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Ki Gong - Breathing and Health Exercises

For the majority of people the idea of keeping fit is all about the physical or external (Weh Gung) aspects of training. Little attention is paid to the internal (Neh Gung) exercises, which can be of immense benefit to anyone interested in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Our inner strength is something that can be cultivated just as we can improve stamina and physical prowess through regular exercise. A combination of both is important for the keen martial artist who wishes to progress beyond pure fitness.

Within Tang Soo Do we have our own Ki Gong exercises known as the Moo Pahl Dang Khum, which are based on the ancient Chinese Eight Brocade. These martial exercises are designed to circulate our internal energy (Ki), gently massaging the internal organs, improving circulation and boosting the immune and energy systems. Through these exercises the Ki is stored in the Dan Jun (abdomen/sea of Ki) from where it can be released at will (Li) through our Tang Soo Do techniques, normally with a Ki Hap (spirit unification). At this point a combination of good technique, proper breathing and concentration will result in defending or attacking motions having immense speed and power.

Everything around us has a certain amount of Ki or natural energy within or around it and the air we breathe has the highest concentration of this energy. By taking advantage of this and following the Moo Pahl Dang Khum you will have a better awareness of your own Ki and understand how to apply it in your Tang Soo Do training.

 

Moo Pahl Dan Khum (Eighth Martial Way)

The exercises are in a set of eight and are all done from standing position. The main objective is to remain totally relaxed and try to obtain an empty mind. These exercises are all breathing and internal cleansing exercises or exercises to balance the Neh Gung. It is of prime importance that they are performed in the order below and at regular times.

1. In a relaxed standing position clasp the fingers of the left hand with right hand. Lift both hands over your head inhaling through the nose. This enables the top of the lungs to expand and fill with air. We need to move the air to the lower part of the lungs; this is achieved by relaxing the abdominal muscles and is known as 'dropping the air'. At this stage we hold the inhaled air for 5 to 6 seconds before exhaling by circling the arms along the side of the body. On completion of the fist exercise take one normal breath. This exercise is to be done 3 times on each hand before moving onto the next exercise.

2. Standing in a relaxed Jhoon Bee position bring both hands up to the centre line of the body until they are shoulder high. Then extend your left hand to the side with palm facing out (looking at the outstretched hand), at the same time inhale through the nose and hold for 5 to 6 seconds. Bring the left hand back to the centre and then exhale while pushing down with both hands. Take one normal breath and repeat the exercise on the right hand. Repeat 3 times on each side. (NB The arm movement is similar to pulling a long bow)

3. Move into horse stance and pull both hands to hips as if getting ready to punch. Move left arm out in punching action and at the same time inhale through the nose. Drop air and then pull both hands back to the bodies centre line, push both hands above the head and hold the air for 5 to 6 seconds. Exhale by circling the arms along the side of the body. Take a normal breath and repeat on the right hand. Repeat the whole sequence 3 times on each side.

4. In a relaxed standing position bring both hands to the Solar Plexus and lift the left hand straight up (palm facing upwards) and push right hand down (palm facing down). At the same time inhale through the nose. Drop the air and hold for 5 to 6 seconds. Bring both hands back to the Solar Plexus and breathe out by pushing both hands down. Take a normal breath and repeat using opposite hands. This exercise to be repeated 3 times.

5. In a relaxed standing position clasp the finger of the left hand with your right hand in front of your groin. Lift your arms straight over your head and inhale through your nose. Stretch over your head and whilst holding your breath bend forward from the waist and bring your hands down to touch your feet at the same time exhaling sharply through the mouth. Repeat the exercise 3 times, on the last one hold your breath when your arms are above your head, drop the air, and hold for 5 to 6 seconds then exhale by circling your arms along the sides.

6. This exercise requires you to perform a knee press 3 times on each leg. Twist to the side in a short back stance with the front leg straight and the foot turned up. Press both hands onto the lower thigh for 5 seconds to complete one knee press.

7. Standing in a relaxed position pull both hands to the hips and up to your chest, just under the armpits. While inhaling through the nose, push out slowly with both hands with palms facing forward. Hold the air for 5 to 6 seconds before pulling hands back to the Solar Plexus and exhale by pushing both hands down. Take a normal breath and repeat 3 times.

8. Standing in a relaxed position put both hands on the back of the hips and stretch back by leaning back as far as possible at the same time inhaling through the nose. As you straighten your back exhale through the mouth. Repeat the exercise 3 times. Remember to co-ordinate your breathing with your arm and body movements, which should be gentle and steadily controlled. Any jerky movements will disrupt the flow of energy during the exercise.

The suggested times for performing these exercises are between 4.00 am to 6.00 am and 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm. These times are the most beneficial because it is between these times that the Meridians of the Bowels and Organs are most vulnerable. This is one of the basic principles by which Chinese Doctors in ancient days treated illness. Because the Moo Pahl Dang Khum are cleansing and mobilizing exercises we should try and observe these times wherever possible. Not observing these times will do no harm although it will minimize the benefit you would gain from the exercises.


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