The Han Method of Ki Gong Breathing
The Han Method was developed by the late Han Cha Kyo, Tae Kwon Do Grand Master, and master of eastern healing methods including, acupuncture, acupressure and Ki Gong. In his Martial arts schools in the Chicago area, Master Han spent many hours helping people with all types of ailments. By combining isometric physical therapy with Ki Gong breathing Master Han was successful in curing ailments ranging from joint injuries to malignant tumors. When working with physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy He was able to improve muscular control, strength and range of motion.
Master Han’s method focused on relieving the stress in the body that created problems and prevented the body from healing itself. By removing the stress or blockages, the Ki is able to “flow” freely within the body enabling the person to function as a whole unit.
The “whole unit” of mind, body and spirit is essential to the martial artist. As one progresses in the Han Method and begins functioning as a “whole unit” awareness is enhanced, reaction time is shortened, equilibrium is improved, control over one’s self and opponent is improved and power is multiplied. Also the body’s ability to heal itself improves and the tendency to get injured or develop ailments is reduced.
As you practice the techniques shown below remember to relax your mind. Don’t get wrapped up in trying too hard. Just follow the instructions and let it happen. The breathing may feel unnatural at first but give it a chance, it will come. Your body wants to breathe this way.
KI GONG BREATHING
Your breath is your main physical link to the external universe. Although we perceive breathing as a physical action needed to supply our bodies with oxygen, metaphysically something much more profound is occurring. With every breath, you draw the external into your internal being. “Ki” or energy is relocated from a larger source to you. What we then do with it is up to us. We can take the minimum that we need to survive and expel the rest or we can learn to savor each breath and let the Ki become our own.
The Chinese, Japanese and Korean healing arts and martial arts refer to a point in the body that is receptive to receiving and circulating Ki within our bodies. We will refer to it as the “KI Center”. The Ki Center is located on the center line of your body just below the navel. The actual distance below the navel is different for everyone, about two inches is average. As you do the Ki Gong breathing focus your Intent on the Ki Center. In the beginning the Dan Jin will be vague or you my not “feel” it at all. As you progress it will become very obvious to you where it is and your ability to “use” it will increase.
The Breathing technique described below in “stress reduction breathing” is the foundation to all of the exercises you will learn in the Han Method of Ki Gong and should be done during all of the Isometric exercises.
Stress Reduction Breathing
Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can relax with a firm surface like a carpeted floor or an exercise mat. Beds are too soft, you will need more support. Lay on your back with your legs apart at a comfortable distance. Your knees should be elevated four to eight inches off the ground with your feet touching the ground. You can use an Iso squeezer under each knee to prop them up. Make sure the pressure is distributed evenly between the calf and thigh. Your neck and head should be elevated by being propped up from about three inches below the base of your neck to your head. Find something firm to use that will elevate your head and neck about four inches off the ground. A Dynastrike focus mitt works very well. Your arms should be at about a 90 degree angle away from your body with your palms up. Once you find your position place a(or have someone else place) a hard cover book or a brick on your Ki Center.
Close your eyes and breath in through your nose. Draw the air down to the lower chambers of your lungs. Do not use your chest muscles to inhale, use your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Your chest and shoulders should remain relaxed and should not rise when you inhale. The brick or book on your Ki Center should rise and fall with the breathing. Exhale through the mouth using your mouth to regulate the amount of air escaping. By pushing lightly with your lower abdominal muscles and restricting the air flow with your mouth, you will lightly pressurize your lungs during the exhale. Make long slow breaths and empty your lungs as much as you comfortably are able to. After a couple of cycles the inhale should take about seven to twelve seconds and the exhale should take about ten to fifteen seconds. These times will be shorter for the novice and longer as you get better at it. Don’t get discouraged, it takes some practice.
Keep your mind in a calm state by focusing on your breath and your Ki Center. Stay in the present moment. Throw away desires, regrets and worries. If your mind wanders to problems, wants or needs, that’s ok, just start again in the moment, go back to your Ki Center. As you feel the light tension or warmth in your Ki Center let the tension in the rest of your body melt away. Your Ki Center will become a warm glow of Ki gently nourishing the rest of your body.
If you have not breathed this way in the past it will not come immediately. Be patient, it will take some practice. Your technique will improve relatively quickly if you put some time into it. Good technique will show little or no movement above the solar plexus.
As you gain command over this technique increase the weight of the object on your Ki Center. A concrete block or even a stack of blocks can be used. This aids in focusing your intent and strengthens your Ki Center. Use these techniques to address acute stress and to help your body heal itself when your immune system is weak or you have an injury.
The “Rocking Ki” is used as a warm-up before beginning the isometric exercises. It has a calming effect and helps to bring together the “whole unit” of mind, body and spirit.
