The art of Chinese Medicine evolved along two major pathways. These include Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the practices of Chinese Medicine retained within the Chinese martial arts community (Abimoxi).
While TCM offered the general public a means for obtaining health care, Abimoxi was shrouded in secrecy, in much the same manner as the military secrets were held within the martial arts.
Abimoxi Fundamentals is the first book published on this subject, as a direct result of James Shyun’s decision to release this information to the public in 2004.
Being the Grandmaster of Eight Step Preying Mantis™ Kung Fu, a system with a complete curriculum in Abimoxi, as well as master level education in TCM, James Shyun holds a unique perspective in the understanding of Chinese Medicine.
While both branches of this art have many similarities, Abimoxi includes different acupuncture techniques and herbal formulas. Abimoxi also stresses specific breathing plus movement techniques and medical chi kung therapy used in the healing process. This book explains in easy to understand detail, the fundamentals of this art.
Abimoxi, The Ways of Martial Arts Healing, constitutes the health related arts practiced within specific Chinese martial arts systems for centuries. It is primarily composed of the foundational concepts and principals of Chinese Medicine with the practical application of acupuncture to the limb areas, cupping, moxibustion, bone setting, Chi Kung breathing, and herbal therapy. Historically, Abimoxi was utilized in the healing of acute injury, pain relief, and prevention or reversal of the effects of chronic disease.
Chinese Medicine evolved along two primary and parallel paths, the healing arts held within Chinese martial arts systems and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Both paths shared their origins from the same ocean of knowledge. This metaphor has important implications regarding a more accurate comprehension of the knowledge base from which Chinese Medicine, the Chinese martial art systems including aspects of Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chuan emerged. Each of these share and utilize the same body of knowledge just as the oceans of the world are connected and share the same waters. Each has its own unique application, just as each unique sea sprouts from the oceans, further giving rise to unique characteristics and surrounding cultures. The topic of Chinese martial arts is broad and extends well beyond the scope of Abimoxi, yet captures the essence of an optimally effective and efficient method of exercise pertinent to health and fitness. Chi Kung can similarly be described. Chi Kung incorporates optimal breathing methods in the practice of this art. While ancient, the specific practices of Sitting Chi Kung hold one of the most advanced groups of methods for health and longevity based on breathing in combination with the mind available to the modern world. Specific aspects of Chi Kung practice; Immortal Chi Kung in particular, bears light on the interaction of the spiritual nature of the human being with that of the mind and body, thus pertinent to health. Another branch of Chi Kung, Moving Chi Kung, provides a bridge to the martial arts through the practice of Tai Chi Chuan. Tai Chi Chuan is considered one of the best forms of Moving Chi Kung as well as a revered form of Chinese martial art. Thus, all of these disciplines have roots which extend into the same body of knowledge offering special and unique characteristics and attributes to each art. Attempting to understand and practice one without sharing in the underlying knowledge base and practice of the other is empty and superficial. A true grasp of one area requires an understanding of the whole. With that understanding and practice, excellence in one area allows similar competence in the others. Thus, a true understanding of Chinese martial arts requires an understanding of Chinese Medicine. To understand Chinese Medicine an understanding and practice Chi Kung with its various aspects is required. The practice of one fosters the practice of the others. The best practitioners understand and practice each of these areas.
It is therefore easy to understand that over one thousand years ago in China, the best regarded medical doctors were the martial arts masters. As the term implies, martial arts were dangerous. Those in this occupation were often injured. Without the type of health care systems available today, martial artists developed methods to treat traumatic injury as well as other illnesses encountered among those stricken in the battlefield. These are The Ways of Martial Arts Healing. Violent conflict was not infrequent leading to considerable medical experience among martial artists. As a result of their experience, martial arts masters were sought out not only for their skills as martial artists but also for their skills as healers. Abimoxi is the term coined today for the total personal experience of many martial artists accumulated over generations of learning to restore function in the body and alleviate pain due to injury. With time TCM evolved as the form of health care available to the public, while the ways of martial arts healing were kept private within the bounds of the martial arts systems that possessed them. The secrecy associated with Chinese martial arts was akin to military secrecy of modern times. This secrecy was as true or even more so with the knowledge surrounding martial arts healing. Until recently, this knowledge has not been systematically shared or released to the general public. It was taught only to the most dedicated students.
