Foundational Work; Essential Training
It is common for most styles of traditional Chinese martial arts to have their own set of foundational exercises. These exercises are given to beginners to prepare their body and develop the soft tissues and structure before moving onto more complex practices. While the exercises vary greatly style to style, the approach to practice is typically similar. They usually involve some auspicious number (18, 21, 36 etc) of simple motions that are sustained for long periods of time (up to 2 hours in some cases!) on any given day, and repeated daily for the initial months or years of practice.
This 'slow-burn' style of practice transforms the physical structures in a way that is not possible with modern western modes of training. Because it comes from a completely different culture, it is necessary to put down any existing ideas about how to train. Reps, sets, rest periods, etc are not at all important and making minute adjustments of these aspects will not really change the results in a meaningful way. In some cases it will completely nullify the results. What is more important is that certain qualities appear during your practice. These qualities are not something that can be easily explained - like trying to explain colour to a blind person. When the tissues are *worked* in the correct way, many things can and do arise. What we are primarily looking for is the spontaneous dissolving of tension that changes the experience of the exercise mid-practice. Ideally it will go from 'burning-hell' to 'incomparable pleasantness', however there are many other possibilities too - be careful not to fall in habitual traps.
To find these qualities, the basic approach is to sustain the exercise for as long as possible, while being as relaxed as possible. This is not something that will appear in your first few sessions so if you are interested in these kind of results it is necessary to tinker, play, explore and most importantly maintain a daily or near daily routine for a reasonable amount of time (30-90 days on any given exercise is my usual recommendation, although this may be a lot longer or shorter depending on the human).
The particular exercises you see in this set are a collection of my favourite exercises that I picked up over my time training with Dapeng Wang. They are not from any one set, although many of them belong to the art of Cha Quan or the family style of Qigong that we also learned.
To train these, pick a handful of the exercises that you find most appealing and practice non-stop for 30 - 90 days, then tag them out for some new ones after that period. Practice each individual exercise for somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes, which would generally mean a session of jibengong will go for 10 - 30 mins (or 60 if you're brave!) where you do 3-4 exercises with minimal rest.
Feel free to drop me a message if you have questions and I will do my best to answer. If you are interested in more specific guidance, online training is available (details here).
Craig is a principal member of Physical Alchemy. He was subject to many of Dave’s early experiments, which broke him out of stasis and propelled him into becoming a dedicated student of the Da Xuan Daoist tradition. He teaches within Physical Alchemy and is also the instructor of the Da Xuan School in Sydney. Prior to this, he studied the traditional Chinese martial arts of Xin Yi Liu He Quan and Cha Quan under Dapeng Wang for a decade as well as many other modalities of movement, strength, flexibility and general physical development.
Many of the courses found on this page bear the Aware Relaxed Connected logo and website. This was Craig's former website, which was merged with Physical Alchemy when Craig and Dave joined forces. ARC no longer exists but all the important aspects can now be found here on the Physical Alchemy website and tutorial page.