WISDOM OF THE LUOHANS OF THE WESTERN REGIONS
[from 少林衣缽真傳 Authentic Teachings of Shaolin]
by the Daoist Shengxiao
[translation by Paul Brennan, Aug, 2021]
Exercise 1: IMMORTAL PERFORMS A SALUTATION
1. TIGHTENING YOUR WAIST, HOLD YOUR BREATH AND FOCUS YOUR SPIRIT
2. LINKING YOUR FINGERS AND TURNING OVER YOUR PALMS, PUSH OUT WITH BOTH HANDS
3. BEND AT THE WAIST, PROSTRATING YOURSELF WITH A DEEP BOW
4. FACING THE SKY, ARCH YOUR BACK AND STRETCH YOUR BELLY]
Exercise 2: XIANG YU LIFTS THE CAULDRON
1. HANDS SPREAD THE WATERS, LEGS SITTING WITH STRENGTH
2. DOUBLE PUNCHES ALONG THE SIDES OF YOUR CROTCH, ADJUSTING THE SADDLE WHILE RIDING
3. RUKH BULGES ITS WINGS, EXERTING THE STRENGTH OF THE WHOLE BODY
4. LIFT A THOUSAND POUNDS, WIELDING THE RIDING CROP WHILE ON HORSEBACK
5. GOLDEN TRAY CARRIES THE MOON, EMPLOYING THE STRENGTH OF THE WHOLE BODY
Exercise 3: LEFT & RIGHT ARRANGING FLOWERS
1. BOTH HANDS HOLD UP A HEAVY WEIGHT, FEET STANDING TOGETHER
2. IMMORTAL POINTS THE WAY, HORSE KNEELS DOWN
3. ONE HAND PASSES YOUR HEAD, ENERGY FILLS YOUR BELLY
4. DANGLE A FISHING LINE AND WRAP YOUR RIBS, BEND ONE KNEE AND HOOK BACK THE OTHER FOOT
5. HANDS CROSSING PATHS, FINISHING POSTURE, ROUSING ENERGY
Exercise 4: OLD TREE TWISTS ITS ROOTS
1. RHINO GAZES AT THE MOON, BOTH PALMS PUSHING OUT
2. HAWK TURNS ITS BODY, FISTS WRAPPING TO THE BELLY
3. TRYING TO SCOOP THE MOON’S REFLECTION FROM THE WATER, YOUR KNEES BEND AND YOUR WAIST LOWERS
4. PULL BACK YOUR HANDS, FINISHING POSTURE
Exercise 5: NIGHT DEMON SEARCHES THE SEA
1. LIFTING A CAULDRON WITH ONE HAND
2. BEND AT THE WAIST AND REACH TO THE GROUND
3. FIST HIDES BEHIND THE BACK
4. SCOOPING UP WATER FROM THE STREAM
Exercise 6: PUSH OPEN THE WINDOW TO LET THE LIGHT IN
1. PULLING A HEAVY WEIGHT IN
2. PUSH DOWN THE MOUNTAIN AND UPROOT THE FOREST
3. HOIST IN THE NET, WORKING FROM YOUR LEGS
4. BOTH PALMS PUSHING AGAINST THE WIND
Exercise 7: WEI TUO SHOWS HIS CLUB
1. HANDS TOGETHER IN FRONT OF YOUR CHEST
2. SECOND SON CARRIES THE MOUNTAIN
3. HANDS TOGETHER, LIFTING THE CAULDRON
4. FINISHING IN A HORSE-RIDING STANCE]
Exercise 8: OLD MONK GOES INTO A TRANCE
1. DESCENDING DRAGON, CROUCHING TIGER
2. EXERTING WITH THE HIPS, REACH OUT WITH ONE LEG
3. STRETCH THE THIGHS TO RIDE THE HORSE
4. SWALLOWS FLYING IN TANDEM
Exercise 9: IRON OX PLOWS THE FIELD
1. SIT BACK AND STAND STABLY
2. FEET TOGETHER, ACTIVATE THE ACUPOINTS
3. MAINTAINING STRENGTH, STRETCH THE SINEWS
4. DRILLING FIST, ACCUMULATING STRENGTH
Exercise 10: BLUE DRAGON SWINGS ITS TAIL
1. BRACING LEG, CLOSING HANDS
2. RAISING THE WHIP, RIDING THE HORSE
3. STEP OUT, ARC & SEAL OFF
4. BECKON IN FRONT, BLOCK TO THE REAR
Exercise 11: LEFT & RIGHT MOUNTING A HORSE
1. COVERING HANDS, STANDING ONE-LEGGED
2. PRESSING OPEN AN IRON GATE WITH A KNEE
Exercise 12: SWALLOW TAKES UP WATER
1. SNEAKILY REMOVE SUPPORT BEAMS
2. TURN TO CATCH A CICADA
3. TURNING BODY, CLOSING HANDS
4. GOLDEN ROOSTER STANDS ON ONE LEG
Exercise 13: TIGER LUNGES AT A MAN
1. FANNING YOUR RIBS ON BOTH SIDES
2. FOUR PILLARS FLOAT IN MIDAIR
3. DEAD SNAKE COLLAPSES TO THE GROUND
4. HOLDING UP THE OFFICIAL SEAL IN FRONT OF YOU
Exercise 14: CHEN XIYI FALLS INTO A DEEP SLEEP
1. FLOWERS PLANTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL
2. DRILLING FIST SPLITS THE MOUNTAIN
3. LIU QUAN PRESENTS A MELON
4. USING STRENGTH TO STAY AFLOAT
Exercise 15: THREE SALUTATIONS BETWEEN FATHER & SON
1. TURNING YOUR BODY, STRIKE
2. HOLDING A THOUSAND-POUND SABER
3. TURN AROUND, COVERING HANDS
4. XIANG YU DRAWS A BOW
Exercise 16: CARP FLIPS OVER
1. YELLOW DRAGON TURNS OVER
2. PULL THE CROSSBOW AND LOCK THE STRING
Exercise 17: ZHANG LIAO PRESENTS A ROBE
1. LIFTING A KNEE, EMBRACE THE MOON
2. SQUATTING DOWN ON ONE LEG
3. BOTH HANDS CRASH FORWARD
4. REINING IN THE HORSE
Exercise 18: JADE VASE HANGING FROM GOLDEN HOOKS
1. LEAN AWAY FROM THE SUN WITH YOUR LEGS TOGETHER
2. FOLD THE BODY TO MAINTAIN THE KIDNEYS
3. JADE PILLAR HOLDS UP THE SKY
(After finishing the exercises, return to the initial position in IMMORTAL PERFORMS A SALUTATION.)