Today, knowledge of martial arts healing has several important purposes. These include a working knowledge of the human body necessary in practicing the martial arts, self-healing, health maintenance, and striving for increased longevity. Moreover, for the martial artist the purpose of understanding Abimoxi today is the same as that existing hundreds of years ago - to excel at one requires knowledge of the others. For the general public an understanding of the principles and concepts contained within the practice of Abimoxi provides the knowledge which can be used to better control one’s health. This is not to say medical advice should not be sought when required; on the contrary, when ill, medical care must always be sought. With the advancements achieved in personal education found in modern society and the recognition of alternative and complementary medicine, people are taking a greater role in their own health and health care. Abimoxi offers a knowledge base developed over hundreds of years for improving the body’s ability to maintain health and self-heal. This beneficial experiences found by countless martial artists over the centuries through Abimoxi has been opened to the general public. This art offers modern society an effective means of personal complementary medical knowledge including the use of herbal preparations. If used appropriately and judiciously Abimoxi may improve overall health and well being as well as improve the body’s ability for self-healing.
A comparison of Abimoxi and Traditional Chinese Medicine reveals some overlap in concepts and principles, but only superficially in practice. TCM emphasizes the cure and prevention of disease. Abimoxi emphasizes enhancement of the body’s ability to respond to injury and disease. It is practical and direct, often being effective within one or two attempts and never greater than four. With respect to acupuncture, Abimoxi utilizes needling of points located on the arms and legs only, whereas TCM includes points over the entire body. The points are fewer in number and are grouped differently. This difference demonstrates the emphasis of self-healing found in Abimoxi compared to the doctor-patient treatment relationship of TCM. The needles used in Abimoxi acupuncture differ from those used in TCM. Abimoxi needles are used to “cement and rebuild,” establish “realignment,” or cause “area release” and range in size from 0.1 to 1 inch in length; being inserted only at a shallow depth, superficial to points used by TCM acupuncturists. Sometimes the rebuilding phase requires moxibustion, herbal preparations, or special exercises.
Relationships between Nature and the Human Body
Dating back to China’s early history, several observations were made regarding relationships between the natural environment and the human body. These observations began a remarkable process of discovery. For example, air and water in the natural environment were believed to correspond to chi (air) and blood (water) in the human body. Ancient Chinese literature often referred to maintaining life through air in the body. It was often stated that chi (air) in the body causes life while a lack of chi (air) in the body leads to death. Air is as much an essential and fundamental component for any life activity as is breathing. These two factors (breathing and air) are obviously inter-related. The process of discovery ultimately led to the formalization of two theories – The Theory of Yin and Yang and the Five Element Theory which will be detailed below.
Other observations had a broader perspective encompassing the entire universe. One such observation is that of man being positioned between the heavens and the earth. It was reasoned that the entire universe influences man because of his position in this natural order. For example, as the earth rotates completely in a twenty-four hour period, chi circulates throughout the entire body within one twenty-four hour period. As the understanding of chi within the human body evolved, the concept became accepted that chi also runs through certain pathways (channels) within this period. The practice of Chi Kung formed the basis for discovery of these concepts. Through the art of Chi Kung the twelve primary channels were identified, each affecting a particular organ system. The art of Chi Kung also promoted the concept of chi flowing predominantly in channels, corresponding to specific organs at certain times of the day; for instance, within the Lung channel from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. The organ becomes rejuvenated and strengthened during this time as a result of the predominance in chi flow specific to that organ channel. Similarly from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. chi predominantly flows through the Large Intestine channel. It was concluded, following several generations of practice, that the optimal time to address any organ system illness is during the period of predominant chi flow. Superior results were noted when self-healing practices included adherence to these time frames. In short, the twenty-four hour complete rotation of the earth, believed to correspond to the twenty-four hour cycle of chi flow in the human body was one of the original associations that led to these and other additional discoveries and principles.
