Every now and then I add a review on the blog to inform readers of interesting books, movies, and products that I have found useful. Today is a little different.
The word "review" may not be correct for this article; "thank" is a bit more appropriate. Over the past decade or so I've gotten to know Carla Molinaro, owner and operator of a traditional Goju Ryu dojo in Eastern Pennslyvania. She studies kobudo under my primary instructor Bruce Heilman, and as such we often get a chance to cross train. Carla comes from a very strong line of Goju practitioners, training primarily under Ron Martin and receiving additional training under Chuck Merriman and Morio Higaonna.
I never really understood the potency of Goju Ryu until I began interacting with Carla and her students. Goju is a dynamic style of karate that boasts strong roots in Fujian, China. Much of the original Chinese aspects have been left intact, including an emphasis on circular movements and stability derived from the hara.
My appreciation and understanding of hojo undo (rudimentary Okinawan body and strength development) has been greatly enhanced by my exposure to Goju. I have also come to appreciate the value of kakie, a close in drill that incorporates tighter skills utilized in karate including tuite, muchimi, and tegumi.
Carla herself is an admirable role model in the traditional martial arts community. She always places a high currency on character development, even in a modern era where quick rewards are expected and honor is often misunderstood or forgotten entirely. Carla has also cleverly augmented her dojo space with other personal businesses so as to keep her dojo rates exceptionally low, allowing the focus to stay on quality instead of profit. Her Mumei Dojo website can be found here.
I'd like to thank traditional Goju practitioners all over for keeping Miyagi Sensei's dream alive, and to Carla specifically for sharing some of it with me over the years!
What if you could improve your health and vitality simply through the control of breath and energy? Qigong aims to accomplish that formidable task naturally and noninvasively.
The following DVD was sent to me for review and analysis from a martial perspective. I may technically be a "hard stylist" as a karateka, but I am frequently amazed at how much internal energy and technique is required to achieve higher levels of karate effectiveness. The history of karate itself is laden with Chinese influence. That's why I came to this video happily, looking forward to any insight it might be able to provide both in terms of healing and to the instrinsic aspects of training.
What is Qigong For Healing?
Qigong (chee-gung) is a Chinese healing art that focuses on the energy and breath circulations within the body. Much like Kyusho of Okinawa, Qigong operates using the Meridian Theory and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).
This video, hosted by Lisa B. O'Shea, guides the viewer through some of the fundamental concepts and forms used in Qigong practice. O'Shea is a direct student of renowned Gongfu and Taijiquan practitioner Yang Jwing Ming.
What's In The Video?
This DVD provides a significant amount of content, and is broken up in the following manner:
- Introduction to Qigong and the idea of energy
- Sensing qi (chi, aka energy) in the body
- Utilizing breathing and visualization to promote healthy energy storage and flow
- Assessing qi blockage and removing flow interference
- Dantian meditation (siphoning energy into the core)
- Rising lotus meditative forms
- Self Healing practices
- Partner healing practices
With over three hours of instruction, the viewer gets a thorough explanation and demonstration of each concept. O'Shea gears her discussions toward the lay person, not becoming too wrapped up in the idea of meridian points and cycle details. She utilizes common metaphors and examples to explain what the body should be feeling as healing is promoted.
How Did The Video Stack Up?
All in all, I enjoyed the in-depth discussion of how energy can be used to heal the body. In the martial arts we spend a significant amount of time looking at the destruction of the body and can neglect building it back up. The result is often injury and early retirement.
That being said, there are a few caveats that you should be aware of before launching into this kind of video. First, the host takes her time with explanations. This is especially true in the introduction. If you are pumped to get to the meat of the matter, you'll find the pace a little slow. Of course, that's probably valuable since the introspective body analysis of Qigong requires quiet and patience.
Furthermore, you'll want to assess your level of comfort with the idea of "chi". I tend to frame my own martial study in the context of psychology and physics. When talking about energy transmission I generally refer to the kind of energy the body can produce and transmit into a target via mass and acceleration. However, O'Shea discusses a more universal kind of energy; the kind you can pull in from the air around you and sink into your tanden. She discusses ways you can use your hands, posture, and mind to move energy around the body, and even extract bad energy when it is stagnant.
To some of you, this will be old hat. To others, it may be the kind of Eastern thinking you're interested in. Yet others will be turned off by the esoterica. That's all fine; assess your likely compatibility with Qigong accordingly.
Qigong for Healing is something I'm pleased to have in my library. It's a friendly and pleasant approach to the internal side of training. I think practitioners of all skill levels can approach this DVD and get value out of it. If you think it might be right for you, check it out here.
Hey everyone! The end of our most recent giveaway has arrived. Today I'll be reaching out to the three randomly selected winners for the IkigaiWay and NaturalKarate T Shirts.
I'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone who was able to participate. Should any of the winners not respond I will redraw and select a new winner. If you were unable to participate in this giveaway, don't worry – I hope to offer many more in the future.
About the Winners
Two individuals will be drawn randomly from the pool of link submissions. One subscriber to the new Natural Karate project will also be drawn. These individuals will be contacted privately in order to protect their personal information.
Special Thanks to Fibers
This event was made possible by Fibers Custom T Shirts. They have been kind enough to work with me and provide the prize materials.
My experience with the Fibers process was very enjoyable. Their site demonstrates a focus on fun and quirky shirt ideas, and the business aspect of their company helps support small enterprises such as this one.
When designing the shirts, I felt completely at ease with the process. The technology in place to import personal images (jpeg, png, etc) was very intuitive, as was resizing and placement. They even had a ton of stock images and color options to help enhance the on-shirt creatives. Had I wanted to, I could have designed shirts right from their stock material.
Placing and arranging the visuals was done by drag and drop, allowing for quick maneuvering. This was useful in that I could get a sense for which placement I liked and which I didn't, and make adjustments accordingly. In addition, I was able to save each project for later review and easy access.
Quality End Result
Fibers was gracious enough to provide me with a sample shirt. I'm very pleased with the end result. As you can see, the fit and quality of the print is excellent (click to enlarge):
Should you need custom printing I would definitely suggest giving Fibers T Shirts some consideration. This positive review has been an honest opinion of my experience and was not required as part of the giveaway.