Apologies for lack of updates. Have been quite busy.
Please see CSKnet to see what I've been up to.
Looking for Search Engine Optimization information or services?
STI (This site) may be moving, but will definitely be having a major overhaul...
Combining The External With The Internal
• What is Qigong?
By Salvatore Canzonieri
What the heck is Qi? Various answers are usually given, such as breath, energy, and intent. Possibly, qi is all these things and more. Mainly, qi is the result of opening blockages in the body so that there is open unimpeded circulation of the breath, electromagnetic energy, and the will's intent or attitude. This open circulation results in a synergy (more than the sum of its parts) that heightens the health affirming aspects of the body, increasing one's strength and vitality.
The cultivation of qi is considered to be part of the domain of internal wushu kungfu (taijiquan, bagua, etc.). But, "external" wushu kungfu also has a tradition of qi cultivation, even though it is lesser known. Ideally, when specific methodologies are practiced for the purpose of opening energy blockages while simultaneously practicing traditional martial arts forms, one is contributing to one's one health with every physical maneuver executed. In this way, the fighting arts become the healing arts.
There are various physiological bodily principles that the cultivation of qi concerns itself with. One is that the mechanisms of the human body operate hydraulically. Second is that, through the lungs, air enters the blood and the lymph and circulates through the body to all the cells. Third, the circulation of liquids in the body has to overcome weight and friction obstacles. Fourth, as physical activity increases, the flow of bodily fluids (blood, lymph, etc.) is also stimulated.
Two of the main essentials that martial arts concerns itself with, the posture of the body and the way by which the respiration is manipulated, overlap with the above mentioned bodily functions. The circulation of the blood and lymph, because of the obstacles by which weight opposes it (forces of gravity), is affected by the manner in which the body is maneuvered ( stretched, twisted, raised, lowered, bent, etc.) so as to make a physical change in the hydraulic mechanisms of the body.
Some positions must either impede or aid the circulation. Thus, any blockages work as adam, building up unbalanced reservoirs of fluids behind it, ready to enter with force when the obstacles are removed. It follows then that the correct positioning of the body (such as wushu kungfu postures) would enable the removing of blockages and aid circulation.
Also, as the beatings of the heart, which works as a hydraulic pump, fills up and empties itself with blood, the lungs concurrently expand and contract themselves, filling and emptying themselves of air. The heart beats slower or faster in response to acceleration or retardation of the respiration, affecting the total mass of blood and lymph and the exchange of gases in the blood, which needs oxygen to feed the cells and brain. By affecting the breathing, one ought to affect the beating of the heart and thus the circulation of blood and oxygen.
The heart beats and the fluids circulate involuntarily. But, the muscles move voluntarily. The muscles affect the rate and power by which the involuntary actions of the body occur. This is because the nervous system (the brain and all the nerves of the body) houses the will and touches every part of the body in one way or another. Thus, the will communicates its intent to the whole body via the nerves and the result is movement of the muscles and other tissues. Since the muscles move voluntarily, by the command of the brain, and the commands of the brain are based on the intentions of one's will, then it follows that intent can affect the circulation.
It becomes obvious how the execution of martial arts forms can ( by the proper positioning of the body, continual execution of specific movements, and the motivational intention behind these movements), in accelerating or retarding the respiration, accelerates or retards the circulation (of blood and lymph). Thus, kung fu, by controlling one's attitude and thus the body, facilitates one's healthier bodily functions.
The internal and external wushus are basically one - it is only the intention that separates them. If the internal mechanisms of the body are ignored and over emphasis is given to the external physique, the resultant over exertion of the body can deplete (through fatigue, stress, strain, pain, and contortions) the delicate functions of the internal organs. Thus, external movements that are specifically executed to promote the health of the internal organs are necessary to correctly energize all the bodily functions in a balanced manner.
Qigong, or Neigong, is the name for wushu's specific energizing internal exercises. Every traditional Chinese martial art system has its own set of qigong exercises that are meant to support the health of one's body as one progresses through the martial arts. Qigong is meant to prevent disease and increase one's strength, internally in the organs and externally in the muscles and the tendons of the joints, and all the hydraulic parts of the body.
The three aspects of qi: breath, energy, and will combine to form (like a type of human battery) a special synergy. The synergy is based on: 1) the structures - cells, organs, bones, muscles, skin, blood and blood vessels, nerves, etc.; 2) Liquids - intra and inter cellular liquids that help to generate the electrical energy of the body; 3) the electrical charge - the electromagnetic charge that is present and activates the body and its structures, which gives the body the force it operates with. All these operate under directional force - electromagnetic forces present within the atoms and molecules of the tissues.
When circulation is impeded, all sorts of problems occur: wastes build up, and cells die due to lack of oxygen, blood, and nutrients. The blood vessels and internal organs must be kept free of blockages or else disease occurs, slowly or rapidly. The main purpose of internal qigong exercises is to relax the entire body so that an affected part can receive nourishment and heal itself. For example, some qigongs train or direct the brain to stimulate the vagus nerve (which originates in the brain) to lower the heart rate and blood pressure when the body is too stressed. Other qigongs work to regulate the flow of energy (liquid nourishment) coming into the tissues and organs of the body by fine tuning the excretions of the endocrine glands (and thus the entire immune system). Together, these qigongs revitalize the body by nourishing and detoxifying all its cells. The body becomes stronger in many obviously important ways because qigong exercises serve to recharge the glands with the electromagnetic energy in the fluids. Also, the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves) can be invigorated and kept toxin free, removing types of string that weaken the nerves and cause mental imbalances.
Qigong combines the internal and external exercises so that one lives with the whole body, not a percentage of what is left alive, strengthening the body and mind as one. Their body mechanics 'recharge' by reordering groups of atoms and molecules so that electromagnetic energy at the cellular level is heightened. The nerves are exercised to soften and expand them so that they can conduct impulses smoothly to all parts of the body, especially between the brain and the organs, linking them together so that they can communicate freely. Uniting the mind and body brings about relaxation, because the attention is kept undivided and focused on a united pursuit that both the mind and the body are engaged in. Relaxation preserves the body and prevents the nervous system (and the mind) from deteriorating, and slows the ever ticking clock of the aging process.