The concept of Chi is often misunderstood by western practitioners, to the detriment of their training.
Chi is simply energy. And whilst within this concept is included an immeasurable energy, a life-force, which is not currently
recognised by western science, when the Chinese talk about chi it often also includes all our usual conceptions of energy
- such as the kinetic energy of movement.
A large part of the arts of Chi Kung is they are applied in the martial arts therefore deals not
with the flows and processes of some mystical element, but with the flow of movement and muscular force around and through
the body. Actually this type of advanced muscular coordination and control of kinetic energy is more appropriately described
as Jin, but it is fairly common practice amongst martial artists to use Chi as a generic 'catch-all' term to described any
energy within the body. Many martial arts include some element of using the whole body to unleash a punch or kick rather than
just the arm and shoulder, but this is held in a much more refined and advanced form in Kung Fu than in any other
martial art. There are a few different pages in this site looking at how this is done, but it is good to use the
simple but highly effective Shaking The Earth technique to learn the basics; so here it is:
Stand with the back straight and the chin up. Hold the arms behind your back, with the left hand
grasped around the right wrist. As you inhale raise yourself up onto the tips of your toes, whilst simultaneously lifting
the hands up behind your back as high as they will comfortably go. Pause for a brief moment at the top as your lungs fill
with the deepest intake of breath that ou can manage. The upwards movements should be slow, steady and controlled. Now exhale
as quickly and powerfully as you can whilst throwing your arms and hands downwards and dropping down onto your heels. Slam
your heels down into the ground as hard and fast as you possibly can. The idea of this exercise is to harmoniously incorporate
the downward movement of the arms, and the natural movement created by the exhale, into the downward movement of the body.
refining your practice of this movement is entirely about harmony - ensuring that your body moves as one, as any disharmony
means forces cancelling each other out and reducing the power. This is a very simple exercise but it is the best one I know
for getting a real feeling for the manipulation and harmonisation of movement through and within the body.
You may also like to check out the Hard Chi Kung section for more advanced practices utilising and directing internal energy.