Interview conducted by Matt Bild on March 13, 2005

Bagua has eight animals, each having a different force. Can you describe each kind of force? For example, what is Qian trigram force, kun trigram force, etc. and how these forces relate to the part of the body used to emit force e.g. the lion using the waist to emit force, the phoenix using the shoulder, etc.?

As you stated, most people think that bagua has eight forces. This isn't a complete understanding. Each animal has many different forces, but one of those forces is primary. For example look at the lion system. It primarily practices the waist. Emitting force from the waist is most important. You could however also use your shoulder, elbow, or leg to emit force. Because it doesn't matter what kind of development, it is a sum total of the coordination of all parts of the body that produce this kind of thing. In simple terms, it is a one-sided understanding to say that there is just a use of one force (per animal). It's not that it's an incorrect understanding; it's just not complete. It's more of an idea of which aspect is stressed. For example, the lion uses the waist to emit force. The waist is the most difficult to practice. It gives a lot of benefit to the major organs of the body. The motions of bending and rising and lowering of the waist help the circulation of the conception and governing vessels and the belt channel. So we practice the waist as a way to even out the alignment of these important channels. So through strengthening the waist we are strengthening the belt channel - to balance and coordinate the belt channel with the conception and governing vessels. So when you practice the lion system at its most complete level, the waist, legs, arms, and thought are used at the instant of emitting force far as the practice requirements of Yin Style Bagua, you should practice to the most complete, flawless and coordinated state. You want to be prepared.

He Jinbao
the waist controls and evens out all of these components. So that's what is meant by the simple common phrase use the waist to emit force. That phrase is generalized, but quite a bit is contained in its meaning. So, if in a fight you are positioned very close to the opponent, you might not use the waist much at all, you might just use the arm or shoulder to slightly nudge the opponent and send him flying. But as far as the practice requirements of Yin Style Bagua, you should practice to the most complete, flawless and coordinated state. You want to be prepared. When you go to use it (in a fight), you might not need that much. So in simple terms, to say that each animal is just one kind of emitting of force isn't incorrect it's incomplete. Including the phoenix system. The phoenix, or any system for that matter, will use the waist, legs and body when emitting force. It's a matter of what is stressed. Through the practice of each animal system, you'll get a grasp of its specialty and emphasize its strong points. Another example would be the bear system. The Gen trigram upside down bowl. In common language, the body should feel like you're carrying something on the back. So when you practice bear, you want to think a lot about the back. This will help you to coordinate the body and conform to the practice requirements of this system. In the rooster system, you want to think a lot on the slight concaving of the chest. The Li trigram is empty in the middle, so we hollow out the chest. When you hollow out the chest, this will cause the back to also be held taut. Conversely, if you practice bear and concentrate on rounding the back, it will also cause the chest to concave. But, as we practice internal martial arts, the mind's intent is primary. The area you're thinking of in the two systems is different and the balance of strength and relaxation will be different between the two postures. You see, if you intentionally concave the chest, the chest concaving will use seven tenths of your effort, rounding the back three tenths. If you think of rounding the back, the back will use seven tenths, concaving the chest three tenths. There's no way in rounding the back that the chest won't be involved at all. It's like what I was just saying about emitting force. Each of these postures from the animal systems will have an individual balance between the component parts. In the practice of the dragon system, it is the Zhen trigram, thunder. The feet are representative of this trigram. This system requires the use of the legs to emit force. This requires that when you practice the movements should be long relative to the other systems. So, in our bagua, with all these animal systems, with the yang trigrams, there is short, middle and long hard force. With the yin trigrams, there is also long, medium and short force. They're all quite different. In the lion system, mostly it requires that you give the opponent a feeling of being pressured and having his space intruded upon. Speaking objectively, if you practice well, you should have this, in addition to the ability to meet the opponent evenly, and the ability to evade the opponent. It's not that the lion wouldn't have dodging and evading out of harm's way. Why? Because the lion is a combination of all the animals. The Qian and Kun trigrams are what create all the other trigrams. But lion emphasizes the invading and pressuring method, not the others. With the unicorn, you could also use a forcing transforming. Like with bear and phoenix you have transforming movements that also use strength. It's like if you have some frozen food, and you want to eat it now without waiting for it to naturally thaw, you can put it in the microwave oven and force it to melt quickly (using that method) you'll get a quicker (better) result than normal. Our martial art draws many things from everyday life. Look at the lion system, the thought and intent of forcing the opponent should be emphasized I am primary. But being forceful to the opponent will be relative to the strength and skill of the opponent you face. So once you practice to a certain level in lion, you'll adjust how much force you use to the situation of the opponent you are fighting. But at the beginning of studying lion, you want a strong emphasis on the self, not worrying about adjusting for the opponent. Unicorn, however, starts with an emphasis on the opponent, not at all emphasizing your own strength and intent of force.

Can you explain the various methods of force used?

First of all, using the waist to generate force (Qian trigram force), there would be a turning the waist with the strike (waist and strike both going in the same direction). In addition, there is the dantian expanding out slightly. In this method, the waist doesn't move, but the belly dantian expands out. Another method would be the waist turning with the strike, then at the instant of contact, the waist will turn back in the opposite direction of the strike known as a moving against emitting force method. Basically, these three kinds are the foundation methods of emitting force for the Qian trigram.

The snake system should use a binding (winding) strength. It usually emphasizes a pulling back in and encircling. The first method emphasized for pulling in and encircling is use of the arms. Secondly, the body is used to achieve this. Finally, there are leg/stepping methods used. But the most important aspect of the use of force of the snake system is a returning / coming back in (towards your own body). This encircling and pulling in is also to serve to enable you to emit power. These three methods using the arms, body, and legs to entwine and pull in the opponent are so that you can emit your force in a circular motion.

The bear system has a Gen trigram force. Gen is commonly used in Chinese to refer to something that is not crisp, or will not snap or break easily like how an apple is really crisp. Foods on the other end of the spectrum would be very soft. Then something Gen would be in the middle of the two. It's like the kohlrobbie, it's not really crisp, but there is some hardness to it. It's not pure crispness. For the bear system, it uses Gen force the first requirement being that the force is short. The back is used to emit force, to determine the striking of the hands. One kind is to use the back to control the hand / arm striking motions, another is to use the back to directly strike; yet another is to use the back to control the attacking motions of the legs. So you see, with the eight animals, where could we say the difference is? With the lion system, you mainly use the waist to whirl and turn to drive the limbs to attack. With the bear system, we use the back to control each of these various attacking areas (parts of the body) and to use the back to enter on the opponent.

Now, the dragon system should have a long strength. The most important aspect is placing emphasis on springing off the back leg. The dragon system method of emitting force is to use the legs, but the angles of emitting force are all different. Depending on the direction of the striking arm in relation to the leg, there end up being three basic types: wide open (almost a tearing feeling considered to be a moving against force), straight (off the leg) and whirling around.

