Thursday, September 8, 2016

Five Centre's Face Heaven with Master Baolin Wu

In promotion of authentic source tradition teachers, I like to help promote Master Baolin Wu's seasonal Fall Workshop. This workshop is located Santa Monica California, a beautiful area. I do this practice and it's very powerful, his knowledge on Qigong Healing is authentic and will benefit you in many ways. He presents everything from a Traditional Orthodox Taoist teaching, made readily easy to learn for non specialist. This is important because nothing is left out. Receive a complete teaching versus a partial one. Learn how to integrate this in your own home and lifestyle. Please understand these gatherings fill very quickly so I recommend enroll today!  Read more below:

Message From Master Baolin Wu:

The Moon impacts ocean tides high and low, at its strongest form, Full Moon, impacts even more so, through its gravitational pull, so does it to our body fluid and  electrolytes.  Schizophrenia episodes multiply, criminal cases found guilty at large, this time around we are vulnerable to our emotion vicissitudes, Joy, sorrow, irritated and upset at some or many.

Unyielding to the moon wax & wane, "5 Centers Facing Heaven"a profound and beautiful Qi Gong practice, borrows the Yin Energy from the Moon, absorbing its essence, through breathing, meditating, and flows of movements. Facing the Moon, ask for tranquility,  grounding and at ease. September 15 is Moon's festival, celebrating Moon's birthday. More than an ancient legendary story of goddess Chang Er, jade hare living in the Moon Palace overlooking human on earth, how ungracious can we get, the moon is only ready to bestow sense of peace and settlement, that shone through grievance, contrite.            
Class at eleven on September 18th is a revelation of Qi Gong movements weaved into pattern, to be practiced in the presence of the glimmering moonlight. One inhale, one exhale, yin yang came across, lungs, kidney channel meet. 49 days of practice extends a lifespan an extra 2 years, all because of the moon's quintessence was absorbed by a willing heart. Untold stories from the white cloud monastery give in time and space, it's to be understood to each his own.Workshops fill quickly enroll today, contact details below:

Beijing Chinese medical Center 
1551 Ocean Avenue  #210
Santa Monica CA 90401

To enroll in workshop contact:

Office Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 1PM - 6PM
Saturday 10 AM - 4PM


Monday, September 5, 2016

The Power of Peace ~ Zhan Zhuang Gong

 The Way of Peace
Zhan Zhuang Yang Sheng Fa 
 Master Yu Yongnian


Master Yu Yongnian (于永年) is a celebrated Master teacher in the Zhan Zhuang 
(站桩養生法) Tradition. He was one of the last surviving teacher of Wang Xiang Zhai a famous teacher and Martial Artist in Beijing. Master Yu Yongnian was born on March 31, 1920 and lived until October 2, 2013 passed away at age 93.  He was a life long teacher of his teachers art and developer of this famous style unique to this area of China and within Zhan Zhuang, Yi Quan Health and Martial Arts.

In my life every teacher I have ever studied with (1981-current) taught/teaches a tradition of Zhan Zhuang; three of them were personal students of Yu Yongnian. Even they had considerably different takes on the practice. So there is not one school per se; and its not the final judgement on what is as well. These postural meditative traditions have always existed and always will.  For anyone interested in Qigong there is a sequence for everyone. It does take a experienced teacher to correctly adjust you and physically and verbally teach the in's and out's from experience on what makes this aspect of Qigong work. No video or book will be able to do this only from real practice can you get it out. 

The traditions from Wang Xiang Zhai and made popular through his students such as Master Yu Yongnian and many others are very popular. In many ways a standardized entry gate system into the vast world of this practice. But there is much to meet the eye here, holding the postures is a mere sliver of a very deep tradition. So I will leave it now at that and let his interview speak for the tradition he and his teacher had made famous.

Gary W. Abersold 

Question: Professor Yu, why have you started practicing martial arts? From what I read, after finishing medical school, your physical condition had deteriorated. Is that why you started practicing?

Initially I studied Tai Chi Chuan and Xing Yi Quan. Around 1944, I had already completed my medical studies and I was already working in the dentistry department of the hospital. It is true that my health was not very good; during the winter, I caught a cold easily, and in the spring it did not improve. For one reason or another, I always had something or the other.

