Authentic Liangong Shi Ba Fa
"Lian gong" means "health exercise" or "practicing an art." "Liangong Shi Ba Fa" (or Liangong in 18 forms) was developed from research based on exercises and therapies common to Qi Gong, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tui Na or therapeutic massage, external Kung Fu stretching exercises, and sports therapy in addressing patients' and practitioners' issues of acute pain. It is a type of therapeutic bodywork combining isoaltion exercises and self massage. Liangong Shi Ba Fa was created in Shanghai, China by Dr. Zhuang Yuan Ming, a doctor of Traumatology, one of the branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the last 30 years, since it was first previewed publicly, it has spread throughout China and other parts of Asia, Japan, Brazil, and is continuing to garner interest world-wide.
Liangong is a regimen of self-manipulation exercises that has an effect similar to therapeutic massage in that the emphasis is placed on using self induced pressure on target areas in order to aid circulation and bring about relief and relaxation to troubled areas of the connective tissue. The exercises been found to be effective in relieving pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back, legs, feet, and it has been found to be of value in relieving pain associated with some internal disorders. Like Qi Gong, consistent Liangong practice is believed to improve health, even in healthy, strong people, enhancing their posture and flexibility which is at the heart of any endurance or strength training program.
While some stretching exercises are characterized by an elongation of muscle fibers, what sets Liangong apart is that after the practitioner moves into a particular position and forms a specific shape, without moving anything else, gradual pressure is placed on a specific target area. Then, combined with the performance of an "internal stretch" (that is basically defined as lifting the sternum and releasing the tailbone within the shape), stress is released in the targeted area (and connected areas) much in the way massage uses direct pressure in order to release tension that may be pent up in a tight area or help bring circulation to soothe or support the recovery from an injury. However, it is a massage that is self generated and directed.
A lighter massage can be attained by using music that was developed for Liangong practice, and the timing of which may be appropriate for superficially "hitting" the target area or for people who wish to practice together in groups. However, slowing things down, and taking the time to define the shape specifically, as well as gently feeling the release and sensations derived during practice allows for more in-depth understanding of the sophistication of Liangong's targeted stretching, and is also a highly useful approach for practitioners with perpetual stiffness that will not ease up under any circumstances.
Unlike some forms of Qi Gong that may incorporate gross or larger patterns of movement for the purpose of sensing "chi," each of the movements of Liangong are focused specifically on a particular part of the body, that when isolated (and an "internal stretch" performed), works on the connective tissue (fascia) to release, realign and balance the whole body. It is meant to feel like a deep, penetrating massage that releases stress and enhances your posture and frees any restrictions of movement. Similar to Qi Gong, Liangong's stretching movements are enhanced by being coordinated with breathing which helps to increase both the capacity of breathing and the positive effects of a more complete engagement in the process of respiration. Additionally, Dr. Zhuang's research found that having ample oxygen when performing the exercises can optimize the effects of stretching.
There is increased interest in the use of stretching by athletes at various levels who are looking to take their flexibility and performance to the next level and beyond. Stretching has long been known for its use as a "warm-up" or "cool down." However, stretching, moreand more, is becoming a viable part of performance, including staying loose during an activi ty or competition and as a part of sports medicine and therapy. Liangong is extremely effective at all levels, and helps loosen, warm up, maintain warmth, and cool down tight, stiff muscles, as well as support and expedite recovery from muscle pain and sports related injuries.Additionally, there's also a growing interest among physicians, physical therapists, coaches, and trainers who want to assist their patients and clients to improve their flexibility quickly and easily, and because of Liangong's organization and structure in dealing with specfic areas and regions of the body, Liangong can make it easier to automate the design of stretching routines, as well as manage planning, progress, and outcomes.
