The sexual prowess of internal martial art masters is legendary. I was told by one of my teachers that his teacher (in his 80s) was still enjoying regular relations.
I often wondered what could be the explanation for this? According to traditional chinese medicine (TCM), correct tai chi practice exercises the “kidney/liver” system. In TCM, kidney/liver does not mean only the physical organs. The kidney/liver system refers to a whole complex of spiritual, emotional, physical and other factors. The kidneys are related to life force and strong kidneys means strong libido, strength and creativity to be successful in the world.
However, I stumbled upon some research that offers a more tangible explanation for why tai chi could have these miraculous effects. Keep in mind that good and correct tai chi instruction is really hard to find. The millions of old people practicing in the park are largely doing it incorrectly!! Hard to believe but true. The real stuff has been watered down and popularized for the masses.
Most of the old people practicing in the park are doing it wrong and not getting benefits over fresh air, sunlight and walking. This is why tai chi practice does not appeal to young people and most non-chinese people.
If word got out about the side effects of correct tai chi practice, then everybody would do it and older people would be become vibrant and youthful.
Anyway, this study and many many others are saying that simple pelvic floor exercises can restore proper functioning to men provided they aren’t too far gone already (severe heart disease or heavy drinkers).
When tai chi is practiced correctly, it’s like an intense pelvic floor exercise. When the body is positioned correctly and relaxed the legs form a “bow” which results in the pelvic floor lifting and supporting the body. As one moves through the form, the pelvic area and legs get a thorough work out. It takes about 10 minutes to do the entire long form. Practiced up to 10 times per day, it’s 100 minutes of kegels and pelvic floor exercise each day!
If you are a tai chi student and do not feel this or your practice feels weak, seek out some new instruction. Traditional chen family style with a good lineage is a great place to start.
It’s time to reconsider high intensity training routines that are becoming a popular exercise trend. The theory is that short bursts of intense exercise are similar to what our ancestors experienced and are more effective at burning fat and releasing growth hormone. However, for older more sedentary weekend warriors, perhaps this strategy is not the best strategy for fitness.
Andrew Marr, journalist and BBC TV presenter, recently had a high profile stroke caused by intense exercise on a rowing machines. You can read about it here.
Apparently, Mr. Marr damaged his carotid artery during an attempt at a short, high intensity training exercise on a rowing machine. Contrast this approach with internal martial arts training. In traditional internal chinese martial arts, one is taught to hold pressure in the lower abdomen and not in the chest, neck and head. There is intense pressure on the lower half of the body, while the upper body is relaxed. One is taught to avoid “chi rising”. Obviously, I’m not saying Mr. Marr’s stroke was caused by “Chi Rising”. We’ll never know what caused it–could be a random event and it was just the time for to happen, or it was genes. diet and environment.
The point of the article about his incident is that perhaps for older people, high intensity training is probably not a good idea. Chinese internal martial arts, with it’s breathing patterns, scientific relaxation techniques, intense leg pressure and posture training is probably a great choice for fitness. Many people don’t realize how hard authentic internal chinese martial arts like taichichuan are to practice and how you can get a great core workout that rivals any pilates or yoga class.
Here’s a good example of good taichichuan. It’s an excerpt of the chen style 2nd routine that is done with more power expression and a faster tempo:
The chinese are well known for making tonics for drinking and for applying to injuries. Anyone who has practiced chinese martial arts is familiar with ‘dit da jow’ or ‘hit medicine’. Dit da jow is usually a secret combination of herbs soaked in alcohol for several months to years and applied to injuries to speed up healing.
Taken internally, the tonics are often called ‘Spring Wine’. You can make your own chinese tonic spring wine with just a little bit of money and lots of time! I believe these home brews are much more powerful than anything you can buy in a bottle or pill at an herb shop.
I love to drink Shou Wu Chih and decided to make my own a few months ago. I bought a bottle in a chinatown herb shop and asked the owner to make up a batch of the raw herbs so I can soak them in rice wine and enjoy a fresh powerful home made batch. I had to buy 4 bottles of the highest percentage alcohol (38%) rice wine at the liquor store around the corner. When I got home, I added a bit of Rou Cong Gong, baji tian, du zhong and American Ginseng to add some kick to it. I tried a bit the other day to see how it was progressing and it was powerful! First of all, I slept like a baby after drinking a few shots. It was so strong, I had to mix some raw honey in there to make it palatable. Also, I have to say that this stuff increases nitric oxide production in the body. After a few days on this, my thinking was clearer, I easily felt 10 years younger. It makes you feel strong and powerful. So now I have a gallon of this stuff to work through! I didn’t measure my testosterone levels, but if I had to go by physical indicators, this stuff boosts testosterone levels!!