Question: And why choose Taiji Quan or internal martial arts?

In China, in the medical field, there is the idea that people who exercise regularly and develop their physique, their muscles, will certainly cause their circulatory system to suffer. Their heart and the blood circulation will be affected by this excess, leading to a shortening of life. However, when someone assiduously practises gentle and slow exercises, their circulatory system strengthens and lengthens their lives, which is why people who practice Tai Chi tend to live longer. If we think of the animal kingdom, the lion or the tiger possess spectacular strength, but their life expectancy is rather short. However, the elephant and the tortoise, animals which move rather slowly, live over a hundred years.

And if we compare the animal and vegetable kingdoms: How many years can a tree live? In Beijing’s parks, there are many ancient trees, gigantic cypress that are over a thousand years old. In Australia, there are sequoias over ten thousand years old. In Chinese, they have a very interesting name, Shijeye, which means “grandfather of the world” .To return to the topic of sports, the majority of people do not understand, think that the more we move, the better it is; the higher the speed, the better it is. Like running the marathon and that sort of thing. However, in China, from antiquity to the present day, it is the question of whether the best exercise is to move or stand still, a subject that is still being debated today, the conflict between movement and stillness. Initially, I also understood that but later I found the answer in the Tao De Jing, which solves this dilemma about quietude. Do you know what I mean?

Question: I think so, is it Bao yi duli bu kai (embrace the one alone and without changing)?

Almost. Bao yi wu li (embrace the one, without abandoning nor going away). Embracing the one is easy, anyone can do it. But persevering, staying this way for forty minutes, an hour, it’s already more difficult. However, the longer one practices, the more the internal changes are produced and the greater the transformation is. This is not to say that the peace is the only way. Training in motion, that is to say, Taiji Quan, also has many health benefits.

Question: Taiji Quan through movement is therefore, the same as the Zhan Zhuang through peace?

What anyone ultimately practicing gongfu, is the forced jin or the wu. All look the same. The thing we need to stress is, which method gets us closest the objective; we must stress on that which makes us progress the most, either through movement or stillness. From my perspective, what will bring us the greatest experience of the jin force lies in the motionless practice, but as we said, it is a conflict that dates back to antiquity. For most people, exercise involves movement. However, training the interior by an outer immobility is a practice that produced surprising results, although it was hard for some to believe. That said, it is necessary to practice for a long time. Moreover, if nobody tells us what to look for or how to find it, it is very difficult to persevere. One must have great confidence in one’s teacher to overcome these barriers.

Question: Furthermore, reading ancient texts on kung fu, information is often very vague and very difficult to understand, especially for the Westerners. Perhaps this leaves too much room for speculation!
It is difficult to find a theoretical basis that is precise, useful, explained with verifiable scientific parameters. The theory of kung fu which we inherited from our ancestors reflects the reality of the time, the information was codified and too abstract, so the theory was not easy to understand if we had not someone to explain it. With experience and personal training, it is difficult that it leads us somewhere.

But today, we collect ancient knowledge and combine it with the means that modern science provides us with. This results in a verifiable system much less abstract. Today we can understand the ancient concepts in a new light. Nowadays, we cannot set up a training system based solely on the words of the past. We must aim higher especially as we have the means. For example, we speak of “finding stillness in movement of Tai Chi Chuan and movement in stillness Qigong How do we measure the movement in stillness? How is it verifiable?

Question: I do not know. Is there a means to measure the movement in stillness?

There is one, but until now, no one knew how to measure it. In fact, it is enough tojust measure one’s pulse to see that with practice of the static position, without moving, the pulse can rise to 150 beats. This is an example of what we were talking about.

Question: You mean, with the pulse, it is possible to determine the degree of internal movement?

Yes, of course, is not an external movement, but an internal one. If it moves very, very slowly, it is possible that the heart rate does not change, and yet without moving, it can cross 150.

Question: With such rapid heart rate, there would be some respiratory problems, breathing wouldn’t be normal? 

You see ? That’s the advantage. In any sport, a heart rate above 100, one begins to pant. But the practice of Zhan Zhuang, at a faster pace, doesn’t get you out of breath. There are physical activities that cause us to lose oxygen in the blood, and others where oxygen is not lost, but where it accumulates. That is why, when one practises Zhan Zhuang for over twenty minutes, even if one begins to sweat, the mind is more clear and the breathing does not accelerate.

