The Role Of Qigong In Martial Art

A major characteristic in Chinese martial art is the internal substances harmonize the external substances. Internal substances are referring to mind, intent and qi. The external substances are referring to hands, feet and body movement. A discipline work on the internal substances is called qigong. Generally, qigong is divided into two types of exercises. The dynamic exercise is involving physical movement to mobilize the internal substances. The static exercise is not involving any physical movement. Although some of the qigong techniques are appearing simple to do, however, its function is to work on three areas of the body. They are regulate the mind, regulate the breathing and regulate the body.

  1. Regulate the mind
    Regulate the mind is referring to the exercise is working on the mental condition to improve physical performance. In martial art training, the exercise works on the mind often considered the highest stage of martial art training. Depending on the martial art system, the most common exercise is sitting mediation without any movement.

    In sitting mediation, the body is relaxed and calmed. It appears to be very tranquil. However, internally, it is very active. This exercise will increase the activity of one's mental condition and breathing. The benefits are that it clears any qi blockage among the meridians in qi circulation and improves cogitation and creativity. One of the common tasks a practitioner does in mediation is to recall all the physical movements and to refine the movements, rhythm, accurateness and correctness mentally.

    Mediating the martial art movements is the intent's activity. This is equivalent to concentration or focus in qigong. In martial art mediation, one is concentrated on a certain sections, or a whole routine of the bare hand form. In qigong mediation, one is concentrated on a specific subject or body part. Although the method is different, the goal and objective are the same.

    Today, there are many scientific experiments demonstrated that mental condition directly affect one's physical performance.

  2. Regulate the Breathing
    When come to exchanging with the external qi in our environment, a person exchanges it by the mechanic of inhalation and exhalation. However, when come to exchanging the internal qi, the process is much more complex. It involves some type of intent. After one has mastered the function of the mind, one can apply the similar method of regulating the mind to work on the qi so that internal qi will be harmonized with the external qi. This is the essence in Chinese martial art training.

    The principles of "Deep breathing" and "sink the qi to the dantien" are the common methods of breathing exercise to increase the lung's activity to intake more oxygen. After one has practiced the exercise for a while, the breathing has rhythm and increase qi intake, the body's condition will be improved and healthier.

    Internal Power or Jing Power is the combination of spirit, essence and qi. It is a type of powers favorable by all Chinese martial art practitioners. When the essence is full, the qi is full. When the qi is full, the spirit is full. When this happens, the qi will be followed the intent and the power will be followed the qi automatically. This power is called Jing Power. Therefore, a Fa Jing execution should have the following order: Intent, Qi and Power. Intent and qi are the major ingredients. This is also the difference in application between Fa Jing and applying physical power.

    Dantien is the reservoir for Jing Power. When one inhales, the qi comes down the body to have better rooting, stability and balance. Therefore, a small movement on the waist will yield a lot of power on the hands. In breathing, one has to pay attention to the three internal substances and three external substances. In martial art movement, one has to be able to know and correctly execute inhalation when contracting the abdomen and exhalation when relaxing the abdomen. Inhale when the hands come close to the body and exhale when the hands move away from the body. One should invest time to develop this ability so that inhalation to storage the power and exhalation to discharge the power become automatic.

    In the physical mechanics, when the speed is accelerated, the power will be stronger and its value will be increased as well. Therefore, internal power is more valuable than physical power. Practicing breathing frequently one will be developed the Jing Power by accumulation so that when discharge the power it is like a dynamite explosion. In martial art technique, when one is stronger and has more power, the hands and feet will be able to move quicker, and the result is more devastation.

  3. Regulate the body
    It is referring to apply the intent to work on the physical posture's correctness so that the qi will flow better. The result is that the intent, qi, and body will become one unit.

    In martial art, people talk about the following principles all the time. These principles govern the physical body mechanics to better harmonize the qi and power.

