify.
Quick the slow- disperse.

The blood pulses are widely distributed to the Shu points.


Qi in the channels:
1. Evil qi is on top, needle needs to let pathogen out.
2. Muddy is in the middle.
3. Clear qi is at the bottom.

5 viscera (Zhang): shu points= 25 points.
6 bowels (Fu): shu points= 36 points.
12 major channels
15 Luo channels
Total 27 ascending/descending channels.

Points of exit are the ‘jing’ well
Small flow is ‘ying’ spring
Large flow- ‘shu’ stream
Strong flow- ‘jing’ river
Entrance to other channels- ‘He’ sea.

27 energies: 5 shu points.
365 acupoints- places unhampered by skin, flesh, muscles, and bones.

Patients: observe their color, face, eyes, listen, pulses.

12 Source points:

5 viscera diseases are like thorns, stains, knots, and obstructions.
1. Thorns can be embedded for a long time, but they can be removed.
2. Stains, although filthy, can be washed away.
3. Knots, tied for a long time, can be untied.
4. Obstructions block for a long time, but can be opened up.
The best acupuncturist can take out these chronic diseases.

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Huang Bai-Nien on Dragon Shape Baguazhang & Xingyiquan Striking Principles- Bradford Tyrey


Bradford’s baguazhang books and others are found at Lulu.com, type in Bradford Tyrey in the Search box.

The following article is attributed to a student of Huang Bai-Nien, though the student’s name cannot be verified, what is known about him is that he worked as an editor for the Peking Historical Preservation Society during the 1920s and 1930s, and assisted Huang proofing his own writings. The information below came directly from Huang and from several boxing journal articles that he authored but was written in brief by one of his closest students. This article encompasses principles mutually shared by Wang Li-Te, Li Cun-Yi, Huang Bai-Nien, Sun Lu-T’ang, Liu Xing-Han, Jiang Rong-Chiao, Sha Guo-Zhen, and so many others who followed the old practices. Many of these teachers practiced with each other, shared knowledge, and passed teachings onto specific boxing clans through selected disciples. This article below was corrected and added to by Liu Xing-Han, stating that parts were previously deleted during revolutionary times in China because certain passages were thought to disclose secrets of Chinese boxing that might fall into the hands of invaders of China.

Master Huang Bai-Nien is at the highest level of boxing skill and knowledge. His hands possess the speed of an Immortal, and can only be seen should he decide. His swiftness in body motion can be termed as “an Immortal chasing his shadow.” Such secret skills were passed onto him by his master, Li Cun-Yi.

Among the many striking palm methods there are three with special significance. These three are: Xia P’i Zhang (Downward [Lower] Splitting Palm), Zhong An Zhang (Central/Middle Pushing Palm), and Xuan Zhang (Turning Palm). As original palm methods practiced by Master Tung Hai-Chuan these three are in accord with the Original Three Circular Palms: Dan Huan Zhang (Single Changing Palm), Shun Zhang (Compliant [Following] Palm), and Shuang Huan Zhang (Double Changing Palm) are the further manifestations of p’i (splitting), an (pushing), and xuan (turning) palms.

P’i (splitting), an (pushing), and xuan (turning) unify, exchange, cooperate, and transform to provide skill-power within each of the Original Three Circular Palms. Xia P’i Zhang is in harmony with the Earth. Its palm essence roots deeply, flowing as a stream through mountain caverns [moving with fluidity and hidden power] then, the emerging qi strikes deeply and sinks into the adversary. Sinking qi causes expansion within which in turn causes stagnation of the natural movement of the interior. Hence, xia p’i (lower/downward splitting) is the Dragon Shape method to use emptiness [an unseen/hidden movement] to create fullness [a sinking strike into the adversary]. Walk the circle while holding this posture, and embrace the qi within the palm for one-thousand days shall nurture the skill of xia p’i zhang.

Zhong An Zhang unifies the Heaven and Earth which in turn produces man. This palm is in accord with that which takes a central position. The action of zhong an (central pushing) evades the adversary’s defense and strikes using a pushing-crushing manner toward the middle [interior] of the adversary. As a central position method it is heavy as the Earth, yet conforms to the changing influences of man. That is, this action attains its great skill by practicing Di Xing Fa (Earth Element [Shape/Form/Transmutation] Method) taught by Master Li. The practice method is simple; the attainment of flourishing skill is multifarious.