Exercise 1: IMMORTAL PERFORMS A SALUTATION – Part 1:
Breathe to calm your breath. Awaken your energy and focus your spirit. Nourish your energy and blood by generating saliva. [From the Daodejing, chapter 3:] “Empty your mind and fill your belly.” To fill your belly means that you fill your elixir field with energy. To empty your mind means that you focus only on breathing through your nose. Practicing in a state of naturalness, you will build up your vitality, going from unrefined energy to polished strength. See drawing 1:
Your feet stand together as though tied with rope.
Breathe through your nose, filling your chest.
Fingers still gripping, rotate and extend your fists, applying the strength of your whole body.
Go back and forth with a sawing motion, your fists withdrawing and then extending again.
Steadily inhale and exhale, brightening your spirit.
Internal fire and water work together, energy moving down your front and up your back.
The passive and active aspects merge, rotating like a wheel.
The only worry is that you might not have enough ambition to see the training through.
See drawing 2:
After your hands go out forward from your chest as though rapidly saluting,
you then bend at the waist, bringing your hands downward until they are almost touching the ground.
The energy is like drawing silk, pulling out the finest thread.
Then your fists squeeze and your body straightens up.
Your legs tense with all of your strength.
Energy goes from your belly to your lower back.
Your hands seem to be lifting a cauldron or embracing the moon.
The movement of your hands up and down is an action of opening and closing, coordinated with the inhaling and exhaling of your lungs.
See drawing 3:
Both hands tense and prop up.
Your body bends backward like a bow bending or a carp flipping over.
Arch your back and stick out your belly, tensing your legs.
In the image of 2nd Son carrying the mountain and following the sun, reach back with your head.
Returning to standing upright depends on strength from the lower abdomen.
Then your hands move along your ribs to again be hanging downward.
See drawing 4:
Exercise 2: XIANG YU LIFTS THE CAULDRON – Part 1:
Place your hands spread apart in front of your chest, your feet spreading apart to the sides.
You like look a swallow sticking out its wings to glide through the air.
Tuck in your tailbone, causing water energy to switch over to fire.
This causes your ears to become alert as though hearing the buzzing of cicadas.
Then rise and lower, the action dependent entirely on strength from your lower back.
Bend your knees and lower your torso, and then rise up with a lightness from your feet.
If you do the exercise correctly, you will discover its subtleties.
The longer you practice, the more aware your mind will become.
See drawing 5:
Your hands appear to part the sea to move the shore as your back becomes upright.
This is like a rukh extending its wings to fly far away.
Your hands then become fists and withdraw in arcs toward your head, suddenly rousing energy.
Your mouth should stay closed and your cheeks not be puffing out.
Your hands again spread away with all of your strength as though pushing aside mountains or bringing down trees.
The energy during this action is like drawing out silk, your breath consistent.
See drawing 6:
Your hands move as though reining in a horse or lifting a pestle.
Your body rises and lowers as though lifting a thousand pounds.
Bend your knees, exerting yourself, rousing energy in your elixir field.
Your hands grab firmly and your body rises up.
It is like wind surging and waves rising, reaching up toward the sun.
Wrap the saddle with your legs, pressing in with your knees.
Stabilize the fire energy of your heart in order to support the water energy of your kidneys [to warm it rather than boil it away].
Your hands seem to hang an announcement plaque in front of your chest to spread its message far and wide.
See drawing 7:
Your fists punch downward along the sides of your crotch until they are close to your knees.
Then your legs press with exertion to slowly straighten up again.
Your waist puts forth its full effort, employing the strength of your whole body.
Overturn Mt. Tai, both hands lifting.
Breathe smoothly, cultivating spirit.
Tuck in your tailbone, curling your lower back.
See drawing 8:
Your hands lift up to the sky like your arms are jade pillars.
Your hands go upward and then downward, also reaching down to the ground.
Take full breaths, boosting your physique.
Let every inhale and exhale activate each joint.
Stretch out each and every joint.
With your energy and blood working in harmony, you will become stronger than ordinary people.
Both sky and ground embrace the sun.
Your arms are like a phoenix reaching out its wings, your hands like clouds creating shade.
See drawing 9:
Exercise 3: LEFT & RIGHT ARRANGING FLOWERS – Part 1:
Put your feet together and straighten your legs, standing like a slab of iron.
Pull your shoulders back, hands forming fists, and inhale deeply.
If you are feeling exhausted and timid, trying too hard could make you dizzy.