So again, this is still different from the moving with and moving against forces used by the lion system. Like I have said about lion, it uses a moving with, an expanding of the dantian, and a moving against. These mainly emphasize the waist. These three methods can bring into play many different areas of the body; the arms, the torso, the legs (using the waist is) the most complete. In the snake system, the most important thing is the encircling emitting of force. It's not only going out away from your body that you can emit force, emitting while coming back in is possible as well. So snake is the reverse of other systems in that you will emphasize harming the opponent with movements that come back in toward your own body. The encircling can use the arms, body and legs. It's quite different. The bear uses the back to strike. First, the back moves the arms. Second, the back directly strikes; leaning strikes, crashing strikes, squeezing strikes, pressing strikes, etc. Third, the back also controls the legs.

Dragon system, however, is different. The dragon uses the legs to emit force. You burst off of the legs. The force then travels from the legs through the waist out to the hands. In this way, the path traveled by the force is long. In Yin Style Bagua, this is known as a type of long force. The main thing the legs control (in the dragon system) is hand strikes. As far as the hand strikes, basically there are opening up, coming together in the middle and round and slippery. The angles are different on each. Amongst the really wide angles, there are long medium and short strikes. But that's relative to each other; in all (in comparison to other animal systems) they're all long. In addition, we often say the phoenix system uses the shoulder to emit force. The shoulder is used in this way to facilitate agility. What's different about this is that the shoulder is used to carry the waist. The shoulder is primary, but the waist is also used. In this way, the secondary use of the waist can have a moving with or against the strike, or expanding of the dantian. These are still different form the lion system, as the phoenix uses the shoulder to carry the waist into the strike, whereas the lion uses the waist to control the strike. The phoenix uses the arm (shoulder) to decide the waist movement. So in a way, the phoenix method is the opposite of the lion; the lion speaks only of the waist to determine the strike, the phoenix speaks of the strike (turning and changing of the arm and shoulder) to determine the waist forming a moving with, against, or dantian expanding motion.

The rooster system uses the elbow to emit force. Using the elbow to emit force is also considered a type of short force. It has a hard and crisp feeling. The shortness if the force makes it very fast. The elbow emitting force has three main types; the elbow carrying the shoulder, the elbow carrying the waist, and the elbow carrying the legs. Although it in broader terms is a short force, it still separates into long, middle and short variants.

Next is the unicorn system. The unicorn, objectively speaking, also uses the waist. You might also say it uses the waist accomplish its objective. With the lion you use the waist to emit force. With the unicorn, you use the waist to remove force. How is the waist used to remove force? Well, there isn't an expanding of the dantian method as previously mentioned. There is a (waist) moving with removing, moving against removing, and transforming removing. The (unicorn) reverse palm is a moving with the force. It is stated very clearly that the unicorn is upper, lower, inside, and outside harmonious smoothness. So first, we have a moving with removing (of the opponent's force). Secondly, we have a moving against the opponent's force to remove. The opponent may assume that you can only use a moving with motion to remove his force; moving against is also possible. Finally there is a transforming removing this is a relatively higher level. The unicorn emphasizes a round and slippery strength and a whirling force.

Finally, the monkey system. The main emphasis of the monkey system is on leg methods. But the central location used to emit force is still the waist. The main methods of using the force are the knees, hip and body. The waist is still the central axle of the force. The force emitted should be very hard. Yin Style Bagua leg techniques are all a very hard force. Not crisp hard, very hard. That is Dui trigram force. Something crisp is something that can snap very easily. Something Gen is something that is firm, but not easily breakable. So when I say the legs are hard, this is slightly different from the meaning of crisp.

Can you describe what shocking force is like? Lion, phoenix and bear systems all have a shocking attack method. Is the shocking force itself different in each of these animals, or is it differentiated via the striking hand forms used?

First of all, shocking is a type of force. What kind of force? It is an internal force. A control of the body is required in order to give rise to internal power. The force itself, the strikes used to deliver it, and the areas to be struck are different than other attacking methods. The angles of the strikes and rising, lowering, and whirling movement of the body are also different from other methods. All of these aspects help the shocking force achieve various results. From the point of view of force, shocking has straight, angular, and round. One basically can use these three kinds of shocking force. For example, speaking of the lion system shocking strikes, the requirements are hard, violent, and crisp. The phoenix system shocking strikes should be clean, orderly, and fast. So this is different than the hard, violent, and crisp of lion system. The bear system is still different. The shocking force it uses should be a little sticky, full, and thick. In addition, the targets struck by each system's shocking strike are generally different. The lion practitioner generally uses the arm to strike the opponent's arm, head, or chest. These targets are chosen to do maximum damage to the opponent. The phoenix system will generally tend to shock strike the opponent's spine (neck), arms, or ribs. The bear system will tend to strike the opponent's chest, lower abdomen, and back. The bear will use either the back or the arms to deliver this shocking force. I have said that shocking is a type of internal force. As I mentioned, there are many elements that are involved in the generation of this force. You could use the back, the arm, or the shoulder to shock strike. The bear will mostly use its rushing, penetrating, and carrying strikes with a shocking force. The phoenix will use dodging, extending, and chopping to shock. The lion will use sweeping, cutting, chopping, and hooking with a shocking force. But this is an absolute. For example, the lion also will use a rolling shaking shock. So these attacking method characters (sweeping, dodging, rushing, etc.) are used to emphasize the characteristics of each system, but there are also many shocking methods used outside of the sixty-four attacking methods. You could rolling shock, wiping shock, covering shock, et cetera. They're all different strikes, but they all want to have the proper length of force for a shocking strike, to obtain the desired shocking strike result in the opponent's body. This also includes the distance that your force should enter into the opponent. The objective of using a shocking strike is to allow your force to enter inside the opponent's body. You must have a control of the depth of your force entering into the opponent's body. For example, if I use a lion shaking shock strike to the opponent's arm, the result should be to damage the opponent's neck vertebrae. There are some strikes where the result will not happen at the point of contact. However, if you used the same strike to the elbow, you might break the elbow and damage the vertebrae as well. This is one reason why when we practice we must tuck under the chin to strengthen our own neck vertebrae. The bear system back leaning strike uses the outside to strike, but harms the inside of the opponent. You might say the lion strikes one place causing harm to another, whereas the bear strikes the outside of the body causing harm to the inside. The phoenix is more direct where it shock strikes is usually where the opponent is harmed. The angles used are different amongst all of these. For example, dropping straight down like a chopping shocking strike. If the strike goes straight down, without any change in the movement of the arm, then that is considered a chop. If you add a slight rotation to the forearm as you bring the arm down, this will create the shocking force. So in this instance, the technique must be modified slightly to bring about a shocking force. In this way, the arm contains the ability to change. As the arm is coming down, the opponent won't be able to judge what is going on. In addition, adding a rotating inward motion to the forearm can also add the effect of a carrying strike as you make contact with the opponent's forearm. In a side note on this theme, the rooster system does not have the character for shocking amongst its attacking methods.