In practicing this palm sink the qi, root the body, and sense great heaviness spreading throughout the body and limbs as if the Earth empties its weight into your shape. Though heaviness abounds within the body one’s movement is as if the tip of a single thread of silk [movement is lively and agile]. Heaviness begets lightness; lightness begets heaviness. The skill of heaviness is practiced in both a circle and straight [reference to straight-line bagua sets] until one has no distraction within and the river of heaviness runs into the palms and can be issued into the adversary. This pushing-crushing force is beyond a common method, it must be sought through tranquility during the time when the Earth allows the yin to escape and supernatural attainment ripples into the body [referring to practice must be done late at night when the heavy yin qi is dominate and one’s body can readily absorb this dominate essence]. This is but one secret method that Master Li passes to us. Acquiring this method must be like entering a mountain cave without fear or expectation. Its secrets shall soon be revealed with nightly practice of forty-nine nights.

In application all palm methods, if significantly developed, possess a poison touch. Such a touch is one in which the essence of the palm method is released into the vacuity of the adversary. Connect with the adversary’s body, issue palm force, and adhere. Connect in all boxing methods refers to touching upon a single point; issuing refers to releasing internal force without using brute force; adhering is not that of the body touching upon another’s body but rather the adherence of one’s spirit to sense within the adversary’s body and direct the poison touch. This is the true way of connect, issue, and adhere taught by Master Li Cun-Yi.


Muscular force must also be comprehended, in that it shall eventually reach its extreme at which point weakness and clumsiness await to take its place. Therefore, skill and agility must be succinctly maintained. The whole body and mind, without any hindrance, must direct one’s qi into a single finger or area on the hand. Qi must be trained to surge, ebb, and be stored where the mind selects. This is so within all standing and seated boxing methods. It is essential that such training be endeavored upon day by day without halting. Qi is the nourishment of skilled boxing masters as is food the nourishment of the common man.

Training is performed in the following manner that Master Li dictated. Hold a hand outward, assume a training posture, direct the qi to the finger or area of one’s hand that shall strike the adversary, and sense heaviness of qi entering. This is as many have said is “iron wrapped in cotton.” Such heaviness is an intense collection of qi directed and held there by the mind. Fullness of qi begets movement. That is, the great accumulation of qi stands ready and seeks to be released; it is as a tiger leaping from its lair. Such accumulation, contained by the mind’s intent, is directed from one’s finger into a single point within the adversary. The release into a single vulnerable point is termed “iron returning to liquid iron.” This means that the concentrated feeling of qi [feeling like heavy iron] is released [moving and flowing like a liquid] into an adversary like liquid iron. Such liquid iron [qi], directed by the intent of the mind enters a cave
[a cavity/dim mak point], residing as a tiger in its lair. Upon its entrance this iron obstructs the natural order of the inner water wheel of the adversary’s body. Faintness, illness, or death shall transpire.

One who has practiced the methods of Master Li for a cycle of ten years is considered adept at this secret skill. In the methods of baguazhang, xingyiquan, and taijiquan the movement of the “inner iron” is a practice of the highest order. My master taught that in xingyiquan linking movements can only be practiced once standing methods with the movement of iron is achieved. Two to three years is required for most. To stand in any xingyi or bagua posture is to touch upon the spirit of that posture. To stand in longxing (dragon shape) is to evoke the spirit of a celestial dragon within the confines of the human form. Man [an earthly being] thereby unites with dragon [a celestial being]. Such unification produces true attainment within boxing practices.


Master Li expounded that each posture must be held 36 breaths for yang qi and 36 breaths for
yin qi, resulting in harmonious interplay of the wuxing (five phases [elements]). The 72 breaths produce the germination of movement which in turn pulls with it the iron, sending it throughout the body. This iron must be directed to the intended striking hand from beginning to completion of the 72 breaths. If the iron, once accumulated in greater mass, is not properly directed it shall improperly reach one’s own heart, causing unstoppable illness.

Externally, one’s xing (form [shape]) must be as unmoving as a deeply rooted stump. Internally, the liquid iron moves by shun (compliance). That is, iron must comply with the mind’s intent of leading it into the hand as a general commands his troops. As the hand fills with iron [firmness] the body attains a state of softness. This is the way of the Great Teachings; it is the interaction and exchange of firmness [yang] and softness [yin].

Beginning students endeavor to learn movement and fighting within the first days, but this is contrary toward skill development and is without purpose. True studies and practice must begin when yang qi is ascending in the springtime. In Qiu Chuji’s “Treatise on Health Preservation and Cultivation” [written in the Yuan dynasty], it states: “When spring fills the air with warmth, man should look at gardens and pavilions and into the wilderness to relieve the stagnancy of the heart and invigorate himself, though not sit alone in depression.” Qiu Chuji’s teachings are essential to maintaining seasonal health and harmony while studying the secret methods of moving iron. Each of the four seasons contain their special teachings and must be contemplated and followed. For example, in the midst of the summer’s heat one must soften the breath to reach a tranquil state and envision frosty snow within the heart as to ward-off the Great Interior Heat. Without knowing the secrets of each season one can only touch upon general skills, never immersing into the breadth of the Yangtze River.


