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All About Self-Manifested Qi Flow

photo credit: Fully Alive at
Students at a UK Summer Camp with Grandmaster Wong enjoying a Qi flow

Easily the hallmark of Shaolin Wahnam, and really the heart and soul of our qigong and kungfu, self-manifested Qi flow is the best skill we learn to break through blockages, restore or optimize health, and bring about vitality and longevity in our lives. The first time I ever witnessed it I was dubious to say the least. But the first time I experienced it, I was hooked. I teach this skill in our weekly qigong and kungfu class because it is so important to what we do. If qigong or kungfu is the vehicle on the road to well-being, self-manifested qi flow is the engine that drives it. Without it, we ain’t goin’ nowhere. So, what exactly is this skill and why is it so important to our training?

Known in Chinese as Zi Fa Dong Gong 自發動功, which basically means spontaneous movement practice (though I take gross liberties with my so-so Chinese translations), self-manifested Qi flow has actually been practiced for hundreds of years. Indeed, Taijiquan as we know it today evolved out of the spontaneous movements of self-manifested Qi flow. When we practice a qigong pattern in Shaolin Wahnam, any qigong pattern, we are using that pattern to induce a Qi flow. While I spend a lot of time working with students to hone and develop this skill, it always impresses me to see even frank beginners who manage to have a qi flow on the very first day. To me, this speaks volumes to the high level of our practice.

Learning how to induce a Qi flow requires relaxation, both physical and mental. Muscles can’t work efficiently when they’re tense, and the mind can’t either. So intellectual tension, or over-thinking, will also prevent Qi from flowing smoothly. As the student learns to clear their mind more and let go of thoughts more, they often notice that their qi flow becomes stronger. Movements often depend on the type of blockage being worked on. Some students simply sway gently. Others jump around, whistle, yawn and the like. I’ve often tried to describe to others what my Qi flows look like, and frankly, the best descriptor is the Monster Mash. But our energy has the innate ability to know where to work most urgently and goes there first.

As the Qi flow becomes stronger, aches and pains, chattering thoughts, emotional issues, they all start to fall away bit by bit. Within the qigong paradigm, illness is viewed as simply a blockage of energy. Remove the blockage and the illness falls away. Things like back pain, depression, stress become distant memories in the rearview mirror.

While we can take self-manifested Qi flow out of our qigong practice and still have some benefits, they pale in comparison to what is possible when we learn to develop this skill. Do you have something you’re ready to address? Is it time for you to take charge of your energy? Are you wondering how this skill can help you? Spring classes start next month. Come see what you can break through!

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