|> Issue 32||
|The german magazine for qigong and taijiquan|
Issue 32 2/2008
From a fight for survival to a peaceful heart
For some time now Taijiquan and Qigong have been established in Africa as well. As in other parts of the world, the Chinese movement arts are practised by specific sections of the population. Max Weier describes his experiences as a Qigong teacher in southern Africa, where he gives not only seminars attended mostly by whites but also courses in black townships and prisons. While black Africans quickly feel the flow of Qi in the body thanks to their familiarity with physical aspects, the great challenge for them is to slow down the movements. Their intensive experience with movement and references to animal movements help to build a bridge to internal sensing.
Just as pushing hands, or Tuishou, is a part of empty-hand Taiji training, so sword training also includes not only form work but partner training as well. As the risk of injury is considerably greater here, even with blunt metal blades, one requires either protective clothing or special sparring swords in order to test techniques under more or less realistic conditions. Thomas Simianer describes his experiences with heavy plastic swords which he has had developed specially for this purpose, along with suitable methods of practice.
Taijiquan und Qigong form part of the large field of body and energy work. Sonja Blank talked to the German-American transpersonal psychotherapist Margret Rueffler about the relationship between these movement arts and therapeutic processes, how they can contribute and where their limitations lie. In the course of over 20 years Margret Rueffler has developed a synthesis of body work, meditation, psychotherapy and political work. She stresses that the Eastern paths of development can positively influence personal development, but that they do not facilitate a process of awareness as defined by depth psychology. In order to achieve an effect that extends beyond one’s own person, a specific art needs to be internalized to such a degree that the inner growth also expresses itself
Qigong and researching one’s own potential
Working with the imagination has always been part of Qigong. For Karin Amberger, her contact with Dr Jean Houston, a specialist in the field of the development of human potential, has greatly intensified this aspect. This encompasses the sensual, psychological, mystical and spiritual levels of internal experience. Through the conscious application of various mental images it is possible for the quality and effect of exercises, which in principle remain unchanged, to be repeatedly transformed. Furthermore, and in addition to the physical practice, it is individually possible to achieve an amplified understanding, an awareness of one’s own potential, integration in the cosmos and new modes of action. Special significance is attached here to contact with »he/she who you will become«, with the wisdom of one’s own future.
It is a concept in probably all Taiji styles that the movements should originate from the Dantian. But it sometimes remains vague as to how we can actually achieve this. Nabil Ranné takes a close look at the issue and examines the meaning of the term and the relationship between subjective perception and objective body alignment. He regards the development of the Dantian as a precondition for integrated physical movement, because only a movement that really originates in the centre can spread throughout the body without interruptions or internal contradictions.
In the issue before last, Yürgen Oster recounted the history and the current developments at Wudangshan, one of the holy mountains of Daoism. Now he describes the activities taking place there since this site was opened again in the mid-1980s. These include a whole series of internal martial arts, including various Taiji forms on the basis of Sanfeng Shisan Quan, the »13 forms according to Zhang Sanfeng«. In addition, methods of health cultivation and inner development are also practised. These include not only physical exercises, self-massage and breathing exercises, but also scented baths, fasting, sexual practices, dietary supplements, mental training, rituals and the high school of inner alchemy. However, not all methods are freely taught to visitors and, as elsewhere too, intensive practice and involvement is needed in order to grasp the underlying spirit.
Wu and Wen, combat and civilization, also symbolized by Jian and Bi, sword and paintbrush, represent a pair of opposites that so to speak sum up what is required of a cultivated man. Another complementary addition to Wu is Ren, the exercise of patience, which in the graphic representation »cuts into the heart«. It develops the mental preconditions for the path of martial arts, which in the character Wu simultaneously represents putting an end to fighting.