It is not necessary to force anything happen in order to accumulate your full strength.
Unhurried achievement brings a more lasting success.
However, do not waste yourself on prostitutes, getting lost in pleasure.
See drawing 10:
Your hands gesture like an immortal pointing the way, your legs getting into a horse-riding stance.
Your knees bend, your front arm wraps over your ribs, and you rouse your full energy.
Energy fills all of your joints.
Your lungs exhale as your torso lowers, your legs exerting strength.
Your legs straighten and you step to the other side, your body turning.
Your palms also go to the other side to be covering both directions.
Open your mind and give the exercise a chance.
One day it will suddenly all make sense.
See drawing 11:
One hand pushes up through a mountain, uprooting all its trees, stretching strongly over your head.
While your ribs are being stretched out, take a full breath.
Then perform the same action on the other side.
The passive and active aspects switch places, the grand polarity rotating.
The key to this action is that one arm stretches straight up and the other straight down.
It is like an iron nail holding a roof beam in place without any doubt.
See drawing 12:
One hand goes over your head and reaches toward the opposite toes.
Rouse your energy and stretch your ribs, your torso slowly lowering.
Bend one leg, the other flexing straight, using the strength of your whole body.
The position resembles depictions of Lu Zhishen uprooting a willow tree and raising it high.
Stick out your chest and suck in your gut, your hands forming fists.
The palm sides of the fists are turned inward to be facing toward each other, your body standing like a flexible sapling.
Fill your belly with determination and exert your full strength.
The energy is like drawing out silk, and the passive and active aspects are merging together.
See drawing 13:
Your hands move in unison, one arcing over your head.
In the image of 2nd Son carrying the mountain and following the sun, your shoulders feel the burden.
Engage your lower abdomen and exert your lower back.
Your energy seems to express for many miles, like the boldness of Xiang Yu.
Bring your legs in and stand with your feet together.
Take a full breath, settling your spirit.
Learn well these eighteen exercises.
Long life will be the result.
See drawing 14:
Exercise 4: OLD TREE TWISTS ITS ROOTS – Part 1:
Producing an image of a rhino gazing at the moon, your hands push out.
Your body turns, your waist twisting, your hands going out from in front of your chest.
One foot does a stealth step, hooking around the other foot, the rear knee pressing against the front knee.
Your hands are positioned one nearer, one farther, strength expressing at your elbows.
Switching sides then requires strength from your legs.
Rouse your energy with a full breath, breathing out from your mouth.
See drawing 15:
Your hands form fists, withdraw to your ribs, and then punch out in front of your chest.
Withdrawing and extending, they move like rushing wind.
The weight of Mt. Tai seems to press down on you, but your head resists upward.
Tuck in your tailbone and stick out your chest.
Go right past temptation, ignoring prostitutes.
Restraint is the key characteristic of a virtuous man, causing him to have a mind that is never startled by anything.
Look with a new perspective to find wisdom.
[From the Heart Sutra:] “Reality is empty, therefore emptiness is the reality.”
See drawing 16:
Lean over as if to try to scoop the moon’s reflection from the water, your chest going toward your knees.
Your hands go the ground, about a foot apart from each other.
Taking a full breath, breathe slowly through your nose.
Then you will turn your body, twisting your waist, as you leisurely rise up.
Your feet stand stably as your body becomes upright.
See drawing 17:
Your hands lead away to the sides, drawing semicircles.
Once they are behind you, your hands form fists, which then go tightly against your ribs.
Breathe fully and embody a heroic strength.
Study so meticulously that your knowledge will never be forgotten.
If you really want to have skill, put more time into the training.
Practice not only at midday, but also at midnight.
Regulate your breath over and over.
Success will eventually come and you will be counted among the best.
See drawing 18:
Exercise 5: NIGHT DEMON SEARCHES THE SEA – Part 1:
One hand goes behind your ribs and the other rises up.
With one hand high and the other below, stand tall.
Your legs and waist exert strength.
Like a swallow scooping up mud, your body bends downward.
Calmly breathe a full breath.
Your hands switch places, the upper hand coming down, the lower hand going up.
Your whole body expresses its full strength.
Close your eyes, focus your mind, and steady your breath.
See drawing 19:
Bend at the waist and reach for the ground, keeping your legs straight.
You are positioned like a lion shaking its head and sticking out its tail.
You look as though you are Wu Song using his remaining arm to capture Fang La.
Success at this movement will boost your courage and give you dauntless determination.
Then your hand will rise up to support the sky, your arm like a jade pillar.
Perform the action of a mantis seizing a cicada, attacking with both arms.
When standing up, regain your composure.
Restrain the fire energy of the heart and instead use the water energy of the kidneys.
See drawing 20:
Your hands form fists and go to your ribs, your waist quickly twisting to the side.
Your elbows are pulling back forcefully, as though your arms are bending away saplings.
Stretch your sinews and exert strength, thereby boosting your energy and blood circulation.
The passive and active aspects switch places, the grand polarity rotating.
Turn your hands over, bringing the palms together, and regulate your breath.
Once you have achieved skill in this exercise, you will automatically be approaching a higher level.
See drawing 21:
Your ribs reach out and your waist bends over, boosting the water energy of your kidneys.
With your left leg standing one-legged, your buttocks tighten and your right foot hooks around your left foot.
Then you will straighten your body, tensing your knees.
The sky and ground seem to switch places, and you look like a demon emerging from the sea.
Finish the exercise with your arms spreading like wings.
Your body rising is like a carp flipping over or a dragon swinging its tail.
Both feet again stand on the ground, activating the earth energy of your spleen.
