I should really call this getting your nervous system stabilized, and one of the best ways to build strength in your Root is to do the stepping of Ba Gua in a straight line at first. Whether you hold the Single Palm Change, Fire Palm, Water Palm, or you put your hands behind your back it doesn’t matter when it comes to rooting and stepping. When you magnetize Kidney 1 and you build the strength under your foot from the Achilles and the Qi begins a stretching feeling underneath your foot. The Qi moves through the 5 metatarsal bones, ligaments, tendons, and toe joints. This wave of Qi opening from the Achilles and through the bladder meridian awakens the physical structures. Continued practice in energetic rooting synchronized with proper Ba Gua stepping awakens the neurological connections to the nervous system through acupuncture meridians. The energy and Qi will arc over from the bladder meridian towards the big toe and the Spleen 2 and 3 areas underneath the foot, and with proper Rooting the Kidney Meridian begins to awaken the power of the Water Element inside of you.
Going further with the sensations under the foot would show you a mental picture of the physical structure under the foot. The foot has 3 specific points to balance weight distribution and create a hollowing, yet magnetic feeling with Kidney 1 acupuncture point. When you work further with Kidney 1, this point develops a sensation of opening and closing. Eventually a rotation effect of the area around kidney 1 increases in size and strengthens. After working with and strengthening your Root, there is a clockwise and counter-clockwise moving/rotation effect which created an opening and closing of the ankle joint, knee joint, and hip joints of the body. Wu Style Tai Chi Quan had a great warm up exercise that furthered the openings and closings of this unique energetic structure, which gave Wu Style Square Form the reputations of being the form to maximize the range of motion and get the most of the opening and closings of the joints of the body. This means the end to all arthritis, contemplate that if you are in pain. How to grow old with pain managed and the body made stronger instead of weaker with age. Wu Style’s walk and warm up exercise would get you to open Kidney 1 and prepare your body for Ba Gua stepping and the Single Palm Change.
The Ba Gua Stepping combined with the Rooting developed from the Tai Chi walk stabilized your nervous system to develop a person with stable internal strength. What glorious body, mind, and soul benefits indeed would come from such exercises!
When I learned to combine the root rotations in a clockwise and counter-clockwise motions to open the joints, the Ba Gua Stepping took on a whole new level of gradual strength. A teacher I admire told me this was the secret to an integrated full body integration known to the Chinese as “Threading the Golden Needle.”
The more I practiced the more my body experienced an energy movement in a sort of spiraling motion from joint to joint that simultaneously awakened acupuncture points along a pathway. I had to pay attention because the qi was not moving in a linear direct line, but the spiral of Qi sends energy up and down the structure while opening and closing the Kwa. By connecting the kwa (groin), your body creates a greater awareness of the Tan Tien and the energy cable connection from opposite hand to foot. The Spiral of Ba Gua could be additionally felt from Tan Tien to shoulder to shoulder’s nest, to elbow, to wrist, to Pericardium 8 opening. The spiral image would really open and close the joints of the upper body and lower body, the spiral could really internally stretch the fascia, tendons, ligaments, structures, nervous system, acupuncture meridians, and was the MAXIMUM exercise to rehabilitate soft-tissue structures. In fact, these exercises would be why Asian bodies had THICKER ligaments and tendons than most other Caucasian bodies I treat as an acupuncturist.
Could it prevent surgery?
As I do the Wu Walk and Ba Gua stepping in a straight line, with the newfound awareness of soft tissue exercise and healing, I truly feel stronger. People would try to push me in my office, try to get in a push hands stance, try to push me around like a football player, and all I do is release mental and physical tension. The result is that they simply cannot move my body in any amount, my upper structure might give, but the Root would absorb all Force because people were still trying to use muscles to move an integrated tendon and ligament structure. I would then demonstrate a return push from my shoulders, my hips, and finally I would sink my Qi into my feet and UPROOT the student. After I have the student uprooted, I can push them as much as I want. I don’t send them flying, but I suspect I could really push them far if I wanted to demonstrate such power.
“There is no strength in tension.”
Ba Gua stepping in a straight line for me, represents the consistent application of energy awareness, structure, and meditation to expand awareness while strengthening the body through a whole unified field of Qi. Dedicated practice yielded very specific energy sensations, creating a very specific awareness of the Tan Tien and connections from the Tan Tien to the periphery of the person moving. Whether complex permutations of Yin and Yang energies like in Tai Chi, direct openings and closings like Hsing Yi, or circular and spiraling movements like Ba Gua, these forms each had a form of stepping and Rooting.
Neuroscience calls this body synchronization and during a virtual reality experience I saw in an interview with a Stanford Psychology professor, I heard him say that it is as if there is a body transfer and you neurologically experience reality in a new way. He claimed the virtual reality experience was becoming accepted in the mind as real, and the metaphor for spiritual illusion and delusion struck me right in my 3rd eye. That’s what Internal Arts really could do for you. By placing you into your body and neurologically synchronizing your body to your mind, Internal Arts offered a meditation state during exercise, but the release of all tension was the bi-product of cultivating strength. Relaxed power generated without tension, in fact muscle and mental tension destroyed your internal power and made you vulnerable during push hands. Whether you were in a fight, a life and death situation, studying for a final, or in a job setting…the tension makes you weak. Get rid of the tension in the nervous system of a human being and they were capable of so much more in life. A new perception of a new level of reality was experienced in the mind.