So, not stopping there, I found a great recipe for another batch here. This site has a jpg you can print out with the formula. It costs $15 in the united states to make up this batch (plus the alcohol). The owner remarked that this was a great formula and was really impressed that came in the store with it. However, I wanted to kick it up a few more notches. I added deer anter glue, korean ginseng, shou wu (fo ti) and goji berries. The blogger, happyhomemaker88 also had the same idea to add goji berries but complained they soaked up a bit of the wine.
The herbalist was impressed with my knowledge of chinese herbs and confirmed those were good additions. I wanted to do even more but was told “enough”..it was strong enough! Now I have to let this stuff soak a few months. I’ll try an early taste in 2-3 months and give a good 6 months.
It’s important to be aware of your habitual thoughts. Images in the mind can trigger a cocktail of chemicals into your bloodstream. As mentioned in the e-book, ‘Beautiful Thinking’, some women will release oxytocin if they think about a hungry and crying baby. It triggers an instinct to nurse. Growth hormone release has been linked with positive emotions. The other day, I realized that the opposite must also be true. If we imagine bad things happening (the typical worry wort) we must be flooding our systems with bad chemicals. If we become addicted to imagining the worst outcome or brooding over what happened or what could have happened, it’s like having a diet heavy in junk food..or worse. We depress our immune systems with chronic bad thoughts.
How simple it is to simply choose to have some positive thoughts..daydream! It will extend your life. Create happy thoughts like you would take vitamins. Our bodies create the chemicals and tonics we need. We don’t have to get substances from the outside. The Beautiful Thinking ebook may seem very simple or very obvious, however it’s probably the single most important thing you can do for great health and to stay young.
Do we really need to age or are we ‘hypnotized’ into believing we have to get old a certain way? Interesting thoughts to ponder. In the meantime, take some time to send your cells and organs some beautiful mental images.
A couple years ago, I purchased a Teding Diancibo Pu (TDP) Lamp for personal use. I was intrigued by it when an acupuncturist I visited used one to heat up my lower abdomen and the needles in my dantian area. He said it would help “increase chi”. Acupuncturists have been using various forms of heat for thousands of years to make the therapy more effective. These new heat lamps (purportedly invented in the 80s) are yet another way to introduce focused heat into the body. The literature on the net indicates that this heat lamp using a special ceramic plate that has minerals on it. It looks like this:
I currently am using it to help heal a sacro-iliac injury. 20 minutes into the heating session, it feels pretty good. I’m doubling up with a chinese patent medicine called “Touku Wan” which has a plethora of herbs for pain and healing. A quick scan shows such notables as Frankincense and Myrrh, Cinnamon, Licorice and Notopterigyii Root. The formula, however, is different than what I’m used to in the past. I’m not sure why the ingredients change so much.
I also purchased some fresh notoginseng root. I’ll write more about notoginseng in the future. Many people have never heard of this fantastic healing herb.
Nitric Oxide is created in your sinuses. One of the best ways to get a healthy dose of Nitric Oxide is to simply hum and inhale through your nose. The humming creates a vibration of the sinus cavities which in turn creates nitric oxide.
Here’s an example finding from a study:
“We report that NO in humans is produced by epithelial cells in the paranasal sinuses and is present in sinus air in very high concentrations, close to the highest permissible atmospheric pollution levels.” You can read more here.
Here’s a study about humming and nitric oxide:
“Ten healthy subjects took part in the study. Nasal NO was measured with a chemiluminescence technique during humming and quiet single-breath exhalations at a fixed flow rate. NO increased 15-fold during humming compared with quiet exhalation.”
Here’s a link.