The earth feeds the roots of flowers so that they can sprout.
See drawing 22:
Exercise 6: PUSH OPEN THE WINDOW TO LET THE LIGHT IN – Part 1:
With your hands pulling back in unison, you inhale.
You will extend and withdraw, using the strength of your body.
Turn around like a hawk turning over, your arms going against the wind.
Your hands go out and then back in again as though pulling a heavy piece of iron.
Doing the movement over and over is like polishing a mirror, bringing you greater mental clarity.
This action stirs at the water energy of your gallbladder, which can help improve your vision.
Like the “eight steps” exercise, move forward into place without pausing.
Energy fills your ribs and makes your arms stick out.
See drawing 23:
Push forward with great strength, as though attempting to move the Taihang Mountains.
It feels like you are the rushing wind or a charging horse.
Then withdraw your hands forcefully, as though pulling down a pagoda,
while your body remains upright, standing tall.
Avoid alcohol and sex, and then you will have abundant energy.
You may compare yourself to the immortal Li Hui with his long eyebrows [representing longevity].
Regulate your breath so that passive and active can alternate smoothly.
Because Nature made man, man imitates Nature.
See drawing 24:
Get into a horse-riding stance, your hands pulling back on the reins.
Leap with your horse over hills and streams, unflustered by any obstacle.
Your arms pull back fully, using the strength of your whole body.
Your torso is as upright as a jade pillar, your legs straddling like a bridge.
All your joints work together to form a mighty fortress.
Energy rises up to your clay-pellet palace and fills you with light.
See drawing 25:
Step forward into a bow stance and push with both palms, your hands going out in unison.
Your hands then coil and seal, pulling straight back with rousing energy in your arms.
Push out all the way to the horizon even though you are stepping within a small space.
There should be coordination between your breath and switching sides: inhaling when withdrawing your hands, exhaling when pushing out.
By cultivating the union of your energy and blood, your sinews and bones will quickly become robust.
See drawing 26:
Exercise 7: WEI TUO SHOWS HIS CLUB – Part 1:
Raise your energy and straighten your back, showing a robust physique.
Opening and closing is like a dance of husband and wife.
Spread your feet apart and bring your hands together, settling into your stance with a solid strength.
Stick out your chest and expose your ribs, poised as though beating a drum.
If you want to possess filial piety, you must have the strength to wrestle a tiger.
Practice throughout the year, always working hard.
See drawing 27:
Spread your arms like a phoenix spreading its wings, expressing from your shoulders.
Your arms seem to carry the Taihang Mountains.
Fill your elixir field with energy and stick out your chest.
Your feet stand their ground as though you are guarding a border pass.
There is no need to worry about sticks and clubs striking you all over.
Steadiness of spirit will keep you carefree.
At the crack of dawn, practice!
You will be able to lengthen your life to the point of an immortal.
See drawing 28:
With your feet stably grounded, your elbows and knees exert equal strength.
Your hands come together above your head, all of your joints filling with energy.
You can accept people hitting you all over, no need to fear even the force of a thousand pounds.
Be aware of the time of day and how it interferes with passive and active energy.
If you encounter an opponent who knows how to interrupt the energy flow of the meridians, stand tall and as straight as the axis that runs through the Earth.
See drawing 29:
Sit in a horse-riding stance with a straight back and rounded crotch,
your hands firmly holding the reins, your mind unflustered.
Your elbows and knees do their utmost, energy filling your belly.
Your head seems as hard as iron, or even harder still, like steel.
Raise your hands to shield against any influence upon your energy.
Temptations right in front of you are harder to resist.
Therefore stay away from brothels in the first place.
See drawing 30:
Exercise 8: OLD MONK GOES INTO A TRANCE – Part 1:
Stick out your chest and squat down on one leg, tightening your crotch.
Express your personality and make your gaze bright.
It feels like a monk in meditation.
The wind blows and the bamboo leaves make flickering shadows.
He holds up a lamp, but the flame cannot be blown out.
His imagination fixates on Hongniang, the matchmaking maidservant in Romance of the Western Chamber.
He writes letters to her in his sleep.
A low-ranking monk gets swept up by his emotions, stubborn like steel.
Success is a matter of your own determination.
You do not need to travel to India to find the Buddha.
See drawing 31:
Lower your torso, stretching out your other leg and tensing your arms.
Your joints, sinews, and bones all work together, and your arms should be sticking out.
Stretch with your spine to gaze upon the sky, tightly tucking in your tailbone.
The energies of your heart and kidneys meet, fire and water complementing each other.
Make use of the universe of your entire body, letting the fiery chariot rotate the celestial pole [referring to turning your torso as you perform the posture on the other side].
See drawing 32:
Engage every joint and straighten your back.
The passive and active aspects merge at your lower back.
Your tailbone tucks in and you take a full breath.
It is like an ant floating on the water that is then pulled to the bottom of a well.
Your hands grab your legs and your legs flex.
Then your legs will straighten and your body will stand upright like a stone pillar.
If you compete the training, you will possess the “golden bell” skill.
There will then be no need to fear attacks from spears, sabers, swords or halberds.
See drawing 33:
Your legs stand straight like stone pillars and your hands stick out to the sides.
It is natural for your energy in this moment to be fierce.
With constant practice, you will become stronger than ordinary people.
Your back braces upward as though supporting a thousand-pound cauldron.
Conclude the exercise by breathing calmly.
The energies of fire and water will mingle in your kidneys like worms wriggling.
Practice the eighteen Luohan exercises.
They will give you the boldness of Li Kui coming down the mountain.