I found myself patiently awaiting the day the meridians were strong enough to even attempt Ba Gua Zhang and the Single Palm Change. I wanted to have my gifts awaken from inside my Jing or genetics. I looked at Ba Gua as a way of unravelling the mysteries of inner space, healing, and meditation. Fighting was only a portion of where Ba Gua could take you, I was all for the internal journey and healing waters as long as you don’t practice too fast and shred your knees. That is the number one problem with bad form and untested internal connections, if you don’t have the metatarsal bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, and energy anatomy opened up…ba gua can shred your knees. You have to know the rules, but you really really really need to have your feet meridians opened and the fascia around the structure of Kidney 1 creating the clockwise and counterclockwise opening of the ankle joints before engaging the knee joint. Most people don’t have the full concept of Wu Walking down yet, and they start walking the circle too soon. The connections in the Wu Walk allowed me to grasp Ba Gua mud stepping in a different context.
Being a didactic learner can be a bitch, but it has its advantages indeed. I get to work on things until I refine the technique or develop the skill. Just like a drummer trying to learn a fast time signature, I had to learn to STEP before I learn to WALK the circle. Your nervous system has to be more integrated with the Root, and you most certainly need to have Threading the Golden Needle technique down before your read any further or begin walking the circle. To get the root structures and soft tissue from underneath my feet to open and close the ankle joint and toe joints is paramount before I use the knee joint. I learn to check for my form to be correct, to recognize my internal structure awaken and connect to become one structure. In one of the Wu warm ups exercise my structures underneath my feet developed the power to turn the body and hold the balance simultaneously. Because I had greater strength than ever before in my structure I could work on healing the weakness in the knee joint. I opened the liver and gall bladder meridians and strengthened the connection from the Achilles tendon to kidney 10, my knee felt more supported by the Root structures, now my hip could open up and the body could rotate.
Walking the Circle
Circle walking at first, when I walk the circle, in the beginning of the exercise I did it as slow as I could go. I used it as a meditation to put my mind fully in the moment. The structures of awareness with tendons and ligaments made stronger from underneath my foot made my balance better, and it certainly made my knees and hips stronger. The first time I studied Ba Gua was the 8 mother palms, but nobody explained how Root should feel, at least I am certain by focusing on the meridians and their pathways you will develop true strength in those structures again. No matter what the X-Rays say and the medical technology you engage with, remember to ask a great teacher to show you how to make your whole life stronger. People in Taiwan and China have claimed miracles for years using these systems.
Walking. Just simply learning how to walk.
But to a weak person, it could generate strength.
But to an older person, it could give renewal.
But to an arthritic person, it could open joints.
But to fearful people, it changed stress to peace.
This activity of just learning to walk, learning to stand, learning to acquire Root, and awaken a dormant potential inside of you through your activation of your bio-meridians. Acupuncture meridians were the key to mixing the alchemy of the 5 Elements inside of you. One person described it to me as being psychic inside your own body. I prefer to think of it as exploring inner space, then realizing the profound connection to all life in the cosmos through the meditative states this type of practice could offer to you.
Certain energetics were acquired through the teaching of structure combined with these forms if you had the appropriate stepping awakened inside the student. In terms of the 5 Elements, the 8 Mother Palms, and Tai Chi these forms were also having direct martial art applications. I specifically noted that tai chi was famous for being the form employed by the Imperial Guard who protected the Emperor inside the Forbidden City. Hsing Yi was taught to the officers, Eagle Claw was for the foot soldiers, and Ba Gua was really for the monastery. China had a real spiritual pearl that allowed people to cultivate dormant potential inside themselves.
I don’t recommend just learning it as a movement, Yoga had something right inside of it indeed. Static postures build strength, and in I Chuan and Wu Qi and San Ti the system did indeed awaken. Some people just move and they cut the connection, if you don’t move from the Root there is no power and no connection. One unit of Qi in the Root was worth 10 units of Qi in the Upper Jiao in terms of integrated full body power. The kind of Qi that I was told takes joint pain away and restores a range of motion within you. The Chinese have many stories about Tai Chi, but there seems to be a way for a human being to exercise their soft tissue and retain great flexibility in older age through these energy arts and the postures. But the real profound effect was to be had on your mind.
There is a dormant perception inside of mankind, he has been asleep to his own Divinity and has turned his back in denial on his inner Demon of distorted reality. Most commonly this occurs as an inability to perceive the truth of criticism, that people on some insane level are trying to get through to your unintegrated psyche that you have a deficiency in seeing your “self” clearly. The “self” is usually some overt or covert narcissism that needs to be acknowledged and purged from the system. Instead of running away from ourselves, why don’t we go inside ourselves and awaken our True and Virtuous connection to Heaven and Earth?
Let go of the rope.
Set yourself free.
Walking this way has made me stronger and my life more adventurous internally, and now in terms of how I relate to the world without fear.