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Taiji Ball Qigong for Health and Martial Arts

by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, David W. Grantham, December 13, 2010

Since taiji ball qigong is a combination of internal elixir (nei dan) and external elixir (wai dan) qigong practice, the health benefits of taiji ball qigong can be divided into two parts, the internal and external side.

Internal Benefits

1. Train the mind to its higher level of concentration and focus.

Taiji ball qigong is a soft-moving meditation. Through this meditative training, you will be able to concentrate and focus your mind at a higher level. When this happens, your mental sensitivity will be increased significantly. This will result in a higher level of alertness and awareness. This is a crucial key in improving your mind and body’s communication. With this smooth communication, you will be able to see your body’s health condition, enabling you to learn how to lead yourself down the right path of a healthier life.

2. Improving the body’s metabolism and building up an abundant level of qi.

Through the correct breathing techniques in taiji ball qigong practice, you will not only be able to improve the capacity of your oxygen and carbon dioxide’s exchange, but you will also be able to build up an abundant level of qi at the lower dan tian (xia dan tian). Smooth metabolism is the crucial key in slowing down the aging process. With an abundant level of qi circulating in the body, your immune system will be strong and your life force will be powerful. Without this abundant qi supply, you will unhealthily age.

3. Learning how to use the mind to lead the qi for its circulation to a smoother level.

In order to have your body function healthily, you must also circulate the qi in the body smoothly. In taiji ball qigong, you learn how to use your mind to lead the qi, so that it can circulate smoothly in the body.

4. Enhancing the grand circulation so that the feeling of sensitivity can be significantly increased.

One of the taiji ball qigong practices is grand qi circulation. In this practice, you learn how to lead the qi out of the body so that it can be transferable with surrounding objects or live beings. Feeling is a language of the body and mind’s communication. Through correct taiji ball qigong training, the qi can be extended beyond the body. This is the crucial key in feeling your opponent in martial arts and also communicating with nature. When this sensitivity is increased, the self-alertness and awareness will be higher.

5. Heightening the spirit of vitality.

The final goal of any qigong practice is spiritual cultivation. When the spirit is high, refined, and regulated, the qi’s circulation will be abundant, the mental mind will be strong and firmed, and life can be focused and meaningful. To Buddhist and Daoist qigong practice, the goal has gone even further, aiming for spiritual enlightenment. Taiji ball qigong practice trains the mind to focus. Through this focused mind, the qi can be led efficiently. With the high level of spiritual development, the qi can be led to the brain to nourish the brain cells. This is the crucial key of spiritual enlightenment.

External Benefits

1. Strengthening the physical body (bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.)

Because of the weight of taiji balls, the movements in taiji ball training strengthen the physical body. The parts of the body in which taiji ball qigong conditions effectively are the bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. However, the most known benefit that taiji ball qigong training brings you is the conditioning of your torso, chest, spine, and especially, the lower back.

2. Establishing a firm root, balance, and centering ability, and to strengthen the three major joints of the legs.

Another known benefit of taiji ball qigong training is the strengthening of the three joints, the hips, knees, and ankles. With a heavy ball and correct walking, these three joints can be conditioned effectively. This will result in a firm root, good balance, and a feeling of being centered.

Mr. Grantham taiji ball
Mr. Grantham taiji ball

3. Loosening and exercising the joints.

When you practice taiji ball qigong, even if there is a heavy ball held in your hands, due to the emphasis of the joints’ movements, the joints will be exercised and opened. Heavier balls not only condition the ligaments and tendons, but also enhance the qi’s circulation within the joint areas. This can therefore prevent, or even heal, some levels of arthritis. In addition, from this joint exercise, the bone marrow will receive adequate amounts of qi for nourishment so that blood cells can be produced healthily. This is a crucial key to longevity.

4. Enhancing qi circulation in the internal organs.

Through the semi-relaxed arm and leg movements, the qi’s circulation in the twelve primary qi channels (i.e., meridians) is enhanced. This will result in the gradual conditioning of the internal organs. In addition, according to Chinese qigong theory, due to the required chest movements’ taiji ball qigong training may not only prevent the development of breast cancer for women, but may also possibly be used to heal it altogether. In addition, due to the hip-joint and leg exercises, taiji ball qigong training can be used in preventing and healing prostate cancer.

5. Enhancing the coordination of  the mind, feeling, and body.

The most amazing benefit that taiji ball qigong can bring you is coordination and harmonization both internally and externally. The mind, feeling, and body are able to harmonize and coordinate with each other from the inside to outside, mental to physical. This is a crucial key to good health and longevity.

Taiji Ball Qigong and Martial Arts

Using the taiji ball as a tool for martial arts can be very beneficial. From the physical movements, concentration of the mind, and sensitivity of feeling training, taiji ball qigong enhances your fighting skills. Keep in mind that this type of training was required by many different styles of Chinese martial arts as part of their daily regimen.

Seven purposes of Taiji Ball Qigong

1. Strengthening and conditioning the physical body.

We know that the body’s functions depend on the strength of the bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. If any part of the body is weak, the body’s coordination and function will be less efficient. Therefore, an effective exercise that allows you to condition from the surface to the deeper areas of the body is crucial. That means you must have an exercise that allows you to condition the shallow places such as the muscles and tendons, while also enabling you to reach deeper to the ligaments and bones. In order to accomplish this, you must be soft, round, and flexible. This allows the tendons and ligaments, located at the joints, to be exercised. Not only that, the exercise must also be able to condition the muscles and bones simultaneously. Taiji ball qigong is able to provide such conditioning.

Let’s think about the body’s structure. The strength for power manifestation originates from the torso, especially the area of the lower back. Taiji ball qigong specializes in conditioning the torso (spine) and lower back.

2. Improving the quality of the physical body’s structure.

Having a strong body structure will provide you with a firm root, center, and balance. In addition to having a strong physical structure, you must also learn to coordinate different parts of the body needed to perform various actions. Without meeting these criteria, the power manifested will be weak and ineffective.

3. Increasing the potential of endurance both physically and mentally.

Taiji balls
Taiji balls

You should understand one important thing. A real battle could last for a few hours, not just a few minutes. You needed good endurance, especially since you would, often as not, be wearing heavy armor. If you did not have endurance, it would not be long until you were killed. It is well known in the Chinese martial community that surviving a long battle did not solely depend on one’s power or techniques, but relied more heavily on one’s endurance level.

Two keys to improving endurance are—breathing correctly and conserving muscle usage. Knowing how to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide efficiently will allow for an abundant supply needed for the body’s biochemical reactions or metabolism. In addition, knowing how to cut down muscle usage, you can conserve oxygen in the muscles and reduce acid build up. Without knowing how to breathe correctly, upon manifesting power for either neutralizing or attacking, your power and technique will be weak.

It is important to have a strong and firm spirit when practicing. This is a crucial key to surviving a battle. Losing the morale of fighting, giving up easily, will naturally lead you to be killed. Therefore, the will and self-confidence of surviving must be strong. This mental discipline can only be received from constant taiji ball conditioning practice.

4. Coordinating actions with correct breathing

In Chinese qigong practice, the body is compared to a battlefield, the breathing is considered as a strategy, the mind is the general, and qi is soldiers, and finally the spirit is the morale of the entire army. From this analogy, you can see that if the breathing is carried out correctly, the qi can be led efficiently.We cannot deny that when oxygen is abundant, the body’s metabolism is smoothly executed. This is crucial when manifesting power. As mentioned before, your metabolism rate plays a huge role in having lasting endurance.

5. Building quantity of qi.

In order to manifest power on a higher plateau, you must first possess an abundant amount of qi. Without a high quantity of qi, your physical body will not be able to perform to its maximum efficiency. One of the training methods in taiji ball qigong teaches you how to coordinate breathing with the buildup of qi in the lower dan tian (xia dan tian).

6. The mind leads the qi efficiently and smoothly

This will provide you a quality manifestation of qi. Leading qi efficiently to a specific area of the body is achieved by concentrating and focusing the mind to a higher level. If done correctly, you will be able to use the minimum amount of qi needed to manifest power to its maximum. Conserving the usage of qi is a crucial key to a lasting endurance.

In taiji ball qigong, you learn how to use your mind to lead qi to the four major qi gates of the body, two laogong located at the centers of the palms, and two yongquan cavities, located at the bottoms of the feet. This will provide you with a strong root and the balance of energy needed for power manifestation.

7. Mastering the skills required in soft martial styles.

In soft martial skills, the capability of listening (ting), adhering (nian), following (sui,), connecting (lian), coiling (chan), rotating (zhuan), and spiraling (chan jin and luo xuan) are extremely important. To many internal styles, these skills are the core essences of the arts.

Through taiji ball qigong practice, you will be able to learn and master these skills, especially when practicing with a partner.

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, is a renowned author and teacher of Chinese martial arts and Qigong. Born in Taiwan, he has trained and taught Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese martial arts for over forty-five years. He is the author of over thirty books, and was elected by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the 10 people who has "made the greatest impact on martial arts in the past 100 years." Dr. Yang lives in Northern California.

David W. Grantham has been training in martial arts for twenty-one years. He currently holds Certificates as Coach Instructor and Chin Na Instructor and teaches at the Hunterdon Wellness Center in Clinton, New Jersey. He offers privates, classes and seminars on Tai Chi Ball and Chin Na. David Grantham resides in Hunterdon County, New Jersey with his wife,and two children.


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COMMENTS

Sifu David Grantham is one the most dedicated and knowlagable martial artist I ever had the pleasure to train with. His knowlage and skill level of Chinese martial arts Tai Ji Chuan and Qi Gung are among the best. His teaching methods are very clear and precise and he is a real gentleman a man too. I am honored to have him as my teacher and friend. I highly recommend that any one interested in learning Kung fu,Tai JI, or Qigung to contact David you will not be disappointed.
Shihan Brian Mascola
Owner and operator of
Asian Combats Arts.
Shihan Brian Mascola – December 14, 2010, 7:22 am
Just where do I purchase a nice wooden ball?
Etha – February 27, 2011, 12:35 pm
Here's a place that YMAA Publication Center recommends.
http://www.premierwood.com/Large-Wood-Balls-C10009.htm
davidr – May 9, 2012, 9:05 am



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