Chi Kung literally translates into "Energy Exercise". It is a generic term which is used for a wide range of Chinese health and power practices. Their common goal is to stimulate and balance the internal flow of our innate energy, Chi.
This vital life force is of central importance in Chinese Medicine and flows through channels in the body which are called meridians in the West. The unobstructed flow of Chi is key to our well-being and health.
A blockage in one place will lead to an overload of the energy system at another location - and consequently to a condition of uneasiness or disease. Such blockages are caused by a number of factors. The most common ones are a sedentary lifestyle typical to office jobs, a bad posture, and a high level of muscle tension - often caused by stress.
In China, the knowledge of the key importance of Chi has been cultivated and refined over thousands of years. This insight and wisdom is being applied since a long time to prevent diseases and premature aging, to heal sicknesses, and is put to effective use in the martial arts.
Nowadays, because of the long history of Chi research and application, there are many different Chi Kung styles and schools. However, all of them share the same goals: to develop inner strength and to open and clear the channels through which the vital Chi force is flowing.
The five signs of practice
Xing - The Form
Yi - The Mind
Li - The Power
Chi - The Energy
Shen - The Spirit
According to Professor Yu Yong Nian
Zhan Zhuang is the Chi Kung system with the longest tradition which can be traced back 27 centuries. It is the foundation of all Chi Kung forms and is characterised by its great effectiveness and efficiency. Zhan Zhuang is pronounced "Jan Jong", or in Southern China, "Jam Jong" and is best translated as Standing Like A Tree.
For most people, training in Zhan Zhuang is a complete surprise in the beginning. There are no recognisable external movements, although it is a highly energetic exercise system. In contrast to many other methods, Zhan Zhuang develops our internal energy in a very efficient way, instead of consuming it.
Zhan Zhuang is practiced in well-balanced standing positions which increase the flow of energy and build up internal strength. The Zhan Zhuang system is based on a unique fusion of relaxation and exertion which stimulates, cleanses and internally massages the whole body.
Because Zhan Zhuang is so effective in raising our energy levels, it is often used as basic training for martial arts.
For a long time, Zhan Zhuang has been a well kept secret. It is only since the mid 40s of the last century that Zhan Zhuang has been taught and discussed publicly. In Europe, Master Lam Kam Chuen introduced this unique Chi Kung system in 1987. He is also the author of the first book on Zhan Zhuang in the West.
Through the practice of Zhan Zhuang we're able to take advantage of our whole potential - physically, mentally and spiritually - in a completely natural way, without becoming exhausted.
When you stand, you are like a tree.
You are growing from within.
Your feet, like roots, draw power from the earth.
Your body, like the trunk, is perfeclty aligned.
You are unmoving, strong.
Your head is open to the heavens like the crown of the tree.
You rest calmly, the universe within your mind.
Master Lam Kam Chuen
Da Cheng Chuan
Da Cheng Chuan is the highest level of Chi Kung and one of the most potent martial arts. It builds upon the intensive practice of Zhan Zhuang.
The name Da Cheng Chuan means The Great Accomplishment. It is the crowning achievement of Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai who journeyed for more than ten years throughout China in the first part of the last century, studiying under the greatest masters of his day. In the 1920s, he began sharing the fruit of his research with students in Beijing and Shanghai. He became famous throughout China and is highly respected and revered to this day. In addition to his unmatched prowess in martial arts, Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai dedicated himself to the health and healing aspects of his art and founded the first Chi Kung clinics of China.
Da Cheng Chuan consists of the following seven elements: Zhan Zhuang (Standing Like a Tree), Shih Li (Power Testing), Tsou Pu (Training the Legs), Fa Li (Power Explosion), Shi Sheng (Testing of Sound), Tui Shou (Circling Hands), and Jian Wu (Spontaneous Power Expression).
While there are said to be few, if any, martial arts systems more powerful than Da Cheng Chuan, you experience its enduring benefits as you go about your life and work. Your mind and body become exceptionally alert. Your mental and emotional faculties are refreshed. You experience greater resilience under pressure and recover more easily from illness and injury.
Since many years, Master Lam is carrying forward this art and was accorded the honor of being acknowledged as a lineage-holder of the Da Cheng Chuan tradition by Madame Wang Yuk Fong, the daughter and spiritual heir of Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai.
Training in Da Cheng Chuan needs a solid base of Zhan Zhuang practice and is thus only available for a few selected students.
In silence there must be movement, and in motion, there must be silence.
A small movement is better than a big movement,
no movement is better than a small movement,
silence is all the movement's mother.
Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai
In movement you should be like a dragon or a tiger.
In non-movement you should be like a Buddha.
Grandmaster Wang Xiang Zhai
Ba Duan Jin
Ba Duan Jin, the Eight Strands of Brocade is a popular set of exercises for toning up the internal organs and systems. It is practiced by people all over the world.
Each of the eight Ba Duan Jin exercises intensifies the flow of energy along the full length of specific meridians. Thus the complete set of exercises benefits the whole energy network, including the internal organs through wich that energy passes. Regular practice is the ideal preparation you need to carry the "awakened dragon" of your Chi.
Like all popular traditions, the origins of Ba Duan Jin are shrouded in myth and legend. Some say the exercises began several thousand years ago.
The most recent evidence of the long history of these movements comes from a silk book unearthened in 1979, known as the Dao Ying Xing Qi Fa (Method of Inducing Free Flow of Chi). This book dates from the Western Han dynasty (206BC to AD23) and shows 44 drawings of men and women in exercise positions resembling Ba Duan Jin as it is practised nowadays.
It is known that General Yeu Fei who lived during the Southern Sung dynastie (1177 - 1279) developed a set of twelve fundamental exercises to train his army. These he later simplified to eight - Ba Duan Jin. The fact that he and his army were never defeated in battle was attributed to his training.
To this day, visitors to the famous Shaolin Temple in Henan, China, will see statues of monks performing Ba Duan Jin. The monks themselves who are living at the temple use this system as part of their daily training.
The second Ba Duan Jin exercise:
"Drawing a Bow to Each Side Resembles Shooting an Eagle"
Detail of the historic silk book from the Han dynasty