Sit down on any firm surface with your legs together strait out in front of you. Place an Iso-Squeezer on each side of your torso. Place your palms on your thighs and relax your arms so your elbows are on the inner edge of the pad on the Iso-Squeezes. Don’t hold your arms out away from your ribs. Lean to one side and check the position of the unit. Make sure your elbow (being pushed by your ribs ) compresses the bellows when you lean. (Repeat on other side)
Now close your eyes and begin your Ki Gong breathing. Rock from side to side using your hips and abdominal muscles to generate the motion. Do not use your arms or shoulder muscles to push off with. Focus on your Ki Center and your breathing. Your breathing should be long slow breaths as in the stress reduction breathing. The rhythm of the rocking should remain constant taking about four to five seconds to complete a right and left cycle.
Do this until you are centered and relaxed. Your mood and stress level will determine how long you need to do this exercise. Maybe just a minute or two on a good day. If your stress level is high or your just not having a good day, ten minutes may not be enough. You may want to go to stress reduction breathing with a concrete block or two. (see above)
KI GONG ISOMETRIC EXERCISES
All of the exercises in this section will integrate Ki Gong breathing as described above with the squeezing techniques. Compress the squeezing unit(s) during the exhale. At the end of the exhale when your lungs feel empty, do a quick double squeeze on the units while puffing two quick bursts of air with your abdominal muscles. After the double squeeze, relax and begin the next inhale.
The following exercises are meant to be performed with what was originally called the Iso-Trim and later became known as the Iso-Squeezer. Optimal results were derived by using two of the devices simultaneously. The instruction booklet (inside cover picture appears below) was published in 1979.
Sitting “N” - Open “V”
Sit down on a firm surface with your feet on the floor and your knees bent at about a90 degree angle. Have your knees a comfortable distance apart (10 to 14 inches). Your feet should be about the same distance apart as your knees. Sandwich an Iso- Squeezer between the outside of each knee and the palm of the hand of the same side. only use enough pressure to hold the Iso-Squeezer in place. Now relax, let the tension in your shoulders, neck, legs and arms melt away as you draw in a slow breath through you nose. Remember, draw the air into the lower chambers of you lunges. When your lungs are full, hold the air for a couple of seconds while you shift your weight back far enough to lift your feet off the ground about four inches. Begin your exhale slowly through your mouth and compress the Iso squeezes while keeping your knees the same distance apart. Squeeze until your lungs feel empty and double squeeze. Relax and begin your inhale. Repeat five times.
Sitting “N” - Closing “V’s”
Sit in the same position perform the same procedure as the in the above exercise (sitting “N” - open “V”) but place one Iso-Squeezer between your knees and the other between your palms an inch or two above your knees. Repeat five times.
Lay on your side with two Iso-Squeezes stacked on end in front of your hips. Place the upper knee over the units and let the leg rest on them. Keep the other leg extended. Interlock your fingers behind your neck. Now, while keeping your leg on the Iso-Squeezes, turn your torso so both shoulder blades touch the ground and you are looking upward. Relax and inhale through your nose from this position. Begin your exhale and curl up so that your elbows are about an inch from the Iso- Squeezes. Compress the Iso-Squeezes with your leg and abdominal muscles. Repeat five times on each side.
Sit with the bottoms of your feet touching each other and your heels eight to ten inches from your groin. Relax your legs so your knees get as close to the floor as your flexibility allows. Stack the two Iso-Squeezes and set them between your heels and groin. Place one elbow on the Iso-Squeezes with your forearm in a vertical position. Integrate your breathing and squeezing as described above. Don’t forget to double squeeze. Repeat five times on each side.
Abdominal Side Press
Sit with your legs together, strait out in front of you. Stack two Iso-Squeezes to your side so your palm can rest on them with your arm extended at a 90 degree angle from your legs. You may change the angle to vary the effect on the abdominal muscles. Remember to relax your legs, other arm and neck during this exercise. Integrate your breathing and squeezing as described above. Don’t forget to double squeeze. Repeat five times on each side.
Sit with your legs strait out in front of you. Place an Iso-Squeezer on your shins and place your palms on the top of it. (you may stack your hands or put them side by side) Compress the bellows with your quadriceps, abdominal, chest and arm muscles. Move the unit closer to your feet after each compression and bend your arms at the elbows to increase the stretch. As you become more limber you can challenge yourself by curling your toes back and placing the unit on the balls of your feet. Do not double squeeze. Long slowly regulated movements are recommended. Repeat ten times.
Sit with your legs open as wide as you can with your feet pointed upward. Place an Iso-Squeezer on the inside of the each leg near (or at) the ankle. Press with the palms of your hands compressing the bellows and pushing your legs further apart. Getting your chest closer to the floor will also enhance the stretch. Do not double squeeze. Long slowly regulated movements are recommended. Repeat ten times.
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