Throughout a twenty four hour period, each of the twelve meridians (lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, urinary bladder, kidney, pericardium, san jiao, gall bladder and liver) takes dominance or “leadership” of the body energy for a two-hour period. During the zi time period, from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., the gall bladder meridian is the leader of the body’s energy. This means, if the chi in the gall bladder is strong, and there are no blockages along the meridian, energy will flow freely and strongly along this meridian and throughout the rest of the body. If there are problems with this meridian, then at this time, the whole body function will be impaired according to the degree of dysfunction in that meridian. At a different time of day, when another meridian is in leadership of energy flow, a gall bladder dysfunction would have less of a perceivable effect. Certain postures and meditations were found to be useful for practice during the zi time period to account for and enhance the gall bladder meridian’s leadership of the body’s energy. At a different time period, a different meridian would be in dominance and, as a result, different postures and meditations would be used.
The ancient practitioners also understood the character of yin and yang within the twenty-four hour cycle of the day further dividing this time frame into twelve two-hour segments. Zi, chou, mao, chen and si begin at 11:00 p.m. and end at 11:00 a.m., respectively. During these time periods, yang energy is believed to wax and yin energy wanes. Zi, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., is daybreak. Night changes to the beginning of the new day. At this time, the ancients would say there is only one yang with five yin. This reflects the relative proportion of yin and yang at that time period. Later in the morning, from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., is the Mao period when there is much more yang energy available. The ancients would say that at this time, there are “four yang” with only “two yin.”
Wu, wei, shen, you, xu, and fai comprise the time periods from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. During this time, yin energy waxes and yang energy wanes. Wu, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., is one yin and five yang. You, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., is four yin and two yang.
It is held, in general, that practicing during the zi through si time periods is beneficial for persons who exercise in order to develop the ability to emit external chi (wai chi). It is also believed to be a good time for people who suffer from an insufficiency of yang energy. Practice during the wu through fai periods is understood to be the most beneficial for patients who suffer from an insufficiency of yin energy. For the general person, the time periods Zi, Wu, Mao and You are considered to be especially significant because of the symmetrical increase and decrease of either yin or yang energy during these time periods. Because of this variation in yin or yang energy, exercise during these periods facilitates the balance of yin and yang energy in the body, which then leads to an enhanced development of chi and better health.
Other factors in the external, natural environment, were noted to influence the internal environment of the human body and therefore health. These included the association between breathing the cleaner and fresher air found at higher elevations, and better health. Additionally, temperature differences depending upon seasons of the year, especially dramatic shifts in temperature as well as differences in humidity (dampness), appeared to affect health. These simple observations supported the belief that the human body represented a microcosm of the external natural environment or universe. The vast array of combined knowledge in this area ultimately evolved into the Five-Element Theory. This theory suggests, for example, that movement of air (wind) in the external natural environment has a correlate within the internal environment of the human body, chi flow. Just as air cannot be seen, neither can chi. However, the effects of air when in motion, wind, can be observed through the effects of its energy. Wind passing through trees causes branches to move. Wind passing over a calm lake produces ripples and waves in the water. As with the wind in the natural environment, the movement of chi within the internal environment produces observable effects through its energy. Just as the wind can be harnessed in the sail of a boat causing the vessel to move rapidly over the water, the movement of chi can increase many abilities of the human body through harnessing its energy. It was observed that chi, when flowing appropriately within the human body, can increase strength, improve health and heal disease. An excess of wind represents a source of illness just as a tornado or hurricane causes damage to the earth.
These effects of harnessing chi were of sufficient reproducibility that the methods involved in exercising and directing chi have been passed on generation to generation for thousands of years and represent a branch of Chinese medicine and a very necessary and important component of the martial arts.
Development of Chinese Medicine
In the ancient society of China provision of medical care was in its infancy. Those who required treatment for various illnesses had little choice other than to explore methods of self-healing. Given the success of deep breathing in alleviating pain, many avenues of self-healing were developed through extrapolation of the breathing techniques. Such self-healing techniques produced the benefits of alleviating illness and were also associated with good health among those who practiced for illness prevention. Using one’s own abilities through the exercise of deep breathing allowed individuals to be in charge of their own health. With time and the passing of generations these techniques were generally referred to as “internal breathing.” Specifically in this context, Chi Kung was known as the “nursing life method.”