The greatest tonic is already inside us. Our bodies can produce a healing tonic of hormones, chemicals and other substances when we are happy and at peace. We can produce this state by relaxing. Most people don’t know how to relax or that there is even a technique to it. The best we can do is take a walk, listen to music or do some mindless activity and think we’re relaxed. However, there actually is a technique to relaxing. Although this may seem like an oxymoron, it takes practice to relax. Relaxation is a big part of chinese martial art training. It’s called ‘Sung’ in chinese. If you were to study a chinese internal martial art and certain other disciplines, you would most likely learn techniques to produce relaxation and exercises to test and develop this relaxation. One really good system that is accessible to westerners has been popularized by Koichi Tohei, who is a master of the Japanese martial art of Aikido. In this system, Tohei developed exercises that test the extent of relaxation in your body. He even developed a system to work at perfecting the level of relaxation. One of my favorite books ever is Tohei’s Book of Ki available in my amazon store. He teaches breathing techniques and other exercises called Ki Tests.
Here’s a simple way to relaxation. If you’d like more detailed instruction, please indicate so!
Find a posture that is easy to maintain and allows for the lowest part of your abdomen to freely expand and contract with your breath (don’t worry if you can’t feel that yet). Allow your body to settle and notice your inhale and exhale. Find what part of your abdomen or torso expands with your inhale and exhale without forcing anything. Just observe and make no judgements. Release any holding in your body starting from the top of your head down to your feet every time you exhale. Your elbows will feel like they are lengthening, your chest will release and top of your head will soar upwards. As your elbows lengthen, the top of your shoulders (where an important acupuncture point is and where many people feel sore upon touch) will release. (Some martial artists say ‘drop elbow, release/sink shoulder’.)The more you release, the lower in your torso you will feel your breath on inhale. It takes time and practice. You might fall asleep. Just keep at it and your body will produce the best tonic.
In traditional chinese medicine, you want to feel a warm abdomen and a cool head. When the feeling of heat rises to the head, it’s considered a bad thing. The aim of many chinese health systems is to reverse the heat to move downwards. It’s not uncommon to hear of analogies of a pot boiling in the lower abdomen. Like this:
This is something you can’t eat, but have to do. The Eight Pieces of Brocade exercise has a long history and there are many many versions and interpretations of this exercise. I, of course, will give you the right one. All kidding aside, I did get some insight into the proper intent and result for each exercise. Over the years, I have also honed my own understanding and developed theories of my own regarding why this particular set of exercises are deemed effective and have managed to survive for hundreds of years.
One legend states that a wandering monk invented these exercises after witnessing the poor condition of fellow monks who spent their days sitting in meditation and not exercising. This set of exercises was meant to keep the physical body in good condition.
There isn’t alot recorded about these exercises. I was told there were some cave or tablet drawings with basic instructions or ‘songs’. These songs were devices to remember the main points. They are largely unhelpful if you haven’t been taught the exercises. Therein lies the problem with a lot of traditions, arts or practices that have been revived from ‘old manuscripts’. One simply can not learn effectively from old manuscripts.
These exercises are very old and steeped in traditional chinese medical theory. That means that each exercise focuses on the body from the traditional chinese medical view of the body. An exercise will focus on a meridian (energy channel) or organ or both. In chinese medicine organs are more than just body parts like we tend to understand from a Western viewpoint. In Chinese Medicine, organs are connected to each other ‘energetically’ and control other parts of the body and emotions. Some organs don’t really exist physically, like the Triple Burner. The triple burner is an organ that is the focus of the first exercise, Holding up the sky to regulate the triple burner.
Stand with feet together or no more than shoulder width apart, arms at sides. While you start to inhale, synchronize your breath and the raising of your arms until they reach above your head, palms facing the sky. Again, from their position at the sides of your body, bring them together in front of you, turn them palm up and raise them up the front of your body. As you pass your chin, start to rotate them over so they face away from you. At the end you should be looking up and stretching your hands above you as if you were trying to push up or “hold up” the sky. Keep pushing and stretching and inhaling for a few moments and then exhale, bringing your arms back to their starting position. Relax.
Keep Inhaling to create pressure in your lower abdomen. Don’t hold the breath at the end, but keep inhaling
make sure the sides of your torso feel a stretch. Look on an acupuncture map for the triple burner meridian and make sure you feel it stretch.
Anything else is purely academic. These exercises were meant to be SIMPLE!! Don’t fall for complications or other “secrets”. These are not rocket science.
These were meant to be basic training exercises. I know a lot of people want to complicate these exercises with a lot of additional theories and points. Some of these additional points are very good, don’t get me wrong. However, they are probably additional points added from understanding and practices of deeper, more sophisticated internal arts or practices.
Keep this one simple. Remember the main points and that’s it.