Find out more about Liangong in a link to a 3 page article
1. LIANGONG PUT ME BACK ON MY FEET
This was my condition seven years ago: after suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for fifteen years in my wrists, knees and elbows, I was involved in an accident which broke my left ankle. I had already become weakened and stiff from the disease, and following recovery from the injury I was in even worse shape. Then some new drugs became available, and I found myself free of joint inflammation for the first time. But I had no idea how to rehabilitate myself. My posture had deteriorated, the range of motion of my limbs was curtailed and I was repeatedly straining and spraining parts of my body. Sometimes the pain from such injuries would last for weeks. I had never possessed a very good sense of balance, and I frequently came close to falling. Rotator cuff tears apparently run in my family, and I was facing a rather bleak prospect for my health as I aged.
Then, purely by chance, I discovered Liangong. A coworker demonstrated the forms and encouraged those around him to give them a try. I did, and found them extremely difficult to learn and painful to execute. But I stayed with it for a week or two, and suddenly realized they were having a very beneficial effect on me. I felt at the time like a puppet with new strings. Many of the stretches seemed awkward at first, some even contrary to the calisthenics I had learned in school in the U.S. I recognized that my coworker's knowledge was limited, and that I needed to find an instructor. That led me to Gerald Sharp. I have been practicing with him for almost seven years.
The benefits I received from the first two sets of eighteen exercises have been many and profound. I have regained flexibility and strength in my joints. My balance has improved. I no longer fear a disastrous shoulder injury. And when I do suffer a minor strain or sprain, it usually is gone within hours or overnight. I must conclude that Liangong truly is an effective means of toning muscle, strengthening joints and increasing flexibility.
Even more remarkable is the effect on my posture. I began to feel as if I were standing taller, and it turned out not to be an illusion. Over the years I had lost about three-quarters of an inch in height, not remarkable for the middle-aged population in general. But I had supposed that loss to be purely the result of intervertebral disc compression, an inevitable shrinkage. Liangong, however, was correcting a loss in height resulting from bad posture; my spine had become curved sufficiently to add to the disc shrinkage, and I did not know it. Several of the exercises straighten the spine, and not temporarily, as happens on the chiropractor's traction table. I have regained one-quarter of an inch, something I would not have imagined possible.
My success with the first two sets encouraged me to begin the third.
As a skeptical Westerner, I have not been able to comprehend "chi"
in any fashion compatible with my assumptions and experience. Nevertheless,
I believe that the exercises of Liangong will keep me on my feet a lot longer than anything else I could be doing for myself. Dr. Zhuang has given the world a precious gift. It is a shame that Liangong is not better known in the U.S.
2. CONCERNING LIANGONG AS TAUGHT BY MATTHEW KLEIN:
Thank you again for the private session and class yesterday. They both have been helping me move forward. I can tell that there has been a major energetic shift, as I am not the same person I was before I saw you on Friday, April 2nd.Today for the first time, I was not as sore and decided to try Lian Gong. It was a totally different experience for me, as I invoked and remained focus on the bubbling well and feet in the hips. After doing the first 12 moves, I felt openings in my hips, lungs, forehead, chest and upper part of the solar plexus & area around the liver and gallbladder. In the solar plexus area, I could feel the tissues opening and pain releasing in my chest around the breastbone. Part I moves 13-18 and then in Part II (1-6), I continuously felt my hips opening up more and re-positioning with the right hip moving towards the back and the left hip moving forward--I can now feel the energy move through them more. I also focused a little bit more on the moves that are harder for me. Previously, I had to hold on to something, but this time I had the confidence not to hold on. Although I temporarily lost my balance, I was okay. I did not feel the fear like before, so it was a better this time. My chest is also turning and straightening. I suspect this is related to the hips moving into place. Anyway, I am appreciative and grateful. Thank you, again.