In these times, the process of identifying requirements for enhancing the success of self-treatment had begun. For example, an improved response to Chi Kung self-healing of kidney disease could be achieved by facing in a southerly direction when practicing response. This approach was the first recorded method in Chinese history and was passed along from generation to generation. With the transition from one generation to the next the technique became more complete. For example, in the treatment of kidney disease, the quieting or emptying of the mind, breathing in then holding the breath 7 times, and swallowing of the saliva, in addition to facing south was associated with better results. This empirical process expanded to the development of preventative methods as well as healing methods. In all, several areas of knowledge were applied in the early prevention and healing of disease including attention to the natural environment, the Five Element theory, Chi Kung internal viewing, and identification of the 12 original and 8 special channels with their respective pressure (acupuncture) points. These ultimately resulted in theory of Chinese medicine. In the practice of Chinese medicine, the best doctors were considered those skilled sufficiently to identify patients in the process of developing disease yet without the outward and obvious symptoms of illness. Early weakness in the function of various organs of the body that could lead to illness would be identified through the diagnostic techniques employed. In this sense preventative medicine was practiced. Once weakness progressed to frank organ dysfunction then illness would become obvious. At that point in the course of illness, the signs and symptoms of organ dysfunction would be evident. Mediocre doctors were considered those who would diagnose illness once the disease had progressed to the point of obvious signs and symptoms. Excellence in medical care was, and continues to be, focused around the ability to detect problems well before the overt signs and symptoms of illness become manifest.
As ancient as the beginning of the human race is the use of plants in the treatment of illness. Nature offered the only external source of remedy. Centuries of serendipity, observation, and intentional trial and error using various herbs and/or foods have resulted in the modern use of approximately five hundred herbs in numerous combinations as well as foods in the treatment and prevention of disease. The use of herbal therapies and foods is rooted in the relationship between man and the natural environment. This practice has been integrated with the concepts foundational to Chinese medicine including the Theory of Yin and Yang and the Five Element Theory. Herbal remedies are common to the history of every society; however, Chinese herbal medicine has risen to advanced levels. The sophistication associated with their application specific to diagnosis is akin to the use of medications in modern society. In fact, most modern medications were derived either from plant sources or based upon the understanding of the chemical structure of pharmacologically active compounds derived from plants. While the emphasis of modern medicine, with respect to medications, lies with the use of pure compounds and an understanding of their pharmacology, Chinese herbal therapy relies upon the known combined effects of numerous and still unidentified compounds contained within the herbals along with the effects of various preparation methods. Modern pharmacology provides the benefit of a scientific understanding for the use of pure compounds relative to providing specific effects on specific organ systems in the body. Chinese herbal therapy offers the combined effects of several herbals, designed to holistically balance the functions of the entire body, bringing a balance that promotes self-healing which further sustains and maintains the beneficial outcomes achieved.
The Process of Internal Viewing
Concentrating on breathing in and out deeply is considered the method of practicing chi. When a person is quiet and relaxed from this type of breathing, the practitioner can sense chi traveling within the human body. As such, in the early days of development, Chi Kung exercises with this intent were referred to as the internal viewing methods. Internal viewing ability allowed for sensing the function of internal organs in the living body. The sensing of living internal organs allowed for the mapping of channels (pathways of energy flow) throughout the body, which link the Organ systems. Special points, small terminals that store chi along the channels, were also identified. Their manipulation through massage (Tui Na) or stimulation with needles (Acupuncture) provided an external means of promoting chi flow. These external modes of intervention accomplished a similar response in terms of health and treatment of disease as the internal Chi Kung self-healing methods. Similar to Chi Kung exercises, these methods were discovered through experience, and improved upon generation by generation.
The process of internal viewing allows for the examination of the living host. This is in contrast to study of anatomy using cadavers (external viewing method). The advantages to the use of cadavers include obtaining objective data by examination that can be reproduced by multiple individuals, thus substantiating the understanding of human anatomy. The benefits to internal viewing are not as obvious. Only when a person is alive does motion exist such as chi flow. To study this flow, including the various pathways, the living host must be studied. Through the process of internal viewing, the twelve original channels (meridians), eight special channels, and the numerous acupuncture points were elucidated. It was determined that the twelve original channels connect the entire body, with each channel being connected to one another. It was also discovered that each channel is associated with a particular organ as well as a period of maximum chi flow. In addition, eight special channels were identified that normalize chi within the twelve original channels. This is accomplished through the release or absorption of chi from the special channels as insufficient chi, or chi overabundance, exists within the original channels. Confirmation of the findings of these internal viewing methods lies with the reproducibility of observations among a vast number of individuals within and between generations. External means of manipulating acupuncture points resulted in reproducible outcomes, which also substantiated the findings of the internal viewing methods.