See drawing 34:
Exercise 9: IRON OX PLOWS THE FIELD – Part 1:
With your eyes closed, regulate your breath.
Your tongue touches your upper palate, your spine erect.
Reach the passive aspect and then return to the active aspect, the movement as fine as silk.
The fire energy of the heart descends and the water energy of the kidneys rises.
The active is born from the passive, and the passive from the active.
For all things in the world, this principle is true.
With hard work and serious study, you will boost your energy and blood circulation.
You will gain a robust physique and a hardened body.
See drawing 35:
One hand holds the pulse area at your other wrist with a strong grip.
Tuck in your tailbone and hold your breath.
Make your body tough, hard as iron.
Be like a metal roof beam or a jade pillar.
Blood circulation throughout your body is strongest when it follows the movement of energy.
When energy flows like the great rivers, you will never feel fear.
In order to succeed at the training, one’s character must first be revealed.
The deeper teachings should not be shared with villainous people.
See drawing 36:
Practicing this exercise will involve enduring some difficulty.
Your drilling fist lowers toward the ground, stretching the sinews.
Your arms put forth their full effort, and your waist and legs exert strength.
The position evokes the “Snake of Mt. Chang” battle formation. [Art of War, chap 11: “Attack its middle, both head and tail respond.”]
Focusing your mind, take a full breath.
Keep your mouth tightly closed, like a fierce tiger.
Your hands are cultivating the strength of an eagle’s claws.
Be as a hard as a steel blade, as strong as an axe.
See drawing 37:
Still holding the wrist, both arms extend forward.
You look as though you are pulling along a strong ox in order to plow deep into the soil.
With your hands joined, go back and forth from the downward position to the upward position.
Drawing upon the metal energy of the lungs, take a breath.
To become skillful at this, do it in sets of twelve repetitions.
This exercise is all about stretching the sinews and building strength.
Bring order to your spirit and also unify your energy and blood.
Withdrawing into this position comes each time from the previous movement.
See drawing 38:
Exercise 10: BLUE DRAGON SWINGS ITS TAIL – Part 1:
Tuck in your tailbone, but keep your solar plexus upright.
Breathe through your nose, your mouth closed, as your hands busily draw in from side to side.
Your hands circle to the left and right, your legs following along.
Your body moves like a drill, or like the wind is swaying the willows.
Your limbs put forth their fullest effort and your belly fills with energy.
Activate your knees and strongly arc with your elbows.
Go back and forth, strengthening both sides.
Your front leg bends and your rear leg straightens, your stance turning and evading.
See drawing 39:
Your forward hand arcs like a wheel turning.
Always put forth enough strength to stretch your sinews.
Your lower back stays erect, but folds in to the left and right.
Your feet are flat on the ground and pivot along with the turning of your body.
Building strength is entirely dependent on nurturing blood and energy.
The most important thing to avoid is holding your breath.
The passive and active aspects join forces, alternating roles everywhere in the body.
Regulate your breath and deeply ponder the movement.
See drawing 40:
Your hands pull across in unison.
Filling your belly with energy, take a full breath.
Your hands swing like a tail, quickly sneaking into place.
Your knees are bent, legs bracing, both feet flat on the ground.
The many parts of the body are like the twenty-four periods of weather,
the distinct changes that take place through the seasons.
Such moments are divided by way of the waxing and waning of the passive and active aspects.
Receiving energy at the right moment means you will always receive even more.
See drawing 41:
Stabilize your breath and raise both palms.
Like the wind blowing through the treetops, your ears seem to hear a breeze.
The metal energy of the lungs gives you a full breath,
while the wood energy of the liver boosts blood circulation.
But the key to the movement lies entirely in balancing water and fire.
Move with intention, your mind fully focused.
You will succeed after a hundred days, performing the movements with precision.
And then wherever you go, nothing will make you cower.
See drawing 42:
Exercise 11: LEFT & RIGHT MOUNTING A HORSE – Part 1:
Stand with your back erect, your hands going to your chest.
Go up and down three times with your leg suspended in the air.
Rise up one-legged and all-powerful, as though lifting a thousand pounds.
This will grant you the longevity of pine trees and cranes, and you will enjoy eternal youthfulness.
Thereby boosting your spleen and thus the earth element within you, you will develop a solid foundation.
Once you have awakened your senses, you will never want to let them doze off again.
While lowering your torso, continue to reach out with your leg so that it is almost flat against the ground.
In this position, you will be able to stop a cart’s wheel from turning, impressive indeed.
Once you have achieved skill in this exercise, you will be setting an example for others.
As powerful as a team of oxen or a couple of tigers, such strength will never be ignored.
See drawing 43:
Your hands perform an action resembling flowers growing from the bottom of a well, bolstering your energy.
Your standing leg bends, your torso lowering, as your other leg reaches out along the ground.
The movement should be performed over and over.
Return each time to the position of the leg being suspended in the air, as though lifting a thousand pounds.
Constant practice will bring success more consistently.
The thought of being crushed under rolling wheels or horses hooves will no longer give you fear.
Even though you may be empty of energy or timid of strength, your physique will become robust.
You will gain noticeable success after a mere hundred days of practice.
Do not become distracted or let your ambition weaken.
Stretching the sinews and building strength is truly a delight.
See drawing 44:
Exercise 12: SWALLOW TAKES UP WATER – Part 1:
Your hands spread apart as though sneakily removing support beams.
Go to the left and right, folding your body to both sides.
Exert a constant strength through your elbows and knees.
Your low hand rises and your raised foot lowers as you turn from your lower back.