...if you want to get your shocking force emitted the most completely, it requires the combination of a lot of component elements to all come into place; the angle of the strike, rising or lowering of the arms, and the help of the body.

He Jinbao
But the character for its rising and shifting strikes often employ movements with a rotation of the forearm to cause the opponent to rise up and shift off his root. These could be considered to contain a type shocking force in application due to the movements of the arms while executing these strikes. My point being that through a slight change in the motion of the arms when executing any strike, you could change the force used into a shocking force.

Now, if you want to get your shocking force emitted the most completely, it requires the combination of a lot of component elements to all come into place; the angle of the strike, rising or lowering of the arms, and the help of the body. Now if you want a lighter shock, you could just use the arms to shock strike. To add a greater degree of force, you could put your waist into the strike, a most complete force is generated when the rising or lowering of the whole body is involved. In summary, shocking is a kind of internal force which is created through the combination of many different components.

What is listening ability in martial arts? How should it be understood?

The term listening force is made from the character for listening with the ear and the character for strength or ability. Now form the martial arts point of view, of course this is not the meaning of just listening with the ears. If you can practice to a high level, you should use the sense of touch to get a feeling of the degree of force used by the opponent. To express this idea, practitioners will usually say that they listen to or hear your force. If you really want to get an accurate sense of your opponent's force, you must make contact. If you don't make contact, there is no way you can have an accurate feel of his force. In Yin Style Bagua, the saying is that you touch with the skin and hair on the forearm. Of course when we say skin, there are many layers to the skin and of course nerves, this is all contained in that meaning.

In order to arrive at a good level of listening ability, first you must studiously practice your development. Through a long period of practice, including the movement of the functions of qi, your heart will have this sensitivity; your mind will have thought this over.

Our practice methods of standing, striking, turning, and changing all contain elements of practicing listening skill. Listening skill, objectively speaking is something that will arrive naturally once you've practiced to a good level in these areas. Chinese medicine for example, requires that you go and read the pulses of live patients. If you don't, you'll never have a sense for being able to read a patient's condition. But first of all, before you do this, you must study, you must know the where and why of the meridians. In martial arts, we must first practice to obtain a developed strength. So first, you must put in time studying and practicing. Secondly, through this study and practice, you will improve and know where the opponent's vulnerable spots are. Finally, you can go to use it. For example, the shousanli point on the forearm. If you strike it, you can numb the arm so that the opponent is unable to use his arm. At the instant when the hands go up in a fight, you will be able to listen to the opponent's force and be able to be sure of the result you will get by striking a certain place on his body. So listening ability, in all is an important part of the overall picture in martial arts. This includes your power of vision, perception of when a fighting/dangerous situation might occur. But in narrower terms, listening ability could be described as if I touched your arm and closed my eyes, I could get a sensation of where you (your strength) were going. Then I would know how I should change and which force should I use. Including the amount of force I should use and the basic direction of movement I should use to react.

Will practicing standing strengthening, turning the circle, striking, and changing somehow affect the body to facilitate this listening ability?

Using the four main areas of practice, the meridians of the body will become unimpeded; the circulation of blood through the circulatory system will also be smooth and unimpeded. This will include improvement to your sense of touch and overall sensitivity. So as all these are being improved through continual practice, your listening ability will be strengthened.

Does Yin Style Bagua have a push hands practice method? Is it important to practice? What difference does it have from taiji push hands?

Yin Style Bagua has push hands. But we only use single push hands training. Why? From what was commonly said by the old practitioners, single push hands at the start two people practicing a type of strength with each other. At the beginning they will resist each other with strength. After a long period practice, both people are exhausted and have no strength left, so they will naturally begin to listen for the sensation of the opponent's force use listening skill.

So could it be said that our method of push hands is according to the Qian and Kun philosophy of first practicing yang, then later practicing yin unlike taiji which stresses not using force from the start?

Our training method at the beginning is that both people must use force. You must practice with strength. You must endure to the point of where you have no strength left, and you will naturally be at a point of not using force. At the extremity of yin, yang is produced, and at the height of yang, yin comes to be. It is that same theory. So when two people practice with strength until reaching the point of having no more strength, that is a pure listening skill. Through this kind of practice you are bringing the hard force to its extremity to produce a pure soft strength.

We practice the single push hands methods. Double push hands with a moving step is actually a type of sparring practice. If the both hands are pushing at the same time, mutually pressing arms, this is actually a type of exercise between two friends. In Chinese, we call it a type of contract hands we both agree beforehand what the rules are for safety. In Yin Style Bagua, however double push hands would just be fighting. Because it is only with an acquaintance that you could practice something like double push hands. If you tried it with someone you're not sure of, the opponent might try something on you. So that's the difference of Yin Style Bagua push hands practice with other styles like taiji quan.

So could it be said that through developmental practices, push hands practice, and applications practice with a training partner that these will combine to develop listening ability?


How is internal power developed?

Internal development is also a combination of various things. First of all is our standing practice. When training the standing postures, you must add a lot of thought.

What kind of thought?

Because you want to train for fighting, you should add a type of heavy forceful feeling to the arms or the feeling of striking power. First of all, the posture and position of the hands must be accurate. The angles must be appropriate. In that way, the qi and blood can be unobstructed. It's not that just by standing there idly you can develop internal power. If you have no thought and your posture is incorrect, your angles are inappropriate and your qi and blood are obstructed, then your limbs will end up feeling numb and you still think you're getting internal development?

In addition to standing practices, there are other internal development practices. For example, you could singly practice the dantian region by slowly repeatedly expanding the dantian. Thinking expand expand expand. This is a type of self-massage. Through practicing this you can strengthen and make more durable the internal organs. Through time, the strengthening of the organs will have a positive effect on the external body, and the effect of adjusting the balance of yin and yang in the organs. Over the course of time, your internals will be strong. Once they are strong, if you add the martial developmental practices, the combination of the two will produce internal power. So it requires the combination and coordination of both aspects, having just one isn't enough. Why is it that martial arts talk about developing the hands, eyes, body, waist, and stepping? It's all a combination of elements. In broader terms, we (martial arts) have the use of kicking, grasping, throwing, and striking. Everything is a combination of many factors.

Now, turning the circle is also to help for internal development. The practice of internal development like other development has still practice and moving practice. I've stated many times that through turning practice, a body that is stiff and obstructed can become unimpeded and agile. A person with clumsy stepping can develop nimble and agile stepping. If your body is stiff and clumsy, the qi and blood are obstructed the meridians are not flowing smoothly, how can you talk of having internal development? So to just speak singly about one practice method of developing internal power is not complete. Now turning practice at the beginning is just a basic practice, but over time it can become a very profound practice. One, through turning you can adjust the nervous system. You can also arrive at a state of practicing the essences and transforming them to qi, then transform the qi to become spirit.