With respect to self-healing, the process of internal viewing can be used to identify areas of illness. Once identified, chi can be directed by the mind to flow to the area where illness is present, providing a method for self-healing. Specifically, through the practice of Chi Kung, the mind is trained and breathing is adjusted to direct chi and open blockages along chi pathways (channels). A balance between yin and yang for health maintenance purposes can also be accomplished through this process. Benefit can also be achieved in the adjustment of blood, and an increase in original (pure) chi from jing (raw source of energy within the body).
The use of massage or acupuncture as methods which foster stimulation of chi flow within organ channels began at a rudimentary level in ancient times. However its understanding and application exploded with the identification identified through internal viewing of the channels and their organ relationships. Similar to the self-healing methods of Chi Kung, acupuncture provides a method to direct chi flow and release blockages along channels. The sophistication associated with needling various points in combination to relieve symptoms and remedy illness both within the well-known art of TCM and the cloistered art of Abimoxi has reached a highly advanced level. The evolution of this knowledge to the widespread modern practice of acupuncture and various methods of massage attests to the acceptance and efficacy both as a primary treatment modality in many parts of the world and as component of complementary medicine.
Internal Viewing and Immortal Chi Kung
The process of directing chi for self-healing was also found to have application to health maintenance. The maintenance of good health in turn, affects longevity. For these purposes the small circle and big circle pathways were practiced. Later it was discovered that the soul could be nurtured. Nurturing of the soul of led to a clearer understanding of reincarnation. The development of practice methods focused on these types of religious purposes was referred to as Immortal Chi Kung. Despite the focus on religion, important implications exist with regard to health and well being. In the spiritual context, it is understood by those who practice Chi Kung that people are born with an original life essence which is converted into chi. This pre-birth essence is referred to as jing. The presence of considerable essence is akin to having a bank account with a large amount of money deposited such that one can live off the interest, not requiring withdrawals on the principal. A person with sufficient jing is like a tree that has enough water to grow and flourish. The leaves will always remain green with healthy roots, trunk, bark, and branches. This is also the case with the human being. Strong jing will result in flourishing health as long as jing is preserved. The result of the tree possessing this natural supply of water is a beautiful outward appearance, shen (the outward extension of jing which has been converted into chi in sufficient amounts). In this sense, healthy people demonstrate a glowing and vibrant appearance. The abdomen (approximately midway between the umbilicus and the pelvic bone) houses an area referred to as the dan tien or “ocean of chi.” Behind the dan tien lie the kidneys, which retain jing. With respect to health, those who have healthy and strong kidneys maintain jing in sufficient amounts to produce enough chi to ward off illnesses due to external causes.
Through Chi Kung exercises, a great amount of chi is generated which can be transformed back into jing. This is important in preserving original jing. Consider a person having received the type of education and training necessary to attain a well paying job. This could allow a considerable portion of earnings to be placed in a savings account rather than spent on necessities. In this case the principal savings would be preserved and added to. The more one practices, the more is saved and transformed back into jing. In this sense, practicing chi means to increase one’s own abilities. In other words, Chi Kung practitioners train the dan tien such that chi can be produced in large quantities which can then be transformed back into jing. Thus, several possible transformations are possible – jing to chi, chi to jing, chi to shen. Immortal Chi Kung therefore is used as the Jing-Chi-Shen conversion process. This type of Immortal Jing-Chi-Shen practice is considered the treasure of the human body. The mind is used to direct chi for storage where it can easily be accessed if needed. It directs the chi just like it directs the body to move via the nervous system. The mind is a powerful tool in that whatever a person understands and is able to use, positive results emerge. For example, the chi that is transformed from jing (original life essence), original chi, is spirit. When the mind is used to produce chi, the outcome is similar to connecting electricity to a new home thus having ready access to a power source for every imaginable appliance. In addition, if a person has enough chi it can be transferred back into jing thus increasing jing in the body. Shen (extension of chi outwardly) requires some of the energy, and an adequate amount will remain available to be transferred back to jing.
