The Illawarra Kung Fu Academy teaches a system called Lohan Chi Kung (Qi Gong), pronounced “Chee Goong“. Tai Chi has come to be a generic term in the west for any of the many forms of moving meditation based in the ancient martial traditions of China. Other styles of Tai Chi, and all styles of Shaolin Kung Fu, share at their core the components of Lohan Qi Gong.
Chi Kung is of enormous benefit to everyone, of any age. Just some of the benefits of practice are:
Improved balance & flexibility;
Improved cardiovascular fitness;
Improved Immune System;
Improvement in symptoms of Arthritis, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsonâ€™s, Alzheimerâ€™s & Fibromyalgia.
(Photo by Greg Totman, taken for this article in the Illawarra Mercury, Sept. 2012)
Practice can reduce the risk of falls in both healthy elderly patients and those recovering from chronic illness. It can also greatly reduce pain and improve overall physical and mental health, especially in people over 60.
Of course, prevention is better than cure and the practice is beneficial for young people too, helping to prevent the onset of many age-related conditions and greatly improve quality of life.
In studies, Tai Chi practitioners did significantly better in terms of pain, fatigue, sleeplessness and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises and wellness education.
Chi Kung is both an internal and external exercise that uses movement and breath control to manipulate the flow of Chi along the bodyâ€™s meridians. It is both a physical and mental exercise. Inwardly, it is taught to cultivate the Jing, the Chi and the Shen (the essence, the breath and the spirit). Outwardly, it is practiced to build a strong and healthy body.
Chi Kung can be best translated as Breath/Energy Work. It stimulates the immune system and is excellent for healing inflamed and degenerated tissue. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and is beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and depression.
In class, students will learn:
* Breathing and movement exercises to cultivate energy
* Muscle and tendon conditioning to build a strong body
* Traditional Qi Gong and Tai Chi forms, or set patterns
* Correct breath control
* Mental discipline and awareness
The practice is not just about living to a ripe old age. It is about living in the best possible physical shape, both inside and out, as well as in peak mental and emotional form.
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The history of Lohan Qi Gong:
Lohan Qi Gong is the ancient healing exercise created by Da Mo (Bodhidharma), the founder of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, 1,500 years ago. This gentle exercise is relaxing and energising at the same time, with each set of movements designed to activate and cleanse the dan tiens and particular acupuncture meridians.
This exercise was a precious secret kept within the Shaolin temple until its sacking and the massacre of its inhabitants about 200 years ago. The monk Choy Fook, one of the few survivors, fled south to Guangdong province, and was sought out by Chan Heung who became his disciple. Chan Heung mastered the whole system of Shaolin kung fu including the Qi Gong exercises and medical knowledge, which has then been passed from generation to generation through his family.
There are several Lohan Qi Gong sets forming a comprehensive system of progressively more advanced techniques towards gaining complete mastery of ones Qi, or vital energy.
Sifu Alan’s teacher is Jerng Mun, Chen Yong Fa, the great-great-grandson of Chan Heung and the present custodian of Chan Family Choy Lee Fut kung fu, including, until now, the secret Lohan Qi Gong exercises.
Master Chen is the sole inheritor of this ancient traditional health system, the Shaolin Lohan Qi Gong, which is the internal health exercises of the Choy Lee Fut system of martial arts.
Legend has it that the Buddhist monk, Da Mo, spent nine years in meditation in a cave. During these years of meditation he discovered that the lack of movement of his body and limbs over a long period of time, plus the bitter cold and wind around his mountain retreat, caused fatigue, body aches and pains. His disciples also suffered the same problems and often dozed off during meditation. To combat those hazards, Da Mo devised a set of exercises based on Indian yoga exercises, Chinese exercises of the time and his own observations of the natural movements of wild animals. This set of exercises is known as the “18 Lohan Qi Gong”.
During the Yuan Dynasty the “18 Lohan Qi Gong” (consisting of 18 movements) was enlarged to 72 movements, and later still to 173 movements to form the basis of Shaolin Chuan Fa, which in turn, greatly influenced the developments of all branches of Asian fighting arts. For the martial arts student it is essential to appreciate that Lohan Qi Gong is not just another Chinese exercise; it is the original â€˜blueprintâ€™ for Shaolin Kung Fu.