This process of essence transforming to qi transforming to spirit is there an intentional practice method for it, or does it naturally become enhanced through our practices?

There isn't a special practice method for it, it occurs naturally. Many people ask, should I use this or that breathing method? At the beginning you do not want to think about all different breathing methods. It's like I have told people, if you're turning too fast, you'll know because you're out of breath. If there's no change whatsoever in your breathing, that proves you're turning too slowly. According to each individual situation you must adjust the practice. Because each person's body, habits, and nutrition et cetera are all different. One person may practice for four hours and feel fine whereas another may be completely exhausted after the same amount of time. It's like a marathon runner unsuccessfully trying to compete in a hundred-meter sprint. Conversely, the sprinter would be dead tired trying to run the marathon. A sprinter may only have to prepare for tens of steps, not so for a marathon runner you'd need to take ten thousand. It is different stepping adjustment for different purposes. Stepping for turning the circle at the beginning is supposed to be the whole bottom of the foot stepping levelly down. But at the start you aren't able to accomplish that. So a beginner can adjust and allow the front portion of the foot to come down first. But you definitely do not want to step heel first. In Yin Style Bagua, we try and step down with the whole foot levelly in order to adjust your balance; to adjust your yin and yang. This kind of stepping can help you to save a lot of effort, to give you a really well distributed arrangement. This is important because we turn the circle for long periods of time. Our steps are small, but they are taken quickly. When breathing, you should take natural breaths while turning. Slowly through practice, the functions and circulation of qi will begin to be involved. Through time, all the systems of the body, including circulatory, digestive, et cetera will all be benefited by the practices.

So the development of internal power is most benefited through the standing and turning practice methods. Be sure to bout thought in while standing. Standing is also a type of guiding and leading (dao yin) practice where enduring in a prescribed posture will affect the internal circulation of blood and qi.

What is qigong? Some styles emphasize individual practice of qigong. How does this relate to our internal development methods?

Qigong is currently very popular and en vogue. With bagua, it doesn't matter which aspect you're practicing; it all contains qi. It all contains development. The idea is to put qi and development together. At the beginning they are separate, then later on you put them together to become qi-gong. This is an explanation from the point of view of the characters. People nowadays, relatively speaking, don't like to practice a lot of basic things. They feel it to be too bitter and uninteresting. Everyone chooses to go right for the high level practices. I feel that things should go according to scientific rules of development. It's like with humans, at the time you're born, you don't know how to speak. Slowly you learn. Slowly you choose the things you are interested in studying, a type of profession, a partner, et cetera. Everything requires progression in stages. If you're averse to using strength form the start, the result won't be good. China has a lot of qigong associations and blue-ribbon panels and the like. I've been to them. A lot of people who practice only qigong practice themselves into a sorry state. So there are some things, to borrow a phrase from ancient Chinese culture, which you can desire, but shouldn't strive to obtain. You can have the idea of arriving at something, but you shouldn't be too insistent about getting there. With these things like qigong or bagua, if you could practice to mastery in two days, then they wouldn't be worth the money, so to speak. As far as determining whether a person's qigong is practiced well or not, you should compare with yourself, not with other people claiming this and that. As with a lot of things, you don't want to just take things at hearsay. He said he had this and that benefit from this practice. It's not that everything everyone says will be correct. Different people who teach or write books are all at different levels; the things they write or say will reflect those differences. The length of time a person has been practicing, the depth of understanding he has, all of this will come into play. In addition, a certain type of qigong practice might fit with some people and not with others. Or like a vitamin supplement might benefit some and harm others. Medicine is the same, you must listen to a doctor tell you what kind of medicine you need; you can't blindly take whatever you feel like. Is it a yang deficiency condition? Yin deficient? You must supplement the right thing. I feel that qigong should be approached in the same way.

When we practice development, the first thing is the movement of the qi. Then comes the movement of the strength. So we have qi and we have development (gong).

So the movement of the qi is practiced through holding postures like the standing strengthening postures?


And the movement of the strength is through turning the circle and striking practice, et cetera?

Yes, so when you have both of these together, that produces a type of qigong. It is qi and strength put together well with development (gongfu). For example, why is it the average person can't run a marathon? Because they don't have the training of portioning out their breathing extremely accurately for the long haul of the race. I'm speaking in very simple terms of the practice of the breath. I'm not willing to go into very mysterious discourses on supernatural powers developed through qigong. So for example, these athletes, their breath is used well and portioned out well. Then you add in training and time (gongfu). Development is expressed in many ways in the body. First of all is time. If someone has practiced, for example, running for ten years, and adds in good control of the breath, he will arrive at a successful result. Again, it's the combination of elements. If you practice ten years of running and developing your breathing, you will run well. If I just sit here and train my breath for ten years without the running developmental practice, at the end of the time, I won't be able to run a marathon. So you can't just blindly focus on the breath. The practice of qigong is similar to out martial art practice. I feel that qigong also has standing, turning, striking, and changing. Why do I say that? Because standing is the use of guiding and leading energy (dao yin). Turning is also adjusting and using the qi. Including the practice of strikes, you are using the techniques to control and determine the qi and strength. With changing, you are adjusting the breath. Different techniques may accompany different types of breathing. You may use a moving the breath with, against, or holding the breath technique.

I feel that a lot of the qigong practitioners out there have changed these practical things into very mysterious-sounding practices. If you blindly follow just one aspect, without an understanding of the component parts that make it up, I feel that the result cannot be very good. A lot of people who practice qigong with the idea that they're going to get to some immortally high level, well they're just fooling themselves.

When you practice something, first of all you've got to have some thought about what you're doing. There are some people who practice qigong for the purpose of strengthening the body. If through the practice I feel that my body has improvement, there is an obvious result, that proves I'm practicing correctly. Some people practice qigong for the purpose of being unbeatable in a fight. If you don't arrive at this result, that proves that you're incorrect.

Yin Style Bagua has qigong, but we don't usually talk about it. At least not in terms of qigong. In this style, we first practice the yang fire, then enter the yin state. Practice the spirit and return to the void. Then borrow the qi of heaven and earth. Four levels.

The singular practice qigong approaches certain things from a different vantage point than our martial art. In out art, when we begin the traditional position is facing the south with the back to the north. Qigong practitioners will usually face the east while training. Qigong practitioners will practice for various reasons; some to adjust their own qi, others to expel certain sick qi from the body, others still to gather qi from the surroundings or from other people. So if your thinking is different, then your result will be different.

What are the benefits of practicing the bagua saber or straight sword?