Rouse your elixir field, your waist continuing to turn.
Be careful that your breathing is natural rather than forced.
By practicing this exercise, you will develop great strength.
The movement uses the wood energy of the liver, and the breathing uses the metal energy of the lungs.
Countless troubles need not make you worry.
Just spend all your time training diligently and mindfully.
See drawing 45:
Your hands spread apart, one upward and the other downward.
Your arms bend inward and quickly align over your front knee.
Sealing off your center, take a full breath.
Your hands withdraw as your waist twists, your body turning.
Then you will hop with strength and put your hands on the ground.
Twist to the left and right, keeping your waist upright.
Your legs put forth their full effort, using the strength of your whole body.
Resembling an eagle catching a finch, do the movement over and over.
It is entirely a matter of constantly filling your belly with energy.
Therefore inhale and exhale smoothly.
See drawing 46:
Each step of the training is nothing trivial.
The “golden elixir” gushes up from the “bubbling well”.
Your hands prop up the sun and moon.
To lock away your monkey mind is the true alchemy.
The Big Dipper stays centered while the stars revolve around it.
There are twelve time periods throughout the day, but you can really only perceive three at a time [the one that just finished, the one you are in, and the one about to start].
Energy courses through all of your joints.
Blood flows through your rivers as though you are a small world unto yourself.
Guard all that you have developed at every moment.
It is easy to lose and difficult to obtain.
What you gain today will transform your mind.
You will long to be in the peach garden of the immortals.
See drawing 47:
Your limbs act together and energy fills your chest.
You stand on one leg with the other knee lifted and hanging in the air.
Throw aside with all of your joints, your whole body working in unison.
Your hands rise to the left and right, your ears hearing the whoosh of the wind.
Make your arms capable of wielding a thousand pounds of force.
You will then be able to win any fight.
Train your body to endure all sorts of bitterness.
[From the Book of Poetry, poem 55:] “Cut and chisel, carve and polish” – thus you are sure to succeed.
See drawing 48:
Exercise 13: TIGER LUNGES AT A MAN – Part 1:
Stabilize your spirit and fix your gaze.
Activate the Yongquan [“bubbling well”] acupoints by pressing into the soles of your feet.
Stick out your chest and suck in your gut, arching your lower back.
Send out your hands, stretching the sinews and spreading your fingers.
Fill your belly with power, the power of your whole body.
Passive and active merge, your energy and blood harmonizing.
You will then bend at the waist, hollowing your belly, and reach your hands to the ground.
Fold in further and further until all of your joints are perfectly placed.
Do this exercise over and over, day and night.
Tucking in your tailbone to rise up again, feel the stretch as you go.
See drawing 49:
Standing on all four limbs, your body rises up.
In this position, you can naturally support a great weight.
Bend forward and raise your tail, stretching your sinews and bones.
Rouse your energy and blood.
Send energy coursing through all of your joints.
Increased blood flow makes your sinews feel so comfortable.
Your limbs press as far as they can, filling with the energy of the universe.
Then tuck in your tailbone to lift your body back up.
Let your breathing be smooth and drawn out.
When dragon and tiger meet [inhale becoming exhale], empty your mind.
Practice at all times, from midnight to noon, sunrise to sunset.
You will everywhere be a success, everywhere admired.
See drawing 50:
Fill your belly with energy and press yourself down onto the ground, taking a full breath.
Your arms and legs put forth their full strength, summoning the power of your whole body.
With your body diving forward and your legs kicking out behind, you now resemble a centipede.
Your chest pulls up, your hands pushing against the ground.
Then moving like a wolf and stepping into place like a tiger, you will leisurely transition away from this into position.
Rotate your pelvis, tucking in your tailbone.
Regulate your breathing, your hands in front of your chest.
With your feet together, stand up straight.
Rising up, press against the ground strongly with your legs and straighten your back.
The thought of a thousand pounds pressing down on your head will not cause you any fear.
See drawing 51:
Rise up, taking a full breath, and tense your arms until they tremble.
Use both arms to embrace the moon, knees straight, feet now flat on the ground.
Your elixir field filling with energy, your hands will then prop up the sky, your arms like jade pillars.
To conclude this exercise, close your hands into fists and pull them back to your ribs.
Your energy and blood can be nourished because your sinews and bones are placed in positions of roundness.
See drawing 52:
Exercise 14: CHEN XIYI FALLS INTO A DEEP SLEEP – Part 1:
An old monk comes to learn from Chen Xiyi, but the master is asleep.
Lift one leg while standing on the other, the knee floating in the air.
Fill your belly, rousing energy in your elixir field.
[From Lun Yu, 7.16:] “Bend an arm to use it as a pillow” and take a rest from all troubles.
Bend your leg in and bend your torso forward, keeping your back straight.
Sun and moon seem to shine before you.
The moon rising in the east is not enough to wake you,
but the sun setting in the west can help you slip into a trance.
You have been toiling your whole life, doing the work of two men,
and now you deserve a break to pick some flowers, an underrated pleasure.
If you can maintain your determination for the training, you will succeed.
Distinguish between passive and active, but do not over-emphasize either.
See drawing 53:
A monk sits down to meditate with solemnity,
but as soon as he has finished, he collapses into sleep.
Ordinarily a monk would not dare to stick out his legs and fall asleep,
but space enough for half a bed is just as good as a full bed blanketed with luxurious brocade.
Low-ranking monks are undisciplined.
Every night, they lose their minds and become unfit for the training.
They must learn to deny themselves pretty dreams,
because they will only hurry inside in hopes of finding a chance for some idleness.
