|A Short Journal 1998|
|by Jim Dees|
Before I go into a few of my experiences, I would like to tell you a bit about myself.
My name is Jim Dees and I am 38 years old. Since childhood, I have always had an interest in martial arts. After completing college, I served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. For more than ten years now, I have been a law enforcement officer in south Florida. I have had a wide range of assignments. All of my time in law enforcement has been in a high crime area. I am currently a detective assigned to the bomb and arson squad. This has added a sense of urgency and practicality to my training.
So that others may gain some insight into the reality of chi kung training and internal exercises, I was asked to share some of my experiences in this area. It has been my great fortune to receive an individual training program from Mr. Yan. I first met him at the end of 1995 at a seminar. We became friends and he later agreed to teach me. When I began the program I was extremely inflexible. For example, if I were to try to touch my elbows together in front of me, I would fall short by about 8 inches. My entire body suffered from the same level of tension.
I remember the first set of exercises that he taught me was ba duan jin, or eight piece brocade. This simple yet profoundly beneficial set, was the foundation of my program. While it seems so simple, it is actually very hard to do it correctly. Not hard in the sense of difficult rather hard in that there are so many subtleties that one can easily perform the exercise incorrectly. I remember thinking that many parts of my body, mainly shoulders at the time, were hopeless. A couple of months later, he showed me the first level of red palm chi kung. This was a powerful exercise whose results were almost immediate.
My individual program consists primarily of wuji (stillness stance) combined with the eight piece brocade,red palm chi kung, hsin- I, hsing-I and Chen tai chi. Mr. Yan considered my few strengths and many weaknesses and determined that this would be appropriate for me. Time has proven him correct. I will share with you a few of the developmental highlights that I experienced as well as some of the beneficial side effects.
As I mentioned, I initially felt that my shoulders, if not my whole body, were hopeless. Within a few months I could literally feel the chi strengthen in my body. One thing that Mr. Yan would never do was to tell me what I might feel. This way my imagination was left out of the picture. When I had a new or interesting feeling I would tell him about it. Then he would explain to me what was happening inside my body. I can only imagine that he laughed at me at times. I am afraid that I called him rather late sometimes to describe feeling that he would describe as merely natural. But, I was like a kid in a candy store and was compelled to share my feeling with someone who would understand. I think that he understood.
Specifically, I began to feel the chi in my hands and feet. I could feel it correspond to my breathing. After four months, I could consciously control my chi and send it to my hands and feet at will. The next month, my entire body would get physically warm after my stillness stance training. At times I would sweat and feel a deep warmth in the torso. After six months I was warm inside all the time even when not practicing.
Mr. Yan explained to me that the chi circulation was getting stronger. I was beginning to feel certain organs at this stage of my development. The kidney was the first. I had previously been plagued with ankle problems about twice a year as a result of a few too many sprains over the years. When this happened, I would get a stiffness that would all but prevent me from walking. I woke up one morning and found it happening again. I got up and did my internal exercises. I concentrated on sending chi to my stiff ankle. Within a few minutes the pain was gone and I had full range of motion. That was more than three years ago and the stiffness has not returned.
I continued with my training program and gradually was able to gain more and more flexibility in my body. My shoulders finally improved. I came to realize that this type of training really changes your body from the inside out. At this time, I was able to exchange chi with the environment. My entire body actually began to breathe through the skin. It is an amazing but natural feeling. My breathing sank to the dan tien area as opposed to just the lungs. In less than a year of daily practice, my hips began to open up and I gained a greater range of motion.
I was now able to touch my elbows in front of me. While it may sound silly to some, it was a big deal to me. I could see and feel the difference in my body that the internal exercises had made. But I realized that I was only scratching the surface. One evening when practicing stillness stance, I felt a huge surge of energy go up my back and down the front of my body. I called Mr. Yan and described what I was doing and what had happened. He explained to me that I had opened the large heavenly circle. This was a tremendous feeling.
A couple of months after having opened the large heavenly circle, I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines where my wife is from. We had a great family trip and visited many of her relatives. She had a niece that was recovering from a brain disorder that required two surgeries to correct the problem. The last procedure left her in a coma for three months. She was unable to walk for no apparent reason other than atrophy. I taught her a modified version of eight-piece brocade and red palm. The modifications were necessary because she could not stand. I spent about an hour teaching her. During this time, she was able to feel the chi in her hands and feet, which had previously been numb. I instructed her to do the exercises that I gave her twice a day. I did not see her anymore after that day.