Question: Can you tell us about your meeting with Wang Xiang Zhai and give us your first impression?

He was an elderly man, neither fat nor thin, neither tall nor short, with a little belly. A normal man for his age. He must have been about fifty years, could have even been in his sixties. I was 23 or 24 years. He was very bright, healthy, but he did not like someone practicing kung fu. You know, people who practice Kung Fu are generally stocky, with lots of muscles (laughs). He looked more like an educated person. His attitude was not that of a fighter, but that of a sage.

Question: Basically if you had crossed the street, you would have never imagined he practiced wushu?

No, he didn’t seem like that, but his physical condition was admirable, and his gait was very sharp and swift. We, at twenty, we were unable to follow. I admit that at first I could not believe it … I thought: “By practicing only Zhan Zhuang, standing doing nothing, can we develop inner strength? “Besides, he did not look particularly special, he was a normal man, he didn’t seem t possess exceptional abilities. I had only heard what others said about his dexterity … Especially since I was a doctor, and it was that he had the ability to cure diseases. This I could hardly believe it. So I had my doubts. But with time, I realized that my teacher was right, and the results had convinced me.

Question: Where were you training with him?

We trained in Tai Miao, the current Palace of the culture of workers, on the east side of Tiananmen Square. In the morning, many people came to train, over a hundred. It is at this point that I started to train with them. The real beginning was in Beijing between 1942 and 1944 at Pichai Hutong, in Xidan, under the Japanese occupation. It was after the seizure of Japan in 1945 that they began practicing Tai Miao. That’s when I joined the group. After the Liberation (1947), the classes were moved to the Zhong Shan Park.

Question: From what I know, in the early days of the Wang Xiangzhai instruction, one especially practices fighting, is it not?

Exactly at the beginning, he taught us boxing. The students were very young and enjoyed the fight. It was the era of Yao Zong Xun, who began studying before me. At that time, after having studied for a few years, students sought prestigious opponents and tested their skills.
Question: So pure sparring?

Yes, at Pichai Hutong, students were mainly learning how to fight, and, the truth is that Wang Xiang’s students Zhai fought against opponents who practiced other styles and they usually proved themselves superior. But it is true that many of them were too busy fighting, and some have also abused their power. The overall impression is not so flattering. People thought we practiced Da Cheng Quan, and that we were fighters, troublemakers, so the reputation we had was not positive, of course.

Over the years, this was the reason why Yao Zong Xun gave up its name to go back to its the original style and was renamed Yiquan, hoping to get rid of the bad reputation following Da Cheng Quan. This is why, in Yao Zong Xun’s training system, it is still called Yi Quan.

Question: But then, what is the correct name, Yi Quan or Da Cheng Quan?

Yi Quan is the name of the style developed by Wang Xiangzhai in Shanghai during his time, that is to say, the time before his arrival in Beijing. The system began to be called Da Cheng Quan during Beijing’s era. But it was not the idea of Wang himself, but his disciples.

Da Cheng is a Confucian concept indicating a very high degree of personal development, among scholars. Da Cheng Quan means “Boxing of great achievement.” Yi Quan derives from Xing Yi Quan (boxing of form and intent), but Xing was withdrawn because Xing Yi Quan does not have forms nor routines. Zhang Bi Hua gave the name Da Cheng and Wang Xiangzhai initially agreed. However, he thought that the knowledge of the man was unlimited, as the knowledge of martial arts, and to call it “great success” could give a wrong idea about the unlimited knowledge.

The two names correspond to different eras. The Yiquan dates back to the 20s in Shanghai, Da Cheng Quan dates back to Beijing during the 40s. Eventually, it was given the final name of Xue Zhong Guo Quan or “science of Chinese boxing” or “Chinese kung fu”.

Question: We can say that these three designations correspond to three different periods, is not it? But “the science of Chinese boxing” is a more general name?

