Tai Chi Fundamentals

Tai Chi fundamentals are a series of very easy and gentle exercises that warm up the joints and soft tissues of the body whilst beginning to learn some of the basic physical movements and qualities used in Qi Gong and Tai Chi.

They are designed to improve joint mobility and release joint tension; develop awareness of weight distribution whilst standing and throughout light movement, improving balance; begin to release the soft tissues of the body through gentle stretching and releasing. Throughout these exercises a relaxed and gentle mind is encouraged, enabling the nervous system to release and cultivating a mind-body connection.

An extension and development of these exercises has been encapsulated in The Five Keys on-line course, developed by Paul Cavel.

Energy Gates Qi Gong

Within The Five Keys are a number of the foundational components of Energy Gates Qi Gong. This is with good reason as Energy Gates is the foundation Qi Gong set. However The Five Keys takes these elements and improves the foundation basis by adding Circling Hands plus Dragon & Tiger move 1 to generate a complete set, easily accessible to the beginner and existing student alike.

The Five Keys

The Five Keys are simple exercises which have their origins in the Chinese health practises of Qi Gong. They are the key components, the foundation, of a system presented by Bruce Frantzis, who is a Taoist Lineage Master with more than 40 years’ experience in Eastern healing systems. The Five Keys were recently developed into a course by Paul Cavel, a senior instructor of Mr Frantzis, in order to introduce people of all levels and experience to the key physical movement and breathing practises that develop a mind body interaction. This enables individuals to start relaxing and subsequently releasing tension.

The Five Keys are suitable for all ages and ability, learning them will provide a platform from which your personal branch of interest can be developed. The course is designed so that instead of initially having to learn a series of movements, you can take the key component of an exercise, practise the isolated movement and see if you attune to it. As you gain experience you become aware of what works well for you and what doesn't, and in which ways. This understanding can then lead to a better and more accurate analysis of which of the foundational sets of Qi Gong or Tai Chi or Circle Walking Meditation (Ba Gua) are best suited to the development you specifically need.

When you consider that motivation is such a critical factor to maintaining any form of exercise, this intimate appreciation for what your body or mind needs can potentially drive you towards learning more in-depth Qi Gong systems. In addition this allows you to develop a quality of movement instead of taking a longer period of time to learn a series of choreographed movements without actually developing any depth. The Keys are absolutely necessary to unlocking the doors to genuine internal exercise but, once inside, the complete Qi Gong sets, Tai Chi and Circle Walking Meditation (Ba Gua) make use of more sophisticated Qi Gong technology, thereby building incredible momentum and multiplying potential benefits.

The Five Keys are pillars upon which all the more advanced practises rest. Each of these exercises in themselves contain many, threads of Qi Gong content that can be weaved together to cultivate the body, mind and chi. Each Key has a particular aspect that an individual may find more beneficial. The Keys are:

1. Standing Qi Gong

2. Whole body breathing Qi Gong

3. Cloud hands Qi Gong

4. Circling Hands Qi Gong

5. Dragon and Tiger exercise 1 Qi Gong

Through standing you develop your alignments. Misalignment can create for example wear and tear on the joints, the spine or direct internal pressure incorrectly into the organs. This causes the body over weeks, months and years to contract and close, and the soft tissues and organs will not operate as efficiently. Through standing you develop sensitivity with your mind to begin feeling your body and thus initiating the process of fusing your mind and body as one.

Your body has, just like in a house, a series of internal pipework that your chi flows through. Misalignment prevents and reduces, through blocking or leaking, the flow of chi through this pipework. Again standing develops your sensitivity to the internal flow of chi.

Simple breathing techniques provide a quick and direct access to your nervous system. A tight nervous system provides the opposite effect of relaxation: it develops stress. Allowing the nervous system to let go of held tension occurs through developing a circular breath where a continuous flow of breathing happens.

By engaging your diaphragm you can generate a gentle rhythmic internal pressure to massage the soft tissue and organs. This massaging stretches the soft tissues and carries the heat and warmth of the blood to open up constricted parts of the body.

Breathing is developed in isolation and then can either be practised during exercise or as a tool to enhance your concentration during meditation.

Cloud Hands Qi Gong is part of a sequence of exercises and as its name implies the movements are done softly. Through simple and gentle stretching to open the body and the connection of the limbs to the spine occurs, this begins the process of releasing deep layers of tension from the body. The hips become flexible and smooth, continuous movement is developed.

This exercise, in terms of choreography, is very simple to learn. It develops more sophisticated methods of stretching and with its slow, gentle and repetitive movement is capable of unwinding and releasing tension in relevant body parts, for example in the joints and is thus particularly good for minimising the harmful affects of arthritis. Unlike Cloud Hands there is no turning so discomfort levels in the back or spine can initially be held in check and then through regular practice alleviated.

Dragon and Tiger is a medical set of Qi Gong consisting of 7 exercises which aim to create balance in the body’s energy matrix. This is done by contacting and manipulating your chi with your hands and your breath. In exercise 1 of this set you will begin the process of pulling and pushing chi through the energy channels, which initially stirs up stagnant chi. Dragon is a Chinese metaphor for healthy and strong lungs, whilst tiger is a metaphor for a strong, healthy liver and muscles.

Each Key has its individual benefits and every combination of Keys amplifies the benefits of all the others. If, for example, you stand for a period of time before you practise either Cloud Hands, Circling Hands or Dragon and Tiger you can release the outer layer of stress and tension, relax the muscles and nerves, and increase the effectiveness of either of these exercises by several hundred percent. This is because the work in standing allows you deeper access to the body, mentally and physically. You can move better because of both the releasing of the outer tension and the way your mind penetrates the body in standing. This improved contact with the body allows you to make micro-adjustments to your movements, so they are far more efficient and effective. This principle is applicable for any combination of keys.

The 5 Keys to Taoist Energy Arts Online Course

What's in the Programme;

  • 80+ instructional videos – all available for download
  • Introduction to Tai Chi Circling Hands 60-page PDF
  • Weekly practice logs
  • Guided sinking qi + dissolving practices (MP3s)
  • Access to a closed forum
  • Click Here to Join 5 Keys Membership now

    A Message from Paul Cavel

    I’ve had the great opportunity to partner with my primary teacher, Taoist Master Bruce Frantzis, to create a 10-week programme that will systematically build your foundation for all qi gong, tai chi and bagua forms—incredibly detailed and multifaceted arts considered to be lifelong practices. Each of the keys can be practiced alone or in tandem with any other keys to boost the benefits of Tao arts training.

    1. Tao Whole-body Breathing

    2. Standing Qi Gong, including Sinking Qi and Outer Dissolving

    3. Dragon and Tiger Medical Qi Gong Exercise 1

    4. Cloud Hands Nei Gong

    5. Tai Chi Circling Hands

    Throughout the programme, you will learn each of the Five Keys in-depth, and weave in specific aspects of the horizontal (turning and twisting) and vertical (bending and stretching) planes of motion–supercharging and strengthening your core with each progressive lesson. Working with the horizontal and vertical planes together is what allows deeper access to your insides. It also forms the basis for circularity and eventually spherical motion in the internal arts, which all dedicated students aim to achieve.

    I began training internal martial arts in the 1980s and not long afterwards had the good fortune to meet my teacher Bruce, who has brought one of the most, if not THE most comprehensive and complete systems of nei gong (internal development) training to the West. Initially, I applied the material he taught me to healing my body from a serious motorcycle accident, but in time my journey became about a whole lot more, including high-performance training that I’ve considered myself privileged to be able to share with others since 1995.

    In my courses and one-to-one coaching, I came to realise that five key exercises from my teacher’s system formed the foundation for all other exercises, including highly sophisticated and refined Tao arts like Gods Playing in the Clouds, Tai Chi, Circle Walking Meditation (Ba Gua) and even Tao meditation. I found that a concentrated, in-depth focus on these five exercises led to personal development in my Clients and Students beyond my and, more importantly, their expectations.

    For many years, I have emphasised these component practices in just about every course I teach, and the results people have achieved have ranged from overcoming debilitating injuries, restoring balance in their bodies to improving focus and mind-body awareness to being able to concentrate better for prolonged periods. I’ve watched as stress and tension has melted away and been replaced with a vibrancy and sense of life that is becoming too rare in the modern age.

    What I want everyone to know is that these five exercises, the Five Keys, as I like to call them, are so easy to learn and train that you don’t have to be a genius in mind-body-qi to start feeling better now, start healing your body from injury, rid your body of the traumas that are stored inside you and start living a more peaceful and self-directed reality.

    I look forward to training with you,

    Paul Cavel