First of all, the martial arts are a combined practice. It's the same for bauga. In Chinese martial arts, it is often said that one must practice forms, long weapons, strike practice, short weapons, shuai jiao, Chinese hackey sack, lion dance, et cetera - these are all a part of martial training. It combines so many different things to give you very complete development. First of all, forms practice requires your hands, eyes, body, methods, and stepping to be coordinated, done to completion and practiced by the book. I tell you that doing forms practice is to develop you into a successful fighter. But if you want to make these forms flawless, you must practice single-action strikes. That will make each part of the form correct. Why practice weapons? Because people can not only rely on themselves for practice. Some things require help. If you've never picked up anything heavy before, then all of the sudden one day go to lift something heavy, you'll hurt yourself. If you only practice forms or strikes, that would not give a complete development to your muscle strength and endurance or completely help make unobstructed your qi and blood circulation. Because only through bearing the burden of the weight of a weapon can the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems gain extra benefit. Also, through the body accompanying the movement of the weapon, you can extend your thought longer (to the extremity of the weapon). So you have the added challenge of coordinating your movements with the extra weight of the weapon. These are some reasons for modern-day practitioners to continue the practice of traditional weaponry. In the past, of course they practiced weapons for use in battle. They carried weapons for protection.

Is the reason the Yin Style saber is so large and heavy because in the past it was used for fighting cavalry troops?

Why is the saber so large? Well, our style is fairly unique. The weaponry if first of all meant for use. It was meant to be used for killing. With everything in Yin Style Bagua, the important aspect is use. The sheer size of the saber forces you to put in a lot of developmental time. Just speaking of strength, if you don't even have the strength to be able to skillfully handle your own saber, you're no martial artist. If you don't even have a strong body and accurate thinking, then what martial art do you practice?

Of course Yin Style Bagua also has small weaponry. This enables you to compare and contrast the two. These things should all be practiced. You shouldn't only practice the fist, but not weaponry. Conversely, you shouldn't only practice weaponry without practicing empty hand skills. It's like I've said, standing, turning, striking, changing a combination. If all you do is standing practice, standing is mainly for improving the circulation of the blood and qi and strengthening the functions of the organs developing internal strength. Turning the circle mainly is to make a stiff and impeded body flexible and unimpeded, clumsy stepping is also made nimble. In addition is puts the person in harmony with his surroundings. Turning is also a type of qigong gathering in the qi of the earth. While whirling around, the body can expel sick qi. Again, through the centrifugal and centripetal forces at work, the body can adjust itself by either expelling or gathering qi.

So we practice weaponry in order to unite with these practices, to make them even more complete. To make your body skill (motion) expressed even more flawlessly. The practice of weaponry can carry with them and improve the more difficult areas of the body to practice. So the practice of weapons can strengthen your development, and add to the effectiveness of your techniques.

What are the different methods of practicing the saber, sword, and spear? Do they affect the body in different ways?

In Yin Style Bagua, the saber separates into two main types of practice: the martial and the cultural or refined. The refined saber method should be done with continuous round and fluid movements. It would look a little like how people nowadays generally do martial performance demonstrations. Martial saber is not. It requires that each technique be done very cleanly. Each technique should be very defined and differentiated from every other technique. Within the field of weaponry, there are hard and violent, there are soft and smooth. The saber tends to emphasize the methods of force being thick and full.

The sword is different. It is often said that, the saber is king, the sword esteemed. It is also said that a scholar will carry the sword, a warrior the saber. Our practice of the sword is mainly different form the saber in that the sword emphasizes the use of body skill. It has softer characteristics but the sword also has a strong martial practice method. You could say that the sword could also break down into martial and refined practice methods just like the saber does. Many of the attack method characters for the sword and saber are the same: bursting forth, cutting up, arcing, stabbing, rising, rushing, sweeping, and slicing.

The sword practice generally causes the muscles to be achy; the saber causes the muscles to be sore. It is a different result from the practice of the two and yet again a question of the balance of yin and yang. It is an adjustment of your muscles.

Could it be simply stated that the saber mostly practices strength while the sword mainly makes the body more flexible and agile?

Yes. For one thing, the saber builds strength. It can help to bring out your whole body force. It mostly emphasizes the use of strength. The practice of the sword can take the strength that you have and make it more rounded. It could be likened to the difference between the lion and unicorn animal systems. The saber practices a horizontal and vertical force. The sword emphasizes the practice of a round and slippery force. These weapons are meant to accompany and help to develop the practice methods of our bagua.

The spear is used to develop internal strength and to develop the ability to explosively emit force. It also practices a shooting and shaking force more than the saber or sword. The style of each weapon is quite different.

With the standing strengthening practice taught by Xie Peiqi in his later years, the stances are different than how you teach now. Is this difference important? Is it acceptable to practice in that way?

Whether you practice with that type of stance or not doesn't matter both methods are acceptable. Why is that? It's just like I have said with many things, at the start, you must have set rules. If you want to practice set in place standing methods, then according to that method, your feet and legs can't move they must stay set in place. What Dr. Xie was doing was a type of moving step standing practice. I feel that both methods are acceptable. But you must accord with your own needs. If you want to stand with one leg weighted and one leg empty, that is fine, too. Both legs evenly weighted is also acceptable. Your center could be moved slightly more to one leg or the other; this is fine, too. The same standing posture can practiced using many different methods. Why? Because you want to adjust the way you practice it according to your situation. The degree to which your body can handle the posture, and the sensation you obtain can be used to adjust the posture to fit you.

You often state while teaching the standing strengthening postures that if you're standing correctly, you can't hold the posture for more than a minute. If you can stand for longer than two minutes, that proves you're standing incorrectly.

What I mean by standing for a short period of time is gong fu standing practice. Why do I say that you won't be able to stand longer than one to two minutes? Because it requires that your muscle and posture arrive at a point where you are developing yourself. So you couldn't hold it for too long of a time. If you're holding the same posture, but the whole body is relaxed, then you're using a nourishing health standing method. In that way, you could stand for quite a long period of time. So, in our bagua, there is a yang standing method and a Yin standing method. Like I had just said about a fighting intend while standing, the yang standing method will make all the muscles contract and exert effort, as if you were fighting an opponent. The Yin standing is comfortable. One method is putting out, another is gathering back in. Both different.

So the time for standing is different for each person and each situation. So you couldn't say that if you don't stand for three minutes, you won't get any benefit from standing.

No, you couldn't. There are some things that do in fact require you to endure. There are a lot of reasons. Maybe the body circulation is obstructed. Maybe the posture isn't very correct. Maybe there are extraneous thoughts running through your mind. Maybe your force isn't evenly distributed throughout your entire body. Perhaps your weight isn't evenly placed on both legs. So want to try and correct all of these over the course of time.

So, in our standing practice, the strength wants to be used and distributed properly, the arms want to roll out, wrap in, drill forward, and pull back. You will thereby arrive at the objective of the qi and blood moving properly. Later on, when you move on to the relaxed standing practice method, it will even out the circulation of the qi and blood. Almost like the idea of how after turning the circle, we walk around in a relaxed fashion to allow our bodies to return to the state they were in before turning. This standing method will allow the qi and blood to return to the state they were in before your practice session.