The sky, the ground, and mankind never seem to be happy,
but mandarin ducks find contentment in each other.
Your arms embrace in the manner of an ape.
One leg is straight, the other bent under you.
See drawing 54:
A monk in meditation forgets the passing years.
When a dragon and tiger meet, they do not fear each other.
Your hands brace upward, looking like the sun and moon in the sky together.
The passive and active aspects merge like a hen sitting on an egg.
As though large doors are spreading open, the passive and active aspects pass through.
Once in the proper position, twist to the left and right.
The energy of the sky descends and the energy of the ground rises.
Your hands push away, your head lolling back.
The joints of the limbs work one after another.
You seem to be stretching over a wall to dive into deep water.
See drawing 55:
Peng Zu lived for eight hundred years,
far beyond the capacity of ordinary people.
This shows the same kind of ability as Chen Xiyi entering a deep dream state,
withdrawing from death and restoring life.
Energize your body, stretching all the way to your feet.
Let the world before your eyes dissolve into a meaningless blur.
Rouse your spirit and regulate your breath.
Let the training permeate you completely and then time will disappear.
Once you have become skillful at this exercise, you will achieve better sleep.
Thereafter whether you are lying down, sitting, standing, or even walking, you will never feel that you are aging at all.
See drawing 56:
Exercise 15: THREE SALUTATIONS BETWEEN FATHER & SON – Part 1:
Rouse your energy, twist your waist, one hand in the avalanche-punch position, the other a palm.
You will turn your body to the left and right, punching out with the rear hand.
By staying natural throughout the exercise, you will achieve success.
There is no need to try too hard or to force anything to happen.
Press down through the soles of your feet and straighten the rear leg to make a solid structure.
Turn from your lower back, your attention reaching to the smallest detail.
Be mindful of the distinction between the passive and active aspects, and then you will have no confusion.
Always regulate your breath, and stay focused on self-cultivation.
See drawing 57:
Rouse all of your strength, as though you are pushing away a thousand pounds.
Breathe in and then out, emptying your mind.
Passive and active merge and spread together throughout your body.
To get energy to course through all of your joints requires intimate attention.
One place skipped is one area lost.
Pay attention that your breathing is properly regulated.
Once you have achieved skillfulness at this exercise, it will benefit all twelve orifices [the usual “nine orifices” being eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, anus, urethra (plus three more for women: nipples, vagina)].
If any orifice is not in perfect health, continue to practice with even deeper concentration.
Wisdom is entirely a matter of consistency.
If you still have not yet gained success in the training, this does not mean you should just give up.
See drawing 58:
Turn your body and your head, your feet standing together.
Cover with both hands, rousing your full energy.
One fist is pulled back to your waist in the avalanche-punch position, your legs quickly twisting.
One foot rises, the weight supported mostly on the other leg using the strength of the whole body.
Switch sides back and forth, your hands performing a high saluting position on the way.
Stabilize the energy of your lower body by tucking in your tailbone.
Energy and blood work together, strengthening sinews and bones.
The twelve time periods throughout the day correspond to the twenty-four periods of changing weather throughout the year.
The energy of the ground rises and the energy of the sky descends.
The passive and active aspects switch places, the grand polarity rotating.
See drawing 59:
Turn your body and rouse your strength, stretching your sinews and bones.
Look as though you are drawing a bow, pulling on the string, expressing strength in two opposite directions at the same time.
With your legs spreading apart, fully rouse your energy.
If energy is not coursing through to all parts, blood circulation will not be smooth.
Energy has to be everywhere in your body, reaching every single joint.
If you do not exert yourself in these exercises, your energy will not be genuine.
Distinguish between passive and active in order to regulate your breath.
Be aware of your breath day and night in order to keep your energy steady.
Avoid wine, women, and wealth.
They are a pointless waste of time, effort, and mind.
See drawing 60:
Exercise 16: CARP FLIPS OVER – Part 1:
Your hands and feet grab the ground, your body arching backward.
Press up with all your strength, invigorating blood and energy.
Arch your back and stick out your belly, toning your physique.
If you do not push yourself as far as you can into the posture, your strength will not develop to the extent that it should.
To make the body strong is not easy.
It is a matter of regulating the breath and repetition.
These eighteen exercises are endlessly useful.
Each of them contains marvelous subtleties, little tricks for you to discover.
Because book learning is not enough, you must consult with your colleagues to get a more rounded understanding.
Keep an open mind and success will be assured.
See drawing 61:
Reach to your upper back as though you are the bow an archer is bending.
Look up at the sky and stick out your chest.
Your feet are flat on the ground, legs straight and tensed.
Tuck in your tailbone and suck in your gut.
The key to it is that it is entirely a matter of cultivating energy and blood,
though making the sinews and bones strong and solid is by no means unimportant.
Do not dismiss this exercise or think that it is without merit.
If you can also avoid wine and women, you will succeed even faster.
See drawing 62:
Exercise 17: ZHANG LIAO PRESENTS A ROBE – Part 1:
Lift up your shoulders and push out your palms, raising one knee.
Activate the Yongquan acupoint of the standing foot and tuck in your tailbone.
Thereby sealing your elixir field, take a full breath.
Energy gushes from your kidneys and courses up your back.
This movement of energy boosts your blood circulation, enriching the exercise.
Work hard at it all year, year after year, without becoming impatient.
Breathe smoothly and nourish your spirit.
With knee bent, also bend at the waist, leaning forward.
See drawing 63:
One knee is bent, squatting strongly, the other extended along the ground.
You will then push out your hands, fully rousing your energy.