The best time to nurture chi in this manner is during periods when the body is quiet such as during meditation so that the least amount of energy is expended in the process. If a person can conserve on energy expenditure then more chi can be transferred back to jing and be available for instance to increase life expectancy. Wu ji (quiet mind), in part, allows chi to be transformed back into jing, which is part of the Immortal Chi Kung practice.
With respect to longevity, those who have sufficient jing stay young longer. Youth is the outward extension of jing (shen), which has been converted into chi in sufficient amounts. When people look older than their age, it is because there is not sufficient jing. Of note is the effect of sexual life on jing. For men, sexual activity depletes jing, whereas for the woman, sexual activity is associated with an increase in jing. For the Chi Kung practitioner, attention is given to the sex life with regard to conserving jing and protecting the kidneys such that good health and longevity are maintained.
The mind directs chi. In other words, chi follows the mind. The practitioner concentrates to train the breath and movement of internal chi. In higher levels of practice, the three elements: jing, chi, and shen, become unified into one. It is here that the spiritual aspects become addressed. In practice, this is a very difficult and delicate state to achieve. From the beginning, the practitioner must effortlessly train the breath to be slow, natural, even and deep. This means breathing with no strain and no effort, simply, very gently and easily. If emotions are not stilled, if the mind is not at peace, the breath will be strained and difficult. An unpleasant thought usually stops the breath. An unhappy emotion sets up tensions in the body, which will block both chi and breath. While Immortal Chi Kung practice focuses on the spirit, it can be appreciated that many health related issues are addressed as well. The derived health benefits of this particular art are similar to the numerous every-day products derived from the technology developed for the space program.
Abimoxi and Chi Kung Practice
Abimoxi incorporates Chi Kung breathing practices to reduce stress, calm the mind and body, and increase oxygenation to the brain and other organs and tissues. This practice can lead to overall improvement and maintenance of health. Since the mind is the director of chi in the body, cultivating a peaceful mind and quiet emotions is of primary importance, not only for the practice of Chi Kung, but for health in general. The body will react to an image in the mind as well as to a physical event. It is important, therefore, to be aware of what chronic thought patterns are daily entertained by the mind. Disaster scenarios and constant worry will insidiously wear away at the body system. To maintain good health, it is advisable to develop a relaxed and pleasant attitude even in the midst of the most difficult times. In our daily lives, if we allow ourselves to engage in constant worry over problems and stress will ensue. The resulting tensions in the body’s musculature will trap and stagnate chi. This will then lay the groundwork for potential breakdowns through a weakening of the body’s natural defense system. It is a good idea to institute a practice of physical and mental relaxation. To have a daily practice of relaxation will be of general benefit to overall health. Establishing a practice of becoming aware of the breath periodically throughout the day will allow one to calm oneself in the midst of the hubbub of business activity. Breathing with purpose in mind is a fundamental aspect of Abimoxi.
When the mind is empty (quiet), the brain becomes very relaxed. This relaxed state is understood to be very good for rebuilding energy. From the outside the body looks quiet but inside chi is moving. Similarly, when the brain is quiet, chi is moving efficiently. A quiet mind is needed for chi to move easier through the brain. To generate energy, a person must start with breathing which helps to quiet the mind along with inducing other beneficial effects.
Oxygen is needed for the body especially the brain. With chronic, mild oxygen insufficiency, signs of illness will occur such as a poor memory, slow reaction time, dizziness, and drowsiness. When the body senses a deficiency in oxygen, particularly sudden oxygen insufficiency, yawning occurs. Yawning occurs frequently as people age. Yawning incorporates deep breathing, which in turn increases oxygen exchange and the person feels refreshed. Internal breathing as an intervention for this problem helps the practitioner by using the entire capacity of the lung. The more oxygen that is available enhances the functioning of the brain and the mind. Enhancement of mental abilities is another example supporting the idea that deep breathing is good for the body. A person can live days without water and food but only a few minutes without oxygen.