How long of a period of time do you feel is best to stand the postures? Can this be adjusted if you have been practicing for a long time and your blood and qi circulations are unobstructed, does that mean the two minute rule no longer applies?

If you can stand the posture correctly with strength and hold it for a long period of time, then that is even better! When I talk about people not being able to stand past a minute or two if it's correct, that's something I say to beginners. Obviously, a beginner won't be able to correctly hold these postures for more than a minute or two. Of course, a practitioner over time will have the following: one, qi and blood will be unobstructed, two, the muscles will be accustomed to the angles and structure of the posture. In this way, the time you are able to stand will be extended. But of course, the more correct you stand, the more obvious of a sensation you will get from it. That's the overall meaning.

If you use 100% of your strength while practicing standing postures, how much should be used to hold the posture while turning the circle?

50 to 60 percent.

What are your thoughts on training by striking objects such as heavy bag training?

Striking objects such as heavy bags is also a way of practicing. But Yin Style Bagua doesn't use it. Through many years of practice and tradition passed down, and from the point of view of the use of force, if you strike objects over a long period of time, you will develop a pulling back of force on your strikes. Objectively speaking, if you strike objects, you won't be able to develop a penetrating through force. It's not to say that through the practice of striking objects you won't be powerful enough to hurt people; it's just that you won't have as obvious of a result as through empty striking. It's just a question of comparison. Also, humans have a lot of sensitive flesh, nerves, and meridians. If the meridians are damaged over a long period of time, the external body, the listening ability of the flesh, et cetera could all be affected. Looking at this from the point of strengthening and nourishing the health of the body, striking objects isn't really appropriate. A lot of things are a contradiction the more effort you put into training, the greater your chance of getting injured. But we want to cut down on inappropriate training methods that might cause unnecessary injury. So Yin Style Bagua has empty practice. One, the hands and arms don't have as great of a chance of injury. Two, you will be able to develop a type of penetrating through strength.

What are your thoughts on weight training practice to develop strength?

Weight training as a way of adding in an adjustment to the bagua training we do will have benefit. But there is the question of balancing the two. If it is eight parts bagua and two parts weight lifting, that's fine. If every day you practice eight hours of (martial) development and two hours of weight training, no problem. With this, you have to look at which one is primary. If you have someone who just weight trains, then have them try and do one of our martial forms and be very fluid and coordinated, well they probably won't be able to do it. What you practice is what you get. If you only practice throwing and wrestling, your striking will be lacking. If you only practice striking, your throwing won't be good. If you practice throwing and striking, that's all right. If all you practice is performance-oriented things, well it doesn't mean that you can't fight you just won't be very good at it. If all you practice is fighting, then your skills won't be very pleasing to the eye.

Is the type of muscle developed through weight training different than the type developed through Yin Style Bagua? How can weightlifting be added in to bagua practice how can muscle development be adjusted?

The two kinds of muscle aren't really the same. Like I just said, the balance of time between the two is very important. Weight training causes short and compact muscle to develop. It kind of pulls the muscle together in a round shape. Bagua requires that the muscle is pulled long and strong. In addition, weight training basically focuses on the muscle itself; bagua strives to practice the tendons more than the muscle. Also, bagua to a greater degree strives to twist and turn the muscles from various angles during practice. Weight training produces a more outwardly visible result with the muscle. If you practice a short period if weight training in relation to your bagua, this will re-adjust the muscle. I do feel that weight training has a positive effect on a bagua practitioner. If, for example, you don't have a saber or sword, but still want the strength benefits, well, you could do some supplementary weight training. Because with practicing development, you don't want to be narrow-minded in that, if I don't have a saber I can't practice strength whatever you have around you, you might as well use it. If some free weights are all that are available to you, then use them. This is a method of blending in with your surroundings.

If all a person ever practiced was weight training, then of course the agility of the muscles and body would not be what it could be.

Is adding in the practice of shuai jiao of benefit?

Shuai jiao, like qigong, is something that if spoken of on its own is actually a part that has been taken from a complete whole. Martial arts including bagua contain kicking, grasping, throwing, and striking. Kicking, as it is often referred to, contains all leg methods. One character represents the meaning of all those things. Grasping means seizing and grasping methods. Seizing and grasping skill contains many refined skills in its practice. An example would be the way Brazilian ju-jitsu has taken traditional Japanese Jujitsu and specialized in just the grasping methods this would fall under the category of seizing and grasping. Throwing, this would include shuai jiao. Why is it in martial arts we say shuai (ti, na, shuai, da) and not shuai jiao? Just using the character for throwing (shuai) has a broader meaning. Saying shuai jiao puts limits on the scope of what you're saying. For example, you can't strike, you mostly pay attention to leg methods et cetera. The idea of throwing in martial arts contains hand and leg methods. In martial arts, there are a lot of throwing techniques that are done just with the arms without involving the legs. If you look at the jiao character of shuai jiao it is the foot radical put together with the coming together, or exchanging radical. A lot of Chinese characters look like what they mean. So in martial arts, we have using the arms, legs, and arms and legs together to throw the opponent. So I feel that out martial art is more complete than shuai jiao. I hope that our practitioners will develop completely they can execute their strikes effectively standing up, lying down, wherever. So throwing is an aspect of training that cannot be neglected.

So if we include the practice of shuai jiao in our training, will it help with our developing an alive force, being able to find and exploit the opponent's center while learning how to maintain our own balance?

Yes. How should I put it? Shuai jiao is the same in this way as our saber, sword, or spear practices. It will help with our bagua practice. Like I said, Yin Style Bagua is a sum total. It contains many things. To practice it is difficult, to practice it well is even harder. At the beginning, practicing shuai jiao will benefit your body's strength. It will help your breathing; help you to learn to sink your qi. If you are too light and floaty, you'll get thrown. Sinking the qi can be accomplished by thinking using the mind. It can also naturally sink when you're trying to hold your ground, stand stable and not be thrown by a forceful opponent. In addition, via shuai jiao practice you can learn to in the wink of an eye adjust and coordinate your balance. If it's not coordinated you've just lost! If you can't change you're going to eat dirt. Also, this practice contains a kind of listening skill. Listening skill contains the ability to judge a situation. If you wrestle frequently, your nerves will naturally be used to the feel for certain techniques you'll know instantly when someone is trying to move you in a certain way.

In addition, a lot of shuai jiao techniques came from martial arts. They have been changed once in the shuai jiao system for purposes of safety. Through the practice of shuai jiao, you can compare and contrast the techniques to those that we use in martial arts and help to have a new, deeper understanding of and appreciation for our art.

In addition, adding in the practice of shuai jiao will help to separate the men from the boys people who don't like to put effort into their training will be forced to do so, or else. If you're lazy in your individual practices, you're fooling yourself. If you're lazy when someone is trying to throw you down, nobody will be fooled.