Your lower back lifts up, your torso suddenly bending forward.
Keep your mouth tightly closed and your tailbone tucked in.
Stretch your joints, invigorating your energy and blood.
Your sinews and bones work together, using the strength of your whole body.
Skill will become permanent and be ready for you whenever you need it.
Once you can lift a thousand pounds, what would you have to worry about?
See drawing 64:
Your fists squeeze, your arms flexing.
Step out into a bow stance and rouse your energy, your elixir field filling with it.
With your mouth tightly closed, push out with both hands.
Reach from your lower back, your front foot sliding into place.
Lower your waist and straighten your rear leg, your front leg bending.
Withdraw and push out, drawing in as though pulling a great weight.
Your joints work in close coordination and your spirit is robust.
Energy flows, your blood follows along with it, and your tailbone tucks in.
See drawing 65:
Lifting your shoulders, your hands move as though hauling in a fishing net, your legs supporting a thousand pounds.
Your hands rise and lower in coordination with your body.
Spread your feet apart and fill yourself with energy.
In a surge, energy and blood reach to every part.
After practicing for a hundred days, passive and active will switch places [i.e. stiffness will turn into suppleness and weakness will turn into strength].
Energy courses through your body, nourishing your blood and sinews.
The four seasons are broken down into twenty-four periods of changing weather.
Energy likewise moves through each of your joints, one after another.
See drawing 66:
Exercise 18: JADE VASE HANGING FROM GOLDEN HOOKS – Part 1:
Practicing in the middle of the night could make your body weary.
Establish the times of passive and active, distinguishing between midnight and noon.
Regulate your breath, holding your legs together.
Your hands reach away from the sun, stretching your sinews and bones.
Extending the sinews and bringing harmony to the blood is excellent for self-cultivation.
Your hands will then arc forward and down to your feet.
If you have a monkey’s mind and a horse’s impulsiveness, you will not be able to focus during the exercise. [An old saying: “The mind of a monkey is not stable. The impulsiveness of a horse sends it running in all directions.”]
If your energy is deficient and your strength is timid, your blood will be undernourished.
Remaining steady and precise will cultivate spirit,
and thus you will soon see results and quickly succeed.
See drawing 67:
Extending from your lower back, slowly bend forward at the waist.
Both hands in unison reach to your toes.
Your belly flattens, exhaling fully.
This action exercises water and fire, merging the passive and active aspects.
Rouse your strength and stretch your sinews, getting your blood and energy to flow.
Be like a monk in meditation, persisting until sleep overwhelms him.
Practice day and night, whenever you get a chance.
As long as you are never satisfied with the results, you will always achieve more.
See drawing 68:
Forcefully prop up your palms to the sky, energy filling your body with vigor.
Your legs press you upward with strength, your joints all acting in coordination.
Your blood circulates, the passive and active aspects merging, and your energy flows, your spirit brightening.
The result of this exercise will be warmth in the winter and a boldness that will make nothing too difficult for you.
Constantly put in the hard work that these exercises require, for the key to them all is self-cultivation.
See drawing 69:
INTERNAL ANATOMY CHART (a map for moving energy around internally)
泥湾 clay-pellet palace
髓海 marrow sea
天谷 celestial valley
通於尾骶 path to the tailbone
領骨三節 cervical vertebrae
膻中 Danzhong acupoint [CU 17]
脾系 spleen system
胃系 stomach system
肝系 liver system
腎系 kidney system
脂𫆳 gastrosplenic ligament
小腸 small intestines
大腸 large intestines
丹田 elixir field
命门 life gate
精道 vas deferens
Success is entirely a matter of being good at regulating your breath.
It is a similar pattern to the seasons [inhale beginning (spring), inhale finishing (summer), exhale beginning (autumn), exhale finishing (winter)].
Fire and water complement each other, the universe within you rotating.
Processes of creation and destruction correspond to the twenty-four periods of changing weather throughout the year.
A strong and robust body is capable of endless wonders.
A mind that finds delight in the material will gain untold pleasure from it.
In endlessly subtle ways, sky and ground merge.
Clouds wander everywhere, never fearing mountain or river.
You may seem to find yourself at the island of the immortals.
Sitting there, watch the waves and see the glorious sunset.
To the west, gaze upon the Jade Lake and consult the Queen Mother.
These exercises are like the peach of immortality, which caused all the immortals to congregate around it.
The direction of east is associated with wood, spring, liver, sinews.
South: fire, summer, heart, blood.
Center: earth, all seasons, spleen, muscle.
West: metal, autumn, lungs, breath.
North: water, winter, kidneys, bones.
KEY TO THE EXERCISES (an additional text to improve understanding of the Luohan exercises and fighting techniques)
Practice at midnight, at noon, at sunrise, at sunset, devoting all of your time to it.
Distractions such as wine and sex should be avoided.
To go from striking lightly to hitting heavily, seeing true progress,
requires working at it day after day and month after month without any interruption.
It was with this attitude that previous generations created the Luohan Exercises.
If our generation would study it, we would produce remarkable men.
Even thousands of hammerings and smelting would not be enough.
Honestly, how could you expect to achieve skill in just a hundred days?
In other words, practicing any art, whether some or all of it, requires complete dedication and no vices, and the discipline to work at it all day long. When practicing, there has to be constant spirit and steadfast energy. Guided by the mind, energy reaches to the limbs, flowing naturally and without forcing it to happen. When not practicing, get into a habit of stillness and silence, like a Daoist monk cultivating oneness, keeping you free from distracting disorder. This is the essence of how to practice.
You can expect some success after just a hundred days.