Correspondingly, the benefits of sufficient oxygen to the brain and other organs are vastly more important to the body than the well recognized benefits of a proper diet. But this is not to discount the importance of diet. The human being is like a machine. Proper nutrition and the digestive process provide the fuel. Oxygen is necessary to turn the fuel into energy. In a sense, oxygen mixes with nutritional components in the metabolic process. Both are required to produce energy. Age can affect this process in that the enzymes needed for digestion are reduced with age. Deep breathing exercises can reverse this problem as well. Through deep and internal breathing, the organs are massaged and stimulated which in turn, help release hormones. If people use deep breathing exercises daily, the internal organs will be supplied with sufficient oxygen to promote proper functioning and ward of illness. The best time to exercise in this manner is 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. since maximal oxygen is available to allow for healing and health maintenance. External breathing (only using the lungs) has certain limitations, but deep breathing leads to internal breathing and generating chi, which in turn can provide for self-healing. Again, the mind is the director of this process. The mind directs chi by concentrating on areas of blockage. The blockage is then opened as chi it directed through those areas.
Several emotions and thought patterns affect the mind including stress, anxiety, nervousness, and panic. These can increase blood pressure and lead to other diseases as well. For example, the digestive system can be affected. Those affected may no longer feel hungry, lose weight, and develop ulcers. Several chronic diseases have been linked to the effects of long-term stress including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and more serious psychological disorders such as depression. This is exemplified by an old Chinese saying, which advises people not to get mad or panic because the liver will be injured. Stress combined with emotions such as anger can exacerbate the consequence of atherosclerotic vascular disease due to years of a diet high in fat content. When stressed, blood pressure is increased. Anger also promotes a higher cardiac output. It is understood by those who practice Chinese medicine that the combination of plaque in arteries, increased blood flow, and high blood pressure, lead to strokes. The root of the problem is stress and anxiety. This is analogous to clogged pipes in an old house that experience sudden changes in water pressure. With sudden bursts of pressure, some of the clogged material can be dislodged cutting off water flow downstream. Individuals under 35 years of age can often tolerate stress and anxiety, however after many years of high blood pressure and other uncontrolled emotional issues, the body can no longer compensate.
People in their 30’s and 40’s can frequently be under considerable pressure due to circumstances involving marital stress or difficulties at work. As a result, depression can be an issue which may result in sexual disorders, and fatigue. This type of fatigue, the feeling of being tired all the time, indicates that the body’s energy is very low. The root of these problems lies within the mind. The lack of certain hormones, as seen after menopause, can also lead to increased difficulty in tolerating stress. The use of deep breathing through the dan tien while practicing the small circle exercise can induce calmness and cool down the mind thus reducing stress and anxiety by increasing energy to the brain.
Underlying all of these psychological issues is the lack of chi. The practice of Chi Kung is able to address the root of the problem; however, the response is not immediate. Patience is required for sufficient time to attain the desired results. Western medicine addresses the symptoms with relatively rapid results; however, the root of the problem (insufficient chi) is not necessarily addressed. In some cases, energy expenditure continues while masking the symptoms with medication, ultimately leading to a worsening of the underlying cause, lack of sufficient chi.
Several psychological disorders as well as lung and digestive system diseases can be addressed through the practice of Immortal Chi Kung since the mind is the center for practice and the brain must be energized. Disorders and illnesses such as a lack of appetite, coughing, diarrhea, constipation, incontinence of urine, cramps, ulcers, and insomnia can be treated. However a qualified practitioner must be involved in this type of therapy. A quiet mind is naturally therapeutic for anxiety, and such problems as outbursts of temper, nightmares, panic, hyperactivity, fatigue, fearfulness, and insomnia. Chi Kung practitioners refer to this process as cooling down the nervous system. As stated above, deep breathing initiates the process by assisting in quieting the mind.
Active forms of Chi Kung
Chi Kung practice can be separated into two main categories: active (moving) and passive (stationary). Passive Chi Kung takes place while the body holds a specific posture. The body does not move, the mind and breath move chi to the dan tien, and all is quiet. But the practice does not stop at this point. Once the body and mind have reached a state of totally aware passivity, the mind then gently directs chi to move throughout the meridians of the body. This results in a state of active chi in a calm body.
During active physical practice, such as Tai Chi Chuan, the body moves, and by taking on certain postures, chi flows throughout various body parts. The mind is in a state of quiet, open awareness, passively participating in the movement. The changing body postures cause chi to flow. This is peaceful activity. Depending upon the condition of the practitioner, either active or passive Chi Kung methods are optimally employed.