About a month later, after we had returned home, we heard that she was walking on her own. She had also gained weight in her legs, which were previously atrophied. Her only therapy was the individual exercise program that I gave her. As you can see, these are actually very powerful and effective exercises.
It was during this same trip to the Philippines that I had the chance to train with a karate club in Manila. These were all very serious students who train very hard and realistically. I had a great time exchanging ideas with them. When we were done, I noticed that I had sustained a bruise on the back of my right hand. I could feel my chi automatically going there in an apparent attempt to heal it. It was a strange feeling. While in most cases a bruise will go through several color changes black, blue, brown, yellow during the healing process. In my experience before, this could take a week or more to go through these phases of healing. I noted that this process was greatly accelerated. Within 24 hours, the bruise was completely gone. It had gone through all the colors in a single day as my chi healed the injury at an accelerated rate. I found this fascinating.
After we returned home I taught eight-piece brocade to my parents. At the time, they were 67 years old. My Mom had suffered from a sinus condition that was, at times, serious. After three days her condition was gone and has not returned. My Dad reported that he just feels better. To this day, they each start their day with eight-piece brocade.
Gradually, the chi feelings that I had were getting stronger and stronger. As a result of my training program, I felt a great deal of energy. Some times during stillness practice, the chi got so strong that it felt as though my finger nails were about to actually shoot off my finger tips. I also felt that my mid section would get very full and thick. I remember one time practicing in the park I told Mr. Yan that it felt as though concrete were setting in my abdomen. It felt very heavy and strong and thick. This was happening due to stronger chi flow. The chi was starting to accumulate in the dan tien. This was happening due to my body becoming more relaxed. I felt extremely strong and full of energy.
In the spring of 1997 I had worn some improperly fitted shoes, which resulted in my right foot swelling and becoming tender. When I took the shoe off, it was red. I placed my hand on the injured area and sent chi into it. Within one minute, the swollen vein had returned to normal and the redness was all but gone. I did this as I felt that the problem was a chi blockage. I tried to free the blockage by sending more chi to the area. When I told Mr. Yan about this he said that my assessment was correct. He said that my red palm training allowed me to do this.
Mr. Yan was now starting to check my chi by having others punch me in the abdominal area. He did this himself as well. The first time he had people do this it came as a total surprise to me. While at his apartment one night with several other students, he asked me to stand and told the others to hit me with their bare fists as hard as they could. His only instruction to me was to relax. Since I trusted him, I agreed. A few different men hit me in the abdomen. I felt the pressure of the punch but they bounced off. They described it to be like hitting an inner tube. Mr. Yan explained to us all that the chi was protecting me. This test has been conducted many times and the results are always the same. I have not yet sustained a bruise yet as a result of being hit.
I have had some experience in martial art competition and my internal training has really helped me. My weight ranges from 220 to 230 and I have been comfortable competing against others more than 300 pounds. The fullness and strength that I have gotten from my internal training gives me the feeling that no matter how hard I am hit I will be fine. The training in internal martial art also has given me a good understanding of mechanics. This understanding of body mechanics is the same no matter what the internal training program consists of. With a foundation in proper structure and alignment, the chi strengthens as does ones martial ability.
My wife would occasionally suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome as well as bursitis in her shoulder. I taught her eight-piece brocade and a couple of other specific exercises for these problems. She was relieved of any symptoms within two days. Once in a great while her carpal tunnel syndrome will return. This is not too surprising, as she does not do the exercises I showed her any more. She is a little bit lazy when it comes to practicing them. But, when the trouble comes back, she is quick to ask for a refresher. After one day, the symptoms disappear for several months and the cycle continues. It was around this time that something that Mr. Yan told me was starting to make sense. He said that he could see where the chi is stuck in people. I was finally being able to see this as well. As a result, I was beginning to see how to fix peoples ailments with internal exercises.