Is there a traditional order or best order in which to study the eight animals of bagua?

Through my over thirty years of practice, I've slowly been summarizing these things. If you want my opinion, I feel that you should practice the lion system first. I've been in possession of Men Baozhen's book on this style for many years. I've been reading it for a long time, but have only recently come to realize some of the meaning contained. Perhaps for many years my development wasn't complete enough for the book to be of much use. Maybe I hadn't realized certain things yet, or wasn't yet at the proper level. Now I've realized that it is quite obvious what is stated, Qian and Kun create and set the 64 (hexagrams). So you should first practice the Qian trigram, and then practice the Kun trigram. Through many years of practice, I've summarized that the Qian trigram is hard; the Kun trigram is soft. The Qian trigram is visible; the Kun trigram is hidden. Speaking of force, the Qian trigram is horizontal and vertical force and a square strength. The Kun trigram is a round and slippery strength, a spiraling force. This includes stepping and leg methods; there are differences in both between the two systems. So there is a relatively large difference between the two systems. The Book if Changes states that the Qian trigram is pure yang, the Kun trigram is pure yin. So, according to what is written in Men Baozhen's book First practice the yang fire, then the yin will enter to accord, practice the spirit and return to the void. This conforms to the reasoning I am giving. In this way (after practicing Qian and Kun) other animal systems will be very easy for you to pick up. In addition, only the Qian and Kun trigrams represent their characteristics quite so obviously. Their practice methods are somewhat more specialized.

As far as the question of how long should you spend practicing each animal, I feel that really depends on each individual's situation. But in general terms, if you haven't spent form three to five years, you couldn't possibly have gotten a very deep understanding. If you're trying to as quickly as possible to take something in, you're not being very objective, because this just takes time. It just takes time. Now a concrete number for how long will very based on the individual's practice. If I say, you will get it in ten years. Then you go and practice for ten years practice one day a year for ten years, well, that won't do.

After you've been practicing for a few years, you can go and investigate the other animal systems. This isn't for the purpose of going to specifically practice them. It is to be able to see the differences between the animals and to improve the practice of the animal that you are doing.

When you say to investigate the other animal systems, do you mean to practice their attacking methods, turn the circle with their postures; how should this best be done?

You could try and practice their strikes. If for example, you practice the lion system and want to try other animal system strikes, you could do them using the waist to emit force. The waist gives the most complete, best result. It is also the most difficult to practice well. But on the other hand, there are some types of strikes that don't give an obvious result with the waist. An example being some of the bear system strikes meant to be used with the back. You may use the waist to emit force, the result being a feeling that the whole body is being used in the strike. The use of the waist has rising and lowering movements and whirling and turning movements. So by adding a variety of different strikes, you can improve the strength of the waist. Then you can use the waist to control various types of strikes.

In addition, through experiencing the different attacking methods of each animal, you can get a feel for what that system contains and how it differs from others. Bagua each animal has its own skills. So you have to add a lot of deep thought into this in order to add depth to your techniques. As to myself, I had probably practiced for over ten years and still had not grasped that the differences between each of the animal systems were so great. It has only been recently that I feel I have really gotten an understanding of how different the animals are. This is like Dr. Xie used to say, When you get a true understanding of one thing, then you understand one hundred things. Like I mentioned, each of the postures of the animal systems is different a type of guiding and leading practice. They also practice different muscle groups in different ways. This, combined with putting in the practice requirements of each of the animals, can create these large differences between the systems. So I feel that at the beginning, one should practice lion, then practice unicorn. I feel that if your situation allows, you should follow this order it is the unity of yin and yang. Again, Dr Xie used to say of the eight animals, The father and mother had a lot of children. If the children don't turn out like the father, then they'll be like the mother. Because if the child doesn't have more of the father's components in him or her, then there will be more of the mother. It's just like with people; some will look like a particular parent, others will have the same temperament as a particular parent. Someone might say to you, this is my daughter. Then you say, Oh! She looks just like you! But if they hadn't told you, you might never have noticed the resemblance. It's the same thing in out practices. When you know [where the child trigrams came from], you'll notice the differences and similarities. I feel that now everyone knows quite a bit [about this art]. And the things they know are at a pretty high level. So the important thing now is how to practice to really use your body to produce these different types of force. That's most important.

If a person's time to practice is limited, what are the areas of practice they should focus on?

This varies according to the situation of each individual's body. And according to the objective you have in training. If you're more advanced in years and your body isn't in the best shape it has ever been, you should focus on strengthening the body. In this case, you should focus on standing and turning practices. If you add in some strike and forms training, don't emit force; just do the movements smoothly.

If you're young and don't have a lot of strength, or your strength isn't a full body strength, and your time is limited, then I feel you should focus on strike training. You should add in some turning practice to adjust your body after your strike practice is finished. You could do forms training once in a while. In this situation, strike training is more important than forms, because the forms are just made up of single-action strike combinations.

For people who are older and relatively healthy and want to adjust and regulate their bodies, they should practice turning the circle and standing without using too much strength. Pay a lot of attention to the coordination of the breathing. So you see, it is not true of Yin Style Bagua, as some have said, that you must be young or you can't practice or you must practice for more than two hours a day or you'll get no result.

Both young and old can practice. You just have to see what your objectives and thoughts about practice are. What kind of result do you want? You can't fix a number and say this is how long you must practice every day. Each person is different and will get different results with differing amounts of time. Individuals must be mindful of and guided by their practice goals.

What are the three basins?

It is often said that bagua has upper, middle, and lower palm practice. In fact, the upper and lower palms are just postures. There is no need to specifically practice them. If you have the time and interest, you can try turning the circle with the upper and lower palm postures. If for example, your upper body muscle isn't very developed, you could use the upper palm posture to help build it. If your arms become tired out while turning, you could switch to the lower palm posture. But these [upper and lower postures] are to serve to help the middle palm -to help you to coordinate and adjust yourself. Many older practitioners have told me that the upper and lower palms are just additional postures and that what is important is to focus on the middle palm.

The techniques for the upper and lower palms are somewhat more restricted than those of the middle palm. Once you raise your hands up into the upper posture, all you can do is strike downward. Similarly, once your hands are lowered into the low posture, all you can do is to strike upward from there. The middle palm is primary front, back, left, right, up, down all are convenient to get to if you start in the middle.

Most others who practice Yin Style Bagua all seem to use the ox tongue palm and practice the penetrating palm form. Why is it that only this particular Yin Fu - Men Baozhen - Xie Peiqi lineage now has the eight animal systems, and what is the penetrating palm?