Use of both quiet and active forms of Chi Kung is most effective. Thus far, several details regarding quiet forms have been presented. However, with no physical exercise, people still have un-addressed weakness and can become ill. Too little physical activity or over-exercise can lead to illness; therefore, a balance must exist between quiet and active Chi Kung depending on a person’s life style. For example, if a person is very active physically, more quiet than active Chi Kung practice is suggested and visa versa. In general, for people with normal life styles, combining adequate rest, exercise and basic quiet and active forms of Chi Kung can balance yin and yang appropriately.
Historically, the external (active) forms were developed through observing animals. Animal movements were copied since they were associated with health and longevity. Just as certain channels were found to be associated with particular organs in quiet forms of Chi Kung, certain exercises were found to have a beneficial relationship to specific internal organs. The quiet and active exercises were noted to produce different types of results. These findings were discovered following several generations of practice by the trial and error method.
The Chinese Martial Arts
Observation of and appreciation for the activity of animals in nature became the cornerstone for the early development of martial arts in China. The strength, health, vitality, and power displayed in the animal world offered a benchmark for human exercise activity to aspire toward. The conflict for survival and the response of one animal to the aggression of another within the animal kingdom became a model for study and development. Numerous martial arts systems emerged based upon the study of animals in conflict. Such systems as White Crane, Tiger, Snake, and Dragon display and emphasize the specific fighting characteristics of these animals, respectively. Countless martial arts systems developed over the centuries, yet each possessed essential components. These included specific movements which were associated with offensive and defensive applications; external strength building exercises to improve the effectiveness of the applications of the movements; breathing exercises to improve internal strength, vitality, energy, and support both the internal organs and external strength of the body; methods of self-healing to address injury and sickness; methods to address personal discipline and emotion thus enhancing performance in combat; and knowledge of the human body both for medical purposes as well as maintaining advantages in combat situations. Systems that were highly regarded and sought after applied this knowledge in a fashion that promoted the health, well being, and longevity of the practitioner, both in terms of survival against aggression as well as survival against human ailment. The martial arts in China have undergone considerable evolution to a highly sophisticated level as well as succumbed to factors which have led to their destruction and disappearance. Those that have survived have done so through tremendous personal sacrifice both in terms of resistance to political and social events that sought their destruction as well as the requirements for rigorous training and discipline to pass along the complete art from one generation to the next, and master to most trusted student. The knowledge gained by a particular master was recorded and passed along directly to the student and guarded vigorously, for it fundamentally determined survival.
Today, self-defense and fighting techniques remain an important aspect of the Chinese martial arts. However, on an individual as well as societal level the challenge to health which modern man faces surpasses the challenges posed by adversaries. Eight Step Preying Mantis is regarded as one of the most sought after of the Chinese Martial Art systems in the world. Not only is the system intact with respect to its self-defense and fighting applications passed down over the centuries, but it is complete with regard to the Ways of Martial Arts Healing. Generation to generation, the entire body of knowledge has been passed from master to most trusted student. Grandmaster James Shyun, the sole inheritor of Eight Step Preying Mantis Kung Fu, after careful and arduous consideration, elected to open the knowledge inherited from his Grandmaster to the public. Having begun learning the ways of martial arts healing at the age of thirteen and continuing to the time of inheriting the system from Grandmaster Wei, Grandmaster Shyun has practiced as an Oriental Medical Doctor and openly taught Eight Step Preying Mantis and Shyun Style Tai Chi Chuan to the public. Sensitive to the health issues of today, Grandmaster Sun along with his trusted student, Peter Ray, MD coined the term Abimoxi, denoting the body of knowledge contained within the Ways of Martial Arts Healing and began passing along this body of knowledge to his students. Beginning in 2003, Grandmaster Shyun began writing a series of texts in collaboration with his student, Michael Cimino, through an ongoing process of interviews and discussion until the complete body of knowledge is recorded in an easy to understand, practical format. This first book in the series, Abimoxi Fundamentals, is intended to establish the groundwork for understanding methods of diagnosis, herbal therapies, channels and acupuncture, and treatments. This information can be used by health care providers in understanding and offering complementary forms of treatment to their patients or by the general public to self-improve overall health and well being.