Da Mos Yi Gin Ching

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Da Mo (Fig. 2-1), whose last name was Sardili, and who was also known as Bodhidarma, was a prince of a small tribe in southern India. From the fragments of historical records that exist it is believed he was born about 483 A.D. At that time India was considered a spiritual center by the Chinese, since

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it was the source of Buddhism, which was becoming very influential in China. Many of the Chinese emperors either sent priests to India to study Buddhism and bring back scriptures, or else they invited Indian priests to come to China to preach. Da Mo was one of the latter.

He is considered by many to have been a bodhisattva, or an enlightened being who had renounced nirvana in order to save others. Briefly, Buddhism is a major religion based on the belief that Gautama, the Buddha, achieved nirvana, or perfect bliss and freedom from the cycle of birth and death, and taught how to achieve this state. Buddhists have divided into three principal groups

Fig. 2-2. Shaolin Temple

practicing different versions of the Buddha's teaching, which are called the "three conveyances" or "Shan Shcng". The first of these is Mahayana or "Da Shcng", the Great Vchicle, which includes Tibetan Buddhism and Chan or Zen Buddhism which is very well known to the west. The second is Praktika or "Chung Shcng", the Middle Way, which is the Buddhism of action, and is mostly practiced by wandering preachers. The third is Hinayana or "Shao Shcng", the Lesser Conveyance, which is generally practiced by ascetic monks and aims at personal achievement of enlightenment.

Da Mo was of the Mahayana school and came to China in 526 or 527 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Liang Wu of the Liang dynasty. He went first to the Kuan Shao Temple in Canton. The governor of Canton, Shaou Yon recommended Da Mo to the emperor, who invited Da Mo to visit. The emperor, however, did not like Da Mo's Buddhist theory, and so Da Mo traveled to the Shaolin Temple (Fig. 2-2) in Henan province where he spent the rest of his life.

The Shaolin Temple was built in 377 A.D. on the Shao Shih peak of Sonn Mountain in Teng Fon Hsien, Henan province, by order of Emperor Wei for

Stick Shaolin Temple

Fig. 2-3. (a) A Stone Monument at the place where Da Mo faced a stone wall in meditation

(b) A rock with Da Mo's image found at the place where he meditated

Fig. 2-3. (a) A Stone Monument at the place where Da Mo faced a stone wall in meditation

(b) A rock with Da Mo's image found at the place where he meditated a Buddhist named Pao Jaco for the purpose of preaching and worship. In the beginning no martial arts training was done by the monks.

When Da Mo arrived at the temple, he saw that the monks were generally in poor physical condition because of their lack of exercise. He was so distressed by the situation that he retired to meditate on the problem, and stayed in retirement for nine years (Fig. 2-3). During that time he wrote two books, but only one, the Yi Gin Ching (Book of Muscle Development), survives. After he came out of retirement, Da Mo continued to live in the Shaolin Temple until his death in 540 A.D. at the age of 57.

Lu Yu, a poet of the Southern Sung dynasty (1131-1162 A.D.), wrote a poem (see Appendix for Chinese) describing Da Mo's personal philosophy: Others are revolted, I am unmoved Gripped by desires, I am unmoved Hearing the wisdom of sages, 1 am unmoved I move only in my own way.

For more than 1400 years the monks of the Shaolin Temple have trained using the Da Mo Wai Dan exercises. These exercises used to be secret and they have only started to become popularly known and used by the Chinese people in the twentieth century. These exercises are easy and their benefits are experienced in a short time. The Shaolin monks practice these exercises not just to circulate Chi and improve their health, but also to build their interal power by concentrating Chi to affect the appropriate muscles. Because these exercises are moving Wai Dan, there is the risk of San Kung or Energy Dispersion, as mentioned earlier. To avoid San Kung, the monks also practiced Nei Dan meditation to keep their channels clear after they quit the Da Mo exercises.

The practitioner should find a place with clean air and stand facing the east with the back relaxed and naturally straight, the feet shoulder width apart and parallel. Facing the east takes advantage of the earth's rotation and the energy flow from the sun. Keeping the legs apart will relax the legs and thighs during the practice. Keep the mouth closed and touch the palate with the tip of the tongue without strain. In Chinese meditation this touch is call "Da Chiao" or "Building the Bridge" because it connects the Yin and Yang circulation (a detailed explanation of this will follow in Chapter 3, Nei Dan). The practitioner will find that saliva accumulates in the mouth. This should be swallowed to keep the throat from getting dry from the concentration on breathing.

The concentration of the mind on the area being exercised and on the breath is the key to successful practice of this exercise. Without this concentration the original goal of Chi circulation will be lost and the exercise will be in vain.

There are several circumstances when practice should be avoided. First, when one is very hungry or too full. If you are very hungry it interferes with proper concentration. Wait at least 30 minutes and preferably one hour after eating so that the Chi is not so concentrated in the digestive system. Second, avoid practicing one day before or after having sex. Third, do not practice when you are so tired that your attention wanders uncontrollably. Fourth, do not practice after drinking alcohol. And finally, do not practice when you are very worried, for it will be too difficult to concentrate.

The forms should be done one after the other continuously in order to conserve the energy built up. For example, the first form will build up the energy at the wrist. The second will transfer the energy already built up at the wrist to the fingers and palm, and continue to build up energy. The third form will transfer the energy from the palm and wrist to the arm, and so forth.

Practice each form 50 times. A repetition consists of inhaling while relaxing the muscle or limb and exhaling while imagining that you are tightening the muscle and imagining energy flowing to that area. The muscles may be slightly tensed. The arms should not be fully extended in these forms. After 50 repetitions begin the next form in the sequence without stopping. Beginners will find it hard to complete more than five forms in one practice session, and five forms is a good number to practice anyway, since this means a session of 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, the practitioner can practice the entire 12 forms with fewer repetitions of each one, so that with twenty repetitions each, the form would again take about twenty minutes. If you practice once or twice a day, you should be able to complete the entire form in six months. If you continue this training for three years, a tremendous amount of power and energy can be built up. These exercises will increase the nerve and muscle efficiency so they can be used to their maximum in martial arts. For health purposes, practicing five forms daily should be enough.

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Fig. 2-4. Fig. 2-5. Fig. 2-6.

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