Have you ever heard of the mysterious energy called chi? Perhaps you have watched with awe as the Shaolin monks perform almost superhuman feats of physical prowess on their Wheel of Life tour. Maybe you could even liken the monks to the Jedi Knights who were able to master a mysterious universal Force in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy.
The ancient Chinese believed that a vital life energy permeated the universe and that it could be used to heal in acupuncture or even kill in the Dim Mak, or death touch. This vital energy is still cultivated in all forms of kung fu increasing mental awareness, health and power. Chi energy is invisible and cannot be quantified, or analyzed, but rather felt, sensed and increased through correct practice. William Cheung studied under grandmaster Yip Man and even briefly taught Bruce Lee. His book How to Develop Chi Power describes the origins of the yik kan ging breathing exercises which date back to Taoist priests some 5,000 years ago.
According to Cheung’s book an exiled Buddhist prince called Prince Dat Mor took refuge at the Shaolin temple where he taught the exercises to the monks. They were then perfected by the grandmasters over the years. Cheung explains how the vital energy flows around the body and outlines breathing exercises to be performed while massaging specific points on the body to develop well being by ensuring the smooth flow of chi. The exercises are based on the relationship between pressure points, vital organs and chi with the pressure points being likened to a train station and the commuters the chi which flows along the meridian.
The technique is to stand with your feet parallel and knees pushing inwards and your tongue pushed to the top of your mouth. You then breath out first, imagining the breath coming up from the abdomen and out through the nose. You then breath in through the nose and imagine the breath going down your back and into your abdomen, so you are visualizing the breath making a complete circuit. You breath nine breaths like this while massaging each pressure point point in turn, first on one side of the body and then the other. Chi masters can then start visualizing moving the breath to different parts of the body as required.
You can even do the exercises while staring at the moon as this can help focus the mind, similar to a candle flame, and adds an atmosphere of the magical. For an extra buzz try dry brushing the skin first and then massaging anointing oil onto the pressure points.