Breathing and Gongfu Practice

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Ch;an Dao Martial Arts Association

Within Daoist and TCM terminology, breathing is a key attribute to health and long-life. Of course, different Daoist Schools interpret this in different ways, with some stating that ‘sweating’ is bad (as it leaks essential nature and qi energy, etc), whilst others stating that ‘sweating’ is good (as it expels toxins, i.e. bad or imbalanced qi energy, etc). The point here is context, as Daoist Schools contain a variety of different techniques emphasised at different times, for different reasons. Within the Ch’an Dao System, both approaches are utilised. Breathing deeply and fully is an important part of opening the qi energy channels throughout the body. Within the external Longfist conditioning – which involves running, carrying heavy weights, weight-lifting, press-ups, sit-ups, squat-kicks, back-raises, form practice, striking practice, weapon use and sparring, etc – this may be described as ‘sweating’ though full oxygenation of the body (i.e. cardiovascular and muscular fitness). An oxygen debt is caused and the oxygen replenished through proper (and full) breathing, whilst the efficiency and technical output remains of an undisturbed and high standard. The practitioner does not ‘stop’ because of tiredness, and does not make any unnecessary movements when feeling empowered. With the internal practice of Taijiquan and the Northern Snake Form, the muscular frame is relaxed and muscular strength is replaced with the efficient use of ‘bodyweight’. Bodyweight is related to gravity and not breath (or fitness), but it takes many years of focusing the mind on the body and perceiving and understanding how bodyweight acts upon it, and moves through it. The bodyweight shifts through the centre of bones and is emitted through any part of the body that makes contact with an opponent. Virtue is considered a prerequisite of establishing a calm mind that is expansive and all embracing – without the agency of virtue, no true mind development can occur. When the mind is calm, its awareness permeates every part of the physical body, and becomes aware of muscular tension, knows how to immediately relax that tension, and move the joints (as fulcrums) so as to generate and emit the maximum amount of power. With this knowledge is attained a full and permanent skeletal alignment, which guarantees that bodyweight drops efficiently into the ground (rooting the practitioner), whilst the rebounding force rises-up through the ground and can be harnessed by the mind and directed through intention to any particular anatomical striking area (allowing the practitioner to move freely). When performing the internal forms, the mind and body should be relaxed and the breathing deep and full (but due to the relaxation, the heart-rate should remain low). Sometimes, because of the high intake of oxygen, and given the fact the body is working efficiently whilst performing the movements, a ‘sweat’ might occur despite the heart-rate being slow (and the musculature relaxed). This is normal and indicative of a healthy metabolism at work. Within seated Daoist meditation, there is a practice called ‘stopping the breathing’. This is a coded term not to be taken literally. This refers to a relaxed state of body and mind whereby the breath becomes ‘imperceptible’. This is a product of all the qi energy channels of the body being fully ‘open’ and the entire body fully saturated with qi energy (i.e. oxygen and nutrients from digested food). In a very real sense, there is an ‘oxygen credit’ (rather than oxygen debit as deliberately generated in the external training). When both the external (oxygen debit) and internal (oxygen credit) are fully mastered after years of hard-work under the guidance of a qualified master, then the Ch’an Dao practitioner may develop the ability to manifest martial skill in the physical world whilst retaining imperceptible breathing – but this is a rare skill.

2 comments

    1. Hello! Master Zhao Ming Wang encourages communication from anyone, anywhere in the world – he can answer your question about Sweating Ox: (there’s also a WeChat discussion group for Qianfeng in China

      Zhao Ming Wang
      Qianfeng Hermitage
      Yangfang Town
      Changping District
      Beijing
      People’s Republic of China (PRC)

      Email: tian3597@foxmail.com

      Tel: 13260457672

      QQ: 10320363 (eagel_in_sky) 379578570 (mind)

      联系方式:

      赵明旺
      千峰草堂
      阳坊镇
      昌平区
      北京市
      中华人民共和国

      电子邮件: tian3597@foxmail.com

      电 话:13260457672

      联系QQ:10320363 (eagel_in_sky) 379578570(胸怀)

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