Natural Traditional Chinese Martial Arts articles by Sal Canzonieri
This was my seventh column in Han Wei Wushu, it is about External Qigong: Double Dragons Escaping From the Sea.
|Han Wei Wushu Newsletter
(January 1996 issues #20)
Weigong / Qigong: Double Dragons Escaping From the Sea
By Salvatore Canzonieri, New Jersey
Much is written about the internal martial arts (taijiquan, baqua, xingiquan, etc.) and their qigong (chi gung) forms, but it is rare to find much information on the chi gungs performed by the external martial arts. Furthermore, it is in fact rather erroneous to seperate the internal and external martial so deeply. For, in truth, both systems have their own chi and nei gungs that give life to the techniques and body mechanics exhibited in a style's forms.
Just as in xingi, baqua, or taijiquan, many external styles have their own internal elements. The terms “internal” and “external” orginally meant something else entirely than whether or not a style contained qi or neigong work. “Internal” kung fu styles were those that arose from the practices of uniquely Chinese philosophies such as taosim, shamanism, “left hand” paths, and others. On the other hand, the “external” styles were those that contained elements from influences outside of China, such as Buddhist, Tibetan, or Moslem. Thus, Shaolin and Shaolin-derived styles were considered to be “external” because they were Buddhist by nature and contained elements that they borrowed or absorbed from Moslem, Tibetan, and other cultures, including Chinese taoism.
But, almost all traditional Chinese wushu styles (except those primarily used by the military such as Sun Bin, San Shou, etc.) contained practices for the cultivation of vitality and health in order to make the practioner's body more apt for the rigors that a fighting style demanded and to unite one's mind, body, and spiritual energies into one focused being. Such external styles as Choy Li Fut, Hung Gar, Preying Mantis, Wing Chun, all have qigongs that drive their styles to be effecient and effective.
One Shaolin Qigong is called Double Dragons Escaping From the Sea. It is an ideal qigong form for the beginner (as well as the experienced martial artist) and can enhance anyone's style. This qigong form is meant to be performed so as to increase one's muscle mass, strength, and vitality in the upper body. It is ideal for the martial artist that has no time or room to lift weights and it makes one's muscles more stronger and well developed without making one too tight and muscle bound. It is performed with tenseness and power, but not too exagerated. Here are the instructions:
1) Assume the horse stance position, in whatever mode you are
accustomed to. Here, begin breathing deeply with abdominal,
diaphramic breathing. Fill the dantien with air (qi) until in a
calm, meditative state. Make fists with both hands and bring them
to the sides of the waist. Pull the elbows back and against the
ribs. Breathe in as you make the movements.
2) Maintain the position of the elbows and lift both fist up to
shoulder-level. Tighten the chest, neck, back, and forearms. Use
the muscles around the elbows to lift the fists, without changing
the height of the elbows. Breathe out as you make the movements.
3) Maintain the position of the fists as the elbows lift up to
shoulder-level. Both fists are aligned as they face each other,
knuckles up, are about 5 to 10 inches apart. Tighten the muscles of
the arm pits, chest, and shoulders. Use the muscles of the arm pit
area to lift the elbows, without changing the height of the fists.
Breathe in as you make the movements.
4) Maintain the position of the elbows as you open both fists to
flat palms (thumbs tucked in) and slowly press them down to the
waist, while sinking the shoulders with strength. The fingers of
both palms point at each other and the wrists are slightly bent.
The palms are about two or three inches apart. Tighten the muscles
of the back, shoulder, and neck. Breathe out as you make the
5) Maintain the position of the elbows as you lift both palms to
meet and press gently in the center line of the body, just under
the chin. Tighten the chest, neck, shoulders, and arms. Breathe in
as you make the movements.
6) Maintain the position of the elbows as you slowly move both
palms apart, as if you are parting a heavy curtain. Hang the elbows
there as the arms part to both sides. Both palms should face flat
in front of you and should be directly over and no further apart
than the knees. Tighten the muscles of the back, shoulder blades,
and arms. Breathe out as you make the movements.
7) Maintain the position of the elbows as you draw the arms back
and lower the open palms to the sides of the waist. Next, lift the
palms up to the sides of the ribs, to shoulder height, with the
palms facing front (fingers pointing up). Tighten the muscles of
the arms, shoulders, ribs, and neck. Breathe in as you make the
8) Maintain the position the elbows as you push both palms out to
the front, directing the strength slowly and with tenseness, as if
doing a “push-up”. The arms are fully extended with a slight bend
at the elbows. Tighten the muscles of the forearms, chest, and and
back. Breathe out as you make the movements.
Repeat steps 7 and 8 in a continuous motion, for a minimum of three times. After which, the whole sequence can be repeated as desired.
During the 8 steps, be sure to remain in a horse stance and stay focused on the breathing pattern and the tensing and relaxing of the upper body muscles. By maintaining the horse stance, the legs and waist area are kept excercised also, and the qua area is kept open. Be sure to breathe in when drawing the arms back and breathe out when pushing the palms out. The movements are to be done with tenseness and forcefulness and the respiration must be done smoothly and unhurried, in a relaxed state. After finishing the movements, you will notice a strong tingling feeling in the hands and a feeling in the chest, arm, neck, shoulder, and under-arm areas as if one had just finished lifting heavy weights. Following this excerise will result in larger and more defined muscles in the upper body, and also more strength generating from the bones and tendons.
(c) 1995 / 2007 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri