Da Peng Gong - Qi Gong Exercise - by Tom Tam
This book provides an in-depth discussion of the Da Peng Gong system of Qi Gong. Da Peng Gong is a relatively simple Qi Gong exercise routine, developed by Tom Tam, which is useful for removing the physical and energetic blockages which contribute to poor health and disease. The exercise movements are described in full detail and complemented with drawings. With this book you will be able to understand and practice this effective system of Qi Gong.
Below you will find excerpts from the Da Peng Gong text as well as links to other resources for further study. If you are interested in purchasing this, or other books about the Tom Tam Healing System or Tong Ren Therapy, please see our book store.
From the "Chi Gong in America" Chapter
For health maintenance, exercise provides one of the most important ways to keep the body active and the life force flowing. According to traditional Chinese medical philosophy, exercise keeps the jing, chi and shen, the "three treasures," in balance. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are thousands of styles of Chi Gong. Millions of people practice Chi Gong daily throughout their lives. Most Chi Gong forms are passed down from generation to generation, from master to student. That is a part of Chinese culture to this day.
America has thousands and thousands of people practicing Chi Gong. Many Americans also practice Chi Gong as a part of their daily lives. There is no doubt that Chi Gong practice is becoming popular because people like to learn Chinese culture and medicine, especially the health benefits.
When we read a Chi Gong book, how many of us understand it? This includes many of the authors themselves. It is not that their book is badly written, but that there is confusion about this topic. This is because modern Western people are reading translations from the ancient Chinese. We need to update Chi Gong. We should not automatically believe that the traditional way is the best way. In fact, traditional Chi Gong keeps changing and developing. This is the history of China. We need a new, easy Chi Gong practice, especially in the Western world. All we need is the courage to open our minds, and then it is easy to proceed. Sometimes we laugh at someone who has a closed mind but can we open our own minds to develop a new Chi Gong way?
From the "Three Modes of Chi Gong Training" Chapter
Chi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan require practice. Regular practice achieves a greater understanding of the movements and their effects on the body. Initially, the benefits may not be noticeable but, in time, the opening of blockages and the movement of chi within the body become apparent. Some movements may cause soreness or aches in muscles or joints. This is the opening of a blockage. This discomfort should not discourage practice. In fact, the best way to overcome the discomfort is with more practice. However, it is not necessary to force practice. If extreme discomfort occurs, the movements should be performed in an easy manner.
There are three modes of Chi Gong training and development: physical movements, breathing exercises, and mental focus. Each mode offers a variety of approaches to cultivate internal energy or chi.
From the "Physical Movement" Chapter
The first mode is physical movement and, there are thousands of physical Chi Gong movements. When groups of movements are brought together they are called "forms". Throughout the centuries, Chi Gong teachers and schools have created and passed down excellent physical forms that are useful for gathering energy. These forms are further divided into three subcategories: internal, external and Ma Bu (Horse Stance). Internal forms are slow and "soft." The external forms are fast or "hard." Ma Bu postures involves standing still, in place.
Chi Gong practice is based on Yin and Yang theory. Yin movement is more for the internal practice; which is soft, slow or gentle. The Yang movement is more for the external practice, which is hard, fast or tough. Ma Bu is the root. It doesn't matter the type of movement used, all need a good Ma Bu. A good Ma Bu means a strong firm leg stance. In fact in the practice of Chi Gong or martial arts, the first requirement is to have a strong Ma Bu. Tai Chi Chuan a martial art in Chi Gong form requires a strong Ma Bu. But generally in the practice of Tai Chi practice, it is very rare to see someone with a strong Ma Bu. Even in Chi Gong practice, few practitioners pay attention to well placed Ma Bu.
From the "Breathing Techniques" Chapter
The second mode of Chi Gong practice is breathing. Twenty years ago, many of the translations for Chi Gong used the English expression "Breathing Exercise" since chi in Chinese means air, breathing and energy. Chi Gong breathing involves much more than the simple exchange of oxygen in the body. It involves influencing the movement of chi throughout the body.
There are many techniques and purposes for the breathing practices in Chi Gong and each style of Chi Gong has its own breathing theories and methods. Through specific breathing exercises, the chi can be moved along the meridians during respiration. Some teach that breathing should focus on the Dantian, where the chi and oxygen can be stored.
Beginners should not work with breathing techniques until they get to know the form very well. Beginners can develop energy problems if they attempt to progress too quickly. Only with sufficient practice of the form are practitioners able to concentrate properly on the breathing component of the exercise. At more advanced levels of practice, there is no need to think about breathing at all, since the amount of breath will actually lessen at that point.
From the "Free Your Mind" Chapter
The third element of Chi Gong practice involves the mind. This is the most confusing of the three components. Form movement can be learned from a good teacher. In my classes I call it, "Monkey see, monkey do." The students simply follow the motions of the teacher. With breathing, the practitioner can feel the air or chi move within the body. In my classes I advise people to be "lazy bums" not to focus on breathing, just let the breath follow its natural flow. What to do or not do with the mind is difficult to explain to students, and takes much more time and practice to understand. Both the numerous different schools of learning and many individual teachers have different ideas on this matter. Buddhists and Taoists, Confucionists and martial arts Chi Gong teachers all use different methods for focusing the mind.
With some styles of Chi Gong in China, the practitioner creates an "inner smile" in the mind or visualizes a happy thing. My style of Chi Gong teaches letting the mind be free with no inner smile and no happy thing to visualize. I do not believe in telling the mind what to do. The mind is the most intelligent organ in the body. It knows what it should do. The inner smile and happy thinking can smooth the brain waves, but that does not necessarily slow the wave frequency, which is a more desirable result. Western study tends to overemphasize happiness, creating another form of stress on the mind.
According to the Taoists, the mind should be natural. There are no smiles and no tears. No happiness or unhappiness. Each emotion is a natural event. For example, when we are sad or angry we should let the emotion happen. If we put on the inner smile and visualize a happy thing, how can the bad mood complete itself naturally?
From the "Open the Blockage" Chapter
In Chi Gong, we often find discomfort in different parts of the body as a result of the practice. In some cases, by continuing practice, the discomfort may disappear by itself. Sometimes it will not disappear, and then we should do something to make it go away. The purpose of Chi Gong practice is to build up the jing, chi and shen, or, in other words, to balance the mind, body and spirit. When the body has a blockage, it can be difficult to achieve this balance. If we can find and release the blockage, then it will be easier to practice. When the mind and body are in harmony, Chi Gong practice will be more effective.
First, we should focus on blockages that cause physical problems. Physical problems can directly interfere with correct form movement. According to my healing system, most blockages stem from the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the cable that connects the brain and body. All movements and organ functions begin as signals from the brain. When the cable is blocked, its bioelectric current will be low. In other words, the flow of chi will become stuck.
From the "Yuzhen Guan" Chapter
In Chinese Chi Gong, Jade Pillow is also referred to as the "Iron Wall". This means that Jade Pillow is the most difficult gateway to open. I believe this area is difficult to open due to inflexibility of movement. The skull protects the medulla. No matter what type of exercise, the medulla cannot be physically moved. It can be internally moved by the flow of chi, but the movement resulting from chi flow has a limit.
In our body, we need physical movement to increase the circulation for both healing and tension release. We can exercise any part of the body except the brain stem. In fact, in modern times, our brain needs more circulation than in the past. Human beings developed the computer to save brain energy, but how many hours daily do people spend focusing their brain energy on the computer? Stress, tension, overuse, wrong posture, whiplash, or exposure to cold can cause a neck problem, and this neck problem can indirectly affect the medulla.
From the "Weilu Guan" Chapter
To keep the body in good health and good shape while raising the chi within the body, we need to pay more attention to keeping the lower gateway clear of blockages in order for chi to flow freely into the lower Dantian and lower Warmer. It may seem confusing to build up the chi from the bottom of the body first, then to the middle and upper part of the body This is the opposite of opening a blockage. If we want to open a blockage in the body, we need to focus at the top of the body first, then down to the middle and lower parts. In fact, this is not difficult to understand. In the body, the bioelectricity and chi are from the brain, they flow from the top to the lower parts of the body, like water running downstream. In health maintenance, we take care of the longest nerve first. The longer the nerve from the brain, the easier it becomes blocked and weakened. Thus, we need to open the top first in order to fix the bottom because that is the natural direction of flow.
Therefore, the healing concept in my Chi Gong philosophy is to open the blockages in the body from the top down to the bottom, and to build up the chi from the bottom up to the top. This is why, when we practice Chi Gong or practice Tai Chi Chuan, we need to build up the Ma Bu, which is the root in our body, first. However, in Chi Gong healing, Tui Na, acupuncture and Tong Ren treatment, we need to open the blockages from the top of the head first and then go downward to the spinal column and tailbone.
From the "About Da Peng Gong" Chapter
Da Peng Gong is a new Chi Gong form that I have developed. The idea comes from a section of Chuang Tzu's "Inner Chapters", Verse One. Da in Chinese means big, giant, great or large. Peng is a bird's name from Chuang Tzu's book. The great bird Da Peng is only a tale, a story, like the Roc from Arabic. In Chuang Tzu's book, Da Peng is a great bird that freely roams the stratosphere.
Each Chi Gong form has its own philosophy. Most Chi Gong styles come from the Taoist yin/yang theory. But Da Peng Gong is new. It does not belong to any popular system in China today. Practice of this form does not require study of basic Chinese philosophy, such as the yin/yang or five-element theory. Just read Chuang Tzu's first "Inner Chapter". Understanding Peng's story will benefit the practice of Da Peng Gong.
Each movement of my Da Peng Gong has a meaning. It is similar to ballet. We must understand the storyline, then we can understand the dance movements. If we do not understand the storyline of the ballet, then all we see is the ballet dancer jumping and turning. If we understand the ballet storyline, then we can enjoy the performance with the spirit of dance.
The mind is a major part of Chi Gong. If we do not have a great mind, how can we practice a great Chi Gong? The mind should not be focused, it should be free and infinite. Most Chi Gong practice instructs people to empty the mind. What does this mean, to empty the mind? Only a free mind is an empty mind because the pollution of the mind can limit the mind's freedom.
An empty mind does not mean people do not think anything. An empty mind is when the mind is free and in touch with the infinite. A free mind is without limit. If the mind is empty, the mind stops functioning and the brain waves register zero. Can we do it? Physically and psychologically, we cannot empty the mind. We cannot bring our brain wave activity to zero. But we can lower the brain wave to its lowest frequency. If someone focuses with an empty mind, the focusing itself will cause the brain wave to rise. It is my belief that the Buddhist or Taoist practice of emptying the mind is to purify the mind of pollution, which means keeping the mind in a simple way and easing down the brain waves. Then we can have more circulation in the brain.
From the "Benefit of Da Peng Gong" Chapter
Although we are practitioners of TCM, we recommend a diagnosis by a doctor in the case of illness. Chi Gong may be used in conjunction with any Western medical treatment, as we do not deny the benefits of Western medicine. Chi Gong will help any treatment administered by a doctor, and if the Western treatment does not help, then it falls to Chi Gong to help the patient. Very often people use both systems to help cure. The mixture of both philosophies may be the future of medicine and promote the best treatment.
The major difference between Western and Eastern medical philosophies is the idea of prevention. In the West, we wait until we are ill before we see a doctor. On many occasions we suffer for weeks or even months before we venture out to the nearest surgery. The daily practice of Chi Gong can help prevent the onset of disease by strengthening the flow of bioelectric energy.
Although we can practice Chi Gong when we become ill, it is better to practice before we are ill to avoid sickness all together. In the past, the Chinese paid physicians when their families were healthy. However, if a member of the family became ill, payment stopped until health was restored. I wonder how Western doctors would like this payment plan. The ancient philosophy of TCM is, "The best healer treats the problem before it comes; the second level healer heals the problem as it occurs." Therefore, prevention is the most important part of healing.
From the "Preening The Feathers (First Step)" Chapter
Prepare for the form by relaxing for a short period in the classic Wu Chi position. Stand straight with a slight bend in the knees, eyes looking forward. Relax any tension in the neck. Touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth (just behind the teeth), and try to keep it there during the whole form. Place the feet shoulder width apart with the toes pointing forward. Stand for a minute and try to let the whole body relax.
To begin the first movement, slowly raise the hands in front of the body as high as the belly button, with palms pointing down. The movement involves a twisting of the upper body, led by the action of the arms. It is important to lock the hip joints, making sure the waist does not turn. Reaching forward with the right palm, turn the body 45 degrees to the left and bend over 45 degrees at the waist. As the right palm pushes forward, the left palm pushes 180 degrees behind the body, in the opposite direction. The palms push away from each other, stretching easily along the axis of the limbs and shoulders. Again, be certain to hold the lower body steady, increasing the spinal twist. This arm position will release tension at the shoulder and scapular area.