Qi Gong Breathing for Active Recuperation

Qi Gong is an integral part of Wing Chun.  We reap the benefits of it through cultivation of vital energy, and also from the increased effectiveness of our breathing on our physiology.  When we practice Sil Nim Tao, we are training our mind and our bodies, part of which includes the breathing technique.  My Sifu and Sigung both taught me the importance of breathing as one of the two most important things in kung fu, and based on my experiences, they are absolutely correct.  Given two equally matched fighters, the one that can recuperate the fastest through proper breathing technique will likely be the victor.  I share some of my own experiences in the paragraphs below that I feel validate the importance of Qi Gong breathing in your kung fu training.

Part of my own workout at home is to run “suicides” after my Wing Chun practice, which I do two to three times each week, depending on how much class/partner time I’ve had.   “Suicides” are a jogging/sprinting exercise consisting of direction changes at 10, 20 and 30 yards, i.e., up and back to ten yards, up and back to 20 yards, and up and back to 30 yards, followed by a rest interval.  I’ve worked up to doing ten rounds of these, which helps to build both strength and endurance, and to a lesser degree, agility.  During the rest periods, I’ve started to integrate Qi Gong breathing with great results compared to normal breathing.  The clear benefit of Qi Gong breathing based on my experience is decreased recuperation time during the rest periods, to the point where I can actually gage how many breaths it will take to recuperate from a given volume of exercise.

For those that want to know the science behind recovery from an exercise like this, well here it is.  I personally feel that it’s important to understand the science because this knowledge gives you the ability to manipulate it to your own needs.   Your body generates energy for short, intense bursts of exercise like sprinting or fighting anaerobically, or without oxygen. When you stop exercising you still breathe heavily because your body is taking in extra oxygen to repay the oxygen debt that was incurred.  When you stop the exercise and start to recover you will actually need more oxygen to recover, and hence you breath harder than you do during the exercise. This is called Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption.  Here’s why it takes more oxygen to recover:  1) You need to replace the oxygen the body needed but couldn’t get (oxygen deficit), 2) Your breathing and heart rate are elevated to remove CO2, 3) Your body temperature and metabolic rate are increased, and 4) Your Adrenaline and Noradrenaline are increased.

Here’s how Qi Gong works to decrease your recovery time.  First, to simplify the paragraph above: your body didn’t get the oxygen that it needed during the exercise and not only needs to make up for what it didn’t have during the exercise, but also needs deal with the other physiological effects that accompany short, intense bursts of exercise.  You finish the exercise and your breathing is heavy, and if you are not trained in Qi Gong, it is very inefficient. Qi Gong breathing increases the effectiveness of your breathing by doing two things: 1) increases the total volume of air moving into and out of your lungs through proper breathing, and 2) through the accompanying body motions, effectively forcing the oxygen into your circulatory system, kind of like a turbo charger on a car!

If you don’t have experience with Qi Gong breathing, here’s a brief explanation of proper form.  A single breath looks like this: 1) inhale starting at your navel – the tan tien – (newborn babies or young children after vigorous play are a great example as they the diaphragm as the main control point for breathing, ‘belly breathing’); pulling inward toward your spine to help you exhale and pushing outwards to expand your rib cage while breathing in. Actually, if you focus only on the motion and direction of your diaphragm and not directly on breathing, your lungs will fill automatically, 2) next open up your chest cavity and feel the expansion in your lungs. I’m not sure if this is scientifically proven, but in my own humble opinion, I think this increases your overall lung capacity over time and the longer practice, 3) exhale starting with your lung cavity, and press the energy downward to the tan tien. My sigung uses a great analogy to visualize this: imagine a rolling pin rolling your chest from top to bottom, 4) complete the exhale by sucking in your tan tien and pushing every last bit of oxygen out of your lungs.

The accompanying body motions are just as important as the breathing as they facilitate the flow of your vital energy and your circulatory system.  We typically perform three motions in our classes that are derived from portions of the Eight Pieces of Brocade and Shaolin Lohan Hands forms. I’ll explain one of them here.  It starts with feet shoulder width apart, knees bent and relaxed, hands at your sides, palms in front of you and facing up.  As you inhale ‘lift’ your hands up to chin level, and as you exhale, face your palms downward and ‘press’ them toward your navel.  Physically, you are forcing your rib cage to expand and accept more air during the inhale, and conversely, forcing your rib cage closed and effectively pushing the air out of your lungs during the exhale.

As you practice your Qi Gong, the next step is to focus on what’s happening to your body during the exercise and to understand where energy is flowing.  I’m just in the beginning stages of learning this, and hopefully someday I’ll learn enough to shed some light on this for other martial artists that are interested.  In the meantime, I’ve fully integrated Qi breathing into my workouts and even into my daily routines if I’m feeling low on energy.  I’m curious to know if others have the same experience with integrating Qi Gong breathing into their workouts and how their results compare to mine.