I had primarily been interested in internal martial arts for fighting, but I was now gaining a keen appreciation for the health benefits as well. This has now become a source of tremendous interest and satisfaction. Last year my nephew injured his lower back. He was unable to drive or walk. He went to the doctor and was sent to a physical therapist that had given him a program to help him recover. I believe that he was supposed to follow this program for three to four weeks before returning to work. When I saw him I asked him to demonstrate the exercises given to him by the physical therapist. Based on what I had learned about chi and circulation, it seemed to me that what he was doing was actually harmful to his back. I explained this to him and he asked for my help. I gave him some exercises and the next day he was walking. In three to four days he was working again. Unfortunately his wife injured her lower back a few months ago. I gave her an internal exercise program and she was also able to walk after one day.
Earlier this year I while practicing I became very hot. My wife took my temperature. I had a body temperature of 103 degrees. I felt hot but fine and very comfortable. This was a very unusual feeling. My wife said she could have fried an egg on my stomach. Other times I have felt ice cold on certain parts of my body while training. Mr. Yan said that this is my body balancing itself and releasing wet chi from deep inside my body. He said that this is good and natural. This brings up an important point. We are all individuals. While there will be some feelings that students of internal exercises will share, they should not be compared to others. Also, just because someone has a particular feeling that does not mean that you ever will. Or that a certain feeling will ever be felt again. Each person and each moment of training is unique. Mr. Yan used to tell me after I described a new feeling never to chase it. Just relax and focus on the exercise.
A few months ago I had my schedule turned upside down and had to work all night for three nights in a row. This interrupted my normal training routine. I got lazy and felt that I needed sleep more than I needed to do my internal exercises. I was wrong. I felt pretty bad and worn out after the third day. I did an abbreviated version of my program that lasted only 20 minutes. Afterwards I felt great. I was fully energized and got through the day as though I had had been sleeping each of the past three nights. I will not make that mistake again. I think that even a cut down version of any good internal program helps to re-set the body and give you a better nights sleep. Or, if you are not getting ready for bed, it will re-charge you and allow your body to function naturally and energetically. This is a tremendous benefit that any of us, regardless of our lifestyle or profession, should consider.
I have tried to share a few of the benefits that I have personally enjoyed as well as some of my experiences in helping others. I have shared a few healing experiences for only one reason. That is to show the power of an individual internal exercise program. Chi is nothing mystical or magical. It is natural and when flowing freely can keep the body healthy or heal it. There have been several times when my wife, co-workers or kids were sick when I managed to escape illness. I feel that the single reason for this is that I practice internal exercises every day. Please do not get the impression that I am a master of anything, or any one with some internal understanding is something special. I am only lucky to have been taught a few very natural things. In my personal training, I have only begun to scratch the surface of what can be understood. But, even a basic understanding of a few simple internal exercises can give one tremendous health benefits.
It is very important to bear in mind that my training program is completely natural and in no way involves imagination, mystical concepts and is free from any religious overtones. It is completely scientific and natural. Every point in any of the internal exercises can be explained in terms of relaxation, body structure and alignment. This is the natural way. This also happens to be the safest and quickest way to internal development. These concepts seem so simple but are elusive. I have read many books on the subjects of internal martial arts and chi kung. It was not until the subjects were explained to me in terms of structure and alignment that I began to understand chi. Before this, chi was something that I thought was probably real, but beyond my level of comprehension.
Now, I can see that it is as natural as breathing and as understandable as any other natural body function. Over the years there have been some people who have clouded this topic in mysticism out of their own ignorance or for their own gain. This is sad as everyone can enjoy the study of chi. I hope that you can find a teacher who can explain chi kung training in very clear terms. If he or she cannot it may be an indication that they themselves do not fully understand yet.
Another tip, if you do not feel some positive results within a few weeks there is something wrong with your training program. These things are natural and one should benefit fairly quickly. If you experience headaches your program, or they way you are doing it, is wrong. Chi training should not be uncomfortable or cause pain. If this happens, stop. It can be dangerous to continue a program that causes you to have headaches or pain. Once one gain a fundamental understanding of chi as presented in this book, chi kung training can become a part of people's daily life.
The benefits that one will achieve from correct daily practice are many. The benefits range from improved health and, at higher levels, a calming of the personality. Ones range of mood will tabilize and you will become more calm and stable. This has been a brief glimpse at a few of the ways an internal training program has improved my health and my life. I encourage everyone to find a qualified teacher and spend even a few minutes training every day.
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