    1. One Straight
      It is referring to having the body straight so the qi can circulate better. When the qi is circulated throughout the body and since qi is transparent this is like the liquid fluid inside the body. When the body moves, the body is moved like a solid unit. There is no hallowed. The result is that there will be more devastation.
    2. Two Suspending
      It is referring to have the head suspend from above so all the qi in the internal organs will rise to the head. This will make the practitioner more alert. Relax the body so the qi sink downward and the body will be balanced and stable. The statements proposed to stretch the body so that it has elasticity, nimble and endurance. The major characteristics required from a skillful martial art practitioner.
    3. Three Sections
      It is referring to divided the body into three sections: arm, body and leg. In addition, it is also referring to having the arms and legs divided into three sections each. When one correctly maneuvers each unit of the section, it is very difficult for the opponent to formulate a plan for defense.
    4. Four Ending
      It is referring to the end of the bone, flesh, tendon and body. The hair is the ending for the blood. Nail and claw are the ending for the tendon and ligament. The tongue is the ending for the flesh. The teeth are the ending for the bone.

      It is said that in order to defeat the opponent, the four endings must come together. Some people described the practitioner's optimum preparation as the following "The hairs are straight to lift the crown. The fingers are penetrating the bone. The tongue is pressuring the teeth. The teeth are breaking the metal." When the hairs are well nourish with blood, it will grow healthy and strong. When the fingers are strong, the tendons and ligaments are big and powerful. When the tongue is healthy, the body is in good condition. When the teeth are strong, the bones are very hard.

    5. 5 Elements
      It is referring to the metal, wood, fire, water and earth. The five major elements in nature. The essences of the five elements are the demonstration of relationships and functions in nature.
    6. 6 Harmony
      It is referring to harmonize the three internal substances and three external substances. The three internal substances are mind vs. intent, intent vs. qi and qi vs. power. The Internal Three Harmony is referring to uniting the three internal substances so that when the intent there, the qi is there and the power is there as well. The three external substances are feet vs. hand, elbow vs. knee and shoulder vs. hip. The External Three Harmony is referring to uniting the external three substances so that when the hands strike, the body follows. When the elbows strike, the body advances. When the shoulders strike, the body turns. When the hips strike, the body leans forward. When the knees strike, the body is remaining in a distance.
  4. A common exercise of qigong in martial art
    Some of the key requirements in martial art training from a practitioner are that the mind is tranquil, the body relaxes and the breathing has rhythm. When one has this, one is really for the vigorous and brutal martial confrontation.

    When the ligaments, tendons and muscles are relaxed, the posture looks comfortable, the blood flows smoothly and the internal organs are relaxed in their natural position. When one is harmonized with the surrounding, the qi will become stronger, the body is healthier and the power is stronger.

    Zhan Zhuang training or standing exercise is a common exercise among the extensive Chinese martial art training. The objective is to unify the three components of the intent, qi and body which is based on the principles of regulating the mind, regulating the breathing and regulating the body. When practicing the Zhan Zhuang, mentally, one is concentrated and tranquil. Generally, one is concentrating on the dantien, an area three inches below the navel area. The breathing maintains slow, soft and even so the qi is better circulated and sink down is to the dantien. The body is remaining in certain nature position so it is relaxed.

    Tranquility means to remove all unnecessary thought. It is a step to train the mind. When the mind is tranquil, it is clear, the body is comfortable and it is easier to mobilize the inborn ability. A closer examination demonstrated that tranquility does not simply mean no thought, it means the mind is calm, clear and focused. When the mind is calm, clear and focused, the perception is better. Therefore it is a good exercise for the nervous system.

    Concentration means paid attention to one specific area so that the mind is occupied and not wondering. It is a step to train the spirit. When one is concentrated, the qi will be following the intent's instruction. If one has negative emotion, the qi circulation will result in negative effect. Therefore, concentration acts as a neutralizer to prevent any negative emotion to occur.

Qigong training is an important part of the Chinese martial art. If one engaged training under a complete system, qigong should be part of the training. However, there are many students today who spend enough time with one teacher to learn the physical component and disregard the more advanced internal component or qigong training. This is not a complete training and the result is not really good. When one incorporated the external and internal components in his training, the skill will be wonderful.

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