Ming dynasty’s most distinguished physician and pharmacologist, Li Shi-Zhen, wrote “Wine is pure yang in nature and pungent and sweet in taste, and thus has the effectiveness of invigorating vital function and dispersing pathogens. Wine is dry and hot in property, and is thus used to expel dampness and cold.” These words must be heeded by those who practice the art of Poison Hand Touching. Such touching methods require knowledge bestowed by our scholarly ancestors. In the text Plain Questions (Chapter 23) it is written: “Spirit is stored in the heart, the soul in the lungs, mood in the liver, idea in the spleen, and the will in the kidneys.” Within these words lie profound secrets contemplated by great boxing masters.

All knowledge of training culminates within the ability of hand methods. When striking with the fist qi is to be directed through the wrist and into the region of softness [the center of the palm]. To achieve this it is essential that the fist be only lightly clenched. The four fingers curl inwardly as if embracing and halting the escape of a cricket. The thumb, in turn, curls with roundness [instead of stiffly bending] until finding rest upon the forefinger. This is the proper manner to hold the fist, qi can now pervade. From the wrist, past the pulses, held within the reservoir of the palm [the palm’s center], the qi is drawn into the knuckles. The knuckles curl and extend as if the four claws of an earthly deemed dragon.

Qi swells within and one’s sprit is elicited. The hand prepares to strike. Force, qi, and will unite thereby moving into the knuckle(s) which now hit deeply into the adversary. Upon contact, the fist clenches slightly more, squeezing out the qi as if wringing water from a cloth. This method is most apparent in the unity achieved between hand and sword.


Without the mind directing the qi, this immortal force shall disperse as if horses in a herd were each running separate paths. The mind is the lead horse which the herd shall follow. Spirit rises to the extreme [crown of the head]; the spine swells with the vital elixir [qi]; the hands now prepare to discharge the force of the inner dragon [the merging of one’s qi, spirit and mind-intent]. Striking [the physical manifestation of one’s spirit] forms exact movement which seeks guidance. Guidance is found in the boxing maxim “to diverge by a single hair’s width, ten-thousand miles are lost.” This maxim points the way toward the acquired skill of ‘exactness.’ It is the exactness of whole-body motion, the exactness of a strike, and the exactness of one’s mind-intent to direct qi; all unifying to produce immortal skills found within unseen-forces.

What is the meaning of Longxing (Dragon Shape) hidden within baguazhang and xingyiquan postures?
It has been explained by many ancient masters in both complicated and simplistic terms. Most agree that
進退 jin-tui (advance-withdraw) represents profound aspects of a heavenly dragon’s movement. Movement of a dragon is obscure, coiling and thrashing during both outward and inward movement. Like the yin and yang, a dragon shall 進 jin (advance) through its use of 退 tui (withdrawing). In all boxing arts this is likened to the principle ‘to fiercely strike outwardly with overwhelming force requires withdrawing into one’s central root, from which advancement [outward movement] finds its origin.’ Tui (withdrawing) into one’s root heralds 進 jin (advancement), conversely 進 jin (advancement) heralds tui (withdrawing). Master Li Cun-Yi taught that to study a dragon xingyiquan set opens the doorway to all fistic sets: p’iquan now becomes long p’iquan (dragon-splitting fist), bengquan now becomes long bengquan (dragon collapsing-fist), and so forth. Such skills harmoniously unite with the actions of 起落 qi-lao [luo] (to rise and fall), transforming into 進起退落 jin-qi tui-lao (advance [expel] while rising, withdraw [draw inward] while falling); its existence within baguazhang and xingyiquan creates movement that is without absence or peer.

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Palpatation areas in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Polarity Massage Therapy

In my continuing education course on Polarity Massage Therapy several years ago, it was discussed to palpitate and feel for pulses under the neck, and at Taixi (Kidney 3 area). These are the same places as pulses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I will share what I have learned this year with some of the pulse and palpitation areas of the body. I will not go in-depth about the pulses of the wrist as many articles like this already exist.
The lessons are in the images so click to enlarge. Enjoy!

Traditional Chinese Medicine Palpitation Areas:


Polarity Massage CEU training course notes:


Polarity Exercises: Wood Chopper and Pyramid/Sumo squat

Classical Wrist pulses used in diagnosis:


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