Much respect,

Mike Pollard

Pacific Wing Chun under the tutelage of Sifu Lawrence Ramirez and my Sigung Alan Bak Fu Vasquez of Orange County Wing Chun (the original)

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Dedication, the Key to Understanding Wing Chun Kung Fu

Dedication, the Key to Understanding Wing Chun Kung Fu

The concepts of structured movement, economy of motion and dedication to understanding these concepts is key within the Wing Chun Kung Fu System. Wing Chun is a Martial Arts System that entails the study of body structure,  structured coordinated refined movement, and the understanding of hand and weapon form. The techniques within the system are not easily taught alone without the student having an understanding of structured movement of a body that has been trained to respond to attack with applied concepts and muscle memory trained reflexes. These are movement and concepts that are not easily learned from books or video, nor can one person transmit this knowledge to another by shear explanation alone. The practitioner has to put in the time and dedicate themselves to understanding and practice enough to be able to apply these concept competently.

From day one it usually takes a practitioner three to six months to develop enough reflex and understanding of structure to utilize some technique competently . Progress  will come to those whom are dedicated to practice, and have understanding of how to practically apply particular techniques. Many portions of the system will become second nature to the practitioner as they practice and from this practice comes muscle memory reflex in applying technique when attacked or provoked.

As more of the system is studied, the practitioner advances and is introduced to new  technique and the second and third hand forms they must also also keep in mind and adhere to basic structural and theoretic principles that are inherent to the Wing Chun System.

The Wing Chun System requires one to be dedicated in study and practice to be proficient, those whom are dedicated to practice, study and application of the system will attain a certain level of mastery.

Keep the traditions!

 

 

lrs

Pacific Wing Chun Association Seminar schedule February 2014.

Pacific Wing Chun Association Seminar scheduled for February 2014.

The Seminar with Sifus, Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez founder of Orange County Wing Chun Association, and John DiVirgillio of the Hawaii Wing Chun Association, is scheduled to be held Febuary 1 and 2nd of February 2014.

Saturday – Noon till 3pm. We will gather for an Association Dinner after the Seminar on Saturday.

Sunday – 8am -1pm .

Wing Chun Association Members from all Islands and Continential US are encouraged to attend.

Please contact Lawrence Ramirez Sifu for locations, signup cost, and Hawaii lodging information.

wingchun.association@yahoo.com

808-345-5540

Keep the Traditions!

lrs

Alan "Bak Fu" Vasquez Sifu and Founder of Orange County Wing Chun Association, OC Wing Chun Since 1979

Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez Sifu and Founder of Orange County Wing Chun Association, OC Wing Chun Since 1979

Hawaii Wing Chun Seminar with Sifu John Divirgillio, of the Hawaii Wing Chun Association in Feburary.

Hawaii Wing Chun Seminar with Sifu John Divirgillio, of the Hawaii Wing Chun Association in Feburary.

Pacific Wing Chun Association has a new location.

Pacific Wing Chun Association has a new location. We are moving the Kwoon into Kailua Kona from Waikoloa at the end of January. New class times and Locations! Details to follow. Contact Lawrence Ramirez Sifu for more infomation. wingchun.association@yahoo.com or pacifiwingchunassoc@live.com

Be Well and Keep the Traditions!
lrs

Gung Fu

Gung Fu by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu

Throughout the years since the Bodhidharma traveled to China and Shaolin Temple at the foot of Shaoshi mountain in the Song mountain range in the Henan province, where Gung Fu began, there have been those whom study martial arts, but were never worthy of receiving such training in the first place.

These people reside in the lower four worlds of life:
“Hell–a condition of despair in which one is completely overwhelmed by suffering; Hunger–a state dominated by deluded desire that can never be satisfied; Animality–an instinctual state of fearing the strong and bullying the weak; Anger–a state characterized by an unrestrained competitive urge to surpass and dominate others and often under a pretence of being good and wise. These four states are referred to as the Four Evil Paths because of the destructive negativity that marks them. ” (SGI-USA, http://www.sgi.org/buddhism/buddhist-concepts/ten-worlds.html).

Even Bodhidharma was plagued with this problem by one of his followers before he even arrived in China.

Some cannot grasp idea that, dedication to study, knowledge, and even Happiness cannot be transmitted from human to human, it develops within each of us. Only the ideas are shared among us, it is ultimately up to the individual to either study and manifest these lofty ideals or remain in the lower worlds or states of life.

Every martial arts style, system, or pugilistic form has this type of person among the ranks today and has had them throughout the years from the beginnings.

I have many martial artist friends from across several style, systems and lineage, they have all had personal experience with these people. It is nothing new.

Today in the ever growing world of martial artists there is another factor which rears its ugly head among those whom reside in and among the Low Worlds, those whom hold greed close under false pretense of false sage or wisdom, slandering others.

All whom study Martial Arts know these Truths, and most of us Respect each other, we may not share the same Ideas on how to take care of an attacker and send him home via the hospital, but we do respect each other and our particular Tao , or path in Martial Art.

I do not know anothers intent, but when I see it I act, if the intent is to harm someone, I protect them. I uphold the Traditions of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Be wary of whom you teach, there are only few worthy.

