FOUR FORMS OF THE LUOHAN
“When the mind is still and empty, the true Qi is under your control. If you keep a centered mind, the danger of disease will disappear”.
Huang Di Neijing – “The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Energy” 500 A.C.
Four Forms in the Luohan Gong Body-Mind-Energy System
The Luohan System is structured around three forms with distinctive characteristics, objectives and goals. As a whole the Luohan Gong is a system of internal exercises to cultivate the three treasures of the Qi (vital energy), Jing (essence) and Shen (spirit). If practiced regularly, it activates intrinsic vital energy along the meridians, it also strengthens internal organs, increases one’s life expectancy, by keeping good health as well as mind and body vigor, trains joints and muscles, encourages relaxation and stress control, prevents occupational illnesses due to physical stress, promotes posture awareness and a correct posture, and it is the basis and essence of many internal and external martial arts.
The Luohan forms are: “Sub Bak Luohan Sau” or the The Hands of the 18 Luohan,” “Siu Luohan or Little Luohan, and “Tai Luohan” or Big Luohan. The form “Wu chi”, although not an integral part of the Luohan Gong System, is usually taught to top instructors because it conveys a different understanding and vision of energy work and confers a more complete development in an overall energy cultivation program.
“Sub Bak Luohan Sau” or The Hands of the 18 Luohan
This is the first form to be taught in the Luohan Body-Mind-Energy System. It is a set of movement performed one after the other without interruption that may take from 15 to 30 or more minutes to execute.
The objective of this form is to strengthen the body, muscles and tendons, to drain the qi channels, to eliminate physical and mental tension, to increase the energy and its circulation in the body.
The Hands of the 18 Luohan is made up of very intelligent body movements. The soft stretching and turning of the spine and body joints, recognizes and respects the body’s biodynamic, the different planes and the correct and healthy sequence of bodily parts in movement.
The form alternates the Yin and Yang (the complementary work of opposites) at every level, that is, in movement (lengthening/shortening), in breathing (inhalation/exhalation) and in mind work (outwardly/inwardly). This interaction produces a powerful result in a very short time.
The alternation of ¨extremes¨, a specific trait of the Hands of the 18 Luohan, work as a very powerful pump to achieve its goals of pushing the energy through the channels, increasing blood and energy circulation, calming the mind and toning the body.
One of the greatest benefits of The Hands of the 18 Luohan, is that it creates a solid physical, mental and spiritual structure, a solid personal foundation from where to build a ¨serious¨ and firm existence without which no great advancement in any field is possible.
“Siu Luohan” or Little Luohan
Siu Luohan is the second form to be taught in the Luohan System. The form is longer than the first and it’s movements are more circular and softer. It may take from 45 minutes to double that time to complete the whole form.
Where as in The Hands of the 18 Luohan, the energy is made to circulate basically by the body’s movement, in Siu Luohan it is the breathing that sets the flow of Qi and blood in motion. Its movements are more rounded and Mudras, with their deep emotional and energetic connection are more prevalent. It can be performed without stopping, but it is usually recommended to stop when reaching the Mudras and to become one with its message and essence.
Siu Luohan is a book of mystery to be deciphered, a journey to another world and dimension where the archetypes, ingrained in our core, in our genes, in our deep ancestral and primal being, manifests.
From a physical point of view, the body keeps getting its required load of work.
The alternation of movement and stationary positions facilitate the understanding and perception of the Ying Yang rule that “movement is born from stillness and stillness is activated by movement” and also that “Movement without stillness is not the REAL MOVEMENT, and stillness without movement is not the REAL STILLNESS¨
“Tai Luohan” or Big Luohan
The Hands of the 18 Luohan and Siu Luohan are “meditation in movement”. The objective of the former is to stretch and strengthen the body and in so doing train the mind, the breath and the body for its ultimate purpose: Self Realization. The latter, that is Siu Luohan, is a form that, still using movement, intercalate non movement – Jong of Postures- in the form, and through the own nature of the body postures (mudras) it reaches deep into the subconscious self (genes) and the supra consciousness, preparing us to a deeper sense of quietism.
Tai Luohan or Big Luohan is in itself a concentration/meditation form, that is its raison d’être. It represents not only the third element in this very well structured system of Body-Mind-Energy cultivation system that is Luohan Gong, but also an example of the other manner, besides body movement and breath, that humans posses to control energy and reach a higher consciousness: The mind.
Tai Luohan is done sitting down with little or no body movement, and is composed of a series of meditative postures. Through different breathing patterns, hand positions but especially through visualization and the power of YI, intention, the energy is moved through energy centers in the Microcosmic Orbit. In contrast to the Hands of the 18 Luohan, and Little Luohan, where the blood and energy circulates in the body mainly through the Meridian Organ, Tai Luohan works stimulating the energy centers situated in the Ren or Conception Vessels and the Du Channel or Governing Vessel on the spine, its relation to the internal organs and the law of the Five Elements/Phases.
It is extremely important to express here that within Chinese and Hindu traditions, sitting meditation, that is Tai Luohan, is the most efficient way to control energy and reach our most exalted objective of Self Knowledge.
What can I say about Wu Chi? Powerful, empowering, beautiful, profound, exquisite, demanding, hard to master…. no more, no less than the other three forms: sublime.
Let’s begin by describing the outer movement. It is circular in essence with spices of straight movements; a wheel that is always in motion often fitly describing the sign of Infinity. It is a form where the external motions have a self defense application. The blocks, strikes, deflections, locks and holds, are fluid and relaxed, and the body is light and soft. But of course none of that is in the practitioner’s heart or mind when he does the form, there is just pure enjoyment and a sense of serene power that comes from deep inside, that is reflected in the eyes and manifests in every cell of the body. Through Wu Chi that combines movement and stillness, inhalation and exhalation, fast and slow, tight and soft, block and strike, inside and outside, up and down, sensitivity and explosiveness, the many are integrated in one. What a most empowering practice! Let us recall that in the Hindu Tradition, where much of Luohan have its origin, Nataraja or Shiva represents, through his cosmic dance, nature’s rhythm and its endless interaction of the two forces of Yin and Yang.
Like in the Luohan forms, the masters of the show are the waist/hip, the horse stances and the shoulders: Yiu- Ma – Bo. Through their correct interaction very graceful, jet explosive motions manifests.
Wu Chi is probably the most advance form in the Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu system. It is an extraordinary tool that trains profound body, mind, energy principles; a must for anyone interested in the expression of energy through body movement.