People were taught differently as the art was passed down. If for example, I learned lion system and got very good at it and understood it deeply, maybe I'd just teach that to my students. Yin Style Bagua states that knowing all the eight animals is not complete knowledge of the system. But that's already a lot right there! On the other hand, if all you know is the penetrating palm, that's not very comprehensive, either. The old saying from this art is that the eight animals are the foundation; the penetrating palm is orthodox. The penetrating palm can be used to keep outsiders from knowing what you're doing you can't tell which animal system I practice. It can string together a lot of the different techniques from the animal systems. The penetrating palm contains eight individual forms. They are very similar to the Cheng style eight palm changes. The techniques used are of course different than Cheng style.

There is every reason you can imagine for there being so few people who use the eight animal systems nowadays; time spent with their teacher, willingness to endure with the practices, some people learn enough to be able to fight, then stop studying, et cetera.

Other reasons would be that people would learn their own specialty in the art and not be willing to exchange with other classmates.

I feel that the majority of Yin style practitioners practice the penetrating palm because there is a saying that the penetrating palm is the highest level of practice. But in fact, it really isn't 100% that way.

What then is the purpose of the penetrating palm? Why would people say it is such high level training?

Well, if you have the skills gained through the practice of the basic eight animal systems, then the things you can get out of the penetrating palm will be bountiful. To say that the purpose of the penetrating palm is just to connect or link techniques together is not complete. It's not only this meaning. If you have no techniques, then what is there for you to string together?

From the point of view of the Chinese character chuan [chuan zhang] I feel that it must also have the meaning of being fast.

I also have studied a form of penetrating palm. From my understanding of it, each of the changes must have a different force contained in the technique. It is not the techniques themselves that are so important. Each technique should contain scrubbing, rubbing, rolling, turning over, shrinking, contracting, soft, sticking, and cleverness [9 gong fa]. The techniques appear simple, but there is a lot contained within each one. So it is a form that connects together many kinds of forces. That's how I understand it. A lot of people can do forms, but they've lost the inner content of the techniques.

What kind of two person practices does Yin Style Bagua have?

This is also a part of Yin Style Bagua practice. I would suggest that people first practice a lot on their own and gain a certain foundation and develop a certain amount of listening skill. Then they could start trying out their techniques with other people.

Bagua has two-man set practice. That is a yet another method of improving skill. It develops a certain type of skill in neutralizing the opponent's attacks. You can become very familiar with your technique application through this. But, since the opponent's moves are all prearranged, your changes will not be very plentiful. On the other hand, if you don't practice set drills, your ability to change might be very good, but your ability to apply the changes effectively might be lacking. So you should practice both ways with a partner and individually. People can create their own two man sets for practice: I'll strike you this way, how will you defend it? Then from this you can extend and deepen your striking practice.

Two-man practice can also include shuai jiao, push hands, partner application training, et cetera.

You must be careful of the habits you develop through practice. A bad habit, once acquired, is very hard to break.

Does the use of boxing gloves in sparring practice cause habits that we should be aware of?

Using gloves, you will affect your sensitivity and limit a lot of the techniques that you use. And you really can't do the full scope of seizing and grasping. It's not written in stone that you can't use gloves and spar; it's just not optimal. It's just like fighting there are no rules or restrictions on what you can do. As soon as you impose any kind of rule or regulation, that's not the same your art is restricted. It will affect your ability to make full use of your art.

Can you talk about the internal organs benefited through the practice of the various animal systems?

Each of the eight animals practices all of the organs. It's like the question of which animal uses what body part to emit force they all use the waist and limbs.

Now if you have a particular organ that is less healthy relative to your other organs, certain animal systems can give a more obvious improvement than others. But you can't say that each animal system only practices one organ and that's it. Rooster system only practices the heart. That's incorrect, because these systems are each a complete whole. It should be stated as each has a more obvious emphasis on a particular organ. If your lung function isn't 100%, the practice of the lion system may give a more obvious result than that of the other animals. It also practices the belt meridian. The Kan trigram is represented by water. Water is the kidneys.

The Gen trigram is represented by the mountain, which is made of earth. The bear system practices the spleen, the Gate of Life (ming men) point, and the Governing vessel (du mai).

The dragon system would be the liver. Leveling out the liver function.

The phoenix system practices the area from dazhui to weilu. You could also say this is the Governing vessel (du mai). The posture used by the phoenix system also benefits the stomach greatly.

The rooster practices the heart and the Conception vessel (ren mai).

The Dui trigram monkey system works the respiratory system as a whole.

You have described various sensations that you feel during the practice of the different animal systems. Will these sensations be the same for everyone? Should we actively try and find certain sensations, or just let them come to us? Can you list the sensations we should feel when practicing the various animal systems?

First of all, all of the animals will give you different sensations. Different people will feel them to varying degrees according to time and correctness of practice.

The lion system, with its posture, should have a feeling of opening the chest and smoothing out the qi. The body should beel asthough it is one qi very coordinated.

The Kan trigram should feel comfortable in that the outside is soft, the inside is hard. The qi should be full in the lower abdomen.

Does the qi full in the dantian (lower abdomen) mean that your body should have a very heavy feeling?

Not heavy, it should feel full and plump. When we say the qi is sunk in the dantian, that is relative to your own body, not to your surroundings. That is to say, it press down in the dantian, but does not press or weight your legs or body down. You shouldn't have a feeling that you are extremely heavy that's incorrect. Now, at the beginning stages of practice, why do we concentrate so much on smashing the qi down? Because the qi has a tendency to rise up when you are excited, which will cause you to be out of breath you must force it to stay down.

How should the qi be sunk down properly?

You use the mind to think of it sinking down. Use the body to concave the chest, round the back and tuck under the buttocks. This will place the qi in the dantian. After it has been placed there for a long period of time, it will naturally sink down to the lower part. You can't force it to go down.

Now, the bear system should give a feeling that both hands naturally want to rise up. And you should have a fairly obvious qi feeling while practicing it. This is the type of thing that after many years you will arrive at. It's the same as with qigong practice - you don't want to get caught up in trying to look too hard for a particular sensation.

The dragon system should have a feeling that the qi and strength are unimpeded and smooth. You don't really put too much thought into the sinking of qi in the abdomen while practicing dragon. The abdomen should be expanded, but in a more relaxed way. This will produce the outside is still, the inside has movement inside the qi is allowed to move naturally (as you aren't concentrating on sinking it down and holding it set in the dantian).

The phoenix system, when practiced well, can cause you to flow [unblock] the qi. Some people may belch as a result.

The rooster system gives the chest a very comfortable feeling. The Li trigram is empty in the middle. Like when you may stretch your arms in front of you when you yawn, you naturally hollow out the chest and feel very comfortable.

The unicorn system causes you to have a feeling of the body being unimpeded. There is also a feeling of being light, almost as if you were floating above the ground. The upper, lower, inner, and outer are harmoniously smooth.

The monkey system will have an obvious feeling of the rising and lowering of the qi. As a leg comes up to kick, the qi will quickly rise. As the leg sets back down, the qi will quickly lower.