Red Palm Chi Kung
by Jim Dees

I have had several requests to write an article about Red Palm chi kung. This method of chi kung is being taught to me by Mr. Gaofei Yan. I have not practiced it for very long, but I have had some very positive results from my training. It was first taught to me as a part of an individual program developed for me by Mr. Yan. While my primary focus in martial arts has been Hsing-i, this was given to me to supplement my training. Specifically, it is a very structured process whereby one helps open the meridians to allow chi to pass freely. This, in turn, helps one develop proper structure and a deeper level of relaxation.

Red Palm is named as such, not because its practitioners can make their palm red, rather due to the mark that is left on the opponent that they strike. The power generated as a result of this training is, like any internal martial art, subtle yet devastating. Many people in China are familiar with the name Red Palm, but are not aware of the depth of the Art. What I will detail later in this article is the first level of Red Palm chi kung. Some systems of Pa Kua use this to increase the power of their strikes. This works and is great training to get the chi to flow stronger to the hands and feet. But, what fewer people know is that, in fact, there are nine levels to this training. The first three levels are referred to as tiger. The second three levels are referred to as dragon. The last three are tiger and dragon. There is no way to rush the training process. Each level requires the student to achieve a certain level of chi flow, either in or out, before he can progress to the next level. To hurry the process would be a waste of time and yield nothing.

The benefits of studying Red Palm are many. This practice will help the mind focus more clearly. Also, the feeling of chi that one develops will come rather quickly as compared to other methods. These feelings may vary some between individuals, but they are real and not the product of mere imagination. This method of training is excellent for building chi to improve ones health and one's martial abilities. At higher levels of development, the student will imagine that his/her body has the clarity of crystal due to the exchange of chi between the person and the environment. After a while, the student will naturally be able to absorb chi as well. This absorption is not an abstract conception or a form of visualization. It is real and can be felt as well as demonstrated at higher levels. This also helps to build chi. Later, one can consciously move chi within the body. This direction comes from the mind and can actually be felt within. Eventually, one will develop the ability to project chi outside the body. This can have great health/healing benefits as well as martial application. The body itself will also benefit from this method of training. The chi will fill the body and fertilize it. Ones hair will become stronger and brighter. Finger nails will become stronger. The muscles and ligaments will grow in strength and elasticity. The bones will strengthen and harden. The circulation within the internal organs will improve leading to better health. These are but a few of the benefits to be had from practicing Red Palm.

To begin the first level of training, one should be comfortable in wuji. There has previously been an article published in the Internal Martial Arts Research Newsletter regarding wuji. Please refer to that for a more detailed description of wuji and its importance. For now, I shall just offer a brief review. The purpose of wuji is to calm the mind and to allow the natural structure of the body to settle and release tension. This has the effect of calming both the mind and the body. Properly done, the chi will flow freely throughout the body and gather in the tan dien. Initially, one must stand with the feet about shoulder width apart. The weight should focus on the bubbling well. There are three points which should be aligned. The bubbling well of the feet; imagine a line connecting the two. The huyin which is a point between the anus and the genitals. And the bai hui which in near the crown of the head. To accomplish this, the head will be tilted slightly forward and it will feel as if you are leaning a bit too far forward. The tongue should be lightly pressing the roof of the mouth. Close your eyes and relax imagining the tension leaving your body. Start from the head and go down. I practice wuji for a few minutes prior to beginning the first level.

After calming the mind and body in wuji for a few minutes, move your hands so that the palms face the ground. Keep your arms at your sides, just rotate the palms so that they face the ground. Take care not to stiffen the wrist while doing this. From here, exhale and lightly increase the pressure of the tongue to the roof of the mouth and lightly press your teeth together as you relax and imagine the chi going from the tan dien to the palms while the ten toes grasp the ground and two eyes stare forward. As you inhale, simply relax and breathe deeply into the tan dien. Keep the mind free and remember to watch your structure. Repeat this ten times.

For each palm position, repeat the exercise the same way. For the next position, raise and extend your arms so that the palms are facing away from you at shoulder height. Keep the elbows pointing down and relax the shoulders. Perform the exercise as mentioned above for ten repetitions.

The third position requires the student to stretch the arms out to each side at shoulder height so that the palms are facing away to the sides with fingers pointed upwards. Perform the exercise as mentioned above for ten repetitions.

To do the exercise in the fourth palm position, raise the hands above the head to about 45 degrees from vertical. Raise your head so that you are looking at the space between the palms. Turn the palms slightly inward and extend the arms. Perform the exercise as mentioned above for ten repetitions.

After practicing for a period of time, if you feel comfortable, you can clench the teeth harder, increase the number of repetitions not to exceed 50, and push harder

While it seems like the exercise detailed above is simple, it is profound in its results if practiced correctly and consistently. Eventually, one would increase the repetitions and corrections would be made as required. These are the basic exercises of the first level of Red Palm chi kung. Many internal martial artists and chi kung practitioners have performed this level and achieved excellent results in improved chi flow to the hands and feet as well as increasing ones striking power. For most this is enough. But, this is really only scratching the surface of this Art for there are actually nine levels. I have personally benefited from practice and so have some members of my family who have been instructed in this to improve circulation. I hope that some of you will try this exercise for a few months and receive the benefits that it has to offer.

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