The science of Chinese boxing (Kung Fu) is the result of many years of research on the foundations, the pillars of the practice of Chinese kung fu. Otherwise, if you want to call it the first era of Da Cheng Quan or Yiquan, it really does not matter. But the name that corresponds to the last era is Zhong Guo Quan Xue yanjiu hui. (association of the research on Chinese kung fu or Chinese boxing).

The inscription on the tomb of Wang Xiangzhai, Xue Yan Jiu Hui Yiquan (Yiquan Research Association) is incorrect, because the final stage was to move from one style of fighting or boxing to investigate the science of martial arts. Such has been its evolution, this is the reality.

Question: And how does such a martial style develop into a science of culture and of health, of Yangsheng?

After the liberation, the practice of martial arts was banned. And although there were many people interested in the martial aspect, like Yao Zong Xun and Wang Jie Xuan, what interested us was the Zhan Zhuang, it was not only ts quality of therapy, but also its means to preserve health, Yangsheng. I was a doctor, I could not pick a fight over there (laughs), and I was interested more int investigation and studying in depth the aspect of prevention and treatment of diseases.

Question: So how does this research group of curative aspects of Zhan Zhuang created by Wang Xiangzhai created by 1947 in investigated it? By reading books?

At that time there were no books nor any material. There were ancient Buddhist and Taoist texts, but no newer and more precise publications. References to the practice in the ancient books are very vague. And the recent publications were small books that taught positions, nothing more, nothing elaborated upon.

Question: In June 1981, Zhan Zhuang Jian Shen Liang Fa (Zhan Zhuang a good method for health), the first book on Zhan Zhuang as the techinique of the culture of health was published. The first edition sold 120,000 copies, and the second more than 275,000.

Yes, it was in general a theoretical explanation of Zhan Zhuang. It also included some medical cases, but nothing more. It is in the later publications that medical records were included.

Question: I understand that the application of Zhan Zhuang in hospitals began in the 1950's Apparently Wang Xiang Zhai was invited to the hospitals and clinics across China to teach Zhan Zhuang as therapy. When did he begin treating patients with Zhan Zhuang? What was his approach?

After the Liberation, in 1947, coinciding with the period of Tai Miao, many people came to the park to cure their health problems. Essentially, we practiced Zhan Zhuang, and then sick and the weak were leaving and we continued practicing the "tuishou", pushing with the hands.

Question: I understand that this change came from the prohibition by the government of the martial arts, and Wang Xiangzhai then concentrated his practice on the treatment of patients.

Yes, that’s right, and very successfully, too. As I said, many people came for this reason, with problems such as arthritis or an affected shoulder that does not allow you to raise the arm, people coming in wheelchairs pushed by family … these people after half a month or a month were recovering mobility in their members or have started to walk alone. At that time, I began to understand that the cases I saw every day in the hospital and did not improve were resolved in the park almost immediately. Then, in the physiotherapy section of the hospital, we have created a new department called “exercises for recovery” (Ti Liao ke).

At first there were not many patients, but the department soon began to fill up. On the fifth floor of the hospital of western medicine, we had a huge room where we practiced Zhan Zhuang in the morning. Despite the skepticism, word of mouth has worked well and, in no time, we welcomed many people.

Question:And what happened to martial practice, has it just disappeared, or is there anything left?

At Tai Miao, most were practicing Zhan Zhuang for health, but there was also a group that was training at Yao Zong Xun’s home, in Xidan. They were all young students who learning combat but almost clandestinely, because it was not allowed. This does not mean that there has been a change in the mentality of Wang Xiangzhai, this was due to political circumstances. But the fact is that the number of people practicing Yangsheng was growing more and more and the number who trained at combat was growing fewer and fewer, and so, the practice has evolved towards the prevention and curing of diseases. Anyway, the therapeutic results were very good.

Question: What types of diseases are treated?

They were all chronic illnesses: hypertension, arthritis, coronary heart diseases, digestion, insomnia … Insomnia has given excellent results.

Question: What was the reaction of the medical community?

There has been no concrete answer. At first we had just created the rehabilitation room with the exercises at the general hospital of Peking. Other hospitals did not have such courses, but they gradually began to include similar activities, but they used only the generic name Qigong.

Question: How did the Zhan Zhuang therapy and the Qigong therapy differ?