Be Well, Much Respect,
lrs

Wing Chun and Structured Mass

Wing Chun and Structured Mass by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu

The term “Structure” holds different meaning and several function in the Wing Chun Kung Fu system. Within the first form Sil Nim Tao and basic San Sik a beginning practitioner will be taught Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma or the Catch Goat Stance. This focus on stance or structure early in training is paramount if the practitioner is to progress and have functional technique.

As a student is able to grasp these ideals of stance, rooted structure and angular stepping technique they will have progressed to a point where their technique will be functional, but maybe not at optimal performance. Only when an understanding of movement in stance, along with the structured mass of the body can the practitioners technique become really powerful.

With proper timing of technique and structured movement of the body as one unit or a mass, strikes and kicks become much more lethal. Now for someone whom does not study Wing Chun in depth, they will miss several key points where the concept of structure, is concerned. We use the term Structure, but we do not advocate rigidity. Rigidity is not the the goal of structure within the Wing Chun system.

By maintaining a soft yet structured stance, and using properly timed techniques, a practitioner can find opportunity where as a fighter whom is rigid and over committed can easily be overcome by evasive techniques. Within soft structured limbs a flinch reflex or fa jeng, whipping power can be applied where in an arm that is super rigid half of the muscle structure that is throwing the strike is also holding the strike back. Remaining less rigid also will allow a practitioner to intercept a strike, redirect its force, and change his defending limbs in an instant to a strike. This could be attained by a catch and release action, or by using a block to slip motion. “Extreme softness enables one to be hard. Being extremely natural enables one to be agile.” (Wing Chun Kuen Kuit)

A practitioner should focus on maintaining these ideas of structure which encompasses, stance, proper angular movement, footwork, along with properly timed and applied technique when engaging an opponent. If applied as a coordinated unit or body mass, the practitioner will be very hard to attack from any angle and also extremely lethal with response to any attack when applying Wing Chun technique.

Keep the Traditions!
lrs

Happiest Holiday Wishes from Pacific Wing Kung Fu Association

Happiest Holiday Wishes too all our Friends and Wing Chun Brothers. I am Blessed to have some of the most dedicated Wing Chun, Sifu’s & Practitioner’s whom have helped to make Pacific Wing Chun Kung Fu Association what it is today. I would like to acknowledge the deepest gratitude to my Sifu Alan ‘Bak Fu” Vasquez for the gift of this art, and to Co-Sifu Eugene Tagawa for your Years of Dedication and always thoughtful generosity! Me Ke Aloha all!

Day One.

“You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing!”  is what my Sifu said on day one.

This was taught in metaphorical fashion. I was told to stand in a modified attention stance and then it was called out;

“Knees bent, right foot out 45 degrees, left hand up Wu Sao breath in, Right hand punch the left palm breath out SSSSST, Left foot out Du Ma breath in, Shoot both hands out Biu Sao breath out sharply SSSSST, both hands back breath in, double back-fist breath out sharply SSSSST, right foot back front breath in, press down with both hands and stand straight up and breath out. You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing!”

Now lets look at this portion of the statement, “Respect and Breathing”, we all know what happens if we all stop breathing. Basically we die.

If we put two trained martial artists with the exact same skill set in a ring, the outcome would depend on will power and a little luck. Now lets add something to one of the fighters skill set; solid relaxed breath training, or training to breath appropriately for the circumstance. Breathing has a lot to do with how well your body does under pressure. If your blood is well oxygenated and the body is constantly being refreshed by breath and the fighter can achieve this well under pressure, this fighter has an skill that may well be the edge he needs to overcome his opponent whom may be gassed, or weak and fatigued.

Common training knowledge directly correlates breathing with well developed cardio fitness, and as we all know good cardio equals stamina and longevity in case of a fight. There are professional athletes in Hawaii training under water with no breath as a means to develop a stronger resistance to fatigue in the body under duress. The idea here is to train the body to work with less oxygen or utilize the remaining oxygen in the body efficiently or economically. This is a common training method for the new guard of big wave surfers here in Hawaii and free-divers around the world.

There are also hundreds of breathing apparatus on the market, being used in MMA and most pro sports training camps today. From old gas masks to high tech re-breathers and breath restrictors  they all have a similar concept in mind. Train the body to breath efficiently, or utilize oxygen better.

The idea of training breath or breathing to be second nature under duress or in a conflict is key. Along with all technique taught within the Wing Chun System breath and breathing is paramount.

One idea on how it is instilled within the system itself would point to the breathing done and practiced during hand forms. If a student actually practices, he will get this training as part of his twice daily ritual of preforming Sil Nim Tao and it will become second nature or a memory reflex.

Another way this can be incorporated into training method, is through forced instinctual breathing. As a student or practitioner works on technique, if coordinated strong sharp out breaths are used during the exercises, the body automatically re-breaths due to the natural instinct to breath in as the body is stressed and out of breath.

As part of San Sik a timed continuous chain punch can be utilized with breath changes added for effect. Try this technique with natural breath, continuous out breath until stressed, and also with no breath until stressed.

“You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing, Because if you dont Breath you Die, and if you don’t show Respect you may also Die!”

On Day One! “Respect and Breathing” is what he said.

by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu lrs