Congratulations to Dr. Zhuang Yuan Ming and his son Zhuang Jian Shen for both giving and spreading Liangong around the world so successively in just 30 years. However, in America, Liangong is still in the infant stages. There are classes but the involvement is just getting off the ground. Many people still believe that through vigorous sweating, running, and even weight lifting that they will improve their health, stamina, and strength. However, year after year, America and many other of the world's leading nations continue to lead the way in cancer, obesity, heart attacks, and a host of other hapless conditions. Some in the U.S. have found T'ai Chi Ch'uan, or have scratched the surface, focusing on the dance and not the substance. T'ai Chi requires a deep understanding of Yin and Yang and how to use the lightest of touch to advance the art's application. In many instances, however, that too, is lost in the presentation of America's T'ai Chi Ch'uan. What makes T'ai Chi work, and work effectively is the ability on the part of the practitioner to use their joints in sophisticated ways. The beauty of Liangong is that it can quickly awaken the beginner's awareness as to the joints and how the joints can be specifically used. T'ai Chi practitioners who discover Liangong benefit immediately from Liangong's internal knowledge and the practitioner's T'ai Chi Ch'uan practice is never the same. Giving the practitioner a more direct pathway to the internal.
The concept of Yin and Yang is in all things. It can be found in leadership, business, education, art, therapy, and more specifically in the practice of Liangong in 18 forms. Actually Liangong is a wonder that transcends Yin and Yang, and presents the essence of Yin and Yang through movements that are specific, clear, and highly useful. Those that are exposed to Liangong feel its positive benefits immediately, and the negative, often acute, power of stress is laid to rest.
What makes Liangong so wonderful is that it simply works. You don't have to be a good dancer, an athletic person, or a muscular person to benefit. All you need is stress, which nearly everyone has, and the will to do something about it yourself. Those in America who have become involved in Liangong have benefited greatly from its prescriptions.
All in all, I feel without a doubt that the future of Liangong both in America and worldwide is bright. Anyone who contacts it through practice, admires the immediate feedback they receive from its practice. Dr. Zhuang Yuan Ming and his son, Zhuang Jian Shen are to be commended for its creation, development, organization, and promotion of this wondrous healing art. An art, that was developed from rigorous testing, and the future of which will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
Gerald A. Sharp
I have the honor of being one of the few (if not only) practitioner of Liangong Shi Ba Fa in Toronto, Canada. I take this honor with a sense of pride and duty, thanking my instructor Gerald A. Sharp, Dr. Zhuang, and the practice of Liangong for my continued health, flexibility, and general energy. Each day I slowly proceed on plans to educate my community on the benefits and practice of Liangong.
"I feel so energized." "My shoulders no longer hurt". "My headache is gone". "Thanks. I feel much better" are some of the many comments I have heard from my coworkers as well as students after I introduce them to either the first series of exercises or even just a few targeted postures.
When I started my practice of Liangong I had sciatica for over two years. Sciatica is the pinching of the sciatic nerve causing numbness and pain in the leg and buttocks region. This ailment made is to difficult to stand or even sit very long in a chair. I had seen several doctors about my problem including an acupuncturist but no cure seemed available. With the thought of living with this problem for the rest of my life I decided to continue with my life and flew to California to study Mind-Form Boxing under Mr. Sharp. During my stay, Mr. Sharp eagerly conveyed upon me his wishes for me to study Liangong as well. His energy and enthusiasm for these exercises and Dr. Zhuang was remarkable. I happily agreed and began my studies of Series One associated with strains, sprains, and stress. I practiced my exercises every morning, as I continue to do this day. After one week my sciatica disappeared and has not reappeared since.
Liangong is a remarkable system of health - it aims not only at aiding the trauma that invades and circulates our body, but also provides methods to regulate and refine our current levels of physical, emotional, and mental health. The exercises are therapeutic in nature with movements and postures that include self-massage, stretches, compressions, and rotations that affect the muscular, skeletal and nervous system as well as organic function and physique. The approach to Liangong is organic in nature allowing it to be tailored to the specific ailments of the individual, their level of total fitness, and personal desires.
Entering the year of the monkey instills a sense of change and renewed spirit. As the month of January ends I look forward to the future and the increased awareness concerning Liangong in Toronto. With the help of Mr. Sharp, I am beginning to write a series of articles on this incredible form of exercises; contact local TV shows about guest spots; and formulate classes in the community to teach Liangong.