At first they were very similar. We all practice with static postures standing, sitting or lying down. After creating the sanatorium of Beidahe, they started calling it Qigong in the parks, and the Chinese medicine hospitals have also called it Qiqong and not Zhan Zhuang. In 1967, they invited Wang Xiang Zhai to the Research Institute of Chinese medicine and created the Department of Research on Qigong. It was called Qigong but Zhan Zhuang was practiced like in the hospital of Guananmen or the one in Baoding.

Question: So initially, the practice was the same, but wore different names? Because they followed different paths thereafter? 

It’s exactly that. In the 60s at Xiao Tang Shan, a seminar was held where all the sanatoria and rehabilitation services in the country spoke of Zhan Zhuang. Then I went to Shanghai where we have also presented, and it is from there that it was accepted in all these institutions as therapy, but it was called Qigong because the name already had a reputation and Zhan Zhuang didn’t.

Then came the boom of Qigong and many systems have emerged, some were positive and some real scams. Then Li Hong Zhi appeared and created Falun Gong. He also taught on the basis of Zhan Zhuang, but added things like “Falun wheel” orbits etc. They promised spectacular things. But it ended Qigong movement in a tragedy.

The first steps of the Qigong therapy are very positive and very useful from a therapeutic point of view. The problem is with the higher steps, such as “open the gate of heaven”, the micro-orbit, macro-orbit … These elements can cause many problems. By practicing Qigong, the focus is on the middle line in the meridian design, while in the practice of Zhan ne practices on the four members of the body. It is best not to focus on the centre and not to control the breathing. Natural breathing is the best, for then the brain is able to relax. The ends are the most important, this is where we concentrate our work, thanks to them, we connect with our nternal centres (bodies) and we develop our capacity, our potentiality. The lower extremities are most important, the potential is much greater. Technology has made the man largely sophisticated the movements of its upper members, but there is much more potential in the legs.

Question: Did you know the original therapy of Qigong? What was it?

In ancient times, there were methods of Yangsheng, the culture of health, used by people of high intellectual and culture. In my view, this whole culture of Yangsheng comes mainly from Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tsu. A very important part of the Tao is to cultivate life or health. Understanding this is very important, but many miss the point.
Question: And the Buddhist contribution?

In Buddhism, the main one is the sitting posture. The Chinese cultural tradition brings this little gem that is standing meditation, sometimes with martial vocation, but always centered on the development of global energy and integrated in the middle.

Question: But the training system which, according to tradition, brought the Bodhidharma in the Shaolin also includes standing postures.

Yes, it is true, but the first references to standing meditation exist in the Chinese culture a thousand years earlier than it did in the “Classic of the Yellow Emperor” and especially in the Tao Teh Ching.

Thereafter, the only practice of Zhan Zhuang, which had perhaps become too difficult and too elementary, evolved towards a practical in movement, then came those who were called internal martial arts, thereafter. These styles function on movement, and Qigong, on peace.

Question: What is the reality of Zhan Zhuang as therapy today?

Therapy is currently used in very few places. In the medical field, we still use a lot of acupuncture and Tuina massage, but static practices are in decline. They solely exist in small communities and parks and really is a shame, since it is the gem of the tradition. 

Question: Can we get it back?

At least, it is at the state at which it had arrived a few years ago. In hospitals, we can say that it has almost disappeared. Now the practice is going pretty much on a personal level, at home, in some schools, in the parks with professors. Sure, it does not benefit from the recognition it had a few years ago.

Question: At which position do you think the Zhan Zhuang could aspire?

We should spread and promote its practice because many chronic diseases are not cured with medication, but with the Zhan Zhuang one can re-balance effectively without resorting to the often aggressive treatments. The evolution of Zhan Zhuang is taking place at a private level, not at the public level or at the state level. In the private sphere, there has been an increasing level of interest, especially abroad. 

Because in China, what just happened to Falun Gong weighs too much, is still too recent. The Da Cheng Quan situation has been affected by all this. But we must not lose sight of Zhan Zhuang, which more than therapy or a system of combat, remains the best way to prevent disease, and it is this value that we must defend, it is an extraordinary method for preserving and reinforcing good health.

End of Interview

If you have any questions on Zhan Zhuang or looking how to start feel free to contact me at the email below: